Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

A Fav Spot

Brought to you by Nuffnang and Piazza D’Oro (S1 Post)

Samford, Brisbane, Australia

I set myself a challenge to visit many different Piazza D’Oro coffee shops in my region, coinciding with the Barista of the Year competition, just as something fun for myself. I do this sort of thing from time to time: invest in little joys here and there. You can read about the cafés I visited here. There was one particular coffee shop and surrounds that stood out to me in my travels.

The place I’m talking about is called The Buzzstop Espresso Bar in Samford. If you’re from Brisbane, or visiting the area, I highly recommend a visit to Samford, about 30 minutes from the CBD. It’s got a great vibe, with cafes, cute shops, a local art & craft centre, an organic grocer and a wonderful playground my kids LOVE.   Plus, it’s only 25 minutes from the top of Mt Glorious: another great spot for beautiful views, picnics and bushwalks. We often go up there as a family for lazy Sunday afternoon picnics.

The Buzzstop Espresso Bar is in the heart of Samford. The staff are friendly, the food is great and so is the coffee. I always have a good experience there, although it can get very busy some mornings (it’s a favourite spot for a lot of people!). Coffee and food, when prepared right, can really make a different to time out.

My husband and I visited this café one afternoon when we had our kids minded. We are making a big move soon and we needed a fresh space (out of the house!) to talk and make plans. We found a sweet little spot in the corner and our food and coffee was served promptly. It was just what we needed to help develop a plan of action for the next couple of months. Good coffee and food can do that! After our mini date we went for a slow walk through the park, the breeze caressing our faces.

The Buzzstop Espresso Bar Samford, Brisbane

The Buzzstop Espresso Bar Samford, Brisbane

The Buzzstop Espresso Bar Samford, Brisbane

The Buzzstop Espresso Bar Samford, Brisbane

Samford, Brisbane, Australia

Samford, Brisbane, Australia

It’s made me happy to take this journey with Piazza D’Oro cafés because I know they have a passion, not only for coffee, but for the experience it brings. I’ve been on the receiving end of that experience, and it’s a facilitator of joy and connection in my life.


The Piazza D’Oro Barista of the Year National Finals will be held at The Barista Workshop in Sydney on the 26th of November. All the best to all the finalists! Looking forward to hearing about the results.

Could your friend have postnatal depression?

This is a guest post by my friend Louisa from Brand Meets Blog about a very important topic.


I remember sitting on my bed with my new baby, cradling her in my arms and looking down with adoration at her perfect little face, her perfect little hands, her perfect little body. The connection I felt to her was deeply profound but so was the complete sense of fear I had that something was going to happen; that she was going to be taken away from me.

Could your friend have postnatal depression?

Becoming a Mum for the first time almost seven years ago was an absolutely magical day, and magical time. Before Bliss was born I remember my Mum telling me that you couldn’t understand how much you’d fall in love with your baby until you were holding them, but that the intensity of that love was utterly overwhelming.

When Bliss arrived, I didn’t have that reaction. Yes, I loved her fiercely and completely but that love manifested itself into fear. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for that feeling to be replaced by the overwhelming love my Mum had spoken of; she was right – it’s pretty intense!

As I’ve gone on to have two more children, I am grateful that I have been able to embrace those moments more fully and soak up all that beautiful newborn goodness.

The thing is it’s not always easy to tell if someone has postnatal depression or not. For me, I think the jury is out; I certainly had the “baby blues” with Bliss and struggled a lot with my own expectations of motherhood, in particular reconciling my idea of motherhood with the realities of a baby and my own personality (I’d always envisioned myself as the Susie-Homemaker kind of mum and it hadn’t really occurred to me that I wasn’t getting a personality transplant, I was having a baby!)

I also know that sleep deprivation took its toll on me; I remember going to the Doctor with my husband and being prescribed anti-depressants. That same day we decided to reintroduce the dream feed just so we could get some more sleep. Blissfully, the dream feed “worked” and she slept through the night which meant I did too and the next I instantly felt back to my old self; I never filled the prescription. There’s a good reason why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture!

Whether or not I was just extremely tired or had PND is kind of irrelevant. If it was “just” sleep deprivation then it might as well have been PND because the symptoms were the same. While I was able to resolve the key issue causing me to struggle, not all parents are able to “fix” that problem so I which is why sleep deprivation is considered a contributing factor to PND.

I think that’s been my biggest learning, there are degrees of PND; it’s not the same for all parents.

Looking in at us, no one really had any idea that I wasn’t doing well and I certainly wasn’t advertising the fact. Rather, the comments we received constantly were about how well we were adjusting, how relaxed we were and how easily it seemed to be going for us.

Lovely words; not that helpful when you feel completely isolated and like you are not at all coping “easily” with the changes around you.

My experience has made me want to be more in touch with how new parents really are feeling; to encourage honest conversation and the ability to ask for help, which I was terrible at. We are often able to recongnise when things aren’t quite right with our friends, especially if we’ve been down the road ourselves before, and it encourages me to know that you really are able to make a difference by being just being willing to be open and initiate a conversation.

{insert PND image}

If you want to be aware of the signs so you can support new parents or if you are worried that a friend of yours might be struggling with PND then these are four things to know to help you, help them:

1. You can make a difference

It’s often a friend or family member who first notices when something isn’t right with a new parent. While having days where you feel like a terribly un-fun Mum is very normal, going more than 2 weeks consistently feeling down isn’t.

There is still a lot of stigma around postnatal depression and your friend might feel that she has tried to communicate her feelings but not been heard and so opening up again could be really hard for her. You can make a difference by letting her know that you see her doing a great job and that it’s OK to say that motherhood is hard.

2. Signs to look out for

These are some of the signs relating to PND. If you’ve got a friend experiencing some of these then it might be worth broaching the subject with her.

