Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: Coming home to eat: wholefood for the family

If you live in Australia, head over to Angus & Roberson, because I just found this gem for just $10 (usually $39.95), Coming Home to Eat: Wholefood for the family by Jude Blereau. They had a pile of these books on a stand at the front of the store, and the subtitle "wholefood for the family" caught my eye. With just a quick flick through I bought it, thinking that for only $10, even if it was only average, I would probably find something to justify the spend. This book surpassed all my expectations! It is truly wonderful and the few recipes that I have made so far have been a success.

Her writing is wonderful, the pictures gorgeous, and I love that she explains *why* she is doing things in a certain way. Jude Blereau has been influenced by the Nourishing Traditions way of eating and as such this cookbook is a wonderful companion as it has wonderfully tasty recipes that will appeal to the whole family, kids included!

What was a surprising bonus is that Jude is from Perth! She was the founder of the wonderful (but now sadly departed) Earth Market, one of the first organic food stores in Perth, and knowing that I am supporting a local author makes my purchase of this book even more satisfying.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Stephen's Toddler Bedroom

A while ago I wrote about decorating Stephen's room, and I have just realised that I never posted the finished room. So here it is!

I bought this handmade monogram frame just after Stephen was born. Unfortunately, the business I bought it from doesn't exist anymore, but you can find similar items at Etsy. I attached it to Stephen's door with those great 3M picture hanging strips so that it would be easily removed if we ever move.

I decided when I was planning Stephen's decor on a plane theme, based on the colours red, white and blue. I chose this theme because he loves planes, and I wanted something classic, masculine (but not too adult), and something that would grow with him (unlike, say, a Pooh themed room which is his other favourite thing at the moment). Around his bed are some vintage style plane prints that I got from AllPosters.com and had custom framed with navy mats and wood frames to match his bedroom suite.

On his bed is a quilt set that I got as an absolute bargain and it was perfect for his room. The colours are more muted rather than bright, with appliqued stars that perfectly suited the aviation theme in the room. I made the quilt folded at the end of the bed after being inspired by a quilt I saw in a Company Store catalogue. The mix of the different plaids and different sized rectangles just looked so perfect for a boys room. I made the quilt top from some amazing homespun fabrics in shades of blue, navy, khaki, green and red and the backed it in super cuddly flannel.

There is another vintage style print above his chest of drawers, which I will probably replace with a mirror when he is older. To the left of his chest, near his wardrobe, is a hook at Stephen's height to hold his pyjamas and robe and a laundry basket that is currently being used to store soft toys. To the right of the chest are a daddy and baby teddy bear that Nick bought for Stephen when he was born.

On top of the chest of drawers are a collection of keepsakes that Stephen has gathered from when he was born, his Christening and various birthdays. The toy elephant in the centre back used to be Nick's when he was a child.

On his closet are removable vinyl wall decals of vintage planes and biplanes. These are so realistic it looks as if I spent hours painting the little planes and clouds! I felt that these added just the right childish touch, and as he gets older and these become too "babyish" for him, they will just peel right off.

Next to his bed is a bookcase filled with Stephen's soft toy collection (you can see he has a thing for Pooh) and a selection of books that he can choose from for reading time or to flick through on his own. The bookcase used to be filled with all of his books, but between Stephen and Irini, we ended up with books all over the house. Now, the majority of their books are in my office/their schoolroom, and I rotate the books in his case.

Above his bookcase are two metal toy vintage planes that I found in a children's decor store. These were quite expensive, but I hope that they will become items that Stephen will treasure his whole life.

Overall, I am really happy with how his room turned out. I love that it is a classic room that harks back to an earlier, simpler time. Even though Stephen doesn't sleep in his room yet, I often find him playing in there or snuggling up in his bed with a book so he obviously likes it as well.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Days of Change

A unique program has been running here in WA called Days of Change. It is an wonderful environmental initiative aimed at encouraging everyday people to pledge to make simple changes around their household that will collectively will create a positive impact on our environment.

Days of Change has a Pledge Card (available at the sight or as a hard copy available at IGA supermarkets) that lists 30 things households can do. It is easy to be cynical about these kinds of projects, but if every household could adopt just some of the ideas on the pledge card, imagine what we could save in water and energy consumption. A feature of the pledge card that I really like is that it lists the amount of money you could save and what area of the environment each pledge will help. It would be a great learning activity to go through the pledge card with your children and see what your household could achieve.

Days of Change aims to have 200 000 people sign the pledge. They only have 31,000 people signed up so far and there are only a few days to go, so head here and join in with this worthwhile project.

