winging it mum

Working out in a 2012 Gym

Last year I decided to join a gym for so many reasons:

  • I wanted to be able to go for a walk pushing the kids in the pram and not sound like I was hiking up Mount Everest!
  • I wanted to feel my body ache because I chose to exercise and not just from hanging over the side of the cot for half the night!
  • I wanted to have energy and not just remember the good old days when I did!
  • I wanted to feel comfortable in my clothes again and not question if my clothes had shrunk!
  • I wanted to do something for me:)

A new gym was being promoted in our area and if I bought a two-year membership and paid up in cash (a few months before it opened) I would have myself a bargain foundation membership (please read foundation membership in a game show announcers voice – thanks) into the gym of the decade!!! A little too good to be true hey! Well all the above motivating factors took over and I did it. I “invested” a chunk of money into a gym membership. This is what some would call a “high risk” investment. I had a gym membership once upon a time way back in high school with a best friend and then for about 6 months while I was at Uni. So what had I been doing since – well I had seasons of netball, snowboarding, surfing and well then…………. kids? I lifted and chased them around all the time! But I wanted more!!!!!

Then my fabulous gym’s opening was delayed several times and finally opened 4 months late in January 2012. Please take note here that when I went to the gym it was back in the late 90’s, and then early 2001. Take a moment to think of the music of the day, 90’s exercise attire and well my reason to exercise back then. All of these things had changed dramatically. And for that I am thankful!

As I walked through the door of my new and shiny gym (when it finally opened) I felt like I had stepped into the future. I was given a tour by my personal trainer (included in my foundation membership) the gym was amazing. The space was open and light. There was every machine under the sun and it could tell me so many stats on my performance etc that made me spin, I could watch TV, listen to my chosen tunes; all whilst working out. There was even a rotating rock climbing wall – uhuh. There was a room full of exercise bikes – where you do a class of riding, there was a group dynamic studio (interesting name for aerobics room!), mind and body studio (yoga, Pilates etc) and performance training studio (boot camp, personal training area etc). There was even a child care space.

I looked around excited about what lay ahead and dreamed about my time at the gym.

After attending the gym for the last 5 months there are a few things I have noted about getting fit in the year 2012. I would like to share some of these observations with you:

  • It appears that people dress to impress when working out. Now this is something that I don’t really get: Lorna Jane! (sorry to single you out here). Let it be known I think your clothes look great but seriously those prices!!!!!!! I don’t get it as well. My aim when I get dressed and hit the gym is that I try to look bad (and I can achieve this look well). Yep! As I am forced to stand in a room with mirrors taking in my every angle. I am reminded why I am there. Plus I am too tight/thrifty to pay for expensive clothes that all I am going to do is sweat in! I would rather spend money on clothes that I will wear on a special night out or on every day clothes. It appears I may be alone in my thinking though;)
  •  Group classes aren’t just for the coordinated! All those who have participated in an “aerobics” class I want you to think of the person that seems to be working out to their own music, facing the wrong way and well free styling most of their moves. Some do this happily or others are sweating more from the humiliation then the workout! Ok, so that image sums me up! I blame this on me being left-handed and having to re-order my natural movements to the opposite side of my body and then get confused whilst doing this and looking in a mirror!! In 2012, the good news is there are heaps of classes out there for people like me!!! I am making an effort to try all the classes out, even some of the more dancier classes like Zumba, which I swore I would never to do! Yes, there have been times where my mind has had more of a work out then my poor body as I try to get some of the routines. I found the ultimate Zumba class where I had flash backs to my clubbing days and I felt like I was in a flash mob scene. I have found classes that stretch, push, challenge, exhaust and entertain me. However, I have also noted that some classes are being created to just be a little different and well I think some of these are trying a little too hard – no hard feelings gym stick!
  • Music has and hasn’t changed: I am loving hearing music with a good beat again. I am even learning lots of new songs – but the only problem is that now I associate these songs with sit ups, burpees and lifting hand weights;). The other day I was in a class where they played all of my favourite dance songs from back in my uni days. I had to bite my tongue before I sang along or yelled “ooh, ooh” whilst pointing to the ceiling and I must have looked like a sweating cheshire cat!
  • Women are encouraged to attend gyms: Included in my foundation membership, was 6 months free childcare! The fact that there is even a childcare space is cool. My change rooms have a plasma in them, showers like you find in a hotel, hair dryers and straighteners and a steam room. The styles of classes offered and their timetable factor in women. My gym is a unisex one and it does all of this! Very impressive:) Huge advancements from the 90’s.
  • Motivation still falls on you: Despite the brilliance and advancements found in the 2012 gym, motivation still falls on your own shoulders. From my gym iPhone app I can set a reminder on my phone to tell me to leave for a particular class but it can’t push me out the door to get there. As a mother of two young kids, I am finding that my motivation to get out and attend a class can be there (and  extra strong depending on the day we have had – haha) but sometimes sick kids, sleep deprivation, full childcare etc can prevent me from attending the gym. This is frustrating! But also encouraging and motivating for me in itself because I am sad that I miss my workout and not relieved – proving I am motivated!!

All in all the advancements of the 2012 Gym are great and they have definitely encouraged me an accustomed couch warmer to get up and get fit! So I thankyou 2012 Gym for helping me to get active, energised and helping me to feel so much better. I am also enjoying the social side of the working out with new and old friends. I had put off getting fit for so long, then I had kids and that also stopped me. If this is you can I encourage you to do whatever it takes to look at fitting exercise into your personal and/or family routines. If you need some help with this read this helpful post from the planning with kids website. The gym may not be for you but don’t let that stop you from staying healthy.

