Tuesday, November 12, 2013

{ DIY } Boys Bow Tie

Recently I raided my fabric stash and made Rupert some funky new bow ties. Wearing a bow tie has become a 'thing' with Rupert. He seems to like wearing them but I can't help but wonder whether he will like or dislike me for it when he's older?! I can hear the words, "Mum why did you always put a bow tie on me when I was little?" I shall reply, "Would you have preferred a bow in your hair instead!" But he does look dashingly handsome on a Sunday wearing his little bow ties so, we're going to continue with the fad for now. 

Since they are so easy to make I thought I'd share my 'how to' with you all. If you own a stash of fabric scraps this will cost you near to nothing, and even if you don't it will still cost you very little!

You will need:
Approx 20 cm fabric
5 cm velcro 
Approx 20 cm interfacing (optional)

From fabric cut: 
Bow - 21 x 13 cm  +  interfacing
Strap - 5 x 37 cm
Knot - 5 x 7 cm

Fold bow horizontally twice, overlapping ends so that it creates a 3 layer thickness. Do not press.

Fold ends to meet in the middle, overlapping slightly. Stitch in place. Do not press.

Fold the bow in half, then fold the edges [back] toward the center. You can either tack or tie some thread around the middle to hold in place.

Back view.

To make neck strap press horizontally in half. Turn raw edges in, about ½ cm and press. Stitch along open edges.

Fold 'knot' piece horizontally, overlapping ends (same as bow). Press.

 Wrap 'knot' piece around both neck strap and bow. Tuck under raw edge and use a pin to hold in place. Hand stitch closed.

Sew Velcro to each of the neck strap ends. Bow tie complete!

Create a bit of fun by using different prints!



Monday, November 4, 2013

Musk Stick & Marshmallow Cake

Birthdays are a great excuse for trying new cake ideas! 
Earlier this year I made the 'Kit Kat Cake' filled with Smarties for Rupert's 1st birthday. You can see it here. Its a cake design that looks fantastic and the great thing is that its so easy to make. So, when a friends birthday came up last week I pondered on how I could make a different cake with the same concept as the 'Kit Kat' cake, and this is what a came up with!

I used my all time favourite butter cake recipe which makes 2 cakes, stacked them with chocolate butter cream icing in the middle, then iced the outside with pink butter cream icing. The weather is so humid in Darwin so you've got to be quick, so following the icing I used 3 packets of musk sticks to place around the outside of the cake.

I then filled the top of the cake with small marshmallows, you can find these in the baking isle of the supermarket. I used about 1 1/2 packets.
A ribbon tied around the middle and a couple of 'barber' straws over kebab skewers finished it off quite nicely.

Easy Vanilla Butter Cake 
Recipe taken from Taste.com

3 cups self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
2 cups castor sugar
300g butter, cubed and at room temperature
1 1/4 cups milk
6 eggs, at room temperature
3 tsp vanilla essence

  1. Preheat oven to 140°C. Position rake on second lowest shelf of the oven. Grease 2 round cake tins.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a [very] large mixing bowl and beat on low for 30 seconds or until just combined. Increase the speed to high and beat for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture is thick and all the butter is incorporated. Evenly spoon the mixture into prepared cake tins.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 2 - 2 1/2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cook.


Date Night Idea :: Paint your dream home

Last month one of our date night projects was to each paint our dream home, or rather 'attempt' to paint to paint our dream home!
It was so pleasant sitting out on our veranda in low lighting with a brush in hand and chuckling over our painting skills. It was very therapeutic and, we both ended up with red houses! Always learning something new about each other.

I highly encourage couples to have deliberate time together, time learning about each other. Don't ever stop dating! 


Thursday, October 31, 2013

November Date Nights

4th Oct - write a [short, simple] children's storybook with illustrations. 

11th Oct - electronically collate children's book ready for printing. We'll have it printed at Office Works or somewhere that allows you to make your own books.

18th Oct - as an anniversary project we are going to build a coffee table that looks something like the picture below.

25th Oct - We're still working on this one but as it is our 4th wedding anniversary on the 21st, we are thinking of doing something a little crazy! Possibly putting on our wedding getup and heading out to a restaurant for some fine dining. Not sure that I'm brave enough to go out in my wedding dress but it would be fun to do!


Friday, October 11, 2013

I Quit Sugar :: Week 8 - the end!

Yeah baby... I completed a sugar detox! Sunday marked the last day of my 8 week sugar detox program and I am very proud to have taken on and conquered the challenge. I've thoroughly enjoyed taking on a new approach to the way I cook and bake, I have certainly reaped the rewards. 
Having been a vegetarian before I know what it means to be creative with meals minus the meat but never sweets/deserts minus the sugar. I am continuing to apply some of the detox 'rules' to my everyday eating. Doing the detox wasn't only to empty my body of 'junk' and sugar but also to reeducate myself on eating healthy again, to become 'sugar wise'. 
I would highly recommend the program to anyone.


Friday, October 4, 2013

October Date Nights

So here is what we've planned for Mondays date nights for the month of October.

7th Oct - write a letter to each other to open on our first date night in our own home... for whenever that may be!

14th Oct - using watercolour paints, each paint our dream house. 
Its probably more of a female thing but ever since I was young I've had this picture in my head of what my ideal home would look like... and its not a unique design, its very stereotypical actually. Wonder if you can guess what my dream house looks like?

21st Oct - make 'Jason's Rocky Road Trifle' from More Icing Please and watch a black and white movie... any suggestions on which one? Detox will be over and it will be a cheat night so we are going to indulge a little with this yummy trifle.

28th Oct - Mexican theme night - We're not entirely sure on the menu yet?


