‘Me Time’ with Tea & Wine

In search of the perfect way to relax and have some ‘Me Time’? Then here is your answer!

As a mother, ‘Me Time’ is something that I am always striving for. Little moments of quiet and still, and time to re-coop in peace. For me, ‘Me Time’ can look very different depending on what I want to achieve from it. Two of my favourite ‘Me Time’ moments are either when I take a quick five minutes for myself to relish a cup of tea, or when I organise a catch up with my girlfriends and enjoy nibbles, great wine, and chat about life. These daily and weekly rituals have become key components to keeping me happy and fulfilled as a mother and woman. Never underestimate the value of ‘Me Time.’

Well, would you believe how elated I was when I heard that there was a product which combines both of my favourite ‘Me Time’ moments! 

Tea & Wine is a wine that has been carefully and subtly created by infusing the delicate notes of some of our favourite teas into a beautiful wine. It doesn’t surprise me how delicious this product is, of course, tea and wine are two of the world’s most ancient and well-loved beverages. Both rituals have been brought together to produce an alcoholic beverage which really does taste like both tea and wine! One of the reasons that the founders of Tea & Wine created their product was to encourage people to make more time for themselves. “You cannot pour from an empty cup. It is important to make some time for yourself, particularly at the end of a long day.”

There are two varieties of Tea & Wine available…

Unoaked Chardonnay infused with organic Egyptian chamomile blossoms. (My favourite!) – A floral and fragrant palate with a backbone of golden apple and citrus from the Chardonnay grapes are enhanced by the infusion of organic Egyptian Camomile blossoms that introduce a bright aroma with a touch of balanced sweetness.

Cabernet Sauvignon infused with organic Sri Lankan Chai tea – Aromas of dark berries and bay leaf from the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes combined with the aromatic, traditional Chai spices ginger, cinnamon and pepper.

Not only does Tea & Wine taste amazing, but it looks incredible too, with its bright and bold labelling. It would make such a beautiful and much appreciated gift.

‘Me Time’ moment tip – If you are struggling to fit moments of ‘Me Time’ into your daily or weekly life, try scheduling them into your calendar, phone or diary. Aim for at least one short moment per day, and one or two longer moments per week.

Both the Unoaked Chardonnay infused with organic Egyptian chamomile blossoms and Cabernet Sauvignon infused with organic Sri Lankan Chai tea, are available at selected Dan Murphy’s for an RRP of $22.00 AUD. 

Enjoy! 

*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion. Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and http://www.thissweetlife.blog only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here

Gratitude is more than just a #

What does the word gratitude mean to you? How does gratitude feel? Is it more than just an Instagram caption with a hashtag at the end? Is it more than a few lines in a journal once a month when you can remember? Is it just saying that you’re grateful and not really feeling it? Or are you someone who had mastered the important art of being a grateful person?

In my opinion gratitude is the most important thing you can practise and is the core of a happy life. It is a marathon, not a race, and needs to be worked on everyday. A life of gratitude, is a life of self fulfilment and personal happiness. Gratitude helps to create a balance between your body and your spirit in a way that they work together in harmony. If the mind is ungrateful the body is punished. Without gratitude we worry and we have doubts, and it is worry and stress that lead to sickness and illness. If we live a negative life of stress this can manifest into our bodies.

To live a life of true gratitude is one of my life goals. It is not hard to find things to be grateful for and is as simple as being grateful for the fact that you are alive today. Or for the fact that the sun was in the sky when you woke up this morning, or that it set at night. That you have good clean water to drink and food to eat. It sounds cliche but you can simple be grateful for today.

Lately I have found myself feeling like I am not grateful. It wasn’t that I was actually acting ungrateful or necessarily being an ungrateful person. It was just the fact that I was not being grateful for the things that I did have, and paying gratitude for them. I was thinking of the things that I didn’t have and focusing on the fact that I didn’t have them yet. I have so many things to be grateful for, and as soon as I stopped to think for even five seconds I realised that.

So the fact of finding things to be grateful for isn’t the difficulty, but the hard part is actually practising being grateful on a day to day basis.

In particular recently I had been focusing on my desire to have a third child, and the fact that this might take more time then what I would like in my ideal world. I had been so focused on that third child who doesn’t even exist, that I had forgotten to be grateful for the two healthy and happy children that I do have. To thank the universe, god or whoever for the things that I am grateful for. Isn’t that already a better place to live in, where I am grateful instead of full of worry and sadness.

So I had a realisation that this is something that I need to work on. I know so many people in my everyday life who need this same reminder. I see them acting negatively, and focusing on the difficult or challenging parts of their lives then all of the amazing bits in front of them. Perhaps you do this too? I’m not going to tell you how to be grateful and I’m not going to tell you the things that you can do to practice gratitude. I simply want to remind you to be grateful today, just as I have needed this reminder lately.

So… what are you grateful for today? Think about the, then think about them again tomorrow. I PROMISE you and your life will be happier for it.

Enjoy!

Note – my outfit in the photo above is from the gorgeous Bonnie and Harlo

6 Ways to save on your next kids party (and for it to still be fabulous!)

Every fortnight or the past few weeks I have been sharing helpful party planning tips from my dear friend Natty Faulks. Natty is a children’s party entertainer through her company Strawberry Fundaes, and she keeps your children happy at their parties by dressing up as their favourite character. Natalie is a complete expert when it comes to party planning, so here are her top tips for cutting catering costs at your next party…

Kids parties are so much fun! But sometimes we can get carried away with what we think it needs to be and then we blow out the budget. That is where I can help to keep you on track!

Here are my top 6 tips to cut costs on some of the wallet draining items, but still have an awesome party!

1 – Invitations
Create your own or go digital!
You can make your own invitations, at home on various online platforms and then you can either print at home or save as a jpeg or PDF and email out. My go to sites for this are Canva or Greetings Island. They look great too!

