Fitness: 15 Minute Circuit (you can do at home)

run

I’m not sure I can do this, I thought as my legs burned beneath me and my heart threatened to explode outside my chest.  500 metres! 500 measly metres: that’s all I could manage when I began training for my first 5k fun run (over a year ago now).

I remember feeling depressed after walking-jogging-walking most of the route mapped out around the streets close to our home.  In that moment, there was temptation to give up. Oh the PAIN! And yet now, a year later, I’m amazed to say I smash out 7-10 kilometres in my usual run. Keep. On. Keeping. On.

Increasing my fitness has been a priority the past couple of years.  I feel strong and well; my headaches have improved 70%; I sleep better; and I stress less.  It can be challenging to find the time for exercise amongst parenting but I realised you just have to start somewhere and keep going.

When I was thinking about this post I wanted to be able to give someone — anyone! — something to go away with.  So I asked my fabulous Group Personal Trainer Lauren from Phyzique if she would share a 15 minute circuit you can do at home with no special equipment.  Lauren (mum of two) is the best kind of trainer with the perfect mix of push, encouragement and knowledge. Very highly recommend for anyone in North Brisbane.

I’ve done all the exercises below myself, and they work!

15 Minute Circuit

Warm up for 5-10 mins

Example warm up exercises: Walking, Jogging, neck rolls, arm circles, squats, wide squats, calf raises

15 Minute Circuit

Complete each exercise in the circuit for 30 seconds.  Then rest for 2 minutes and repeat the circuit
another 1-2 times

1. Beginner: Wide squats or Advanced: Frog jumps

Wide Squats

15 minute circuit -- squats

Frog Jumps

15 minute circuit -- frog jumps

Stand a little wider than hip width apart.  With toes pointing to the outer corners, bend down, keeping chest up.  Then, jump up and land in the same squat position.

2.  Walking push ups. Beginner: on knees  Advanced: on toes

15 minute circuit -- walking pushups

Start with hands together, all of body in one line.  Make sure your hips are not sagging and bottom is not raised.  Place 1 hand out, a little more than shoulder width apart, bend elbows and push up. Hands come back together again before the action is completed on the other side.

3. Spiderman

15 minute circuit -- spiderman pushups

Similar to walking push ups: place hands a little more than shoulder width apart.  Start with feet together, keeping control of your core, and bend 1 leg out to the side, bend elbows and then push up.  Place leg back in to starting point and bend the other leg out to do the other side.  Keep repeating this action and concentrate on keeping the body in 1 line.

4. Lunges

15 minute circuit -- lunges

Step out 1 leg, bend the back leg down to 90 degrees, making sure the front knee does not bend over your front foot.  The knee should stay in line with the foot. Feet come back together, repeat on the other leg.

5. Tricep dips on chair or bench

15 minute circuit -- tricep dips

Perform these on a bench or step and make sure the elbows point directly behind you as you lower your body down and back up again.

6. Step ups on step or chair

15 minute circuit -- step ups

Use a height that you feel comfortable with and step up with alternate legs each time.  Concentrate on squeezing the bottom as you rise.

7. Bicycle crunches

15 minute circuit -- bicycle crunches

Perform this exercise slowly. Using a cycling motion with the legs, extending the legs out straight each time.  Alternate the elbows from side to side, so the opposite elbow touches the opposite knee.

8. Bridge: beginners on knees  Advanced on toes

15 minute circuit -- bridge

This is a core exercise.  Make sure your elbows are under your shoulders and your bottom is in line with your back.  Once in position, pull your navel to your spine.  Hold. Complete this on the knees if you have back problems.

Cool Down

Stretch after every workout.

Print

Printable (2 pages with instructions) to stick on your fridge if you want the challenge!

15 minutes circuit

Note: please consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Huge thanks to Lauren from Phyzique for helping me with this post.

More Fitness Posts

Week 1: 5 years in the making

Week 2-4: Write it down

Week 5-6: Keep Asking Why 

Week 7: A dress

Week 8-9: About Fitness

Week 10: Set Backs

Week 11-12: Finish

2014 Health Challenge: Week 5-6 – Keep asking Why

I’m doing a health challenge with my group PT instructor Lauren from Phyzique to start 2014 off.  This challenge follows five years of slow sustainable progress and you can read more about this period of my life here:  Health & Fitness – Week 1 and a follow up in my food diary in Week 2 – 4.

