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.
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.


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.


So here's the thing. It's hard to be all glamour at Christmas time with a two year old because it's really just a fight to keep him from kicking the tree baubles around the house every time I turn my back. So in an effort to keep him entertained and do something a little crafty (and by little, I mean not too much effort or expense on my part) I did a little searching on Pinterest and came across this nifty little crafty idea to keep the kids entertained. I first came across this idea on Sol and Rachel Do a Blog but there are heaps of different versions on Pinterest and now here is mine!

This felt Christmas Tree can be decorated over and over by the kids (felt sticks to felt - so there is no mess) and packed up and brought back out the following year.

I headed down to Spotlight for the materials and all up it cost about $11.  I purchased 1 metre of green felt for the tree and five squares of different coloured felt for the materials.

Here are my tips for making the experience as pain free as possible.

Fold the tree green felt in half. Pin the two sides together and draw your tree design on one side and then cut through both sides at the same time following the lines you have just drawn. If you try and draw the whole tree onto felt to cut out you will never be able to get it symmetrical on both sides!!

Draw templates for your Christmas decorations like the bows, balls and candy canes onto paper once and then reuse the templates by sticky taping them onto the felt and then cutting them out. You can cut through the tape and carefully peal it off the felt when your decorations are cut out.

I outlined a glass onto paper to create my template for the balls. But you could use a range of different circles like  a roll of tape or egg cups to create different size balls, which means the kids can overlay them on top of each other or put them up separately.

I stuck my tree to the wall using bluetac and the felt "sticks" to itself - so you can hang the decorations again and again and again.
How could you not LOVE this idea!? Look at that happy little face!

I am going to be taking a bloggy break from my usual posting schedule over the school holiday period so that I can spend some time with and on my ferals... I mean children and the rest of my family. I will be doing more the occassional post rather than my usual schedule of posts over this time.

As I will probably be knee deep in kiddy activity stuff up until Christmas and beyond- I would like to take a moment to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas period and a safe and healthy start to 2013. See you in the New Year.

Merry Christmas,

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.

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.
Beautiful ripe cherries and they were as delicious as they looked!
The little guy, really happy to be involved in the whole cherry picking process.
My three happy guys. Who knew you could get kids so excited about fruit!
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!



It's always hard trying to find something interesting to do with the kids. Each weekend we make a promise to ourselves that we will not just hang around the house and that we will try to come up with new and interesting ideas that go very much like this, "So, what do you want to do?", "I dunno. What do you want to do?", "I dunno...... Well, we should do something?". Often this may take until lunch time at which point the 2 year old has to go and take a nap and the day is pretty much on the downhill slide by the time he gets up anyway. 

Having a 2 year old and a 9 year old adds to the degree of difficulty on decision making front, as everyone likes something different. The hubby and I would be quite happy to go to a nice quiet cafe and have a hot chocolate and a piece of cake but that is impossible with a 2 year old. Well, not so much impossible as having the fun and relaxation sucked out of it by a 2 year old. 

The 2 year old requires a space which is entertaining, with enough room to run around in, without being able to get into too much trouble. The 9 year old, likes what he likes ... which sometimes feels like nothing (I can hardly wait until he is a teenager) so it's hard enough forcing him out of the house and away from his handheld games in the first place. 

The thing is, if you can be arsed there is always something happening or somewhere to go in Melbourne. So I decided to add to the excitement of the weekend by not actually telling them where we were going and just all piling in the car. Seeing as we can only be out for the morning anyway, before nap time, it's not really a huge undertaking. 

So in we got and drove to our surprise destination. Altona. Yep, bet you didn't see that coming. But I have to say it was a really nice morning. The kids love looking for fish, jelly fish and other sea creatures as we peer into the water from the pier and who doesn't love catching a ball, throwing a frisbee by the water or digging a hole in the sand?? 


We finished up with a play in the park across the road and sat on the grass to eat our hot chips. So a fun morning was had by all and as the crowds gleaned onto our good idea and started to turn up in numbers, we had to head home for nap time anyway. Nice.

Hope your family weekend was just as nice.


Hi, Hello and Welcome back to Motherload. You may or may not have noticed but I have taken a little break from blogging this past week, so that I could spend some time with my family during the last week of the school holidays here in Melbourne. I would like to say it was full of adventures and so lovely and warm ... but this is Melbourne. So it wasn't warm. We did although manage to fit in a few small adventures and there is one in particular I wanted to share with you.