  • Sleep changes unrelated to baby’s sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Crying – feeling sad and crying without apparent reason or feeling like you want to cry but can’t
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control, unable to cope
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Negative obsessive thoughts
  • Fear of being alone OR withdrawing from family and friends
  • Memory difficulties and loss of concentration
  • Feeling guilty and inadequate
  • Loss of confidence and self-esteem

Post and antenatal depression are not only biological (hormonal) conditions. Lack of social or emotional support, stress and relationships changes, lack of sleep, difficult pregnancy or birth experience etc.. can all be contributing factors.

3. Listen first

Create an environment in which your friend feels that they can talk honestly about their feelings without fear of judgement or fear that they will be told that “everyone goes through that”. A great phrase to use is as simple as “Adjusting to motherhood is one of the biggest transitions women make but we often don’t talk about how difficult that can be” and leaving the space open after that for your friend to respond.

Another helpful question to ask is “What would the best thing that you could imagine happening for you right now?” This question is empowering because it acknowledges how hard the situation is but gives them a chance to look for a positive solution that would really make a difference. (This can also be great if you are wanting to practically support your friend as you might find out what you could do for her to help).

4. Postnatal depression won’t go away by itself; something needs to change

Medication isn’t always necessary (in my case getting some longer stretches of sleep made the world of difference) but it’s important to speak to someone who can help you work out the best approach. PANDA has a support line and they are able to offer confidential and free support and are great place to direct your friend if she needs someone to talk to.

In taking the initiative to have this conversation with someone in your life you are being a great friend but at the end of the day you can’t be responsible for what they will do with your support and information. It’s incredibly important that anyone struggling with PND to speak to their GP or contact PANDA for more information and to get the best course of action for them.

If you’re worried that a friend or family member is struggling with postnatal or antenatal depression or if you yourself are struggling then called PANDA’s national perinatal depression helpline on 1300 726 306.

PND

100 Ways to Be A Fun Mum

100 Ways to Be A Fun Mum

The Be A Fun Mum team brainstormed together and came up with a huge list of ways to be a fun mum. Some of these are super simple and quick, and some are more elaborate.  This list is supposed to be 100 Ways to Be A Fun Mum, but we ended up with more than that, so it stands at over 120 (at the moment). Do you have any other ideas to add to the list? 

