Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Weekend Warriors

The past week, we have had the most glorious winter weather, so we've been trying to get as many jobs around the house done as possible!

Last week Ben and his dad, Doug, spent the weekend in our front garden completing our landscaping. We wanted steps leading up to our front letterbox (which hasn't been built yet - this will be another weekend project) and we were originally thinking the steps would be constructed of treated timber and then stained.

However, we went for something different and decided on a timber sleeper/river rock combo and I think the results are fantastic. We used the leftover river rocks from the stairs around the edge of the garden bed, giving it a more natural feel than typical concrete edging that you usually see.

Timber sleeper/river rock stairs. Pack of four solar lights were picked up from Bunnings for $25 (we only used 3 here).
Leftover river rocks were used to line the garden bed at the front of the house.
The plants that we put in about six months ago are coming along.
It feels good to get jobs done. I don't know about you, but I love ticking things off a 'to do' list and this has been something we've been wanting to complete for a little while now, so it's fantastic that it is now done.

Next step, as mentioned, is to build and render a brick letterbox. We'll probably start sourcing materials for it this weekend and then lay the slab for it. After the yard is done, next step is the baby's nursery and I already have several projects (art and furniture) planned for this. Excitement!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TV gives us a good dose of reality

I am not ashamed to admit that I like to watch reality television. Having pay TV is great, because most of the shows on it are reality TV shows or ‘docu-dramas’ or whatever you want to call them.

I like to watch other shows as well, like the news, cooking, home renovating and music channels, but there is something about reality TV that gets me hooked.

Guilty pleasure viewing... Jersey Shore.
I think I like it so much because I can’t believe that half of what is aired is actually aired. Like the kids on Jersey Shore who go out night after night and drink, sleep around and fight like it's going out of fashion. It’s the shock and awe factor.

Let's be honest, we usually don't watch these shows because the characters have something to offer us on an intellectual level - we watch because we want to indulge in their crazy antics.

Last night I watched ‘Being Lara Bingle’ one of the newest shows to be added to my must-watch list. It joins Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Guiliana and Bill, Jersey Shore, Real Housewives of Beverley Hills, Made in Chelsea, The Only Way is Essex and the list goes on… then there is the reality competition-style shows like Masterchef, The Voice etc.

The Kardashians have come under fire for how much of their lives they expose for TV ratings.
I have gotta say – these people who appear on these shows have really got balls (yes, even the girls) for putting everything out there. I know that many say that these shows aren’t really ‘reality’ and that they are more scripted than we know, but regardless, it still makes for compelling viewing.

For instance, last night while I was watching Lara Bingle go about her thing, I saw a young woman who really has made a pretty successful modelling career for herself, who has some great friends who have stuck by her and a family who have been through some immense struggles. She hasn’t hurt anyone by being famous or for once being engaged to a sports star… she's just another Sydney chick trying to make her mark on the world (for the record I couldn't imagine being on the front page of a magazine with a story about my obvious cellulite and weight gain like Lara did).

For some reason, people love to hate Lara Bingle. I don't.

I guess with any of this TV, if you don’t like it, you do have the option of changing the channel. There are so many armchair critics in Australia (many of them employed by the television networks to bag the opposition) and they all love to rip shreds off each other.

I am sick of hearing about The Shire – I watched the first episode of it and it wasn’t for me, so I haven’t tuned in again. Simple as that. I am not out there kicking and screaming about how it ‘dumbs down’ Australians and makes us look like a bunch of vain, Botox-obsessed airheads like many commentators have.

Sophie and Vernessa from The Shire, Channel Ten's latest reality TV offering.

I think that reality TV is there to give a snapshot into the lives of people to show how very different we all are. Whether we would like to admit it or not, we are a voyeuristic society – the popularity of Facebook and Instagram proves that we are a bunch of sticky-beaks who love to know other people’s business.

I think that reality TV shows just give us an open outlet to indulge in this and compare our own reality to the lives of those we see on our flat screens (by compare I don’t mean literally, because lets face it, most of us won’t have an extravagant $1 million plus wedding like Kim Kardashian and then get divorced after just 72 days).

And yes, for the record, I will be tuning in to Channel Nine's revamped Big Brother - it's filmed in my home town and I am genuinely amazed at the careers some of the contestants from this show have been able to carve out for themselves.