2 – Decorations
Firstly… Less is more! The most simple of decorations can look fab. Eg – a whole wall of single balloons stuck down makes a great backdrop and only costs around $5 tops! Also, I highly recommend choosing a colour theme to decorate with instead of using licensed product. Eg – Instead of using Frozen branded cups, plates and balloons, just stick to generic blues and whites and silver. You will save a stack of $$$ right there but it will still look really effective!

3 – Party at the park or at home
Venues can cost a bomb, so unless you really want to factor them into the budget, go for the free options – the park or at home. Just remember that wherever you choose to hold your party to always have a wet weather plan.

4 – Free online party printables
I have used this option many times. Simply google ‘free online party printables’ and there are heaps of options. You can download and print at home birthday signage, cupcake toppers, water bottle labels, name tags, favour bag tags and more!

5 – Ditch the party bag
To be honest, I am not a fan of party bags. Lots of parents are not that keen on lollies these days (And it can get sketchy with allergies etc.) and I also find lots of party bag fillers really are just rubbish or choking hazards. And the average bag costs a min $5 filled. So my alternatives are – Bubble wands with a thank you tag or sticker (Wands are 75c at Kmart), Balloons on a stick (These can double as decorations at first and then the kids take home), keep cups (Buy $1 glass jars with straws and the kids take those home) Lucky dip gift wrapped in blue or pink tissue paper ( wrap random boys and girls stuff like rubber snakes, matchbox cars , lip gloss, bath bombs. These are all individually cheaper than a lolly bag.) Take home cupcakes.

6 – Cake Hack! (Or make your own)
I am terrible at making cakes so if I can’t afford to outsource one, I buy two mud cakes from Coles or Woolworths (Around $4 each) stack them on top of each other and then cover them both with butter cream (You can even just buy a tub of Betty Crocker Icing if you really are time poor!). Set in the fridge and then decorate with themed figurines or flowers! Super easy!

1 – Invitations
Create your own or go digital!
You can make your own invitations, at home on various online platforms and then you can either print at home or save as a jpeg or PDF and email out. My go to sites for this are Canva or Greetings Island. They look great too!

2 – Decorations
Firstly… Less is more! The most simple of decorations can look fab. Eg – a whole wall of single balloons stuck down makes a great backdrop and only costs around $5 tops! Also, I highly recommend choosing a colour theme to decorate with instead of using licensed product. Eg – Instead of using Frozen branded cups, plates and balloons, just stick to generic blues and whites and silver. You will save a stack of $$$ right there but it will still look really effective!

3 – Party at the park or at home
Venues can cost a bomb, so unless you really want to factor them into the budget, go for the free options – the park or at home. Just remember that wherever you choose to hold your party to always have a wet weather plan.

4 – Free online party printables
I have used this option many times. Simply google ‘free online party printables’ and there are heaps of options. You can download and print at home birthday signage, cupcake toppers, water bottle labels, name tags, favour bag tags and more!

5 – Ditch the party bag
To be honest, I am not a fan of party bags. Lots of parents are not that keen on lollies these days (And it can get sketchy with allergies etc.) and I also find lots of party bag fillers really are just rubbish or choking hazards. And the average bag costs a min $5 filled. So my alternatives are – Bubble wands with a thank you tag or sticker (Wands are 75c at Kmart), Balloons on a stick (These can double as decorations at first and then the kids take home), keep cups (Buy $1 glass jars with straws and the kids take those home) Lucky dip gift wrapped in blue or pink tissue paper ( wrap random boys and girls stuff like rubber snakes, matchbox cars , lip gloss, bath bombs. These are all individually cheaper than a lolly bag.) Take home cupcakes.

6 – Cake Hack! (Or make your own)
I am terrible at making cakes so if I can’t afford to outsource one, I buy two mud cakes from Coles or Woolworths (Around $4 each) stack them on top of each other and then cover them both with butter cream (You can even just buy a tub of Betty Crocker Icing if you really are time poor!). Set in the fridge and then decorate with themed figurines or flowers! Super easy!

 

A huge thank you to Natty for these incredibly useful tips!

You can find more information on Natty’s packages here.
Explore her beautiful Instagram account here.

Lots of Love!

 

Small-Signature-Nat

5 ways to cut the catering costs of your next kids party…

A couple of weeks ago I shared a guest blog post from a gorgeous friend of mine which had an incredible response, so I decided to get her back to share more of her party planning wisdom! You remember, my party planning expert Natty Faulkner! Natty is a children’s party entertainer through her company Strawberry Fundaes. She keeps your children happy at their parties by dressing up as their favourite character. Natalie has been to more than her fair share of children’s parties, in fact she’s been to hundreds! So here are her top tips for cutting catering costs at your next party…

Something I also see a lot at kids parties is over catering and food wastage!
Kids generally don’t eat much at parties. They are busy running around playing games and are very distracted. So… Here are my top 5 tips to help you cut back on your party catering costs and waste.

1 – PARTY LUNCH BOX
This is seriously my all – time favourite! Individually portion each lunch box (cardboard or paper bag made in advance) and then encourage all the kids to sit down to eat together. It helps to create a moment of peace and gives structure to your party.

Here is a list of food I use in my party lunch boxes
1 x Sandwich – (Or a wrap or sushi)
I often use cookie cutters to make the sandwich a fun shape.
1 x cheese stick.
1 x popcorn cup or pretzels/crackers.
1 x cupcake ( or jelly cup or cookie, muffin etc)
1 x fruit cup or fruit stick

2 – JUGS, JUGS, JUGS
Serving drinks in jugs or drink dispensers is much more cost effective than the individual juice or cordial packs. I use paper cups or keep cups that can be an alternative favour to take home.