I’ve just finished week 5 & 6 of this 10 week challenge and am feeling great about the increase in raw & whole foods in my diet.

Keep asking why

The thing is, to make positive changes that are sustainable, I have found it’s important to have a deep focus for why. Why? Why? Like a four-year-old, you have to keep asking why to find it.  It’s easy to focus on the surface — I want to lose weight — and by doing that: missing the reason that underpins it all; the reason that makes for sustainable change.  I’ve learned this the hard (and long) way.  If I was to write it down the why? progress, this is what it might look like:

lose weight - ask why?

In terms of health and fitness, it’s the deep why that gets me out there running every week, even when I don’t feel like it. Because I know, that it’s the consistent investments that add up to the freedom to live fully so I can give back to those around me.

It’s freedom. Freedom from anxiety. Freedom to throw on my clothes and go. Freedom from relying on drugs for back pain; sustained a chronic injury when I was pregnant with my fourth child and keeping my core strong has made a huge difference.   It’s the freedom to live and give. Freedom to live and give.  

I learned this the hard way and if you’re struggling with health and fitness, I encourage you to forget the focus on weight loss and keep asking why until you find the real underpinning. For you, it might be different to me but keep asking why until you find it.

Progress

I tried chin-ups this week. Hard. HARD! Did 3 pretty poor ones but it feels good to challenge myself. 

I’ve noticed that my clothes are looser, especially on my waist line, which after four children, is a nice change.  My PT often says to me that you can’t outrun a bad diet and I know that’s where the changes are coming during these last 6 weeks.  I’ve had a good exercise routine for a good year now, and although my diet was relatively healthy, I know I needed less refined carbs and more whole foods and raw veges and fruit in my diet.  Really happy with the changes to my diet I’ve made so far.

chin-ups

Week 5

Notes:

  • It’s easy converting family meals to my own meals.  If I’m making a creamy chicken dish for the kids, I’ll keep some chicken aside for me and grill it with salad.
  • I eat nuts instead of biscuits.
  • I add seeds and fibre where I can.  
  • I try and always serve a portion of veges or fruit at every main meal.  
  • Most of my meals are served on a smaller plate.  
  • I usually have an indulge day each week.

clean eating - week 5

Day 29

Breakfast: Porridge with psyllium seed husks, blackberries & natural yoghurt

Snack: Ryvita with vegemite

Lunch: Celery & carrot soup

Snack: Pear & Ryvita with ricotta cheese

Dinner: Rice, tuna, lettuce, tomato, carrot

Other: –

Day 30

Breakfast: Porridge with cranberries & almonds

Snack: Date & oat ball

Lunch: Vegetable soup with bok choy, carrot

Snack: Ryvita with tuna

Dinner: Pumpkin soup

Other: natural yoghurt with blackberries

Day 31

Breakfast: Porridge with sunflower seeds & blackberries

Snack: Beetroot, carrot, ginger & celery juice

Lunch: Greek salad (lettuce, fetta, olives, tomato, low fat dressing)

Snack: Pumpkin seeds

Dinner: Tuna, sprouts & tomato on a barley wrap

Other: –

Day 32

Breakfast: Egg, mushroom, tomato, spinach

Snack: Date & oat ball

Lunch: Ryvita with peanut butter & banana with 2 carrots

Snack: Brownie (small) – with 70% cocoa chocolate

Dinner: Vegetable soup with crackers

Other: 

Day 33

Breakfast: banana & egg pancake with kiwi fruit (Pancake = 1 egg with half mashed banana – makes 2 pancakes)

Snack: -

Lunch: Barley wrap with cottage cheese, bean sprouts, carrot, ham

Snack: Macadamia nuts

Dinner: Lemon petter grilled chicken with broccoli, crushed tomatoes & mushroom

Other: –

Day 34

Breakfast: Avocado on 1 piece of wholemeal toast

Snack: Wholemeal crackers

Lunch: Spinach, grilled chicken, mushroom, tomato, cottage cheese

Snack: Pistachio nuts

Dinner: Lean mince with beans, salad & tortillas 

Other: 

Day 35

Breakfast: Porridge with linseed, sunflower seeds, apple & crushed almonds

Snack: –

Lunch: Lasagne & beans (out – yum but not part of the plan)  ;)

Snack: Corn chips

Dinner: Ryvita with vegemite & cottage cheese / spinach & tuna

Other: Small brownie & piece of brie cheese

**bit of an indulge day**

Exercise

  • 3 group PT sessions
  • 2 x 6k runs

Week 6

At the point now that I’m looking for a bit more variety.  I enjoy the foods I’m eating but I am looking for a bit more variety so hopefully will be able to make a bit more time to try a few more recipes.

