Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book review: Double Delicious

Jessica Seinfeld's books Deceptively Delicious and her new offering Double Delicious are incredibly controversial due to their basic premise of sneaking fruit and veg into various meals and desserts. I have her first book and use it fairly often, so when I saw the second one on sale, I quickly went out and ordered it. Before I review the book itself, I want to state from the outset that I do not believe in sneaking in fruit and veggies into my children's food as the only way they will consume fresh produce. However, I have no problem with boosting the nutrient content of what they do eat, while also serving them plenty of whole fruit and veg throughout the day (which they may or may not eat!). Now onto the review:

The core concept of Double Delicious is similar to her first book - keep a freezer stash of veggie and fruit purees that you can then incorporate into various meals. A lot of other reviewers have had a problem with this, and in a way, they are right. Having to have this stock of purees, and then remember to thaw them prior to dinner prep, does mean that the majority of recipes are not really "good, simple food for busy, complicated lives" as the tagline for the book states. However, if you pre-plan and have built up the stash of purees like I have (or can quickly zap some up in the microwave), then the recipes are pretty straight forward. You could also sub in pureed baby food if you are really short of time.

I have to say that the recipes in this book are not as good as in her first. All the recipes I tried in Deceptively Delicious were a hit both with the adults and the kids. Most of the recipes we have tried in Double Delicious have been great but for some of the dishes the texture and/or taste was not quite right. Another difference is that this book only includes vegetable purees, and not fruit. What I did love about this book over the first is the index organised by type of puree. This means you can search for recipes either based on what you want to use up (eg some leftover roasted squash from a previous meal) or what you feel you child might be missing out on.

So which recipes did we love?

The Cinnamon-Maple Quinoa was a real hit with both the kids and me. I love porridge in the morning, and it was nice to try something similar and yet different. I also find that recipes like this are a good way to extend my kids tastes since it is not too far from their comfort zone. This recipe had just the right balance of sweetness and spice, and the sweet potato puree paired really well.

Jerry's Cinnamon Buns were great, WITHOUT the glaze. The buns themselves were very yummy - light, moist and just the way cinnamon buns should be. The glaze, on the other hand, did not even make it out of the bowl and onto the buns. I was dubious reading the glaze recipe, made with cauliflower puree, and should have trusted my instincts. However, the buns topped with my regular cream cheese glaze were divine.

Scrambled Egg Muffins were an easy sell for the kids since they love eggs. I made these with whole eggs rather than the 3 whites and 1 whole egg the recipe calls for since I don't believe egg yolks are bad for you, and I used regular pork bacon rather than turkey. These were super quick and easy, and were also great cold in the lunchbox.

Chicken and Rice Soup was another hit - the carrot and cauliflower purees add a hint of sweetness as well as a vibrant orange colour that the kids loved. I made it in my Thermomix, using diced chicken breasts rather than whole ones, and it was so easy.

The Butternut Tomato Soup was one of the few recipes that did not use purees, and it was another soup hit from this book. Leave out the weird tofu topping, though.

Chicken and Biscuits was really yummy and the kids loved it, but it also highlighted the flaws so many have raised about sneaking in veggies instead of incorporating non-pureed versions instead. The pureed pumpkin is a great addition, and I will be including it next time, but I will also add a couple of cups of fresh or frozen veggies (like diced carrot, peas and corn) to the stew as well. Even if the kids pick some of them out, it normalises the place of vegetables in a meal.

The Chicken Enchiladas will definitely become part of our Mexican Monday nights, they were that good. They were creamy and cheesy and just perfect. Served with a side of rice, corn and beans and we had a seemingly sinful, yet completely healthy meal.

Pasta with Pea Pesto was another recipe minus a puree. This was really yummy and if you subbed some diced ham or bacon for the chicken would make a quick and easy pantry meal for those nights you are tempted to get take-out.

The recipe for Gnocchi is amazing. There is no other word for it. In less than hour I had homemade, from scratch, light and fluffy gnocchi. The kids loved this plain with a touch of butter.

