Friday, 16 January 2015

10 things to do these holidays

Holidays are still going strong (but not strong enough when they're nearly over - well a couple of weeks to go). Maybe you're flagging and you need some inspiration. Wave the white flag my friend, I have ideas to get you through. I do! 

1. Penguins of MadagascarI know the audience is divided but both Matt and I loved this movie. And that's the main thing. Wink. Wink. Ok the kids loved it too - so it's a full house - adults and kids both rated it. And Benedict Cumberbatch is a voice in it. That's always a good thing. 

2. Uno wars: We lie in bed in the morning and play Uno. Endless rounds of it. And then we play it at night too. And pretty well we play it all day. And all afternoon. And just all the time. What's not to love?

3. Hide and seek in the park: We love going to a small park and playing good, old-fashioned hide and seek. Seriously it's so fun, gets the bodies moving, and the feeling of play can't be beat. Obviously I have older children, so if you've got smaller children - use your noggin and do this in a fenced space where you can keep an eye on them. But you already knew that.

4. Flip out: I'd heard so much about it, and I finally took the smalls to Flip Out this week. It's a massive warehouse space full of trampolines. I paid for an hour for each of the smalls - and they jumped until they could jump no more. But oh man, they were so, so happy. 

5. Art Gallery visit: There's a great pop art exhibition at the AGNSW at the moment. I wanted to see it, and Matt and I thought the bright colours and content would appeal to the smalls, so we met up with my sister and niece and made a day out of it. 

6. Go Gramping! We were lucky enough to go gramping recently on Cockatoo Island as guests of Aeroguard. What is gramping? Camping with grandparents! It's a great way to spend time together, and help bonds grow. We loved this experience - the kids hadn't been camping before (I know, I know!) - and there's a recent study that shows there's a growing concern about development of life skills with 42% of Aussie parents believing their children are missing out on important life lessons by not spending enough time with grandparents, this is a great fix! We explored the island, BBQ'ed for breakfast, lunch and dinner, watched the boats (and world go by) and slept side by side in tents. It was so much fun and good for the soul. 

7. Roadtrip: If you can't go on a holiday - go on a road trip. We've been exploring up at Palm Beach (HELLO HEAVENLY HAMBURGERS!),  but it doesn't have to be anywhere fancy. Drive to another suburb or a small town and go exploring! 

8. Playdates: Honestly one of the best things to do with kids is organising a play date. They're happy. You're happy. The whole world is happy. 

9. Museums: Being a tourist in your own town is a good thing to do. Check out the museums, go look at the botanic gardens, it can create awesome conversations and memorable days out with your smalls. 

10. Drawing wars: We sit at the dining table with huge sheets of paper and draw. And collaborate. And we spend long periods of time doing this together. It's fun to do after dinner too - it can last for as long or as little as you like, and requires very little drawing skill. Seriously - I am proof of this! 

Got any extra inspiration to get everyone through the holidays?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Date night = great night

 images: Joe Frost's current exhibition at Watters Gallery 

My Mum has been down helping with the kids while the school holidays are on.

It's been such a huge help - she cooks, cleans, entertains, declutters, gardens, weeds, and so much more. It's so nice coming home to my Mum.

And as a bonus - Matt and I have been able to go on a couple of date nights together. SCORE!

The first date was to see Taken3.  And then a really below par, horrible meal at Miss Chu that made me feel cross.

The second date was last night - an art exhibition opening, followed by dinner at iconic low-brow Bill  & Toni's. And it was awesome. No expectations, just hanging out looking at art, and then a quick and cheap meal together, chatting. It was gold. 

Now I'm thinking we need to have at least one date a month for the year. I know this is a great thing for our relationship, so we gotta aim high! 

So my ingredients for a most excellent date night are?

- an activity that gives you something to talk about: an exhibition is ace, a movie is great, or even just people watching

- follow it up with dinner/coffee/something so you can sit and chat about what you've seen
- I am a cheap date. I like simple things, and fancy things are not for me. My favourite meal out would be an awesome burger. And a beer. And plenty of conversation. And then maybe a gelato. 

I asked some friends what their secrets to a good date are:

1. 'A dude.'

2. '500gm personality

450gm attraction
Add a sprinkle of class, chivalry and a touch of humour... 
Stir well with great location...
Garnish with a couple of cocktails...
Then leave for 2-3 days to settle...
However you'll know well before that if the recipe worked...'

3. 'Mojitos.' 

4. 'Dont be a tightass.'

5. 'A: Free Babysitting with no end time B: Actually that's about it.'

6. 'A good bottle of wine, dinner out, no dishes, no children and no time limits... I'm also totally in to dumplings, beer and a movie!'

7. 'To have a date in the first place hahaha...'

