Wednesday, August 28, 2013

5 Ways With A Navy Blazer

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A navy blazer is a key part of my closet, and I highly recommend it as the backbone of any classic capsule wardrobe. Mine is a mid-weight linen blend, which makes it a wonderfully trans-seasonal piece of clothing - I can wear it through spring, summer and autumn without it looking out of place. Another great option is a tropical or seasonless wool version - you will find it even more versatile (you can probably wear it for all four seasons), plus it wrinkles a lot less!! Following are five ways with a navy blazer that will hopefully help you see this classic in a new light.

5 Ways with a Navy Blazer - Nautical

How could I not go past a nautical look as my first choice for a navy blazer outfit?? This outfit is perfect for any Chic Mummy - the knit fit-and-flare dress is comfortable but stylish (and machine washable) - while the accessories add a touch of polish. From the school run to a parent teacher meeting, running errands to Sunday church, this outfit can do it all, and do it all in style!

5 Ways with a Navy Blazer - Crisp & Casual

You may be looking at this and going "white? really?" but I love white denim and white cotton tanks. Once you are past the baby/toddler stage, white is fantastic - it looks crisp and fresh, and if you do get anything on it, a quick soak in Napisan brings it right back to new! A flowy tank is great for a mummy tummy, and the simple accessories add a touch of casual luxe. I am totally considering getting this bag - the coloured stripes make it so versatile, and you can see how a bag like this can bring a whole outfit together.

5 Ways with a Navy Blazer - Preppy

I often favour a preppy look, and a navy blazer is the perfect starting point - just add khakis and stripes and you are pretty much there! An outfit like this would be perfect for cheering on your kids from the sidelines, shopping at the farmers' market, and helping out at parent roster. While it is a more casual look than the previous two, with careful accessories it is still chic and polished and is a perfect everyday uniform for the stylish mum on the go.

5 Ways with a Navy Blazer - Jeans

Isn't this the perfect spring/summer outfit? Dressy enough for a fancy lunch with the girls, but not too dressy that you look like you are trying too hard, this outfit can take you so many places. I love boyfriend jeans with heels, but sub in tan coloured flat sandals, and this outfit looks just as good, and even more laid-back-luxe. Don't forget the arm party - it's just the right finishing touch.

5 Ways with a Navy Blazer - Date Night

Just so you know that a navy blazer isn't only for day time! Navy is a wonderful (and often surprising) alternative to black for evening, and the structure of the blazer sets off perfectly the softness of the silk shirt and the sleekness of skinny jeans. Paired with some funky gold jewellery, an evening clutch and some fab leopard print heels, you have a sexy but comfortable date night outfit.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Crunch Time

When I stepped on the scales last week, it only confirmed that I had reached a tipping point, and things needed to change. After ignoring numerous concerned comments from family and close friends that they were worried about my weight gain, looking at the figure of 99.8 kg on the scales was downright scary. Not only was I not looking good, I wasn't feeling good either, and with a family history of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, poor food choices and lack of exercise were combining to set me up for disaster. While I was making sure my children ate healthy real foods (as did I at dinner time), the rest of the time I was not making sure that I was doing the same.

So, to try and keep me accountable, for the foreseeable Sundays (why is it so quick to put on weight, but so slow to lose it??!!), I will be posting how I did in the preceding week. Follow along, give me ideas, hints and tips, maybe even find some inspiration if you are facing the same struggles.

So what has happened in the last week? I weighed myself on Sunday, just about died of a heart attack just seeing that number, and promptly rang my doctor first thing Monday morning to be squeezed in for an appointment. Her advice was to start a regimen of diet shakes for the first 10kgs - while her advice is usually to lose weight slowly through lifestyle changes etc, she felt that it was more important to get my weight down at a more moderate rate to start with, and then look at weaning in healthy lifestyle options.

So for the next few months, I am following a program of a breakfast diet shake blended with 1/2 cup of frozen berries, a morning snack of veggie sticks with a tablespoon nut butter, a lunch shake, and afternoon snack of a leafy green salad or a small fruit salad, then a normal dinner made up of mostly veggies, with a small portion of protein and a small portion of whole grains. If I am still hungry in the evening, I can have 1/2 cup non fat greek yoghurt with some berries.