So, overall, it depends what you are looking for in a cookbook for your family. If you want very quick and easy recipes, this one is probably not for you. If you are prepared to spend a couple of hours initially to build up the stock of purees, and want to add some extra nutrition into meals that the whole family will like, and especially if you liked Deceptively Delicious, then I can highly recommend this book. While I don't agree with her focus on low-fat (and in particular, low saturated fat), this is easily remedied with some substitutions. I don't think I will use all of these recipes regularly (especially the desserts/snacks), but quite a number of them will make it into our regular rotation.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gifted Magazine

I have just found Gifted Magazine, an amazing resource (via Angry Chicken which, by the way, is worth a visit in itself) which is full of wonderful homemade ideas for the holiday season. While I am not going all handmade this Christmas like I did last year I still plan to make a lot of things and this mag is full of great projects and inspiration. It includes inspiring articles, a ton of photos and little tips, projects and recipes, and even printables. And for the Chic Mummy in all of us, there are even some adorable fashion spreads and an incredibly elegant gift guide. Did I mention that it is FREE?! So head on over and get inspired!

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mother Madness Rant

On the weekend I came across an essay at the WSJ that really made my blood boil. Mother Madness, by Erica Jong, is all about how she feels modern motherhood, and attachment parenting in particular, are society constructs that are "imprisoning" and "victimising" women. It's not often that I read something and get so riled up! As regular readers would realise, I am a big proponent of attachment parenting. I breastfed one of my children, I co-sleep (still!), I made the majority of our own baby food, and while I believe in a flexible routine, I don't (and didn't) follow anything you would call a schedule. According to Jong, all of these things are "a prison for mothers" and it "represents [...] a backlash against women's freedom."

What made me laugh out loud however, was her own inconsistencies. In the early part of her essay, she criticises the Sear's (proponents of Attachment Parenting) for assuming that parents are rich enough to have one parent at home to Attachment Parent. And yet, later, she is reminiscing about how her daughter was raised by nannies while she was off on her lecture tours. I don't know about your family, but even if I was still working, I certainly wouldn't be able to afford to have a team of nannies at beck and call!

I am insulted to be told that I am "giving up my life" for my child's and I resent the implication that I am creating a child that cannot be an independent adult. In fact, there is copious research out there that demonstrates that children reared with attachment parenting principles are more secure and capable teens and adults that those who are not. And this is where I think Jong missed the most vital points of attachment parenting. You do not have to be a SAHM to follow attachment parenting; I know parents who both work, but co-sleep with their child, and then carefully selected caregivers who follow the principles of responding to the child's needs when they are not there. You do not have to "give up your life"; next month, DH and I are going to the U2 concert, and one of the sets of grandparents will look after the kids. We still go out for dinner at nice restaurants (sometimes with the kids, sometimes without) and we still carve out moments for ourselves.

What irked me the most, though, is her assertion that those of us who choose to stay home are blindly following societal propaganda, removing ourselves from the political process and further, are "overworked and exhausted" and as such, "how can we have the time to question and change the world that you and and your children inhabit." I could not disagree with her more! I believe that it is the attachment parenting mother (and not forgetting the mothers who follow different parenting paths) that fights to have BPA removed from our environment, who boycotts Nestle for their formula practices in the Third World, who pushes for healthier school lunches for our children. Yes, these are child-centric issues, but does that make them any less important than minimising carbon emissions or fighting for equal pay for women (which, by the way, I am also passionate about)? Just because I am not lecturing in universities or writing a best selling novel (like Jong) does not mean that I am not an aware and active citizen.

Do I believe that everyone should follow attachment parenting principles? Absolutely not. I know parents who followed Enzo's Babywise (the antithesis of attachment parenting) and have raised beautiful, wonderful children, and I think that across the full spectrum of parenting "philosophies" all parents want is what is best for our children given our particular set of circumstances. It just really riles me up when someone like Jong can state that we women should "just do the best you can. There are no rules." (hey, there is one line in the whole essay I agree with!) despite having basically spent an entire essay denigrating my parenting choice.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Putting up! My foray into preserving.

I have always loved the idea of canning food and drinks; putting fresh produce away when they are plentiful and easily available, for times when they are not. In this modern age, when pretty much anything is available all year round (even if you have to pay more for it), canning and preserving has become a bit of lost art, but judging by the blogosphere, it is definitely coming back into fashion.

I started with a couple of recipes, and found it surprisingly easy. The first recipe I tried was apple butter. I have fond memories of eating apple butter when I was a child, but have never seen it since, so when a recipe came into my feed reader from Simple Bites, I thought I would give it a go. I cooked mine in my slow cooker rather than the stovetop, which saved a heap of stirring and worrying it would stick, but I still managed to overcook it a bit - I like to think the slightly burnt flavour adds some "dimension"!

