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.

24 hours in one of the most luxurious countries in the world!

On our recent trip to Europe we spent two nights in luxurious Monaco (which really worked out to be about 24 hours.) With such few hours in this tiny country we really needed to be selective and efficient with how we spent our time. Luckily Monaco is one of the smallest countries in the world, covering an area of 197 hectares (487 acres) of which 40 hectares (99 acres) have been reclaimed from the sea!  It blows my mind to think of it!  

So, I have come up with the perfect 24-hour itinerary for anyone travelling to Monaco on a limited timeframe. 

BUT before I get into it check out my video 24 Hours in Monaco.

Getting there

We few into Nice-Côte d’Azur airport and hired a really comfortable Mercedes convertible for the 25km drive to our hotel. 

Where we stayed

You absolutely cannot go past the waterfront position of the Fairmont.  When I say waterfront, I really mean it! This place has the most incredible views of the ocean/harbor. We chose a deluxe ocean view suite and couldn’t get enough of laying on the private sun lounges and watching cruise ships roll into harbor.  The positioning of the Fairmont also gives you perfect access to all that Monaco has to offer, sitting only a few minutes walk to the famous Place Du Casino.  The price is extremely reasonable by Monaco standards and there is nowhere else I would recommend staying.

What we did

Breakfast at Horizon
After waking up to the sound of the ocean we headed to the top floor of the Fairmont for breakfast at Horizon.  They have indoor and outdoor seating, but how could you not sit outside and enjoy the view of the Mediterranean Sea.  The delectable buffet was full of delights including eggs cooked your way, yogurt, an assortment of French cheese, doughnuts and perfectly blended fruit juices.  We ate and ate until our bellies were practically brimming.

Place Du Casino
After breakfast we headed straight out of the hotel for a walk-through Monte Carlo. Stopping for Ryan to gawk and the dozens of luxury cars parked out the front of the Casino De Monte Carlo. All of the streets were incredibly well presented and clean, and everywhere you turn was a feast for the eyes.  There is an endless array of luxury shops, but I chose a quick peek in my favourite high street store ZARA for a look at what was hot for European summer 2019.

The Prominade
After a walk-through Monte Carlo we continued onto the harbor promenade stopping to look at the stunning double story carousal that children were enjoying.  At the end of our walk along the water we were met by the base of the staircase which leads you up to The Prince’s Palace.  I can attest to the fact that it is possible to walk all of Monaco, including these stairs, even in heals!

Prince’s Palace
Once we reached the top of the stairs, we were greeted by not just the beautiful palace with its fortress, but by a stunning view of the harbor and through to Monte Carlo. The guards at the front of the Prince’s Palace aren’t just for show but are there because the Sovereign Prince and his family live there.  Were lucky enough to be at the Palace at 11.55am to witness the daily changing of the guard. 

Habour
After walking around the Palace surrounds including its gardens, and stopping in the Palace Square for a drink, we headed back down the hill to start our trek back to Monte Carlo.  On the way back we walked along the waters edge admiring the million dollar boats sitting proudly in the harbor.   Literally luxury boat after luxury boat, which is hard to describe without seeing it for yourself.

Nikki Beach
For the afternoon we headed back up the top of Fairmont only this time to relax with a bottle of Rose at the famous Nikki Beach.  This sophisticated scene is all about lounging poolside ‘in between the sea and the sky.’  You can purchase delicious food and drinks, swim in the open-air pool and listen to world class DJs.  The perfect spot for an afternoon of relaxation after a busy morning sightseeing.

Café De Paris
After working on our tans and enjoying some wine we dressed and headed out for the evening.  Once again we stopped at the Casino De Monte Carlo for Ryan to amaze at all the cars, which were even more incredible this time of night.  We grabbed a table at Café De Paris for a predinner drink.  All the chairs are positioned in a way that you can enjoy the view of more and more cars rolling up, and the wealthy hopping out of them in their designer clad outfits.  It was honestly incredible and like nothing I have seen before.  I think you could have all the money in the world and still be blown away by the beauty and luxury of Monaco.  

Noura at Hotel Hermitage
For dinner we headed to Noura at Hotel Hermitage where Lebanese cuisine was on the menu.  There was a Cartier show happening at the Casino De Monte Carlo, and from our dining table we had the perfect free ticket to bands, fashion and even fireworks!