Leave a comment and share how you exercise in 2012! Lets encourage each other HERE  people (and especially now it’s Winter, for those of us here in Australia)!

Em xx

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What puts a smile on your dial?

So since last Wednesday sickness has struck the kids of our house (and hopefully no one else)! This little cold didn’t strike and knock then down in the dramatic fashion that most do. It has been more a of a slow progressing and annoying cold ending with a dramatic all-consuming cough. So needless to say that some of our days have been long and exhausting. My poor little ones:( Jas is on the home stretch and poor little Elijah was struck worse and not yet recovered!

After quite a protest and struggle to get Elijah to have his day sleep (out of character), I was exhausted and a little flat. After seeing a friend’s Facebook status and seeing how much she loved this week’s New Girl episode,  I decided to watch the it too (Season 1 – Episode 17). The housework could wait. This is a series that I have watched from time to time and have really enjoyed and Brett decided to record it for me as we were going out. There is something about the characters of the show and in particular Jess, that I really like.   In this episode Jess was soaked from an out of control Bidet.

Thanks Jess!

All of a sudden I was transported to a different time and place where I too had a similar experience. I was in South Korea, visiting a teacher’s family home (from the school I was doing my teaching rounds at). Her elderly parents and middle-aged siblings had never met a westerner  – sorry I think I tarnished our reputation.

I needed the toilet and was shown where to go. Upon entry I knew I was in trouble. It was a small room. If I sat on the toilet, I could in fact turn on the shower and actually start to wash myself whilst on the throne. And even wash my hands in the basin! After assessing all of that in seconds I decided to mount the throne, only to take a second look at the control panel next to me covered in Korean writing and with at least 10 buttons on it. Having previously lived in and travelled throughout Asia I had never experienced such a control pad. Not one button explained to me its function  – not even a power on etc. I suddenly longed for the previously dreaded squat toilet!  I did my business and then my automatic pilot kicked in and I dropped my toilet paper in the bowl. OH NO! (in Asia usually the used paper would be put in a bin). So now not only did I have to get rid of my business but also the toilet paper!!! It took me ages before I did the inevitable; working my way through each and every button on the pad (TWICE, yep thought I may have missed a button).

Not as high tech as the toilet/bidet I used!

With each button a new and thrilling water spectacular happened, all it was missing was an accompanying laser light show. There were some sprays that were so big I screamed as I tried to dodge them. Some I managed to avoid, only to hear the sound of water hitting the tiled wall opposite! But at least half of them sprayed onto my white shirt. Yep!

Time check: Ok, so I had been in there about 10 minutes with no toilet flush, rather silence accompanied by very loud screams and the sound of water hitting the tiles. I can only imagine the faces of the family outside who could only hear me. After a while I gave in and had to call in the teacher to help me with the fundamental task of flushing the toilet. She entered to find a wet shirt competition in play, in a saturated bathroom, with the bonus of toilet paper and my business in her loo! Yep, I half laughed as I explained my problem. Then she leant over to the other side of the toilet and pulled down the lever that was so obviously attached to the side of the toilet and then flushed it. Ok, a new level of red washed over my face. I had flushed toilets like this so many times. But I saw the pad and panicked not even looking for a normal flusher! Upon leaving the bathroom, my friend spoke in Korean to her family members who all began to laugh – maybe the same embarrassed laugh I had just laughed! I would have loved to have had subtitles flash before me as she explained the antics of this crazy saturated, red-faced Westerner! Like I said I may have tarnished our reputation;)

Thankyou Gub, New Girl and Brett for reminding me of that hilarious experience! Extra shout out to New girl for the tears of laughter that came out of my eyes later in the episode. I guess what this reminded me of was the importance of humour. When the kids are sick I do anything I can to make them feel better. I give them extra cuddles, their favourite foods, the TV is on more than ever and I try my best to make them laugh by tickling them in their favourite spots etc. All of this is done for the purpose of cheering them up. As Mothers, I think we can become so fixated on our children that we lose sight of the importance of taking time out for us. When Elijah awoke from his nap he found a fresh and happy Mum all because I took some time out and better still had a laugh!

So what is it that could put a smile on your dial? Break you out of the flat, tired state that we can sometimes find ourselves in. Have you had a similar experience lately?

For me sometimes it’s a TV show, reading, doing craft, writing this blog or the latest using Pinterest. Give it some thought and arm yourself with these tools. You never know when you will need it. Just be aware that the more you do this the more refreshed you will feel and therefore the better mothering you can offer.

I should end with a joke here so you can practice smiling.

Here is Jasmine’s favourite joke at the moment:

Knock, Knock

Who’s there?

Arch.

Arch who

Bless you 🙂

Em xx

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My SMART phone is making me dumb!

When the iPhone first came out I thought to myself, I don’t really need that. I just need a mobile phone to make calls from, to SMS on and to take photos and shoot videos on. So I watched on as more and more of my close friends and family got these phones and they seemed to be on them non stop! I shock my head at them and thought my goodness this is crazy! Life is happening around them but they are not noticing as they are fixated on their phones!

Then all of sudden I needed a new phone.