3 – THE 4 PLATTER RULE
Have you heard the 4 platter rule? Well, I made it up! It keeps you on track and on budget. This is how it works…
Platter 1 – Fruit – You can make it look as pretty as you like. Don’t buy too much fruit though. Kids will only eat an average of 3- 4 pieces each. (also don’t use banana as it goes brown)
Platter 2 – Sweets and chips – Think fairy bread, jelly cups, chips, pretzels, popcorn, lollies, crackers, cheese. Only choose 3 things on this list. You definitely don’t need to serve all! (Remember we are saving money)
Platter 3 – Main food – This platter can have sausage rolls, pies, pizza, sandwiches, sushi, bbq sausages on bread, mini hamburgers, fried rice in cups, nuggets and chips, etc. Only choose 1 type of ‘main food’ to be served on this platter.
Platter 4 – Cake! – Cake and cupcakes are your final serving of food at the party.

4 – ADULTS, SHMADULTS…
I am sure most mums and dads will agree that when we attend children’s parties, we don’t expect to be fed. (Obviously this is a different story if you have been invited to a family event.) There is no need to create a whole menu for the adults. Most mums and dads will usually pick from the kids platters anyway!

5 – KEEP IT SIMPLE
At the end of the day, a small table of snacks followed by a main serve and end with cake will do the trick. Choose foods that are filling and then you won’t need as many snacks (which add up the $$ and get wasted the most). And remember… the food doesn’t have to look like a 5 star Pinterest party! Kids will not notice!

A huge thank you to Natty for these incredibly useful tips!
You can find more information on Natty’s packages here.
Explore her beautiful Instagram account here.

Lots of Love!

Small-Signature-Nat

 

 

 

Ari’s fourth Birthday Party – Circus theme

Recently Ari had his fourth birthday and we enjoyed a week long celebration including a trip to Sea World AND a Circus themed birthday party held at our local Strawberry Fields.  Ari had THE BEST time, and so did I putting it together for him!  I am big on birthdays, not only to celebrate another trip around the sun, but also that we all survived the year together as a family!

The Theme
Ari had total control of choosing his theme and venue for his party this year.  He loves the movie Dumbo so wanted to have a ‘Circus’ themed party.  To me it was an extra special theme for him to choose as Dumbo was the first movie that my Grandad watched in the 1950s, and he still watches it with Ari today!  When I searched ‘circus theme parties’ on Pinterest I found one particular image that I loved, and based the colour scheme on  that.

The Invitations
Jess from Little J Design put together the invitations from concept, design to completion.  I didn’t even have to send an idea to get her started! They were bright, playful and fun.  I love posting out proper invitations because I know how excited children get when they receive them in the mail.  Jess is truly amazing and I am forever grateful for her talents.

The Venue
As I mentioned Ari had control over the venue for his party and he chose our local Strawberry Fields.  Ari’s birthday comes around just as strawberry season commences and it is by far his favourite fruit.  We also had a strawberry themed party for his second birthday, at the same venue, which you can read about on my blog.  At the time of writing this the fields don’t charge a fee to host a party on their property.   The venue is stunning with plenty of patches, a shop, playground and a cafe.  It really is an incredible spot to host a birthday party.

The Food
Earlier his year I wrote a blog post for Chloe’s second birthday party, where I wrote about how I outsourced the food preparation for the first time ever.  I also wrote that I didn’t think I would ever prepare all the party food again and I was spot on!  Once again Sharni from Grazing Acres put together the most delicious spread of food including crackers, drips, cheeses, different fruits, meats, pretzels and more.  The budget was perfectly on point, with only a small amount of food leftover for us to eat for dinner that night.  Outsourcing your food prep really is a no brainer, and if you are close to the Sunshine Coast you must check out Grazing Acres.   Not only did Sharni produce the most amazing party spread, but she styled the entire table using items that I had bought and provided including the decor.  I will write more about this below, but one thing I did learn from Sharni is how food can be used as decor and to create stunning table scape.

I also borrowed a donut bar from a friend and filled it with delicious donut treats.  I wasn’t sure if these would get eaten but every single one did!

The Cake
The incredible Ange from Ange’s Cakes put together a charming white chocolate Circus themed birthday cake.  Ange has been baking all our cakes for 18 months and every single one has gone down a treat!  Ange also made 12 sweet little cupcakes which had circus animals jumping through hoops on them.  Th concept, design and creation of the cakes was all Ange.

Ari’s cake topper was from XOXO Design which is where I always get our cake toppers from.  Again, I had no input into the concept and design.  I love working with suppliers who are passionate about what they do and watching their creativity unfold.   The topper had a gorgeous circus tent on it as well as Ari’s name and the number four.

The Sweets
I also organised custom chocolates from Print and Party, who had the perfect deign for us!  They were customised with Ari’s name on them.   There are countless flavours of chocolate to choose from and you can even select the colour of the foil wrapping.  All of this came be done from their website.

The sweetest circus themed cookies were handmade on the Sunshine Coast by Sweet P Cakes and Cookies.  I love to support local where I can, so this was very special to me.  All the cookie designs were in theme with the party and included fairy floss cones, circus tents and entry tickets.  The cookies were a huge hit at the party because they tasted and looked amazing!

Party Favours
We had two party favours this time.  The first was from Cloud Theory Marshmallows who put together gorgeous wrapped Marshmallows on a red and white sticks.  They looked so cute on the table and really lifted the decor.  Of course, the marshmallows taste fantastic too!   Each gourmet marshmallow was handcrafted and came in the mail from Adelaide with no issues at all.  The wonderful woman behind Cloud Theory Marshmallows is just so passionate about her work, I love it.

Secondly, we purchased an empty punnet for each child to go and pick fresh strawberries from the patch to take home.  This made me feel a little better about all the sugar they consumed… Life is all about balance right!