Casino De Monte Carlo
After dinner we had a gamble at the famous casino which I found to be the perfect blend of modern reinvention and tradition.  A mix of Bohemian chandeliers, roulette tables, slot machines and images of James Bond. Everything there was about sophistication, attention to detail and luxury.

We finished our 24 hours in Monaco with a walk through the gardens of Place Du Casino and a stroll back to our comfy bed at the Fairmont.  Eyes still in awe of everything we has seen and done in the Principality of Monaco, of which we will never forget.

And now for photos…

Enjoy!

Natalie-Signature-NoBackground

 

Why Finns is a must visit for your next family vacation to Bali.

My family and I recently enjoyed a beautiful five night adventure to Bali, and if you have read my post you’ll know why we choose to holiday at this sunny island destination time and time again.

There is an endless list of fun and fascinating things to do in Bali, but there are two places that we love visiting as a family.

So now that we are home, and I’ve had countless questions from other Mama’s about my favourite kid-friendly destinations (that parents will love too), I thought why not put together a blog post about it!

Finns Beach Club
This place is phenomenal!  With 170m of absolute beach frontage in the popular area of the Berawa surf break, you will never truly understand how huge the space is until you visit Finns Beach Club.

With a choice of four pools, nine bars (including two swim up pool bars), five restaurants and a Sushi Bar, there really is something for everyone.

Located only 10 minutes from Seminyak, Finn’s Beach Club is an unmissable destinations for couples and families alike.

Entry is free, however in my opinion, securing a day bed is a must.  Beds can be booked online or on arrival, and prices vary, however, your fee for the day bed is redeemable for food & drink throughout the venue, making it more than worth it to book a daybed for the day.

Visitors to Finns can choose from a variety of areas to lounge including single and double day beds on the white sandy beach, party beds located directly inside of the lagoon pool, a party platform at the Gazebo Pool which is perfect for families, or the adults only lounge located at the 41 metre VIP Oceanfront infinity pool.

We loved the ocean front daybed we chose, but based on the delicious food being enjoyed in the lawn-area lounges, this would be my pick for future trips.

Just like everyone else who has and will visit Finns Beach Club I was totally in awe of its beauty. The bamboo structure is extremely open giving everyone an incredible view of that picturesque sunset.  Finns Beach Club’s opening hours, location and other details can be found on their website.

NOTE – Entry is free however I recommend booking a daybed based on the details above.

For more information visit The Finns website, Facebook or Instagram.

Finns Recreational Club

While I had heard of Finns Beach Club prior to our trip, I had never heard of the Finns Recreational Club, and I was blown away with this playful wonderland.

As  into the club grounds, you  instantly feel relaxed, knowing that your little ones are going to be entertained for hours!

There are so many opportunities for fun at the Finns Recreational Club and e checked most of them, so I feel fully qualified to give you a rundown of my top six must visits for families ….

Splash Water Park
The Splash Water Park,  a water play park perfect for all ages and was definitely the highlight of our visit to Finns Recreation Centre centre.

Each of us had a great time swimming in the pool and hitting the slides.

And I have to warn you, there’s endless amounts of fun to be had for big and little kids alike.  Ryan and I had SO MUCH  fun on some of the ‘big kids’ slides.

There is also a bar and restaurant located  just next to the waterpark, with staff on hand to serve you to your own sun lounger (heaven).

This place was such massive hit with the kids, that we wished we’d had time to go back again!  We felt like we were onto such a parenting win by spending our time there.

Bounce
A huge indoor trampoline centre full of fun for children and adults alike, this was my husband Ryan’s pick of activities at the centre.

Strike Bowling
A super cool bowling alley that also serves drinks and food.  We enjoyed some family friendly competition after checking out Bounce, it’s located just upstairs.

Cubby House Kids Club
A play centre where you can leave your children to have fun with toys all while being supervised by the clubs beautiful staff.  We left Ari and Chloe in the Cubby House, allowing us to spend some quality couple time together, while knowing the kids were having a blast too!

Bistro C
After  dropping the kids to the  Cubby House we headed for Bistro C to njoyed a drink and some dinner. The food was delicious,  and there was a lovely variety of drinks.

Body Temple Bali
The perfect place to visit while the kids enjoy the Cubby House for an incredible couples massage.  It was seriously amazing to step into the tranquil setting of the spa and slip away from ‘mummy travel mode’ for a moment.  The therapists were very kind and accommodating, making our experience a special one, from choosing our oils to the delicious tea we drank after our massage was over.

