Friday, January 28, 2011

CSN Stores

CSN Stores have generously given me the opportunity to review a product from their amazing group of web stores. Whether you are in the market for modern dining room furniture, sports equipment or luxury clothing, CSN has a store to suit. I haven't decided yet what I am going to try, but I will probably pick something that I can add to the kids' back to school routine and calendar area.

Which reminds me...don't forget that the fantastic review for the Little Billies routine chart ends tomorrow. Its open to readers worldwide and is such a great product!

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Disclaimer: CSN Stores will provide me with a product to review free of charge.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Australian Healthy Weight Week

This week is Healthy Weight Week in Australia, but its goals of raising awareness of the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle is important wherever you live. While I don't agree with everything that the Dietitian's Association of Australia (the organisation behind it) support, (for instance, I don't believe that saturated fat is the menace that conventional wisdom says it is) the Healthy Weight Week website has a ton of information that could benefit anyone who believes that their weight and health could do with some improvement.

One of their tools that I think is fantastic is their 10 week challenge. By following these ten easy steps over ten weeks, you will make a vast difference to your health. Some of these ideas I have already started through my Weight Watchers program, but I am planning on introducing one new idea each week. These totally fit in with my New Year, New Me goals.

Week 1:

Start a food diary. This will help you see what you're eating and drinking, and where any problem areas are. Order the AHWW food and exercise diary from the 'Resources' page to help you get started.

Week 2:

Eat breakfast every day. Breakfast eaters are more likely to be a healthy weight and less likely to re-gain lost weight. And breakfast improves alertness, concentration, mental performance and memory.

Week 3:

Choose lower fat versions of three foods you regularly eat. This will lower your kilojoule (calorie) intake enough to shed some kilos. Look at the nutrition labels of two similar products and choose the one with the lowest fat content. See the Take 10 swaps fact sheet for some suggestions.

Week 4:

Take the stairs at work instead of the lift, or walk to your local shops. Work up to being active for at least 30 to 60 minutes each day.

Week 5:

Switch to healthier drinks. Swap soft drinks, cordials and juice for diet versions - or better still choose water and reduced fat milk. Swapping a soft drink for water will save 700kJ. Have a glass, bottle or jug of water close by at all times.

Week 6:

Add one more piece of fruit and one more serve of vegetables to your day. Build up to the recommended two pieces of fruit and five serves of vegetables (around three cups) every day.

Week 7:

If buying treats, choose smaller serve sizes and have these in the house less often. Plan when you will have treats (e.g once a week) and keep a close eye on the portion size.

Week 8:

Shrink your portion sizes. Doing this at every meal is a sure-fire way to lower your energy (kilojoule) intake. Try using smaller plates and bowls or order the entree size if you're eating out.

Week 9:

If you drink alcohol, reduce your intake and aim for at least two alcohol free days each week. Try a wine spritzer (wine diluted with plain mineral water) instead of a glass of wine and use a smaller glass. Choose light beers over standard 'heavy' beers.

Week 10:

Get the right support - explore the Australia's Healthy Weight Week website for more healthy eating tips and hints to keep you going on your way to a healthier, happier you. Seek the advice of an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who can provide you with individualised advice to help achieve your goals. Visit the 'Find an APD' section of this website to find your local APD.

Download a copy of the AHWW Ten week challenge.

So make sure you check out the Healthy Weight Week website for even more great ideas!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Guest Post: Going Green Made Easy - Tips & Ideas for Green Living

Today I have a wonderful guest post by Cindy Sha from Steam Mop Reviews. She has some great tips and ideas on going green, which is perfect timing for those of you who have planned to go green as a New Year Resolution. Enjoy!!

Going Green Made Easy - Tips & Ideas for Green Living

Going green is becoming widely popular. This is one of the few things that I would encourage popularity, simply because of its ability to drastically change our environment and help the world.

The state of the earth is in poor shape- rampant pollution, high carbon emissions, toxic wastes, dying plants and animals and huge weather changes are just a few results.

This is happening because of us and we can fix it. How? By changing a few of our daily habits, it can eventually add up and have a huge impact.

