Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And a Happy New Year to you

It's New Years Eve and a month since my last blog post. Wow, seriously, where did that time go?

December has been a crazy month and I've been enjoying a break over Christmas and New Year. Ideas for the purple notepad for 2013 have been whirling around in the background while I've focused on enjoying the moment with my family. 

2013 has been a big year for our family. I returned to work on a part time basis after 12 months of maternity leave so the childcare, work, commute craziness element of our life began. We are doing our best to make it work so we can enjoy precious time as a family. Returning to work and to the blogging world has been fantastic for me. I love the work I do and blogging is an outlet for me to explore new ideas. 

And above all, watching my beautiful Miss S grow and develop has been the most incredible experience of all. Hubby and I love lying in bed at the end of a busy day and flicking through the photos and videos we have taken of her and sharing little stories of what she has done. So much joy and happiness combined with exhaustion, but we wouldn't have it any other way. 

I don't generally make New Year's resolutions because they usually don't last longer than a month. But instead in 2014 I will focus on goals - living a healthy and balanced lifestyle, enjoying precious moments and living in the moment with my family and friends and an increased commitment to the purple notepad (all the things I'm passionate about). 

So my little break will continue and I'll be back in the New Year keen to chat more about beauty, fashion, shopping, life as a mum and life in general. 

Happy New Year and I hope 2014 brings much love, laughter and happiness. 

What have been your highlights for 2013 and what do you have planned for 2014?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

the purple notepad's guide to online shopping

I let my fingers do the walking :-)

My online shopping directory has been floating around in my head for a couple of months now. I know how useful and valuable I find people's personal experiences and recommendations when buying products and services so I'd thought I would put together my recommendations for online shopping. These are my go to places for online shopping.

Please know they are not sponsored in any way. They are based purely on my personal experiences. 

Why I shop online

1. Convenience - having an 19 month old daughter, it can be easier to browse online when she's asleep. Sure there are times when I wish I could spend a day browsing and trying on items in store but at this stage of my life it's not always convenient. Buying from a reputable website that is flexible with returns etc is a definite. Now that we're officially into December, it's also a great way to beat the crowds. Just be sure to get your orders in asap.  

2. Choice - comparing products between websites is a whole lot easier than physically doing so. Plus, not all websites offer a physical store, others are not all located at my local shopping centre and finally, shopping overseas widens the range and choice significantly. 

3. Value for money - doesn't always come into it as there are certain premium brands I like. But with such a wide range of choices and the ability to shop around it usually means a saving of some kind and at the very least I'm satisfied I've done my research on price. 

My must-haves 

1. Speedy delivery - while I'm blown away when an item I have ordered arrives the next day or two days later, I am patient enough to wait up to a week. Anything over that and I start to get a bit frustrated. A recent $60 purchase from an overseas retailer had me pay $16 untracked postage with a delivery time of up to 9 days. The tracked postage option was about $34. The item didn't arrive in the nine days advertised on the site, when I contacted them to enquire about my order, they advised me I needed to allow up to a month and that I should contact them once the month had been reached. When I hit a month and still no parcel (the event I wanted the dress for had come and gone) I emailed requesting a refund. This was provided without too much hassle (although waiting 7-10 business days for a refund seems a bit ridiculous, I think they charged my credit card much faster than that), but I won't be purchasing from this site again. 

2. Easy returns - are a must for me! Free returns are even better. Two sites I've mentioned below offer free returns. Makes shopping for clothing online so much more appealing. This is one reason why I do hesitate when shopping from overseas retailers - the scary postage fees to return items. One friend spent $40 to return a $200 item. 

My online shopping sites

I have written about my experience with albumworks before and I have now designed and purchased a total of three albums from albumworks. The first two were smaller albums of a US holiday my hubby and I enjoyed a couple of years. We had so many amazing photos from our holiday that I felt they deserved to be displayed in an album. Something we could pick up and flick through to remind us of the amazing time we had. The final and most recent album I have had printed is one to capture Miss S' first year. I spent about 30 hours selecting the photos and designing the album and when it arrived it blew me away. The quality is amazing and it's a beautiful reminder of her very special first year. I will definitely be using this company again.

This brand is always very easy to deal with. Their products are always of a good quality, they offer value for money, designs are always changing, customer service is great and returns are super easy. I have bought tops, dresses, skirts, belts, scarves and shoes from ASOS. I've only had to return items on three occasions - the first time I went with the wrong size for a pair of boots, second time they accidentally sent me the wrong size boots (a size 10 instead of a 5 and they paid the postage to return) and the third time, the top I selected didn't suit me. I paid $8 to return it. 

I love my Bonds underwear for every day use, especially their seamless underpants. I can't always find these at Target, so their online site is my next option. Last time I bought my underwear online they had a massive sale and free delivery and returns. Both hubby and I stocked up. Not sure about returning underwear, but they do also sell singlets, t-shirts, hoodies, track pants and baby clothes. So free returns could come in handy for those items. 

Free delivery and returns which I think is brilliant. I don't find it convenient to get to a Marcs store, so online is a great option. And fast delivery. I ordered a pair of pants early afternoon Wednesday and they were delivered Friday morning. Awesome! I returned the pair of pants simply because they didn't suit me. The return and credit took over a week, but on following up I was assured this was not the usual time taken. This was a little blip but customer service was great and I will definitely be ordering from them again. Too easy!

Pumpkin Patch
Offer a great online service. Lots of sales and reasonable postage, $7.95. They have a better selection online than at my local Westfield store. Returns can be done via return mail or taken in store (my preferred option). Sizing can be a bit all over the place, but generally a good value for money product (especially on sale and they have a lot of sales). 

I have only ordered once through this site, but keep returning to browse. I love their shoes and had a positive experience when I ordered a pair of ballet flats. At $170 plus for a pair of ballet shoes they're not a regular purchase, but I have my eye on a pair at the moment and will save a few more dollars before I buy. They arrived super quick and no hassles. 

Now I admit I have only ever used this site once, to purchase a packet of tea bags. Yes, tea bags. Staples was the only place I could find them online after I tried this particular flavour of tea bag at a conference I went to. I took a photo of the tea bag and then went hunting online. I ordered my packet of tea bags at 3.30pm on a Thursday afternoon and they arrived the next morning by courier. Shipping was free. Super impressed. 

