Archive for May 2013


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The Art of Character Building

30 May 2013

My 10 year old is a naturally smart and bright kid. He’s blitzing through his maths, languages, reading, sports with ease… and he’s naturally very confident, which helps him a lot. He likes to aim towards 100% and he’ll work hard to get there.

My 8 year old is also good at school, but he has a different inner drive. He’s naturally creative, he’s an observer, a dreamer, he enjoys and studies the moment, in fact, he puts his everything into the moment. He’s superb at lateral thinking, he thinks outside of the box and comes up with the most amazing (and weird) ideas.

However, this kind of intelligence is not as *tangible* as say, a test result… and we can often see that he gets a little gloomy whenever he compares himself with his big brother’s “high achievements”.

Sigh. It makes me feel so sad and powerless. As a mum, I can only tell him “You’re smart as well, but in a different way!” a couple of hundred times… until it goes in through one ear and out the other.

So I thought I would nurture his creative side a bit… and put my own 5 YEARS OF ART SCHOOL + 3 YEARS OF DESIGN SCHOOL to good use haha!

This is what I came up with.

Art Lessons!

Week 1 – Line drawings and composition, using rule of thirds.

Week 2 – Shading and gradient. Use different materials, like graphite pencils, charcoal sticks, soft pastel, oil pastels.

Today’s Lesson is Week 3 – Doing a still life using soft pastels.

Drawing and Shading 101

In our backyard, we set up a still life composition, using random objects that my son found.

Drawing and Shading 101

We sat side by side and I – kind of – coached him without being too bossy:

Don’t draw a definite line. Draw a feathered line, until you get the right shape. Change your line weight to show where the light falls on the object. Thin lines for the light bits, thick lines for the dark bits. Squint your eyes to find the dark parts of the composition.

He didn’t listen to any of it haha!

Drawing and Shading 101

If my 10yo was doing this drawing project with me, he would draw a line, then rub it out. Draw another line, then rub it out. He would try again and again until he made it PERFECT. He would make himself terribly frustrated and angry that his drawing “looked bad” and he’d be on the brink of giving up.

But my 8yo… just sat there for an hour with me, as happy as could be. Drawing. Doodling. Playing with the lines. Enjoying the shapes. Laughing at his wonky objects. He would occasionally look over at my drawing and say, “That’s cool!” and go right on with his own drawing, in his own style. He was so so content.

Drawing and Shading 101

I opened up my old box of soft pastels (which I won as an art prize in Year 11!!)

And I showed him how to SEE COLOURS within colours:

Your brain says that the wheelbarrow is ”orange”, but if you squint and look veeeeeery closely, you’ll notice that it’s actually red in the shadow and pinkish in the light. The rust is brown with a bit of blue in it too.

I was sooo channelling my inner Monet, and I was COMPLETELY LOVING IT :D

Drawing and Shading 101

I showed him how to shade objects so they looked 3 dimensional.

And how to actually SEE shadows and light as blocks of colour.

Drawing and Shading 101

I also told him that the background is just as important as the foreground. So we have to colour in bits of the background, so the objects don’t look like they are floating in space.

As we approached the end, I kept saying that art is not meant to look perfect. If you want something to look perfect and exact, then you can just take a photo. Art is interpreting what something looks like to YOU.

I told him – So really, you can draw any way you want. There’s not right or wrong way.

Drawing and Shading 101

When he announced that he was finished, there was no shyness, or regret, or apology, or disappointment or anger… just happiness and real pride in his work.

I have to admit that I was quite surprised by his end reaction/emotion.

Because, I felt a bit bad that mine looked quite realistic and “good”. Maybe I should have made mine look a bit more crap?? I was afraid that he would compare our work and hate his own work, and decide that “art” was not for him because he couldn’t make his drawing look like his mum’s drawing. But phew. Thankfully, that kind of thinking wasn’t part of his personality. I was so proud of him!

I told him that I was impressed with his first effort. And more importantly, that he had an excellent attitude towards experimenting, learning new things and he didn’t judge and criticise his own work. He worked hard and he enjoyed himself.

Anyway, it’s been a few weeks after our little “Art Lessons”… and it now seems like this nurturing of his creative side has given him A LOT more confidence in the rest of his school work – he’s been getting some excellent results! Funny how it all works.

So proud of you little buddy!

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Have you shopped at Modcloth before?

28 May 2013

I’ve never actually shopped at ModCloth before, but I know LOTS of people who have and they are always really happy with their items.

Also, whenever I go to weddings or afternoon tea party functions, I’ll usually see a woman in a pretty, eye-catching dress… and I will always go up to her and ask where she got it from… more often than not, the woman says “ModCloth!”

Soooo… the other day I decided to try it out for myself.

Here are some dresses that really caught my eye. They have lots of styles for parties, special occasions, casual, floral, prints, maxi, minis and more.

Dresses from ModCloth

From left to right: Rose Bubbly Dress, Bubble Your Luck Dress, Palm Springs into Action

These full circle skirt dresses have been influenced from the 50s style. They look feminine, pretty and ladylike. They also create and accentuate an hourglass figure.

Dresses from ModCloth

From left to right: Lady Love Dress, Shadow of a Dot Dress, Magenta Saved by the Bow

If you’re new to ModCloth and you’d like to sign up as a new member and make a purchase over $50, you can get $15 off by using my referral link here.


Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

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Dinner Meal Plan for May 2013 – Week 4

27 May 2013

This is the first time I’m sharing my Dinner Meal Plans on my blog.

I’ve had so many people ask me what kind of meals I cook for my family… so here is this week plan!

Enjoy xx

Dinner Meal Plan for May 2013 - Week 4

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Callum’s 10th Birthday Party

26 May 2013

My biggest boy turned 10 years old (eeek!) and we recently celebrated the occasion with 8 of his best friends from school.

Callum Turns 10

My husband and I made a Minecraft Cake and it was exactly the same as the one we made last month, for my 8 year old boy haha!

We had planned to correct all the problems of the first cake and perhaps experiment on our techniques to make it look better… but um, we were busy (lazy) and there was a bit of miscommunication (we had an argument) and… so, nope the cake turned out EXACTLY the same.

Callum Turns 10

The party was in our backyard again. The weather was glorious and sunny.