You don’t have to suddenly make huge lifestyle changes, well at least not until you are ready to. If you follow a few of these tips, they will go a long way in our green agenda.

A few easy changes you can make include:

  1. Change your bulbs: Replace all your bulbs with CFL bulbs. These bulbs are initially more expensive, but they will more than pay back for themselves. They can last up to 10,000 hours, use less electricity and emit less heat. The result: a lower electricity bill and extra savings while reducing your overall energy consumption.

  2. Use homemade cleaners: Chemical cleaners have many negative effects on the environment. The chemicals within your detergents and cleaning solutions contain toxins that are reintroduced to the environment through our waterways or air. The result of this is air pollution and water pollution. Instead, you can use homemade ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and lime juice which can be used to clean stains, grout, toilets and various surfaces in your home.

  3. Reduce your consumption of copy paper: Instead of printing on one side of a page, make sure to print on both sides. This will instantly halve the overall number of pages you use. If you can implement this in your home or office, you will be making a huge difference in our paper consumption. This means an overall less demand for paper which decreases the number of trees that are cut down.

  4. Buy green cleaners: If you don’t want to use homemade cleaners, then you can simply purchase cleaners that are green and eco friendly. Instead of buying a mop which spreads chemicals around you floors, you can opt for a steam mop. It only uses steam to clean, but is very powerful and will disinfect your floors. There are also many certified green cleaning solutions to choose from which include the Oxy gen2 cleaning solution, Simple Green, Greenworks, Method etc.

  5. Carpool: You can share a car with your co-workers and even organize one for your kids and their friends. This will save on gas money while reducing the number of cars on the road. This means less traffic and less carbon emissions. It can even help you improve your social skills which are a great additional benefit.

  6. Turn off and unplug those electronics: This includes shutting down your desktop or laptop every night and unplugging all of your appliances. Once they are plugged in, they are consuming energy. By simply unplugging them, you will be drastically reducing your energy consumption.

  7. Green pest control: If you have a problem with pests and insects around your home, don’t turn to those toxic chemicals to get rid of them. Instead, you can try a few green or homemade solutions. If you have a lot of mosquitoes in your home, simply remove any stagnant water from around your house. Then, spray a solution of water and ammonia (lemon scented) in the affected areas. Need to repel insects from your plants? Simply mix a solution of 2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 onion and a quart of water. Allow the mixture to steep for a few hours and strain. After you’ve strained the solution, add a tablespoon of liquid soap and mix thoroughly. You can now use this solution to spray on your plants to prevent insects from damaging them. The solution is good for up to a week and then you should make another batch.

The above are a few simple ideas to get you started on a more conscious and green way of living. If we can all do one or a few of these, then we would definitely be on the road to change and environmental preservation.

Cindy Sha is a writer who simply loves reviewing steam products. She writes steam cleaner reviews, steam mop reviews and sauna reviews to help educate folks on the amazing capabilities of steam.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Back to School Routine Charts & Giveaway!!

For those of us Down Under, "Back to School" preparations are well under way, with less than two weeks to go until school is back in session after a long summer holiday. The sheer length of the holidays means that many routines that are regularly in place during the year have well and truly fallen by the way side by the time school is ready to go back.

I have written before about how Stephen thrives on a regular routine, and have found using a picture routine chart really helps to give him structure to his day. Over the holidays we stopped using it as we succumbed to lazy days, but now that school is soon to be on us, it's time for a rejig. For the new year, I have moved his routine chart to the playroom, underneath our daily calendar, and included a new chart for Irini now that she is nearly 3 and about to start pre-kindy. The new set up is in the pic at the top. I also included some frames around the boards to showcase some of their art (there are two larger frames just out of the shot). The great thing about a picture routine chart is that they are suitable for pre-readers and readers alike.

The plan for the charts is to have a calendar session each morning after breakfast, where we will go through the days of the week, the date, and what each of the kids has on their chart for the day. This will hopefully give them some rhythm to the week, and help them to start understanding the concept of calendars and dates.

If you want to start a picture routine for your child now that school is going back, then make sure you enter this fantastic giveaway courtesy of Little Billies, the company that I bought my routine charts from. Little Billies offers a full range of personalised routine charts and reward charts for both toddlers and school age children in a range of fun designs available from their website, as well as a range of non-personalised charts available from a range of stockists nationally.