My side note/rant is how annoying is it that these days that technology is made

to only have a short life-span so we are forced to upgrade and get the latest

gadget as to repair the existing or replace batteries etc is so expensive!

So I was faced with a decision. Did I get a SMART phone (the pretty white iPhones had just been released) or just get a basic phone? My choice was made and I went with the iPhone, vowing to myself that I would not turn into one of those people with my phone on me at all times, obsessed with things I didn’t need to be, at times that I didn’t need to be.

So how am I going with that you ask?

I am a failure:(

With a SMART phone you can buy and down load applications (apps) onto phone and they are there to aid you as you go about your daily life!

Some of my well used apps are:

  • Facebook – most of my Facebook time now is done on my iPhone. You can’t do everything that you can on a computer but you can do most things
  • weather zone – so we can check the weather whilst preparing for the day
  • hey tell – this app allows you to send voice messages to others and saves you from having to text
  • NAB – I can do my banking from my phone
  • eBay – If I am watching some items on eBay it will remind me that the auction will be ending soon
  • Safari – The search engine I use for the internet
  • Flash Light – I use my phone as a torch at night when I need to go in and check on my kids
  • Find my iPhone – I often misplace my phone and Brett is able to see on his phone where mine is and show me or even send an alarm that will activate helping me to find my phone. It can even remotely lock the phone and put a pin number on it. Best app around I think:) If only they had an app to find my keys:) or do they?
  • WordPress – edit, view or read blogs (including this one)
  • Instagram – taking or editing my photos with this app is fun
  • maps – I use this like a GPS often when I travelling somewhere new
  • notes – I record my random thoughts, ideas and info on these pages
This isn’t all the apps that I have on my phone but some of the ones that I have found useful and/or I frequently use. I really don’t go hunting for these but I find new apps through friend’s recommendations and some blogs that I read etc. We also are lucky enough to have an iPad so there are some apps that I will only put on that as the SMART phone screen is too small etc. I haven’t even mentioned the ones that we have for the kids. These I might save for another post!
Generally speaking apps are designed to make my life easier, what I have found is that my life with my iPhone has become more complicated, as I become dependant and reliant on my SMART phone. I reach for the phone for everything; to solve problems, manage me, entertain me and keep me informed. I know I have a problem. I realise I am on my phone too much, not calling people but rather doing everything but! I don’t want to be a person with my phone on me at all times. With my head down as life is flashing me by.
I have had some wake up moments for me recently on this issue:
  1. I attended a parents information night at kinder and the speakers were a speech therapist and an occupational therapist. During their sharing they really touched on how much our kids love and adore us. As previously mentioned (here) when our kids play they mimic us their parents. They do this because they love us and we are their world. We were challenged to be in their world more and more! To put down our phones, computers and turn off the TV and give our kids our undivided attention as we play with them. I am sad to say that most of the room were convicted by this as we all realised that we were guilty of not doing this enough.
  2. Brett and I both want technology to be used well in our family. Brett has been conscious lately of us using our phones etc around the kids too much. We limit their exposure to TV and their use of the iPad etc but how are we modelling this to them. It will only be a matter of time until in their negotiating for more technology time that they will mention our usage. So Brett has a good point pushing for us to be more conscious of the way and manner in which we use our technology.
  3. Upon returning home from a play date in the park recently, I realised that I had left my phone at the park! We were luckily able to use my phone locator app and see it was still at the park, allocate it a pin and I was able to quickly drive there and rescue it. I was frantic about this because I could lose my expensive phone, I would lose precious photos and videos of the kids, notes that I had taken and well I panicked about how different my life would be if it were stolen! Uhuh!!!! Alarm bells hey – it’s just a phone!!!!!! (luckily enough we were reunited).
  4. I have recently become angry at my phone. I have realised that I am expecting so much from my SMART phone and it is failing to meet my expectations! I am frustrated that some of the apps I use don’t do everything that the program can do when I use it on the computer. Like when I link my new post from here to Facebook sometimes it only shows up on my news feed and not on others! Hello relax! You are using a phone and not a computer! Yes an iPhone functions like a computer but at the end of the day it is a smaller version that does have its limitations.

I am sad to say that I am addicted to my SMART phone. It has out-smarted me and attracted me with its tantalising apps, ease of use and smooth design. My intelligence has dropped as I no longer need to remember things, plan ahead as much and entertain myself. Yes, my phone has won for now but I am determined to claim back my brain, my time and cut my dependence on a device!!! I am working on my strategy as you read this and will give you updates on what I am doing and how it is going!

Surely I am not alone here. Are you addicted to your SMART phone? If any of this has prompted you to make changes as to how you use your SMART phone let me know so we can encourage each other. Also let me know what you do to limit technology usage in your house.

Em xx

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Thrifty Thursday #4

So it’s Thursday and time to share some new-found bargains!

Bargain Boots

In the land of Oz we are heading into Winter, in Melbourne it would appear lately that we are well and truly there already!!!! Recently, I was doing my weekly shop at Coles and I was shocked to find little desert boots for $2.50 a pair! Crazy hey!!!! So we bought 2 pairs; one for Jas and one for Elijah! Each pair came with a set of spare laces. Jas wore her’s for the first time today and even scored a few compliments, to which I had to tell them how cheap they were!! They came in Pink, Grey and Navy. Rookie mistake; I should have applied a suede shoe protector spray before Jas wore them as they are already marked. They are still in Coles stores until stocks run out. When I was there I saw they had sizes 6-9. Not sure if other sizes are available? But it’s definitely worth grabbing a few pairs if you can find the size you need.