The boys played a whole bunch of games and had a water balloon fight. They had loads of fun.

I filled over 200 water balloons and put them in an huge 50L plastic tub…

Callum Turns 10

But after the water balloon throwing, I made the boys pick up all the balloon bits…

And I was surprised that we couldn’t fill a 500mL Chinese food takeaway container :P

Callum Turns 10

For dinner, I made homemade pizzas for the 8 boys, plus my 3 boys. I was a little shocked by how much food growing boys can eat!

This here was the grand finale – the chocolate pizza. It had a Nutella base, chocolate frogs, shaved chocolate topping and milo sprinkled on top. It was a hit.

As for how I feel about my oldest child turning 10 years old…? Gosh, that is definitely for another post :)

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3 Ways to Wear – Spots and Stripes

24 May 2013

One of the big trends this new season is to wear black and white, especially in a big, bold prints like spots and stripes.

It’s an easy trend to wear – just wear one print item in your everyday outfit. But if you want to have a bit more fun and combine prints, here are a few things you might like to try.

3 Ways to Wear - Spots and Stripes

Big spots and small spots.
Ok this blouse actually has STARS on it – but from far, it looks pretty spotty.

And the skirt is actually a dress with blobs on it.

But hey, the craziness that ensues from putting them together is such fun.

Star Print Shirt – YesStyle
Sass and Bide Spot Dress – The Iconic
Nude Heels – ASOS
Neon earrings – Etsy

3 Ways to Wear - Spots and Stripes

White on White spots (Or black on black spots)
Most dotty prints are black on white (or white on black). So try finding tops or bottoms with white dots on a sheer white fabric. Or vice versa. Or maybe the dots are embossed on the fabric?

It will create a kind of cool texture (and not clash TOO much) when paired with another bold print.

Spotty top – AL&ALICIA
Stripe jeans – from YesStyle (nice and affordable jeans at $40!!)
Yellow Heels – ASOS

3 Ways to Wear - Spots and Stripes

Classic Breton Stripe Top with anything spotty
This one is nice and simple. There’s a good chance that you have a classic stripe top in your wardrobe. Why not try it with some spotty bottoms. A spot pencil skirt. A circle skirt with stars on it.

Or in my case, some silk shorts with palm trees on it – random enough?


Stripe top – from Big W
Palm tree shorts – ASOS
Marc Jacobs yellow crossbody bag – Shopbop
Suede heels – Betts

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

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Lights, Camera and Action at Blue Waters

23 May 2013

Lights, Camera and Action at Blue Waters

A friend of mine owns an amazing old house, called Blue Waters. It is in an art deco style, built by a rich family in the 1950s. It is like walking back in time as the house has been restored back to it’s original splendour… and my friend makes it available for hire for special events, parties, weddings, a photography location or for holiday guests to stay.

I’ve been to several special events there, charity functions, glamorous dress up parties, an exquisite dinner party and so on, but right now, it is being used to shoot a movie! It is a thriller by John V. Soto, starring Jonathan LaPaglia and Luke Hemsworth. It’s called “The Reckoning” and it is about a detective who is on the trail of a killer, and who is looking for two young runaways whose video footage contains the identity of the murderer.

So when my mate Dave asked me if I’d like to pop in to see how the movie was being made, I couldn’t resist the invitation!

Of course, I know about lighting, special effects and other movie trickery that are used to make things seem more fantastic…but I’ve never actually seen it happen.

So I turned up at sun set, to see the outside of the house being filmed for an “establishing shot”.

Lights, Camera and Action at Blue Waters

They were filming Blue Waters at sunset, to capture the dramatic, golden light. It was great to see the house look so luminous and big!

Lights, Camera and Action at Blue Waters

A lot of people were standing around, watching the house, and nothing much seemed to be happening. I somehow expected for there to be lots of people running around with someone else shouting at them. But it was all so quiet, and professional… with everyone just quietly doing their job.

There are a lot of official procedures on a film shoot. I had to be taken over to the office site (where all the actor’s caravans were parked, where the crew and actors have their meals, etc) to get myself officially signed in.

The whole thing was so organised and seemed to run like clockwork.

Lights, Camera and Action at Blue Waters

When I walked around on the set… what struck me most though, was, just how CROWDED it was, even in the big house. There were close to 30 specialists standing around (just waiting to do their job at a moments notice, I’m sure) make up people, stunt guys, action coordinators, lighting guys, director and associate producers and directors.

Lights, Camera and Action at Blue Waters

Also there was so much equipment EVERYWHERE! Cable, lights, clamps, stands, weird and amazing lighting thingies, microphones, props, make up kits, bags of coloured tape and lots of stuff I’ve never seen before.

Lights, Camera and Action at Blue Waters

Another thing that surprised me was how quiet it was. Everyone seemed to know what to do and when to do it. And when they were about to start filming a take, the whole house went deathly quiet. I didn’t even dare take a photo during that point, because I knew my DSLR camera would click loudly.

For one take, the main actor had to simulate being shot in the shoulder (I think) and falling to the ground (on a mat). It was pretty intense. The gun shot sound for the actor to respond to was actually someone shouting “BANG!!!!!!!!” and it was SO LOUD AND SO SHARP, that in the quiet house, I thought it was an actual gun because it echoed off the walls and floor. Interesting. I’m sure a real gun effect will be put in later in the editing.

I’m now quite astounded to realise how DIFFICULT acting is. The actor had to do this take several times, with everyone in the room looking at him. And yes there was this huge expectation TO GET IT RIGHT.

I stood there thinking, imagine if they were shooting a steamy sex scene, with so many people watching… how awkward would that be?!? (Apparently, when they do, most of the crew leave the room so the actors can do “practice their craft” in a little more privacy!)

Lights, Camera and Action at Blue Waters

After the take, I spied on the sound guy. He was watching the replay and checking the sounds.

I found it funny that he had completely taken over the kitchen and placed himself near the bowl of fruit.

Lights, Camera and Action at Blue Waters

Then I went upstairs and found some other actors waiting for the next take.

The upstairs room at Blue Waters is usually a party and dancing room. It is usually empty, except for a few bits of icon furniture: a fireplace, a chaise lounge, a baby grand piano. But today it was turned into a cosy and inviting bedroom.