My second experiment was some lemon cordial from the wonderful book River Cottage Preserves Handbook. There were so many recipes in this book I wanted to try, but this one looked like the easiest, and I had a glut of lemons, so it seemed perfect. It came out absolutely perfect! It was just the right balance of sweet and sour, just the way homemade lemon cordial should be. I can't wait until I try my next recipe!

Sorry, no photos, since I have temporarily misplaced my camera in my massive reorganisation of my craft/schoolroom!

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Disclaimer: the book link is an Amazon affiliate link

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kids Konserve Lunch Kits 40% 0ff



I have spoken about making kids lunches waste free before and recently I have added some Kids Konserve stainless steel drink bottles to my collection to replace the kids' tupperware ones (as part of my getting rid of plastics). So I was super excited to see that Biome Ecostores have their range of Kids Konserve lunch kits on sale for 40% off. I've just taken advantage of this, and bought a caterpiller set for Stephen and a butterfly set for Irini, so I'll be all set for next year when both of the kids are at kindy. I still love my Laptop Lunchboxes, but sometimes it is just too big, especially if Stephen wants a sandwich for lunch since it a sandwich on its own is too small for the large inner container, and ends up coming apart as it gets tumbled around in his bag. I love the idea of a sandwich wrap to contain the sandwich, and I can see myself pairing the wrap with his Laptop Lunchbox as well as using it with its original kit.
PS: I have had some emails querying my affiliation with some of my posts that promote or mention products. If there is ever any affiliation, I will always disclose it. Posts like this are simply me trying to pass on products that I love!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting Rid of Plastic

I've spoken about greening my kitchen before, and while I've certainly come a long way from where I was, such as going paperless and making my kid's lunches waste-free, I felt that there was one more step that I needed to take, which was to get rid of plastic. Volumes have been written about the risks of BPA (and other nasties) which are found in a lot of plastics, and are of particular concern when food is warmed up in it. Given that pretty much my entire stock of food storage containers are relatively expensive, BPA containing Tupperware, I was both concerned about the health risk AND faced a dilemma!

The more and more I read, and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I could not ignore the health concerns, particularly when it came to containers that were used for heating up food, or storing foods high in fat, the two situations that seemed to pose the biggest risk. So my plan was to start saving money to replace these containers with glass, and re purpose the Tupperware containers for storing other things, such as my dry bulk storage of rice, beans, pasta, cereal etc. Every week I would put money aside for my "non-plastic" fund, and waited for the items I wanted to go on sale. Eventually, 2 wonderful Pyrex sets with BPA-free lids came up on huge discount, and just like that, I had taken one more step to a greener and healthier kitchen. One set I bought contained rectangular containers of various sizes, and the other round, but in hindsight I would definitely have bought only rectangles, as they store so much more efficiently in the cupboard and the fridge.

As well as the containers, I also replaced all the plastic that the kids use with either melamine, ceramic or glass. Following the Montessori principle of allowing children to take responsibility for their items, I bought child sized (but relatively heavy weight) glasses for their drinks, and ceramic or Corelle bowls and plates for their meals. I then purchased some melamine sets for when other children are visiting, as melamine is considered a safe and environmentally friendly option. The only plastic we are now using with the kids are their straws and their BPA-free lunchboxes.

Eventually, I plan to replace all my plastic containers with glass or metal, but for the moment, I am happy with the compromise I have made.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm Studying Herbalism!


Over the last decade or so I have become more and more interested in natural medicine as a first port of call for both preventative health and acute care. And while I have dabbled in mild remedies, for coughs and colds and the like (most of which I have posted here), I finally took the leap and have decided to study it in a more formal, in-depth way. What I was looking for was an introductory course that could be studied by correspondence but I just couldn't find one that seemed right. And then I came across The Vintage Remedies Family Herbalist course, and I knew it was perfect.

I found the course in a round-about way and I have to say, these moments of serendipity usually work out well for me! Keeper of the Home had written a book review of The Handbook of Vintage Remedies a while ago and I had bookmarked it with the view to buying it down the track. A few days ago I was madly searching for the review (I really need to organise my bookmarks!) and came across the website for Vintage Remedies School of Natural Health, the herbalism school founded by the author. I was just casually browsing, and then I came the outline of the Family Herbalist course. It is an 18 month course that covers your whole family from pregnancy, childhood and beyond. I can't wait to get started!