  1. Laugh.
  2. Have a water fight.
  3. Let them win.
  4. Cute picnics outside.
  5. Slow Down.
  6. Go with the flow.
  7. Jump in puddles.
  8. Camp out in the backyard.
  9. Get down on their level.
  10. Lounge room dancing.
  11. Have a day of YES. Don’t tell the kids about it but simply just say yes to every request (within reason) and let the other things go.
  12. Tickle.
  13. Do an activity you’ve never done before (Google for inspiration).
  14. Join in with EVERYTHING the kids do for an afternoon.
  15. Be silly.
  16. Tell jokes.
  17. Let them help peel veggies.
  18. If you have more than one child, take them out somewhere special on their own, just the two of you.
  19. Squishes at bedtime.
  20. Sing songs.
  21. Quote lines from favourite movies.
  22. Forget the housework sometimes.
  23. Listen, really take the time to listen.
  24. Let them help you cook and bake.
  25. Camp in the lounge room.
  26. Make a fort under the table.
  27. Sit on the floor with your kids.
  28. Play in the rain.
  29. Skip together, anywhere!
  30. Do funny voices during story time.
  31. Sing off tune (on purpose).
  32. Use expression.
  33. High-Five.
  34. Make mistakes (on purpose) when telling a familiar story.
  35. Pretend to get cross when they fly away from you on the swing. “Come back here!
  36. Allow them to pick your outfit or do your hair for the day.
  37. YOU have fun.  Yes, YOU!
  38. Make doing chores fun by being enthusiastic. COME ON TEAM! WE CAN DO THIS!!
  39. Say, “I love you.”
  40. Drop your expectations.
  41. Run through the sprinkler in the backyard.
  42. Have a race.
  43. Wear colourful accessories.
  44. Make up a silly story.
  45. Smile. A lot.
  46. Make something yummy as a treat.
  47. Go swimming with them.
  48. Show them how to enjoy the little things in life.
  49. Practice gratefulness.
  50. Tell stories about your childhood. When I was a little girl…
  51. Enjoy nature everyday.
  52. Let them create.
  53. Be imaginative.
  54. Lay a beach towel in the back yard and look for shapes in the clouds.
  55. Watch television together
  56. Make paper airplanes and have a race.
  57. Sit back and watch your kids.
  58. Create felt pen tattoos.
  59. Organise surprises for your kids.  For example: Plan a trip to a theme park, the cinema or something your child loves but just tell them it’s a mystery outing. Have their bags packed and start driving to your mystery location. 
  60. Visit family and cousins.
  61. Have themed international dinners. Pick a country, do some research together online or at the library, shop and prepare it together. Maybe even find decorations or costumes eg. sombreros and brightly coloured serviettes for a Mexican night.
  62. Have a ‘stay in your PJs all day’ day.
  63. Chase the kids around the house.
  64. Leave little treats in their lunch boxes for them to find at school…like a special note or a  secret message on a banana.
  65. Introduce the kids to fondue!
  66. Make a dessert pizza (Max Brenner style). Put all the ingredients on the table and let the kids go for it! Nutella ‘sauce’, cornflakes, marshmallows, white and milk choc chips  Either buy thin pre-made pizza bases or make them yourself if you have a good recipe.
  67. Do funny-face selfies.
  68. Give them a spay bottle of water each on a hot day. Let the kids go nuts.
  69. Makeovers. Set up hair brushes, combs, hair accessories, lipstick, blush, glitter spray etc.
  70. Hair chalk.
  71. Do nail polish.
  72. Put a drop of food colouring in the bath. Or a few drops of different colours.
  73. Set up a fish tank together.
  74. Make a fairy garden together.
  75. Bury “treasure” in the sandpit and let them dig it up.
  76. Go to Bunnings and let them push a mini trolley around.
  77. Set up a beach tent in the lounge room, pile in pillows and snacks, and watch a movie.
  78. Make sock puppets out of old socks.
  79. Plant a vege/herb patch.
  80. Write a letter to a friend or relative and post it. Pre-writers can draw a picture.
  81. Wash all the doll clothes (old school style) in a bucket with soapy water, rinse and let them hang them on a lower line with pegs (good for fine motor)
  82. Go through or visit a car wash.
  83. Google natural face mask recipes (e.g. honey, oats, egg whites etc) and give each other a facial.
  84. Play ‘car wash’ with toy cars or small ride ons.
  85. Build a tree house.
  86. Flower pressing: find pretty flowers in the garden and press between wax paper inside some very heavy books.
  87. Buy fabric paint and get your child to decorate their own shirt.
  88. Camp out in your own backyard.
  89. Make paper airplanes and have a race
  90. Do a water fight outside.
  91. Set up a lemonade stall outside your house…see how many you can sell!
  92. Go strawberry picking.
  93. Get your child to choose a cake from a kids birthday cake book and make one…just because. Invite friends for afternoon tea.
  94. Lay a blue beach towel out in the living area and add toys to create a beach play scene.
  95. Get a huge roll of paper and let the kids go nuts with drawing a huge mural or tracing around their bodies.
  96. Make your own kites and fly on a windy day
  97. Go on a nature walk around the block & see how many cool flowers, feathers, rocks & leaves you can find.
  98. Treasure hunt around your house: Leave clues and drawings at certain spots around the house which directs them to the next clue with a little surprise or note at the end.
  99. Play wii with your kids. When mum gets involved sometimes, it can be lots more fun.
  100. Take the telescope outside at night a do star gazing. Get a book or research online about the stars.
  101. Let the kids to make their own placemats. They can cut out lots of coloured cardboard into shapes and stick them onto a piece of contact. Contact the other side and turn them into placemats for dinner time.
  102. Make barbie or dolls cloths together out of paper.
  103. Tarp, water & laundry liquid. Do a homemade slip and slide!
  104. Mix dishwashing liquid & water. Use a straw and blow bubbles upon bubbles on baking trays set up on a table top.
  105. Set up a photo booth and take funny pictures. Think party hats, sunglasses and stick on moustaches. 
  106. Work on a Christmas family concert for Christmas Eve. Read or act out the Christmas story, look for a Christmas poem to recite, play carols on instruments, a special dance or do a mock interview with Mary and Joseph ect. Good fun in the lead up to Christmas!
  107. Go on a family holiday at least once a year.
  108. Have an early dinner and then go for a ‘mystery’ drive to a lookout or a jetty and look at the moon. Then get a soft serve ice cream cone on the way home.
  109. Explore your own city! Get on the ferry, bus or train and get off at one stop per outing and explore that area. Look for parks, cafes, any local attractions, interesting houses.
  110. Take the kids to the museum and let them take photos of their favourite exhibits.  Print out the photos when you get home and make a book
  111. Go ice skating!
  112. Board game night. Scrabble, monopoly etc.
  113. Smash out exercise together with your kids.  Do something you all enjoy.
  114. Watch funny cat videos on YouTube.
  115. Establish a ‘how does it work Wednesday’. Each week, watch a how-to video on YouTube.  For example, how bread is made, how is rice grown, how is glass made.
  116. Research your family tree together. Draw it out on paper. Look at photos.
  117. Make shadow hand puppets.
  118. Try and draw anything your child asks you to. Take turns and laugh at your efforts.
  119. Watch old home movies…show the kids your wedding video!
  120. Make gloop, cloud dough or play dough
  121. Greet your kids after school with a huge exuberant smile!
  122. Be you. And share that uniqueness with your kids.

100 Ways to Be A Fun Mum

Other Lists

100 School Holidays Ideas

100 Ways to Love the Moment

100 Ways to Enjoy Nature with Kids

Add the Festivity to Play

I love the Christmas season. The kids pick up on the excitement building and it’s a beautiful time for family.  It’s so easy to capitalise on the excitement of the season and incorporate it into play. Just a few mock wrapped presents and mini Christmas trees you can pick up a dime a dozen from discount, department or supermarket stores can do the trick. BAM! Play time extended. Imagination stimulated. 

Ideas

  • Wrap boxes of different sizes and give to the kids to play with
  • Buy a small Christmas tree and decorations and this can be a dedicated kids tree to decorate and use with toys for play
  • Little trees are wonderful for doll play
  • LED Battery operated lights can be added to a play space to make it look magical

Wrap a few mock presents and give to the kids to play with.

Wrap a few mock presents and give to the kids to play with.

Wrap a few mock presents and give to the kids to play with. Add a few trees too!

Wrap a few mock presents and give to the kids to play with. Add a few trees too!

Frozen Toy Ice Skating Rink

More

Ice Skating Rink

Frozen Play Scene

Snow Play Scene

The Tree Wall

I wanted to share this beautiful idea for a living area: a tree wall feature.  Sharron decided to decorate this wall space with a tree shape.  She simply put the word out that she was looking for someone with artist ability to paint the wall for her (you can find people on Gumtree, through Google or find a local Facebook buy/sell group and ask in there). It cost $50.

The great thing about this design is you can just throw frames up however you like, without them needing to be in line. And it looks fantastic!

