‘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

My no brainer list of must have travel essentials for holidaying with children!

Without a doubt the question I am asked most is ‘how do you make traveling with children look so easy?’

I am not going to pretend to you that it is a walk in the park.  We all have our days, we all have our moments.  I still remember the reality check of our first family vacation and the sudden realisation that things were ‘different’ now.  Call me crazy but I wouldn’t swap back to those lazy beach days, and genuinely love the beautiful chaos of travelling as a family of four.

With that said, there is a small but non negotiable list of travelling essentials which I ALWAYS pack for our trips.  These items are guaranteed to make holiday life easier!

Each store in linked for easy shopping…

CoziGo – The CoziGo is a dual purpose cover which can be used on both airline basinets and prams.  It provides 97% light blockage, so that babies and toddlers can fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.  The fabric is UPV50+ keeping children safe from the sun, and is 100% air permeable to allow air to flow freely through the cover.   The design is a universal fit meaning it works on all strollers and most airline bassinets.  This is a simple and far more effective (and much safer!) solution to draping blankets over a pram.  I love that I can not only use this during travel but also on my pram at home.

Plane Pal & Packing Pal – Pane Pal have two incredible products; the Plane Pal and the Packing Pal.  Both products massively enhance your travel experience whether in a plane, car, camper van or bus.  The Plane Pal is a custom designed inflatable cushion which fills the space between your own seat and the seat in front of you.  This creates a bed like arrangement making sleep time so much more inviting.  We have one each for Ari and Chloe, and when they let me I sneak my legs up on it too!  The Packing Pals are mesh packing shells which help you to effectively pack and organise your suitcase.  I use a system of packing tops in one, bottoms in another and so on.  They com with a separate bag for shoes and another for dirty laundry.

Very Busy Bag – The perfect take anywhere entertainment for busy and time poor parents.  The Very Busy Bag is vital for keeping children entertained during travel.  It can be used on planes, car trips, trains, buses, in hotel rooms, you name it!  Each bag is filled with age and gender appropriate toys, activities and games for little ones to enjoy whilst on the move.  There is so much variety in these bags, Ari and Chloe’s kept them entertained for three weeks in Europe!  There are straps on the back of the bag so that older children can carry it themselves. My favourite thing about it is that the Very Busy Bag provides screen free time!

Bubba Bump Baby Bag – After lots of trial and error I have found the perfect solution for hand luggage when traveling with little ones.  A back pack is hands down the way to store all of your essentials.  This way you hands can be free to manage children, negotiate customs and all the other busy parts of airport travel.  The Bubba Bump Baby is the baby bag I chose to use not only when traveling but also at home, which means I don’t have to purchase addition items.  Its also great to use for day trips, once we have arrived at our destination.  This bag is luxurious, stylish, and many pockets are perfectly positioned to store all of those quick grab items like dummies, bottles and comforters.

Nordic Naturals – Staying healthy whilst travelling is key to the success of all holidays because no one wants to be sick on a trip!  Nordic Naturals is made from purified Cod Liver Oil, which benefits multiple body systems including brain, eye, heart, bone and joint health.   It also aids in overall energy and  vitality, which is so important on busy holidays.  Nordics Naturals have products to suit both adults and children, lots of which are naturally flavoured to test delicious.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive my exclusive discount codes PDF which includes some of the brans listed above.

Now that you have all of your travelling essentials its time to book your next family holiday.

Enjoy!

Thank you to the wonderful brands mentioned above for sponsoring this blog post so that I can share our favourite products with you. My opinion is of course and always is my own.

The current hair accessory trends that I cannot get enough of!

I have to say that I am all for the incredible hair accessory trends that 2019 has produced.  Clips, headbands, wraps, you name it… my accessory cupboard is stocked to the brim with the latest hairpieces to complete all my looks.

Today I wanted to share with you five favourites that I am head over heels for now!   All these pieces are easy to use yet look great.  I wanted to show you items that don’t require a lot of time, rather choosing ones that make your hair look amazing with minimal effort.

Before I get into it I wanted to thank Neutriderm for sponsoring this blog post.  Neutriderm is my chosen haircare solution which leaves my hair strong, soft and shiny.  I use their hair in Hair Enhancer Shampoo and condition.  Both are perfect for women who might have hair loss issues, so are perfect post pregnancy and breastfeeding.   90% of people notice less hair breakage within one month of use.  Both products deeply penetrate and nourish each strand of hair to protect and improve the overall health of the hair.  In times where I my hair suffers from dandruff, I do one wash with the Enhancer Shampoo and the second with their Anti Dandruff option, before conditioning.  I have linked below both products that I use.
Shampoo – https://uaspharma.com/shop/neutriderm/hair-enhancer-shampoo-250ml-bottle/
Hair Enhancer Conditioner – https://uaspharma.com/shop/neutriderm/hair-enhancer-conditioner-250ml-bottle/
Anti Dandruff Shampoo – https://uaspharma.com/shop/neutriderm/anti-dandruff-shampoo-120ml-bottle/

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Also a big thank you to Lovisa for providing the hair accessories for this post, I have also linked them in the images below, to make shopping easier for you!