Finns Recreational Club’s costs, opening hours, location and other details can be found on their website.   For more information visit their website, Facebook or Instagram.

Now that you have heard all of the fun filled ways you can entertain your children and yourself at Finns Beach Club and Recreation Centre, it’s time to book those flights and get packing!

Enjoy!

Small-Signature-Nat

EVERYTHING WE LOVE ABOUT BUBS AUSTRALIA TODDLER GOAT MILK

It is no secret that I am a huge, long term fan of Bubs Toddler Goat Milk.  I weaned Ari onto it when he was 12 months old, and Chloe also started to drink it from the same age.  I took a very gentle weaning approach for both of my little loves, having mix fed Ari with breastmilk from 12 to 15 months, then exclusively onto Bubs Australia.  For Chloe I mix fed from 12 months to two years old.  Each child is different but for us I found it to be the perfect way. A journey that created a balance between not pushing them to wean and giving me the flexibility of not solely relying on my breastmilk.  (Bubs Toddler Goat Milk is suitable from 12 moths plus.)

With the decision to wean, came the decision of what to wean them onto.  This is not something that I considered lightly.  With so many options of products available it didn’t take long for me to feel completely overwhelmed.  To honest there was so much out there that I would never put through their precious digestive systems.

Bubs Toddler Goat Milk was and still is the clear winner for us.  It was founded in Australia by a Mother of three who wanted exactly what I want for my children… what is best for her bubs.  What Mum doesn’t want the very best for her child?  Made from whole goat milk and goat whey protein, within Bubs Toddler Goat Milk you can find a balanced daily intake of essential fatty acids, vitamins, prebiotics and other beneficial nutrients needed to support a healthy growing body. Bubs Toddler Goat Milk is produced in the beautiful Victorian countryside, and is the only Australian made Toddler Goat Milk sold in Australian Supermarkets.  Perfectly made for growing children to help to support their immune system, growth and development.

I have been blessed by the fact the neither Ari nor Chloe have any dietary intolerances, however Bubs can be the perfect solution to issues related to digestion.  Some of the symptoms of digestive issues that can be repaired by simple switching to goat’s milk include, cow milk protein intolerances/sensitivity, wind, bloating, constipation, colic, diarrhoea and regurgitation.  In fact, because it is so gentle and nourishing, Bubs can even help even help with mucus congestion and skin conditions like inflammation, rashes and eczema.

I have recommended Bubs to countless people who has subsequently asked me, “What is the difference between cow’s milk and goats’ milk.”  To put it short, goats’ milk is just easier for the body to digest.  The harder a child’s body must work to breakdown milk sources and food the more stress is put on bodily systems, and nutrients are absorbed much slower.  The Bubs Australia website is full of information on why goats milk is such a great choice, so I highly recommend having a look here.

I have previously written two blog posts about the Bubs Australia products, The Final Feed which talks about our weaning journey, and Traveling with Kids featuring Bubs Australia, which gives a really great run through of all the benefits to travelling with Bubs Australia products.

There is a huge range of products under Bubs Australia from baby formula to cereals, food pouches and rusks.  Ari and Chloe have both tried them all throughout various stages and they love them!

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

Note – Chloe’s gorgeous outfit in these images is from My Riser.

Lots of love!

Small-Signature-Nat

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

 

Hot off the press… some of the best ways to plan your travel

As many of you know I am knee deep in planning our next adventure to Bali and Europe.  I absolutely love to plan holidays and have been the ‘travel agent’ of our family for years now.

During my recent searches for the best accommodation, hottest restaurants and most beautiful locations I have come across a few new (to me) tools that can take your vacation planning to the next level!

I really shouldn’t bee spilling these secrets, but it’s in my nature to share a good thing.  If I have something that will make a positive difference to someone’s appearance then I just can’t keep it to myself!  So here goes…

Websites that got be excited –
Tablet Hotels – If you are into boutique style hotels this is a must click.
One Fine Stay – Like Air BnB but offering only the finest homes.
Design Hotels – Beautiful bespoke hotels if you are after something quieter.
Mr and Mrs Smith – Hand picked luxury hotels.
Air Bnb Plus – A feature on Air Bnb that includes luxury properties with great ratings.
Flight Fox – This one is all about booking flights and is especially good for the cooperate traveller.