Family Tree Wall

Family Tree Wall

Family Tree Wall

Family Tree Wall

Family Tree Wall

Family Tree Wall

More

Feature Homes

End of Year Teacher (Approved) Gift Ideas

I know many teachers personally (my sister is one of them) and they don’t expect gifts at the end of the year, but the gesture is certainly appreciated, especially a heartfelt card or note.  I appreciate the work teachers do with my kids, and each year the kids and I like to give a token gift. Last year we made bird wreath Christmas Tree decorations with a card written by the kids.

I asked the teachers in the Be A Fun Mum Facebook Community about the gifts they like best (you can through over 300 comments here). I’ve boiled it down here to the top 5 and other favourites..  What stood out to me was that it’s the personal gifts — personal notes and handmade cards — that mean the most to the majority of teachers.

Teacher Gift Ideas

TOP 5 Teachers Approved Gifts

1. Personalised handwritten card/letter/drawing

2. Christmas tree decoration

3. Wine

4. Stationery supplies: stickers, sharpies, stamps, sticky notes, storage boxes

5. Homemade food 

Note: This was popular amongst teachers, however some teachers had homemade food items on the strongly PLEASE NO list too, so be aware of that. Perhaps include a small note saying the items were made in an hygienic environment.

FOOD/DRINK

  • Wine/Champagne/Alcohol/Soft Drink
  • Gourmet coffee/Tea

Here’s a fun idea on how to dress up soft drink or other beverages: Reindeer Bottles

HOMEMADE

  • Personalised handwritten:
  • Food:
    • Shortbread
    • Biscuits/cookies
    • Peppermint bark
    • Rocky Road
    • Fudge
    • Choc balls
    • Rum balls
    • White Christmas
    • Cookie mix in a jar (recipe here)
    • Chutney
    • Jam
    • Brandied fruit
    • Homemade pesto in baking dish
  • Christmas decoration (you can find a list of handmade decorations here: Handmade Christmas Tree Decorations)
  • Fresh fruit basket
  • Pot plant/plant seeds
  • Pamper package jar with all the essentials for a mani/pedi
  • Teacher survival kit
  • Christmas wrapping paper + tape + fun poem on card (check out the tutorial here)

Since November you’ve been shopping,

barely sleeping, hardly stopping.

Now it’s late you’re in a scrape, out of paper, out of tape.

Hope this wrap helps save the day!

Have a Happy Holiday!

  • Artwork:
    • Word art with teacher’s name or the names of the children in the class. Use programs like Tagxedo or Wordle
    • Framed class photo signed by all the children
    • Framed thank you

teacher gift ideas

I made these graphics for free at Tagxedo

PURCHASED

  • Christmas tree decoration
  • Personalised:
    • Stamp/stickers (for labelling resources)
    • Keyring
    • Pen (engraved)
  • Perfume
  • Cookbook
  • Dictionary
  • Book
  • Diary/planner
  • Funky necklace/bangle/earrings (e.g. purchased from markets or handmade)
  • Scarf
  • Vase
  • Pot plant/plant seeds
  • Thermal coffee mug
  • Whistle + ball (Coach/P.E. teacher)
  • Scratchies/lottery tickets
  • Stationery supplies – stickers, sharpies, stamps, sticky notes, storage boxes

STATIONERY SUPPLIES/PACK IDEAS

Below are some ideas on stationery packs to give to teachers.

End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas - Stationery Pack

End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas - Stationery Pack

Giving them can be as easy as tying pens, pencils, sharpies & highlighters up in ribbon.

End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas - Stationery Packs

Or place all the times in a gift box.

End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas - Stationery Pack

A set of mini drawers is a fun ideas too!

End of year teacher gift ideas - drawers filled with stationery

VOUCHERS

  • Coffee
  • Bottle shop
  • iTunes
  • Books

GROUP GIFTS

One of the parents can coorindate to collect funds to contribute to a group present.

  • Vouchers:
    • Movies/Gold Class
    • Massage
    • Local restaurant/café
    • Manicure/pedicure/facial
    • Local artist
    • Experience gifts  (eg RedBalloon)
  • Shopping centre gift card
  • Photo canvas of the students
  • Watch
  • Jewellery
  • Handbag/Luggage

DONATIONS

Books/toys for disadvantaged children & donations to children-based charities (below are some of the mentioned charities):

PREFER NOT TO RECEIVE

  • Mugs
  • Lotions/hand cream
  • Soaps
  • Candles
  • Chocolates (boxes)
  • Teacher appreciation gifts (they get so many of these!)
  • Homemade food items (please be conscious that some teachers prefer not to consume homemade foodstuffs, particularly if made by the children)

There you go! A heaps of teacher approved gift ideas and tips!

More

Even more Teacher Gift Ideas

Handmade Christmas Tree Decorations

Candy Cane Bead Christmas Tree Decoration

Candy Cane Christmas Tree Decoration

This is a super simple tree decoration that looks adorable hanging on the Christmas Tree or around the house.

Materials

Pipe Cleaner

Beads

Twine

Method

1. Thread 1 bead on to a pipe cleaner, leaving just a little at the base to bend around the first bead to secure it.

2. Thread beads in a red/white sequence until the end of the pipe cleaner is reached, bar 1 cm at the end.  Bend and twirl excess pipe cleaner around the final bead.