If you are interested in natural health but are not interested in formal study, than make sure you tune in to Keeper of the Home's blog over the month of October. For the whole of October Stephanie is running a Natural Home Remedies and Illness Prevention month. This post, in particular, has some great links to some wonderful home made remedies to get you started!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Winners!

Obviously I have been a real blogging slacker, but these school holidays I have either been madly inspired to spring clean my house top to bottom, or the weather has been so nice that I have torn myself away from the manic cleaning to take the kids out and about. So while I have been badly neglecting my readers, rest assured that my house has never looked better and my kids have had some wonderful times at the zoo and various parks and playgrounds!

But now to the winners of the giveaways! And if you weren't lucky enough to win a prize this month, I will be running some more giveaways over the next few months in the lead up to Christmas. So without further ado, here they are:

The Life.Doc Organising Binder: Juliana (please email me as I cannot access your profile)

Milkshake Sugar Frosting: Kalee

Spring Clean Year Round: The Long & Winding Bobbin

So congratulations to the winners, and now back to out regular programming!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spring Clean Year 'Round Giveaway

Today's product is the Spring Clean, Year 'Round cleaning tin. Inside the little, gorgeous, hand decorated tin is a set of cards that will revolutionise your house cleaning. The creator of this system, Travis, says:

“This system includes most common chores necessary to keep your home “spring clean” year round. It is not exhaustive and therefore blank cards are included for your personalization. It does not include the daily grind kind of chores like washing clothes or cleaning up after dinner. The frequency at the top of the card can easily be changed to suit your personal cleaning needs. I am a wife and mom of 3 boys and 1 girl. This is my personalized system and your needs/preferences may be different. It is my hope that this system will give you freedom and peace knowing your house will be clean year-round with minimal daily effort from you.”

I bought one of these kits when my house was really getting beyond me. I had been following FlyLady and the basic cleaning was getting done but I just found that some of the bigger but less frequent tasks were being left by the wayside. After seeing this little set, I thought "What have I got to lose?" and bought one. It has made a real difference to the cleanliness of my house. The cards are great; they are simple and come with hints and tips on each one. My favourite part, though, is the tin. It is pretty enough that it can be left on the bench for easy access (and as a visible reminder!). I don't use the tin for my weekly cleaning (although those cards are all included) since I have my system down pretty well, but I refer to my tin weekly for all the less frequent tasks that I have now scheduled throughout the year.

Now to the part you are really interested in - the Giveaway!! I am giving one of you a Spring Clean, Year 'Round in pink and green, worth $33.95.

To enter:

You can gain entries by doing any (or all) of the following (please leave a comment for each one you do!). If you already do any of the below, make sure to leave a comment, since that counts too!

  • Subscribe to Chic Mummy by email or by RSS
  • Follow my blog publicly on Google Friends Connect
  • Blog about this giveaway and link to this post - leave your link in the comment

RT @chic_mummy Enter to win Spring Clean, Year "Round! http://bit.ly/9TaIbo #giveaway

Giveaway ends October 1st.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Product Review: Time 4 Learning

I was recently given the opportunity to try out Time4Learning's online subscription program for a month. Time4Learning is an online program of educational games and programs for children in Pre-K through to grade 8. Stephen is 3 and a half, so we tried the Pre-K program and loved it!

The Pre-K program has two levels, so we started on level 1. The majority of level 1 was the perfect level for him. With numbers and letters recognition, shapes, colours, animals etc it covered the full range of what I would expect in a Pre K program. At this level, Stephen was able to "work" on most of the games by himself, (especially the numbers and colours games) with just minimal assistance. Often, I was told, "Muumm...I can do this myself!". Since he was pretty good with level 1, we then tried level 2. Level 2 covers pretty much the same topics, but either in more depth or at a more challenging level. The English based games at this level were definitely beyond him and we carried on working at level 1 for those. Stephen is still at the level of letter recognition, so it was not unexpected that syllables, rhyming etc would be too challenging. For the maths games, level 2 was the perfect level. The rest of the games we tried, like colour mixing, were great as a "work with mum" to push Stephen to the next level. He really learnt a lot from the games at this level, rather than reviewing what he already knew.