The Decor
My biggest tip when decorating is to choose one statement piece and put your budget into that.  We chose to do a gorgeous balloon garland from Party Planet again because I was so thrilled with how Chloe’s turned out earlier this year.   I sent Kelly my Pinterest photo and let her create.  She is such a passionate and beautiful person.  If you are close to the Sunshine Coast you really must check them out, they even deliver and do the set up too.  This time we collected the day before and the garland only took 5 minutes to set up, it was so easy!

As the party was outdoors I needed to create a beautiful backdrop, so I ordered a custom screen from Be Branded.  Little J Design provided to concept to Be Branded’s specs and then it was printed.  The idea was perfect and can be used for future parties as we opted for no wording on this one and a simple design.  The cloth attached to a gazebo and was great for providing shade and also as a wind barrier.

Be Branded also supplied a custom cut out for children to have their photos taken with.  It was a sweet little lion design. This not only added to our gorgeous decor but provided a lot of fun fir the children too.

As I mentioned before Sharni from Grazing Acres came up with the whole table concept.  I love that she set the tables up as a square because I am so used to doing them in a normal L shape look.  She is so talented, and I am truly grateful for her creative eye, watching her work her magic on that table was a dream.

Things like the paper plates, cups, popcorn cups and napkins were all purchase online.  I had a photo of Ari at ages newborn, one, two, three and four that I printed and put into white frames.  Jess from Little J Design made me a sign to let guests know to take a party favour home, and made a cute ‘Roll up Roll up’ printable for me too.  I placed vases on the table and filled them with red and yellow flowers that I purchased from Aldi for only $25.  There were plastic animals scattered throughout the table, party hats and a sweet little Ferris wheel puzzle that I made with Chloe.   Whenever we have a party I always go through our home to see what decor might work with the theme.  This time I pulled a few large animals from Ari’s jungle themed bedroom and popped party hats on them.

Photography
The beautifully talented Emma Nayler took the stunning images you will see below, and I am so incredibly grateful for her talents.  She just went about the day and did her thing, with us able to just enjoy the party with our beautiful boy. I would highly recommend employing a photographer for all your important occasions.  The one time I didn’t listen to this advice is the one occasion I don’t have any photos from!   Not only does Emma photograph families, but engagement sessions and weddings also (overseas too.)

Outfits
Chloe’s oufit – Nicole Elliot Designs
Ari’s outfit – Online through Ebay
Gum Boots – Seed Heritage
My dress –   Breastfeeding Wear Autralia

We decided to invite the children to dress in circus theme if they wished.  Ari really wanted to be a Ring Master so after searching high and low for a custom I bought one on Ebay.

Nicole Elliot Designs made Chloe the most stunning Ballerina costum.  This lady is seriously celver with a needle!  Everything from her Tutu to the feather belt was so sweet.  Due to rain the few days before the party both little enjoyed wearing ‘flashing light gum boots.’

Supplier websites
Photography – Emma Nayler
Venue – strawberry Fields
Invites and design of signage and printable – Little J Design
Food table – Grazing Acres
Cake and cupcakes – Ange’s Cakes
Custom cake toppers – XOXO Design
Cookies – Sweet P Cakes and Cookies
Custom chocolates – Print and Party
Marshmallow party favours – Cloud Theory Marshmallows
Balloon garland – Party Planet
Custom back drop and cut out – Be Branded
Chloe’s oufit – Nicole Elliot Design
My Dress – Breastfeeding Wear Australia

Supplier Instagram pages
Photography – @emma_nayler_photographer
Invites and design of signage and printable – @littlejdesign
Breakfast Table – @grazing.acres
Cake and cupcakes – @angescakes
Custom cake toppers – @xoxodesign_au
Cookies – @sweetpcakesandcookies
Custom chocolates – @printandparty
Marshmallow party favours – @cloudtheorymarshmallows
Balloon garland – @party__planet
Custom back drop – @_bebranded
Chloe’s outfit – @nicoleelliott_designs

Discount codes
I have a HUGE list of discount codes available, including to some of the stores involved in the planning of Ari’s epic party.  All you need to do is subscribe and it will hit your inbox.

Don’t forget to follow along on Instagram for more special moments with my little loves, click here.

For party inspiration check out my Pinterest here.

Now for the party spam!

Enjoy x

Small-Signature-Nat

5 Common Mistakes Made When Planning a Party (and How to Avoid Them)

Parties are so much fun right!?  But planning them can be super stressful.  So for this blog post I needed to call in a party expert Natty Faulkner who really knows how to party!  Natty is a children’s party entertainer through her company Strawberry Fundaes.  On weekends you will find her glammed up and dress up as anyone from Snow White to Moana, and all the children’s favourites in-between.  Natalie has been to more than her fair share of children’s parties, in fact she’s been to hundreds!  So here are her top tips for avoiding common party mistakes…

Common mistake #1 – Planning an outdoor party with no back up plan.
This is the most common party mistake I see!  Parties in the park are a great idea… Until it rains.  I highly recommend looking at the weekly forecast before and always have a back- up plan.  Your back up location could either be at your house, a friends garage or their home (if they have the space and are willing), or perhaps you could set up a marquee for shelter, use the local church or YMCA / community hall or even sporting club. Have that back up plan sussed out well before the party.   Note – Some parks actually have huge rotundas you can reserve through local council which means you can still host your party in the park, rain, hail or shine!

Common mistake #2 – Planning a party on a national holiday or event without realising.
Before you set the exact date of the party, consult with your calendar to ensure that chosen date does not fall on holiday weekends and school breaks.  Celebrating two occasions can be fun sometimes, but when those days are meant to be spent in a tight-knit family circle, it is silly to expect your child’s school friends to want to attend a big bash party on a date they might want to be with their family.