3. Bend the pipe cleaner into a candy cane shape and tie a piece of twine to hang.

Candy Cane Christmas Tree Decoration

Candy Cane Christmas Tree Decoration

More

Christmas Crafts

Handmade Christmas Tree Decorations 

Cane Cane Reindeer Christmas Craft

Other Easy Bead Tree Decorations

Easy Bead Wreath Tree Decoraiton

Ribbon Christmas Tree Decoration

Bead Christmas Tree Decoration

For the Love of Coffee

Brought to you by Nuffnang and Piazza D’Oro (S1 Post)

Back in September, I wrote a post about the Piazza D’Oro Barista of the Year competition, and the finalists have been announced. Congratulations to:

New South Wales

Apryl Curtin from Bar 2101

Jan Duan from Coffee Fest

Marius Beullens from Margot Espresso

Victoria

Wael Bou Karroum from Station Stop Café

Alex Petroulias from Urban Chill

Jesse Carrington from Skyblitz Café

Giacomo Dalla- Zuanna from Little Figs Café

Henry Elcheikh from Goldies Café

Queensland

Alyssa Day from Kedron Wavell Services Club

West Australia

Harrison Lewis from Rydges

The ten national finalists will head to The Barista Workshop in Sydney on the 26th of November to compete in the Piazza D’Oro National Finals so I’ll keep an eye on that and let you know how it goes. This competition is part of Piazza D’Oro’s commitment to training their baristas so they can develop their technical knowledge. And this is behind the delicious coffee I love so well.

When I found out about this initiative, I set myself my own little challenge: the aim was to visit many different Piazza D’Oro cafes on my travels, just because I love coffee AND new places. I believe it’s important to keep doing the things you love when you become a parent, you just sometimes need to find a different way to do them, scale them down a little or weave them into your life in a sustainable way. I wrote about it here. So this coffee thing is an example of me putting it into practice.

Over the last few months, I visited many different cafes using the Piazza D’Oro app to find them. Not only did I feel like I had this secret joy about me, an amazing…well only small really, but still amazing thing happened. Let me take you on some of my travels:

Going Home from Holidays

My first stop on my challenge was on our way back from holidays at the Sunshine Coast. I love sipping on coffee in the car. It’s like a little luxury.

coffee

On my way to a family day out

Setting my day up well. 

for the love of coffee

On My Way to the Country

I headed out to visit my cousin with my kids on this particular day. I drove through the city and stopped off near the Brisbane River at a café. I have a close relationship with my cousins and we have kids the same age so that’s special.

for the love of coffee

Shopping for Birthday Dinner

It was my husband’s birthday and it was a frantic day (and he wasn’t going to be home late) but I wanted to spoil him with his favourite meat pie. So I dashed to the shops before a meeting, grabbed a coffee, raced around throwing what I needed into the trolley before my next job on the list. 

for the love of coffee

General Errands

I needed to go to a Post Office, and this time, instead of going to my local one, I decided to head out a little further from home, close to where a Piazza D’Oro café was. I ended up meeting a lovely lady in the post office and while I was there, I made a connection important for some projects I have coming up. THEN I went close by for a quick coffee stop. I ordered my regular, latte please, when the lady behind the counter said to me, “You won’t need to pay for that.”

I said, “What do you mean?”

She smiled as she replied, “Someone before you paid for the next 2 coffees so it’s already been paid for! 

Just a small random act of kindness, and it made my day! I said to myself that I would do the same at my next coffee stop.

for the love of coffee

Before School Pick Up

I had a small window before school pick up one day, and I dropped in for a coffee and a spot of window-shopping. As I promised myself, I also paid for the next person’s coffee whoever that would be. Pay it forward. Enjoy! 

for the love of coffee

Sporting Days

Our daughter plays a lot of Basketball, and many Saturdays will find us travelling somewhere to watch her game. On this day it was at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. I used the app to find a great café to help us through the afternoon and drive home. My husband and I were exhausted, and yet we just felt so happy to be together doing family things and this picture captures that. 

for the love of coffee

And so there it is: Don’t give up what you enjoy as a parent, live with joy and a spirit of giving and splash the beauty of it all everywhere you can.

Yoghurt Finger Painting

Yoghurt Finger Painting

This is the sort of activity I wish I knew about when my kids were little.  Like when making dinner.   I often would bring my toddlers in the kitchen with me as I prepared food and something like this is perfect for half an hour play and interaction time.

Yoghurt Finger Painting

plain, greek or vanilla yoghurt

Natural food colouring (The Hooper brand is a good one)

(or make your own vegetable food colouring. Experiment with mushing up or juicing: beetroot, raspberry or strawberry for red and pink, carrot for orange, spinach for green and blueberry or red cabbage for purple).

  • In separate (small) bowls, mix together colouring and spoonful of yoghurt.
  • This activity works well on a high chair, outside in a plastic shell or empty small pool, on a lined biscuit tray, or a plastic plate.
  • Draw pictures, mix the colours and get messy!

Yoghurt Finger Painting

Nicole, Occupational Therapist from Gateway Therapies explained the benefits of this type of sensory play for young children:

Many kids are reluctant to try foods that have different textures, or smell and look different to the food they normally eat. One way to encourage kids to enjoy new food is by letting them use their hands to explore. The nerve receptors in our fingers are numerous ( 2,500 receptors per cm2!) and very sensitive, which means that exploration through touch can make for very powerful positive associations with different food. Combine this with smell and an array of enticing colours, and yoghurt painting (and other food play) makes for a very sensory-rich play experience.

I also asked Nicole about the common question from parents about this sort of activity, namely if children will learn to distinguish between edible sensory activities and other non-edieble activities and here is her comment:

Kids from an early age are constantly presented with situations in which they can feel conflicted or contradicted e.g. Water is good to drink, but the bath water not so much. It’s lovely to give your little brother kisses, but the baby in the stroller belonging to the stranger at the park won’t like it so much. It’s fine to play with pretend plastic knives and ‘cut’ play dough sausages, but real knives are off limits. 

This is an awesome opportunity to teach your child that there are different rules for different situations. And yes they CAN learn this from a very early age.

More

Funny Face Biscuits

Mess Free Zip Lock Bag Painting

How to Make a Mud Kitchen

How to Dust Mite Proof a Bed (& Other Allergy Friendly Home Tips)

Brought to you by Bupa and Nuffnang (S1)

20% of Australians have an allergic condition such as asthma, hay fever or eczema1. My daughter is one of them. She suffers from eczema (you can see how extensive it is, especially on her neck, when it is at its worst). 

how to dust mite proof bed for eczema and other allergy sufferers

Through years of investigation and tests, we discovered many triggers of eczema, and two main factors we are focusing on at the moment are wheat and dust mites. 