I Quit Sugar :: Week 7

Yay! Am so pleased I made it this far. I feel so much better for starting this detox and, I'm going to try so hard to continue all my new 'good' and healthy habits after I complete the program. 

For the past few weeks I haven't really struggled with my cravings but this week I found myself craving ice cream. I now find it easy to turn down the cravings but I wonder if that's just because I'm on detox and I'm not supposed to eat those foods? I worry a little that even though I may not seek out junk food that I will cave to my cravings and think it's okay because I'm no longer on a program that forbids it. 
But I'm determined to not go back to my junk food ways. Why would I do that to myself?! I've lost 2kgs and 3cm off my bust (not overly happy about this), waist and hips which proves that although I didn't think it, I was actually carrying weight I didn't need. It's weight that was kept on by my sugar addiction. Kind of blows my mind!

So, because we all have to live a little we are going to adopt the 'cheat day' rule. Clean eating for 6 out of 7 days, and then a day to not feel guilty if we stop in for a cheeky soft serve at maccas. As I also love my baking and cooking I can use cheat day on our Monday date nights for any indulgent desert I may want to make. I will otherwise be continuing my adventure on becoming more creative (and educated) with sugar free ingredients and recipes. Being sugar free is not being tasteless or boring, it's knowing the right recipes and substitutes.
Practicing my pork roasting for Christmas. My best crackling yet!


10 Things About the Man I Married

Behind every happy wife there is a hard working, patient and loving husband! It's no secret that we female creatures can be a puzzle for the men to figure out and, although hubby will probably never quite understand the 'female' ways he is nevertheless doing a great job of hiding it. Hehe.

So I thought I'd write a short post introducing you all to the man I love most.
Here are 10 things about my husband Matt.

1. He's a civil engineer working for a small private consulting firm here in the Northern Territory. He completed  his degree in 2010. Just 1 year after we married.

2. He's not really your 'handy home fix-it' kind of guy, he's more of a 'defrag your computer' man. He's all things tech savvy! He has attention to detail and therefore great at reading manuals and maps. Making the bed however... Nil attention to detail!

3. Matt had to buy new underwear on the day of our wedding because he had fallen that far behind in his washing. It was probably at that moment he was relieved to be taking a wife that day! Hehe.

4. He's a very talented musician. Every girls dream man but, before you think I get serenaded to everyday let me just say eh, it's happened twice. Wedding and 1st anniversary haha. But yes, a musician who plays saxophone, bass, electric and acoustic guitar, drums, percussion and sings. Before Samson's arrival he played timps and percussion for the Darwin symphony orchestra, and he also leads church music. Matt has a great appreciation for music of all different genres.

5. Like most men he enjoys his sports; rugby, cricket and tennis. Over the years he has played a bit of rugby and a lot of indoor cricket. 

6. If you and I were chatting over coffee and you asked if my husband was romantic, I'd probably hum and ha. But I do know for sure that he is undoubtedly in love with his wife [me] and, gives unconditional support and commitment to myself and our family. Oh and he does spoil me with flowers on a very regular basis, so somewhat romantic.

7. He's 25 years old (9 months older than myself) and has a younger brother and sister.

8. He's an amazing father to Rupert and Samson and has always been hands on and in the thick of all things pooey and drooly. It won't be possible for our children to reach adulthood and not know how blessed they were to have such a great father.

9. My husband is a Star Trek fan. Nothing more to say here. Oh wait, they call these fans trekkies, yep he's a trekky!

10. Matt's father is Chinese and his mother is Scottish English. In other words he's a hairy Asian!


Friday, September 27, 2013

I Quit Sugar :: Week 6

Wow, great week! There's not a lot to say about week 6 as it was much like week 5, in that my cravings have pretty much disappeared altogether. Although, I did have a moment when I walked past Donut King and thought it would be nice to have a donut but, otherwise not tempted to fall into old habits. 
At this stage in the program we are able to reintroduce a bit of fruit into our diet which has been nice. Still keeping it to a minimum though. 
I'm half way through week 7 now and when I got on the scales for a weigh in (a few days ago) I was a little chuffed to discover I had lost 2 kg since the first week. I had also lost 2 1/2 - 3 cm off my bust, waist and hips! Did not expect that. I haven't even been exercising, and I didn't think I had a lot of excess weight to lose. But apparently I did, and just by eliminating the lollies and chocolates, and high fructose foods I have dropped in size. Hubby had also lost a few kilos!
Anway, will leave you with the above yummy sugar free pancakes that I [partly] devoured the other day. Recipe was taken from Sarah Wilson's 'I Quit Sugar' book. You can also find it on her website www.sarahwilson.com.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Apple Tarte Tatin

For our 'French' date last night I made Apple Tarte Tatin for dessert. I'd never made nor eaten this dessert before and I was delightfully impressed by its simplicity and flavour. I was also shocked at how much sugar is required! SO sweet! Not only because we're on detox but also because we want to limit our sugar [fructose] intake, I used Stevia, instead of the usual castor or brown sugar. I also did some experimenting with quantities but this just wasn't the dessert for escaping 'sweet free'.

40g butter
1/2 sheet puff pastry
1 granny smith apple
4 tbs Stevia
Coconut cream to serve.