Whether we want to admit it or not, a majority of what we are watching on television these days is deemed 'reality' TV and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

'Tis the season for fresh produce

Buying fruit and veg that are in season means more flavour and cost savings for the consumer

I find cooking so therapeutic and love trying new dishes. If you’re thinking of cooking up a storm and have heard all these TV chefs preaching to us about the importance of using ‘seasonal produce’ but aren’t sure what is in season, Taste has compiled a list of fruit and veg that are at their best in July.

Eating food that is in season means that it is of better quality and taste, and generally is sold a bit cheaper than other fresh produce. So when you hear these chefs yabbering on about it, they do know what they are talking about.

So it’s in our best interest to try and cook with ingredients that are in season as much as possible.  

So here's what's in season this July:


Custard apples
Fuji apples
Navel oranges
Pink lady apples
Red delicious apples


Brown onions
Brussels sprouts
Chinese greens
Dutch carrots
English spinach
Gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
Jerusalem artichokes
Kumara or sweet potatoes

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why labels have been 'attached' to parenting

Image thanks to 60 Minutes Australia

This really isn’t a topic that I want to get too heavily involved in… but I have an opinion and want to share it!

Last night 60 Minutes aired a story called On Demand , which was all about ‘attachment parenting’. Put simply, attachment parenting is basically where the parents respond immediately to the natural needs and demands of their child/children.

This includes feeding (breastfeeding more specifically) until the child is ready to be weaned off the boob and other things including co-sleeping (where the child sleeps in its parent’s bed at night so that they are in close physical contact at all times) and emotional contact (if they child cries it is immediately soothed so that they aren’t stressed or scared).

60 Minutes interviewed several mothers who practiced fulltime attachment parenting including several who were still breastfeeding their children at the age of four.

Now I have absolutely no issue with breastfeeding – that’s not my issue. I plan on breastfeeding and I am all for the nutritional and emotional benefits it gives the child. But I can’t help but feel that these parents, although doctors say they will probably raise more emotionally tuned-in kids, will also raise highly needy and dependent kids because they are choosing to give in to the wants of their children who are nearly at the age of starting school.

In the series The Slap on ABC, Melissa George’s character Rosie is an earth mother and attachment parent to her four-year-old son, Hugo. I will never forget the scene where the child runs up to his mother, wailing (because he did the wrong thing and was reprimanded by another adult) and basically pulls down her top and starts sucking because he is upset. No permission is asked, it is just assumed and his mother is happy to oblige much to the disgust of the other adults.

Now I am not debating that the role of a mother is to nurture her family - we were put on this planet to reproduce and it's a gift that I am happy to have been given.

But I think that when you’re a parent, it’s important that your child knows that you love them no matter what and that you go through certain means of showing and telling them this. Your child will grow up knowing how much they are loved because of how you show your affection for them – not because of how much time they have spent attached to your nipple.

I don’t think that mothers should be made to feel bad for not being able to be a full-time attachment parent and breastfeed on demand because they have to go back to work after six months to help support the family. Yes, some mothers have to put their kids into day care – shock horror!

I suppose that I should mention that I am not against attachment parenting at all - I am against the women who choose to put other mothers down because of their superior attitudes and 'I'm better than you' mentality that some mothers have adopted.  

Unfortunately you can’t have it all (be a fulltime attachment parent and be with your child 24/7 and also go back to a fulltime job) so now we have this division that has been created between attachment and non-attachment parents. Why can’t we just be called parents – mothers and fathers? Why has this war between mothers been created when we should really just be supporting each other for doing the best that we can?  

I love the fact that some mothers are able to stay at home with their children and immediately be there for them when they need to be fed or consoled – I would love to give up work forever and just focus on raising a family, but that’s not a reality for me and it’s not for a majority of other women out there as well.

The attachment parenting debate also focuses in on co-sleeping. The 60 Minutes story highlighted pros and cons for this – some parents are just lazy and can’t be bothered getting up to their child in the middle of the night. Other parents are so in-tuned with their baby that if the mother wakes, checks on her child and goes back to sleep, that the baby will often wake, realise they are in close contact with their mother and father, and immediately fall back to sleep without a whimper.

There are some mothers who also swear by self-soothing, where the child cries itself to sleep and gets itself over any issue it had. These mothers have been branded harsh and careless. I have a massive issue with this. The child isn’t loved any less just because it is teaching itself to calm down – it is just the parent’s choice to put their child into this particular routine and the child eventually adapts to it.