What's your secret to a great date? 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Getting School Ready (sp)

Faber Castell Single Hole Pencil Sharpener: keep them en pointe this year!
Document Wallet Printed (A4): perfect for notes and readers
Staedtler Norris Club Coloured Pencilsget them colouring within the lines (or outside!)
Studymate MegaMonster Premium Scrapbook: make lunches more exciting by keeping a scrapbook

I can barely believe the school holidays are almost over. Gasp! I love school holidays, it's relaxed. There's no school lunches, no morning rush, no fossicking through the laundry searching for clean uniforms. It's living the dream. Ha! Particularly when I am on holidays from work too. 

But these holidays I've decided to use the time to get a bit organised. When the kids got sent home last week of term with a list of stationery requirements for the year ahead - I sighed. It felt like forever away. But fast-forward and we're just a few weeks off being back in the grind, so together with Officeworks, I'm sharing my top tips on how to get your child school-ready. 

1. Talk about it: Don't go into the cone of silence, talk about school. Talk about what it's going to be like (particularly if they haven't started school), talk about teachers, about friends, maybe even talk about playground politics (because heck, we have SO been there). We talk about the year that has been - and what a big year it was - recognise this, and then talk about all the opportunities that lie ahead. Communicating allays fears and helps their growing minds. 

2. Involve them: When you're getting prepped for school - you might just want to knock it all over by yourself (we all know that's quicker), but by involving your child, you can make them feel like the captain of their school-ship. I let my kids have input into things like lunch boxes, school shoes (but they have to be fitted properly), and a couple of key rings on a school bag helps them feel like they're personalising their kit!

3. Sleep isn't for the weak: While I could sleep for the week, my kids love to stay up late in the holidays, and they love to get up early too. Sigh. A couple of weeks before school goes back, start that nice routine again so that they are getting enough rest. I also wind down activities in this period too so they're not so tired from running about everywhere. We stay home and have quiet days, playing board games and soaking up the together-ness. Children love routine, and love to know what's happening next, so if you can set this up early, it should help to make things easier.

4. Cut corners: I'm not usually one for cutting corners, but if you can outsource something. Outsource it. Officeworks has a free School List Service that allows you to submit your list at your local store - and their team members will pick and pack on your behalf for free. They'll even call or SMS you when it's ready to collect. 

5. Start a scrapbook: School lunches get so. darn. boring. Start a scrapbook with lunch ideas so you're never stuck for fresh, nutritious ideas. (I love this Studymate MegaMonster scrapbook for just 88cents!)

Officeworks has also just launched a new app for growing minds - suitable for both primary and secondary students, that's fun and educational. Check it out! 

It would be remiss not to mention Officeworks support for The Smith Family's Back to School Appeal - aimed at helping 638,000 disadvantaged Australian children succeed at school. You can buy a donation stationery card in store, or go online and help provide a child with their school needs. 

Are you ready to get back to school? 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Best Summer Beauty Buys:: Black Chicken Axilla Natural Deodorant Paste

It may sound weird, but this deodorant paste is a total winner. Otherwise I wouldn't tell you about it. 

When I was first asked to try it out, I was dubious. I didn't want to have to apply a paste. But after two weeks of trialling it, I have to say - it's awesome. 

It's 100% natural from certified organic ingredients, made in Australia - and chemical free (aluminium, alcohol, petrochemicals, fragrance, phthalates, talc and parabens) - which means it's free from all the bad stuff we apply to our underarms almost religiously. 

Invisible after application, you just take a pea-sized amount, apply it under your arms - et voila! 

Really, I didn't think this was going to stand the test - but it lasts all day, and smells really, really good (kind of like old-fashioned cola lollies). For the ultimate test, I asked Matt to try it out - the results are in - it's even man-proof! 

It lets your body dispel toxins while keeping you fresh. 

How does it work? I know it sounds too good to be true, but the Kolin Clay and Arrowroot work together to absorb moisture while the Sodium Bicarbonate neutralises odour - and the shea butter moisturises and helps for easy application. Couple this with essential oils of Peppermint, Mandarin, Lime, Geranium (my favourite), Cajaput, Clove and Lavender - for their antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-stink and antiseptic properties, and you've got yourself a real game changer. 

Disclosure:: This product was sent to me for review and editorial consideration. I considered it. Tried it. And loved it. I thought you might like it too! This is not a sponsored post. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Golden Globes 2015: Viola Davis, Claire Danes, Rosamund Pike, Julianne Moore etc

Viola Davis: Lovely in red, simple, stylish, sophisticated. But is that a Swatch? (note to self: wear your glasses when you're looking at fashion photos).

Claire Danes: Call me crazy but this Valentino is my FAVOURITE because it's bold, and it's unpredictable and she's a risk taker merely for wearing something strong and graphic. BIG tick from me. (Which reminds me, I need to flea the cat.)

Rosamund Pike: The bustier reminds me of a motorbike's handlebars. Vera Wang. Wtf. In fact it reminded me of the below outfit from this song. True story. If only she took such a risk I'd have more to write about right now. Sigh.

Tina Fey: Do you think she has a hoop under that skirt? I'm distracted and this is all I can think of. How would she sit down with a hoop skirt? How does one go to the bathroom? How does one even get in the cubicle? These are the questions that plague my mind. And like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of my lives. Well that didn't make sense, but whatevs.