Preheat oven to 250°C. Melt butter. Grease 2 ramekins with a little of the melted butter. 
Halve the apple and place cut side up in each ramekin. 
Sprinkle 2 tbs stevia over each apple and drizzle the remaining melted butter over each one. 
Using base of ramekin as a guide cut 2 circles from the sheet of pastry.
Place on a baking tray and bake on the top shelf of the oven for 15 mins or until bubbling, and you notice the sugar caramelizing.
Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 230°C. Place a pastry circle over each ramekin and tuck down the sides using a spoon (so that the pastry hugs the apple). Return to the oven and bake for a further 8-10 mins or until pastry is golden.
Turn out onto plate and drizzle with any caramel left in the ramekins. Serve with some cream, ice cream or, as we did, some coconut cream for a healthier option.
Makes 2.
Note: I experimented a little with the Stevia/sugar quantities. I made two tarte tatins using 2 tbs (which we had for dessert) and then I also made one with 1 tbs and another with just 1/2 tbs. The ones pictured above were made with 1/2 tbs and 1 tbs and as you can see, they aren't overly caramelized. They were nevertheless sweet enough! But the tarte tatins using the full 2 tbs did taste better, and was the right amount to form a good caramel.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Recipe :: Lemon Chicken Roast

Thought I'd share my chicken roast recipe with you all... Because it is so delicious! It has a subtle lemon flavour with a crispy skin and is tender and moist on the inside. Very yummy!


1 whole chicken
1 lemon halved
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil


Preheat oven to 220°c. Rinse chicken under cold water, including cavity. Pat dry with a paper towel. Squeeze one half of the lemon over chicken and rub into the skin. Put both halves of the lemon into the cavity along with the garlic and tie legs together.
Rub a small amount of oil into the chicken and season with paprika, rosemary, salt and pepper. In a normal oven cooking time should probably only take an hour but our oven (our dodgy oven) takes about 1 1/2hr to do a roast. I also rotate the baking dish half way through.

I bake veggies in a separate dish and, lightly coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and chilli flakes. I leave them to bake for as long as the chicken takes but cover with foil for the first half of cooking time.

I make gravy using the juices and it gets a lovely lemon flavour.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Date Night Project :: Charcoal Sketching

On our most recent date night on Monday just gone, we made homemade pizzas together and we also  sketched/drew head portraits of each other with charcoal. 
The pizza was delicious as always and, thanks to a fellow blogger we were let in on the the secret to making a professional pizza! It worked a treat. Can't believe I never realized how it was done?!

Upon finishing our yummy pizzas, in a candlelit setting on the balcony, we then pulled out the sketch pad and charcoal sticks. We probably spent about a half hour sketching each other before revealing our finished artwork to the other person... we had a good chuckle! Neither of our drawings looked like our subject but it was a lot of fun. I have displayed our portraits in a couple of square frames.
The picture in the middle was a little creation of mine. Created by 'smacking' a bunch of kisses onto some sketch paper (possibly a little odd)! I plan to hang all 3 frames horizontally above our bed. This was a great date night project... give it ago!


I quit Sugar :: Week 5

Week 5 was great! It was the first week since starting the detox that I didn't feel like I was struggling with my cravings. Up until week 5 I had this horrible feeling [and desire] that I was going to have a huge chocolate and lolly binge as soon as the detox ended. It sounds terrible but I was even looking forward to the finish line and then having a 'pig-out'!

Week 5 and now part way into week 6 I am feeling great, particularly this week. Although my cravings were diminishing last week I was struggling with headaches and some nausea but, having read the relevant chapter in my I quit Sugar book, it mentioned that some people at that point in the program would start to feel unwell. Its your body going through withdrawals and its a good thing! 
I'm also looking at the 'sweets' in the stores and on marketing material and thinking how disgusting (I can't think of a better word to best describe my feeling) it is, as oppose to wanting it. I just don't have the desire to eat them. ITS FANTASTIC!
Below is the 'Sweet Green Meal-in-a-Tumbler' that I blended up yesterday, its really yummy.
Sweet Green Meal-in-a-Tumbler
Recipe from 'I Quit Sugar' by Sarah Wilson


Friday, September 13, 2013
So I've been really loving all the 'flower crowns' out there. They are delightfully pretty and feminine. But it's kind of an indie look which I don't tend to pull off. It's not really my style. I'd love to give it a go though and thought I might try my hand at making one. They are so easy to make! 

You will need: 
Faux flowers of your choice. $2 shops and spotlight stock them.
Head band 
Floral tape (opt.)
Floral wire (you won't need this if your flowers are wired)

If your faux flowers are wired just coil each one around the headband in an arrangement of your choice. Trim stems with pliers if need be. If your flowers aren't wired, hold flower at the stem in desired position and begin wrapping the floral wire around both headband and flower. 
Continue adding flowers until you get the desired look. The floral tape can be used to cover any 'mess' or sharp ends. Alternatively you could hot glue some felt on the inside to give a neat finish.

Click here for some other ideas.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

DIY Candle Jar

Pour some soil into a medium size jar. Use enough soil that you don't have to reach too far down to light the candle.
Sit a tea light candle on top of the soil, pushing down slightly to position.
Tie several rounds of string around the jar at about the level of the soil so that it hides the tea light. I used cooking twine but raffia would look  great. 
Add a few simple faux flowers and your done! 
I doubt anyone would need instructions for this but thought I'd share. Its so simple and pretty.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Quit Sugar :: Week 4

Hmmm... well... on Saturday evening I went out to dinner with the sisterhood girls and we dined at the 'Buzz Cafe Restaurant'. Such a lovely restaurant with mellow music, soft lighting and a gorgeous view overlooking the water. It was so lovely to be dining in such wonderful company with great food and a relaxed atmosphere. 

However, the night took a turn much unexpected when all six of the girls I was dining with suddenly pounced on me like a cat to wool, and they tied me to my chair! Before me they set the most amazing desert I'd seen, it was some kind of almond chocolate panforte with a dollop of ice cream and a drizzle of strawberry syrup. And well, they gang fed me! Spoonful after spoonful, it was just dreadful and it tasted awful.