Above all, I feel like my husband summed it up best last night by stating that it has become more about the mother and her choices as a parent, and less about the actual baby. Why is the media focusing on driving a wedge between parents when they should be focusing on the good things mothers and fathers are achieving together?

This debate is not for everyone and I don’t have much more to say than this: I am sure each parent strives to be the best mother or father to their children that they can be, and in my book, that’s good enough.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

You (and your baby) are what you eat

So we are nearly 16 weeks along and baby is moving around quite a bit (so the doctors have told me – I am yet to feel anything!) and I’ve been told to spice up my diet a bit and eat a variety of different foods to help develop the bub’s palette.

We eat a pretty good balanced diet at home as it is, but this gives me the chance to be a bit more adventurous with the foods I am eating – all in the name of developing our growing baby’s taste!

So I have been indulging in a few different things that I love for instance, Vegemite and avocado on toast for breakfast (plus other variations including cheese and tomato as well), spicy curries, stir fries with lots of veggies and protein for dinner, creamy pasta dishes, soups and for snacks I have been having a heap of fruit (can’t get enough of berries and bananas) as well as yogurt, hard boiled eggs and musli bars and different cheeses (steering clear of the soft ones of course!).
In my quest to find food inspiration I’ve turned to a few trusty websites such as Taste and Everyday Gourmet for some ideas.

Now I have to clarify that I am not craving any specific foods as such, I am just eating a wider variety of things… I have heard that it is more a textural thing anyway, that the cravings have more to do with how something feels in the mouth than the actual taste (for instance, some women have been known for munching on chalk, soap, cigarette butts and dirt...um weird!). Thank god I am not ‘craving’ anything like this! 

So as well as being happily pregnant, I am also loving the excuse to cook some new dishses and eat from as many different food groups as I can (I won't be taking a leaf out of Jessica Simpson's "I can eat anything because I'm pregnant" book because I know that gym sessions after this baby is born are going hard enough!).

If there is one thing I am not giving up in my diet it's Vegemite - Vegemite and cheese scrolls, with avocado, slathered on toast with butter... I can't get enough. Maybe I do have salty cravings after all!?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reality hits a second time for Kourtney...

Another Kardashian girl joins the fold - congrats to Kourtney and Scott on the arrival of little Penelope Scotland Disick.

Very odd middle name - not sure how I feel about it. Was she conceived in Scotland? That's about the only reasonable thing I can come up with for giving a child a middle name like that!

Oh well each to their own.

Read the full story on E Online here: http://au.eonline.com/news/Kourtney_Kardashian_Scott_Disick_Welcome_a_Baby_Girl_And_Her_Name_Is/325821?cmpid=sn-111021-facebook-na-enews

I think Kourtney has the best maternity fashion sense - the woman should be pregnant all the time!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pregnancy products: Focus on protection, not vanity.

Since falling preggers I made the commitment that I would treat my body like a temple (I really should have been doing this before hand, but the allure of red wine and chocolate for me is very strong!).

So when we happily found out we were expecting, I not only changed my diet, but did an overhaul of the beauty cabinet in my bathroom changing my usual products that I was using pre-pregnancy in favour of more natural, organic-based ones that wouldn’t harm me and more importantly, our baby.

Here’s what I’m now using:

Garnier Mineral Deodorant Invisible Roll On – 48hr protection.
I don’t usually like to use roll on deodorant, but this is great. It offers great protection while still allowing my skin to breathe. It is dermatologically tested and has no harmful parabens or alcohol. There are other more natural deodorants on the market but I needed something that would give me good protection while being less harsh than the previous product I used.

Gaia Pure Pregnancy Belly Butter 150ml

Not only does this smell amazing, but it is full of moisturising and nourishing goodness for my skin. Even though the label says ‘Belly Butter’ I’ve been using this all over to combat dryness and assist with skin elasticity during pregnancy. Containing organic rosehip and wheat germ oils, certified organic Shea and pure Cocoa butter, organic Aloe Vera Leaf extract and natural vitamin E, this stuff helps smooth lines and scars, improving the overall appearance of my skin and reduce the chance of stretchmarks (yes!).

Normal Balance Shampoo & Conditioner 400ml

This leaves my hair feeling extremely soft and very manageable. It’s enriched with Bitter Orange extract, contains no parabens or petrochemicals, Sles, Sls, Ales, Als and conducts no animal testing. On top of all this goodness, the packaging is 100% biodegradable, so you’re doing the planet a favour as well! It’s kind to your hip pocket as well, at $3.71 each.

