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.
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.
If you are visiting Melbourne or live in Melbourne and have not made it to the Queen Vic Night Markets yet, here is your call to action.
The Night Markets run on a Wednesday night through the summer season and are a great place to take the whole family. There are 101 (well I don't know how many exactly - I didn't count) food stalls with a wide variety of foods to suit a range of tastes. There is also a Sangria Bar, cocktails and the most delicious desserts.
Whilst all this tantalising food is grabbing your attention there are also lots of arty, crafty stalls to look at and bands playing. The atmosphere is amazing but it gets crowded early - so get in earlier if you would like time to grab a table to enjoy all this delicious stuff.
The Night Markets are still on until Feb 27th so get out there and experience all that Melbourne has to offer.
Get there early to get a table - as you can see the Markets are very popular!!
Bands and Buskers. Music is all around - lots of stuff to get you tapping your feet.
A look at some of the tasty desserts available. These are honey dumplings with ice cream and chocolate. It was as yummy as it looked!
Lots of atmosphere, things to see and spaces to hang out.
Cello Joe the busker.
Don't forget that the winner for the Awesome Personal Planner
is being drawn tomorrow and announced on Friday. So you still have a little bit of time to enter this survey
and be in the running to win.
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.
This was the piping bag for the filling. Just in case you were wondering why there are some little cooked macarons in the background.
Piped and sitting for a moment, ready to go into the oven.
Sitting and waiting for them to cool having just come out of the oven. I was really happy with the results.
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.
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!
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.
Melbourne arts precinct.
The special thing about relocating from one major city to another one (in a different state) is that you get to look at everything from a fresh viewpoint. You see and try things that people who have lived there their whole lives don't bother with because they feel like they will just get to it eventually (and don't).
Moving to Melbourne from Sydney was a very hard time for me. We left behind our friends, our family and our home to support my husband in his new position at work. When we first moved here we didn't know anyone and in fact I had only been to Melbourne once before and that was only a day visit for a mystery flight (which was nice .. but what can you tell about a place in a day!?)
One of the most difficult things about moving is that you have to find new people. Not just friends and some kind of a support network but all the other little things you take for granted. Like a new hairdresser, doctor, chiropractor and dentist. Not to mention trying to work out the subtle but important differences between one state and another ( I honestly didn't think there would be any) like wording. For example, when we got here my husband went to buy some fish and chips and when he got home he was complaining about how expensive it was. It turned out that he had bought seafood scallops instead of potato scallops - which are actually called potato cakes in Victoria and not scallops at all. And don't even get me started on castle. In New South Wales it is pronounced Car-sal, much like it is in that iconic Australian movie 'The Castle', in Victoria it sounds much more like the British Cass-sell. Only small things I know but it highlights you as an outsider if you are unaware.
I do have to say though that having kids is a bit of a blessing when trying to meet new people. It forces you to get out and meet new people if only for the sake of your children not being "nigel no friends". A lot of my Melbourne friendships have been made through kid connections.
The difficulty though is that you have to start telling your story again. Your old friends know who you are, what you like and pretty much what you're about. With new people the small talk starts, where are you from, how do you like it here.. that kind of stuff, until you find people with which you can make real connections.
Well, five years and a bit later and I do have new people. A doctor and chiropractor and a network of wonderful people I am happy to call my friends. I don't know that we will live here forever but I don't have any plans to go anywhere else either. I think once you make such a big move, nothing ever feels as permanent to you anymore. I mean, I never thought I would leave Sydney to start with. After I have been back to Sydney (which just happened recently), when speaking to people in Melbourne I refer to Sydney as home. As in, "at home we used to do this". Which annoys my Melbourne friends no end, who say ... "well actually, this is your home now, this is where you live" . And it's true, Melbourne is home.
I am really enjoying living here. I love the cultural quality to living here. I love the artistic freedom. I love that Melbourne adds those little special touches to things. They keep old buildings because they are beautiful, they fill little alleyways with magical cake, coffee and book shops. They add sculptures to the side of the freeway because it adds interest to the horizon. For all those things I thank you Melbourne. Although I still miss "my old" friends, thank you for my wonderful people, the beautiful new friends I would never have met if I had stayed in one place. Thank you for your art galleries, museums, free tourist trams and funky little alleyways. But if you could turn the heat up a little bit right now, it would be perfect.
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!!
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.
