Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Independent mornings with Uncle Tobys Quick Sachets

 

As anyone who knows my parenting style will attest, I am all about fostering independence and self sufficiency in my kids and breakfast time has been one of the most successful learning opportunities for this. In summer, we are all set - Stephen (7) and Irini (6) are perfectly capable of pouring themselves a bowl of cereal and topping it with milk and some fruit. Winter was a different scenario, however, when a nice and comforting breakfast is just what is needed before a long day at school, but seemed like it would be beyond them.


Thankfully, Uncle Toby's came to the rescue when they sent me some boxes of their Quick Sachets to try and these have truly been a win:win solution for our family; not only do the kids love them, but they are a healthy option that ticks all my boxes, especially where the kids independent mornings are concerned.

Uncle Toby's Quick sachets are so convenient and tasty; already portioned out, and with a handy milk guide built into the packet, it is so simple for my son to pop the oats into a bowl, measure in the milk, and then microwave them. 90 seconds later, a delicious bowl of warm and comforting oats are ready to go. Made from whole grains, and with no artificial flavours or colours, these are a wholesome choice that set the kids up for the whole day.

So what should you do if you want to move your kids towards independent mornings?
  • Create a system - I have a routine chart listing the steps that the kids need to follow to get our day on its way. Think about what your kids could do by themselves and what they would need help with. My kids are capable of dressing themselves, making breakfast and packing their bags. I make lunches and make sure they are ready to go to be packed.
  • Make it child friendly - it's no point expecting your son to make breakfast for himself if he can't reach the breakfast cereal! Set things up to succeed - all of our breakfast supplies are in one spot in the pantry at child height, and they have a dedicated spot in their closets for their uniforms.
  • Take a chill pill and don't cry over (literally!) spilt milk - there will be accidents, especially in the beginning, and this is all part of the learning process. 
  • But be sensible and foresee (and hopefully prevent some) problems - a seven year old pouring a full 3 litre carton of milk is only ever going to end in disaster. I pour some into a smaller jug when we have a full carton.
  • Let them wear the consequences - we all learn from our mistakes and children are no exception. Unless you want to be the year 12 parent still running forgotten sports kits to school, stop now. If my kids forget something, they (generally) will need to do without it AND explain to their teacher why they don't have it. I once made my son walk into school without shoes since he forgot them (really, how do you forget your shoes!!) and guess what, he's never done that again!
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Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post and no compensation was given to me. Uncle Toby Quick Sachets were  provided to me for review purposes through Product Talk by Nuffnang. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blue and Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe

We are smack in the middle of winter here in Oz, but new season's spring/summer stock is starting to hit the stores, and I am assuming the same is true (with fall/winter stock) for those of you in the northern hemisphere. This is usually the time I start to look at my wardrobe with an eye towards spring and what I need to replace or add to my closet. As regular followers would know, I am a convert to the ten item wardrobe concept, as defined by Jennifer L Scott in her fab book, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, and I will certainly be following that again for the upcoming season. A lot of critics, of this and other capsule style wardrobes, is that they can be boring. I find the opposite is true, and so over the next few weeks, I thought I would post some examples of capsule wardrobes that are easy to put together, easy to wear, and stylish.


Blue & Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe

My first capsule wardrobe is designed for a SAHM who spends most of her time in casual wear, but wants a day-to-day wardrobe that is a step up from yoga pants and tracksuits. The key for any limited wardrobe to be workable is to stick to a limited colour palette, usually one neutral base colour and one or two pop colours for interest. In this case I have gone for navy as the base, with white and apple green as the interest. With just 23 items, including shoes, bags and accessories, this capsule can give you a multitude of outfits (I have shown 12 outfits, but there are so many more) that would be suitable all year round in a climate like my home in Perth, or most of the year in places that have proper cold winters.

Blue & Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe - Skirt

A solid colour jersey maxi skirt is a great option for a SAHM wardrobe - it's comfy and practical to wear, looks great, and is easy to look after (you can usually throw them in the machine). 
  • Paired with a bright tank, a fun blue and green scarf, tan wedges and a tan leather trimmed tote, you are all set for a summer lunch out with the girls and will still look great when doing the school run later in the afternoon. 
  • For spring days when the day may start out cooler, the apple green knit shirt worn open works as a double duty cardigan over a basic white tank. With a fab patterned bag (it's such a shame the Pleated Poppy closed her shop, as this bag is fantastic!!) and a stack of coloured bangles, you will still look great when you remove the shirt as the day warms up. 
  • A navy tank paired with the navy maxi gives a solid column of colour, which is not only ultra flattering but ultra stylish. Together with the stack of bangles, gold sandals and a gold long necklace, you have the perfect outfit for date night with the hubby.
  • A maxi is not only for summer; with a navy striped Breton tee, the green and blue scarf, and topped with apple anorak, you will look bright and cheery for any mild winter day.