Clean eating - week 6

Day 36

Breakfast: 1 high-bran weet-bix with linseed

Snack: Macadamia nuts

Lunch: Grilled chicken, cucumber, avocado, broccoli, tomato

Snack: Half a banana & blueberries

Dinner: Tuna, broccoli, beetroot, cottage cheese, cherry tomatoes

Other: –

Day 37

Breakfast: Porridge with linseed & blueberries

Snack: -

Lunch: All Natural Berry Protein smoothie

Snack: Macadamia nuts & strawberries

Dinner: Zucchini, egg & tomato slice with spinach.

Other: 

Day 38

Breakfast: Porridge with sunflower seeds & berries

Snack: Almonds & cranberries

Lunch: Barley wrap with grilled chicken, avocado, sprouts, tomato, cottage cheese

Snack: Macadamia nuts

Dinner: Lean mince with beans & corn with beetroot, tomato, mushroom & lettuce

Other: –

Day 39

Breakfast: Beetroot, carrot, celery & ginger juice

Snack: Ryvita with only-peanuts peanut-butter

Lunch: Quinoa & white bean patty with grilled chicken, avocado, lettuce & tomato

Snack: Macadamia nuts

Dinner: Grilled chicken salad (with cucumber, carrot, purple cabbage & tomato)

Other: 

Day 40

Breakfast: Avocado with lime & cracked paper on 1 piece of wholemeal toast

Snack: Green vege juice

Lunch: Barley wrap ham, beetroot, cottage cheese, tomato, lettuce & a ginger nut biscuit with tea

Snack: Dried apricot

Dinner: Tuna, pasta, lettuce mix, tomato

Other: –

Day 41

Breakfast: Porridge, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds & berries

Snack: Ryvita with cottage cheese

Lunch: Barley wrap with tuna & spinach

Snack: Chocolate bar

Dinner: Lean mince with beans, salad & tortillas 

Other:  Dried apricots

Day 42

Breakfast: Egg, lean bacon & spinach

Snack: Green apple

Lunch: Chicken, raw coleslaw (no dressing), beetroot, tomato, cucumber

Snack: Macadamia nuts and 2 Date & oat balls

Dinner:  Ryvita with tuna and cottage cheese

Other: Small brownie & piece of brie cheese

**bit of an indulge day**

Exercise

  • 3 group PT session
  • 2 x  6k runs 
  • 1 x 15 min run / 15 minute circuit / 5 min warm down (35 min total)

Health and Fitness Challenge

Week 1

Week 2-4

2014 Health Challenge (week 2 – 4)

My daughter came up to me the other day, and told me how proud she was of me: of my determination & commitment to health and fitness.  Sometimes I forget how being an example, living it out, is the best way to teach our kids, and I felt so encouraged by my daughter’s words.

I recently shared how my health has improved slowly over the last five years.   To kick the year off well, I’m doing a 10 week challenge with my PT, Lauren Phillips from Phyzique.  I have a good fitness plan in place now, after doing group PT sessions with Lauren and running for over a year now, but I needed support (and accountability) when it comes with food choices. Mainly, I want to get more fresh vegetables into my diet and less sugar and refined carbs.   I’m still working it out as I go along but I’m happy with the progress I’m making in this area. Keeping a food diary has been a huge help and I’ve set out some of my notes below.

Likes: wheat germ, sunflower seeds, berries, avocado, mountain bread, Ryvita, baby spinach, cottage cheese, almonds (and all nuts)

Not-so-likes: kale (I eat it when it comes in our fruit & vege box but I find it rough and tough), boiled egg, psyllium husks, red meat (not a big fan)

Week 2

It was a bit tough this week, and I found myself craving something highly sweet.  I ended up enjoying a brownie, because I love a good brownie. I think I’ll need to   enjoy something like that approximately once a week (but I’m looking for healthier alternates if I can).