I don't have a set curriculum for Stephen; he goes to a play-based pre-kindy two mornings a week, and at home we really just work on things that he enjoys or learning through doing (such as counting when he helps me bake etc). So while I wouldn't use the program as a full-time curriculum (especially since I don't believe in a lot of screen time for young children) I found Time4Learning a great supplement to what we already do. Over the last month, it has become a regularly asked for activity, and I will probably schedule in two or three half hour sessions a week going forward.

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Disclaimer: I was provided with one month's access to Time4Learning for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

Estee Lauder & Tea Collection Giveaway Winners

The winners are:

Estee Lauder Pure Color Gloss: DebK

Tea Collection Voucher: Mary (QuiteContrary1977)

Congratulations, and to everyone else, keep your eye out for more giveaways this month!!

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Milkshake Sugar Frosting Hair Powder

Milkshake Sugar Frosting is a product that I discovered the other day in a cute little gift store, and when I saw the gorgeous packaging, I had to buy one, even if it was just to look good on my vanity! After trying it, I went back to buy another one to giveaway to one of my readers. That is how much I loved it!

Milkshake's Sugar Frosting luxurious hair powder is designed to help conceal your roots, absorb excess oil and add a delicious fragrance to your hair. Lately I have been trying to wash my hair less often than every day, and have been using dry shampoo in between washes, but found the white powder somewhat off putting, as well as the "feel" it left on my hair. I can't really describe it, it was just wrong somehow. This powder is nothing like that. The powder comes in four "flavours"; boysenberry black, milk chocolate brunette, raspberry creme red and and vanilla cupcake blonde. The brunette that I bought really did help cover up my grey regrowth although the feel on my hair was still not quite right; the milk chocolate fragrance was subtle but yummy. I also loved the little brush that comes with it to help brush it into your roots.

Now to the part you are really interested in - the Giveaway!! I am giving one of you a Milkshake Sugar Frosting of your own, in milk chocolate brunette (that is all that was available!) worth $49.

To enter:

You can gain entries by doing any (or all) of the following (please leave a comment for each one you do!). If you already do any of the below, make sure to leave a comment, since that counts too!

  • Subscribe to Chic Mummy by email or by RSS
  • Follow my blog publicly on Google Friends Connect
  • Blog about this giveaway and link to this post - leave your link in the comment

RT @chic_mummy Enter to win a Milkshake Sugar Frosting Luxurious Hair Powder! http://bit.ly/bza38Y #giveaway

Giveaway ends September 25th.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Smart School Time Recipes

If you are ever struggling with serving healthy and homemade breakfasts, lunches and snacks to your kids, then you need to head on over to One Frugal Foodie to download their free e-book, Smart School Time Recipes. This gem of a book contains 125 healthy recipes, focusing on real, whole foods, rather than processed junk. The chapters include:

  • Morning Muffin Mania
  • Sensational Smoothies
  • Easy Freezin’ Waffles, Pancakes, and French Toast
  • More Smart Starts
  • Dips, Fillings, and Spreads
  • Soups and Stews
  • Salad-Style
  • More Lunchbox Love
  • Sweet Snackin’
  • Craving Cookies
  • Essential Extras
The breakfast recipes (More Smart Starts), in particular, have really inspired me to mix up our breakfast menu which had become really boring. The Pear and Raspberry Crumble and the Cherry Chocolate Bomb Overnight Parfait were real winners; they looked and tasted so much like desserts, but were full of healthy and filling ingredients to set the kids up for the day.

What I love most about this book, apart from the yummy recipes, is that most of the recipes have photos. For a visual person like me, this is really important, since if I can't see it, I'm not usually inspired by it! So make sure to head on over, and download this wonderful addition to your mealtime repertoire.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Life.doc Organising Binder Giveaway

The Life.doc personal organiser is a comprehensive 120 page command centre that guides you step-by-step in gathering together all the information your family might need, and organising it in one place. That way, everyone in your family will always have access to all the important phone numbers, account numbers, insurance information and medical details, just to name a few.

Simply fill in the forms with your personal data and document locations, and then file them in 1 of the 8 tabbed categories. And if you need extra forms, you can just print them off from the included CD-Rom.