Lights, Camera and Action at Blue Waters

Last of all, I made my way outside to photograph the huge balloon light they set up outside the house. The light was 2 storeys tall! It was very cool!

So, it was such an interesting experience to see how a movie is made. And most of all…I didn’t realise how labour intensive AND time consuming it is to make a movie. No wonder movies are so expensive. It’s an amazing business.

If you are interested in following the making of the movie, you can go check out The Reckoning Film Facebook Page. They have been shooting for 3 weeks around Perth, at locations such as Jandakot Airport, Leeming, Como, South Perth.

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Tropical Paradise and Win a Swarovski Pendant

21 May 2013

Swarovski SS13 Tropical Paradise

I’ve teamed up with Swarovski to bring you all another fabulous giveaway!

The latest Swarovski SS13 Tropical Paradise collection features jewellery in bright, bold and beautiful tropical colours, and cute little creatures like beetles, dragonflies, flamingos (I love these). Do check out their Treasures From Paradise page, where you can cleverly scroll through 32 nice styling outfits and ideas.

We’re giving away this stunning Translucent Beetle Pendant worth $245 (shown above). Scroll down for the details.

Swarovski also sent me a few other pieces (that I picked out) to play with and show off, and here they are…

Swarovski SS13 Tropical Paradise

This is the Toya Necklace. Glittering with oceanic hues of turquoise, light blues and greens, it is clearly inspired by the corals and underwater wonders of the tropics. It definitely made me gasp with delight! I adore its sparkly bling, the weight of it, the colours, and the size of the jewels making the necklace a statement piece indeed.

It went beautifully with my turquoise gown. But I also easily wore it with a black, white, or coral coloured dress.

I’d definitely wear it with a casual white shirt too.

Swarovski SS13 Tropical Paradise

And this is the Triumphal Earrings. So versatile in style, you could wear these babies with anything… and enjoy their big wow factor.

I chose to wear it with a simple white lace dress, emphasising the earring’s romantic yet modern look.

Swarovski SS13 Tropical Paradise

Outfit details:
Turquoise Gown from Birdsnest
Shoes from PeepToe Shoes

White lace dress from Beauties Closet
Shoes from PeepToe Shoes

*WIN a SS13 Swarovski Pendant*
The winner will receive a Swarovski Translucent Beetle Pendant worth $245.
This competition is open to my readers world wide, 16 years or over.

1) Head over to the Swarovski Facebook Page and LIKE the page
2) Email me:
3) Email Subject: I Have LIKED Swarovski on Facebook
4) Just include your preferred email address so I can contact you if you win!

Please note that by entering this giveaway, you are subscribing to my newsletter.

All entrants will go into a draw, and the winner will be randomly selected and notified via their given email address. You will have 24 hours to reply by email, if not, then a new winner will be randomly selected.

Competition dates: Starts 21 May 2013 – 5 June 2013, 5:00 pm AEDST.

All the best!

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What No Tzatziki?

20 May 2013

Oh my. I found this old photo of my biggest boy in Oct 2008… and I totally choked up with delight and nostalgia.

Hulk Dipping Carrot Sticks

We were having a Halloween picnic with friends in the park, and I caught THE HULK trying to dip carrot sticks into the French onion dip.

That kid is hilarious I tell you.

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The Sorry Bug

18 May 2013

My 8 year old and I had a massive fight the other day.

Basically everyone in the family had lots of jobs to do… so I gave him instructions for his tasks a little at the time, not to overload him.

But he kept ignoring them or forgetting them, he kept getting distracted, thinking it might be better to do something else first, staring into space, annoying his brothers, picking fights with his brothers, wanting to trade tasks with his brothers, getting upset because his brothers had less jobs to do (because they were actually *doing* their jobs, thus had less jobs to do)… and I kept trying to gently get him back on track, gave him reminders, encouragements, incentives, helping him visualise his rewards or punishments, warnings about possible consequences… but he just got worse and worse.

And my temper escalated and escalated until I TOTALLY lost my shit and gave him the biggest and crankiest ear bashing ever… and he was grounded for all eternity. It all ended with something like this, “I’M IN SUCH A FOUL MOOD THAT I DON’T WANT TO EVEN BE IN THE SAME ROOM AS YOU. I’M SO ANGRY THAT I NEED TO LOCK MYSELF UP IN THE BATHROOM AND CRY. SO YOU CAN JUST LIE ON YOUR BLOODY BED UNTIL NEXT WEEK!!!”

I did lock myself in the bathroom and cry.

Thankfully my husband came home and sorted everything out.

Later that night, (I was still grumpy at my son) he came up to me quietly, gave me a quick hug and said that he was sorry for upsetting me, and that he went to the shops with dad and bought a Sorry Bug for me.

Sorry Bug

He quickly left (as instructed by his father) to go to bed and I was left with the stupid Sorry Bug.

Upon slow inspection… siiiiigh my heart melted.

Aaah kids!

Why do they drive us so insane?!

And why do they have to be so darn beautiful and easy to love?!

I crept into his room, snuggled into bed with him and had a cuddle. I said sorry for shouting at him and he promised that he would to concentrate more on his instructions next time.

(So we made up, but he has still lost all his screen and computer time for a week, I’ve confiscated his football cards for a week, and no playdates for a week!)

I am exhausted. I keep wondering if the problem is that I am not strict enough on him BEFORE he gets out of hand, and then it is too late. Or if I am too strict on him, and that’s WHY he gets out of hand, as an act of rebellion. Or if the problem is that he is just deliberately drawing a hell fire of negative attention down upon himself – just to get the attention of his mum and dad back on him, and away from the other boys. He is the middle child, after all, as I was.

I’m sure that I will never really know the answer to this question – and probably, neither will he.

Sigh, I love my kids so much that it drives me crazy.

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Mixing Fitness With Motherhood

17 May 2013

I have not been cycling for a few weeks now. It’s driving me a bit crazy, but with my mummy duties and my work piling up, lots of family and social activities on the weekend, my children’s sporting commitments… it’s been tricky for me to find 3-4 hours for myself. I’m not complaining though, because…

I’ve dived head first into running!