Family Friendly recipes

Those who know me, know I need inspiration when it comes to cooking for my family. There is a magazine that I have purchased recently that I never thought I would – it’s Family Circle. It was recommended by a friend and last winter. I secretly (well no longer a secret) love the recipes. They are simple, delicious and the ingredients are often ones I have already or would normally buy. The magazine only comes out twice a year; a winter and a summer/Christmas edition. This edition’s recipes include indulgent choc/caramel desserts (wouldn’t serve them to my kids as I try to limit their sugar intake but I love it!), crumbles and tarts, savoury pies and tarts, filling soups, roasts, award-winning potatoes, lots of vegetarian meals, pasta and comforting casseroles. All for just $5.95! Not bad and worth checking out:)

Price check!!!!!

Here is an activity that I have started to play with the kids and they love it!!! Jas has a toy cash register that scans, it has a microphone for price checks and full of (now torn) play money. We go to our pantry and take out canned items, boxed items, bagged goods and set up a little store. We haven’t done it with fresh produce yet but I plan to. Then we take turns being a “shopper”, with their helpful “child”and a “cashier”. They select, scan, make announcements (that constantly crack me up), take the money, bag the goods etc. we used to do this with their toy food and other toys in the area pretending they had a bar code. This new game they love as its so realistic and every item has a bar code to scan. I love using real and heavy items not using empty cereal boxes etc. It also makes me look through my canned goods stock taking my items as I go:) They seriously love this game and it’s a great one to play on a wet and rainy day. This is cheap entertainment at its best:)

Price Check on soup, price check!

My stash from the Baby and Kids Market

As mentioned previously, I went to the Blackburn Baby and Kids market on Saturday. I normally go to these markets alone but I took Jas this time and met my mum there. We got there before it opened and queued up (always a good sign). Jas made the first purchase of the day using her savings and bought some 50 cent fairy wings! That’s my girl xx I love snapping up seasonally appropriate items at these markets; we got a retro ski suit for Elijah and a couple of gorgeous and warm jackets for the kids. I even managed to buy some birthday gifts. They had a new book stall selling Usborne books, we love those books. Best thing about these markets is knowing I have helped a family recoup some cash, made sustainable spending choices, saved some cash and had fun rummaging! It was great to bump into lots of friends there too. Look for second-hand markets in your local area and get amongst it;)

Hope you too have had some thrifty luck lately! Tell me about your bargains!

Em xx

PS Fresh off the press a lovely friend at Living Simply But Well is also experiencing Thrifty Thursday moments check it out here

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Mimicking Mother

As a little girl I loved playing with dolls and with our doll’s house that my Grandpa made. I loved naming my dolls, dressing them and doing their hair. Two of my favourite dolls were Felicity and Victoria. Felicity was a My Child doll. Do you remember these? They were dolls with joints that moved, they had soft skin, pretty eyes and shiny hair. Felicity had two piggy tails (until I learnt to braid hair) and usually wore a sailor’s dress.

Then there was Victoria. She was a “special” doll! I had wanted a Cabbage Patch doll and my mum didn’t like them (their plastic heads, the myth of being born behind a cabbage patch, their adoption certificate and she thought they were over priced). Being the innocent looking, but sneaky child that I was; I had a plan. For my Birthday, I begged Mum for a Cabbage Patch Doll themed party. I figured everyone would bring their dolls and so I would have to have one too! Clever and cunning hey!

Mum let me have the party. However, for my present, I was given Victoria; a HAND MADE CABBAGE PATCH DOLL that Mum had bought! Not quite what I had in mind! Being double the size of a “normal” cabbage patch doll, made with jointed limbs, terry towelling skin, a soft head and minus the signature on her bottom; my plan had failed. So there I was surrounded by my friends with their original Cabbage Patch dolls and all the Cabbage Patch merchandise party supplies holding my Victoria. After getting over my initial shock and getting used to lugging her around I did love my big doll Victoria:)

Can you guess which doll Victoria is?

These days I love to watch Jasmine play with her dolls (and Felicity and Victoria). Jasmine was 26 months old when Elijah was born and she was just getting into mothering her dolls. When I would look after our little baby Elijah, Jasmine would be caring for Baby doll (her first and favorite doll). She would change her nappy, breast feed her, burp her and walk her around in the pram. She must have been doing something right as Baby doll never cried like Elijah did;) In those early days of Elijah’s life, Jasmine got to see how a young child is cared for and the routine involved and she would then copy and mimic me. Even now with 20 month old Elijah, Jasmine will talk to Elijah like we do and try to teach him things and read to him like we do!

This year Jasmine started Kinder. In one of the information sessions we were told how important it is for kids to imitate, role play and participate in pretend play. Her kinder teacher joked and said they actually learn a lot about us from the kids as they mimic us whilst playing in the pretend kitchen, shop and as they clean the house etc!!! What else she said after that, I am not sure as I went into shock!!!! Oh no! What is my child going to do and say as she mimics me to the world!!!! I still shudder to think about this:)

However, this got me to thinking. I guess I often refer back to how I was raised and how my parents treated, taught and loved us. This helps to guide me, correct me and encourage me especially in my parenting. I still to this day mimic my Mum at times. Since the passing of my Dad I have also realised that I am more like him than I realised. I am sure we have all said or done something and laughed (or cried) to ourselves as we’ve realised that we too, mimic our mother or father. The big questions is: Would I have given my daughter a Victoria? You know what, more and more since having kids I have realised that I all I want to do is protect them and I want what is best for them. I have also realised that to be a good mother means that I don’t have to give my kids everything that they want – in fact by making well thought out or tough calls I am being a better mother. Already I know that I will give Jas a “Victoria” is she wants a Bratz doll. I don’t like those dolls – in my opinion they are contributing to the sexualisation of children! So I too will annoy Jas someday with decisions I make!