Common mistake #3 – Over Catering Food
This is easy to do.  I recommend collecting RSVP’s to have a clear estimate on how many guests are attending.  And remember kids don’t eat a whole lot in the time frame they are at a party. A good party time frame is about 2 hour maximum for little ones and they get so over whelmed and distracted with playing or being entertained that they often only pick at the food.  Pick just a few food options and make them easy to eat. Or create little ‘snack packs’ to encourage kids to sit down and each their own individual portions ( this is great for less mess too! )

Common mistake #4 – Planning a party time during nap time
If your child has a nap at midday, don’t force a party time then because it suits your mum/ grandma/ uncle/ cousin. Or if you do, expect to have one cranky child!  Everyone’s nap times are different, but your child is the one being celebrated so try your best to accommodate. Even if it means attempting to pop them down earlier than usual.

Common mistake #5 – Failing to have any activities for kids
Not everyone has the budget to hire an entertainer, so here are my quick and easy options to keep the kids busy at your next party.  Colouring in sheets, pencils and stickers, craft station, Hoola Hoops, Dancing, singing, cupcake decorating, old fashioned party games or water play.

A huge thank you to Natty for these incredibly useful tips!

You can find more information on Natty’s packages here.
Explore her beautiful Instagram account here.

Lots of Love!

 

Small-Signature-Nat

SCHOOL LUNCHES FEATURING YAYTRAY

With the new school year here in Australia well and truly past, and lunch box ideas running low, I thought this would be the perfect time to refresh all of our Mum brains with new inspirations for school lunches.  I absolutely LOVE making kindy lunches, and take a lot of pride in the options, variety and presentation of Ari’s food, making lunchtime a really exciting time for him.

As in the past I prepare Ari’s lunch in his Yaytray which is a super cool, fun and innovative lunch box from Yurica Labs.  Prior to this blog post I have written 7 Lunches for 7 Days featuring the Yaytray which you can revisit here.

I have previously shared the many reasons why I love the Yaytray product.  Here they are again:
1. It saves me time – I only prepare and clean up one container.
2. It is great for the environment – no more cling wrap.
3. It is neat and compact – the worlds first all in one eating tray.
4. Things don’t get lost – it holds it’s own cutlery.
5. Is clean and convenient – leak proof and packs up in a matter of seconds.
6. It holds a large meal – 400mls actually!
7. It’s stable and non slip – making it easy for children to eat from.
8. All the important things – like food-safe, BPA-free, phthalate-free, microwave-safe and dishwasher-safe.
9. It’s cost-effective, you don’t have to buy a million containers just this one.
10. They are a small business, so you are buying from real Mum’s and Dads who designed it because they know what we need.

To purchase a Yaytray click here and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and you will receive your 10% off discount code!  To follow Yurica Labs on Instagram click here

MONDAY – Bold and Bright
Fresh, crisp and healthy.

Rice Paper Rolls
Leftover Roast Chicken
Pretzels
Blueberry, Lemon and Coconut Slice
Strawberries

Recipe – Roast Chicken.  Blueberry, Lemon and Coconut Slice.  Rice Paper Rolls.
Time Savers – Roast your own chicken the night before and serve it for dinner with vegetables, or buy a store-bought version to save even more time.
Variations – Swap the chicken breast for any cold meat selection, a can of tuna, smoked salmon or cold marinated tofu.  Cheese can be swapped with a vegan alternative.  Rice Paper Rolls can be made in countless variations.


TUESDAY – Turning Japanese
A yummy selection of food from one of our favourite destinations.

Sushi
Edamame
Cucumber Sticks
Orange Slices
Pop Corn

Recipe – Sushi.
Time Savers – Edamame can be purchased in peeled form in the freezer section of grocery stores.  I just pull a bag out from my freezer when I am ready to use it, and let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
Variations – Sushi can be made using lots of different options to suit all dietary requirements.  If your children don’t like the idea of seaweed there are lots of varieties that are seaweed free.


WEDNESDAY – Family Favourite

A freezer friendly twist on a family favourite.

Macaroni Pasta Bites
Carrot Sticks
Soy Crisps
Raspberries
Blackberries
Dried Fruit

Recipes – Macaroni Pasta Bites.
ime Savers – Use last nights left over pasta (any variety it doesn’t have to be Macaroni) to easily create this meal.  Or double the batch, you can even freeze a bunch of pasta cups for future lunches.
Variations – Use your favourite pasta meal to create this dish.  Carrot sticks can be exchanged for ticks of cucumber, carrot or capsicum.


THURSDAY – Healthy Balance
My perfect go to for stocking up the freezer.

Mini Quiche
Vegemite Twist
Snow Peas
Banana Slices
Yoghurt Covered Sultanas

Recipes – Mini Quiche.  Vegemite Twist.
ime Savers – Make a double batch of the quiches and store them in the freezer or serve for dinner the night before.
Variations – There are countless options of quiches available.  Vegemite twists can be made glute free.  The fruit and vegetables can be swapped out for your littles favourites.


FRIDAY – Baker’s Delight
Homemade versions of family favourites!
Savoury Scroll
Banana, Zucchini and Carrot Loaf
Bean Mix
Apricot Delight
Dried Cranberry
Kiwi Fruit
Capsicum Slices

Recipes – Savoury Scroll.  Banana, Zucchini and Carrot Loaf.
Time Savers – These savoury scrolls are seriously so quick and easy.  Banana loaf can be cut and popped in the freezer for future lunches.
Variations – There are lots of scroll variations like keeping them meat free for vegetarians.


After School Snack –
This last recipe is a new favourite afternoon snack which my littles are loving.  I came across it on the Instagram page of Sarita Holland who’s account is ful of delicious recipes that she makes with her children.  Click here to see the post with full recipe that contains only four ingredients.

Before I wrap this up I want to share with you my three biggest time-saving tips for when it comes to meal prep!  Once again I have shared these before, but they truly are life savers! 
1. Make all of your meals in one go.  I make breakfast, lunch and dinner all in the morning.  This is a huge time saver especially in the clean up and it means that I don’t feel like I ‘live’ in the kitchen.
2. Food prep in bulk with cook ups every few months.  I tend to do a big one every three months to get my lunch staples sorted.
3. Always take a packed lunch out with you when you have little babes.  I make Ari and Chloe’s lunch in their Yaytray every morning, even if we think we might be home.  It saves me time and money if we end up unexpectedly out for lunch.