It’s just so easy to put my kids on bikes and go to the park.

I run while they ride. They think it’s a game. Or a race.

Sometimes they like to run WITH me. Which is a bit humiliating for me, because both my 10 and 8 year old can run faster than me.

Liam May 2013

My 4 year old also likes to scoot alongside me, shouting “RUN FASTER MUUUM!!!”. On the downhill paths, he purposely scoots faster and ahead of me, lifting up one leg like a ballerina and gives me the cheekiest smiles. It’s so cute. Like I have my own cheerleader who keeps up with me. Who happens to be 4 year old.

Right now I can go the distance of 2km, running only, with no stops. Not very much, but hey, it was better than when I started at 200m!

I like to keep my older kids updated on how far and long I can run before I “crash and burn”… and each time it’s a little bit further and longer. On one hand I do this to show off (I have to tell somebody ok!) and on the other hand, I want them to understand that if they want to see results, all they have to do is practice a little bit, day by day.

I think they get it. They are very sweet and kind towards me and give me lots of encouragement.

I also tell them that one day we’ll ALL run a marathon together, and they like that idea a lot.

But not as much as I do :)

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A new palette from Oroton SS13

16 May 2013

Considering that my last two purses have been Oroton purses – and that I own a fancy Oroton umbrella – I guess you can say that I really like their stuff.

Oroton began in 1938, and throughout the 60s and 70s they were well known for their iconic mesh bags and luxury leather goods.

It was only in 2007 when Ana Maria Escobar took on the role of Head Designer, and then a year later, when she became Creative Director… that I started to take notice and see some really exciting stuff happening with the brand and product designs.

Oroton handbags and clutches are now fresh, sleek, sophisticated… with just enough detail and hardware to make them standout without looking too pretentious. I like them a lot! They also moved into sunglasses, jewellery, lingerie, shoes, beauty, fragrances and now apparel.

Their apparel and shoes are a little (ok a lot) out of my price range, but they sure are nice to look at.

Oroton SS13

The other day, I attended a boutique opening of a brand new Perth Oroton store (on Hay Street, next door to Prada) where they showed off the latest Spring Summer 2013 collection.

Lots of bright pinks, tans and oranges. And lots of lovely details. But each piece still had an overall “classic Oroton feel”.

Oroton SS13

This bronze clutch caught my eye. A model was holding it and after sneaking a few photographs of it, I asked her if I could inspect it… but I suddenly realised that she might not be a model?? And that I may have just asked a total stranger to hand over her purse?? Thankfully she was a model for the event and I got away with an awkward moment.

Oroton SS13

Then I saw one of the sales staff wearing this cool zebra print belt.

Hmm, zebra print or leopard print?

Oroton SS13

Oroton also had some delicious leather jackets and skirts on show.

And I spotted this model wearing a pretty blazer with gold glomesh detail.

Head over to the Oroton website to check out more of the new season collection, or if you’re budget-limited like me, maybe if you want to check out The Outlet section?

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Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

14 May 2013

Red Balloon have been providing me with some amazing experiences for me to blog about – experiences that I choose, based on what I’m interested in and what (I believe) my readers would possibly like to try. I’ve been flying, paddling, ballooning, cooking, dining, etc.

One of their top selling experiences, happens to be V8 Car Racing – where you get to drive a super-car around a race track at mind numbing speeds.

Red Balloon have suggested (several times) that I could give the experience a go, but each time I would decline politely. Because I have absolutely NO interest in driving a car very fast, in circles. I’d be bored, dizzy, beyond stressed, and terrified! Why would I do that? Especially when I have the option of choosing a day spa experience!

However, MY HUSBAND loves cars and loves the thrill of speed. He’s a totally unique man with the heart of a typical little boy :) Haha aren’t they all?

So when Red Balloon asked me yet again if I’d like to drive a race car…. this time I proposed that maybe my husband could do the drive? And I can capture the experience for my blog? And who knows, maybe my readers might like to buy this experience for their husbands, or hey, even try it out themselves? They said yes and it was a done deal.

Phew. I got outta that one!

You should have seen the smile on his face when I told him about it. It was his birthday present and his anniversary present all rolled into one :)

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Anyway, as we drove to the event, he was acting all cool, because of course, he is much too grown-up to be excited like, say an 8 year old boy.

He was matter-of-factly explaining to me car facts… and things like why it is called a “V8″ car – which is apparently because the engine has 8 spark plugs and they are arranged in the shape of a “V”.

Instead of pointing out that I didn’t care, I foolishly asked how the arrangement of the spark plugs could make the car go faster… and unfortunately that led to a long, detailed explanation of how it is not the arrangement of the spark plugs that make the engine powerful, but rather the size of the spark plugs and that the arrangement of them merely makes the powerful engine compact enough to fit inside the car. WHATEVER!

But then he stopped talking – which rarely happens. So I asked him if he was okay. And he said that he was – “getting in the zone”. Eh? I suspect he was actually just trying not to wet his pants with excitement.

We arrived at Barbagallo Raceway in Wanneroo, which is about 15 minutes north of Perth City.

We stepped into a visitor’s lounge, found the registration desks, and got ourselves signed in. Then we mustered on the viewing platform with 50 or so other people, while we waited for our session to start. We watched dozens of cars zoom by. And they all sounded like they were broken… they were so noisy! We were at least 50m from the racetrack, and the cars were so loud that the water in my drink bottle was vibrating!  Even I had to admit, the sound of roaring race cars revved up my adrenalin.

We were greeted by a friendly guy, who led us to our briefing room. Only the drivers needed to attend this briefing, all spectators just waited at the viewing platform or the grandstand. But I was allowed to tag along, because I was taking photos for this blog post. I felt a little special – and totally out of place!

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

25 men (and me) sat down in the briefing room. They were aged from their early 20s to 60s, all wearing sneakers, jeans and big smiles on their faces. Everyone of them looked like an excited 12 year old boy to me :)

The walls of the room were wood-paneled, covered with signatures of famous race drivers, team hats, championship cups, framed photos of car racing guys… it was all very charming in a man-ish way!

The briefing was excellent. The guy in the picture turned out to be Greg, the founder of V8Race, and he was great. He went through the goals of the experience, the particular aspects of driving to focus on, what gears to use at what corners, the track map, showed us a quick video of a typical driving experience… and all their safety protocols.