Don't forget to check out my green series for some more ideas:

Going Green In the Kitchen - Waste Free Lunches

Going Green In the Kitchen - Paperless Kitchen

Going Green In the Kitchen - Hints and Tips

Going Green In the Kitchen - Food

27 Ways to Be Greener in the Laundry

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Healthy Snacks To Go ebook

This new ebook from Kitchen Stewardship is getting plenty of positive buzz out in the Real Food/Nourishing Traditions blogosphere, and now that I have purchased and started using my own copy, I can certainly see why. This little ebook filled with over 45 recipes yummy AND healthy snacks that the whole family will love, including dozens of variations for something called Lara Bars. We don't have Lara bars here in Perth, so I don't know what they are meant to taste like, but the ones we made were absolutely delicious, and were wolfed up in seconds by the kids.
Other recipes include portable backpack/diaper bag friendly granola bars, cookies, muffins, fruit roll ups etc, as well as lunchbox friendly side dishes. What I really loved about this book was the variations for those following Nourishing Traditions such as using soaked grains and nuts. I've been making a lot of head way eating this way, but finding easy snacks (that the kids like) to replace processed snacks has still been a bit of a challenge, so this book has been a real lifesaver.
Go here to purchase this great little book!
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Disclaimer: this post now contains an affiliate link, but my opinions have not been influenced in any way

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Perfect Chocolate Cake

My mum is a wonderful cook and baker, but the only thing that she has never been able to master is a rich, dark and moist chocolate cake. My whole childhood (and adulthood!) she has tried, and failed. So, I am always on the hunt for an easy, no-fail, perfect chocolate cake recipe. I have come across many recipes for yummy chocolate cakes, but most of them take forever to make, and involve melting chocolate and so forth. I wanted something easy. So when I came across this recipe via Angry Chicken, I was sold.

This is the easiest, yummiest, most perfect cake out there. Even the frosting is ridiculously easy. I make mine with regular Bourneville cocoa that you get from the supermarket rather than the Hershey's as per the recipe, and it still comes out perfect. I would love to say that the photo above is of my cake, but by the time I remembered to get the camera out, there was nothing left but some cake crumbs and smears of frosting! It is THAT yummy.

So head on over here and you will fall in love, too.

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image source

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Buyster Kids Rugs in Action

The kids rug that Buyster.com.au generously gave to us to try out arrived about a month ago, and has been getting a pretty good workout since. We have played hopscotch a few times on it, especially when it first arrived, but the weather has been so unseasonably warm and sunny that we have been mostly playing outside.

However, despite not being used for hopscotch at the moment, the rug has been re purposed by Stephen as a multi purpose play centre! For a few days in a row it was his zoo, with each numbered square representing a cage; the next, it was his airport, with the squares becoming hangers for the planes and garages for the fire engines; and lastly, it was his "counting board" (his words).

As for the rug itself, it is a wonderfully large size (1x2m) that is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. It is a nice quality polyester, with a non-slip backing built in, which is great since the kids have sometimes been leaving it rolled out on the tile floor. The service from Buyster was also great. My order was placed, and two days later, the rug appeared on our doorstep. A 48 hour turnaround may not sound that amazing, but when you live in the world's most isolated capital city, getting anything within 48 hours of ordering is pretty much a miracle!

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Disclaimer - Buyster.com.au provided us with a rug free of charge to review. All my opinions are, as always, my 100% honest opinions and are not influenced by the company supplying me with the review product.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review: Vicks Forehead Thermometer

Recently, I was lucky enough to win my very first blog giveaway, and received a Vick's Forehead Thermometer and Grobag Egg from the lovely Christie at Childhood 101. Now that my kid's are not babies any more, I didn't need the Grobag Egg, so that went off to a friend who is due any day now, and I stashed the thermometer away in our medicine chest until we needed it.

Which, unfortunately, was this week when both the kids came down with bad colds. Since Stephen was a baby, I have always used an ear digital thermometer to take his temperature, but the older both of them got, the harder and harder it became to use, especially if they had a ear infection at the same time. So the concept of a forehead thermometer really interested me.

I can overwhelmingly give this thermometer a thumbs up. It was quick and easy to use and best of all, didn't seem to irritate the kids at all. Best of all, I could use it while they were sleeping and it didn't wake them up. All I needed to do was swipe it over the forehead, and 3 seconds later, the temperature would flash on the screen, together with a "traffic light" system of backlit colours - green for no fever, yellow for mild fever and red for high fever.

The Vick's Forehead Thermometer retails for $64.95, which is pricey, but comparable with a quality digital ear thermometer. For parents with babies and toddlers, I would definitely go for this rather than the ear thermometer.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Product Review: Resvitale Resveratrol

About two months ago I was asked if I wanted to try out a new organic antioxidant supplement that has recently been released at GNC stores throughout the US. I was sent a month's supply of Resvitale Resveratrol to review and see what I think.

Resveratrol is the antioxidant found in the skin, seeds, stem and vine of the red wine grape and is the reason behind the health benefits of drinking red wine. There are thousands of studies showing the benefits of resveratrol, and it is thought to be one of the main factors behind the "French paradox" (the French have much lower rates of heart disease than Americans, despite the high fat diet) which has puzzled health professionals for years.