Tips I had never thought of before –
– Once you think you’ve settled on a hotel, use google maps to check out its actual location.  Pop it onto ‘earth mode’ so you can see what the accommodation actually looks like.  Move around the street to look at neighbouring properties.  See if there is anything close by that might impact your holiday, like a large night club or busy restaurant.

– On Instagram, find one hotel in an area that you love and a price point that you want to spend.  Go to that hotel’s profile and use the drop down arrow which then allows you to see accounts similar to the one your are on.  You will come across a bunch of competing hotels in the area that are similar to your original search.  Happy researching!

– If you find a property you love on Air Bnb or another search tool, then go onto google and search that accommodation by name.  You may find a better deal outside of the engine you had originally been using.  I always find Air Bnb to be much more expensive then the price I would have paid if I booked direct.

– It is said booking flights at midday on a Tuesday is the cheapest time to do it.

– It can be cheaper to book round tickets over one way flights.

– Rumour has it that the exact day to find the cheapest airfare is 54 days before flight departure.

– Keep your options open.  You may have a few airports located close to you or where you are going.  Landing into one may be substantially cheaper than another.

– Set up price alerts with different airlines and sign up to subscription newsletters.

– Consider stopping over to spilt up your journey.  This may also lower the cost of your overall flight.

– Stay over a Sunday night.  Most hotels get holiday bookings Friday to Sunday morning, and business bookings Monday to Friday.  Sunday can be cheaper and quieter.

Now get me on that plane on Friday!  I seriously can not wait to be in Bali staying at the gorgeous Dreamland resort.  For more holiday inspiration check out My Wyndham Holidays and the Wynham Instagram page.

Happy travelling!

Enjoy,

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.)

 

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.

SECRETS FOR FINDING THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS FOR YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY!

 

It’s the age-old question. ‘How can I find the cheapest flight?’

Holidays can be expensive, and any money saved is a huge blessing.  We’ve all experienced the tiresome job of searching for the most economical flights.  More often than not we are met with endless search engines, fluctuating prices, hours spent on the phone.  Its short thrifty flight booking can be overwhelming and stressful, not to mention a huge drain on your time!

Our family recently booked a trip to Bali staying at the brand new Wyndham Hotels Resort in Dreamland.  We are beyond excited!  Now it’s time to get our travel booked in, and I’ve spent hours researching exactly how to get the cheapest and best flights.call to action - packing checklist

Seeing as I’ve already done the ‘leg work,’ I thought I would share some of the best and most current information!  So here are some key tips that will save you time, frustration and money when booking your next flight.

– Before doing anything else check if you have any credit card points that can be used.  The cheapest way to fly is for free!
– Be flexible with your dates.  This includes identifying the cheapest day to fly.  Do this by looking at a visual calendar of flight prices for a whole month and finding the cheapest day.
– Use ITA matrix in google it’s awesome!
– Skyscanner is a great tool for research.
– TripAdvisor forums are awesome for discussing the best routes/stopovers and opinions on airlines.
– Sign up to I Know The Pilot for discount alerts.
– Only search 1 adult when researching  best prices (even if 2 are traveling.)
– If traveling to multiple destinations on a 1 or 2 month holiday, depending on location it might be cheaper to just book the return flight,  and to wait until you are in Europe to book the remaining flights within holiday (eg book return flight from Australia to England now, and book remaining flights within Europe once in England.)  Or in other instances it might be best to book all of your flights in advance.  Spend time researching and talking to people to decide what is best for your situation.
– If you don’t feel comfortable booking with the website or company who is offering the best deal, send the details to a Travel agent who will try to find a better price for you.
– Always search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to see the lowest prices.  It’s not a coincidence that prices sometimes go up after you’ve searched the same flight a few times.
– Check out if it’s cheaper to pay in other currencies.

I hope you can utilise some of the above tips to get your family off on their next adventure. call to action - packing checklist

If you have any tips and tricks for booking cheap flights that you can share comment on my Instagram post here.

Enjoy and happy travels!

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24 Hours at Ocean View Estates

Ocean View Estates is a family owned and run winery and brewery located in the hinterland between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast (45km from Brisbane.)  It’s owners Thomas, Kate and their beloved OVE holds a special piece of our hearts, because six years ago we held our wedding reception there.  After months and months of looking we drove to OVE for dinner and were sold the instant we saw the setting… and double sold after our first bites of our meals.  During the stages of wedding planning and since then we have spent many days on the property enjoying lunches, degustations and winery tours.

