Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas Entertaining

Christmas time is officially here!!  As I get older I have become a sucker for Christmas time and absolutely love decorating the tree, shopping for presents and baking Christmas cookies.

Even though Dash is only 12 weeks old, Christmas time seems so much more magical now we've become a family!!

I wanted to order birth announcement cards for family and friends after Dashiel was born but had missed the boat.  I ordered these fantastic Christmas cards in a gift tag shape from Minted and thought they would make a wonderful substitute.
The wonderful photo of Dash was taken by Victoria Poulton Photography  

I've started an annual tradition with friends - baking cookies!!  This year, we did Vanilla Snap Cookies and Gingerbread Men.  The decorating is the fun part!!

Christmas Tree Decorations - Country Road
String Lights (wall) - Freedom
Gift Cards -

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Adjusting to Motherhood - Part Two

I still feel so lucky to have such a beautiful baby!  Although, for any new mum, adjusting to the pressures of looking after a newborn is not easy.  In part one of this post, I lamented over some of the challenges I've experienced so far.  I thought I'd quit my whining today and instead write about some of the things that have helped me to feel more in control again.

1)  Exercise - get out and about with the pram
One of the best things you can do for your mental health is a walk every day.  Now that you're attached at the hip to a small child, getting to the gym won't be so easy.  A walk with the pram is wonderful for breaking up the monotony of being house bound, clears the head, helps get bub to sleep and is great for fitness.

2)  Get out of the house every day
Being home all day is incredibly isolating, especially when previously easy tasks like tidying up or popping to the shops are so much more difficult.  I found that making an effort to go out somewhere every day makes a massive difference - whether it be a coffee or lunch with a friend or just going out for a hair appointment, doctor's appointment, trip to the shops or whatever....whilst it might take me a long time to get out the door, I feel so much better for doing so.

3)  Spend some time reconnecting with things you enjoy
I've made a conscious effort to try and do things like pick up my guitar, to try and bake something new and to get back into writing blog posts.  Some days it might take forever to do any one of those things but even 20 minutes of doing something you enjoy while baby is sleeping is truly wonderful.

4) Join a new mothers group
I've actually really enjoyed joining a mothers group - it's fantastic to be able to speak to mothers going through the same things at the same time and to ask all those poop related questions you're too embarrassed to discuss with your non-mother friends.  

5)  Accept that some days things will be out of your control
I think I really struggled with not being able to have control over my day.  There are those days where the baby does not want to stop crying or does not want to go to sleep where you just can't get anything done.  I'm gradually learning that at this point in my life, my priority needs to be Dash.  It all pays off when I see him smile!!

6)  Enlist help!
We've started using a cleaner once a fortnight and I have to say it has been such a big help!  I honestly don't know how I would get to all the housework otherwise.  Two hours a fortnight has made a massive difference.  Otherwise asking for help from friends or family to help out when you're having a rough day is really important!!  A friend recently delivered me some home cooked meals, and it was the best gift I could have been given!!  

Motherhood is a massive adjustment, but like all things in life, it gets easier with time....and the rewards are absolutely wonderful!! 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Lemon Bars

Keeping with my lemon themed baking (see my lemon yoghurt cake here!!), I decided to give these delicious lemon bars a go!!  They're based on the recipe from the Tartine Cookbook, but I saw the recipe on the Late Afternoon Blog and they looked so good I had to give them a go!!

Sometimes I have those days where I get it all wrong!!  I attempted these two nights ago after just getting my little baby to sleep.  After making a beautiful base and having the filling ready to go, I some how managed to burn the hell out of the base, set off the smoke alarm and wake my poor bubba!!   I didn't have enough butter left to try and re-bake the base so had to throw away my filling after hand squeezing so many lemons!! :( Baking fail!! 

My oven seems to be set to overdrive so today I tried again but made a few temperature tweaks.

It was worth the second try!!  They look impressive, but were actually quite easy to make.  They're very sweet, so I'll be having mine with coffee!!  They also keep in the fridge for 4 days.

1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups unsalted butter at room temp

1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/4 cups caster sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (approx 5 large lemons)
6 large whole eggs
1 large egg yolk

Directions :
Pre-heat the oven to 175 Degrees Celsius and butter 9 by 13 inch pan.
To make the crust, sift the sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the flour and butter. Beat on low speed until you get a nice soft dough. Evenly spread the dough on the bottom of your buttered pan (I just patted it down with my fingers). 
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Make sure the crust is cooked evenly.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and mix together. Add the lemon juice and a little bit of lemon zest. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Next add all of the eggs and whisk well. 