It was professional, systematic, very (VERY) thorough and at the end of it… even I felt completely confident that I would not crash the car.

My husband was again cool, calm and excited.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

We walked down to the crew pits on the track. My hubby is the guy in the blue jeans – walking towards fulfilling one of his childhood dreams haha.

Ah the smell of burning rubber and petrol fumes :P

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

As we entered the tent… a team of people helped all the drivers get into their fire-resistant suits, hairnets and helmets.

They were really attentive, constantly giving the divers safety checks and tips.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

The men lined up and sat down to wait their turn.

We waited too, watching and listening to all the cars blast by. SO LOUD! And when a car pulled up to change drivers… the brakes were so hot from all the braking, that there was smoke coming out of the wheels! The ground was peppered with little tiny bits of black rubber that had been shredded from the tires.  It was all so – extreme.

My husband was going to have the “6 Driving Laps” experience. Whereas some people were having “3 Laps Ride Only ” or “8 Driving Laps ” or even “Drive and Ride 12 lap Combo”.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Hooray, when it was my husband’s turn… he was introduced to his driving coach and they hopped into the car.

A crew member helped him get buckled up, briefed him about safety, and then several other people did further safety checks of the safety checks. There were two guys just directing the cars safely in and out of the pits.  It was all very well organised.

The inside of the car was as bare as could be, and most of it was taken up with a huge spiderweb of metal pipes all welded together – the safety cage, in case the car crashes.

He started the engine and then he was off!

While he was having a “slow” warm-up lap, I walked up to the viewing platform to take some action shots.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Holy moly! It was soooo loud and fast!

My husband was driving at 240km/hr or something crazy like that!

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Each time he came by, I could tell he was getting faster and faster.  It was pretty cool to watch.

But I did wonder how they stopped people (like my husband) from crashing the cars!

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

After what seemed like ages (to me), my husband finally finished his last lap and he pulled into his bay.

He stepped out with a HUGE SMILE and looked so so SO thrilled and pleased with the whole thing.

Just like a sports journalist, I was immediately in his face asking, “So how do you feel?!”

Well… no more Mr Cool. He described it as a SENSATIONAL experience! Bloody brilliant! He would definitely do it again. It was one of the best experiences he’s ever had, ranked alongside swimming with whale sharks! Best. Present. Ever. So good, he would do it AGAIN!

And I stood there dumbly, going “Are you serious?! For real?! Driving around in circles?! Wow. Ok.” — I just do not understand!

But you know what, I guess I don’t have to understand… I was so happy to see him soooooo happy! :)

My hubby also discovered from his coach that the coach has an emergency brake and engine-kill switch – so that is how, if it all goes wrong, nobody gets hurt. The coach literally teaches the driver how to go faster and faster during the session, and makes sure that, if it is necessary for one car to pass another, that this is done safely.

We also purchased a USB in-car recording which shows a view of the whole thing from inside the car (which was very cool), and there is also a souvenir framed photo.

This experience is perfect for guys (or girls who love cars!) as gifts for significant birthdays, anniversaries or any special occasion! V8Race is Australia wide, with experiences available in VIC, NSW, WA, SA and NT.

It was a fantastic experience!

And I drove home, at a very comfortable 60km/hr, thank you very much.


The team at Red Balloon are offering my readers a special promotion!

Receive $30 off when you spend $129 or more on ANY experience.

To redeem: Visit and enter the promotional code REDKC13 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/13. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details read here.

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Mothers vs Kids

13 May 2013

On Mother’s Day morning, my kid’s football club holds an annual Mothers and Kids football match.

Yes that’s right! I had to play Australian Rules Football on Sunday morning! Other mothers get breakfast in bed! Hot waffles with maple syrup! A bunch of flowers and a foot massage! Hmph.

Mother's Day Footy 2013

The truth was, I actually wanted to sneak out at 6am and go for a long (and indulgent) 60km bike ride as my Mothers Day treat.

But my kids *really* wanted me to play football with all the other mums.

I told them I was a bit nervous. I don’t like to make a fool of myself. But they were so kind, they said I was pretty good (for a Mum) and that I was really coordinated and I might be the best mum on the field. Oh they are such nice boys.

As they pleaded with me, I could see how much it meant to them. So I said yes.

So on Sunday morning, we arrived at 8:30am and the whole football field was covered with kids, dads, grandparents, dogs, picnic chairs… and nervous looking mums like me.

The coach briefed everyone on what was going to happen – which was that the kids were going to have a half hour warm up session, practicing their skills to an even higher level… while us Mums stood around in the cold, getting colder, and even more nervous.

Mother's Day Footy 2013

These are the kids – all boys in this team. Like a little army. Uniforms, numbers, disciplined. They have boots with studs to stop them slipping on the wet grass.  The coach was giving them an inspirational talk about how they were going to be fair, play for the team, be good sports  – and grind the opposition into the ground!

Mother's Day Footy 2013

And us mums?

We all stood motionless in the cool morning sun like dazed, disorganized lambs to the slaughter, watching a massively superior army assemble.

The coach was finally done winding the kids up into a blood thirst, and they took to the field. They were so excited!

They were full of bursting energy – writhing and jumping around, hustling here and there, literally falling over themselves to get into play position. They were like hungry puppy dogs.

As we all found our positions on the field, I looked around and saw that there were… close to 30 kids on the field. Each kid was partnered with their mum – as the opposition – so there were like 60 people on the field playing at once! (I think there is only supposed to be 36 players on the field at one time.)

And the funniest thing about this was – you don’t often see players from opposite teams holding hands… but there was some of that! How cute!

The sirens sounded and the first quarter started – I decided that I would try my best.

My biggest worry was … my fingernails. Haha I didn’t awnt to break a nail! I’m serious! Australian Rules Football is a contact sport, and my nails are quite long and I didn’t want to jab some poor kid in the eye! So I was very conscious NOT to push my hands and fingers towards a bunch of kids to snatch up the ball.