Blue & Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe - Jeans

Jeans have become the mainstay of most people's wardrobes and mums are no different. A dark rinse pair in a slim or skinny cut (depending on your figure) with little to no embellishments will get you the most mileage.
  • The first outfit is nothing more that a basic white tank and jeans combo, but with the jeans cuffed, tan leather wedges, a tan leather trimmed striped tote and a long gold necklace, the outfit has gone from zero to hero in seconds.
  • Again, the apple green knit shirt is perfection for those in-between days. Start the day with the sleeves unrolled, then simply roll and button them up as the day warms up. The jeans cuffs are rolled again, showing off a little ankle and some darling ballet flats, and the green and aqua scarf and bag add a punch of pattern.
  • For cooler days, the jeans and ballet flats are the perfect base for a navy striped long sleeve tee, topped with a woolen waterfall cardigan. A navy leather bag and a green and aqua patterned scarf complete the look.
  • Finally, layers are perfect for winter days. The white and navy striped sweater is the perfect accompaniment to the navy tank, while the apple green anorak adds a hit of colour. Spots on the shoes coupled with stripes on the bag, both done in navy and white, add pattern mixing interest.


Blue & Green SAHM Capsule Wardrobe - White Jeans


Some people may be surprised at the addition of white jeans to a SAHM wardrobe, but I love them. While maybe not suitable with those with babies/little toddlers, for any one else, they are a fantastic choice, and if sticky hands do happen to fall on them, a good soak in some bleach will bring them right back as good as new.

  • Apple green, aqua and white will have you looking as fresh as a spring daisy! Again, the knit shirt does double duty as a cardigan, while the aqua and green scarf, the patterned bag and the gold sandals kick the outfit up a notch.
  • This patterned cotton shirt has a gorgeous pattern that will look great with all the bottoms, but is especially good with the white jeans. With blue shoes and bag, and a stack of bangles, the look is complete.
  • We've never had the "no white after Labor day" rule here in Oz, but even if you do, this is one rule that can and should be broken. Paired with darker elements, white done right can look fab in colder weather. Paired with a navy striped top, a striped tote and navy polka dot sneakers, this outfit will keep you looking chic as you run your errands.
  • Paired with a woolen waterfall cardigan, a navy tank and blue accessories with a pop of colour at your neck, this outfit will keep you warm even as it keeps you stylish.
As you can see, because all these pieces mix and match, you can make far more outfits than just the 12 I've shown here. Obviously you can adapt this to suit your own needs and desires; if you don't wear pants, swap the jeans out for a denim and a patterned cotton skirt. If you live in a cold climate, then add in a few true wintery pieces like a woolen coat, woolen scarves and some extra sweaters. Hot not cold? Switch in shorts instead! Finally, watch the fabric choices - my tanks and tees are usually made from a polished cotton or a modal, as they can be dressed up or down, unlike a ribbed cotton which is clearly casual.

Stay tuned for some more capsules over the next few weeks, and please leave me a comment if there is something specific you would like me to cover!

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

All in One Pot Chicken Pasta

It's Friday night, the kids (and I) have been sick all week, and it's dinner time. This all in one pot chicken pasta was just the ticket to a warm and comforting meal with minimal effort, with all of the ingredients already on hand.


One Pot Chicken Pasta


350g dried linguine pasta
1 small brown onion, sliced
400g punnet cherry tomato medley
3 sprigs fresh basil, plus extra leaves for garnish
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
400g frozen chicken pieces (or shredded rotisserie chicken)
2 tbs chicken stock concentrate
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
450ml water
1 small bag baby spinach (about 3 cups) 

  • Place all ingredients except spinach into large saute pan
  • Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add baby spinach leaves, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until pasta is cooked and liquid is reduced to a creamy sauce.
  • Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired, and extra basil.


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