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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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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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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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It seems that Spring has finally arrived in Melbourne and I for one am loving it! But with the change of seasons, warmer weather and wanting to get outside and soak up the warmth comes that nagging feeling that Spring should also involve a Spring clean.

I can hear the collective groan "Not more work", my life as a stay at home mum often feels like it's one step above ground hog day as it is. Now, I am not saying that I don't like spending quality time with my little guy (because I do.... generally) it is more the lack of social exchanges and the day to day of a life which revolves significantly around hanging out at home which sometimes gets me down. I mean one more load of washing and I'm going to poke my own eyes out. So, to add to the excitement of stay at home-edness (I know, it's not really a word - I'm hoping it'll catch on), I thought I would turn it up a notch and try and get my life more organised (and by my life, I mean mine, my husbands and my kids - cause they would be happy to coast along as is).

I have been perusing the living lighter (as in environmental footprint), working with what you have, saving money and living life more frugally type blogs, websites and books to garner some tips on how to do just that. Whilst perusing I have come across the book "lemons and lavender; the eco guide to better homekeeping" by Billee Sharp. Which has some exceptional blurbs in the front extolling the virtues of the author and the great ideas contained within the covers of this book and let's face it, I picked it up because the cover was pretty.

In flicking through the book I have found there are quite a number of good ideas (some obvious but hell, I'm not doing them at the moment so not obvious enough perhaps) and I have decided to take some on. I plan to take on one change a week and see how that impacts on my life. I am starting on the "Revolutionary Budgeting; Taking Control of Your Resources" chapter. Which is actually the first chapter but also the one I probably need the most help with.

To start off my time with Lemons and Lavender I am going to create a household / family budget to get a better idea of our outgoing expenses - now in saying this, I have actually begun this task a number of times over the past few years but have not finished it or set myself an actual budget. My hope in writing all this down and sharing it with someone other than myself is that now I am committed to doing it. Accountability and all that.

We have already begun working on a herb garden. It actually has a double duty - it is a water feature which I was forever worried my two year old would fall in when I was around the other side of the back yard hanging the clothes up. So we have eliminated that problem by filling it with pots and some lovely luscious herbs and lettuce ( I am so sick of buying half arsed lettuce from the shops that doesn't even last until we actually need it for salad a day or so later). This may or may not be a section in the book - I haven't got that far yet as I am focusing on the budget and whatnot. But it seems to be going great guns so f

So here it is, my promise to make one change each week and implement it into my life to create change and a greater life. Who is with me??

Got any great tips?? I would love to hear them.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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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!

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
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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.

Cheers,

Lee

 
 
Hey there Groovy Chicks,

I hope that you have had a great week.... and if not it's almost the weekend, so perhaps next week can be a do-over. I know as a stay at home mum that not having a regular "working" day or even working week can mean that days often blend into each other. I know myself I have forgotten what day it was a number of times this week. So I have put together a few lovely things to inspire, motivate or perhaps just make you smile.

Lunch Box Inspirations and Pretty Tasty Things

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Timbuktu Magazine
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Picture from design-dautore.com
I don't know that I have the time or energy to actually make either of these "dishes" but I
thought they were great anyway. Lunch box inspiration never goes astray. If you
have a go yourself I would LOVE to see it! And that cake looked so beautiful -
what can I say.... I love a good cake.

Crafty Stuff to do with the Kids

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from www.smallhandsbigart.com
I really love this idea. Very simple but lots of fun!! There are a few options for making these. You could have some dress up fun first (each child needs four different outfits - so you have a picture for each side) or you could just use magazine pictures. Either way it would be fun. You can get the kids involved in the cutting and gluing and then the actual fun of mixing and matching the bodies. I know kids love doing stuff which is all about them, so having pictures of your kids to do this with would only add to the entertainment value. Instructions are at http://smallhandsbigart.com/blog/featured-article/mix-match-dolls/  if you want to see how they did it and learn from their mistakes. Awesome idea!

The winner of ........ I wish I was there right now.

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Italy in the summer picture from design-dautore.com
I included this picture because it has been so very cold in Melbourne lately and I really wanted to be there in the warm... and it looked so very beautiful.

Websites to Check Out

OK, lastly I know I have already brought up www.picmonkey.com before but if you have not had a little play with it already you are really missing out. So I have decided to include (with her permission, of course!) a before and after example from someone I have converted to a lover of picmonkey. No, I am not on commission... I just love what you can do with it!!
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Before picmonkey
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After picmonkey.
I told you it was impressive!!
Anyhoo, I am hoping you have enjoyed today's joylights. These really are a few of the things that have brought me some joy this week or just amused me.  

Have a wonderful weekend.

Cheers,

Lee

PS Sending a big warm fuzzy hug and I hope you feel better real soon to my BFF Daniela, who is not doing so well this week.
 
 
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How sad am I - getting excited over some free herbs and spices ... yep, that's right free! Yay, who doesn't get excited when they win something or get a freebie!?

Yes, I know it's a little hard to get excited over herbs and spices but here I am! As you may well know from a previous post I am a member of the coles circle (www.colescircle.com.au - if you would like to join it yourself... I would thoroughly recommend it!) and from time to time you can put your hand up to try some new stuff out.

So, as a result of this, I have been loitering around the mailbox anxiously awaiting some new product samples and yes, before I go on, I know how desperate that sounds ... but I feel you've gotta get your thrills where you can!

Anyhoo, this time it was a voucher for three free coles brand (of course) herbs and spices of my choice. So I had to schlep down to the actual store to get them (which wasn't as nice as getting all the stuff delivered to your home like the last time I received a box full of lovely skin care products) but I figure, they don't know what I'm going to make with it ..... and they gave me a $10 gift card towards ingredients, so it's all good.

I also received this very cool looking masterchef apron -  So you just know I know what I'm doing in the kitchen!!

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OK - so you can see from the backwards print that I took this in the mirror. Considering I couldn't be bothered putting makeup on - you're pretty lucky there's a pictures at all!
The down side of the free stuff is that now I have to cook something with it so I can report back - but I guess we are going to eat anyway, so it's really only a matter of time before I actually have to cook something...... 

Another bonus with my pack was that I received some $1 vouchers for my friends, so they can also give some of the herbs and spices a try. Yeah, I know $1 - big deal! But some of the herbs start from $1.65 - so that's not too shabby I thought. 
Anyway, the upshot of all that is that I have four $1 off vouchers. You can only use one with each shop so there's no point giving them all to one person, cause seriously, who can be bothered going back four different times to save a little moola on another bottle of herbs.
 
So, as this is my circle - the first four people to post a comment at the end of this blog and say they would like one will be sent one. I know as far as giveaways go it's not that exciting, (I mean it's not a car) but all you have to do is tell me you want one and I'll do all the heavy lifting. That's just the kinda girl I am.

Cheers,

Lee
 
 
Why use words when pictures are so much more efficient?
OK, I know theoretically that Disney Land is supposed to be the happiest place on earth but I really feel that happiness is much more personal than going with what the crowd thinks. If chocolate is what makes you happy... then go to your happy place my friend.

Wishing you warm chocolate hugs,

Lee

PS. If you really love chocolate as much as I do,  sign up with San Churros on Facebook, they offer lots of yummy, special deals to their Facebook friends. mmmmmm