When Bupa’s Guide to a Healthy Home digital book came out I thought it worth sharing here because it has important information about how to keep your home safe from fire damage, flood damage, burglary and theft as well as allergens, moulds and dust mites.

Great tips, and I was especially interested in the allergy-friendly section of the book. There were a few ideas I hadn’t thought of like having 100% natural bamboo sachets in the cupboards to soak up moisture. The book is free by the way, just head to www.bupa.com.au/healthyhome to download a copy.

About the Guide to a Healthy Home

Allergy Friendly Home Guide

Bupa Home and Contents Insurance provides the best possible coverage for life’s unexpected moments, however there are a lot of things you can do around the house to create a happier, healthier and safer environment for the whole family. Bupa has partnered with experts across the country to develop the exclusive tips in this guide, taking us through some changes we can make in our own homes. Through ‘Bupa’s Guide to a Healthy Home’, we they aim to teach that, along with having the right home insurance, there are so many things you can do to ensure your family’s health and safety in your home.

How to Dust Mite Proof a Bed

The other thing I want to share along the lines of keeping the house safe and healthy is how I dust mite proof my daughter’s bed. There are a lot of so-called allergy friendly products out there and I have boiled it down to a system we use to keep her bed as dust mite-free as possible.    

How to dust mite proof a bed

Products/Process

  1. Mattress protector that covers the entire mattress (not only the top).
  2. Cover mattress with a dust mite-proof fitted sheet.
  3. Cover with a regular sheet (or allergy-friendly sheet). For my daughter, I use a silky feeling sheet with antibacterial properties.
  4. Quilts: Feathers are not ideal; Microfiber (e.g. Polyester, Tencel) quilts are better for allergy suffers and they are affordable. However, it’s best for the quilt to be covered with a dust mite-proof protector, even if quilts are labelled ‘allergy friendly’.
  5. Cover quilt in a quilt protector (for dust mite protection).
  6. Place quilt cover over the top.
  7. Place pillow inside a pillow dust mite-proof protector.
  8. Cover with pillowcase.

I purchased the sheets (that are smooth so they don’t irritate my daughter’s skin) and dust mite-proof protectors from Aussie company Allergend.com.au.

Cleaning System

Wash all items in hot water.

Weekly

  • Pillow case
  • Regular sheets

8-12 Weeks

  • Pillow Protector
  • Quilt Protector
  • Dust Mite Fitted Sheet
  • Quilt Cover
  • Quilt (or at least air the quilt)

Yearly

  • Mattress cover
  • Quilt

This system is both doable and effective.

We do a lot of things in our home suggested in the digital book, and at the moment we are fine-tuning by avoiding wheat and dust mite proofing the bed. You can see the massive improvement in my daughter’s skin so far!

eczema - dust mite proof your bed

Other Cool Stuff

I always like a good giveaway and this is a fun one from Bupa at the moment as part of their Healthy Home campaign. All details and the free digital book can be found here: www.bupa.com.au/healthyhome

BUPA healthy home giveaway

1. Bupa Guide to a Healthy Home Digital Book, 2014

You can read my disclosure policy here.

Frozen Ice Play

“That should keep the kids occupied for half an hour,” I said to my husband who was sitting at the computer desk going through paperwork. 

I was wrong.

The activity I set up kept the kids occupied for well over an hour.

You see, I have these little things up my sleeve sometimes, ready to bring out at an opportune moment.  All I had done to prepare was to freeze water in different shaped plastic containers. These babies were just sitting in the freezer alongside the bread and frozen peas.

Frozen Ice Play

I have a dedicated underbed storage container for these types of play activities. To set it all up, I simply placed the large rectangle block (still in the plastic container) in the underbed container for an ice rink, and then removed the other different sized shapes from their containers and put them in there too (good for making an ice castle). A few themed figurines (like Frozen or even other plastic figurines) were thrown in and THAT WAS IT! BAM! Over an hour of awesome play.

The kids moved the ice blocks around, they added other toys and played happily together on the hot Sunday afternoon until the ice melted into a cool pool.

Frozen Ice Play

Frozen Ice Play

Frozen Ice Play

Frozen Ice Play

Frozen Ice Play

Frozen Ice Play

More

Ice Boats

Imaginative Play Scenes

Creating a Lunch Box System

I’ve become a somewhat expert at school lunches after doing them for 8 years (so far).  My lunch boxes started out looking a lot like the picture below, with a lot of processed, pre-packaged food. I’m not here to make anyone feel guilty for throwing together pre-packaged lunches!  It’s just over the years, I’ve focused on what’s important to me in regards to food for my kids, and have refined the processes over time to achieve that, and I want to share my tips with anyone who wants to know.

lunch box

Here’s a snap shot of the lunches I make for my kids at school these days.

Lunch Box Ideas

Lunch boxes used to stress me out but I’m surprised to say that, while I wouldn’t say I enjoy doing school lunches, I find it quite easy now, plus I do find myself thinking about creative ways to fill the lunch box with nutritious food my kids will enjoy.  This transformation comes down to this: you need to have a system. 

1. Have goals

It’s important to have a sense of direction when it comes to what sort of lunch boxes you want to create for your kids.  You don’t necessarily need to achieve them straight away but it’s good to have goals and work your way towards them.  For me, I strive for mostly rubbish-free lunch boxes that contain wholefoods, including a fresh fruit and vegetables. I also like to provide variety, and a bit of fun sometimes.  I’ve come a long way in my goals, and next on my agenda is to experiment with healthier baking options.