Okay so your after the true story right? Well yes I did eat an amazing desert and no it didn't taste awful. We had all ordered our meals and all but two meals were brought to the table. Myself and a friend didn't recieve our meals with the others and after some time we brought it to the waitresses attention. By now the other girls had just about finished their meals. The kitchen staff had made an error and they were very apologetic and gave us all a free desert to make up for it. Hmmm, yes, what was I to do? Everyone was getting a free desert off the menu because I and another didn't get our meals on time and, I kind of felt like I deserved the desert. The best part was that it was free and the worse part was that I broke my detox with no good reason. Theres no excuse and I am feeling quite guilty, so much that I wasn't even going to mention it on here but I wanted to continue to be transparent on this journey of mine, and now you know my weakness! My detox continues.

Coco-nutty Granola Recipe by Sarah Wilson. Great for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
On a better note, I have otherwise been enjoying not having so much junk food in my life. As I've become more aware of the sugar content in foods I've also realized how much rubbish I had been filling my body with. On a much too frequent basis. It is such an awesome feeling to have done away with my habitual sweet-snacking. I usually make healthy substantial dinners and I can't believe that I was counteracting that by having a packet of lollies here and there! I mean, what was the point of making sure we have healthy meals if I was only going to eat lollies and chocolates in between?! 
Thanks to the detox program I've been able to replace my unhealthy snacks with some wholesome ones which still taste great!
Above is a picture of some Coco-Nutty Granola that I made using [homemade] activated nuts. Granola is great for breaky or morning/afternoon tea. I like to serve it with natural yogurt and, have found it to be quite filling (hubby thinks not so much). 

Now you're all probably wondering how hubby is going with the detox? Well he was doing great until Fathers Day came around and, he decided to eat the tasty celebratory foods offered at morning tea after church... he caved. I had actually thought he was doing away with the detox but on Monday he was back to the 'sugar free' ways. I didn't realize until a few days later. He's not much of a sweet tooth nor a sugar addict so even if he had discontinued detoxing he would not have hindered me. I'm a hindrance to myself as you've learnt already! 

Poached Egg with Bacon. A yummy sunday breakfast.


Monday, September 9, 2013

September Date Nights

Its been over a month since we introduced date nights, and it's been really great to have that one night of the week set aside just for each others company.

We didn't have date night last Monday because we had family visiting from interstate but here is a whats on for the next 4 weeks.

2nd sept - no date night, family visiting.

9th sept - poker night *wink wink

16th sept - We're going to make pizza together and then draw portraits of each other (good luck to me, I  can't even draw scribble).

23rd sept - A 'French' theme night. We going to cook a French dinner and watch Amelie, a french movie.

30th sept - Cheese and wine on the balcony. Discuss date night ideas for the next month.


Are you up to the challenge?

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that I posted a pic of some Batic fabric given to me by my brother. I was asking if anyone had any ideas of what I could make with it, other than using it for its usual purpose as a sarong. A fellow follower suggested making a 'pirate scarf'... that's right a pirate scarf, my thoughts exactly! 

I honestly don't think I could pull off the somewhat indie look but I feel a challenge worth attempting coming on. I suggested the style dare in a comment and in reply it was suggested that we take on this challenge for Sundays church wear?! Okay, so now it's not just a pirate scarf but I also have to sport it at church! I'm not going to use my new Batic fabric but I will take on the challenge. Anyone else up for it? 
Below are some examples of how a 'pirate scarf'is worn, for fashion not costume. 
On Sunday I will post my look and I'd love to see yours too! Post to Instagram and use #mamaessyfashiondare.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I Quit Sugar :: Weeks 2 & 3

Okay, here I am finally with an update on my "I quit Sugar" detox. On Sunday just gone I completed week 3 and, my it was tough! Week 2 was still in the 'cutting back' phase and I was still allowed to eat sugar in very small doses but then week 3 came along and it was 'cold turkey' time. No fresh or dried fruit. No juice. No muesli or muesli bars. No jams. No condiments containing sugar eg. bbq and tomato sauce. No flavoured yogurts. No honey. No chocolate, soft drinks etc. And basically nothing with more than 6g sugar per 100g.

It was particularly tough because I had my parents and one of my brothers make a spontaneous visit to Darwin and, it gave me that holiday feeling. 'Holiday feelings' tend to come with celebratory food! I wanted to chill out with my family with chocolates, cake, lollies and a bottle of soft drink. Its what you do right?! I was strong enough to resist but I did make a few mistakes along the way.
In the [welcomed] chaos of having 3 extra people bunk in our 2 bedroom unit I ate a few fruit bars and didn't even realize till days later that I ate them - and wasn't supposed to. I also ate a bit of carrot which I later found out is high in fructose. Not really the kind of sugar I'm addicted to and need cutting back on but I did feel like I had let myself down a little. Oh and I've also had an issue with low milk supply (breastfeeding) so along with a herb called 'Fenugreek' (which by the way is a miracle worker for getting your supply back up!) I also took Sustagen which contains a fair bit of sugar. At this point I had to weigh up what was important and of course it was Samson's well-being. I contemplated whether there was even any point continuing the detox if I couldn't do it thoroughly?! I felt like I had failed what I so desperately wanted to achieve.
The two foods that have really helped me through my challenging moments have been natural yogurt with cinnamon and bacon and egg cupcakes
I came to the conclusion that surely it would still be better for me to continue even if I couldn't follow all the rules. The purpose for me doing the detox program was to break my addiction with 'sour worms' and 'chocolate coated licorice', and to replace them with healthier snacks. Although I've made 'Sustagen' the exception I have been keeping to the rules of the detox and I am feeling proud about that.  I will no doubt do the detox again somewhere down the track.