Today being Mother’s Day,I want to take this opportunity to tell you all; I love my Mum to bits (despite not getting the Cabbage Patch doll). My mother is an incredible women. She is generous with her time and money. She is so encouraging, supportive, loving and courageous. She lives her life serving her God, her family and her friends. She touches the lives of so many people through all the volunteering that she does. Can I mimic her? I hope I can!!! I hope I can live my life like she does. I try daily to love my children with the same unconditional love that she has loved us with and I will always want what’s best for my children, as she still does. My sister posted on Facebook the other day a gorgeous picture and quote “Every day I become a little bit more like my mother. And I couldn’t be prouder! :)” I love this quote!! Mum, I want you to know that I plan to mimic you – sorry for the times I will fail but thanks for being such a hard act to follow!!!

Em xx

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I could have killed my in-laws!!!!!!

We can’t choose our biological family can we? Then when you meet someone and fall in love you inherit another whole family! It could be argued that we have chosen this family but often it’s the person we have chosen to love and we get the bonus of their family! Sometimes this a gift and other times it’s a curse. What is it for you?

Whenever in-laws are depicted in the media they are seen as interfering, obnoxious, intimidating and atrocious. It is assumed that the relationship between a daughter-in-law and mother in-law is strained, forced and grating as each one is determined to show the other that they know what is best for their son/husband. Typically the Father-in-law struggles to accept the son-in-law as being good enough for their princess. Reality shows try to manipulate or demonstrate the tension that exists between these relationships. Movies and TV sitcoms dramatise and look for a laugh when depicting the modern family.

With all this in mind it’s no wonder I nearly killed my in-laws!

How did I do this you ask? Well my husband had invited his parents over to our house last week a few days before his birthday! Being the wonderful and inspired cook that I am, I prepared our meal. The day before I had made a massive pot of Vegetable soup for a group of friends that we had lunch with. You know the kind of soup where you put every vegetable that you can think of in and cook it in stock, blend it together and there you have a soup. So I decided that we should have a small bowl of soup for entrée and I had risotto for our main course. It was funny that day the kids were extra hungry and we couldn’t actually wait for Brett to get home from work so I thought we could have the soup first before he came home. I dished everyone’s up and ran back into the kitchen to add my last ingredient to my baked risotto. Meanwhile in the dinning room I had heard Jasmine say that the soup was gross! Now my kids love soup! But the day before when we had friends over for lunch and her good friend had said he didn’t like soup but was made to eat it. So I just assumed that Jasmine was copying him. So I reminded her that she had 2 bowls of the soup the day before and not to be silly.

Then my mother-in-law called out and asked what was in the soup! To which I replied so many vegetables and cooked in stock. So by the time I joined the table to have my soup my father-in-law had finished his bowl, Elijah had finished his and was having some more of his Grandmothers, my mother-in-law had half of her bowl (and had given some away) and Jasmine had only had one mouth full. I sighed happy to be seated and then took my first spoonful of soup. After which my face screwed up as I tasted the soup I had served everyone! It tasted like vinegar and somehow this wintery dish had fermented??? I whisked the bowls away from everyone – but for some the damage was done! How this soup went off is still a mystery as it had no meat, no dairy just stock and vegetables. It wasn’t refrigerated for as long as I normally would but it wasn’t out long enough to make it go bad!

I briskly served the risotto for those that were game! Which was complimented – how could it not be after following that soup! In all this drama the Birthday boy still wasn’t home and so later he ate his dinner alone:(

Now here is the real twist to my tale! I love my in-laws. There are the opposite of all the stereotypes when it comes to in-laws. They are generous, loving, caring, embracing, adventurous (even more so now having survived my soup!), humourous and supportive. So when I write that I could have killed my in-laws – there is no snicker or evil cackle that follows! I write it with an embarrassed and mortified feeling! As we gathered to celebrate the birth of their son I could have killed the people who put him on this earth!

Funnily enough they came four times that week for dinner and birthday celebrations – this isn’t a normal week:). The next time my father-in-law entered the house after me nearly poisoning him he came in carrying a tin of soup saying he would eat that soup rather than mine;0 And then still scared they cooked for the kids the next time they came 🙂 But all had been forgotten by the last meal of the week;) Well not really – my lovely father-in-law had told the world of the incident and well now I am telling those that he didn’t get to!

Couple of lessons I have learnt:

  1. Sit down and eat with your guests – so you can identify disasters early
  2. Listen to your daughter and don’t be quick to assess the situation!
  3. Refrigerate soup straight away after making it
  4. Wait for the Birthday boy before you eat dinner

In the lead up to Mother’s Day I want to thank my Mother-in-law for having such a wonderful son and for both of his parents who have raised him to be the man who I love! And can you babysit next week? (hahaha)

Do you get along with your in-laws? Have you ever poisoned someone you love? I would love to hear your tales!