2. Invest in great products

I’ve tried many different lunch boxes over the years.  To achieve what I want with my children’s lunches, the lunch box needs to have compartments.  I like the Bento Laptop Lunch boxes which I review in detail here.  They aren’t cheap but do last well. Another more affordable way to achieve this is to buy an insulated outer case and simply fill with different sized containers which are filled with food (like Decor and Sistema containers you can get from the supermarket).  

Lunch Boxes

The drink bottles I buy for my kids are the Contigo brand.  I reviewed them here.

Drink Bottles

Another product I have found REALLY fabulous for the lunch box are silicone muffin cases.  I use them to cook bakery items. Then, I freeze them in the cases, and they go straight into the lunch box of on a school morning.  Anther way I use them is when they are empty, they are a great way to section small food in the lunch box (there are examples at the end of the blog post).

silicone patty cases - great for the lunch box

Using the freezer is imperative to my lunch box success (which I go into further below) and so I have dedicated containers to store lunch box food in.  These Sitema containers are great, and they are clear so I can see what is in them easily.

Create a lunch box system

I also have a few fun things to include in the lunch boxes to make things interesting. My favourites are the eye food picks I bought from Lunch Boxes With Love.  However, I don’t do fun stuff all the time, maybe about once a week or fortnight. If you head over to my Instagram @beafunmum and search for the hashtag #BAFM_Lunchbox you will see many examples of the realistic lunch boxes I make for my kids. Sometimes they are fun, and sometimes they are boring!

Creating a lunch box system

My Lunch Box Product List

3. Have a dedicated lunch box storage section

The system I use requires the need for containers. This is a bit of a pain, but it really makes it quick in the mornings.  I have lunch box items stored in my pantry in baskets.  One for drink bottles and lids, one for the containers and one for the lunch boxes and other bits and bobs I don’t use everyday.  

Creating a lunch box system

Creating a lunch box system

Of a school morning, I line up four lunch boxes, fill with containers and then throw in the food.  Last step is to place a lunch box size freezer brick in the insulted case and place the entire lunch box inside.

Lunch Box System

4. Use the freezer

My freezer is my best friend when it comes to the lunch box.  Food items can be taken out of the freezer in the morning and put straight in the lunchbox.  They will be thawed and fresh by eating time. The following items will keep for 2 weeks in the freezer. 

Sandwiches:

I tend to make sandwiches fresh, because I prefer to do that, but if you have a mad busy week ahead, it’s good to know you can freeze them ahead of time.

Make sandwiches with fillings like cheese and ham, vegemite, jam, tuna or egg.  It’s easy to include some fresh salad in the morning if that’s a preference.

Other Food:

Cakes and slices, muffins, canned fish, baked beans, zucchini slice, quiche are some snack ideas that are able to be frozen.

Organising the freezer:

  • It’s helpful to have dedicated draw in the freezer for lunch box items.
  • Separating portion size is easy with zip-lock bags. For a more environmentally friendly option, use individual containers or freeze in batches and place directly in the lunch box of a morning. For layering in containers, use a sheet of baking paper.

This is a heap of food I prepared ahead of time to freeze. 

Creating a lunch box system

5. Pre-Prepare

To aid the morning rush, much of the lunch preparation can be done the night before and the weekend.

Night before:

  • Cut up fruit and vegetable pieces
  • Portion yoghurt and crackers. I also make custard the night before sometimes and let it set in the containers that fit into the lunch box. Then in the morning, they get slotted in.

Weekend:

  • Make a batch of sandwiches and place them in the freezer
  • Bake home goods and freeze in portion size

6. Break it down

Instead of thinking morning tea/lunch food, I break the lunch box down into food types. So in each packed lunch I aim for this balance:

  • 1 x Fruit 
  • 1 x Vegetable
  • 1 x Snack Food (baked goods, energy balls, crackers, egg, cheese, yoghurt)
  • 1 x Lunch Item 
  • 1 x other (if needed, depending on the child)

This system allows for seasonal variety and helps me to shop smart. I’m fairly consistent with this system and so my kids are used to seeing vegetables in their lunch box.

7. Lunch box staples

It’s great to have your lunch box staple foods you can fall back on (like the humble sandwich). I have certain foods that I know work well in the lunch box and here are some of the items on my list:

Vegetables: corn on the cob, cucumber, mushroom, snow peas, carrot, celery sticks, baby corn, tin corn, avocado, cherry tomato

Fruit: small apple, tin fruit, stone fruit, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, kiwi fruit, small pears, watermelon pieces, pineapple pieces

Snacks: muffins, nut-free choc energy balls, apricot balls, rice crackers, popcorn, trail mix, muesli slice, corn & cheese muffins, coconut bread

Protein: ham, salami, salami sticks, bean dip, cheese, boiled egg, hummus, yoghurt

Lunch: sandwich, mini quiche, zucchini fitters, meatloaf, pizza scrolls, zucchini slice, wraps, pizza, salad, flat bread 

Lunch Box tips

Lunch Box tips

7. Make it safe

I have a guest post from a dietitian you can read which gives great tips on making the lunch box healthy and safe: Lunch Box Tips

8. Make it fun

Once you have a good system down, it’s easier to find ways to make lunches fun. Try new foods and different ways of presenting them.  Below are a few links:

9. Lunch Box Examples

Below are a few lunch box examples and you can find even more ideas by looking through the lunch box tips on the blog under Lunch Box Ideas or on my @beafunmum Instagram feed.

Lunch box ideas

Tip: Depending on what is on the wrap, I separate the fill ingredients from the wrap in the lunch box and the kids make it up themselves fresh at lunch time.  

1-_DSC1035

Tip: Energy balls are fabulous in the lunch box and they freeze well.

1-_DSC1034

Tip: Silicone muffin cases are great for separating food in the lunch box.