This week we were lucky enough to take our children to enjoy a one night stay in there two bedroom cottage (they also have a one bed.)  We arrived late in the afternoon after just over one hours drive from the Sunshine Coast.  Greeted by staff we took the key and drove up to our accommodation.  The two bedroom cottage features a kitchen, living area, bathroom, fireplace and spa bath. Though the best part would be the phenomenal outlook from the balcony.

There is plenty to do at OVE without doing much at all.  The beauty comes from making no plans and simply walking around the breathtaking grounds allowing yourself to “unwind in the vines.”  The staff can organise a packed picnic lunch to be enjoyed with a bottle of their own wine. Or a four/six course dejustation lunch with complimenting drinks.  You can take part in one of the daily winery/brewery tours, with tasting.  If you are feeling adventurous and have the time, a visit to neighbouring Dayboro is a must. The options are endless even down to a scenic helicopter flight landing within the winery grounds.  Some people actually choose to arrive for their lunch/stay at OVE by helicopter or horseback!

Putting its spectacular surrounds aside the highlight of this place is the restaurant which celebrates a slight Japanese and French fusion.  Hands down the best food I have eaten. Head chef Tony Tierney arranges incredible menus season after season, year after year. My top pick is his hot chocolate soft centred puddings, I’ve been eating variations of it for years.

If time is limited, and you can’t pull yourself away for the night, a day trip from Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast is a perfect amount of time to enjoy lunch at OVE.  We have honestly had some of our best family occasions driving through the hinterland up to the restaurant to enjoy the food.

Lastly a note on weddings.  If you are a bride to be, (or a hopeful bride to be,) I would highly recommend considering Ocean View Estates for your special day.  It is a one of a kind property that will set your wedding apart.  Family run with a wholesome feel, Tom and Kate graciously play huge parts in giving their couples the most incredible of wedding days.  Since our special day, six years ago, they have opened a dedicated function room which looks spectacular.  The perfect ceremony spot is offered under a gazebo which sits on the lake.  Couples are given the option of hosting their entire wedding within the OVE grounds if they wish, without even having to move off site for photos.  I still count my blessings that we chose Ocean View Estates for our wedding venue and would choose it time and time again.

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For more information on Ocean View Estates including information on restaurant bookings, overnight stays and wedding packages visit their website or call (07) 3425 3900.

Here’s some images taken six years ago of our wedding at Ocean View Estate.  Photos by Calli B Photography.

*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

Queenstown, New Zealand

Having travelled to Queenstown four times and my husband six, we know a thing or two about this extraordinary town. My husband has been an avid snowboarder for years, and after getting married I decided it was time I picked up a snowboard myself or I’d spend the rest of my life getting ‘left behind’ during his annual migration to the snow. Queenstown is also the first place that we took Ari to. It’s a short three-hour flight from Brisbane, and with only a two-hour time difference was the perfect destination to introduce our family to international travel. Having visited Queenstown with and without children we’ve witness the versatility that this destination offers, so here is….

‘My Best of Queenstown!”

  1. Best family friendly restaurant – Flames
  2. Best fine dining – Botswana Butcher
  3. Best quick bite – Ferg Burger
  4. Best breakfast – Yonder
  5. Best cute cafe – The Bathhouse Cafe, Bar and restaurant
  6. Best dessert – Patagonia
  7. Best restaurant and bar combined – Winnie’s
  8. Best rooftop bar – Surreal
  9. Best bar for a dance – World Bar
  10. Best unique bar – Minus Five Ice Bar
  11. Best relaxing day – A visit to Gibbston Winery
  12. Best for couples – Onsen Hot Pools
  13. Best adrenaline off the snow – AJ Hackett Bungy and Bungy Swing
  14. Best family friendly activity – Ride up the Skyline Gondola for buffet lunch and Luge
  15. Best activity for bigger kids – Ziptrek or Shotover Jet Boat Ride
  16. Best mountain for boarding – Treblecone
  17. Best family friendly hill – Cardrona
  18. Best accommodation for families – Air BnB
  19. Best hotel all round – NOVOTEL
  20. Best way to get around – Hire a car with Ace Car Rentals

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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