Something else that has also been challenging is peoples negative responses to others wanting to live a healthier lifestyle. I've discovered that there are some narrow-minded and condescending people who think its ridiculous to cut back on sugar. I don't believe I've pushed my 'detox' ways on others, and other then here on my blog I don't tend to talk much about it, or at least not in a way that should make others feel bad about their own eating habits. So its been very frustrating that people will try and bring you down with negative comments, which anyway reads to me that they need to make you look bad in order for them to make themselves feel/look better. I am part way into week 4 and I shall not be moved by negativity!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pen Friends, Where Are They Now?

Yesterday I found myself thinking about the pen friends I used to correspond with via good old 'snail mail'. I wrote to friends who lived only 20 minutes away and then there were friends who lived far away and, I loved writing to each one of them. At what point did I stop sending and receiving letters? What happened? Was there a letter lost in the post, did someone move address, did we lose interest in writing, did busy lives, study and jobs get in the way or, was it technology?
When I moved to Darwin I remember writing to my nanna but sadly she has since passed away. Grandparents are great people to write letters to. Its what they know and its what they did in their day. But I've entered a stage in my life where close relatives are slowly quickly passing away. I've already lost two grandparents in 12 months - but that's for another post. Like our elderly, handwritten letters are fading too. The only other person I currently write to is our sponsor child. 

There's an element of mystery when you write to a friend who you may have only met in the flesh once or twice, and the reason you met was because you were both at the same place for a common reason or interest, a mutual friend even. You know that you both have at least one thing in common. Through each letter received and written there's an unfolding of a special friendship and you're learning about that person with anticipation. 
Today, we seem to stalk for friends on Facebook and hit the 'add friend' button in hope you'll be granted 'instant' friendship. You then scour their profile in attempt discover who they are, photo by photo, status by status, you 'instantly' make up you're own judgement of that person and, who you think they are based on what they have posted. Obviously I do believe a profile says a lot about a person but its all surface knowledge, it's not a close friendship its an acquaintance who we met once and then proceeded to add them on Facebook... to never have another proper conversation with! 
Okay, so maybe some of you use Facebook chat but how often do you chat online with someone you only met once with? Do you get what I'm saying? Friendship on Facebook just isn't deep or intimate enough if you're really wanting to get to know someone and form a close friendship with. 
Social media is merely a stepping stone to close friendship. Other efforts need to be made. That's right, I just said 'effort'. It's too easy to be a Facebook friend, its clicking buttons at your fingertips every so often. A 'like' here and a 'like' there, maybe a comment even.
If there's one thing I've learnt its that friendships require building on and effort (effort you want to put in). Its taking initiative, its making a call, arranging a coffee date, its a meal at your home (which I fail miserably to do) and maybe its a personal handwritten letter. It's making sure you water the seed that was planted so that it grows beautiful and strong. 

I'm feeling like this post is starting to sway from 'writing letters' and turning into a rant about Facebook (which you can read here) but what I'm trying to get across is this:

I miss taking the time to write a letter to a friend. I miss building a friendship through letters and than eagerly looking forward to the day we meet again in person. I miss writing a letter to someone who lives in the same city but who I don't see often. The 21st century is in great need of quality time!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Quit Sugar :: Week 1

As you may already know from a previous post which you can read about here, hubby and I have begun Sarah Wilson's 8 week sugar detox program. I'll just mention that we are doing the program by following her book "I quit Sugar", not via her online program which is also available. You can purchase her book for $25 from Big W if you are interested in giving it a go.

Now I bet you're all wondering how I'm going after my first week (which ended on Monday) of starting the program? It's been surprisingly easy but also challenging. 

What I learnt about sugar this week: 

"its fructose that's the enemy, not sugar, per se". Some of the things that fructose does to are bodies are that it can raise our anxiety levels, mess with fertility and, it makes it harder for our immune system to fight off viruses and infections.

What I changed: 

Although the program doesn't ask you to go cold turkey in the first couple of weeks I did decide to cut out all lollies and chocolate bars. We also stopped having muesli and cut out white breads, rice and pastas and swapped them for brown/wholemeal types.

New ingredients I introduced:

I stocked up on more nuts and bought coconut oil which is one of the 'staple' ingredients for a lot of the sugar-free recipes.

New recipes I tried:

I didn't really get into any of the recipes this week beside introducing eggs and avocado on toast for lunches. Our dinners are already mostly wholesome and healthy. Its the snacks I need sugar-free substitutes for.

What challenged me:

We went to a friends 80's birthday party and I had to resist some very yummy foods including the most delicious and amazing cake you've ever seen! I did have some white bread though. 
The other challenge was going to the supermarket and noticing all the delicious foods such as donuts and alike! 


A few days before starting the program I had started working out but, by the time I had gotten a few days into the detox I started to notice a significant decrease in my milk supply (still exclusively breastfeeding Samson). While I don't think the drop was solely caused by daily 30 min workouts, I do think it contributed. I have been working hard at increasing my supply and won't continue work outs until I feel it has stabilized. 


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Not Fake, Choosing the Positives

I recently read this article on iVillage and it prompted me to write about why I don't post all the bad bits. I read through the comments that others posted on the article and they were mostly negative toward the writer. I'm not quite sure why it was even titled "Why I fake it on Facebook" because from what I read it just sounded like this mum only shared the good bits, and avoided posting the negative bits.

Well, I'm the same and I agree with this mum [writer]. I don't post all the 'bad' bits either. Nobody needs to know that I forgot to change a nappy before putting bubs to bed or that my 18 mo still can't say 8 words like the charts/stats say he should, or that I've had the same load of washing in the machine for 3 days now!  I know I'm not the perfect mother but I already know that I'm a wonderful mum trying to do my best! That's what we're all doing, right? Doing our utmost best for our children who we love dearly. And if I never saw a negative post from a mum on Facebook I don't assume she's perfect or that shes never served up a Vegemite sandwich for dinner. I think she's just another great mum powering on in her role as mother and that she chose to see and post the good above the bad! 