Em xx

My Soup Lovers

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Thrifty Thursday – Market to market to buy a ……..

It’s been ages since I have posted a Thrifty Thursday post. My husband may laugh at me using the words thrifty and markets together in the one heading but I think I save money shopping at markets!!

Let me explain/justify myself:

  1. At farmers markets I can buy fresh produce from the farmers direct, rather than buying fruit and vegetables that may have been stored or in transit for a period of time
  2. I can support local business, crafters, designers and charities through my purchases or entry fees paid.
  3. I can go to a market and find a one of a kind, unique, vintage or handmade item. Yes, these can be pricey but saves me traipsing through the shops tired of seeing the same old same old stuff ie wasting my time and then me settling on something that the person already has – Are you with me on this?
  4. At second hand markets I can reuse others people’s trash and make it my treasure which helps the environment in sooooo many ways. Also grab bargains of items that appear brand new!

Justification aside, its safe to say I love markets. Markets excite me. I love all types of markets, really I’m not fussy!!!! Farmers markets, craft markets, baby & kids markets, church or school fêtes – I could go on. For just under 2 years we lived in Taiwan. Those in the know understand how my love for markets grew living there and traveling around Asia in particular! Taiwan is famous for its night markets and all the special snacks you can only buy at them. I loved the clothes, accessories and random things we’d find at them.

These days back in Melbourne I am still in love with markets! I go to a huge variety of markets but below are a few that I have been to and liked! Click on the underlined words to read more from the market’s websites. Some of these markets you may know and perhaps there will be some newbies for you:

  1. Baby and kids Markets – This is a well known market that travels to different venues across all of the states and ACT. I have grabbed, bought and browsed through several of the venues that they hold their markets at. They are busy and the earlier you get there the better bargains you can find. The majority of stall holders sell used items clothing, furniture, prams, equipment, toys and books. However, there are also some stall holders that sell new items too. I love being able to buy all the expensive brand names but at bargain prices!!! The beauty of these markets is that no two markets are ever the same! Come with me to the next on in Melbourne it will be held in Blackburn (at One Community Church) on the 12th of May – but don’t grab what I want;) read more about it here! Only draw back is they do charge $4 per adult for entry but kids are free!
  2. Matilda’s Market – Ok so this isn’t the cheapest children’s market but this is the kind of market where you can find something special, unique or original. I don’t leave this market with lots of full bags but I have bought some beautiful items and been inspired by things I’ve seen etc. It’s a great market for gifts or special outfits. Their website is good too and has lots of interesting stuff to be found there. The next Melbourne Market is the 29th July and they are found in other states too.
  3. The Finders keepers – Love, love, love this market but sadly missed their recent one:( and they only have two a year! This market has a great mix of beautiful designed items for adults, children and the home. Only problem is I leave this market wishing I had unlimited funds;) There next Melbourne isn’t until Oct:( varied prices are found at this market:)? This market is in Brisbane and Sydney too!
  4. Magnolia Square – Another lovely market but not full of just kids stuff. It’s a smaller market than the others I’ve listed but still full of lovely gift ideas. It’s on From the 3-5th May at the Malvern Town Hall. Again not a cheap market though! Melbourne only market.
  5. Melbourne Design Market -This is another great market held in the car park at Federation square I like this one as it showcases Melbourne Designers a lot of who are launching their businesses etc. Next one is on the 29th July.
  6. Skirt & Shirt Market – Held the third Sunday of every month at the Abbortsford convent I am a fan of this market but don’t get there often. The next market is the 20th of May.
  7. Warrandyte community craft market – This market is on the 1st Saturday of the month. It has local craft, amazing cards (best stall Indigo and Rose -when they are there!) and good produce too!
  8. Red Hill Community Market – Massive craft market with very regular stalls. First Saturday of the month from September through to May.
  9. Camberwell Sunday Market – Run by the Rotary club, this is a large outdoor second hand market (with some new good sold too) that is on every Sunday (except the Sunday before Christmas!) Check it out!!!
  10. Farmers Markets – I don’t have a regular market I go to (but I would love one!) but we always stop when we see one. What are your favourite farmer’s markets, especially if you are a Melbournian?
  11. Local Markets or Fêtes – These are the gems that you find advertised in your local paper or on real-estate sponsored boards in your local area. I love to support these and these are the ones we love to go to as a family.

As soon as I post this I will think of more but these are a few to check out! What have I missed?

What kind of markets do you like?

Happy Market going guys!

Em xx

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Free-styling and UPUPcycling

 Are you a person that modifies recipes, instructions and patterns? Perhaps you do. I hope it works for you!

Generally I like to follow a recipe, especially if it’s my first time making a dish. Only after cooking a dish several times do I feel at liberty to modify or substitute ingredients. On the flip side though I do like to create my own dishes by using up pantry or fridge items  – you know wing it Master Chef style! At times I am relieved there are no cameras rolling and other times I want the world to see my dish;)

Instructions or manuals are something that I usually try to follow out of fear of breaking something before I even get to use it. I usually have to read the manual or instructions thoroughly the first time because I usually misplace them by the time I actually need them:) Funnily enough Brett and I tried to play junior Cluedo tonight and learn the rules before playing it with Jas; but we had trouble finding the instruction booklet and I even googled them just as Brett had found the original! Have you ever had to do that?