My second biggest worry was that… several times, the ball bounced towards me on the ground, I would stoop down quickly to try to grab it. But from the corner of my eyes, I could see 8 kids RUNNING, no they were freaking CHARGING towards me at top speed trying to grab to the ball from all directions. Just imaging a flock of scavenging seagulls descending to fight over a dropped hamburger.  That’s how mad it was. There were kids everywhere! And I realised in that split second that some kid (or two) might crash their heads into my head and smash my teeth out. So. I decided to NOT lean down for the ball anymore.

THEN there was one time the ball bounced towards an empty corner of the field and that I was the closest person to the ball… so I SPRINTED for it. But some really fast kid ran up behind me, and of course I tried to nudge him out of the way, so I could get the ball. I pretty much bumped him off his feet and he tumbled and rolled to the ground. I thought, “Oops was that illegal??” And I felt so bad about it, that I stopped to check on the kid that I knocked over… he was fine, but I didn’t see this OTHER kid running into my path, and our feet got tangled and he tripped me over! Bah. So, my motherly instincts got in the way of winning.

After that, I basically didn’t “go for the ball” anymore because I was afraid of hurting myself, or someone else.  Haha I’m such a girl. My husband says that this is the exact reason why girls are not very good at rough contact sports – they are too intelligent to get themselves into a position that might smash their teeth out.

But, an amazing thing happened. The mums were winning! Our lack of talent and experience was outweighed by the simple fact that we were bigger (taller) than our sons. We could reach the ball higher, and kick it further. Yay!

And so the game continued, with us mums getting slightly better, and the boys getting more and more tired. Nobody got seriously hurt, although a few mums did lose their dignity.

I tell you what. It was fuuuuun.

In fact, it was so much fun that I think I might start playing with my boys in the park now.

Mother's Day Footy 2013

This is my 8yo and I at the end of the game.

Ahh, we had a fantastic time and we were glowing with happiness :)

(And just for the record, Australian Rules Football strongly encourages girls to play in the same teams as the boys… there are a few girls in our club… and they are very good!)

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What To Buy This Winter: Checks, Khaki and Citrus Knits

10 May 2013

If you need a few ideas on how to update your winter wardrobe, why don’t you give these a go.

What to buy this winter: Checks, Khaki and Citrus Knits

1) Try Wearing Checks
I picked out this checkered shirt a few months ago and I have been wearing it non stop since – but this is the first time it’s made a debut on my blog!

As its colour is black and white, I find that I can throw it over *anything*, coloured jeans or an animal print skirt or over another print top, for some print on print action.

It’s my best winter buy so far!!

Outfit: Check shirt (from YesStyle), white tee (from CiaoBellaTravel), khaki JBrand jeans (from, wool coat (Witchery old), black boots (from Betts).

What to buy this winter: Checks, Khaki and Citrus Knits

2) Try Olive and Khaki Colours
If you’re used to wearing black, white, grey and a neutral palette… khaki is a very easy colour to wear and add to the mix. It’s not too loud or bright and it goes with lots of skin colours.

Whether it’s a khaki jacket, pants or top… you’ll find that it’ll match with lots of things you own and give your wardrobe a fresh rework for the new season.

3) Try a Shirtdress
A shirtdresses might sound scary (voluminous, shapeless and unflattering), but whatever shape or size you are, you have to go TRY one on. You’ll be surprised!

Some tips for finding a great shirtdress – Make sure you wear it with a belt. Go for a neutral colour like black, navy, charcoal or cream. And always try to go for better quality fabric.

Outfit: Shirtdress (AL&ALICIA), jacket (from YesStyle), belt (from Morrison), suede boots (by Tony Bianco at The Iconic).

What to buy this winter: Checks, Khaki and Citrus Knits

4) Try a Citrus Coloured Jumper
If you’re like me, you probably own a lot of dark coloured jackets and coats (black, brown, grey, navy or beige). Try adding a splash of colour by layering up with a citrus coloured knit.

A predominant colour in the latest Sass and Bide collection is this electric orange (pictured left), which I have fallen in love with. But it’s a bit out of my budget for this winter, so I will be settling for this –more affordable – knit by Blue Juice, pictured in the middle!

Left to right: Sass and Bide Knit (new season $290), Blue Juice Knit ($89.95) and Ladakh($99.95)

Enjoy your weekend!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

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At Least It’s Washable

9 May 2013

Neon Fingers

I had gleeful and messy fun while helping out at the kindergarten today.

The kids were stamping the letters ‘S’ and ‘A’ in a sequential pattern.

In neon yellow paint, no less.

My 4yo (who can read) laughed, because everyone was stamping “ASS”.

He kept shouting out, “Hey did you know we’re writing about YOUR ASS hahaha!!”

I tried to keep a straight face and whispered “Shhh, keep your voice down Liam! No one thinks that’s a problem, so just don’t tell them!!”

“But mum, we’re stamping our ASSES HAHA!!”

Sigh. My kid is hilarious.

As for the neon paint…  thought I would be stuck with radioactive-looking, glowing hands all day, but thankfully it all washed off my skin perfectly.

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Chocolate Nut Protein Ball Recipe

8 May 2013

A few months ago I thought I would try to kick off my chocolate habit (can’t believe I’m declaring this on the internet…) by switching to cacao protein balls.

After a bit of research, I swear that every health-freak on the internet (and their dog) has their own version of these homemade chocolate protein balls.

So after weeks of experimenting, I’ve come up with my perfect recipe. I now make this batch once or twice a week, and most times I leave out the protein powder. It also turns out that my kids love eating them as well.

I leave them in an air tight container in the fridge and I snack on them whenever I have a sugar craving :)

Here are some notes:

* It is low sugar (only 1 tablespoon of honey between 30 balls)
* I DON’T like dates. Lots of recipes online use dates (to stick the ingredients together). In fact I don’t like any fruit (sultanas/cranberries/goji berries) in my chocolate balls.
* I actually use organic carob powder (because someone gave me a box) but you can use raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder.
* I love coconut and coconut oil, so this uses a lot of it. (You can buy organic coconut oil in Coles for $10 a jar)
* Just omit the protein powder, if you don’t like having protein powder.
* This recipe was originally based on a Thermomix recipe. But I don’t have a Thermomix so I use a food processor.
* I use natural peanut butter – no added sugar or salt or anything! (I also bought this from Coles for $4 a jar)

Karen’s Chocolate Nut Protein Ball Recipe

½ cup of roasted unsalted almonds
¼ cup of roasted, unsalted cashews
2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds (or pepitas)
¼ cup of desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons of protein powder
¼ cup of carob / cacao powder

4 heaped tablespoons of peanut butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoons of honey

1 cup of desiccated coconut for coating the balls

Chocolate Nut Protein Balls

1) Throw everything into your food processor and blend! I blend the dry ingredients first for a minutes or so, because I just have a very basic food processor and I want to make sure that everything is crushed up nicely. Then add the wet sticky stuff after.

