PictureWheatbix 'n' Milk Chocolate Slice
I am a changed woman and I have converted. I never ever thought that this would happen to me... I mean I wasn't even that interested before this took over my life and now that it has happened I can't stop talking about it. Not in the sense that I may turn up at your door at random with a book under my arm trying to convert you but I have been doing a lot of talking about it.

So what is it you may ask? You may even be wondering what has been happening to me lately .. or not. You may have been quite happily rolling along with your life and not given me a thought... but since you asked. I'll tell you what I have been up to.

I've quit sugar. I never ever saw it coming... I mean I don't think I've ever met a cake I didn't like so whenever people talked about giving it up, I would say, "I know it's not great for me ... but I really like it".

I believe that I have to place the blame on a friend of mine, who came to stay (for a week but stayed two) and had given up sugar. She talked about how good she was feeling and the changes she had made. She slowly but surely got into my conscious about it and then made very small, subtle changes to my diet - and I found they actually worked for me.

I am a few months in now, a few kilos lighter and feel more toned and "compact" ( I can't think of a better way to describe it) than I have after years of hitting the gym. By sugar I am referring to table sugar which is laden with fructose which our body converts to fat - don't take my word for it read Sarah Wilsons, I Quit Sugar - which talks a lot more about it.

I know what you are thinking ... "but all my favourite stuff is made with sugar" or "I don't eat that much sugar anyway". To answer both of these I say, there are substitutes and secondly you would be surprised how much sugar is in stuff you consume every day, so you could be eating heaps more sugar than you believe without even knowing it!

I am going to be sharing with you the results from recipes I have been testing at home over coming posts, a number of them have been lunch box friendly because I was sick of sending a lunch box full of processed crap, a sandwich and an apple off to school only to find the sandwich and apple still left in the lunchbox at the end of the day.

Before I sign off today, I have to say that quitting sugar was much easier than I ever thought it was going to be and I am rarely ever starving hungry. My blood sugar used to drop so fast mid morning I could pass out but that doesn't happen anymore. The only thing I have missed is chocolate so you would not believe how delighted I was when Sarah Wilson brought out a new book on just that topic. I Quit Sugar - Chocolate ebook. The yummy looking slice at the top of the page was my first foray into creating my own chocolate treats.

Drop me a comment if you have any questions or you have given up sugar and want to chat about that or anything else.

Cheers,

Lee



 
 
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In my very last post I let you in on a little secret, something to help you shift that bulge forming around your middle (well, mostly my middle - but surely, I cannot be alone!). So you got my tip hot off the presses... and I am wondering how many of you have actually tried it out?

Cinnamon tablets. So how many of you complaining about weight around your middle, actually got out there and gave it a try? Just in case you were contemplating it but are still yet to give it a go I have some more motivating facts to share with you. I headed back to see my naturopath just this morning and he got out the trusty tape measure (Hands up if you like getting out the tape measure - said no-one, ever) to track my progress. It turns out I  have lost a total of 8cm off my waist since starting on the cinnamon tablets - if these things don't get your metabolism going, I don't know what does!! Yay me!

Now, let me say that I am not a big person to start with but I was getting quite depressed with this mass forming around my middle, so I am thrilled to have been able to shift it. I cannot say like actresses often do, "Oh, I just look like this, I eat whatever I want!" because that would be lying, there have been other things at play besides the cinnamon tablets but I've got to add the tablets did give me the kick start.

I have been dabbling in the world of quitting sugar. Not cold turkey, mind you especially over Easter (I'm not crazy!) but I have made a number of changes and I wanted to share them. I have also been experimenting with sugar free recipes with the kids. I can honestly say, up to this point I have not been overly successful but I shall push on.

Over the next few posts I will be sharing with you some of my recipe triumphs and fails and also my continued search for the ultimate sugar free, easy to carry, kid friendly, not full of artificial crap, put in your lunch box snack.
 
Today I give you, Kale Chips. You are probably pulling the same face my husband pulled when I said we were giving them a go, but save your nasty comments until after you have tried it cause they were very tasty! Both the kids and the husband enjoyed them as did I and they were delicious.

They are very quick and easy to make, here is how.

Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees

Start with a bunch of Kale (looks kinda like spinach), rip the leaves away from the stalks (don't eat the stalks - they are bitter)

Then rip the leaves up into chip size pieces. Wash them and dry them off. Put them in a big bowl with a little bit of oil and some salt or spices (whatever you like) and toss it through with your hands.

Lay the leaves out on a baking tray lined with baking paper put them in the oven for about 5 minutes (keep an eye on them) until crisp.

Let them cool a minute and then toss them into a big bowl and enjoy them.

They have a very salty flavour already so don't go too crazy on the salt. Kale is supposed to be a super food - very good for you. I really enjoyed them. I hope you do too.

Cheers,

Lee

 
 
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As I have aged and especially since I hit 40 (and some) I have found it much easier to put weight on and much harder to lose it and the weird thing is I am still pretty much the same weight - the area it seems to congregate has just changed. It seems to be turning up (very much unwanted) in my mid section.

I have also found issue with my lack of energy and I generally becoming a bit of a cranky pants. Now you can put all this down to just being a bit run down or the kids driving me into the ground but it just didn't feel right. It seems to me that anyone with kids, trying to have kids, just had a kid or even one who has older kids is going to be fairly worn down on a daily basis. It's difficult enough trying to get out there and make a mark in your own life without having to be in charge of other people's schedules, food intake and just generally making sure they are not eating washing powder or trying to ride the dog (that's toddlers - not mums of older kids, one would hope). So I headed off to see a naturopath.

Now the naturopath listened very sympathetically to all my issues and offered some herbal and such remedies to try and alleviate my problems. Part of that required me to keep a food diary just to see what I was actually consuming. I have a very sweet tooth - in fact I don't remember ever meeting a cake I didn't like (EVER). So trying to cut back on some of life's great joys seemed to me like one giant hill and here is where the recommendation comes in. Cinnamon tablets. Yep, tablets. We have all heard of cinnamon, you can sprinkle it on your toast, yogurt and chai latte but tablets?? You can pick them up at the chemist and take one before each meal and it works! (well it has for me).

What exactly do cinnamon tablets do, I hear you thinking. Well, basically they help with your metabolism - speeding it up (cause apparently it slows down after 40), so cinnamon gives it a bit of a kick start. But the really exciting part of it is that cinnamon helps regulate your blood sugar. Which means you don't get those mid morning and mid afternoon spikes when you have to have a chocolate right now!! This means no more sugar highs - when you get that immediate sugar rush and no more lows (when you could fall asleep waiting in the car at school pickup).

Since I started taking the cinnamon tablets before each main meal I have felt a lot more even. I don't feel like having a little lay down in the afternoon (good thing really since my toddler cut out his day time naps there's no time for that now anyway) and I have found it much easier to cut back on the sweet stuff and as a result I have lost 3 kg and 5cm off my waist! And I have more energy to deal with the washing powder eating, dog riding and occasional acts of nudity (the toddlers - not mine).

If you are feeling those morning and afternoon highs and lows and wanted to cut back on the sweet stuff, give it a go. I would love to hear how you go with it.

I also wanted to take a quick moment to announce the winner of the hallmark text bands competition. Drum roll please..... the winner is Wendy Williams. Congratulations Wendy, look out for an email in your inbox so I can get your text bands out to you soon.

Cheers,

Lee

P.S - In my next post I am going to let you in on a basic exercise I have just added to my regime which is simple and has really helped with all over toning and some interesting recipes I have been taste testing on the kids.



 
 
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Here we are the third month into the year and it feels like we only just got over Christmas or maybe that's just me....

Did you keep your new year's resolutions?? Did you actually have any or did you just not bother with the whole thing? The big one for me was trying to achieve toned arms this year - yeah I know, life changing. I know it's not world peace but you gotta start small. Well, I'm not there yet...but I am making a few small changes to try and actually achieve this goal.

As you may (or may not) have read in a previous post I had a few small health issues last year which have caused me to rethink the ways in which I keep fit. The thing is, I used to go to the gym a lot in my late teens and early twenties, until I discovered a night life, boys and just generally couldn't be fagged dragging myself off to the gym. This went on for almost 10 years.