I know that it is sometimes hard to look at life from the perspective of glass half full. Maybe your clothes have all shrunk or you haven't had alone time in what feels like forever, or you can't remember the last time you didn't have to fight someone off so you could actually finish all the food on your own plate. You head out on some appointment or errand and you see so many people rushing about in their uniforms or with their brief cases and they move with such purpose and you wonder what you're doing with your life...... and then it happens. You see your child chasing a bubble or eating a chip or running to give you a hug and they are filled with so much joy from this tiny, inconsequential thing.
What happens to our joy as we get older?? How do we become so jaded and oh so bored by everything? Well, I know that I for one would love to get some of that joy back, so I am making a vow to notice those small opportunities for joy from now on. And when I see that wonderful moment in a child's life,I will be there. If only just for a few glorious seconds, in that moment of joy with them.
Everyone knows it demonstrates a poor example of mothering when you set the kids up in front of the TV for hours whilst you get through your daily chores. Oh, alright, while you spend your time focused on 50 Shades of Grey.
So, in an effort to get the kids out of the house and "get more culture" into our lives, I packed up the 2 and the 9 year old (who is already on school holidays - I'm sorry, didn't we just have those, like a week ago?) and we headed off to Scienceworks at Spotswood, Melbourne.
Scienceworks is hosting a new exhibition at the moment - Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention. (It runs until November). You have to book a time to go in, which seems to be the way things are going now with major exhibitions at museums but it wasn't overly crowded and you did not have to get out when the next group was allowed entry but it didn't matter as we'd had enough by then anyway.
It has lots of interactive stuff - as you would expect from Scienceworks but it was much more suited to kids 5 or over - my 9 year old really enjoyed it but the 2 year old just didn't get most of it. This was fixed when we went upstairs to the 'Nitty Gritty Super City', aimed at smaller kids who want to touch everything!
'Playing with Light' an exhibition which is also now on at Scienceworks until February 2013 was a clear favourite with both kids. So much fun the kids didn't even realising they were learning something at the same time.
'Playing with Light' is included in the initial entry cost but Wallace and Gromit are extra . I didn't think any of it was overly expensive for what it was - you could easily spend the whole day there and it costs about the same as going to the movies.
Lots of very cool models to look at from the Wallace and Gromit movies.
Play Areas for smaller people - My two year old had an absolute ball in there.
Playing with Light exhibition - standing inside a giant kaleidscope.
Don't just take my word for it, go check it out. Here is the link http://museumvictoria.com.au/scienceworks/
just in case you are after some more information.
If you find anything great for the kids to do in Melbourne during these school holidays or at any time really, I would love to hear about it.
Isn't it amazing how quickly kids today love something and then hate it? I don't ever remember being so inconsistent as a kid. If you loved A-Ha or Donkey Kong or playing elastics, you loved it. Full Stop. And even when you grew out of it you still remembered it fondly because you had spent so much time doing it, thinking about it or listening to it.
Not so, with kids today. This was brought home today when Lazy Town was asked for, for the 50th time. ( I have shared a video from Lazy Town, in case you missed that fad - it's one of my 2 year olds latest favourite shows). It's fun, it's colourful and makes an effort to teach kids about the importance of brushing your teeth, getting outside, exercising and not eating too much junk. I remember and I am sure it was not so long ago, when my older son couldn't get enough of Lazy Town, Sporticus and we could even talk him into eating more fruit by calling it "sports candy". Well now, apparently it's lame.
Ben 10, who we could not live without, is now lame. Bakugans, where you had to troll numerous toy stores to even be eligible to pick up new ones because they were walking off the shelves. Are L.A.M.E.
With all the big toy sales being marketed so heavily at this time of year, encouraging us to get in early and lay-by for Christmas, you don't want to feel like a crap mum and have your kids miss out on the latest, greatest, must-have whatever it is. But it got me thinking about the next thing I would be having to vacuum around because it's just "too lame to pick up and who cares mum, we're over it anyway."
It used to be that if you were into something, that fad could last for years. Now we'll be lucky to put it on lay-by now to hide away for the festive season and not have it be oh, so yesterday, by Christmas. Do we continue to indulge in the lastest, greatest must haves? Do we send the kids outside with a stick and say "In my day, you could have had hours of fun with that. Go and entertain yourself!" It is a tough one.
I have to say it's nice having the age gap with the kids as I get to relive some of the old favourites again and I don't mind a bit of Sporticus. Come on, they had to add something to keep the mum's entertained..... anyway, I would love to hear of some of your passing fads and the one's you wished they would bring back.
I would also love to get opinions on todays trend of consumerism gone mad. Do we just go with the flow or bring back the humble stick??