As you may or may not have noticed I am currently part of a competition for the Top 25 Family Blogs written by Mums (or moms) at the moment. Well, it is almost over and I am still needing your votes. You don't have to sign in or join anything, or give anyone your email address or your first born - you just click on the link (the circle above) and scroll down until you see Mother Load and click on the little vote button. You can vote every 24 hours - so please feel free to go back and visit and vote for Mother Load again (and again) and please don't feel you have to keep this to yourself it's not a secret, let your friends in and ask whoever will listen to toss me a vote as well.

So, what do I win? A big screen tv and a maid for a year... kidding. I win a badge to put onto my blog that says I am in the top 25 (awesome) and it also opens my blog up for a little more publicity so we get more readers, more comments and more interaction which is also nice. After you have voted check out the Circle of Moms community there is lots of interesting stuff there as well.

Cheers,

Lee



 
 
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When you become a parent a whole new world is opened up to you. Some of it is wondrous, some of it is disgusting and a lot of it involves you doing things you never dreamed you would ever be doing.

So for all those people who are thinking about having a baby, about to have a baby or dream one day of having a lovely little bundle of joy, I give you the 12 things I had never done before becoming a parent, so that you can feel much more prepared for what is to come than I was.

For those of you who are already parents, not only will you be fairly familiar with each thing on the list but you will more than likely have a number of things you had never done before to add to the list. Feel free to comment and add at the end, by no means is this a definitive list... I am sure as the children grow there will more things I never dreamed I would ever be doing.

Before becoming a parent I had never:

1. Been bitten
2. Held someone still so I could smell their bottom
3. Wiped someone else's nose with my fingers and wiped it on my pants (no tissues around)
4. Caught vomit in my hands so it wouldn't go on the carpet
5. Bit food into smaller pieces so I could feed it to someone else
6. Squashed someone into the washing basket so I could drag them around the house
7. Carried a screaming person out of a very public place over my shoulder
8. Stood for a long time just watching someone sleep
9. Put my fingers under someone's nose to make sure they were actually breathing and just asleep.
10. Gotten into an argument at a play centre
11. Spent so much time discussing why girls don't have a penis and where babies come from
11. Hidden the mop so it could not be used as a make shift weapon
12. Loved someone so unconditionally


Please feel free to add your own.

Cheers,

Lee

 
 
This small noisy chick moved in next door with a whole bunch of kids and she is living proof that, although the miracle of childbird is amazing not all babies are beautiful. Some of them are really ugly.
On the upside the kids are loving seeing these noisy little babies poking their heads up for a feed. Kinda reminds me of our house at dinner time - only these kids aren't knocking any of the food back because it doesn't look right and they really wanted fish and chips.

Have a great weekend.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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I have watched Master chef and drooled over the delicious culinary masterpieces they have created. Who hasn't? But let me take a moment to set you all straight. I enjoy the eating part, not the cooking. I know some people actually enjoy cooking, others  find it quite meditative,  I'm just not one of them. If I could have a chef drop around each day to prepare dinner I would be one very happy little woman.

So when someone like Adriano Zumbo comes onto a show like Master chef to hawk his latest product (oh, alright to demonstrate and pass on his skills) I am left wondering where I can go to eat said creation. It has never, ever, crossed my mind to create one of these edible works of art myself. I might add that visiting one of Adriano Zumbo's shops in Sydney has been on my to do list for a little while now and I hope to achieve it early in the new year (a girls gotta have a goal). 

In the meantime, I came across the Adriano Zumbo kits now available at supermarkets and went into overdrive. I mean, it's in a kit ... how hard can it be? So off I headed to the supermarket to purchase my Adriano Zumbo goodness and they had run out but a few days later I had some success. So I purchased the kit, it was $7.80 which is a lot for a packet "cake" but I really wanted to give it a whirl.

The kit comes with everything you need to create the delectable macarons include a circle stencil to make a template so you can create even sized macarons. You can also print the finished template out from his online site but since I had a nine year old lingering around waiting to be involved in the eating part of the macaron process, I put him to work.

Two piping bags were included in the kit. One for the shells and one for the creamy, salty caramel filling. They were easy to use and I was happy with the whole process.
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This was the piping bag for the filling. Just in case you were wondering why there are some little cooked macarons in the background.
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Piped and sitting for a moment, ready to go into the oven.
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Sitting and waiting for them to cool having just come out of the oven. I was really happy with the results.
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I'm no Adriano Zumbo but I was pleased with the look of these! We even managed to have a few left over and they were just as tasty the next day.