  1. Paisley Print – I have long been obsessed with paisley print.  Scarfs are so versatile, you can get creative and use them as a choker, hair scarf, bag tie, or wear as a wraparound top!

2. Serpent – I am seeing snacks everywhere now.  Whether its snake print patterned shoes or clothing.  Or serpents adorning rings, earring or hair clips.  This three pack features a pearl, snake and glittery acrylic hair clip.

3. Turban – I practically love turbans as a poolside accessory paired with a cute one piece bikini.

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4. Velvet – I absolutely adore this fabric, whether as a dress, top or headband velvet is super lux.  this hair accessory is the perfect way to complete your event ensemble!  This headband boasts a pink velvet pleated design.

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5. Mini Butterfly Clips – Whether you are heading to brunch, a wedding or just wanting to look glamorous for a party, this hair accessory is the perfect way to complete your event ensemble!  This pack comes with 4 acrylic hair clips in a variety of designs

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Enjoy!

Small-Signature-Nat

Thank you to Neutriderm for sponsoring this blog post so that I can share some of my very favourite products with you.  My opinion is of course and always is my own.  #AD

 

 

Everything you need to know about the Bubs IMPROVED Australian Goat Milk Formulation

Bubs Australia has a NEW and IMPROVED Goat Milk Formulation and couldn’t wait to tell you all about it.  We’ve been apart of the Bubs Australia ‘family’ for over two years now, and I have always been extremely honest in my reviews for this incredible Australian company.  In fact you may have seen my recent blog post Everything we love about Bubs Australia Toddler Goat Milk.

Bubs sell three stages of milk product.  Stage One is suitable from birth to six months, stage two is perfect for up to 12 months of age, and stage three from 12 months up to 36 months.  All of the stages of milk products are fantastic at naturally supporting gentle digestion, particularly for littles one with sensitive tummies.   Bubs Premium Australian Goat Milk formulation contains DHA (so important!) and ARA from plants for improved tastes.

So what’s makes the new formulation of Bubs even better? 

Bubs are known to continually strive to improve their products by always staying up to date with the latest industry best practices.  All three of their Goat Milk Stages now include MORE Omega 3 (DHA), Omega 6 (ARA), and Prebiotics (GOS).

They have also adopted a single step process, whereby the farm-fresh goat milk and other enriching ingredients are combined in an efficient and time-saving way.  This provides a better taste and enables the Formula to be delivered to their customers faster.

On top of these new improvements there are so many other reasons why I choose to give Chloe Bubs Australia Toddler Goat Milk.

  • Bubs is the only Goat Formula that’s made in Australia using Australian goat milk!
  • It is made with fresh goat’s milk.
  • They use only the best ingredients.
  • It is naturally easy for the body to break down.
  • It’s certified organic.

Bubs Australia don’t just provide exceptional quality Goat milk products, they have a whole range of organic products available, from baby formula to cereals, food pouches and rusks.  Ari and Chloe have tried them all and as a Mum I highly recommend them.

You can read more about my ‘love affair’ with Bubs Australia here…
BUBS AUSTRALIA SNACK RANGE
EVERYTHING WE LOVE ABOUT BUBS AUSTRALIA TODDLER GOAT MILK
TRAVELLING WITH KIDS FEATURING BUBS AUSTRALIA
THE FINAL FEED FEATURING BUBS AUSTRALIA

Bubs Australia products can be purchased from Coles, Chemist Warehouse, Woolworths and online here.  For more information on the Bubs Australia range visit their website or Instagram.

As always please remember that I am not a midwife, lactation consult, nutritionist, doctor or any other medical expert.  I am just a Mother expressing her journey and opinions.  Thank you to Bubs Australia for sponsoring this blog post so that I can share one of my very favourite products with you.  My opinion is of course and always is my own.  #BUBSPARTNER

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

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

It has been awhile since I blogged, but I couldn’t think of a better reason to put finger to keyboard than to tell you all about our recent Cook Island adventure!  This island paradise, in the South Pacific, is made up of 15 different yet equally beautiful islands. Rarotonga is the island where our little family recently chose to enjoy a blissful 7-night stay.

Our family of four headed over with currently Ari almost four years old and Chloe nearly two and half.  Our friends were getting married on the Island, so we decided to make a holiday of it with a big, beautiful bunch of friends, many of whom have children similar ages to ours.  It was a hoot for all ages to put it short! I was really surprised at how many people travelled to the Cook Islands with children, I guess it goes to show what a family friendly place it is.

Getting there 
Travelling there wasn’t quite as direct as you might think, but still very simple and enjoyable.  From Brisbane we flew to Auckland and then onto Rarotonga.  On our return we had a five and half hour stopover, which was the perfect opportunity to clear customs and explore nearby Butterfly Creek.  Our landing into Rarotonga was one of the most beautiful I have seen, because the runway it practically sitting on the ocean.