To purchase a Yaytray click here and don’t forget to subscribe to receive my discount code!  To follow Yurica Labs on Instagram click here

DETAILS
Photos –
Nicola Holland Photography
My outfit –
Mumma Bear Nursing Wear
Chloe and Ari’s Outfits (for their picnic) – Piper and Me
Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog for a full list of discount codes including ones for all of the stores mentioned in this blog.

THANKYOU for reading, I hope that you  gained a useful tip or meal to work into your lives.  on’t forget to keep up to date with our family life on Instagram.

Enjoy!

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*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and www.thissweetlofeofmine.blog only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here.

CAPTURING & SHARING MOMENTS FEATURING MOMATU

Are you like me?  You have 30,000 photos stored on your phone just sitting there doing nothing.  Nobody views, admires, shares or prints them.  Precious moments and memories just wasting away, and then you drop your phone, misplace it or it is stolen.

The other day my Mother asked me to send her some photos of the children over the last few years, and I just knew that this was going to take me forever to organise.  I had no systems or files on my phone, no organisation at all.   The process of scrolling through 30,000 photos on my phone, looking at other devices and even photo albums, gave me a headache.  Not to mention it chewed up a huge chunk of my time when I am already such a time poor Mother.   I thought, surely in this day and age sharing our special moments should be less complex and more time efficient.

Momatu is an app that you can download onto your phone enabling you to easily capture, sort and share life’s precious moments in a way like never before.  Through using this service, you can co create and share a digital timeline with others, by providing them with an enjoyable way to ‘organise the past, capture the now and create tomorrow’s history together.’

‘The best moments happen in the blink of an eye but leave a lasting impression on our lives. Capture, share and enjoy each and every moment that matters to you, with Momatu.’  This resonates with me so much, and I’m sure that it does with you!

There are several different elements to the Momatu app.  These include:
Photos and videos – You can take them within the app of add them from your phone’s library,  after they can be assigned to a timeline.  I have personally made one for Chloe’s first two years of year life.
Journal – Entries can be added allowing more layers to your timeline, like notes on special parties or important days.
Milestones – Words can be added to images and videos allowing you to record important moments like your baby’s first tooth or the moment they walked.
Quotes – Records things like first words, moments of expressed joy or loving times by adding quotes to your images and videos.

Once you have created your beautiful timeline full of photos, videos, journal entries, milestones and quotes, you are able to share it with your family and friends.  Only the people you have selected are able to see your timeline and it can be added to, keeping everyone you love up to date with the important moments in your children’s lives.  No one will ever need to ask you to send that important photo again!

Not only is Momatu a ground-breaking private sharing platform, but you can also bring your images and timeline to life by ordering products like prints, photo books, calendars and mugs.

As I mentioned before, prior to Momatu I was dreadful at organising the 30,000 photos stored on my phone.  Hardly any of these gorgeous moments and images had been printed.   I mean I’ve have been married for seven years and still don’t even have a wedding album!  The fact that I can regularly add my favourite photos and most important memories into each of our children’s timelines on the Momatu app is a total game changer for the way I store, mange, share and view them.

Recently for Chloe’s second birthday I gifted her a photobook version of the timeline that I had created for her in Momatu.  The process was simple, easy and efficient because I have been building on her timeline over time.  Now at night before bed we look at the photos in her book and discuss those special moments, like her first outing, our favourite holiday and her first food.  As much as we love to read story books, Chloe gets so much joy from seeing photos of herself and her own family.

Nailing your family photos

It’s no secret that I love family photos.  To me they are a memory that lasts a lifetime, and I just love capturing as many moments as possible on camera and film.  I am often asked how I manage to pull off stunning family images with busy children in them.  So here are my top ten tips for nailing your family photos whether with a photographer or ones you take yourself.

  1. Plan your shoot in advance and go into it with a clear vision.  Think about how you would like the photos to look and feel.
  2. Bring props for the children e.g. sweet treats and toys.  Things that they are naturally interested in but are also in theme with your shoot style (colours, location, vibe etc.)  It all needs to make sense.
  3. Be prepared by packing a backpack full of snacks, water, sun cream and mozzie spray.
  4. You may need to relax your daily routine for the day of the shoot.  For example, if I have a photoshoot that I know will keep my littles up until later that night, I always push their lunch nap back a bit so that they don’t get over tired later.
  5. Feed hungry bellies before you start unless food is a part of your prop plan.  The last thing you need is someone wanting a full dinner 5 minutes in.
  6. For babies it’s helpful to bring along a squeaky toy that can dangled from the front of the camera, then pressed to get his/her focus.
  7. Don’t give up if someone isn’t happy.   If the baby is having a few tears don’t just call it a day, try moving position or using a distraction.  We all know that tiny whinges normally turn into goofy smiles.
  • Consider child placement.  For busy toddlers try safely using things like stools and chairs to place them in position that they are less likely to run from.
  1. Bring multiple changes of clothes for the whole family.  Not just so that you have options for the shoot but in case there are any accidents.
  2. Let yourself relax into it.  Often for the first few photos everyone is feeling very uptight, but by the end of the shoot they are having a hoot.  I find the images achieved get progressively better as the shoot goes on, so don’t rush off too quickly too!

A special offer for my followers

Momatu is a product they I highly recommend, and I would love to gift you with an exclusive code offering you 15% off of your first order.  Code – off15

To download the Momatu app click here and to visit their webite click here.

*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and www.thissweetlofeofmine.blog only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here.