Clean Eating - Week 2

Day 8

Breakfast: natural yoghurt, blueberries, wheat germ, sunflower seeds

Snack: almonds

Lunch: triple quinoa with kale, carrot, tomato and cottage cheese

Snack: oat and honey slice (no added sugar)

Dinner: grilled chicken, spinach salad with pasta

Other: brownie

Day 9

Breakfast: kale and berry smoothie

Snack: —

Lunch: pumpkin salad

Snack: almonds

Dinner: quinoa & white bean patty with raw beetroot, snow peas and tomato 

Other: apricot & oat ball

Day 10

Breakfast: Natural yoghurt, raspberries, wheat germ, almonds

Snack: nectarine

Lunch: quinoa & bean patty, grilled chicken, raw beetroot, cucumber, cottage cheese, chilli sauce

Snack: 2 dates and almonds

Dinner: 1 piece of peanut butter toast on multigrain toast

Other: —

Day 11

Breakfast: plumb and almonds

Snack: nectarine

Lunch: omelette (cooked in coconut oil), bok choy, parmesan cheese, tomato

Snack: 1 apricot oat ball & 1 date oat ball

Dinner: nachos (lean mince with baked beans and spice – no cheese)

Other: almonds & carrot

Day 12

Breakfast: Porridge with sultanas, sunflower seeds & small juice

Snack: almonds & dates

Lunch: tuna, raw beetroot & carrot, lettuce, quinoa & bean patty

Snack: nectarine

Dinner: 3 grain quinoa, snow peas, carrot, grilled chicken

Other: 2 ginger nut biscuits

Day 13

Breakfast: Oats, wheat germ, blueberries, raspberries

Snack: almonds

Lunch: brown rice sushi with tuna and avocado

Snack: —

Dinner: chicken salad (lettuce, carrot, avocado, capsicum, cucumber)

Other: date

Day 14

Breakfast: 2 high-bran weet-bix with sunflower seeds

Snack: 1 date and coconut ball

Lunch: wholegrain wrap with ham, spinach, and beetroot & Cashew relish

Snack: natural yoghurt with strawberry and pineapple

Dinner: smoothie with spinach

Other: macadamia nuts

Exercise

3 group PT session & 1 run

Week 3

The challenge for me this week was to keep variety up.  There are staples foods I will continue to use often because I enjoy them, like wheat germ, sun flower seeds and almonds.  I also enjoy berries & avocado so they will frequent my meals often too.

Clean Eating - Week 3

Day 15

Breakfast: Porridge with kiwifruit, macadamia nuts and psyllium seed husks

Snack: —

Lunch: salmon & bean salad

Snack: date & oat ball

Dinner: rice broccoli, mushroom, tomato & soy sauce

Other: —

Day 16

Breakfast: Egg, spinach, tomato, beetroot & cashew relish

Snack: —

Lunch: green smoothie

Snack: almonds

Dinner: 3 grain quinoa, baby spinach, tomato, lemon tuna

Other: 1 x gingernut biscuit

Day 17

Breakfast: multigrain sour dough with avocado & lemon

Snack: carrot & celery sticks

Lunch: chicken breast slices, 3 grain quinoa, kale, tomato, beetroot & cashew relish

Snack: almonds & 2 dates

Dinner: pita bread chips (multigrain), baked beans, snow peas

Other: —

Day 18

Breakfast: Natural yoghurt, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, blueberries

Snack: wheat bites

Lunch: quinoa & white bean patty, tuna, kale, zucchini, corn

Snack: raw carrot & date ball

Dinner: lean mince, onion, lettuce and beans

Other: natural yoghurt with wheat germ

Day 19

Breakfast: ginger, pineapple, apple & carrot juice

Snack: cashew nuts

Lunch: 1 piece of 9 grain bread with spinach, tomato & ham

Snack: 1 apricot & oat ball

Dinner: corn chips, lean mince, onion, baked beans, avocado, tomato, spinach.