Macro Organic herbal toothpaste

I paid $2.08 for this tube from Woolworths and it seems to do the job well. I also use a sensitive non-alcohol Plax mouthwash (as dental health is very important in pregnancy).

Lucas’ Papaw ointment

I have been using this product for years. It has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and can be used on minor burns, cuts, chafing, sunburn, dermatitis, scalds, and the best of all, dry, cracked lips. It is made in Australia from pure Australian papaws. You can buy this in a bulk tub or handy tube, which can be popped into your handbag.

Simple Skincare Hydrating Light Moisturiser 125ml

I use this everyday and it is great. It is absorbed quickly and is a great base for makeup. It contains Pro-Vitamin B5, vitamin E moisturisers and it is pH balanced. There are no perfumes, colours or harsh chemicals. I also use the Simple Soap cleansing bar to wash my face and it’s fantastic as well.

In general I have cut back on perfumes and any products that contain perfume (as I have sensitive skin anyway I didn’t like using anything that would give me a reaction). I can honestly say that I don’t feel like I’ve skimped on quality and will continue using these products long after the baby is born.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A few things I have to smile about right now...

It is so easy to get caught up on negative things so I have decided to dedicate this post to a few things that are bringing a smile to my face at the moment - it really is the simple things in life (in my case) that are the best things.

Our pregnancy announcement

It is so great to finally be able to talk about our pregnancy with everyone – the pressure of having such a big secret like that was torture! We had to make our families take an oath that they wouldn’t say anything until we were given the ‘all clear’ from our doctors and now that we have, it’s going to be pretty hard for me to shut up about it! Being pregnant is a blessing and it is great to be able to share it with our loved ones.

The benefits of being pregnant

As well as being able to tell the world about how happy we are to be adding to our family, I have been incredibly lucky to have had no nasty side-effects from being pregnant (touch wood!). My hair and nails have never looked better and are growing at an astronomical rate, I’m eating the healthiest I’ve ever eaten and I love the fact that after cutting out caffeine and alcohol all together that I don’t miss it at all.

My friend Kate

Even though she is moving away from her family, friends and the sunny beaches of the Gold Coast to live it up in the cool, cosmopolitan capital of Victoria, my friend Kate always makes me happy. She was one of my bridesmaids when I got married (and flew all the way here from Dubai for it I might add!) and has always been a great buddy. Unfortunately she hasn’t had the best few months lately and is making a city change to Melbourne in a couple of weeks, but I am so impressed with her courage and poise, especially during the hard times. I will miss her but I know she’s destined for great things!

Sale time

I have become somewhat of an expert in bargain shopping (online or in-store) so much so that I am sure A Current Affair or a similar program is going to get wind of this and ask me for shopping tips to share with their audiences. I have been trawling eBay of late for specific items that I really just can’t justify paying full price for and I’ve found some gems. I’ve kept an ear out for any great deals in the EOFY (end of financial year) sales around the place and picked up some bargain items for the house and some beautiful items for the baby. I’ve been reporting my money-saving tips to my husband, who I think is pretty impressed with my sudden urge to save every dollar!

My dog Charlie

This dog has personality plus! He might drive us nuts at times, but Charlie is the best thing about coming home after a crappy day. His unconditional love for Ben and I is so endearing and his genuine affection for all his stuffed toys (of which we have adopted names for) is the cutest thing – this dog really has given us some valid parents-to-be training and always brings a smile to my dial.

 Cooking up a storm
I love it when I come across a fantastic recipe to add to my repertoire. Today for instance, I found one for almond and berry smoothies, which sounds like it is full of flavour, antioxidants and lots of healthy things! I am keen to try it out (and will share recipe in due course).

TV = chilled out

Something simple, but I love it when there are good things to look forward to on TV. For instance, this week is the State of Origin decider game, which my husband and I can’t wait to watch. It may seem lame, but coming home after a long day and realising there is something great on TV that night is sometimes just the thing I need to relax and zone out.

The hot sun on a winter’s day

Nothing beats this when you’re sniffling and cold indoors – the winter sun feels as though it has real healing properties. Winter isn’t the best of seasons (apart from the seasonal fashion, there isn’t much I love about it) so I’ve been making the most of the warming glow I get when I sit outside to eat breakfast in the morning or take the dog for a walk in the afternoon. Yesterday we had lunch by the beach with a couple of friends enjoying the fresh air and afternoon sun. Feeling cosy and warm when you would otherwise be cold is the best!