The consistency should be sticky and clumped together. If it’s still crumbly and falls apart, just add more peanut butter.

Chocolate Nut Protein Balls

2) Roll into little balls.

This recipe makes about 30 balls.

Chocolate Nut Protein Balls

3) Roll the balls around and coat them in coconut.

(Why are there only 27 balls pictured? I ate 3 while making this batch haha!)

Chocolate Nut Protein Balls

4) Stick them in the fridge and best eaten cold!


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Prada and Shearling

7 May 2013

Prada and Shearling

Rugged, slouchy, relaxed… this jacket completely describes my current staple look.

I’m a sucker for the flowing lines of the jacket, mixed up with a whole lot of fleecy warmth and rock and roll leather. It gives a small nod to Rick Owens drapery, which I’m a fan of.

I also love that the jacket is a bit rough on the edges.

Prada and Shearling

This glam grunge look in monochrome is just too easy to put together – a crisp white tee, some faded black jeans, a vintage belt, some leather sneakers, the standout jacket… and a hint of colour from my oxblood Pradas.

Shearling jacket from YesStyle
Black jeans by Nobody
Leather sneakers by 45SEVEN
Vintage belt, thrifted
White tee from Country Road
Sunglasses by Prada (Sunglasses Shop)

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

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Bottle O’ Crabs

6 May 2013

I met up with a couple of good friends (and their kids) for an afternoon play and picnic by the river.

Warm sunshine, stunning weather and a river bank at low tide… always a winning combination when trying to entertain kids on the weekend.

We (the adults) sat at the cafe, enjoying coffee and cake, while the kids played a few metres away from us, on the calm beach, wading through ankle deep water, climbing over rocks and looking for treasure.

Oh my, it was so relaxing. I soaked up the moment to appreciate how good we have it. Life is so easy and so rich… we are enormously blessed.

Bottle O' Crabs

I noticed that some kids found a couple of empty glass bottles.

I thought… if one of the kids dropped the bottle on the rocks, it might create a dangerous situation for all the kids, so I was going to walk over to instruct them to put the bottles in the bin.

But I realised that ALL the kids had teamed up and started to collect little shells with slugs and crabs inside them. They created little “ecosystems” in the bottles… and when they were done, they ALL walked over proudly to show us adults.

It was so fascinating and clever.

Bottle O' Crabs

They lined up the bottles, ready to take them home – but at that point we had to gently tell them to put all the creatures back into the water!

The kids were very grumpy about that. They were not happy. Arguments and tantrums were about to begin.

In the end, I insisted that I would take photos of them and put them up on my website haha!

So here you go kids!

A bit late, but just as Aunty Karen promised!

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Win a $1000 Shopping Spree thanks to Berlei Dig Free Hosiery

3 May 2013

(This post is sponsored by Berlei)

Berlei Dig Free Hosiery

Berlei have launched a new range of products, called Dig Free Hosiery, which has a seam-free and smoothing waistband, aimed to increase comfort and reduce the lines visible under your clothes.

With the onset of winter, I have thoroughly tested a pair of Dig-Free opaque tights. After wearing them for a few consecutive days, I thought they were really comfortable. The waistband is similar to the top of yoga pants – which is nice. It was not super tight like shapewear, which I find squeezes firmly into my tummy, and after a few hours, I’ve had enough and I want to take them off (especially when I want to eat!).

The seamless waistband felt soft, snug and firm. They looked great and I felt like I could go all day in them.

The Shopping Spree
To celebrate the new range, Berlei is giving away an awesome $1000 Shopping Spree!

They want to know: What is your favourite go-to outfit when you are trying to turn a “bad day” into a “good day”?

For me, a bad day is when I wake up and… my skin is gross, my hair is a disaster, my back aches, I have a headache and well… I just feel like crap. And I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

But a part of me refuses to be defeated. I try to pep myself up. I go through the motions of having a shower and brushing my teeth. I reach for my good moisturizer. I wear my nice undies. I wear my nicest daytime bra. And?

I plan to wear a great outfit.

I reach for the dress that makes me smile. The top that brings the *perfect* amount of sparkle and colour to my complexion. The skirt makes me feel like a million bucks. The pair of jeans hug me in all the right places.

My Go-To Outfit

To explore this idea further, Berlei gave me a bit of spending money ($500!) to put together and style my ideal “go-to outfit”.

I spent about 2 weeks doing “shopping research” – looking endlessly through online shops, lookbooks, catalogues and going instore to little boutiques and big department stores. I like to be very thorough with my shopping and styling… it took me ages, but it was fun!

The biggest question for shopping on a budget… Do I splurge the whole $500 on ONE designer item? Or spend it on 3 or 4 $100 – $150 statement pieces?

I went for the middle ground… and bought 2 fantastic designer items that I could wear and use again and again.

Sass & Bide Dress

1) Sass & Bide Post No Bills Dress

I adore practically everything that comes from Sass & Bide! I wish I could own everything in their latest and past collections. Not to mention I have serious style envy whenever the designers, Heidi and Sarah, step out dressed head-to-toe in their own clothes. Gah talk about girl style crush!

So when I spotted this dress at $290, down from $490, I knew I found the winner. I *knew* that I would get a huge, fun, fashion buzz whenever I wore that dress. Bad day be gone!

The fabric is gorgeous, flowing silk. The print is bold and quirky. It’s black and white, so it is versatile and I will get a lot of wears out of it. And it has these two petal layers that float and swish around the dress.

But the best thing about it – it can be worn as a dress and a top. Woo hoo!