This is a long time favourite. Good range, prices and quick delivery. When the Australian dollar was high against the US, this site was super cheap. Now the dollar has adjusted prices are more inline with department store prices. But always convenient and the free shipping and loyalty discounts are definitely welcome. 

The Iconic
Super impressed with the speedy delivery. Ordered a pair of sandals on a Tuesday afternoon and they arrived next morning (and I don't live in the Sydney CBD). I haven't had to return anything so not sure how easy returns might be. 

The Little Big Company
I have purchased party items and gifts from this site a couple of times. Always arrives within a few days. Postage under a certain spend is $10.95, but considering the items I have ordered have been glassware and they have arrived without a problem, I'm happy to pay postage. 

Love this brand and how easy it is to order online. Delivery is free and within two business days, always handy when you realise there's only a couple more squirts in your eye cream. I use these products across my skincare routine, from cleanser, to eye cream and night cream. 

An easy to use website which when you sign up to, offers bonuses for members and free shipping when you spend over a certain amount. I purchased a pair of leather ponte pants on the site after I couldn't get my size at my local Witchery store. At the same I also picked up a pink blazer on sale. Arrived within a week and fit was perfect. I like that I can return items if needed to my local store to save on postage costs.

Would love to hear your recommendations on online shopping sites. What are your favourites and why? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Christmas tale #1: shopping for a Santa sack

I have just hit purchase on a gorgeous personalised Santa sack for Miss S. Thanks Etsy!

Cute, huh? 

This year is Miss S' second Christmas. Last year she was almost nine months old (6 months corrected for her prematurity) so didn't really comprehend all that was going on. It was much more enjoyable for hubby and I and my family as we celebrated our first Christmas together and for my parents their first as grandparents (two grandchildren arriving within weeks of each other). 

This year, at almost 21 months, and 18 months corrected, Miss S has much more idea of what's going on. However, I think it will be another year or so before she understands the Christmas story and Santa. But that won't stop us taking her to Christmas mass and filling a sack with goodies from Santa. 

So, I started thinking about a Santa sack. Some people are into Christmas stockings, but for my sister and I we woke each Christmas morning to find a sack the size of a specially themed Christmas pillowcase full of presents. It was a lovely tradition from my mum. And it's a tradition I want to continue with Miss S. 

My Mum is a very clever sewer and I thought it was something she might like to do. However, she is recovering from surgery on one hand and about to go in for another operation on her other hand. Plus by the time she hunts around for material and puts it all together, Etsy seemed like a great alternative.

I could honestly spend hours looking through the products for sale on Etsy. So many talented people with amazing ideas. And yep, even Santa sacks. 

My mum, dad (yes even my dad, he needed to give the poppy thumbs up), hubby and I all thought this little reindeer was adorable and with Miss S' name on it, it is perfect. And all for $30 (including postage)

I've hit purchase and made the payment through paypal. Now I wait for it arrive all the way from London. Stay tuned for how the reindeer turns out!

I'd love to hear what you have bought from Etsy?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

the purple notepad...rested and refreshed

The purple notepad has returned from holidays...a little sad that our family holiday is over but feeling refreshed and ready for the run to Christmas. And it's going to be a busy run that's for sure.

We spent a week on the Sunshine Coast with my parents, enjoying the warm weather, precious family time and just a general time out from the rest of the world. It was bliss. Throw in an early Christmas celebration, a family reunion and precious moments watching Miss S develop her special relationship with her grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin. 

We were also fortunate to be away for the fire emergency period in Sydney. While we don't live in the areas devastated by the bush fires, we do live in an area close to bush and our little community was on high alert. I was grateful to be away. For me, all that I treasured was safe.  My hearts go out to the families who lost everything. I can't begin to imagine what they are going through. 

You may have noticed a few changes on the purple notepad. I've been busy taking part in the Media Maid Blog Academy run by Katrina Chambers (a talented blogger from my home town) and am putting all the bits and pieces I'm learning into practice. I have some planning to do about the direction I want the purple notepad to take over the next 12 months so I'll be spending some time on that behind the scenes. Trying to focus on my strengths! If there is anything you would like to see more of here please let me know. Love hearing your feedback. 

See you soon xx

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shopping for kids clothing not as easy as you think

As the weather warms up and attention turns to summer wardrobes, it's not only mine that I need to refresh. It seems Miss S has a shortage of skirts and dresses. So I've done a little bit of shopping online for her, but I like to venture in store as well. And I've been left feeling disappointed and frustrated. It seems that despite more opportunities for brands to listen to customers, retailers are still doing exactly what they wish.

I recently paid a visit to my local Pumpkin Patch store. I'm a huge fan of their range and prices, but sometimes I'm left scratching my head at sizing. Today was a case in point. I picked out two dresses for Miss S, one labelled 12-18 months and one labelled 6-12 months, but they were the same length, width etc, ie. same size (and the one labelled 12-18 months was possibly even a little smaller than the 6-12 month one). I questioned the retail assistant and she told me it was because they were different makes. But it's the same brand. Why was there such a difference in size?

Now seriously, it's hard enough shopping as a woman with so many different makes and sizes. I'm usually an 8 or a 10, but 99 per cent of the time, I have to take both into the change room. Sometimes the 8 fits perfectly and other times, I have absolutely no hope of squeezing into a size 8. This is a situation I have accepted, I don't like it, and it's incredibly frustrating, but I've accepted it. And it adds a whole new element of fun confusion to online shopping.

But now, it seems I'm expected to adopt the same principle when buying clothes for my 18 month old daughter (not because of her size but because there is an anomaly in the sizing on offer). It must make it incredibly difficult for grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends to buy gifts for children. I know before I had a child, I relied entirely on the age advice on sizing to pick out clothing.

I also like to shop online for Miss S, Pumpkin Patch has really good sales and a much bigger selection online than in store. But selecting sizing online won't be easy relying on the above logic. It can be really hard to determine online that one dress is a different make and therefore a different size.

I expressed these concerns to the sales assistants, but unfortunately, they could not or did not want to understand my concern and frustration. And just shrugged me off.