When the crust is ready, pull out the oven rack keeping the pan on the rack and pour the filing directly into the hot pan. Drop the temp down to 150 Degrees Celcius  and bake for 25 minutes or until the filling is no longer wobbly. 
Let cool almost all the way through. Cut into rectangles, top with powdered sugar and serve. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Adjusting to Motherhood: Part One, Shock to the System!!

Having a baby has been a wonderful and amazing experience.  Never in my life could I imagine the love I would feel for this small creature who is becoming more and more amazing every day.

As a new mother, I can say that nothing could truly have prepared me for the experience of becoming a parent.
I did all the classes, bought all the accessories, outfits etc, decorated the nursery and read all the books, but at the end of the day, it's still a MASSIVE shock to the system!!

He sure is cute though!!!

Shock number 1:  Sleep Deprivation
After a painful C-Section and an exhausting day, the biggest thing on my mind was a good night's sleep and time to rest and recover....but sadly the realisation hits me - I will never (in the next few years at least) have an undisrupted night of sleep again!!!  Arggggghh!!!
At least for now (who am I kidding, forever...), I have coffee, lots of coffee....delicious coffee.

Shock number 2:  Complete and Utter Dependence
"Maybe I'll just pop out got a coffee and a pedicure" I think to myself..... uh oh, will the pram fit next to the spa pedi chair!?  Can the bub stay quiet while the beautician sloughs my hooves!?  Will I get dirty looks from the other patrons if he cries!?!?   The end result?  No pedicures....ever again!! (or for at least a few years).

Shock number 3:  The one hour window
A newborn baby needs to be fed approximately every two hours....but no one mentions that this two hour timeframe is from the start of the previous feed, and that feeding a newborn baby can take about one hour....this gives me a one hour window to leave the house before young Dash is crying and hungry the time I pack a gigantic bag of baby related accessories, assemble the pram, get out the door, the hour is up :(

Shock number 4:  I will never travel light again
So I bought myself a stylin' Mimco baby bag in an attempt to look like a stylin' new mama...little did I know that just a couple of months later my sleek new bag would weigh about 10kg and be splitting at the seams... I had so little space left, I even left my Aesop hand cream at home *cries*!  What has become of me!?!?
I also seem to manage to get stuck in doorways on regular occasions because of the large girth of my bag and accidentally took out several jars of unsuspecting jam in the supermarket recently *runs and hides behind the smallgoods section*.

Shock number 5:  I pretty much can't wear anything in my closet any more
Although it seems obvious, I didn't think about planning a breastfeeding friendly wardrobe for post every time I put something on, I have to think about how I can breastfeed in public without ending up half naked in a cafe.  This rules out pretty much all dresses and many tops!!
....and when I do finally find a breast accessible top, I have to consider that it's highly likely to will be covered in milk/spit-up/wiz in probably about 10 minutes, I kid you not!!!

Shock number 6:  A newborn baby poops pretty much every time he eats
'nuff said....

Stay tuned for part two of this post, with some tips I've learned for adjusting to life post baby!!

Weekly Roundup

Blog posts have been far and few over the past months!!  My apologies for my absence....this year so far I have managed to:

1)  Start a masters degree
2)  Sell an apartment
3)  Buy a townhouse
4)  Move house
5)  Have a baby

Not a bad effort if you don't mind me saying so!!  I promise now that I'm off work and adjusting to life with a newborn baby that the blog posts will resume, with more posts on psychology, life, recipes, fashion, design, music and all things wonderful - I may even throw in a few about motherhood and adjusting to life as a parent.  In the meantime, the festive season is fast approaching and I'll have some silly season posts coming soon.  

Here are some of my favourite links of the week - Happy Friday!!

12 weekend habits of highly successful people

How to get ready for a party in five minutes

A clever tiny space

A great idea for Christmas gift wrapping

Did anyone else love Penny Lane's outfits in Almost Famous??

10 tips for working from home

A cute pastel dress for summer

Four types of sleep schedules we all fit in to - which one are you!?