When I do have bad days I usually make a call or shoot a text to a close friend who's also a mother. Another mum who totally gets that you're in tears because you've been up all night with a baby and you've just yelled at your toddler for - you're not sure what! She's had those days and moments too. 
Why set myself up for judgment and negative criticism by posting to the world! Or why should I post in hope that I'll attract enough attention for people to tell me how good a mother I am and, so that I get a bunch of people sending me messages asking me if I'm alright or need something. But most of the time I don't want or need someone to rescue me I just need an understanding ear. If I'm not alright and I want to talk about it then I should initiate that.  

The [not so secret] truth is, that being a parent is damn hard sometimes! And just today I've had a rough morning! I've got two sick babies who are also out of whack because they both had immunizations on Friday and, I am so tired and sleep deprived because my normally sleeping baby wants my attention at 2 hr intervals! Whilst hanging out the washing that had been in the machine since Monday, Rupert got filthy dirty playing with the pot plants, and in my attempt to wash him in the shower he also peed on the bathroom floor and proceeded to walk through it with his dirty feet. That's just part of my morning. It's also just all normal everyday kid stuff but on those off days it all seems bigger then Ben Hur! 

I am not a perfect mother but I try to choose the positive route. I don't want my facebook page to be a whinge-fest just to prove I'm human. All us mums already know what it's really like behind closed doors anyway. We know non of us have it all together, even if it appeared that way. 
I'm honest about my imperfections with others and I love learning from other mums too. Social media just isn't always the right place for it on a continuous or regular basis. 

So whilst I've just shared about my mundane rough morning as a mum (which I will not be posting to facebook) I also want to share my positive 'tidbit' from today. The picture you see at the top of this post, are wooden play eggs lined up on the tv cabinet. I was so delighted when I turned my head from the laptop to hear and see my Rupert bear counting (in baby lingo) as he placed halved eggs side by side. It was both cute and clever. This is the 'bit' I choose to dwell on and remember.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fun from the 80's!

My dear friend Nicole recently turned 30 and to celebrate her birthday she hosted an 80's themed party! Yes, the radical, bright, eccentric, faddy decade of the 1980's. I was born in 1989 so I can't really say I've experienced the culture but, I do know that it was quite a memorable decade for many and even those who've lived through it have expressed their bewilderment for the fashion that was born. As I chatted with a [middle aged] friend on the topic, I learnt that it was all about being 'loud' and 'casual' didn't really have a place. It was an eccentric period in time where clothing said it all! 

Now, I didn't do much research but with little digging I discovered that people in the 80's posed for photos in the most unusual ways. When I pose for a photo today its about smiling, looking nice and like you're having an enjoyable time but, for those in the 80's it seemed they were all making a statement. I got the impression that everyone did aerobics with Olivia Newton John  or that the girls had swallowed a bottle of glitter, causing an unnecessary amount of froufrou and tacky glam! What were they thinking?!

So onto my outfit, what did I wear? This scares me a little because I didn't spend a cent on my costume. Either the 80's was back in fashion or I was way out of fashion! 

I wore a pair of floral jeans that I bought brand new only a few months ago and, a top that I bought over a year ago but love it so much I wear it to death. This top is my go-to everyday any day kind of top. It was roomy enough to take me through two pregnancies and practical for breastfeeding and looked great paired with denim shorts. But having now worn it with my floral jeans I feel like I have committed a huge fashion crime! 
My shoes were hot pink chucks (Which seemed to have stayed in fashion for years!), earrings were from an 80's hens party from a few years back, pearl necklace and bangles were items pulled from my everyday accessories stash  and, my silver handbag is a bag I've been using on a daily basis since I bought it a few months ago! And well, it wasn't the 80's without big hair so I pulled out my trusty crimping iron and tied part of it up into a very dorky do. 
My makeup was probably a little underwhelming for the 80's but I did the best I could with the colours I could find in my make up kit. I used pastel purple, pink and yellow for my eyes, heavily applied blusher and the brightest pink lipstick I owned.

Having arrived at the party it felt as though I had walked into a crazy period of time! Everywhere I looked there was big hair, dorky side ponies, guys in tight short shorts, girls with heavily applied makeup, guys with creepy mullets and mustaches and just way too many bright colours! Everyone truly looked great crazy in their outfits. 
IT WAS SUCH A FUN NIGHT, and as dorky and bogan I think the 80's to be, I think I understand why the fashion took off. In my 80's attire among other 80's party goers I felt young, bright, bubbly, expressed, eccentric and fun! 

Thanks to the talents of my hubby here are a few pics of how I looked. To protect the privacy of others I haven't posted any photos from the party.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Why I'm Quitting Sugar

I grew up in a family of 'fit' people. My dad and Two of my three brothers seem to have metabolisms that never allow them to carry excess weight, even if they sat around eating hot chips and gravy all day! My other brother, sister and mum are all fit people too, but more of the realistic kind. Like me they work hard to keep fit. Mum dances, walks and does yoga, Jake will run 10 kms up a mountain and Bec has been involved with exercises of the more 'fun' kind like Zumba and spinning (maybe not so fun). Dad, Matthew (brother not hubby) and Samuel, well they are the cool kids who surf and do extreme sports like mountain bike riding down mt. Ousley. They lift weights because they don't have kilos to loose, only muscle to build.
And me, well before moving out of home 6 years ago I was fit too but I didn't work out and the only exercise I did was jogging or walking. But I did eat well and maintained a tiny waist. When I hit the 18-19 mark I noticed a change in my body. I started to fill out and I felt my metabolism slow down. I'd say this would be normal for females at that age. I also found it hard to keep fit and I've only dabbled in exercise like zumba, yoga, polercise, dancing and attending the gym. And although I've never increased a dress size and eat healthy meals I've become a huge sugar addict! In fact I've been a sugar addict since my teenage years, it just didn't seem to affect me as much then. I'm addicted to eating chocolate and lollies on an almost daily basis and its draining my energy and good health! My dad was also a sweet tooth but at nearly 65 years old he is a 'fit freak of nature'! 