A family member had a similar experience with Pumpkin Patch. She purchased a pair of jeans for her son for a Brisbane winter (the size was 3-6 months). By the age of 11 months they were still slightly too big for him (he's an average sized bub) and winter was long gone. Summer was approaching and wearing a pair of jeans in 30 plus degree heat wasn't really an option. She complained to the store and they offered a refund, but I wonder if anyone is reviewing the sizes on offer and whether they are relevant and useful. For some pieces of clothing, you can hold onto them and bub will eventually grow into it, but for other seasonal items, it's just a waste of money.

My hope is that brands listen to their customers and their feedback, both positive and negative. I'm definitely one for giving kudos to a brand when they get it right (and Pumpkin Patch gets it right most of the time with it's range, price, sales and online shopping and returns) but brands also need to listen to customers when they miss the mark. Australian women live with anomalies in sizing every day, do we really want to experience the same frustrations when shopping for our children?

Have you experienced this anomaly in children's sizing?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mothers group: why it worked for me

For many first time mums, mothers groups are almost like a rite of passage. I know they can be a mixed bag, some mums love them and the friendships they offer and others find them a breeding ground for comparisons, guilt and competitiveness. My experience most definitely falls in the former.

My mothers group has been meeting for more than a year now, almost every week, for a regular catch up and play date with our little ones. We have shared our highs and lows, our runny noses, day care waiting lists, challenging and sleepless nights, milestones, first birthdays and all other manner of baby related topics. But we have also shared other aspects of our lives and who we are; our husbands and partners, our careers, our families and little snippets of information shared while juggling a hungry baby, changing a nappy and now chasing after adventurous walkers.

For me, that first meeting was a godsend. After living in our little community for five years and commuting into the city for work, I hadn't really had a chance to meet many other local women. I had hoped that when Miss S arrived, I would meet some local mums. By the time I arrived at my first get together of mothers group, Miss S had been in the world for over three months, but only home for a few weeks. Yes I'd had longer to get to know my little one, but it had been done in the hospital environment surrounded by nurses and doctors, and so being at home with Miss S and me as the responsible adult, meant I came into mothers group with all the same questions and concerns any new mum has.

And what I encountered was a group of mums, all going through the same thing, and a wonderful group of women who have become my friends, women I trust and genuinely like. We don't continue to catch up just because, but we do so because we like each other and genuinely enjoy each other's company. Our catch ups have extended to a mum's night out (planning for another one is underway), BBQs with our husbands and partners, birthday parties for our precious little ones and regular walking catch ups followed by a much needed coffee or in my case, a hot chocolate or tea.

I also have no doubt Miss S enjoys catching up with this little bunch of babies. They have seen each other almost every week for the past year and there is a sense of familiarity. Like most one year olds, there's not a lot of playing together, but I have no doubt in the years to come, they will be great friends. And yes, I do hope we will continue to catch up in the years ahead. Yes, it may become more challenging, if and when more bubs come along, all combined with day care, school and work, but hopefully we will still make the time to get together.

I have recently been asked by a few friends pregnant with their first hub about mothers groups and my advice has been to give it a chance. I think about what I would have missed out on had I decided a mothers group was not for me simply because I was worried about stories of competitiveness and constant comparing of babies. One of the many things I have learned since having a baby and having a baby prematurely is Miss S will do things on her time and so she should. Instead, as mums, we should enjoy the new experiences and friendships our bubs have brought us.

What's your experience of mothers groups? Did you meet other mums? Do you still catch up? What makes it work?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A simple recipe for gluten free banana bread

I have a few family members and friends who either have coeliac disease or are gluten intolerant. For me, reducing my intake of gluten is more of a lifestyle choice, but I'm always on the hunt for good gluten free recipes for hubby and Miss S to enjoy and to cook for family and friends. 

A friend recommended trying the White Wings gluten free self raising and plain flours and she advised it was as simple as replacing standard flours with these gluten free ones. I admit I was a little doubtful, but I gave it a whirl and was amazed at how good this banana bread tasted. 

This is a recipe I originally found online and tinkered with a little.

Unfortunately I was unable to find the White Wings gluten free flours at my local supermarket but was able to find them at a larger Coles supermarket near my office. They are a little dearer but well worth it. 


1 and 3/4 cups White Wings gluten free self raising flour
1/4 cup White Wings gluten free plain flout
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup skim milk
2 eggs, lightly whisked
50g butter, melted
2 overripe medium bananas, mashed

What I also really like about this recipe is that the ingredients are always in either my pantry or my fridge. And it's a great way to use those over ripe bananas!


Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Brush an 11 x 21 cm loaf pan with butter to lightly grease. Line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper.

Sift the combined flours and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre. Place the milk, eggs, melted butter and banana in a medium bowl, and stir until well combined. 

Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon (I love cinnamon).

Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes and check a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside for five minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into slices to serve. 

The banana bread can be eaten fresh or toasted over the next few days. I love it with a nice thick coating of butter! Mmmm!

And best of all, it's a recipe that hubby and Miss S love.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

And the sun came out...

Life has been a little crazy of late - jam packed schedules, long to do lists, busy workplaces and a few health challenges. But I'm starting to see the light as things start to calm down and literally see the light as the weather starts to warm up and the days get longer, little by little. 

I have had a glorious weekend, definitely helped along by the divine weather, but a visit to my hairdresser, some me time (thanks to my awesome hubby on babysitting duties) and time spent with people I care about has been the perfect pick me up. And a visit to the playground with hubby, Miss S and our beloved pooch was the perfect way to end the weekend, especially watching Miss S totter around and be amazed by our local playground. 

So with a spring in my step (terrible pun and a week early) look out world!

How has your weekend been? Have you been able to enjoy the glorious weather? Or is it still a little chilly where you are?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wanted: the perfect pair of jeans

I have been wanting to buy a new pair of jeans for a couple of months now. I have my trusty jeans that I adore and love spending time in, but it's been a while since I owned a dark denim pair. So, I dragged my hubby and Miss S along, firstly for opinions and secondly, it's often too hard to navigate change rooms with a pram.

My first and only stop (yay success) was Just Jeans - found a perfect pair of Levis after trying on a couple of pairs and sizes. 

But my frustration when buying pants and on this occasion jeans is that I almost always need to have the hems taken up and there's almost always an extra cost for me to do so. 

There are a couple of exceptions and why I'm raising this issue. I have bought jeans overseas, in London and San Francisco. The Moto jeans I bought from Topshop were available in a range of lengths - perfect. I could buy a pair of jeans while on holiday and wear them that very same day. I also bought a pair of Levis in San Francisco and they were the perfect length for my height. Again, perfect, I could wear them that same day. 