Results: I am not going to lie - it has been tough!! The shakes are very convenient, since they come both in powdered sachets and ready-to-drink tetra paks, and that has made life easy, but it is pretty monotonous, and I often feel like I want to eat - of course, the trick is trying to relearn my true hunger signals, and not eat from boredom or because it is there. Similarly, I have started exercising, and I can honestly say that I don't get that runner's high; I was waiting and waiting, and you know what, it just never came!! But, as hard as it has been, I did have positive results the first week, so now I just have to stick with it long term.

Week ending 25/8/13

Starting weight: 99.8 kg
Today's weight: 98.3 kg
Weight Loss to date: 1.5 kg

Exercise: 4 days x 30 mins on elliptical

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Monday, August 19, 2013

5 Back to School Organisation Tips

Since school is going back soon for those of you in the US, I thought it might be handy to repost these Back to School Organisation Tips. We are now three terms in to school here, and I still use of these tips to help out lives run smoothly!

Hopefully you have all the basics organised for back-to-school (if you are not sure, then you can download my checklist here), but here are five organisation tips that will help make that first day of school and beyond much easier!

  1. Organise your uniforms

    My children are in pre-primary and year 1 now, so I like them to get themselves dressed in the morning. The easiest way to do this is to create a uniform station in their closets that has everything they need. Since we wear the same uniform everyday, I prefer to organise by type of clothing. In Stephen's closet (left pic) we have his shirts hung up, his shorts folded next to them, a tin with his socks, and a hook for him to hang his tie. On the shelf above is his sports kit, including his sports socks. When soccer season starts, his soccer kit will get added to this shelf as well. For Irini (right above), a draw in her bedside dresser makes the most sense, and again, items are folded by type, with the socks and spare hat contained in a box. Next year when her uniform changes to a pinafore and blouse I will change her station to be the same as Stephen's. If you don't have a daily uniform, then try and organise their clothes at the beginning of the week, for the whole week. I love the hanging tags at Living Locurto which come in brights (as shown, below right pic) or pastels, which make it such a simple task for your kids to know what to wear each morning.
  2. Organise your lunches

    Whether you make your children's lunches and snacks each day, or buy lunch at the canteen, it pays to be organised. I send lunch to school 4 days of the week and snack everyday, so keeping all of my lunch making supplies in one location has made a real difference in how my mornings go. The pic above is a drawer that holds all of my lunchboxes and snack boxes. The three main lunchboxes we use are the Easy Lunchbox, the Planet Box lunchbox, and the Spencer Bento Box from Pottery Barn Kids. There are also various dipper containers (BPA free plastic and stainless steel) and snack boxes, most of which I've found in bento stores. Lastly I use reusable sandwich wraps that I found on etsy. 

    As well as organizing how I pack lunches, I have also organised how I make the lunches. In this drawer found in my island bench, I have two large plastic tubs. The one on the left holds all of my cookie cutters, which I use to cut sandwiches into fun shapes. We have all sorts, including two Star Wars sets (Stephen's favourites), a Lightning McQueen set, and a Snow White set, all found at Williams Sonoma. In the right tub I have my sandwich punches (which cut and seal the edge - see here) in various shapes including circles, clovers, squares and Hello Kitty. I also have my smaller cutters from when the kids were younger, in Pooh and Mickey shapes. In front of the tubs, from left to right, are silicone muffin cups, which I use to divide food in the lunchboxes, food safe markers, stainless steel drink bottles, and a container with their lids.

    My final suggestion for organising lunches is to plan a lunch menu. There are a number of ways you can do this - the way I do it is following Planning with Kid's method, to have a menu for the month that contains 2 rotating sets. Each set consists of 5 items - the main (eg a sandwich, slice, wrap etc, a homemade baked treat, a piece of fruit (whole or cut), cut up veg, and crackers or dried fruit or dry cereal. I bought her calender (seen above) just to have her ideas planned out for me each month!