Using this type of kit was much more labour intensive than a regular chocolate cake packet mix but after a little trial and error with this first batch I was really happy with the results and even though the price was higher it was still cheaper than having someone else make me a batch of macarons.

The end result. They were absolutely delicious, they were a hit with everyone and I would definitely make them again.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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It's always nice to do something a little different with kids. I mean, you can buy them stuff but nothing really beats experiences. So this past weekend we decided to head on over to Bacchus Marsh for the Strawberry and Cherry Trail Festival for some strawberry and cherry picking fun. Bacchus Marsh is around 50 minutes west of the Melbourne CBD.

Of course the two year old was all in no questions asked and once he saw a bouncing castle it was like all his Christmas' had come at once but the nine year old took a little longer to warm up. First with the "Why are we here?" then onto the "How long do we have to be here?" and eventually ending up at the "Wow, look at the size of that strawberry!". So it was nice to have him come around in the end. We have intended to visit the festival for a number of years but have always managed to just miss it, so this year it was up in bold letters on the calander. It was fun, the kids loved it and now the house is full of tasty fruit, so it was a very successful outing for everyone involved.

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To be able to drag him away from his hand held games we had to offer up something amazing - a strawberry as big as an apple.
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Beautiful ripe cherries and they were as delicious as they looked!
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The little guy, really happy to be involved in the whole cherry picking process.
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My three happy guys. Who knew you could get kids so excited about fruit!
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We ended up at a little winery on the hill in Bacchus Marsh with this delicious platter of food. The only bad part was that there was so much food we had no room left for dessert - and they looked amazing.


If you have never made it to the Festival make sure you check the website and write it up on your calendar for next year and if you are in the Bacchus Marsh area and it's not festival time the farms are often open for you to pick your own strawberries or cherries, if it is the season to do so. So check it out!

Cheers,

Lee

 
 
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When you have a baby (actually from the second you announce that you're pregnant) people offer you advice. What you should and should not been doing, what you should and should not be eating, what you should be buying and every other little nuance of child rearing is talked about at length. You find that what used to just be your life has now become public fodder for discussion, from friends, acquaintances and anyone else who might make some kind of passing eye contact with you in the street. I found all this information really hard to take in. It just made me feel like there was some secret mummy club full of women who knew what they were doing and how to look after a small person and I wasn't in it.

Having this small noisy little person in my house was difficult on so many levels. Not least of all because I had felt him growing inside me. I had felt his kicks and hiccups and I had waited for daily reminders that he was moving and growing inside me. Now here he was in front of me, he belonged to me and I was responsible for him but I felt like I had absolutely no control over the situation.

I began to wonder when I would feel like I was in charge again or at least know what the hell I was doing and be able to plan for what would be happening next. People told me over and over that it would take time, around twelve weeks to get into some kind of routine. Then I would feel more confident in what I was doing. But that deadline came and went and I still felt like I was just treading water and I was just so very, very tired.

In the first few weeks of my child's existence we were too scared to take him out in public. I was so worried that we would get to a shopping centre and he would cry and people would stare and I wouldn't know what to do and then I would be a failure and it would be public. So I went for walks around the block instead. I'd rug him up and put him the pram and just walk.
I looked down at his small little body, with his delicate features and tiny little hands and wonder what life had in store for him. I wondered what he would be like when he grew up, what would he look like, what would he achieve in the world. Then one day a little while after that twelve week mark I looked down at his little face and I didn't feel so disconnected anymore, I still didn't feel in control of the situation but I was not unhappy that I was his Mum. It was the very first time I had felt like that and it was amazing.

I did eventually take him out in public and it wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined. The shopping centres were filled with light and sound and noise and one little woman with a small baby in a pram was hardly even noticed. My biggest problem was establishing where the baby change rooms and feeding rooms were situated in the centre and once they were found it wasn't as daunting as I had ever built it up to be.


 
 
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I used to be a party girl. Not the kind that organises parties for others, who goes all out for a one year old birthday party, you know the kind with a fairy and /or magician, balloon animals and a seven layered cake that the birthday person is never actually going to remember. I mean the kind that used to kick up her dancing shoes in dark clubs with dark strangers and drag her sorry self home just as the rest of the world was getting up for their morning walks to collect the paper or buy milk.