So I am not very adventurous in these areas yet for some reason when it comes to sewing and following a pattern I suddenly feel I can modify the instructions, substitute fabrics and I go all Project Runway! This actually cracks me up as I am a self taught hack of a sewer who definitely has no idea.

Here are some current examples of my freestylin’ sewing efforts feel free to laugh (preferably to yourself!)

Project one:  Cubby house card table (as mentioned previously on my goal planner)

A Crafty Minx I am not, but equipped with Kelly Doust’s other book The crafty kid I feel like to could be one day! A while ago I set out making her “caravan of love” cubby house. It’s actually a card table with material thrown over it and it turns into a cubby house. I was determined to make this project using stuff that I already had and didn’t want to buy new materials etc. Before even starting the project you collect your materials. The first two items on the list were oil cloth and calico or other sturdy fabric. Ok so I didn’t have oil cloth or a really sturdy fabric that I liked for this project. So using my useless sewing knowledge I decided to substitute these fabric types. If I made all the fabric thinner then it should still work as long as they were of similar density so my brain thought. Move over Kelly! So not long into the project I realised as my fabric frayed in front of my eyes and stretched as I sewed it that perhaps one of my fabric choices wasn’t quite right – who would have thought! Free-styling with fabric caused me lots of other issues I am too embarrassed to go into. After putting the project down for sometime due to my disappointment I got back on the machine. I finished the project and to my delight I have two little residents to the card table cubby house! They can’t see my errors, the fraying material, the uneven hanging walls etc. They see a cubby that they can go in and if they are lucky one of their parents will try to go into as well and fill it almost breaking the card table and to their delight crushing them.

Project two: Upcycling a women’s shirt to a dress no make that a skirt! Therefore UPUPcycling!

Ok so those in the know are onto the fact that I love a bargain. I went to the Camberwell Market (brilliant second hand market) and was having a slow morning. I saw a shirt that I didn’t completely like but saw its potential – it was cheap about $4 from memory. I tried it on (at home) and the size of the frills on the side were hideous and made me look like a frilled neck lizard – whose frill had slipped! NICE!!! So I decided this was to be my pinterest moment. I was going to transform this shirt into a little dress for Jas and the pinterest world would go crazy!!! Hahaha

With newly found confidence (not sure from where) I just started chopping, pinning and then getting Jas to try it on and oops pricking her and so on. With another snipping spree I accidentally snipped the side of the dress – never fear I could over come this minor setback and I took in the dress! Yep, I bet you can guess what happened it now didn’t fit Jas!

Ah never fear I had invested $4, a chunk of time but I didn’t give up – Pinterest needed a new gem! So what did I do? I went the hack and made Jas a skirt. Ok so this poor once upon a time ugly garment has been hacked not once but twice. I also added a Kangaroo pouch pocket – something I wanted to try:)

The final outcome Jas loves and I hope Pinterest will 😛

It’s not everyday you see an UPUPcycled skirt is it?

You may not be a sewer like me but perhaps my ad hoc methods you use in the kitchen or when using new equipment etc. Or maybe I am the only weirdo like this? Whatever, I love my hobby of sewing, despite my errors, panic attacks etc.

I better let you go and pin this to pinterest now!!!

Em xx

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Mixing it up – Surprise dates

A new tradition has started at our place! We are planning monthly surprises for each other. Brett led the way and the bar was set high. My “special treat” night last month involved a restaurant called Cutler & Co. We had an amazing meal and Brett’s highlight of the dinner was his dessert – now that’s saying something as he doesn’t really have a sweet tooth! Then we went off to SmartBar at the Melbourne Museum where we got to see an adults only glimpse of the museum, whilst sipping on a champers and listening to cool beats! A fun night:) I even bumped into one of my besties!

So this month I decided to plan Brett a surprise and here birthed our new tradition – planning and delivering surprise dates. We hit the Melbourne comedy festival to see “Anyone for Tennis”. Chosen because it was musical comedy; something Brett enjoys- they were good but definitely some cringy moments – Why do stand up comedians constantly take things too far? Anyway it was in the council chambers in the Melbourne Town Hall a cool venue in its self. Overall, we rated the show as good.

We then went for a walk to 7/11 (how good am I at planning surprises!). I left Brett staring at the LED messages at federation square as I made a dash inside to get our $5 bike helmets! (thanks for subsidizing this City of Melbourne). Yep, we were taking it to the streets thanks to Melbourne Bike Share. This to me was the highlight of the night. Hopping onto our bikes with no set plan, riding off into the dark and happy it was dark as I wobbled on my way:) Melbourne Bike Share is now a new favorite thing of mine to do in the city. A day pass is $2.60. With a mere swipe of your credit card and by keying in a special code you and your new bike are free to ride! Then in theory if you take just half hour trips it’s free from there but if you take longer trips more charges apply. This was a random and fun thing to do in order to get to our restaurant which was over near Crown. The bikes were great. There is even a cool iPhone app called Spotcycle that actually shows you where the closest bike share location is and how many bikes are there at any given time! In the future I plan to ride around the city in a day taking lots of little rides to my favorite places! Yes, I could take in my bike but I enjoyed the adventure and having to watch the clock, it made me feel like I was in the amazing race or something! We decided to not return the helmets as we might ride again after dinner, we could have returned them and got $3 back.