    I also like Martha Stewart's free printable magnetic lunch chart, seen above, which would be wonderful if you want (or your children need) more say in what they are having for lunch each day. Martha uses a similar breakdown of foods; sandwiches, fruit, healthy snack and dessert.
  3. Organise your paperwork

    If you have had your kids at school for any length of time, then you know how much paperwork can be generated. Even if your school has gone paperless and relies on email (like ours have), I still find myself needing to print many things out. Regardless of how you are getting your info, you need to do something with it if you want to make sure that your child is not that child - you know, the one who turns up on free dress day in the uniform, and turns up to school on a pupil free day (can you tell that my child has been that child at least once for both examples!!). Since the last time that happened I have put a system in place, and so far, it is working wonderfully!

    Firstly, as emails/letters/newsletters come in, I action them straight away. If it is something that needs to go into the calender, I put it straight into my Cozi online calender, which I've set so that every Sunday, it emails me my schedule for the week. Every Sunday, I also write down all appointments on our family calender, which takes pride of place on my kitchen command centre. Under the calender are 3 file folders, which is the next crucial step in my organiszation. Any physical piece of paper that comes in (or gets printed out) gets filed here immediately after being added to the calender (if necessary). I have a folder each for Stephen, Irini, myself and a general to-do. Things that go in here include permission slips, booklists, book order forms, etc. The key to all of this is immediate action! Don't let things sit around and get lost - receive them and file them away at the end of every day.
  4. Organise your morning routine

    The key to mornings that are smooth sailing is having a rock solid routine. We used to use a pictorial routine, but now the kids know it, it just gets done. For us, what works best is wake up, breakfast, teeth, get changed, pack lunches into bag, go. Everything that can be organised the night before, like packing the bags, is done the night before, no exceptions.
  5. Organise your schedules

    This works hand-in-hand with organising your routine. While your your morning routine gets your day off to a good start, an organized schedule keeps your week ticking along nicely. Each of the kids has the magnetic calendar above hanging in their room. Every Sunday, we look at what is happening for them during the week and then place magnets that match the activity on the right day of the week. I made magnets using clip art for things such as soccer, swimming, library, music, canteen day etc for all their planned activities. Each day, they change the day/date, and each night they have a look what they need to pack in their bags for the next day. Since we started doing this, we didn't miss one library day. This will be even more handy this year, since both the kids are now at two different schools with two different rotating timetables, which means the various activities will now occur on different days each week.

    So there you have my five back-to-school organization tips - use one, use them all, use what works for your family!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

6 Simple Hair Ideas for Busy Mums

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As a busy mum, it is all too easy to scrape your hair back into a pony and be done with it. I'm embarrassed to say that sometimes I've even resorted to a rubber band rather than a hair tie. By the time I've got breakfasts done, kids changed, bags packed and everyone ready to go, it's not unusual for me to rushing out of the door right as I realize that I haven't done my hair yet. Here, though, are six super easy hairstyles that look amazing, but take literally just a minute or so more than a simple pony.

  1. The Gibson Tuck

    This is an incredibly elegant hairstyle that would even be suitable for a formal night out, but is so unbelievably easy to do. If you are a child of the eighties, you will surely remember the "topsy-turvy" ponytails, and this is the basis of this hairstyle. 

    Start with your hair in a low ponytail using a hair elastic that matches your hair. Just above the elastic, make a hole in the midst of your hair, from top to bottom, and then feed your ponytail over and through the hole, and back down the bottom. (check out this video if you need a visual). Take the tail of the pony again, and bring it back up and tuck the ends into the nest created by the topsy turvy pony, creating the Gibson Tuck. You can either pin in place with bobby pins, or use a decorative hair comb like I have in the pic above. This comb was purchased many years ago in Paris (on my honeymoon, no less), but I have seen some beautiful ones at France Luxe (and I have many of their clips, so can speak to their quality). I also have a beautiful flowered clip from this Etsy seller that I often use for this style.
  2. Hair Comb Bun

    Here I've started my hair in its usual ponytail, about mid way down, then twisted into a messy bun. If you have thick hair, you can simply secure with a decorative hair comb like this one and be done. Since my hair is baby fine, I need a bit more structure, so I also put in two spin pins, one at the top of the bun and one below. If you have never used spin pins before, then go out now and buy some - they are amazing! Instead of bothering with a thousand bobby pins, simply spin in one or two of these great pins and you are done. I've only ever seen these Goody ones, but I am sure there are lots of others out there.
  3. Lilla Rose Twist