 

 

 

WHEN HUBBY SAVES THE DAY FEATURING HELLOFRESH

Change your meals, change your life –

I have something truly life changing to share, but before I start here’s a special gift I’d like to give you! Head here and use the code LOVENAT to receive $35 off this tasty treat!

Oh, and I highly recommend sending this blog post to your husband, read on to find out why…

One for the busy Mamas –

As a Mother to two young children, I know all too well the struggles we share in our busy lives.  With the daycare drop offs, school pickups, lunches to pack, cleaning, preparing meals, working a job, the list goes on and our responsibilities are endless.

I am also a huge advocate for outsourcing jobs by sticking to our strengths and identifying my weaknesses, and then handballing the tasks that don’t work for me. It’s also ok to ask for help! Grocery shopping and food prep is a huge one here and everyone knows that I love to meal plan. I recognise the number of hours that can be saved and better spent with my family. I find as a mother I am always doing the other ‘stuff’ in life and rarely get to be the one enjoying time with my kiddies. Most mums can relate to watching everyone else play and have fun, while they are busy doing everything else. With that said I’m always grateful for anyone who will step in and take a task off my hands.

When hubby saves the day!

My husband Ryan and I are big supporters of HelloFresh, in fact we have ordered, received and cooked over 600 of their meals! Since then I don’t think I could go back, mainly because now Ryan can now cook an edible meal for those days when I am spread out in 50 different directions! Last week he knew I had a busy one coming up, so he ordered a HelloFresh box. He planned and cooked all our dinners… AMAZING!! I had so much to do finalising blog posts that I was up until 11pm every night, so the fact that he could prepare dinners for me from start to finish without so much as needing to ask where an ingredient was made life so much easier. There’s nothing quite like a man who can cook, and that kind gesture just blew me away! Hubba hubba! 😍

Here’s what Ryan cooked up for me –

Ryan was able to cook up three incredible meals for which I was so grateful – keeping us both away from the sneaky take-outs! Check him out in action!

My favourite meal was the Mexican Black Bean Chilli and Ryan’s was the Moroccan Chickpea Tagine

I was SO impressed!

Honestly, I LOVE Ryan’s cooking! Every meal was so delicious, and I think the fact that he had cooked them made them taste even better… he even did the dishes! Just when I thought my week was going to be a total disaster, the fact that he stepped in with this small, but such kind gesture completely lifted my spirits. Positive acts of kindness really do start in the home. There can be SO much joy found in cooking and food… especially if something does it for you out of LOVE!

Here’s why we are so grateful for HelloFresh

 HelloFresh is extremely easy to order, and can be done from a simple app. There are options for both meat eaters and vegetarians, so that everyone is happy!  You can also choose different sizes of boxes to suit how many people are in your family, (also considering if you would like to have leftovers like us.)  Each week the menu is different, and we have found that there is very rarely a double up.

Once you have selected your menu for the week, HelloFresh goes ahead with packing your order and delivering it out to your home. Perishable items are packed in a coolpack so that if you are at work the food will be fine until you return. The subscription can be setup to be ongoing so that you don’t even have to think about it until the boxes arrive at your door each week, and all you need to do is to decide which tasty option to prepare first. All the meals are very child friendly, and I have found that our kiddies have really enjoyed the majority of recipes. When we first started HelloFresh we ordered the classic box, however we recently switched to the vegetarian box as our diet changed. Making this lifestyle change was so much easier because of HelloFresh and its vegetarian options. Oh, and all the packaging is recyclable which is important to me.

HelloFresh saved our week!

To me, HelloFresh is a no brainer and our family highly recommends it… if you can get someone to cook it for you then even better! It’s perfect for anyone who enjoys fresh meals, continual variety and the convince of having this all delivered to their door in perfect portions, ready to be cooked. I was so happy that Ryan took on the meals for the week and tackled them like a pro! Each meal looked and tasted like restaurant quality!

Try it for yourself!

Click here and use the code LOVENAT to receive $35 off, then get someone to cook it for you…. Tell them how grateful you’ll be!

Enjoy!

Small-Signature-Nat

 

Chloe’s 2nd Birthday Party – Sweets For Our Sweet!

We just wrapped up Chloe’s epic ‘ Sweets For Our Sweet’ 2nd Birthday Party, and I couldn’t wait any longer to get this blog post up!  She had THE BEST time, and so did I putting it together for her! 

The Theme
We chose the theme ‘Sweets For Our Sweet’ because Coco is literally the biggest sweet tooth.  She loves all things cakes, doughnuts, lollies but especially ice cream!  The beautiful Jess from Little J Designs came up with the colour scheme and overall idea..  She sent me a photo of perfect palette of pastel colours with a hint of gold, and I just fell in love with it.  I was instantly sold and set about creating a magical space for Miss Chloe. 

The Invitations
Jess from Little J Design also put together the invitations from concept, design to completion.  They were shaped like gorgeous paddle pop sticks and were dipped in chocolate sprinkles.  I think most of Chloe’s friends tried to eat them they looked so real!  Jess is so clever and such a sweet soul!

The Venue
Being that Chloe is a Summer baby (like her Daddy,) she’ll be having pool parties for life!  We chose Kawana Aquatic Center, our local public pool, for the venue.  There is a few areas within the centre that can be hired out, we chose the ‘Treasure Island’ space which suited the age of Chloe and her friends (newborn to 5.)  It was fully fenced, all of the children could walk in the water and there was fun water fountains to play with.  I loved that there was fencing because it kept the party and kids contained, which made it more relaxing for the adults.  Guests can pay for themselves or you can shout, we opted for the later. 