During this period of time I was out with friends for end of week drinks one day and a particular friend drank only water and then rushed off to a class at the gym. I remember thinking, "why would you bother? What could possibly be better than sitting here, eating a bag of chips and enjoying a nice glass (or two) of wine with friends?" I could not comprehend her thinking process.

Years later (after the birth of my first child) and trying to get off some extra weight I went along to the gym and to my amazement caught the bug. I finally understood what it was that motivated my friend to leave somewhere else to go and sweat it out at the gym. That was nine years ago and I've been going to the gym pretty much, ever since. That is until my recent injuries. Once I realised what was wrong with my foot (plantar fasciitis) I went along to a physio for treatment and was told - no more high impact classes, no running on the treadmill and no jumping for you. Wahhhh. That effectively took out all the things I actually enjoyed doing at the gym. It sounds weird to say that, considering when I started going to the gym my favourite thing was lying down at the end of a class - when it was over.

Not to let it beat me, I upped my spin class quota and started riding my bike (I even got one of those little seats on the back of my bike so I could take my toddler along with me - carrying 14 extra kilos on the back ought to keep me fit!). That is until I could hardly sit down on a seat. So off I went to the physio (again) who told me, "you've hurt your lower back. Cut back on the bike riding and spin classes." Wahhhh. What next??  I took up cross training on the elliptical trainer and weights ... and then my gym closed down. 

I am beginning to think someone doesn't want me to work out! So here is my dilemma. I have to find a new way to work out, a way that gives me the most fitness bang for my buck and something to do with my little guy whilst I am doing it. I have let you in on all the drama - not so that you can feel sorry for me (if you want to, don't let that hold you back) but because I am about to embark on a new journey, a discovery of fitness and health if you will. I don't want to be the woman people haven't seen for a while and comment "wow, hasn't she packed it on!" whilst I walk away. Not only that, I enjoy being fit - that and I truly believe it makes me less of a cranky pants.

So I ask you, would you like to join me on this journey?? I know in the past I have been all about the cake - well this is about to change and in a big way! As I age, my body is starting to respond differently to the things I did, tried and ate before and it cannot be just me, I am sure of it. Do you want to loose weight? Do you want to be fitter? Do you want to try stuff but can't be bothered - so you want someone to try it with you or for you and tell if you if it actually works?? Well, I'm your gal.

I am giving the next 12 months over to a number of fitness and health experiments which I will be documenting in my blog. You can try them along with me, or just see how I go and decide if it's for you. I have already tried out a few exciting new things and I can recommend something that really helps for weight loss - details will be in upcoming posts.

Whose with me??


Lee

P.S - Don't forget to enter the cool text band competition I have running at the moment. All you need to do is subscribe to Mother Load (and live in Australia) - details here. It's being drawn in two days - so get in quick!!

 
 
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As promised 2013 will see a few interesting changes happening  here at Mother Load, some of which I am going to be discussing in coming posts - but for now, let's get the ball rolling shall we?!

Put your hand up if you like to win stuff! (Seriously, who doesn't?!) Well, The first and in my opinion (most exciting change) to Mother Load this year has been the addition of competitions and giveaways. If you missed this bit before then I have to tell you, I love giving stuff away! I mean, I love getting stuff too, it's nice - but it makes me just as happy to make someone else happy. So here we go!

I went to an event a little while ago and Hallmark were in attendance and unveiling the release of a new product called Text Bands. They are aimed at kids who old enough to spell but are a too young to have their own phones (That's my take on it anyway - they didn't specify an age group). They look a little like a large digital watch and the idea behind Text Bands, is that you put a 10 character word into your band, pump fists with your band wearing friend and trade messages!  

Here's a quick video on them so you can see them in action.

The website offers lots of ideas and fun games kids can play with Text Bands and their friends like Super Animal, Name Game and Zombie Outbreak, which is a much better idea than having them sit around the house on their butts.

They sell individually so that you can choose your own colour and you can buy changeable bands for fashion and fun (including Disney, Army and Star Wars themes) but obviously you need more than one so that you can give another one to a friend to get a game going. The starter kit with one band sells for $14.99 (AU) in shops.