So yesterday I went into my local Just Jeans store yesterday with my size, 27 x 30 (30 referring to the length) and no luck. I checked online when I got home and nope my Demi curve Levis only come in 32 length. 

Now I have come to terms with the fact that I'm vertically challenged but I'm a pretty standard height and I'm not alone in being short. I don't understand why when companies like Levis make their jeans in a range of lengths, why Australian stores can't stock them. 

I have this issue when I'm buying most pants - pants for work, casual pants and even exercise pants from Lorna Jane and Lulu Lemon. 

Having to take my hems up is time consuming and always adds to the cost of my outfits. And there's no way I can go shopping with the intention of buying a pair of pants to wear that night or the next day because I can't be sure I will get a same day service on my hems. 

I love my new jeans but they are still sitting at Just Jeans waiting to have the hems adjusted. Sadly I will have to wait until next weekend to give them a spin. 

Does anyone else share my frustration at the lack of options available for shorter people, or the tall people amongst us, do you have the opposite experience?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

No sick bed for this mummy

The dreaded lurgy has hit our home and hit it hard. All three of us have been knocked down by three different and potent bugs. 

After a visit to the doctor, hubby and Miss S were handed prescriptions for antibiotics and I was left empty handed with age old instructions to keep up my fluids and rest. Rest?

Totally easy to do with a 16 month old.

So before Miss S entered our lives and changed them forever, hubby and I would have retreated to the safety and warmth of our bed, emerging only for food, water and bathroom stops.

Now, we had no choice but to battle through. 

So hubby spent the weekend on his sick bed and now the situation has reversed. Hubby is on the mend and I'm now feeling terrible. With one healthy parent on deck, I'm retreating to bed and resting up. 

I'll be back to the purple notepad once my head has cleared and I have emerged from the fog. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A reason, a season, a lifetime...

I've come across this poem many times over the years and it's words have stuck with me. I have thought of them when I have welcomed new friends into my life, lost them without reason and shared experiences with others who remain an integral and valuable part of my life.

There have been times when I have grieved the loss of a friendship and wondered was it me, what did I do, how could I have done things differently, but I really do believe that some friendships are not meant to last forever. A special person has come into my life or me into theirs to meet a need and see them through a period in our lives, when that need is met, then our paths diverge and we continue on in different directions. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, just how life is.

I have recently had cause to think about this poem, not because a friendship has come to a natural end, but because I have been reminded how special some of my friendships are and how grateful I am to have such thoughtful and amazing people in my life. They have been in my life for more than a reason and it's been longer than a season since we met. I'm hoping they are a lifetime variety of flower, but even if they're not, I treasure all that they bring to my life. They include friends I may not see or chat to for a couple of weeks or months, but when we do it's like we never stopped chatting and a long lunch of two or three hours feels like 10 minutes.

I'm still in my early 30s, so I can't say if any of my friendships are for a lifetime. I'm always hopeful, but friendships that last a lifetime are rare and not always something we get to experience.

Another way of looking at it, is that our friendships are a garden, they need nurturing and tendering, they are made up of many types of flowers, all unique in their own way. Some of the flowers last just one summer, others appear for a few summers before they fall away and then there are those that continue to bloom year after year, sometimes with just a sprinkling of care and attention, other years they bloom with lots of catch ups, chats and good times.

Reason Season Lifetime

People always come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
It is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty,
Or to provide you with guidance and support,
To aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend to you, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
This person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they just walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON,
It is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.
They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.
And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall,
The season eventually ends.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
Those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person anyway;
And put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
Thank you for being part of my life,
Whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.

This poem is by an unknown author and has appeared in various forms all over the internet.

Do you have friendships that have helped you through a challenging period in your life? Others that have lasted longer than a reason and ones that have lasted a lifetime?

Monday, July 29, 2013

What does your savings goal look like?

Product talk by Nuffnang

I don't believe that money makes people happy, but I do think it can make life a little easier and often less stressful. And having a family can be expensive (and I speak from experience). It's often a good time to sit down and re-evaluate your finances and goals. It can be really handy to put together a budget, even if you haven't done it before. There are extra expenses, often less income and a special little person or people who factor into planning your future.

My hubby and I are different in our approach to money and budgeting. Yes we have similar goals, especially now that we have a family, but I'm more of a spender and he is the saver.

But I will say, when I have a particular goal I am saving for I can knuckle down and save hard. When my hubby and I travelled overseas and saved for a deposit for our first home I had my goal and could see where I was heading. Once we had our home and mortgage, things changed a lot. Firstly, we didn't have as much disposable income and secondly, our big goal was to reducing the size of our mortgage while trying to build some savings.

I now have a new goal for my personal savings. I'm working hard to save for our first overseas holiday as a family. Once we had Miss S, I had visions of us heading overseas for a family holiday, similar to what we had done when we holidayed in the US for the first time in 2011. However after a 90 minute flight to Brisbane a couple of months ago when Miss S screamed for a large portion of the flight, I've had to rethink travelling with a child under two. So I'm now looking a little further into the future which means I have more time to grow my savings, bonus right!

I hope to travel to NY again, this time as a family 

Having a goal makes all the sacrifices and squirrelling away of money worthwhile. It's easier to forgo a new outfit or pair of shoes when the bigger carrot of a long, overdue holiday to a fabulous location is dangling over you. It's still a challenge to say no, but a little easier. 

A tool like myprosperity makes it easier to compile all your financial information and know its available in one place, making goal setting that much easier. If you're like me and have a few filing systems on the go, then it can be hard to keep a track of everything (tax time is lots of fun). Plus as everything moves online, I get so tired of having a zillion different logins and passwords all requiring strong passwords! Arrghh! 

So while I always have questions about the security of information and putting your details out there (definitely read the security policy and terms and conditions before signing up to anything), myprosperity can be a free handy tool to help you organise your financial resources and goals by category and hopefully help you reach them, big or small. Seeing where your money goes each week can help you find those spare few dollars each week to pop in a savings account for one of your goals.

Setting up a budget can be daunting and a bit overwhelming (all those spreadsheets and fancy formulas) but this is one tool that organises it all and not an excel spreadsheet in sight. And while a tool like this one will help organise financial information it won't take the place of investing your time and effort in knowing where you stand financially. It may prompt you to get your stuff sorted and head out on a bright new track and that's got to be a good thing right!

