Monday, 25 April 2016

Part 1: Miss C's Pink and Gold Minnie Mouse 1st Birthday Party!

Yes, yes I know that she is now 2 years and 4 months old but better late than never!
 
So WAY back at the start of 2015 (sounds positively ancient huh?!), Miss C turned 1.
 
 
And unfortunately for me, I was feeling super under the weather as I was around 9 weeks pregnant with Mr T at the time. Still I pressed on and tried to give her a pretty special little celebration...
 
 
 


 

 
So why Minnie Mouse? Honestly - no idea! I just wanted something cute and girly! I also wanted to do something a bit different to the traditional hot pink, so I went with a soft pink and gold glitter theme.
 
 
 


 
To create the printed materials - banners, tags, chocolate bar wrappers and invites - I worked with the AMAZING (and ever so patient) Ally from Mint Imprint. I shared my vision with Ally and she developed the printed range to absolute perfection.
 
 

 
 
 
The other paperie - spoons, cupcake and cake topper, and the ONE sign were all created by Merc and Jones.
 
All of the stunning photos were yet again captured by Emma from Haven Lifestyle Photography who also snapped Mr B's 1st birthday bash too.
 
Stay tuned for Part 2 as I share all of the food and drink details from the day.
 
 
Love to know what you think....
 
 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Healthy Gluten Free Chickpea Chocolate Chip Brownies (Thermomix Version Included)


These Brownies are fool proof. Not only are they super easy to make, but they are delicious and gluten free, contain no refined sugars (depending on the choc chips you use) and packed with the goodness of Chickpeas.

I live for chocolate or sweet things in my diet each day, so at least I don't have to feel guilty about tucking in to these when I need my 3 pm sugar hit!

The recipe does contain nuts, so if you are planning on making this for kids, please be mindful of your lunchbox regulations.

You'll Need

  • 1 Tin of Chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 Cup of Natural Peanut Butter (or Almond Nut Butter) - see notes to make your own!
  • 1/3 Cup of Maple Syrup (or Honey)
  • 1/3 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips or Lindt 85% Cocoa (see note)
  • 1/4 Cup Almond Meal
  • 1 Tbs Cacao Powder (love the Living Earth one!)
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Bicarb Soda
  • Sea Salt for Sprinkling (if desired)

Normal Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees (350 degrees F)
  2. Place all ingredients in a blender apart from the chocolate chips
  3. Blend until smooth
  4. Fold through the Chocolate Chips/Chunks
  5. Spread batter in a small pan with a spatula
  6. Sprinkle on a few extra chocolate chips
  7. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes (test with fork/toothpick)
  8. Try and resist eating (I dare you!) and let cool down, sprinkle with sea salt if desired 

Thermomix Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees (350 degrees F)
  2. Place all ingredients in a bowl apart from the chocolate chips
  3. Blend on speed 5 for 20 seconds (you may need to scrape down bowl half way through)
  4. Place Chocolate Chips/Chunks in bowl and Mix on Speed 1 on Reverse or 10 seconds
  5. Spread batter in a small pan with a spatula
  6. Sprinkle on a few extra chocolate chips
  7. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes (test with fork/toothpick)
  8. Try and resist eating (I dare you!) and let cool down, sprinkle with sea salt if desired 

 Notes

  • These are absolute at their best when eaten while warm - delish!!
  • You can omit the raw cacao and make these 'blondies' if desired
  • Make sure you go for a natural peanut butter, or better still whip up your own, it is so darn easy with this recipe
  • I absolute love Lindt 85% Cocoa Dark Chocolate cut in to chunks as a 'healthier' option to commercial dark chips. You could also use cacao nibs if desired too.
Love to hear how you go with these at your place...

 
 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Get organised to reduce stress

{Post brought to you in conjunction with Compare the Market}
 
A recent study from Compare The Market looked at just what is stressing us Australians out. The infographic here broke down what is causing the stress, how Australians are coping and how it all impacts our lives.
 
We all have different types of stress and ways to manage that stress. One of the best things I have done to reduce stress in my life is to get more organised. This has definitely become more and more essential with each and every new addition to the family!
 
The study showed that two main things causing us all the most stress were financial issues and health issues. I must admit both of these (along with missing out on a Kmart bargain!) definitely ring true for me.
 

Financial issues

 
Finances sound scary, but are surprisingly easy to get organised with. Create a budget and stick to it. Its a simple as that.
 
A budget doesnt need to be complex. You need to spend less than you earn, but it is the spending aspect that you need to be across first. 
 
 
If you have never done a budget before, it is probably best to track your spending for 3 months to give you a clear idea of where your money is going. Write out all your expenses, compare them to your income then ensure you dont overspend in any area. This enables you to stick to your budget, save money and be less stressed financially. 
 
If you find you are spending more than you earn you need to either find ways to cut back or increase you income. Ideally, do both.
 
To get the ball rolling, some super simple ways to cut back are:
 
  • Menu planning, shopping with a list and cooking accordingly. I have a little post here on why I love (and need) a shopping list, as well as some free printables too.
 
  • Compare your insurance to make sure you are getting the best deal on each on including health, car, life, home and contents, any insurance you have
 
  • Compare providers for your phone, internet, electricity, gas and any other service. Doing a quick comparison and switch can save you thousands of dollars a year
 

Health issues

 
Getting organised with your health is crucial for quality of life, especially as I am nearing the 'wrong' side of 30! I dont know anyone who hasnt had some sort of health issue. If  your health goes, everything else goes and even something as simple as us having gastro over Easter definitely makes me realise that!
 