Little Billies has offered one lucky winner this fantastic Morning & Evening Routine Chart.

This chart is perfect for establishing a morning and nightly routine for a toddler, reinforcing an established routine for a pre-schooler, and helping a school age child take responsibility for packing their own bag in the morning based on what activities have been placed on the chart. The chart includes the magnetic activity tiles with a clear picture and the written description of the activity, which is wonderful for helping those children who are developing their reading skills. What I really love about this chart is the ability for child to slide the completed tasks from the to-do section of the chart to the tasks completed section. This is a wonderful way to instill a sense of accomplishment in your child.

If you would like to win this amazing routine chart, then enter now!

To enter:

You can gain extra 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!

  • Leave a comment describing how you instill routines with your children
  • 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
  • Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway. Feel free to copy this tweet:

RT @chic_mummy Enter to win a Little Billies Routine Chart! #giveaway

Giveaway ends January 29th.

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Disclaimer: Giveaway prize has been provided by Little Billies.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year, New Me...or is it really, New Year, Old Me?

First of all, Happy New Year to all of my readers! I hope the holiday season was full of joy and happiness for all of you! Obviously, I have been missing in action not only for the last month, but for a good part of the last year as well. I have tossing and turning over whether to share with you the reason why, and finally decided that the New Year, a time of resolutions and renewal, was a good as time as any to take the leap and spill.

2010 was really not a good year for me. In fact, I would go so far as to say that 2010 was probably the toughest year I have ever faced. Over the course of the year, I spiralled down into clinical depression, put on over 12 kg (26.5 lbs), and lost motivation to do much of anything. I stopped exercising, blogged less and less, stopped writing articles for Blissfully Domestic, pretty much stopped doing everything except the bare minimum to keep my head above water. Finally, towards the end of the year, I decided I couldn't keep going the way I was going, and sought some medical help. After a couple of months of anti-depressants and some therapy (which I have now been able to stop), I was starting to feel more like myself. And so, that brings me to now, and the title of my blog post. In 2009, I did a series of posts tagged Best Year, and I really did have a great year, so this year, I hope you will join me as I strive to get myself back to the state I was in over the course of that year. I am really seeing this New Year as a time of renewal and a chance to reclaim my self, my true self, the new, old me!

So, what are my five goals for 2011?

  1. Get myself down to a healthy weight. Last year, I breached I weight I never thought I would ever be (92 kg/202 lbs) and I was well and truly in the obese category. Putting on so much weight was both a side effect and a contributor to my depression, and the excess weight just generally affected how I felt - I was constantly tired and achy. My goal weight is 75kg/154 lbs and I expect that this will take me the full year to reach. To help me achieve this goal I've started the new Weight Watchers ProPoints/PointsPlus program. This is probably my most important goal for 2011.

  2. Exercise for half an hour a day, at least 5 days a week. When I exercise, I simply feel better all round. I start a weekly Pilates reformer class next week, I have dusted off the Elliptical which has been a wonderful clothes hanger for the last year, and I will start going to a deep water aqua class once a week once both school goes back in a couple of weeks.

  3. Do at least one yoga/meditation session a week. I find that this one hour decompress each week not only relaxes and refreshes me, but actually re-energises me, and I have really been missing it over the last year. I will most likely do this at home using a DVD, but will also try to get out to a class every now and then to keep my technique up to scratch.

  4. Start dressing well again and put on some makeup everyday. This is really embarrassing to admit, given the name of my blog, but over the past year, I have really things slide. Not so much that I was doing the school run in pyjamas, but enough that my husband's aunt (who, I must admit, does not have the best relationship with my husband's family) made a snide comment to my MIL that I was starting to dress like an 80 year old woman (and if that wasn't an incentive to change, I don't know what is!).

  5. Look after my spiritual needs. My relationship with a higher power is something else that I have really neglected over the past year. Whatever religion/philosophy you follow, I think it is so important to have a spiritual life, and this is something I will really be working on.
So, hopefully my first post for 2011 hasn't bored the pants off you, or disillusioned you, and I really hope you will join me over the next year!

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