What are you saving for? Would a tool like myprosperity help you organise your finances and goals?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I can't resist...the royal baby

Well, things have been a little crazy around the purple notepad HQ with Miss S teething and not sleeping as well as usual, work and all those things that add up to keep me busy. As a result, my blogging time has taken a hit. But I'm back on deck, and I couldn't resist a quick post about the topic the whole world is talking about - the royal baby.

Wow, what a wonderful moment this morning (Australian time) to see the proud new parents leave hospital with their precious little bundle. While they may be the most famous parents in the world at the moment, it was nice to see them going through the same first moments all new mums and dads experience when they take their baby home for the first time. And it's nice to imagine them experiencing what all parents go through during their first night at home, (even if home is a cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace) the feeding, crying, sleeping, nappies and the blur that is the lack of sleep.

I was so impressed the Duchess of Cambridge chose to show off her 'mummy tummy' as some in the British media are calling it. She looked beautiful, glowing and all in a perfectly natural way. No tummy tucks or Photoshop, just a beautiful new mum.

And as much as I love seeing photos of the Duke and Duchess, I hope they can relax and enjoy the next little while together, away from the media gaze.

So that's my little post on the royal baby craze, a wonderful moment in history and so nice to see two become three! I wish them all the happiness in the world.

What do you think about the royal baby craze? Love it or all too much?

Monday, July 15, 2013

11,000 photos in one year...how to preserve those precious moments

For many of us, photos are among our most treasured possessions. They tell a story, capture special occasions and remind us of our moments from our past. For most of us, they are among the first possessions in our homes we would grab in an emergency. But times are changing and a lot of our photos now sit on computers, hard drives and mobile phones or even in the cloud.

I recently put together a digital slideshow to mark my dad's 60th birthday and I managed to track down a handful of his baby photos. I had Mum running around organising photos of my sister and I as babies and children to include as well. While working on this project it struck me how in just three generations the number of photos we take to capture moments in our lives -especially our first year of life has increased to a incredible amount. Instead of lugging a camera to celebrations, outings and events, most of us now have a camera in our pockets or handbags, a camera we take everywhere. We no longer capture just the momentous celebrations and events, but every day life. 

One of my current projects is to pull together the photos from Miss S' first year, something similar to the baby album my mum lovingly put together for me. Of course, my photos are all digital. I don't have to take a film into the store, have the photos printed and then place them into an album. I've chosen to organise mine into a personalised album online and order a hard copy. I have culled all of the photos from those first 12 months, from just shy of 11,000 photos, yes that's right 11,000 photos to a more manageable 1200. A second round of culling awaits. 

So in three generations, the number of baby photos in our family has grown from a handful, around eight of my dad in his first 12 months, to me, around 300, and to my daughter, now sitting at an astonishing and pretty impressive 11,000. 

The discussion then moves to what to do with them. An album is a beautiful way of presenting and preserving them, but what about the ones that don't make the cut. After sharing this figure with my workmates, their advice was to store them all on a hard drive (done) and then in the cloud (need to explore further).

How to choose the best digital album for your photos?

For me, this was a big decision. I love photos, I love designing with them and I love displaying them. We were lucky enough to find an amazing wedding photographer who designed an incredible magazine style album for us. It set the bar high and showed me how the professionals do it.

I spent quite a bit of time researching both online and checking out examples in store. Most of the big companies who print photos also print albums now. Personally, I'm not convinced about the quality of the images, but if you're putting together a simple album and the quality of the image isn't essential then they are an affordable way of displaying your photos.

My ultimate goal was to find an album that would be perfect to display Miss S' first year so I knew I needed to have a test run. A couple of thousand photos from our holiday to the US in 2011 were still waiting patiently in a hard drive. I set about culling them and organising them into an album. I managed to place the photos into two albums, of about 100 pages each. And while it was a time consuming project, I really did enjoy reliving our trip and designing the albums.

I finally chose albumworks as the company to design and print my albums. A couple of reasons:
  • the quality of the album
  • the fact I could download the album design program to my computer and design in my own time and in my own space. I didn't have to login to a company's site and run the risk I could lose my design
  • the program is user friendly, offers plenty of design options and is easy to navigate
  • an Australian company - based in Melbourne. I could call with my questions, or email them
  • Price - not cheap but I was comfortable with the value offered
  • Finally, I ordered my first album titled - New York. And I was really impressed with the final product. I have had lots of family members and friends flick through the album and comment on how fantastic it looks. 

I'd love to hear what you have done with precious photos, how do you store your photos and how do you present your favourites? 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The perfect Anzac biscuit recipe...soft and a little chewy

This is a personal favourite and one I have honed over the years to achieve (in my view) the perfect soft Anzac biscuit consistency. This recipe is more for a soft Anzac biscuit, not super chewy but not at all hard.

Now I realise it's not Anzac Day, but I like to enjoy freshly baked Anzac biscuits all year round and I can't imagine I'm alone. 

It's a simple recipe and it now takes me 15 minutes from pulling the ingredients out of the pantry to popping the biscuits in the oven. Miss S doesn't mind munching on them either. Always a good sign!

Soft and a little chewy Anzac biscuits

1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup Ward McKenzie desiccated coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar
125g butter (Western Star)
2 tbs golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate soda 

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the oats, coconut and brown sugar. 

Put the butter, golden syrup and 2 tbs water in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until melted. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda.

Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on trays, about 5cm apart. (If you have a little mixture left I highly recommend sneaking a taste test of the pre cooked dough - super yum)

Press with a fork to flatten slightly.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Set aside in the trays for 5 mins to cool.

Finally, enjoy!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What does your skin care routine look like?

I've spent many years and countless dollars searching for the perfect skin care products.

I have tried the expensive department store brands buying into the idea that it costs a lot so it must be good and I've tried the supermarket brands after realising expensive didn't equal brilliant. 

And you know what? It's tiring! 

So after years of this tooing and froing I think I have found a combination of brands that comes somewhere in between and does a pretty good job. As a mum to a one year old, I also want something that is affordable and fits into my busy life. 