My dad lives and breaths all things healthy, he still surfs and his body is ripped! I'm not sure I can even imagine my dad getting sick or ever dying, I'm convinced he'll live forever. 
Because dad lives such a healthy lifestyle its something he doesn't stop talking about or giving advice on. There is not a phone call where my dad doesn't ask me if I'm eating healthy and exercising regularly and, if my husband is also looking after his well-being. He even asks about what our kids are eating! There isn't a parcel I don't receive that doesn't contain health food magazines, protein foods or exercise equipment.
Some years back this really bothered me. I felt like I must have been fat or looking out of shape for my dad to be so full on with my eating habits and my exercise regime. I would say that I probably resented him a little because of it. I knew I wasn't overweight but why was he so concerned? Don't all men know that the way to make a girl feel like crap is to talk about her weight and health?!
Well, I've grown up and matured a little and can see that dad isn't trying to make me feel self conscious about how I look (he thinks his daughter is gorgeous after all) but he is trying to teach me to be conscious about my health and eating habits. He too knows what its like to crave sugar and whilst I think he doesn't have to work hard to be fit, he would tell me otherwise. It is hard work and it does take motivating, mentoring and commitment. 

I am 24. I am female. I am curvy... and I love my body! I'm not into recreating my figure, I like it and I can appreciate that God has created us all to be different and, beautiful in our own way. We're not all meant to be tall, thin dark haired beauties! But of course if I could have designed my own body shape than I'd probably change a few things, that's the 'human' in me. 

I'm not quitting sugar because I need to loose weight specifically, I'm quitting sugar because I want to be healthier, fitter and more energized. I also want to tone up and build strength so, I'm committing to just 30 mins of exercise each day.
So what am I doing exactly? I'm following Sarah Willson's "I Quit Sugar" 8 week detox program.

"Sarah's down-to-earth, practical approach
 makes the sugar-quitting process doable, 
while her recipes make it fun."
David Gillespie author of Sweet Poison and Big Fat Lies

So far, I can say that it's a great book and easy to follow. It doesn't have a 'cold turkey' approach and its not a fancy overdressed or overwhelming program. It really is down to earth. I know a few people who have done the program and they only have good things to say about it. 
Matt has decided to do the detox program also. He unlike me isn't a sugar addict but he does want to be healthier and, lose weight in order to reveal his hidden six pack. The program also helps with weight loss.
We've taken a picture of our current (soon to be before) bodies and recorded our weight and measurements. We intend to update with healthier and fitter stats!

Cravings are hard to overcome and exercise is hard to commit to so I'm blogging my way through the program to help me stay focused and motivated. And knowing there are a bunch of people reading this makes me determined to not fail. You all may think you are doing nothing to help me but in fact you are silently motivating me!

And... just a shout out to me friend Emma! I don't know what it is because your health spamming should really annoy me, but you've inspired me. Maybe its our similar body shapes, or that we used to 'pig out' on sour warheads and sour straps together?! hehe


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Date Night Planning

In a recent post last week I wrote about the new found importance of dating my husband continuously for our entire married lives. 
We've decided to have weekly date nights to help us be more deliberate about spending quality time together. Quality time that doesn't consist of constant facebook checking, email and blog writing, instagram posting, news reading and or TV watching! There's something very refreshing about spending time together where our minds aren't constantly buzzing with media 'noise'.  Oh, and without the noise of precious little ones. 

We've chosen Monday nights to be our date night. It's often the day I don't take the boys out for any activities; it’s our home day after coming off of a busy weekend. It’s also the day Matt takes the car to work which means no drop off and pick up for me. I can spend the afternoon preparing a nice meal for Matt and I and make sure Rupert has dinner that bit early so that Matt and I can eat alone. 

It’s really quite simple having a date night. Babies fed and in bed. TV turned off. Phones and ipads out of reach. Nice dinner prepared. And an activity if we so wish. 
Although nice, date nights don't have to be an expensive fine dining experience or a movie on the big screen. It can be done in the comfort of your own home. 
Last week we had a baked dinner with a glass of wine and played a few games of chess. Monday night just gone we again had a nice dinner with wine and did a puzzle together. We didn't get to finish the puzzle - its 1000 pieces! 

Here is what we've got planned for our date nights in the month of August. It's simple and achievable.