With our helmets under our arms and our newly formed helmet hair we hit Number 8 our restaurant for the night! Needless to say we were the only ones in there with helmets!!! We enjoyed a great dinner and dessert topped it off for me their Chocolate Biscuit (an inspired chocolate fondant) is the dearest but yumiest biscuit around;)

What I love about our newly claimed tradition is the thought that goes into the night is solely focusing on doing and planning something that your better half will love! They are your focus and showing them that you love them is the purpose! I don’t want these nights to always be expensive nights out but rather extravagant expressions of love is what I want! Sometimes the most thoughtful expressions don’t cost a thing! I like that it will be once a month because it is achievable and we will alternate planning them so we get extra time to plan (although I will do next month also as it’s Brett’s Birthday).

Give it a go! Plan a loving surprise for someone special in your world! And let me know what you did -I would love some inspiration;)

Em xx

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My rookie camping with kids synopsis!

As you may remember last week I gave a cry out for help as I was about to head off on our rookie family camping trip to Sorrento. I was very thankful for the great advice that I received from some of you – some of my thoughts were affirmed and light was shed on things I had over looked in my preparations.

Considering we got back last Saturday I really should have let you know how we went – as some of you may have thought we didn’t survive!! I am happy to report that we had a fantastic time.

We stayed in a hired on site van with an annex attached. It was perfect for us – mum and I slept in the van and the kids in the annex and on the last night Brett was in annex with the kids. We were about 100 paces from the beach and to the toilet block, there was even a playground!!!

The weather for the first two days and nights was fantastic. It was sunny and hot and the bay was calm and perfect for the kids to hit the beach – and hit it they did!!!! The third day the wind picked up and the beach suddenly had waves:) Brett arrived and his parents came over by boat from Queenscliff for a visit. It was Good Friday and we enjoyed the famous Vanilla slices, and had fish and chips for lunch together! We hit the back beach and Jas skinny dipped in the rock pools and Elijah climbed all over the sand dunes! That night the weather packed in and it poured and we had a little thunder and lots of wind. I was so thankful that Brett had arrived as the annex roof started to leak and he was able to fix it out in the rain:) Thankfully we had only planned to stay until Saturday and when we awoke to poor weather we packed up early and decided to take it slowly home. We tried to find a market, went to a garage sale, checked out Arthur’s Seat look out and then headed to one of my favourite markets Red Hill (with the rest of Victoria’s population!). There we had lunch and the best scout camp oven scones you can imagine!

Here is my synopsis of our trip:

  • Caravan parks and camping grounds are fantastic for kids! Children are instantly immersed into a new little community. They network and get to know other kids and people. When they are at the playground they instantly make friends and play with the other kids, they then see those same kids hours later in water at the beach and out and about in town etc. I guess other trips we have taken the kids on they make friends at a park or hotel etc but they usually only get to play with them once. I loved the continuity of the caravan park and how the kids made themselves at home straightaway!
  • I was warned that sleeping times for the kids would be thrown out and to roll with it. So I was all ready for later nights for them etc but we scored with daylight savings having just changed, so it was dark earlier and the kids were longing for bed even a little earlier than normal! The kids had played at new levels, never before had Elijah carried 30 buckets full of water from the shore up to a large hole. Jas didn’t have any day sleeps or rests and Elijah’s day sleeps were shorter than normal but great considering – so that may have also made them hit the hay earlier! But they did awake nice and early each morning to make up for those early nights! Our poor neighbours!
  • Night times can be a little slow! Mum and I read and retired so early! Mum was so bored she was even open to being taught how to play Suduko!
  • Noises in the night can be welcomed or not! Mum felt like she was lying on the main road with cars driving over her the first night, I was disturbed by a loud repetitive noise; none of which seemed to disturb the kids. Then rain and wind on the final night made all these noises all but disappear:) Since I have returned from the trip I have seen this Volkswagon Tiguan commercial (click on the link to view the ad). I think after the first night Mum and I would have loved to have done this kind of camping! Ha ha:)
  • Caravans are really fun! Within a minute the kids had opened every door, cupboard (and in a caravan there are so many cupboards in every little nook and cranny!) and played with most zips – no toys needed hey! Jas was amazed that there was a kitchen in the bedroom;) Cooking and washing up was different (as we had no water hooked up or gas – just electricity) and makes for an interesting change. The kids loved sleeping out in the annex together and giggled themselves to sleep!
  • Close proximity to the beach is fantastic each time we did the 100 paces to the beach piled high with things we always forgot something and it was so good to be able to walk back to the campsite and get the extra boogie board, chair or spade that we forgot!
  • There is camping equipment and there is camping equipment!!!! As we drove through the camping grounds we were impressed or astounded by some people’s set ups. Some people travel with better BBQs and outdoor settings then we have at home! Whilst supervising the kids at the playground I would look around and admire others set ups and think about what I would like and want etc. I now know the kind of tent I would get etc. Not sure if some people really rough it or not these days?
  • It was fantastic to be able to clean the “house” in a flash with a dust pan and to avoid having to wash their clothes! After the trip I came home with a thud as I tried to get all the washing of our clothes, linen etc done in the cold and wet weather we had over easter!
  • If the love of your life (or anyone else for that matter) is joining the adventure make sure that you pack and they pack warm enough things for them to sleep in and with. Sorry Brett;0

So would we do another family camping trip definitely! I did like having a caravan but would be open to tenting it in the right kind of tent;) So anyone want to lock in a camping trip with us?

Em xx

Here a few snaps from when I had my phone with me on the beach:)

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