Includes sections for:

  • medical and financial
  • insurance and legal
  • your emergency plan
  • family and household
  • caregiver information
The other day I spoke about creating your own Family Organiser. This would be a great starting point to developing your own. So to help one of you create your own fantastic organiser I am giving away a Life.Doc organiser worth $29.95.

To enter:

You can gain entries by doing any (or all) of the following (please leave a comment for each one you do!). If you already do any of the below, make sure to leave a comment, since that counts too!

  • Subscribe to Chic Mummy by email or by RSS
  • Follow my blog publicly on Google Friends Connect
  • Blog about this giveaway and link to this post - leave your link in the comment

RT @chic_mummy Enter to win a Life.Doc Organiser! http://bit.ly/ddRsbR #giveaway

Giveaway ends September 20th.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

CSN Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Lunara1978 at hotmail dot com, who was lucky number 13, as drawn by random.org. CSN will email you the voucher. Happy shopping! Don't forget to enter my other giveaways!

The Estee Lauder Pure Gloss giveaway ends on the 12th September - click here

The $100 Tea Collection voucher giveaway ends on 15th September - click here

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tea Collection Giveaway

Yesterday I reviewed the girl's clothing range from Tea Collection. If you are after boys' clothing, don't feel left out! While my son's clothes will never excite me the way my daughter's do, Tea Collection's boy's range is still super stylish. This was the set I bought Stephen at the beginning of our winter:

It is exactly how I like to dress him - a little bit preppy, a little bit sophisticated, but still comfortable. I also love that the line looks high end designer, but without the high end price.

Now to the part you are really interested in - the Giveaway!! Tea Collection is generously giving one of you a $100 coupon to redeemed on a phone order.

To enter:

After you have completed this mandatory entry, you can gain bonus entries by doing any (or all) of the following (please leave a comment for each one you do!). If you already do any of the below, make sure to leave a comment, since that counts too!

  • Subscribe to Chic Mummy by email or by RSS
  • Follow my blog publicly on Google Friends Connect
  • Blog about this giveaway and link to this post - leave your link in the comment

RT @chic_mummy Enter to win a $100 voucher to @Teacollection! http://bit.ly/bqJNml #giveaway

Giveaway ends September 15th.


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PS: don't forget to enter the Estee Lauder Pure Color Gloss giveaway - click here

disclaimer: I received the $100 voucher for this giveaway.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tea Collection Review

I have been buying Tea Collection for my kids since Stephen was just a baby and really fell in love with the brand when I had Irini and could start buying their girl's clothing. I love the unique patterns, the high quality, and the fact that the clothes are just adorable. I also love that the collection runs the whole gamut from dressy clothes in the original Tea Collection, through to play clothes in their more recent Daily Tea range. At the beginning of this year I bought one of their daily tea sets (such a cute name!) which comes with a mix and match collection of 5-7 pieces. This winter, Irini has pretty much lived in those jersey dresses paired with leggings. The pic below shows one of this season's sets.

As I said earlier, the Tea Collection range is dressier - it is as suitable for everyday as it is for going out somewhere nice with the family. Again, the quality is amazing, and the designs are unique. Inspired by global cultures, I like buying them for Irini one, because they don't make her look like a Britney or Miley wannabee, and two, because she is pretty global herself, with her Greek, Thai, Chinese, Scottish and Dutch heritage.

These two dresses are next on my wish list - I love them because they can be dressed up with a pair of tights and some boots, or dressed down with some leggings.

Stay tuned, because if you have fallen in love with Tea Collection the way I have, then you will want to stick around for the amazing giveaway from them!

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PS: don't forget to enter the Estee Lauder Pure Color Gloss giveaway - click here

Disclaimer: I have received a giveaway prize from Tea Collection. However, all opinions are my own and in no way influenced by any sponsor.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Family Organiser

When I was in the workplace, the only way I could manage my work and personal life was through my planners. I had my blackberry for my personal diary and contacts, a day planner at the office for my work schedule, a Rolodex at the office for my industry contacts, a calender at home... you get the picture. When I left work to have kids, other than my blackberry, it pretty much all went by the wayside. And that was fine when my kids were babies. But now that the kids are a little bit older, and I have activities and classes and teachers to keep track of, I needed more. In a period of serendipity, just as I started realising that my blackberry on its own wasn't cutting it anymore, I started coming across the concept of the family organiser (sometimes known as a household notebook or home management binder) across the web.