Accommodation
Once we arrived we headed straight for our accommodation at Pacific Resort Rarotonga, via convenient transfers they had arranged.  Check in was organised and swift, which was just what we needed for an 11pm arrival. Pacific Resort Rarotonga is perfectly positioned on 5.5 acres of beautiful beachfront right on Muri Beach and lagoon.  The water is the most incredible mix of colours I have ever seen… sapphire, turquoise, aqua with a crystal-like shine, but all so clear at the same time.  The hotel has a boutique feel with only 64 rooms, suites and villas each decorated to a tasteful island feel.  The room we chose was a Premium Family Room (open plan layout,) it had plenty of space, privacy and was a few steps from the stunning hotel swimming pool.  A delicious complimentary breakfast was enjoyed in the hotel’s waterside restaurant, as well as fun activities like kid’s club and water sports (the kayaking across the lagoon is a must!)
Getting around
We found that the best way to get around the island was to hire a car.  Even though there is a bus stop located conveniently close to the resort, we have always enjoyed the flexibility of being able to adventure wherever and whenever we please.  Car hire is very well priced, and the driving couldn’t be easier, with only one road that goes around the island and a max speed limit of 50km an hour.

What we did
Just like island life this holiday was joyously slow paced and relaxing.  Normally when we are on vacation we find ourselves up and about at 8am, but Rarotonga seemed to calm all of us.  Most days we slept in until 10am and had a slow breakfast then hopped in our car and explored.  Here’s some of our favourite places and things to do, as well as some more that I have researched for you!

Restaurant Recommendations

Charlie’s Cafe and Beach Hire – This place was really cheap and the sashimi was amazing.
The Mooring Fish Café – I loved the fish tacos.
The Rickshaw Rarotonga – The best Vietnamese with big portions.
Sandals Restaurant – Conveniently located within Pacific Resort Rarotonga.
Barefoot Bar – Also within the hotel and situated right on the beach. The perfect spot for happy hour!
Muri Night markets – An ecofriendly open-air market located next door to the resort.  Try the garlic and mushroom prawns.

Beaches

Black Rock Beach – Locals have a belief that human spirits depart from this part of the coastline.  At one end of the beach you can find large basalt rocks which make for a stunning photo opportunity.
Muri Beach – The pristine white sandy beach, the bluest ocean, with water sports and scenic boat tours.
Aroa Beach – A perfect spot for snorkelling, where you can expect to see large schools of butterfly fish, sea bream and moray eels.
Tikikaveka – On the south coast of Rarotonga, I am told this is a surfing hot spot.
Nikao Beach – A safe and sheltered beach great for families and soaking up some sun.
Papua (Wilmores) Waterfall – A waterfall and swimming hole located off of the main road with a $5 entry fee.

Cultural experiences and tours

Te Vara Nui – We enjoyed the most incredible dinner and night show, and only steps from our hotel.  Rarotonga’s finest dancers and musicians perform to ‘The Legend of Tongaiti’ by flaming torchlight on floating and fixed stages in a waterfall garden.  A huge buffet dinner was included with a mix of western and local dishes.  This was definately a highlight of our trip.
Captain Tamas Lagoon Cruise – Unfortunately ours was cancelled due to bad weather but this is something I really wanted to do… An afternoon spent on Muri Lagoon, snorkelling from a private glass bottom boat followed by a late BBQ fish lunch… I’m drooling as I write this!
Punanga Nui Cultural Market – Open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm, Saturday is the main market day with all the stalls, shops and huts occupied with vendors, with the bonus of a live show on stage.
Sunday Church Service – Something we couldn’t do as we were not there on a full Sunday, but I have heard that attending a Sunday church service is a phenomenal experience.

Advice for families travelling to the Cook Islands
1. Check out my blog post Surviving Airports and Planes
2. This is a pram friendly island.  At the ages that Ari and Chloe are we decided to just take a carrier and made the right choice not to bring the pram.  However, lots of our friends with younger babies really benefited from bringing theirs.
3. Everyone speaks English, which makes life so easy when travelling with children.
4. Definately hire a car and car seats.
5. I found some things in the Cook Islands to be quite expensive so do your research on where to eat and what supermarkets to shop in etc.
6. Tap water in the Cook Islands is untreated, so drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled beforehand.
7. Pack reef shows for children.  Something that I didn’t do and wish I did!  Some of the coral can be quite sharp, even the sand on the beach which is full of tiny pieces of coral.
8. There is a huge variety of food for children to eat and you will find something for even the fussiest eaters. Fish and coconut are the staples of the island.
9. Pack your mozzie repellent.
10. We noticed that one of the schools allowed children to go and play in the school playground which I thought was sweet.
11. If you like fish food try the Ika Mata… trust me!

 

*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.  

(Thank you to Pacific Resort Rarotonga for sponsoring a portion of our stay.) (Thank you to Pacific Resort Rarotonga for sponsoring a portion of our stay.)