I have two starter kits to giveaway to one lucky member of the Mother Load community. One black and one purple. So how do you enter, I hear you thinking?? Easy peasy - all you have to do is subscribe to the Mother Load mailing list (That's the little box near the top of the Mother Load blog page - just put your email address in) and you're in!! If you are already subscribed and you want to be in the runnin for this giveaway just leave a comment below to let me know you want in!

The competition will be drawn in one week, (that's the 15th of March 2013) the winner will be picked at random and it is only open to Australian residents. Good luck.

Cheers,

Lee


 
 
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I know that Summer has yet again passed us by here in Australia but I am pleased to say that there has been a residual heat hangover into Autumn (which traditional "Melbournites" will say is just not on) but I for one am absolutely loving.

Melbourne is a great city and having lived in Sydney for many years I definitely have the ability to recommend one over the other - but I won't. I will although point some of the lovely things you can do in and around Melbourne, especially with kids.

I have made this little trip across the bay before but the first time I did it, it was by accident. This time, we planned our little sojourn to Sorrento and back across the bay and it was delightful.

On this particular day one of our best friends was down from Sydney and we really wanted to show him what Melbourne had to offer. So we packed a few snacks and drinks to keep us going and drove down Melbourne's west to Queenscliff (which is a beautiful place in itself and deserves a more thorough investigation - mental note: add that to my must do list). The ferry to Sorrento leaves every hour from 7am to 6 pm (but may change during the year - so don't take my word for it, check before you head off) and it was a pleasant journey across the bay.

There is a place to buy coffee should you be so inclined and even a small kids play area on board to keep small people entertained. You can take your car with you (on the ferry) but on this day we chose to travel across on foot and just walk around Sorrento once we got there. The ocean views are beautiful and the ride was relaxing, even with kids (which is something you can't always say).

The views as we came across the water and into Sorrento were spectacular and as the day began to warm up and we spied that beautiful clear water I was glad that I had packed our swimmers and some towels.
We walked around and looked into all the little specialty shops and stopped for lunch at the Three Palms cafe - which was a little more upmarket than we usually go but was delicious regardless. There were lots of child friendly eating establishments on the main street which was a bit of a climb up the hill to reach but not a long one (and again the views were really worth it!)
The view on the beach was just as lovely and there were standing paddle board lessons taking place - I really wanted to give it a go.... maybe next time.
The kids got in to have a swim - nothing deters kids once water is involved and they loved it. They collected shells and played in the sand. It was a perfect beach for smaller people - not so great if you are into surfing or catching the waves into the shore.
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Me and the hubby on the beach. I'm the sun smart one wearing all the sunscreen, hat and glasses. My husband is not.
Before we knew it, it was time to bid farewell to Sorrento and head back across the bay again to Queenscliff and then the drive home. It is a really lovely day and I would totally recommend this for a family day out if you're in Melbourne.


Seeing as we are still looking forward to a little bit more of this luscious hot weather - you may just have enough time to squeeze this trip in before it's layers, winter coats and I am recommending the best place to get a hot chocolate in Melbourne.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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If you are a parent (and even if you're not) you have probably heard the latest carry on in the news relating to children in public. In case you have been living under a rock and missed the story I have included the link: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2013/02/20/06/13/sydney-shopping-centre-bans-screaming-children

In a nut shell - a shopping centre in Dee Why, NSW has put up the following sign "screaming children will not be tolerated". This sign has been put up in the food court, where play equipment for children under 5 is located. Apparently patrons of the food court have complained that they are unable to enjoy a nice quiet cup of tea, or lunch because of the screaming children. This would seem much like putting a cafe on the tarmac at the airport, choosing to go there for your lunch and then complaining about the noise of the aeroplanes.

I'm sorry, but are are you fucking kidding me!? (Sorry about the harsh language - but I think it calls for it!). If people want a quiet cuppa, then suck it up and go to a quiet cafe, somewhere else. When did children's squeals and screams of delight become something we were just "tolerating"? How do you quantify which screams are unacceptable and which ones we will just live with? What are they going to do if you're child let's out an unapproved noise? Frog march you and you're child out of the food court Gestapo style, whilst people who can now go back to their quiet cuppa's give you the greasy eyeball on the way out?