Other: brownie

Day 20

Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries, sunflower seeds & wheat germ

Snack: —

Lunch: ham with raw beetroot, carrot, broccol & cashew nut salad

Snack: raw carrot & date ball

Dinner: tuna, baked beans, tomato, spinach, a little cheese

Other: 2 x gingernut biscuit

Day 21

Breakfast: natural muesli with greek yoghurt & blueberries

Snack: —

Lunch: wholemeal pasta with veges & salad

Snack: energy nut & fruit mix

Dinner: Ryvita with avocado & cottage cheese

Other: —

Exercise

2 group PT session & 2 runs

Week 4

This week I’ve noticed a difference in how my clothes fit (in a good way). I wore a dress I haven’t worn in years! So that felt awesome.

Clean Eating - Week 4

Day 22

Breakfast: Sultana Bran

Snack: raw carrot & date ball

Lunch: warm chicken salad

Snack: Ryvita with vegemite & cottage cheese

Dinner: ham and spinach salad

Other: —

Day 23

Breakfast: Pear

Snack: raw carrot & date ball

Lunch: Ryvita with avocado & lemon juice

Snack: a carrot & pretzels

Dinner: tuna, quinoa & spinach salad

Other: natural yoghurt, blueberries, wheat germ, sunflower seeds

Day 24

Breakfast: blueberry & banana smoothie

Snack: raw carrot & date ball

Lunch: multigrain sandwich with ham, cottage, spinach

Snack: almonds and crackers

Dinner: chicken & spinach meatballs in soup with tomato & bok choy

Other: —

Day 25

Breakfast: avocado on Ryvita

Snack: raw carrot & date ball with celery sticks with cottage cheese

Lunch: quinoa & white bean patty with spinach and ham

Snack: energy fruit & nut mix

Dinner: lean mince, rye mountain bread, broccoli, tomato — natural yoghurt, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, dried pear

Other: 1 gingernut biscuit, yoghurt with blackberries

Day 26

Breakfast: banana & mango smoothie

Snack: gingernut biscuit & a teaspoon of hazelnut spread

Lunch: rye mountain bread, spinach salad, raw carrot ball

Snack: natural yoghurt with wheat germ, dried apricot, sunflower seeds, almonds

Dinner: porridge with honey

Other: 1 small piece of ham and pineapple pizza  (in a weak moment – ha!)

Day 27

Breakfast: 2 x high bran weet-bix with sunflower seeds

Snack: –

Lunch: rye mountain bread with tuna and salad

Snack: dried pear

Dinner: chicken & salad (olives, lettuce, jalapeno chilli, carrot, capsicum, cucumber)

Other: gingernut biscuits with hazelnut spread

Day 28

Breakfast: pear

Snack: –

Lunch: 1 sausage with lettuce, tomato, onion and a little cheese

Snack: almonds & dried pear

Dinner: quinoa & white bean patty with raw beetroot, carrot, broccoli & cottage cheese

Other: natural yoghurt with wheat germ

Exercise

2 group PT session & 2 runs and a group fun bonding outdoor challenge

First month down, 6 weeks to go.

Keep on Keeping on: Health and Fitness (week 1)

Keep on Keeping on: Health and Fitness

It isn’t a great heading for this post and I know it.  There’s a lot of noise about weight loss around these days, and much of it is sensationalised.  If I really wanted to get good click throughs to what I’ve written here, I probably should have titled it something like:

How I Turned from a Frumpy Mummy into a Yummy Mummy

or

The Secret to My Weight Loss

or

5 Tips to Lose Weight

or

Be a Hot New You

or…even better…

I was a FATTY

or wait…just…

FAT

(just like that in big capital letters)

Ack! No, no, no! I’m sick of sensationalism.  But I am interested in health and fitness, and sharing the story of my journey.  Here’s another headline:

I was overweight and I’m grateful for it

The Journey

Stage 1: Realisation aka a crash (1 year)

You see, I never had an issue with my weight before. Not even during my pregnancies.  Then my mum died, and it was like a brick that…fell…crashed…and life suddenly overwhelmed me; it caved in on me, and around me. I was depressed.  The weight crept up on me slowly as did the heaviness in my person.  Anxiety turned into an undercurrent of permanent fear.