I used to love those days. At the time, I mean. Not now. Now I'm out and it hits 10.30 and I think "oh is it that late already!" The old me (party girl), used to feel sad for people like me. Sad "old" people sitting at home on a Friday night. I used to say that the day "what kind of lunch meat is most suitable for a kid's lunch" becomes my topic of conversation - kill me. Sadly, I have become that person. Sad for the old me, the new me is actually OK with it and understands the significance of being in charge of another person's life and the need to create a healthy foundation which gives them the best possible start.

So as a nod to my old self who uttered phrases like "Whose up for cocktails!", "It's not late, the suns not even up yet!" and "OMG - I love this song, someone has to dance with me!" - I give you a list of the top 15 things I never ever thought I would be saying but have in fact uttered since becoming a parent.

1. How nice, being able to go to the toilet on my own.
2. Are you up to something sneaky or just doing a poo?
3. What happened to your pants?
4. Stop licking the dog.
5. I don't care, eat it anyway.
6. A Wiggles concert. That sounds like fun!
7. Is that snot or drool?
8. Get that out of your mouth!
9. Spit that into my hand, right now.
10. Why are you naked?
11. The dog is not a horse, so stop trying to ride her!
12. Get your face off the television!
13. Sure. Let's watch Toy Story, again.
14. Yes, that is a penis and no, I don't have one.
15. Put that back it's not lipstick, it's a tampon.

Got anything you never thought you'd be saying but have? Here's your place to share it, go for it!

Cheers

Lee

 
 
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I have been working my way through a couple of lovely books based on the home and living a simpler life. Lemons and Lavender and The Edible Balcony have inspired me to try and live more in line with what I can make or produce rather than just purchase. Not that I am going to go all hippy and say I won't eat anything I can't personally produce and I will never enter another shop again but I have been giving the produce more, purchase less lifestyle a bit of a run to see how it fits.

So far I have produced a few big batches of my own home-made lemonade, which has been very tasty (even if I do say so myself) and grown my own salad sprouts. Wow, that is ground breaking I can hear you gasp! O.K even I know it's not but you have to start somewhere and to be honest I have actually enjoyed these couple of little changes.  I usually only drink water (sometimes a small glass of coke - but only if it has alcohol in it, or really what's the point) so having a cool glass of my very own home made lemonade was just lovely. I am even looking at picking mint from my garden and freezing a few leaves with water into ice cubes as a refreshing addition to it. I know - look at me go!

The only reason I decided to grow salad sprouts was so that I could show my two year old how something went from being a seed to something we could eat but I actually got much more satisfaction out of the process than I ever thought I would. I really loved adding my yummy little sprouts to meals and they gave my salads a little something extra, made me feel fuller and actually helped me feel a little lighter. Nice.

Anyhoo, I will leave you with my lemonade recipe and a how to grow sprouts - just in case you are inspired to take action.

I googled a lot of different lemonade recipes but basically just played around with it until I created something which made me happy.

Lemonade
Ingredients

* Lemon juice

* Water - use twice as much water as you have lemon juice, (if you don't want it too tart you can even have three times as much water)

* Castor sugar (some recipes mention 2 to 3 cups of castor sugar, but I would rather add a little more water to soften the lemonade than too much sugar - so pour in half to one cup and taste it to see how you like it. Once the sugar has evaporated of course. If it's not sweet enough - add some more)


Process

Pour ingredients into a big pot heat it up on the stove until the sugar evaporates. Let it cool down. Drink.  (Told you it was easy)


Sprouts
There are heaps of links on you tube with people showing you how to go about growing your own sprouts. Some of the videos take longer to watch than it takes to grow the actual sprouts. So I really liked this one.

I also liked the fact it demonstrated how to grow them using equipment from around the house instead of having to go out and buy fancy schmancy sprout growing equipment from the shops.
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I used a sprout salad mix. This is how much I put in to start with and soaked them for 8 hours. Next time I will put a little less in.
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Two days later. Still expanding and now starting to sprout.
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This was day three and they were ready to start adding to my salads.
At the very least this was a great little project to get a small person involved with because it didn't require expensive equipment and didn't create a huge mess.

Do you have any simple living tips you would like to share?

Cheers

Lee
 
 
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The day we left the hospital with our small bundle of joy is etched in my memory as one of the most frightening moments of my life. I know how that sounds - Drama Queen - but I cannot think of a better way to describe it.