There were three things I liked about Resvitale Resveratrol before I had even tried it.
  1. It is made from 100% certified organic ingredients.
  2. It is made from French grapes.
  3. One capsule is equal to hundreds of glasses of red wine.
Now, I am usually in favour of trying to get nutrients from their natural source, rather than a supplement. But the simple fact is, I don't really like red wine, and I am certainly not going to drink the 2-3 glasses a day that is recommended to get the minimum amount of resveratrol needed. So the idea of popping one small, organic capsule had me hooked.

The claims for the antioxidant resveratrol are pretty astounding; clinical studies have demonstrated enhanced energy, cellular metabolism and rejuvenation, and in the higher 500 dose, the switching on of the longevity gene. Just after I started trying it, I was watching a Dr Oz show, and he recommended the high dose for that very reason.

So what did I find? Well, after a month I can't say whether cellular metabolism is enhanced, but my skin is definitely looking plumper (in a good way!) and my energy is up. I liked the effects so much that I ordered a bottle of Resvitale's Collagen Enhance, which combines the same dose of resveratrol combined with collagen for increased anti-aging benefits. I'll let you know in a month if I liked this one even more!

ResVitale resveratrol is available exclusively at GNC stores and gnc.com for $39.99/bottle.

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Disclaimer - I was provided with a bottle of Resvitale Resveratrol free of charge to review. All my opinions are, as always, my 100% honest opinions and are not influenced by the company supplying me with the review product.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thurlby Herb Farm Botanical Bug Busters Review

On Friday I stopped in at a little gift store to pick up my mum a last minute little Mother's Day gift since her real present hadn't arrived yet. While I was browsing around, I was caught by a delightful aroma wafting towards me and was drawn to these cute little closet protectors made by Thurlby Herb Farm, a farm located just a few hours south of here.

The smell of these little herbal mothballs was intoxicating. A mix of scented eucalyptus, mint, cedar and lavender, the fragrance was nothing like traditional mothballs. It was a little bit sweet, a little bit floral, and a little bit fresh. As I inhaled, I could start picking out the individual notes, but the combination was greater than the sum of parts. I grabbed half a dozen for myself and a few to stash in my gift closet. The packaging was adorable as well, and I think these would make great little hostess gifts or stocking stuffers.

As soon as I got home, in to the closets these went. I can't tell you how effective they are at keeping bugs away yet (I am sure they are!) but they are certainly effective at filling the closets with their delightful fragrance.

Check out www.thurlbyherb.com.au for Australian and international stockists.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Ban.Do Hair Accessories

I love, love, love accessories! I think they are the essential element in taking any outfit from ho hum to amazing. If you think of any chic sighting you have ever seen, it is usually the accessories that take it to that chic level. A while ago I came across ban.do, a line of ultra gorgeous, vintage inspired, handmade accessories. They have three collections, from their divine but pricey couture Black Label, to their fun and funky (and every piece under $50!) Heart by Ban.Do and their regular line, from which I bought two pieces.

I picked the pheasant (top) and peacock (bottom) headbands a) because I simply fell in love with them, and b) because I thought they would add just the right 1940's vintage vibe that I am planning for this winter with my wardrobe. If I had an unlimited budget, I really don't think I could have stopped at two pieces, and there definitely would have been at least one black label piece included (hey, a girl can dream, can't she?). I have worn both of them numerous times, and each time I've received numerous compliments.

I have found that the peacock headband comes across as more dressy, so I have worn this one only at night so far. The pheasant one has been worn night and day, most recently with skinny jeans, a teal sleeveless knit and a navy blazer. My favourite outfit, though, has been the pheasant headband with heathered brown wide leg trousers, a periwinkle blue knit, and chocolate croc stiletto booties. The blue knit really picked up on the slight blue in the feathers, and I honestly felt like I had stepped out of a glam 1940's photoshoot.

Check out ban.do - you won't be disappointed.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Women on Wellness Week

This week is Women on Wellness (WoW) Week here in Perth and this year's theme is Move More, Eat Well, Feel Good, Look Good. WoW encourages women to "engage in activities that promote physical activity and healthy eating" through various events run over the course of the week. One that I will be going to with the kids is the event running for mums with young children at the Beach House in Osborne Park. There will be lots of activities for the kids, free cooking demos and tastings, a free yoga class, a free massage and a free belly dancing session.

WoW Mum's Event

11am - 2pm

The Beach House Kids Fun Centre
Rear 5 O'Malley St
Osborne Park

Entry is free for adults, with standard charges for children (6-11 mths $3, 1-4yr $8.50, 5-12yr $9.50)

For those of you who can't attend, you can still take part by following these simple steps from WoW!

Move more

It’s never too late! Find 30 minutes across the day and swim, walk, cycle, dance!

Eat well

Enjoy a variety of foods everyday:

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables (at least 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit)
  • 4 to 9 serves of grains, breads, rice or pasta
  • SMALL amounts of meat, poultry, eggs, fish or cheese
  • Limit fats, oils and sweets

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