For me, it's a combination of brands, but trilogy definitely outnumbers the rest in my bathroom vanity. It is a brand that seems to tick all the boxes.
  • it includes natural ingredients
  • it offers value for money 
  • I can order the products online
  • and delivery is fast - within a couple of days
Most orders also come with a freebie or two - sample sizes of products to try.

The other realisation I have come to, is that you don't have to use just one brand for all your skin care products. Mix and match and come up with your own suite of products. 

I'm able to combine a luxe brand or two with a supermarket purchase and a few middle of the range items to pull together a skin care regime that works for me. 

My skin would best be described as normal/combination. I'm oily down my t-zone and my cheeks can get a bit dry, I had quite a few break outs in my teenage years (not pleasant) but in my 20s and now early 30s my breakouts seem to coincide with my hormones. Although my dad still likes to comment on my chocolate intake when I have a breakout!!

So here is my little skin care routine.

1. Cleanser - trilogy cream cleanser
2. Toner - Clinique (only in the morning) clarifying lotion 2 for dry/combination 

7. And then one night a week I replace my night cream with trilogy roséhip oil.

And finally, my day moisturiser includes SPF30+, a must for my skin. My foundation also includes SPF15+ and I think it's definitely worth buying products that include sunscreen, reducing another step in your skin care routine.

I also try to use a mask once a week - I have a couple that I rotate from Elizabeth Arden to the Body Shop.

And finally when time and budget allow, I love to book in for some pampering at my local day spa, Otford Valley Sanctuary Day Spa. Owner, Lisa is amazing and I highly recommend a visit. 

Please note this is not a sponsored post. I am a happy, satisfied customer of a number of skin care products and Otford Valley Sanctuary Day Spa; my local day spa.

I'd love to know what skin care products make the grade for you? 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's your battle plan?

I've spent the night watching the events in Canberra unfold on tv and social media and I didn't know if this post would make it online tonight. But I've had enough of all the drama and so my latest post about the June toy sales feels a world away from political life (and my previous life as a political staffer) and I couldn't be happier about it. 

So 18 months ago, toy sales and laybying for Christmas in June were a whole other world and one I certainly wasn't part of. I like to think of myself as a veteran shopper with plenty of experience under my belt and a well honed ability to sniff out a good bargain. But toy sales, well I didn't know much at all.

So I received a hurried introduction in June last year and even managed to frighten myself at how I jumped straight in without my usual research and planning. Last June my little girl was still in hospital after arriving prematurely and toys were the last thing on my mind. My sister who was a new mum of two months had clearly done her research and she was all over the toy sales and what June meant in a parent's calendar. Had I missed that memo?

She gave me a briefing, made some useful suggestions and sent me off to Westfield clutching a shopping list in one hand, my smart phone in the other and my credit card warming up in my handbag. Now it's important to know that I had a very small window to do this shop. I was days away from bringing our little girl home from hospital and spending most of each day at the hospital as we worked at breast feeding. So after spending almost an hour trying to and then feeding Miss S, I had a 90 min window to get to the shopping centre, grab a bite to eat, shop and then get back to the hospital and find a park, all in time to feed Miss S again. 

So I hooned around Target throwing toys in the trolley, pulling them back out, checking my list and throwing them back in, all while trying to think of all the little people I needed to buy for - Miss S, my one and only precious nephew and my beautiful god daughter (wo was three at the time), quickly assessing the bargains on offer and calculating the dollars saved by buying items on sale (always a necessary piece of data to offer to my hubby when justifying a larger than planned spend). 

I screeched into the layby section, watched the numbers tick over, had a mini freak out but then reminded myself all of my purchases were put away and I wouldn't need to think about them for a good couple of months. I had probably bought too much, but I could deal with that later. Ahhh, time to breathe. And hey I deserved a little pat on my back for ticking that toy sale box. 

So June has rolled around again and I still find myself not at all organised to do the big shop and layby. My sister has her list ready and is after ideas for Miss S. It doesn't help that Miss S and my nephew are in that in between age of 12 months plus where they're a bit too old for baby toys but are a bit too young for a lot of toys that are 3+. Maybe I should just pick out a toybox to hold all of these purchases?

is it just me or is anyone else totally unprepared for the June toy sales? Any strategies on how best to tackle them from some battle weary veterans and experts? 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Happy birthday to my Mum

Today is a special day, it is my beautiful mum's birthday. Birthdays are always an occasion in our family, they are a chance to celebrate and spoil someone on their special day.

Sadly, my mum and I now live in different cities and states, so it means we celebrate with a card, a gift, a phone call and a FaceTime video call and the promise for a girls lunch next time we see each other.

Luckily the rest of the family is on hand to make sure she is taken to lunch and a birthday cake lit with the obligatory candles. I was also fortunate to see my mum just a month ago when we celebrated my Dad's birthday milestone of 60!

My Mum is someone I admire and adore and I'm blessed that we truly are best friends as well as mother and daughter. It's a special relationship that I hope to continue with my own precious daughter. Since becoming a mum, I appreciate even more the endless and often thankless things my mum has done for me over the years, all because she loves me.

So to my beautiful Mum, happy happy birthday! I love you so very much!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sometimes thank you says it all

Since having our daughter prematurely at 26 weeks and becoming parents, life has been a rollercoaster. Our lives have been turned upside down, in the best possible way. However the first 12 weeks of Miss S's life were tough for all of us. It's very hard to describe what life is like when your days are spent in hospital and you want the days, weeks and months until you bring your baby home to pass quickly and painlessly.

My husband and I are blessed to have incredible family and friends, many of whom supported us through those gruelling weeks and beyond.

I have said thank you many times for many acts of kindness, some of which have stopped me in my tracks and made me realise how very precious our relationships are. I also wanted to thank many of these same people at my daughter's first birthday party, but my emotions got in the way and I ended up a blubbering mess. So to our precious family and friends, thank you. You know who you are. And to my husband, sometimes there are no words just a shared understanding and love; real, true love.

Thank you for listening through the tears

Thank you for our cleaner

Thank you for being brave and not showing me how truly scared you were

Thank you for spending the night beside me in the delivery room as we prayed I would be able to keep this precious little baby safe

Thank you for the care package - chocolate solves pretty much anything

Thank you for the endless hugs and I love yous 

Thank you for just doing without a second thought 

Thank you for travelling to visit and knowing how much we were craving a familiar face 

Thank you for telling us how beautiful our tiny baby was when it was hard to see her for all the tubes 

Thank you for the flowers to brighten our day 

Thank you for taking the time to cook us meals 

Thank you for accepting the good and bad and knowing we needed just a little bit of extra understanding 

Thank you for giving us the strength to make it through 

Thank you for just being you

Saturday, June 15, 2013

So, what's your number?