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Baking Therapy - Lemon Yoghurt Cake

So at 39.5 weeks pregnant, what better way to pass the time than to bake a delicious lemon yoghurt cake!!

This is a super easy cake to make and tastes delicious.  I've tried a few different recipes, and this one is the best!

While I seem to be getting rounder by the day, keeping busy has been a good distraction from the aches, pains and tiredness of the downward slope of the last trimester.

....and the plus side of being pregnant, is that I can sample the goods guilt free!!

Dress - Metalicus
Lipstick - NARS Dragon Girl 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Nursery Makeover

The most exciting part of moving into our new home has been setting up the nursery!!  With only a few days until our little one arrives, we've just added the finishing touches to his new room.  After many months of obsessive nesting, everything is finally ready to go...although my poor VISA card is a little worse for wear!!  

Now we just need the baby!! 

When we moved in, the paint was a drab half duck egg blue, half slightly pink combination.  After some narrowly avoided paint colour arguments in Bunnings, we decided on Dulux Shimmer Quarter.  This is now my favourite room in the house!!

We wall mounted some of our favourite Ikea Kallax shelves to store all his new toys and books.  

My favourite purchase would have to be these gorgeous baby animals prints by the animal print shop.  
I wanted to find some grey chevron curtains but couldn't find them anywhere in Sydney, so I ordered them to be custom made from Etsy, and they turned out beautifully!!

Chair - Freedom 
Change Table - Cocoon
Bassinet - Cocoon
Rug - Ikea
Side Table - Replica
Sock Monkey - Matt Blatt
Pram - iCandy
Mobile - Mamas and Papas
Zebra Print and baby animal prints - The Animal Print Shop 
Hang it all - Replica

Monday, 28 April 2014

Vitamin E may slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer's

A recent study by Dysken et al (2014) examined the effectiveness of Vitamin E in slowing the cognitive decline related to Alzheimer's disease, in patients suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer's.

The study compared two groups of patients, with one group administered Vitamin E and the other a placebo.

The results showed that the Vitamin E resulted in a cognitive decline of 19.2% less per year than the control group.

The study concluded that Vitamin E can be recommended as standard practice for Alzheimer's and may be beneficial in slowing the progression of Alzheimer's.

This is a fantastic result and may be a simple, cheap and easy method for helping people suffering from Alzheimer's.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Stress and wellbeing survey shows Australians more stressed than ever!

A recent survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society revealed that in 2013, Australian's reported higher levels of stress and decreased levels of wellbeing when compared to previous years.  

Top causes of stress were listed:

52% of respondents named financial issues as a cause of stress
47% named family issues
43% named personal health issues
41% named trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle
38% named concern over the health of others
34% named issues in the workplace

24% named mental health issues

An alarming 73% reported that stress was impacting their physical health and 65% reported their mental health was being affected.  

Are you feeling more stressed than ever?

What can you do to relieve the stress?  The survey revealed that in 2013 many participants reported using social media, sleeping more, eating more and watching TV and movies as stress busting techniques.  
Whilst these techniques may help to reduce stress, overeating, oversleeping and too much time engaging in sedentary activities can have negative effects on our physical and mental health.  

What can you do to tackle stress? 

  • Physical exercise - a proven stress reducing technique!!
  • Talk to a friend of family member  - social interaction has stress buffering effects!!
  • Talk to a psychologist - getting some help to manage excessive stress is very important if stress is beginning to impact your day to day functioning
  • Look after your health - healthy eating, sleeping eight hours per night and regular exercise are a fantastic buffer for stress
  • Make some time for laughter - watch a comedy or have a laugh with friends
  • Seek practical help - is there a particular area such as financial stress or workplace stress that is impacting your health?  Perhaps seeking financial counselling, or contacting your HR team or Fairwork Australia for advice about your rights at work may be just the help you need
Need to talk about the stress in your life?  Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for free 24/7 telephone counselling in Australia.  

Monday, 21 April 2014

Morning sickness survival guide

Lets face it….morning sickness is a bitch!  In my naive mind, I think I may have underestimated the horrid effects this pregnancy business would have on my body.  

From about 5 weeks in, BAM - intense waves of nausea, and fatigue so bad I felt like I'd been hit by a bus… unfortunately I bear no resemblance to the calm and centred pregnant woman pictured below....instead I'm curled up in a foetal position with a bottle of sparkling water and a box of Jatz.