Now being a parent of a two and a half year old has it challenges. The least of these being that it is often difficult to go to a cafe and have a nice quiet coffee (or hot chocolate in my case - coffee makes me angry... don't ask) or even enjoy a lunch out. So I was looking for opportunities that involved lots of space to run around in but not enough space to run off - so I don't have to spend my whole morning chasing after him.

Anyhoo, I scoured the internet for something we hadn't done before, something that would keep a two year old entertained whilst also appealing to a nine year old and I came across the St Kilda Adventure Playground. Now I have to add, if I had not googled it - I never would have found it and it was so worth the find!! What a wonderful space for kids and not bad for adults either. It is located just off Neptune Street in St Kilda and you really have to be looking for it because it is very well hidden from street view.

It was a free activity (which is always nice) but there are opportunities to donate if you are feeling generous to keep the place going. It was probably more suited to kids over 5, seeing as they can just be let loose and you can relax. Whereas smaller people require supervision (seriously though, it's a rare moment when a two year old doesn't require supervision). I have put together some images so you could see what it's all about and we did go out for ice cream after (C'mon - we were in St Kilda and it was actually hot that day!). There are spaces for picnic blankets, tables and chairs for the adults to mill about and tea and coffee facilities. A word of caution - it is not open every day (sometimes closed for groups) and it does not open until 11am (we had to sit at the gate and wait a little while) so make sure you call before you go.

There was so much more there than I have included in the photos - if you're in Melbourne (or coming to visit Melbourne with kids - cause you can't get in if you don't have one) go check it out.

If you have any places for kids that not everyone knows about (wherever you are - you never know, I might get there one day!) I would love to hear about your secret finds if you would like to share them!


Due to a run in with homemade chicken nuggets (I came off a little worse) using the keyboard has been made a little more difficult so instead of starting my "From Scratch" series this week (and since school holidays start in Melbourne tomorrow) I have decided to share with you my Five Favourite Free Things to Do with Kids in Melbourne (try saying that five times fast!) these school Holidays.

1. ACMI - The Australian Centre for the Moving Image, located at Federation Square. Screen Worlds is a free permanent exhibition which is lots of fun for the whole family. There are heaps of things to do and touch, video games to play, things to watch and interact with and it's all FREE! There are also paid activities like workshops, movies and other great exhibitions. But you could easily entertain kids in the free area for a whole morning or afternoon (maybe longer).

2. NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), Kids Space. Great exploring (and dare I say learning) opportunities for kids aged 1 - 8. Again lots of stuff to touch and play with. Interactive stars that follow your every move, a sea room with port holes that actually made me feel a little seasick (which was weird - cause we weren't actually moving). There are also the permanent exhibitions on in the NGV which you can take a stroll around and look at (no touchy though - which is hard for little hands). I would totally recommend going to visit the "Never ending illuminated staircase" on level 3. Spooky.

3. Birrarung Marr and Playground, located on the north bank of the Yarra River next to Federation Square. Plenty of space for web climbing, swinging hammocks, tube slides and lots more. A chance to get outside and run (not you - the kids .... well, OK, run if you want to).

4. Melbourne Museum, which is located at Nicholson Street, Carlton Gardens. Which is a bit of a stroll up from the city (or there is plenty of parking underneath). Whilst the Museum is not "technically Free", it's not overly expensive and it is FREE for kids. The thing I love about Museums today is that there are always lots of things to touch and interact with! So it's great for kids. There's everything from butterfly collections and dinosaurs to how the body works and what wierd and wonderful creatures are lurking deep down in the ocean! Think that long toothed fish with the light dangling in front of it from Nemo - only stranger!

5. Now this is technically two in one but I LOVE the fact that you can get a family around Melbourne for FREE!! So if you have never taken a ride with the kids on the FREE brown City Circle Tram (here's the timetable) or the City Tourist Shuttle buses - you are missing out on a treat!! You can get on and off as much as you want and the bus actually stops right next to each of the attractions I have  in my top 5 list! Awesome! I can't actually find a link to share with you about the buses - but it stops outside all the main attractions in Melbourne (it has around 13 stops) and it is FREE! (Did I mention that?)

My top 5 are not set out in any particular order or preference - but they are all FREE and we, as a family have visited each one numerous times and continue to go back. So get out there and enjoy some new (and Free) activities.



What do you do with a two year old who is constantly on the lookout for mischief? OK, well maybe not mischief, maybe he is just checking out the world around him and trying to find out what everything looks like, tastes like, feels like and does before he reaches the ripe old age of three. And as luck would have it those things are often accompanied by a little bit of mischief.