Health is important to me and I try and stay as fit and active as possible by scheduling time to exercise each week. Saying you will go to the gym today is not as effective as the act of physically writing it into your diary - trust me!
 
 
 
I have set gym classes that I go to every single week and these are diarised and non negotiable appointments I make with myself. For example, if I need to get my hair done (once in blue moon!), then I won't make it on a day or a time where I am going to be at the gym.
 
Keep all health matters together. Create a file, get copies of your medical history, keep copies from every test and treatment you have in a file to enable you to have all the information you might need for any future health issue. If you dont get digital copies when you go through treatments, make your own by scanning the paper copies and storing them on your laptop.
 
Create time for yourself - yup I know easier said than done with kids! Not enough people schedule in time for themselves. Being healthy and organised is all about doing what is best for you and creating a life you love. If you dont schedule in time for self care you will burn out, cause health issues and wish you had slowed down. I personally find that even getting out of the house (solo) for a grocery shop for 30 minutes can give me the refresh I need! Get organised, schedule it in and thank yourself later.
 
 
When health or finances become a burden, there are usually things you can do to reduce the impact. From my experience, most of it comes down to being organised, or the lack thereof. What do you think? Are finances and health causing stress in your home? How do you manage it?
 
 

Saturday, 26 March 2016

3 Things you don't have to sacrifice to save money

{Post brought to you in conjunction with Compare the Market}
 
Many Australians are sacrificing things in order to afford health insurance. Health insurance is crucial to me. We use it a lot and I have needed it to get treatment fast.
 
Looking at some recent research from Compare TheMarket, I saw many give up restaurants, take away food, donating to charities, gifts, travel, alcohol, entertainment such as movies or even work during holidays in order to afford health insurance.
 
Instead of cutting everything out, here are some ideas on how to find the money for health insurance, especially with the rate rise without sacrificing lifestyle.
 

1.) Compare and switch

Do this for health insurance, car insurance, home and contents, telephone plan, internet package, electricity, gas and any services you use. Compare the plans, what each includes and find the best option at the lowest price for you. I have done this and saved thousands of dollars over the course of the year, more than enough to cover my annual health insurance costs.
 

2.) Charitable donations


I am an advocate for Share The Dignity and have done a lot of charity work so recommend not giving up charitable donations, however it doesn’t have to be only monetary donations. You can volunteer at events or on special occasions, donate a smaller amount, donate goods or promote them on social media to assist in raising awareness and funding for them.
 

3.) Travel

I love to travel and can’t imagine giving it up. I have written a few articles to help reduce expenses and articles such as 29 ways to make money whiletravelling, even as a family.
 
 
Travel enriches your life and the long term benefit is huge. By turning your travel into a money making venture or looking at how you can reduce the cost such as travelling in off peak times, using points, taking only carry on and only buying what you need, you don’t have to give up travel. With proper planning you might even make enough money from travelling to cover all your expenses or cover health insurance.
 
Life is about blending everything you want and need, finding the balance and what works for you. When you focus on what you need to cut or reduce in order to afford the things you need it can get quite depressing. Instead of looking at all the things you have to sacrifice, change your view and see how you can either make more money with it or how you can do it differently to still have it in your life.
 
These are just a few things you could do. What have you sacrificed to keep health insurance or how have you juggled things in your life to maintain the lifestyle you want without sacrifice?
 
This is a sponsored guest post by Kylie Travers, CEO of Occasio Enterprises on behalf of Compare The Market. Kylie Travers is an author, speaker, writer and loves helping others create a life they love.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Easter Gifts for my 3...

I have to say that this year the array of Easter goodies has been AMAZING! In every single store that I walk in to - Kmart, Coles, Aldi - you name it - I have been absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to finding cute Bunny goodies.
 
Each year for Easter I try and get the kids a few little bunny themed Autumn Essentials such as PJ's, Socks, Slippers - whatever they need for the cooler weather ahead!
 
During the lead up to Easter, I also treat the kids with new Easter books, colouring books and craft activities. Target and Kmart are my two 'go to' places for these and typically I get these on clearance at the end of Easter and pop away for next year. By doing this last year, I have ended up with Bunny Mask kits and Easter Egg painting sets that were only 20c a set!

The kids only get a teeny tiny bit of chocolate for Easter (obviously not Mr T!) and this year we'll be doing a small Easter Egg hunt at home for the first time.
 
My three will each have their own wire basket for their non chocolate gifts. These little wire baskets are the best and make great shopping baskets in the playroom after Easter is over.
 

Easter Baskets: Kmart

And this is what each one will have inside...
 

Mr B:


Bunny PJ's: Cotton On Kids


Easter Stickers: Coles Supermarkets

 
Bunny Socks: Seed
 

Miss C:

 
Bunny PJ's: Cotton On
 
Bunny Socks: Seed

 
Bunny Hair Clips: Seed
 
 

Mr T:

 
 
Guess How Much I Love You Puppet Book: Kmart


Bunny Pull Back Toy: Seed


Bunny Sock Set: Seed


Bunny PJ's: Target

 
Bunny Bib: Country Road
 
 

Each one will also have the Coles Peter Rabbit feeding set and cutlery set too - such a bargain at $10 and $5 each!
 
 
 
If you follow me over on Facebook and Instagram, you will have noticed that I am a bit Easter obsessed. So if you would like some Easter gift and decorating ideas, feel free to scroll these two pages/accounts, I have been sharing loads!!
 
What is on the shopping list for your kids this Easter?!