We all have them, dozens of them choking up our wallets and spilling out every chance they get. I have so many I often forget what I have and never end up using them.

Yup, I'm talking store loyalty cards. 

It seems that every store from Myer and Priceline to the local coffee shop now offers yet another loyalty card with some appealing reason to sign up. 

After adding up my stash I have a total of 22 loyalty cards. And in my little wallet added to the credit cards, ATM cards, Medicare card, roadside assistance, drivers licence and all the bits and pieces I carry around it's a lot.

Why is it that if I don't agree to add another card to my bulging wallet each time I'm offered one at yet another store then I feel like I'm missing out on something or the potential to miss out. I love a bargain and love knowing my shopping might be adding up to a little reward in the future. However, I'm the first to admit that many of the loyalty cards choking up my wallet offer me little in return for collecting my shopping information and building a profile of me as a customer.

Sadly, after struggling to close my wallet, I decided the time had come to add a second wallet just for loyalty cards to my already mammoth handbag/baby bag. Crazy, uh huh!

Then, one day a kind saleswoman, obviously someone who had experienced the same frustration as me at carrying around so many cards and after watching hundreds of customers flick through said wallet and many other loyalty cards, suggested I use a smartphone app that I could just add the details to. Then I could just hand over the loyalty card numbers when making purchases or scan the membership number on my phone. Seriously, why had I never discovered this before? What rock had I been living under?

Well I downloaded Stocard app (I'm sure there are quite a few out there on the market) for my smart phone and while I have added all of my loyalty cards to the app, I must admit I'm still pulling out my cards when I shop (it might have had something to do with the 'are you serious look' when I pulled my phone out at my local supermarket to scan instead of my loyalty card - I promptly put my phone away and pulled out my card again). Argggh! 

Note to self - try this app again next time I'm out shopping. Don't let one sales assistant deter you from ridding your wallet of loyalty cards. 

I can definitely see some merit to having loyalty cards as long as you get some value as a customer and you limit the number you use and carry around with you. 

From my experience the best loyalty cards on the market include:

MYER one - one of the most used loyalty cards in my wallet. I shop at Myer a lot for a range of different things and I like knowing my shopping points are adding up to a gift card. Often it's just a $20 gift card every few months, but every little bit helps. 

Priceline - another of my more commonly used cards. I love Priceline for price, variety and location. I like knowing that my purchases will add up to a little reward every few months. A nice little surprise in the mail. 

Fly buys - possibly THE most used of my loyalty cards. I shop at Bilo and Coles a couple of times a week, so it gets whipped out each time no matter how small the purchase. I also use it at Target and when filling up the car at Coles petrol stations. For me, this offers good value. Points can be used to use Fly Buys dollars, so at times I have converted a whole heap of points and taken $50 off my weekly shop. 

Gloria Jeans - there paper cards rewarded you with a free coffee after purchasing 10 coffees. They now have a new system where you have a plastic card and you sign up online. Not sure what the reward is now? So jury's still out on whether this one will remain in my wallet. 

Bakers Delight - paper card offering a free loaf of bread or six rolls after five visits and spending at least $6 on each visit. Not bad value and no shopping data collected by Bakers Delight. 

Witchery - not the most used card in my wallet, but definitely one I have used a bit more lately and seems to be good value. It can also be used when shopping online at Witchery. I purchased some pants and a blazer recently online which came to about $200 and I received $15 to spend at one of their stores or online. I went into a store to use my $$ to avoid paying a shipping fee of $9.95 (it would have eaten up my reward money). I was also disappointed that the $15 reward had a use by date on it of about a month. Other loyalty cards that offer rewards don't usually have a limit on using the gift card which is always a big plus. 

The final one I have in my every day wallet is for my local pharmacy. They offer gift vouchers once you have spent a certain amount of money on items in store excluding prescriptions. I find this handy as  a mum as I'm usually stopping into the chemist at least once a week (I went through a period of a couple of weeks once where I was in there every day). So this one is good value. 

These are the loyalty cards that sit in prime position in my everyday wallet. They're easily accessible, purely because I use them so much and I can see value to using them. 

What's your take on loyalty cards, do you have any favourites and have they taken over your wallet?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pint sized fashion

One of my purchases for
Miss S from Ollie's Place
Confession time - I love to shop. It's in my DNA and I find shopping quite relaxing and therapeutic, unless I have to buy something for an event or occasion and then it's all kinds of stressful.

So pre mummy days, I used to spend quite a bit of my time and hard earned money shopping. Usually to fill my ever bulging wardrobe. My husband was and is always astonished when I open my wardrobe to get dressed and exclaim 'I have nothing to wear'. So when Miss S arrived, I was on maternity leave and our household budget was significantly reduced, I think he remained ever hopeful that my shopping days were over or would drop to an absolute minimum and needs basis only.

But, as many mums do, I discovered online shopping was a much more appealing option than bundling a newborn into the car, packing bags of baby food, nappies, bottles, clothes, blankets, toys and all other manner of baby paraphernalia into the car, unloading it into a pram and then dragging it all around a shopping centre while attempting to squeeze into a change room with it all. 

So the lovely Australia Post delivery lady and I became great friends. Luckily my hubby as at work when all of my purchases arrived and his only clue was the credit card bill. That is, until he was home from work one day and three purchases arrived at once. Yep, what are the odds? Oops! 

Anyway, now that I'm a mum to a little girl, I find myself buying more and more pieces of clothing for Miss S. It's sad to say but I really do think she has a better wardrobe than me, definitely more on trend. 

We were recently at the Brisbane DFO and I came away with four shopping bags - three of them for Miss S (including this super cute hoodie from Ollie's Place) and one for me and yes mine was the cheapest! Poor hubby didn't even get a look in. 