Wow, way to teach our children about tolerance and acceptance of other's quirks and foibles? What if your child has learning difficulties or a disability? Is that ok? How do they then rate who can acceptably be frog marched out and who can stay without causing a discrimination charge to be slapped on the centre management? What if the mother is quietly going insane at home with their under five and has come out into the world to try and reconnect with society - is it ok to kick them out?

Look, I am all for trying to maintain some kind of civilization and stop ferals from running the joint but harassing mothers about the decibel there children may be able to attain does not make for a better cup of tea. It just makes for a pack of arseholes who have no tolerance for parenting or children in public.

Shame on you Dee Why Grand Shopping Centre - Shame. On. You.


 
 
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You know the old saying "buy a kid an expensive toy and they'll play with the box." Well, I thought I would skip the expense and the heartbreak of watching my child make eyes at the box and forego the toy by making the toy out of a box to start with. That and we had a perfectly good box hanging about just begging to be made into something else.



My little guy has shown a real interest in the oven of late and in an effort to move him away from the hot plates and not stifle his creativity I whipped up a little oven and hot plate for him. The whole thing took about 15 minutes (tops) to put together and he couldn't wait to "get cooking".

Just in case you wanted to have a go yourself I will give the low down on how I made mine.

I taped the top of the box closed and flipped it over and it became the bottom. The new top of the box was then covered over with a few sheets of white paper glued to the box. To create an even surface to glue down the hot plates. The "hot plates" were then made by cutting out a few different size circles from black paper I had hanging around (but if you had paper plates you could glue those down and it would be even easier).

The dials were added using a couple of flat sparkly beads but you could easily use buttons if you didn't have any beady type things. I then put three cuts into the front side to create the oven, leaving the fourth side joined so that he could open and close the oven door. I put two holes in the door and a length of string with a big button, so that he could easily open and shut the oven door. To finish off, I put a spare cooling rack in the oven to act like the base of the oven and gave him a muffin tin and some patty papers to put in, a pot and a mixing spoon. He loved it and has now been encouraging us to eat his pretend cakes and muffins all week.

Cheep, easy and lots of fun. Ticked all the boxes. Awesome.

Let me know if you have a go making your own box toy. I'd love to see some pics.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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It is very easy to stop and complain about what is happening in our lives. What is more difficult is taking a moment or two to be grateful for something we may already have.

What made you grateful this week? Made a new friend? Had coffee with an old one? A friend fell pregnant? The sun was shining? You got to put your feet up and enjoy your favourite drink?

Stop for a moment - think about it.

Mine was getting to enjoy some time in the pool with my family. It was hot, I was having a bad day and just having the cool water wash over me as I dived in made the difference. Seeing the smiling little faces of the three "boys" in my life as they tossed each other around the pool was icing on the cake.

There had to be at least one, if not  more of those special little moments this week that made me smile. What was yours??

Have a great weekend and I hope you had a special Valentines day. Mine was nice, flowers, breakfast made for me and out for a coffee and morning tea. Another moment to be grateful for.

Cheers,

Lee



 
 
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I predict you are going to channel your mother....
As a child there were many things my parents said to me which I promised I would never ever subject my children to, so you can only imagine my surprise at the amount of times I have stood there and my mother's voice has come out of my mouth.

Maybe it's because we feel so out of our depth with parenthood that we fall back on what we know and channel our parent's voices. Perhaps we have been so conditioned as children that we have no real choice but to automatically repeat the same phrase when confronted with the same situation. I have no answer.

I'll let you be the judge. I give you the 10 things I promised myself I would never say to my kids, but have...




1. Money doesn't grow on trees.

2. Because I said so.

3. We don't always get what we want.

4. Just because all your friends are doing it doesn't mean you have to

5. Would you like a smack?

6. There are kids in other countries who are starving and they'd love to eat the food you're turning your nose up at!

7. We should have called you "whingie" - you're very good at it.

8. Turn the TV over the News is about to start.
 
9. You are not going anywhere until you've eaten it.

10. I don't care if all your friends have one you're not getting it.

 
Got your own? I'd love to hear them - add them to the list.


Cheers,

Lee