These family organisers take various forms, from simple family diaries to complex binders that cover every aspect of the household. The basic principle of the family organiser is that the household's important information is stored in one place, which is easily accessible by everyone in the family. It contains schedules and phone lists, pantry lists and warranty inventories, planner forms and school notes. The idea is that all of your info is in one place, and most importantly, easily found. It is a one-stop-shop; for you, your husband and your children.

My family organiser is based around the Schoolwise Family Organiser that I received free in a goody bag at a baby show just after Irini was born. The Schoolwise Organiser comes in its own binder with various forms in 5 chapters: Calendar, School, Activities, Phone Lists and Personal and was a wonderful leaping off point for creating my own personalised organiser. I have transferred the contents into my own linen bound binder (since that looked so much better than the plastic one it came in!), added in my housekeeping control journal, and additional forms that I have gathered from the web. An excellent source for forms is LifeasMom; FishMama has some great ones that only another mum could have thought of! As well as forms, an indispensable element for me is a number of empty page protectors. I use these to gather together any notes, enrolment forms or letters that I need to deal with.

My family organiser now contains everything important to running our household and our daily lives: phone numbers (from emergency numbers like fire and police, to tradesmen, to the playgroup's mothers numbers); Stephen's kindy details, including the teachers' names and after hours contacts; and personal information such as insurance details, a household warranty list, superannuation details, and birthday lists. It even has a stain removal chart, a gift closet inventory and my recipe cheat sheet that I found at Angry Chicken. If you meal plan (which I am planning to start doing, no pun intended!) this would be the perfect place to include it. I store mine in the kitchen at my command centre. Here it is in a central location, is right next to the phone and if your household is anything like mine, I tend to spend a LOT of time here!

Your family organiser should be a living organism; it should change and evolve over time. Once Stephen starts school and after-school activities, I'm sure the currently empty Activities section will fill up. As I come across new forms I add them in if they are useful right now, or file them at the back if I think they will be useful in the future.

Now don't get me wrong, my family organiser hasn't replaced my Blackberry or my MomAgenda planner that I got for my birthday last year. Both of these are still indispensable to me! But having a one-stop-shop for all the household stuff has made my life and my husband's much easier.

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PS: don't forget to enter my $55 CSNStores giveaway that ends tonight, or the Estee Lauder Pure Gloss giveaway that ends on the 12th!

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Estee Lauder Pure Color Gloss Giveaway

My next great giveaway is for the brand new Estee Lauder Pure Colour Lip Gloss. Created by Tom Pecheux, Creative Makeup Director for Estee Lauder, these glosses are drenched with conditioners, but feel luscious and light on the lips, not sticky. The glosses are available in 32 colours, and three different finishes: Shine for a glossy, ultra shiny finish, Shimmer for an intense pearlescent shimmer, and Sparkle for a glittery high shine. This giveaway is for the Passionfruit Shimmer, a medium pink-coral shade that would suit almost everyone.

To enter:

Gain entries by doing any (or all) of the following (please leave a comment for each one you do!). If you already do any of the below, make sure to leave a comment, since that counts too!

  • Subscribe to Chic Mummy by email or by RSS
  • Follow my blog publicly on Google Friends Connect
  • Blog about this giveaway and link to this post - leave your link in the comment

RT @chic_mummy Enter to win an Estee Lauder Pure Color Gloss! http://bit.ly/dCpsrq #giveaway

Giveaway ends September 12th.


PS: Don't forget to enter the CSNStores giveaway - click here - it ends on Tuesday!

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Friday, September 3, 2010

National Yoga Month

September is here, which means for those of you in the US, it is officially National Yoga Month. This is actually an "official" month, created by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the health benefits of yoga.

Personally, I love yoga - I find it both energising and restorative - but I don't practise nearly enough. If you have never tried it, or have had a bit of break, take advantage of the free classes and events running throughout the month, or even one week of free classes at participating yoga studios. Head on over to www.yogamonth.org to find some near you.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CSN Giveaway

To kick off Chic Mummy's month long giveaway festival, we will start off with a $55 gift voucher to the wonderful CSN Stores. CSN Stores is wonderful collection of online stores that sell everything you could want, from kids gear to school supplies to great kitchenware. I just ordered a Corelle dinner set from their site cookware.com as I am trying to move our family away from plastic and I love the fact that Corelle products are less breakable than regular china. (PS: stay tuned for an upcoming post on why and how I am getting rid of plastic in our house!)