    This is a variation of the twist most of us do when putting our hair up with a claw grip, but the Lilla Rose flexi clip makes it look so much more pretty. Simply gather your hair at the nape of your neck in a pony (no elastic), twist tightly until it twists up onto itself on the back of your head, then clip in place. These clips can be found at Lilla Rose in various sizes depending on how thick or thin your hair is, and the site has lots of videos showing different styles you can do with this clip.
  4. Sock Bun Curls

    This style takes some pre-planning, as it has to be started the night before, but the payoff for an extra minute of work before bed is a head of beautiful bouncy curls the next morning that last all day. The length my hair is at the moment is really the minimum you need to do this style - the longer your hair is, the more amazing this style looks.

    Follow the next section for instructions on how to do a sock bun, starting the night before with slightly damp hair. I usually put it up about an hour after I wash my hair, or you could lightly mist it with a spray bottle of water. Make sure you place the bun on the top of your hair so you can sleep comfortably.  The next morning, unwind the bun, remove the elastic, and then gently comb through with your fingers. Done!
  5. Sock Bun

    I know, you've seen all the young girls doing it, but it looks great on us mums as well. Plus, it makes me look I actually have a decent amount of hair, rather than the ridiculously thin amount I really do have! For this style, you really do need a visual description, so head here, or search for "sock bun" on youtube for what seems like a gazillion tutorials.
  6. Top Knot

    This is what we all did before we knew about the sock bun, but I still wear it like this every now and then, especially on weekends when I want a more casual look. I am sure you know how, but just in case you don't, make a high ponytail, twist the tail until it winds around itself, then secure with 2 spin pins. Looks better slightly messy!

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

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Thanks for all the great comments and emails last week - they not only made my day, they made my week!! Plus, I promise to have some non WIWW posts coming up soon - things have been CRAY-zy busy lately, but they should ease up by this weekend, and I have lots of ideas just waiting to be written up. So stay tuned!

Black and grey suited the weather today, it was very cold, with thunderous black clouds overhead threatening to rain all day long. What you don't see in this pic are the long black fingerless gloves and the black and white chunky scarf that I pretty much wore any time was out of central heating!

Black merino thermals: Target
Pale grey tunic: Eileen Fisher
Black long jacket: Basque

Skinny jeans: Old Navy

Black ankle boots: Wittner
Mother of pearl necklace: Blue Illusion

After the monochrome outfit yesterday, I was craving a pop of colour, and this bright orange cardi fit the bill. It was still freezing though, so a coat, gloves and scarf all made appearances throughout the day.

Navy tee: Gap
Orange cardigan: Sportscraft
Trouser jeans: Ann Taylor

Gold and silver necklace: Dyberg/Kern
Black heeled loafers: Dr Martens

50 Shades of Grey? There was three shades, four if you include my silver earrings, and back to monochrome for a day. And while the clouds matched my outfit, it was warm enough that no coat needed!

Grey tunic: Morgan Marks
Grey jeans: Belle Curve
Silver earrings: Verite
Black ankle boots: Wittner

The sun was shining today, it was reasonably warm, and I was overcome with nautical feelings...there is just something about "spring in the air" that screams red, white and blue and stripes. The pic also demonstrates why you'll never see a on-screen reported in fine stripes!

Blue and white striped shirt: BIB
Skinny jeans: Belle Curve
Silver bracelets: Tiffanys
Red patent flats:Witchery

Still in blue, with touches of grey and mauve, this outfit is a collection of my favourite colours, and like yesterday, perfect for the spring-ish weather. Even though most of these pieces are from Sportscraft, only the scarf is a new buy, which is one of the reasons I love the brand - pieces really do work together from season to season.

Blue sweater: Sportscraft
Navy blazer: Sportscraft
Floral scarf: Sportscraft
Skinny ankle zip jeans: Ann Taylor
Grey suede heels: Ann Taylor

See you all next week!!

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