I was scared, clueless, overwhelmed, exhausted, sore, anxious and maybe a little bit excited (but that feeling was low down on the list). I have never felt so out of my depth in my life! Which is something I wasn't really expecting to feel at this stage of the having a baby game. Whilst I was pregnant (in between vomiting bouts) I had set up the room, washed all those cute little clothes and taken photos of them on the line (because they were so cute - look I'm bringing a little dolly home!). I'd read all the books, as far as I was concerned I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

From what I hear, it's a bit like learning a new language. You download the lessons, you walk around repeating phrases to yourself as you listen to some suave native speaker on your ipod telling you how to say, hello, goodbye, why I would love a drink and where are the toilets. You do your research and you feel prepared. That is until you head across to the country of your choice and the natives speak so quickly you think they are speaking a different language to the one you've been studying and the only conversation you've been having is with your smiley face luggage tag at the end of the day because you're exhausted and nobody "gets" you. (Before you scoff - I know someone who just had this very experience).

When I brought my little dolly home from the hospital he was small and lovely (to me). As a side note to that,  not all babies are lovely. I know people who say "oh all babies are beautiful!" but that is one of life's great crocks of crap given by people who are seeing life through mummy coloured glasses. This was brought home to me in a big way one day when a friend gazed down at her scrawny little baby, who was way too small for the skin God had given him (no he was not premmie - so get off your soapbox) and she said "Isn't he lovely?" which he clearly was not!. He looked like one of those ugly little birds before their feathers grown in, all wrinkly and sharp. She really thought he was beautiful.... which just goes to show how the saying "A face only a mother could love" came about.

Anyway, back to the story... lovely little dolly, cute little dolly clothes on the line, beautiful baby room ... ahh how lovely. Well the reality of bringing a baby home was the opposite of that. It was loud and smelly and not lovely at all (except when he was asleep - which is when they really are all lovely). Not just because he was quiet but because he just looked so small and peaceful like a little angel. Which must have been my thinking process on what being a mum would be like in some weird demented way.

I didn't sleep well when I was pregnant but it was nothing like the sleep deprivation I was suffering from once we brought this angry, demanding little house guest home.... and I began to wonder if our lives would ever be the same again and why I had thought being a mother would be just a great idea in the first place.


 
 
Being very stylish as I am (OK, so I'm not - but one can only try) I wanted to share with you a tip I came across very recently for posing as a yummy mummy (who can afford the time and upkeep of actually being one).

This tip requires medium to long hair, a brush, a hair tie, some bobby pins and a sock.
Yep, you read it right, a sock.

I came across this tip for the sock bun the other day on pinterest.com (if you are not on pinterest, you are seriously missing out) and then I watched some videos on you tube (so I can't actually attribute one person as my source for this). I have put together a couple of images to show you how easy it is to go from "just got home from the gym and can't be bothered washing and drying my hair" to " going out to lunch or to the school pickup or whatever and feeling a little fabulous".

As mentioned the first thing you will need is a sock. Choose one a similar tone to your own hair colour (i.e. if you have dark hair choose a dark sock) it doesn't have to be a perfect match and cut the end (where your toes would normally sit) off.
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This was my sons sock - there was only one. It had no mate. It went to sock heaven .... I don't know where that is but a lot of my socks seem to have gone there. Just single ones though....



Roll the sock down on itself, like a sock scrunchie - it looks kind of like a sock donut.




Now this last bit was too hard to photograph and do at the same time so I just have to use words and then show you the finished look (I am a very visual person and like images myself, so type sock bun into youtube if my instructions aren't cutting it for you).

Brush your hair into a high ponytail using an elastic hair tie. Then slide just the end of your ponytail into the sock donut. Roll the tips of your hair over the donut to sort of cover it with hair and tuck the ends back into hole of the donut from underneath. You are effectively rolling your hair over and into the donut.  Then just keep rolling the donut down the length of your ponytail  while tucking the hair inside the donut as you go.

When you get to the base of the ponytail (your head) you can pin it into place for extra hold.

You might ask why you should bother with the whole sock shenanigan and not just whip your hair up into a regular bun, so I have included a before and after shot to demonstrate the difference.
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BEFORE - with my going to the gym bun
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AFTER - with my glamorous new do.
You could add a flowery clip for some extra glamour and a swipe of lippy.



You should be good to go then glamour puss. 


That's all, I just wanted so share this with you. You can actually buy hair donuts from the shops but I thought it was nice to be able to feel a bit special with stuff I already had lying around the house.

I would love to hear any cheap and easy tips for looking fabulous you would like to share.

Cheers,

Lee