We had a really nice Sunday in Melbourne, weather wise and my little guy cannot get enough of getting outside. We find that he usually plays with the stuff which was put there for him to actually play with for the first few minutes and then starts investigating the stuff he's not supposed to be touching for the rest of the time. Now, I cannot claim ownership of this idea as it was suggested to me by a friend (so thanks Marg) but when I heard about it, it made me wonder why I didn't think of something so obvious myself!! But, that's how it goes sometimes, the simple ideas are often the really good ones!!

You may or may not have noticed his father in the background of this image - before he was sent on his mission to paint he spent time opening a drain cover and dropping lemons in..... just to give his Dad something to do with his Sunday.
So here it goes, a paint brush, a cup of water and a blank outside wall. Who knew something so uncomplicated could be so much fun?! He loved it and it kept him out of trouble!

Short post today, go out and enjoy the Melbourne sunshine before it's gone, again.....



So what kind of mother are you? If you didn't catch the article on A Current Affair the other night about Mummy Mafia's you could be forgiven for saying ... well how many categories are there?

According to the latest parenting "expert" (who has written a book), there are at least 80 different kinds on mums. One of those being the chardonnay mum - the mum who can't wait for 5 o'clock to hit, to pour herself a glass of wine. Perhaps it's just the crowd I hang with but that one title alone describes nearly every mum I know. I'm not talking about a throw down alcoholic binge, just a glass to take the edge off at the end of the day. So from where I'm sitting it would have been a very short book if I'd written it. But I digress, those are not the types of mum to which I am referring. What I am talking about comes more down to whether you allow fun in your house, how much of it and what type? 

In downtown Melbourne it has been raining pretty much on and off for the past few weeks. Yes, of course we do get that crack of sunlight which manages to break through every so often but those are few and far between. The significance of this is that there are lots of puddles about the place. So here is the dilemma that causes the great "fun" divide. Do you let your kids go out and jump in said puddles or do you rein them in to cleaner indoor activities so as not to create more unnecessary work for yourself??

You see I kinda get both sides. I am on the "there's your boots, go for it my friend" side of the fence. But I do have a little internal dialogue that goes something like this "it's ok, only his boots will get wet and they're waterproof anyway... OK, so now his pants are getting a little wet.. it's only the bottoms of them. No big deal. Oh, look his pants are pretty much wet to the crotch now. Calm down you can wash it, what does it matter? Oh, now his shirt is getting wet... and look there's mud..." I am sure I am not alone in this internal struggle of fun against dirt.  

At the end of the day, it didn't hurt anyone. It was free entertainment and he was having the most wonderful time, even if I did have to pour the muddy water out of his half full boots at the end.

Seriously, what can you do when you see that happy little face but grab a camera and let him go for it!! But, that's just my opinion and if I was honest I would have to say it has taken me a while to embrace this side, having a bit of an issue with dirt and yet more washing myself.

So which side of this issue do you fall on? I would love to know.

Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend.... it must be nearly 5 o'clock somewhere by now?


Now I know this is a little from left field - I mean so far I have talked about my love of cake but not actually shared any recipes and all the talk with sugar at the moment is more about quitting it rather than embracing it.  Yeah, I know .... I'm a rebel. So you probably didn't see this coming but ... life's like that.

Using the cinnamon spice I bought as part of my  Coles Circle booty I  wanted to put together some simple recipes for lunchbox treats.

Today's treat are Apple turnovers. These keep really well in an air tight container for three to five days, so you could make them when you have some time on a Sunday and have lunchbox treats for the whole week.
1. Peal 4 to 5 medium size apples, core them and cut into slices. I used delicious apples. Put them into a pot on medium heat with a little water (so they don't stick) add some cinnamon sugar to make them nice and sweet. Cook them until they are soft but before they go mushy.

2. While the apples are stewing defrost two sheets of puff pastry and then cut into four even pieces.

3. Separate the four pieces of puff pastry and leave a little bit of space on the tray to work with.
4. Let the apples cool down a little bit so they don't make the pastry soggy. Then put pieces of the apple onto one half of a pastry square.
5. Fold the other half over to form a triangle and seal it shut with your fingers by pressing.
6. Push down around the two joined edges with a fork to make them look a little bit fancy.
7. Place all the triangles onto a baking tray with cooking paper (so they don't stick to the tray) and brush the top of each piece with milk and then sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon sugar on top.
8. Bake in a moderate oven for around 10 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them. You will know they are ready when they are puffed up and golden brown.
9. Two puff pastry sheets make enough for 8 tasty apple turnovers. They are really nice warm with ice cream or even cold the next day in lunchboxes. If you love sugar (and who doesn't!!) you could also top them with a little icing once they are cooled down.

This is a really easy cooking project you could even get the kids involved with.