Emily Blunt: Another of my favourites - no one can touch her, she's just pretty well my dream girl. Swoon.

Julianne Moore: Speaking of total babes of babe town, Julianne Moore - this has hit it out of the ballpark. Part mermaid, part disco ball - completely awesome. I LOVE this! This is how the red carpet should be. 

Kate Hudson: I just really think Donatella could do better than rehashing Liz Hurley's dress from 21 years ago. Come on DonDons, give us something fresh and new. I don't want to see Kate's cans.

Lena Dunham: You, me and everyone we know knows I love Lena, but I'm not completely in this dress. Which is good because Lena is wearing it and if there were two of it, I don't know how we would sit down.

Amy Adams: Traditionally I have loved Amy's red carpet record, I love her hair, I love the frock, but I still have a strong desire for sequins. Someone - give me sequins before it's too late. 

Julia Louis Dreyfus: Wow she looks STOKED to be there.

Naomi Watts: Cool, calm, sophisticated - I do love Naomi in this understated canary yellow frock. And at least she went with colour. What's with all the white on the red carpet? An homage to the Danish flag? 

Anna Kendrick: Anna. Anna. Anna. I love Anna. The prettiest, frothiest perfection - she shows us how it could and should be done - I love this. 

Lupita Nyong'o: Ok - well let me be indecisive for just a second. If I was on the red carpet, it would be a toss up between this and Claire Danes. Both are fabulous, make a statement, glamour. And this - well she looks beautiful. What can I say? 

Jessica Chastain: Red heads on the red carpet - it's a match made in fashion heaven. But this dress looks more like Las Vegas casino than Golden Globes. Or even Casino Barbie. Me no likey. 

Emma Stone: Speaking of red heads, Emma Stone - cool and classic, this pretty well takes the cake for rocking the red carpet. I love it. Fresh and young, yes she owns it. 

Golden Globes 2015: Kelly Osbourne, Katherine Heigl, Salma Hayek etc

Let's get straight into it because:
a) I have to go to bed at some stage
b) there's not much to say

From left to right, without further adieu, et voila, bon appetit - let's go shoppers!

Kelly Osbourne: lilac and indigo are pretty well heaven for me, so I love, love love this. 

Kate Cassidy: Angelina Jolie called. She wants her leg back.

Katherine Heigl: Form-fitting, inky blue and fabulous - I really love the chic simplicity of this. 

CZJ: Feels like Madame Tussaud's wax museum has been shipped in. Will the real CZJ please stand up? And maybe move around a little so we know you're real. 

Keira Knightley: Crumbs. Keira is one of my all-time favourites, but here in Chanel she looks like she just lost her little lamb.

Helen Mirren: Half the drama and glamour of the red carpet in one simple look - Helen Mirren nails the red carpet and shows everyone how it's done.

Melissa McCarthy: I love, love, love this classic black and white look - and that sheer pussy bow is pretty well magic for me. And she smiles. SHE SMILES PEOPLE! Loving. 

Maggie G: It's long documented how much I love Maggie G, but girlfriend - wear a flipping necklace, something over the top, camp and fabulous. It's the red carpet, you could even wear a necklace made out of al-foil. I don't care, just give me some eye candy.

Alison Williams: Did you know that she's also a CIA agent? She's showing how camouflage is done best. 

Jenna Dewan-Tatum: Apparently a pickpocket swept through the red carpet and stole everyone's sparkly jewellery. Because - where are the sparkles??

Salma Hayek: I say YES YOU CAN - because she did, and she is, and she was. This is all that. And then some. And a bit more.

Katie Holmes: Looks like someone couldn't wait to wear the Scientology curtains on the red carpet. 

Reading:: Still Alice - A Review

I picked this up at my local bookshop on a whim. You see I really love Julianne Moore, and I'm not a literature snob - if it's been converted to a film, I am not above buying the film adapt cover. 

You see it's the story of Alice, a way above average woman who happens to be a psychologist, who happens to teach at Harvard, who happens to be married to an incredible man, and have three incredible children. You think she's got it all. Well she does. And then some. 

She's diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers and the following story is heartbreakingly sad, but also really beautiful. The story captures the descent into the disease - the memory loss, the loss of self, and the futile snatches at claiming back her memory. Fifteen years prematurely, Alice struggles with memory loss, disorientation, loss of words - and losing her thriving and super successful career. 

I read this book in record time. It is an easy, compelling, engaging read that is beyond sad - informative and insightful. 

Written by neuroscientist Lisa Genova, Still Alice is a New York Times bestseller, that's a pacey page-turner.  

Still Alice from Booktopia $15.95

* Reading is all about what I'm reading. It's not sponsored. It's simply me, reading a book and sharing with you. A book club of sorts. In 2015 it's my goal to read at least one book per month - and share my lowdown on them with you. Maybe you'd like to read along? If so, let me know and we can virtually have a book club.