Has anyone else experienced this change in shopping habits? Is this what the next 15 years or so will be? Or will I eventually be able to go shopping without wandering through the kids and baby section? 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The perfect chocolate brownie recipe

I've always been on the lookout for the perfect brownie recipe. After many, many attempts and eating lots of test recipes (halfheartedly of course) I have finally found the recipe that ticks all the boxes.
  • Easy to cook 
  • Gooey texture (essential for a good brownie, otherwise it's just a chocolate slice)
  • Ingredients that can be found in most pantries 
This is a Donna Hay recipe. To be honest whenever I follow a Donna Hay recipe I usually have to tweak it in some way whether it needs more mixing or beating, a little more of one ingredient or a fraction longer in the oven, but this recipe I have followed to the letter and the brownies turn out just right.

Melt and mix brownies (tips my own)
200g dark chocolate (I use Nestle Plaistowe - can be found in most supermarkets)
250g unsalted butter, chopped (Western Star) 
2 tablespoons cocoa, sifted (Cadbury Bourneville)
2 cups brown sugar 
1 1/3 cups plain flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon baking powder, sifted 
4 eggs (room temperature)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius (fan forced)
Place chocolate, butter and cocoa in saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth

Place sugar, flour and baking powder in a bowl
Make a well in the centre and pour in chocolate mixture
Add eggs and mix to combine

Pour mixture into lightly greased 20cm square cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 55-60 mins or until brownie is just set in the centre (I find 55 mins pretty spot on)

(please excuse the little piece missing - I had to check it was cooked)

Allow to stand in the tin for 10 mins if serving warm or cool in the tin. Makes 16 squares (always cut into squares in the tin).

My final tip - sprinkle with a little bit of icing sugar for a bit of fancy!

I'd love to hear about one of your favourite recipes...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What gets your blood pumping?

Exercise is something we all know we should do, it makes us feel good, has obvious health benefits and provides a sense of achievement when completed. But the challenge for me is finding something that is a good use of my time, is enjoyable to do, affordable and fits into my busy schedule.

I can have a short attention span when it comes to exercise and my husband likes to remind me I'm not the most coordinated person he's met (he's one of those annoying people who is good at whatever sport he tries - yet to test him on the ski slopes, but I'm just biding my time). So for me, I like an exercise outlet that is not high pressure and doesn't involve mirrors (generally found at exercise classes at gyms) as I don't need reminding about my coordination skills, or lack of. 

Pilates - for more than 10 years I've been a fan of pilates, on and off, starting with classes (yes at above mentioned gym with mirrors - kinda ok because Pilates doesn't require you to move in time to music - possibly my undoing) before moving onto DVDs at home. I'm a huge fan of Pilates because not only does it give your muscles a solid workout and help you achieve a lean physique but it has enormous benefits for your back. It builds on your core which is pretty much what keeps us upright and keeps it strong, protecting one of the most valuable parts of our body (and after watching my dad and his siblings struggle with back problems I know how debilitating back problems can be). It's also not a workout that leaves you completely exhausted and sweaty. I can't remember a time I did a Pilates session and didn't feel good. 

Yoga - I'm so lucky to have discovered the best yoga teacher and she lives just a few minutes away. Super handy for classes on a chilly winters night. Prior to actually doing yoga I always thought it was more meditation and breathing than anything else. But since taking up and practicing yoga, I've become a convert and always feel like I've worked hard after a class, with a little bit of relaxation and quiet time thrown in. I haven't really embraced yoga DVDs, mainly because I'm so attached to my yoga teacher. I have recently downloaded a yoga app on my iPhone as something I can do between classes but haven't had a chance to fully explore it yet. 

Walking - a great exercise option with a pram. I enjoy walking with a pram (sometimes get a bit nervous about dogs who like to wander the neighbourhood due to irresponsible owners but that's another story) and it's even more enjoyable when I can walk with some of the gorgeous mums in my mothers grop. Walking and chatting, followed by a hot chocolate = perfect way to start the day! 

Personal training - I have succumbed to the odd personal training session with workmates. They can be a great way to get some good tips for exercise and a source of motivation. It's a lot harder to cancel on a trainer and put your exercise off. I also work in an area with views of Sydney Harbour so it's not a bad place to exercise, as long as you focus on the gorgeous views and don't take too much notice of all the beautiful people in their exercise gear. Just be aware you may be in agony in the days following a session and it's often muscles you didn't even know you had. 

Now I mentioned my dislike of exercise that requires me to move in time to music especially in a group setting. A friend of mine has just thrown a spanner in those works by suggesting Zumba classes. Now I've done Zumba in the safety of my own home and it was fun. The thought of doing it in front of other people is a little daunting but heading out to an exercise class with some friends, music, lots of laughter and calling it exercise sounds incredibly appealing. Hmm, I may just end up at that Zumba class! Stay tuned...

Over to you, what's your favourite type of exercise and is there any type of exercise that fills you with fear?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Where oh where did the last two years go?

Well it's been just over two years since my last blog post (three days over to be precise). And all I can say is life got in the way, oh and a precious little addition to our family, who will be known from here on in as Miss S.

Hmm, a quick update. Since May 2011, my hubby and I have become parents to a precious baby girl, who shocked us all with her super early arrival at 26 weeks and 1 day. She was so early we hadn't even had a chance to attend our pre natal classes. So after 12 long weeks in neonatal intensive care in two hospitals, long days of commuting, expressing breast milk, sitting beside her humidicrib and cot in hospital and trying to maintain a home while getting my head around this new and amazing role of a lifetime, we were finally able to bring our precious little bundle home. 

Since then, life has been hectic and challenging and tiring, but would I change a thing? Not a chance. 

I have been fortunate to have a full year, including 12 weeks of hospital visits, at home with Miss S and completely enjoying the stay at home mum experience. I have only just returned to part time work, a balance of in the office and working from home. So with life a tiny bit under control and a lot of inspiration from fellow mums who are bloggers, it's now time for me to re-enter the blogging and writing environment and share a bit of my world. 

Looking back on my previous posts, things seemed perfect. And I am definitely blessed, but there are times, like all of us, when my kitchen is in desperate need of a clean, I haven't called my best friend, my to do lists are getting longer, the washing is piling up and my little one is eating baby food out of a jar instead of home cooked purees. So I'm going to be a little more real and a little less perfect, just like me I guess!

If you've been here before and are returning, thank you!! I hope you find it worth your return. 

And if you're new to my blog, I hope you enjoy reading a little about my life and engaging with me. 

Comments, thoughts, ideas and general chat all very welcome.


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