5th - 1000 pc Puzzle
12th - Make sushi together. Something neither of us have done.
19th - Watch a movie "Star Trek Into Darkness" (see what a good wife I am :-P)
26th - Zumba workout


Sunday, August 4, 2013

50 Things About Me

  1. Dated Matt for 13 months.
  2. Engaged for 14 months.
  3. Married for nearly 4 years.
  4. I have 2 sons Rupert and Samson, born 14 months apart.
  5. Purchased our first house in early 2013.
  6. My favourite colour is red.
  7. I once had my hair cut to replicate that of Julie Andrews in the sound of music. Biggest hair fail!
  8. Mother by occupation.
  9. Law school dropout.
  10. Seamstress by trade.
  11. Vomited on my first date with Matt.
  12. I love chocolate.
  13. I think blonde is sexy, brunette sophisticated and I can never decide which I prefer to be?
  14. I have 4 siblings and 7 niblings.
  15. Retro is my style.
  16. Vintage my love.
  17. I like wearing lacey nanna nickers.
  18. I have a scar on my shoulder from a scooter accident which gets mistaken for a hicky.
  19. My favourite flower is the tulip.
  20. I dislike tardiness.
  21. I’m not often seen without wearing makeup.
  22. As a little child I was extremely shy, people wondered if I could actually talk!
  23. I dislike being called 'Jess'!
  24. I was homeschooled after year 4.
  25. I would love to raise a big family!
  26. A white lone hair grows on my shoulder; I call it my ‘lucky’ hair!
  27. My maid of honour pulled out my 1 ½ inch long ‘lucky’ hair on my wedding day! It grew back.
  28. I only like to drink hot beverages from a teacup.
  29. I love opera.
  30. When I was a teenager I wanted to become an opera singer.
  31. I can’t sing!
  32. My husband is a very talented muso.
  33. I’m a crazy dancer.
  34. I like wearing red lipstick.
  35. I threw cupcakes at my wedding.
  36. My jewellery style is ‘art deco’.
  37. I love all things crafty such as knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting and random DIY projects.
  38. I dislike scrapbooking but do it occasionally.
  39. I like dressing up.
  40. I would like to do some maternity modelling.
  41. I don’t like printed t-shirts
  42. It’s not Christmas without a homemade pavlova.
  43. I like walnut stained furniture.
  44. My dad buys me a new watch every Christmas.
  45. My favourite book is “The Cat of Bubastes” by G A Henty.
  46. I learnt to play piano and the trumpet.
  47. My most desired appliance is a red KitchenAid stand mixer.
  48. I’m a big Tupperware fan.
  49. I like watching period dramas.
  50. I like spicy food. 


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fall in Love Again and Again...

One baby is okay, very manageable but 2 babies well that's a juggle. You are feeding one baby and hubby is wrangling the other baby who seems to have more energy than would be considered normal! You no longer hold hands with your sweetheart because someone is pushing the pram, holding the newborn or walking the child with ants in his pants.
When hubby gets home from work, it’s a passing kiss, quick hug and a sneaky pinch on the bum. It’s back to the stove where you've been cooking that Ossobuco for 3 hours, but surely it’s got to be done already!  You try to speed the process up cos it’s got to be on that Bunnykins plate asap and then has to be put in the freezer for a 1 min to cool. There are tiny fingers waiting anxiously for his dinner and it doesn't matter how many times you say the word "patience", he just aint getting it. So, out of the freezer and onto the table, we try and say grace as a family but we must keep one eye open for the little Bunnykins fork that is nearly poking us in the eye. Seriously, how do you teach a 16 month old patience! We chow down dinner and by now it’s nearing 6:30pm and that's a good thing. Rupert takes a book from the shelf and hops onto daddy's knee for his bedtime story in the bedroom. Daddy reads him the same book he chose the night before, and the night before that and… the night before that! But that's okay, daddy doesn't even need to read, he knows this book off by heart. Into bed, lights out and we're one down one more to go! A quick tidy up in the play room oops sorry no, that's actually our lounge and dinning but only takes a few minutes and we can see that.
Life is certainly fuller with children, it’s challenging, rewarding, tiring, fascinating and exciting and, whilst you may miss the good old days before babies, you never seem to regret having them.

The stats say that the divorce rate in mature age couples is rising. Parents have invested so much love and time into their children (not a bad thing) that once they're no longer living at home they discover their marriage to be somewhat estranged. Life has been so full and busy with raising children that they forgot to continue growing their relationship and friendship.
Matt and I haven't even been parents for 2 years and we already understand these stats. We have a good loving and committed relationship but we don't 'date' anymore. Holding the title of husband and wife and mother and father, we seem to think we're qualified for eternal love and happiness. Not so.
I believe in falling in love with just 'one' person but I also believe you need to fall in love with that person many times over.
 I fell head over heels for Matt when we were dating and it’s for that reason I wanted to know more about him. It’s called dating. But why is it that after marriage we no longer see the need to date and continue to get to know each other? After all we're still individuals and we are still growing and changing.
I am a wife before I'm a mother! My husband comes before my children and when my relationship with Matt is being nurtured and growing strong it allows us to be good parents. We can then be good examples of love and commitment to our sons.

When Matt and I were dating I asked him what his favourite food was, his answer was "donuts". A few years passed and I asked him again, the answer was still "donuts"! But then I asked him just a few days ago and his answer was no longer the same, his favourite food had changed. My husband’s favourite food was now "hot chips"(of all things)! If I had not asked I would have assumed donuts to be his favourite for many more years to come.

 I want to know my husband both through his unchanging habits and through his changing likes.
So, we've decided to date again! We're introducing date nights. A concept not unfamiliar to many of you but for us it is new. With the birth of Rupert we didn't seem to feel the need but when Samson came along we began to feel the stretch of marriage, it subtly becomes all about bedtime stories, dirty nappies, baby babel and milestones. But when there are no more dirty nappies and you no longer have little children to read bedtime stories to, what will we do with ourselves? We must start now. We must engage in each other’s interests together. We must continuously date and fall in love so that when we are old we can show that we weren't just committed by law but that we have always loved as husband and wife should.
We shall never fall out of love but we will constantly try to fall in love again and again.

As it’s a new month I have started to write up a date night planner.  We have chosen Monday nights to be our “date night” and as we intend to have our date nights at home because it is logistically and financially easier, we are having to be a little creative. But this is for another post. Stay tuned.

on one of our dates back in 2007 just weeks after the Darwin Show ordeal.