The Food
In the past I have always organised the kiddies party food myself, with the help of family.  This time I decided to out source and I can’t even tell you how much of a relief it was!  Honestly, I don’t think I will ever do my own party food again.  I didn’t have to bring a single thing.  Sharni from Grazing Acres put together the most delicious spread of breakfast yummies (9am party,) consisting of croissants, breads with spread, a build your own muesli bowl station, ham, cheese and fruits.  There was no wastage at all, the budget was perfectly on point.  If I had of done it myself I know I would have spent the same amount if not more, and ended up with left overs in the bin.  I could not recommend outsourcing the food any higher, and if you are close to the Sunshine Coast you must check out Grazing Acres because Sharni is incredible at what she does

The Cake
The beautiful Ange from Ange’s Cakes put together a stunning Ice Cream themed masterpiece.  We chose a white chocolate mud and everyone just loved it.  My favourite part was the gorgeously lux sprinkle mix she added.  Ange also made 24 amazing ‘Ice Cream Cones,’ that really did look like real ice creams but in fact they were stuffed with chocolate and white marble chocolate cake.  So so cute! Ange is so passionate, I just love her.

Chloe’s cake topper was from XOXO Design which is where I always get our cake toppers from.  I went with a custom gold metallic side mount, as the cake was already quite full on the top.  This idea was suggested by Ange and worked out fabulously.  XOXO design have a huge variety of cake toppers and party goods, and are always such a pleasure to work with.

The Sweets
I also organised custom chocolates from Print and Party.  This lady is amazing!  When you order her products for a party, her system sends you regular emails with the best party tips, so helpful!  Print and Party can put any custom design onto their chocolates packaging, however I found one of the website that worked perfectly.  So instead of customising the whole thing I just added Chloe’s name.  There are so many flavours available, I chose caramel and dark caramel.  From design to delivery the chocolates came very quickly in the mail. Print and Party were delightful to work with.    

The sweetest ice cream shaped cookies were handmade by Li’s Cookie Jar.  Liz is located into the Spring Field Lakes however ships across Australia.  She came up with the design and colours, which worked perfectly with our theme.  They came individually wrapped so would have made the perfect party favour, however I decided to make them available for the kiddies to eat on the day.  They were a huge hit, and Liz pulled the whole thing together for me so quickly, what a lady!

Party Favours
Cloud Theory Marshmallows put together beautiful boxed marshmallows for the littles to take home.  Each gourmet marshmallow was handcrafted, and came in the mail from Adelaide.  I made sure that we kept a few for ourselves and they were absolutely delicious.  The packaging was so gorgeous and perfect as a take home treat.  The wonderful woman behind Cloud Theory Marshmallows just loves what she does.

The Decor
My biggest tip when decorating a party would be to choose one statement piece and put your budget into that.  I choose a 5m balloon garland from Party Planet.  The owner Kelly is so passionate about her job, and this shows through in the work that she produces.  I gave Kelly an idea of the colour scheme to work from, then left the rest up to her.  The result was phenomenal and everyone was talking about our Party Planet balloon garland.  If you are close to the Sunshine Coast you really must check them out, they even deliver and do the set up too.  What a weight off of my shoulders, abd to work with Kelly was an absolute dream!

As the party was outdoors I needed to create a beautiful backdrop, so I ordered a custom screen from Be Branded.  Little J Design provided to concept to Be Branded’s specs and then it was printed.  The idea was perfect and can be used for future parties.  The cloth was great for providing shade, a barrier from the drizzling rain and also the wind.

Most of the other party supplies was purchased from Kmart.  Things like the paper plates, cups and napkins.  I had a photo of Chloe at ages newborn, one and two, that I printed and put into white frames.  Jess from Little J Design made me a sign to let guests know to take a party favour home, it matches the back drop.  Then I placed pastel milk bottles and a big white vase on the tables, and filled them with colourful flowers I purchased from Aldi for only $25. 

Photography
Time and time again I am thanking this gorgeous soul because every special occasion she photographs the most stunning images for our family.  Nicola Holland Photography… I will be forever grateful to her.  I can not stress how important it is to get someone to photograph life’s special moments.  If you say you’ll do it yourself, I can guarantee you won’t.  Believe me, you will be to busy with your guests or just having fun.  Photographs help memories last a life time, and I just adore capturing every important stage in my littles lives.  Not only does Nicola photograph families, but engagement sessions, weddings (overseas too) and everything else in-between and beyond. 

Outfits
Chloe’s Sunglasses – Wander Luxe Baby Co
Chloe’s Swimmers – Willow Swim
Chloe’s Swim Hat – Willow Swim
Ari’s Swimmer –   Nenna Swim

Supplier websites
Photography – Nicola Holland Photography
Invites and design of signage and printable – Little J Design
Breakfast table – Grazing Acres
Cake and ice cream cupcakes – Ange’s Cakes
Custom cake toppers – XOXO Design
Cookies – Liz’s Cookie Jar
Custom chocolates – Print and Party
Marshmallow party favours – Cloud Theory Marshmallows
Balloon garland – Party Planet
Custom back drop – Be Branded
Chloe’s sunglasses – Wander Luxe Baby Co
Chloe’s swimmers – Willow Swim
Chloe Swim Hat – Willow Swim
Ari’s swimmers – Nenna Swim

Supplier Instagram pages
Photography – @nicolahollandphotography
Invites and design of signage and printable –
@littlejdesign
Breakfast Table –
@grazing.acres
Cake and ice cream cupcakes –
@angescakes
Custom cake toppers –
@xoxodesign_au
Cookies –
@lizscookiejar
Custom chocolates –
@printandparty
Marshmallow party favours –
@cloudtheorymarshmallows
Balloon garland –
@party__planet
Custom back drop –
@_bebranded
Chloe’s sunglasses –
@wanderluxebabynco
Chloe’s swimmers –
@willow_swim
Ari’s swimmers –
@nennaswim

Discount codes
I have a HUGE list of discount codes available, including to some of the stores involved in the planning of Chloe’s epic party.  All you need to do is subscribe and it will hit your inbox.

Don’t forget to follow along on Instagram for more special moments with my little loves, click here.

For party inspiration check out my Pinterest here.

Now for the party spam!

Enjoy x

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