1-_DSC1030

Tip: Leftover rice or pasts can be turned into an easy lunch box food.

1-_DSC1028

Tip: Food picks work well with cut up fruit and veggies. 

1-_DSC1025

Tip: You can make a big batch of pizza and freeze in small square portion for the lunch box (if kids like cold pizza)

1-_DSC1022

Tip: Try growing cherry tomatoes in a pot in the backyard. They are so easy to grow and it’s wonderful to be able to include food you grow yourself in the lunch box. Here’s a guide: Plant Pot Garden.

1-_DSC1017

Tip: Make sandwiches a bit more interesting by cutting them in different shapes sometimes, or make soldiers.

1-_DSC1014

Tip: Try new foods! The kids may not like it, but they might too, and it’s all about building your lunch box repertoire.

1-_DSC1009

Tip: Make quiche in muffins trays so they are in individual sizes.  This make it easy and quick to use in the lunch box. This is the recipe I use: Quiche Recipe.

1-_DSC1005

Tip: Think outside the box! My kids love it when I put plain corn chips and dip in their lunch box. The bean dip recipe is here.

If you have any questions or your own tips, leave them bellow.

More

How I encourage my kids to eat veggies

5 Breakfasts You Can Make the Night Before

A few weeks ago, I asked this question on the BAFM Facebook page: Do you make time for breakfast for yourself?

The responses varied, but there was a constant theme regarding the challenges of making time for breakfast amongst the busyness school mornings.  It got me thinking about what I could share here on the blog that may help.  Then I remembered my Insta friend Jenny from @HelloGreatHealth.  She is the Breakfast Queen and developed the yummiest, easiest and healthiest breakfasts you can prepare ahead of time so in the morning, it’s ALREADY DONE! I dropped her an email to see if she could share her top 5 favourite overnight breakfast recipes and here they are.

overnight breakfast recipes

The weather is warming up, summer is just around the corner and it’s time for some easy-to-prepare breakfast that are delicious and nutritious.

Overnight puddings. My favourite. A brilliant way to get some variety going at breakfast time. They only take a few minutes to prepare, minimal ingredients and easy to double so you have a few days of breakfasts on hand to get your mornings running smoothly.  

As a health coach I see lots of women not eating enough protein first thing in the morning. Getting adequate protein for breakfast gives you energy to get through your morning and makes it so much easier to steer clear of the vending machine or office morning teas.

Here are five of my favourites, I hope you enjoy. Jen x

For more recipes please check out my ebooks available for instant download here: Hello Great Health Cookbooks

1. Banana Bread Breakfast Whip

Overnight breakfast - creamy banana whip pic

Ingredients [serves two]

1/3 cup buckwheat (soaked in water overnight)
2 bananas (approx.) peeled, chopped and frozen overnight
1 tablespoon flaxmeal
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon almonds (toasted lightly in the oven until browned) optional (you could top with toasted shredded coconut, more banana, a drizzle of honey, walnuts, etc.)

 Method

In the morning:

  1. Blend buckwheat in food processor until creamy, add remaining ingredients and blend until a thick creamy consistency.
  2. Top with almonds or desired toppings.

2. Raspberry Coconut Pudding

Overnight breakfast - raspberry coconut

Ingredients [serves two]

1/2 cup rolled oats
1.5 cups (330ml) coconut water
1 cup raspberries
3 tablespoons chia
Topping: plain yogurt, berries, shredded coconut

 Method

  1. Mix all ingredients (except toppings) into a large bowl.
  2. Place in fridge overnight.
  3. Before eating give your pudding a stir, add more liquid to get to desired consistency if necessary.
  4. Add toppings and enjoy.

3. Lemon Delicious Pudding

Overnight Breakfast - lemon delicious pudding pic

Ingredients [serves two]

1/3 cup buckwheat (soaked in water overnight)
½ cup plain or coconut yogurt
2 tabs flaxmeal
2.5 tabs lemon juice
1 teaspoon stevia or honey
Toppings: shredded coconut, macadamias, a drizzle of honey, etc.

 Method

  1. Mix together flaxmeal and yogurt, leave to thicken for 15 minutes.
  2. Blend buckwheat in food processor until creamy, add remaining ingredients and blend until a thick creamy consistency.
  3. Top with desired toppings.

4. Peanut Butter Banana Sundae

Overnight breakfast - Peanut Butter Pudding

Ingredients [serves two]

1/4 cup raw buckwheat (50g)
1 ripe banana mashed
2 tabs rice milk
1 heaped tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 tab flaxmeal
2 sachets (4g) stevia or other sweetener (honey, maple syrup, rice malt syrup, etc)

Method 

  1. Soak buckwheat in water overnight.
  2. In morning, drain and rinse buckwheat. Blend with all ingredients (except for ½ banana, reserve for topping).
  3. Add blended pudding to a small glass, later with extra toppings if desired including remaining banana.

5. Banana Cake Pudding

Overnight breakfast - banana cake batter pudding pic

Ingredients [serves two]

1/3 cup rolled oats
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup oat milk
2 tablespoons chia
1 tablespoon honey

Topping

1 tablespoon hulled tahini
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice milk
Extra topping: shredded coconut

Method 

  1. Grind oats and chia in a small blender (optional).
  2. Mix all ingredients together using a spoon or a small blender.
  3. Spoon into glasses and refrigerate until ready to eat (preferably overnight).
  4. To prepare topping: mix honey, tahini and rice milk together in a small cup, refrigerate and pour over pudding when ready to serve (then top with shredded coconut).

Note: You can get buckwheat from Woolworths supermarkets in the health food section and at dedicated heath stores.


 Set yourself a challenge! Do overnight breakfasts for a week and feel the difference.

Jenny has heaps more recipes like this in her ebooks: Hello Great Health Cookbooks

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My 2014 Health & Fitness Goals and Results