Marc Jacobs Bag

Paired with leather pants, black heels and statement accessories – wayhey, there you go, I’ve found my perfect go-to outfit :)

2) Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Isabelle Bag

Yup, my second item is a Marc by Marc Jacobs cross body leather bag, in citrus. I’ve been looking for a new, brightly coloured, small bag… just to carry my keys, purse, phone and lippy. And this one was peerfect!!

It is sold at Net-a-Porter, but I bought it from Shopbop, for $184 (down from $230 – because I had a special 20% discount). It pays to shop around!

3) Colette Colour Stone Necklace

Colette Neckalce

And with the spare $26, I also picked up this crazy rainbow bling necklace.

So that was my $500 spent, or as I prefer to think of it, INVESTED, in my wardrobe. But if you win the competition, you get $1000 to spend :)

Enter To Win a $1000 Shopping Spree

The winner will receive a cash prize of $1000 to spend on the wardrobe of their choice.

This competition is open to residents of Australia aged 18 years or over. Sorry everyone else!

*This competition is now closed!*

The winning entry will be selected based on the passion and creativity of the answer provided.

Please read all terms and conditions.

Competition dates: Starts 3rd May 2013 – 24 May 2013, 5:00 pm AEDST.

All the best to everyone!


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A Northbridge Outing with Mr Serious

2 May 2013

When my other two children were younger, I would take them out a lot! Almost everyday I’d take them to different parks around town, the river, the beach, libraries, art galleries, cafes, shopping malls… and they would be filled with such happy, wide-eyed wonder of the world.

My third child is a bit different.

He thinks things are just so-so. He whinges a bit. He sighs a lot. He complains that the air is too cold and the sun is too sunny. He would rather just sit at his drawing table at home and write out the alphabet, in upper case letters, backwards.

So I try to make an effort to take him out… and to help him lighten up a bit.

This particular day, we caught the train into the city for a day trip.

I have taken my other children on the train before, but not Liam. He was – surprisingly – very excited! He pressed the buttons to buy the tickets. We waited at the platform. Looked at the tracks. Watched the clock. The anticipation was exciting!

But when the train rolled in, he was quite disappointed and pointed out that it wasn’t a train because it didn’t have a round face and eyes (like Thomas the Tank Engine) and it was in fact a bus on tracks.

We stopped at the city and took a walk to the Perth Cultural Centre.

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

Outside the WA Museum there is a little play space, filled with interactive musical artworks for children.

There is also a lovely little mural on the ground… and I said to Liam “Hey lets pretend to be frogs and jump into the water!”

He was happy to be a frog, but he refused to jump “into” the water, even though it was just a painting of water. And said that frogs only live on the lily pads.


Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

Then I saw a cute climbing sculpture of a gecko. I said, “Hey let’s make a deal. I kiss the gecko and you take a photo of me. Then YOU kiss the gecko and I’ll take a photo of you! That’ll be hilarious!”

He was not keen at all. He grumbled at me and he gave me a looong lecture about kissing objects in public.

Whatever kid.

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

We went into the WA Museum and discovered a whole lot of great hands-on activities for children.

There was a table full of clear perspex blocks, with insects specimens inside, and there were microscopes and magnifying glasses for kids to examine the bugs. Liam was quite interested in them and found a few non-threatening looking bugs to hold.

I found a scorpion and said, “Hey you know these look like ice blocks! Let’s pretend to eat them! Nom nom nom!”

I swear the kid rolled his eyes at me – Will you grow up mum?!?

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

We did a bit of craft at the Museum (which Liam enjoyed) and then we left, looking for some food.

We bought a ham, cheese and spinach croissant to share and sat under the trees at the Cultural Centre Wetlands.

It was a gorgeous afternoon! But of course it was too sunny for my 4 year old.

Another lecture from Mr Serious!

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

Later we took a walk through Northbridge and I went to visit a friend, who owns the fab little boutique, Tu Boutique, filled with lots of clothes, bags, accessories, gifts and toys.

There were lots of good stuff to look at, so I plonked Liam on the floor to examine the toy shelf, while I had a browse.

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

My current leather wallet is 3-4 years old now and it’s falling apart. So I for the last few weeks I have been looking for a replacement.

I found this lovely, long wallet in a bright orange, by Status Anxiety. The design was minimal yet modern, one button closure, one fold stlye, big zip compartment, and the leather was soft and smooth. Perfect! And it was only $65! I was so happy.

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

At the rear of Tu boutique, they run Tea For Tu, a little tea parlour, where you can have a coffee with fresh cupcakes, pastries, tarts and macarons. The table settings are outside, under sails, with a cool bunch of retro antique furniture. I loved it!

I had a cup of soy chai tea and a pastry, while Liam ate a lemon tea cake. We sat on the couch and chilled out for an hour or so.

Thankfully, Liam’s mood lifted considerably and he was looking forward to the train ride home.

Overall, I had a pretty relaxed day with my 4 year old, even though we talked non-stop the whole time.

I’m going to miss my little buddy when he goes to school full-time next year!

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I’m a Footy Mum Now

1 May 2013

My big boys (aged 10 and 8) have recently taken up Australian Football and they are now OBSESSED with it.

It’s great to see them so enthusiastic and passionate about the game, but er, I’m just not a footy fan.

I have a very, VERY low interest in the game. (Except I don’t mind watching all the beefy, hot guys playing on TV).

The other evening, I took them both to the sports store and spent a small fortune on football boots, footy jerseys, footy shorts, footy socks and mouth guards. Times TWO of course.

They were sooooo happy.

They came home, pawing excitedly through all their new STUFF. They both sat on the floor and discussed football teams, best players, the difference between a Lyrebird and a Match football, like excited teenagers… and I had no idea what they were on about. Zero.

It was the first time I felt so disconnected from them. And it was by choice.

It felt strange. Because I was ok about it.

It felt strange, because this was *possibly* the beginning of me letting go. Accepting that they are growing up, they have their own interests… and that I don’t really need to be a part of it.

It’s a weird thought.

I'm a Footy Mum Now

That night, I crept over to the pile of stuff and took a peek at the footy boots.

I opened up the two boxes and saw them laying side by side – brand new, clean, unsoiled, fresh and exciting – and I missed my little babies already.

(Boots from RebelSport)