Now to the part you are really interested in - the Giveaway!! CSN is generously giving one of you a $55 voucher to any of CSNs 200+ stores.

To enter:

  • Go to CSNstores.com and tell me what you would buy with your voucher.

After you have completed this mandatory entry, you can gain bonus entries by doing any (or all) of the following (please leave a comment for each one you do!). If you already do any of the below, make sure to leave a comment, since that counts too!

  • Subscribe to Chic Mummy by email or by RSS
  • Follow my blog publicly on Google Friends Connect
  • Blog about this giveaway and link to this post - leave your link in the comment

RT Enter to win a $55 voucher to CSNstores with @chic_mummy! http://bit.ly/9D3vT6 #giveaway

Giveaway ends September 7th.

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CSNstores has provided me with the gift voucher for this giveaway.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Exciting Giveaway announcement!

I have been very lucky lately, and won a couple of blog giveaways. I was also pleasantly surprised when one of my giveaway winners, Juliana, wrote me a wonderful "snail mail" thank you letter. I can't begin to tell you how great it felt when out of the blue I received an actual, physical card in the mail, just to say thank you. Pretty much the only snail mail I get nowadays are the few bills that are not sent electronically, or begging letters from various charities. So basically, this was a long winded explanation of why I have decided to host a month long festival of giveaways during September!! The giveaways will be all sorts of things that my blog usually covers, from beauty products to home wares to homeschooling resources, so there will be something for everyone. So stay tuned, keep checking in, don't forget to enter and good luck!!

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Carrot Mango Crushie

This drink is delicious, and full of wonderful vitamins. Because this is using all of the carrot and not just the juice, you are also getting all of the fibre as well. The kids will never know what's in it!

Carrot Mango Crushie

2 large carrots, unpeeled and finley grated
1 large mango, peeled and chopped
2 cups freshly squeezed OJ
1 cup crushed ice

Blend carrots, mango and OJ until combined. Add ice and reblend. Serve immediately.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Shop Bop Buys

Just the other day, I was lucky enough to win a $100 gift voucher to ShopBop from the lovely Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen. I went shopping (online) straight away and an hour later I had updated my spring wardrobe with three fantastic accessories.

The first item I ordered was these Tory Burch Reva Straw Woven Flats. I love the contrast of the black and cream patterned straw and I really needed a new pair of flat shoes (and not sandals) for spring/summer. I definitely plan on channeling Jackie Onassis with these in a pair of crisp white denim capris, a black tee, and my oversized sunnies. Even though people think a patterned shoe can be hard to wear, I can see myself wearing this with a whole lot of different items. As well as the Jackie O outfit, I think these would be perfect with a breezy linen sundress or a denim skirt and coloured tank.

The second piece I ordered was this fab House of Harlow 1960 Sunburst Ring. I loved the graphic contrast of the black leather against the gold, as well as the size of the piece. The ring is 2" (5cm) in diameter, so will make a real statement in a retro 1970's kind of way. I think it will add just the right Sophisticated Anachronism touch to both a casual outfit (such as simple black shirt and jeans) and a more dressy one (like a black jersey maxi dress). It would also be great with my Jackie O outfit above!

The last piece I ordered was this gorgeous Peacock Cocktail ring, also from House of Harlow 1960. Like the Sunburst ring, this ring is a huge 2" (5cm), but the nature of the design makes it feel a bit lighter. Can you tell I like statement jewellery?! I already know that I will be wearing this ring a lot over summer.

I had never shopped at ShopBop before, but I was very impressed and will definitely be shopping again, for accessories at least. I was disappointed that they only stock clothing up to a L/12, since they had some amazing pieces, but I guess this is probably more in the hands of the brands they stock rather than theirs. For shoes and accessories, however, they had a fab range that is obviously not limited by size! When browsing, I found it really hard to limit myself to just these three pieces. If I had unlimited bank account, I would have absolutely gone on a major spending spree!

What I really loved about ShopBop, though, was that they offer FREE 3 day shipping worldwide (minimum $100 spend for non-US customers) and free returns for US customers. This makes it risk free to shop online, which is something I really appreciate, since things do not always look as good in real life as they do on the screen. So a really big thankyou to Allie (and ShopBop) for giving me this prize, and giving me a headstart on my spring/summer shopping!

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