I figured my options were…
1)  Quit my job (sadly I can't afford this…)
2)  Stay in bed forever (this may not help my employment status, or the size of my ass…)
3)  Cry… (have tried this one, multiple times…didn't fix the problem)

Instead I've developed a few strategies to try and regain an attempt at semi-normal functioning…here's what helped me (and it certainly wasn't ginger tea)

1)  Pacing - accepting I can no longer do all the housework in one morning, or that I can't race from the gym to the shops to a friends house.
Try breaking up your usual tasks into smaller components - now instead of housework on Saturdays, I try and do a few small things after work, and split the big stuff over Saturday and Sunday….it's a pain, but it's doable…

2)  Naps, lots of naps - naps after work, naps on Saturday mornings, Naps on Sunday evenings, whenever the hell I can get one.  

3)  Replace gym routine with shorter and easier exercise - the thought of even driving to the gym makes me tired….let alone doing a Pump class…. hell, even a Yoga class!!  Instead, Im walking for 20 minutes each day…. it's not ideal, it's all I can do right now and it still has positive effects

4)  Eat crackers, all the time.  That is all

5)  Drink very cold water….not room temperature….I don't know why it's easier, but it sure as hell is.

6)  Say no more - I've been declining social invitations like crazy, but sometimes you need to say no and listen to your body!!

7)  Say yes sometimes…I do feel a bit better after a good catch up with a friend, even when I've felt like hell getting there

8)  Have a variety of foods to choose from.  One day you may like lemonade.  The next day you may hate lemonade.  You may like the idea of may now despise the idea of toast... have a variety of fruit, vegetables, crackers, bread, frozen meals and easy things you can choose from on hand.

Anyone else have any suggestions?  What has worked for you in the past?  

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Is poor sleep contributing to your weight gain?

Sleep deprivation has a direct link with increased cravings for high calorie foods and may impair our ability to say no to junk foods.

A study by Greer, Goldstein and Walker (2013), examined the brains of 24 participants after a good night and a bad night of sleep.

The study showed that areas in the brain which are responsible for complex decision making may be impaired following sleep deprivation, which make it harder for the sleep deprived to make healthy food choices.  In addition, areas in the brain associated with desire and motivation are increased.

Further to this, the study showed that sleep deprivation causes greater cravings for high calorie foods.

Moral of the story?  Get a good night's sleep and you may find it easier to say no to temptation and stay on track with healthy eating!!  Are you getting eight hours sleep per night?  Do you find it hard to say no to that afternoon chocolate bar when you're tired?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Hunter Valley Getaway

Nothing beats a weekend away to make you feel refreshed, happier and forget about your troubles!!  This weekend Lachy and I headed to the Hunter Valley for a couple of days of frolicking in the vineyards, sipping wine, eating cheese and sampling chocolates....what could be better?

Dress - Sportgirl
Sunglasses - Rayban

Friday, 4 April 2014

Weekly Roundup

Another week done!!  This has been a flat out week for me balancing full time work with a masters degree....just handed in my first assignment and it was....not easy!!  TGIF!!

Sydney weather is still boiling, but contemplating another vest for my epic collection for this winter

A great blog post about being married to a touring musician and making the most of your alone time, one I can relate to all too well!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

10 simple habits to feel happier

Want to feel happier?  A study by the University of Hertfordshire identified 10 habits proven to make people happier and examined how frequently people perform those habits.  

Here are the ten habits!   Why not give them a try? 

  • Giving: do things for others
  • Relating: connect with people
  • Exercising: take care of your body
  • Appreciating: notice the world around
  • Trying out: keep learning new things
  • Direction: have goals to look forward to
  • Resilience: find ways to bounce back
  • Emotion: take a positive approach
  • Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are
  • Meaning: be part of something bigger

The survey showed that Self Acceptance may have a strong link to happiness and life satisfaction, but that people often don't put it into practice.  The authors of the study gave the following tips to help increase your self acceptance.

  • Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. See your mistakes as opportunities to learn. Notice things you do well, however small
  • Ask a trusted friend or colleague to tell you what your strengths are or what they value about you
  • Spend some quiet time by yourself. Tune in to how you're feeling inside and try to be at peace with who you are.