I had to learn an entire new set of skills.  It was tough when the usual challenges of life didn’t let up. Still four children to care for. Still moving every year at that point of my life. Still with a husband working very long hours. Still motherless.  Nothing stopped and I felt like I was drowning in bricks, with life throwing more bricks, never stopping.  That peek was over five years ago now and I am different now.  I am different than when I was under a cloud…sure — but what I mean is I am different now, than before was depressed.  And I’m glad for the experiences I’ve had and the opportunities to learn from them.

Stage 2: Small Changes (+2 years = 3 years)

People who haven’t seen me for a while say, “Wow, you’re looking fantastic,” and it always surprises me.  Why? Because losing weight wasn’t my goal.  I didn’t weigh myself (I don’t own scales) or track my progress. I simply changed my life in small and simple ways: learned more; stressed less; moved more; ate better. Losing weight was an outcome, a consequence, not a goal.  I can’t even tell you how much weight I’ve lost between these pics, but I was surprised at what small sustainable changes DO over a long period.  

Then

weight loss journey

Now

Health Journey - before and after

In the first pic below, that was probably close to 2 and a half years ago now, and I think I had already lost some weight at this point.  I tend to carry weight evenly around my body (rather than having problem spots)…which is good — and bad. Good because I tend to hide weight well…and bad for exactly the same reason! 

Health journey - before and after weight loss

Stage 3: Mindset (+1 year = 4 years)

Changing my mindset has taken much longer than simply making small changes.  (It’s taken more than a year — ha — many, many years — but there was a fixed year that I had enough space in my head and seeing the outcome of small changes helped it all click. 

I changed my mindset—> that affected my choices —> which in turn changed my body.

Five Don’ts That Worked for Me

1.Don’t try and lose weight

Do aim for a healthy life.

2. Don’t focus on the number on the scales

Do look forward to feeling well, and strong, and having the freedom to wear swimwear so you can swim without a care with your kids. Don’t focus on how you look (don’t buy into the RUBBISH society loves to splash around – just don’t). Do focus on how obtaining health feels and the freedom that comes with that.

3. Don’t do low fat

Do eat good food.  Whole food is good food.  It it what it is. What matters isn’t high fat, or low sugar, low carbs or other marketing ploys. Over the years, I’ve been trying to introduce more whole fresh foods in my diet, and you know…my ‘fat’ intake may even be higher now. It’s when we mess around the gorgeous food, change it and warp it beyond its form,  that it’s wrecked.  

With the risk of appearing like I’m contradicting myself here, I do eat low fat yoghurt and milk sometimes, but the point is I don’t worry too much about ensuring food is low fat, because when you treat each food with respect, you just accept it for what it is and how it fits in the big picture of overall health.  For example, I love a creamy brie and I’ll enjoy it sometimes in the big picture of my health. I don’t want a low fat version!! Haha.

4. Don’t make big changes

Do make small sustainable changes…and keep on keeping on.  For example, buy natural yoghurt and have it with fresh fruit rather than buying ‘low fat’ (usually WAY higher in sugar) flavoured yoghurt. Swap whole nuts for biscuits.  That sort of thing.  There are a million little ways that make up to big changes.

5. Don’t follow anyone’s ‘plans’

Do learn to listen to your body. I’m not against plans.  In fact, I’m doing one at the moment. However, I follow my own path, and I use programs as a tool, not as a goal. If you don’t have your OWN big picture, a plan will most probably become a fad.

Stage 4: Challenge (+1 year = 5 years)

So this is the fifth year now, and made many changes to the choices I make, and how I approach life in terms of health.  I’m always looking to push myself further.  I found a wonderful PT group here in Brisbane, Phyzique by Lauren Phillips, and I attend 3 classes a week. I’ve been with Lauren for over a year now.  When it came to the start of this year, I recognised the need for some support when it comes to putting more fresh food in my diet so I’m doing a 10 week challenge which will help me to be disciplined about the food choices I make.  It’s just another step.

Week One

Clean Eating -- Weekly FoodDay 1: 

Breakfast: Whole apricot

Snack: Blueberries with small amount of greek yoghurt

Lunch: Quoina & almond salad with egg 

Snack: Almonds, carrot & celery sticks

Dinner: Black Rice, whole steamed vegetables, tuna, drizzle of soy sauce

Day 2:

Breakfast: 1 piece of 9 grain toast with peanut butter, lady finger banana

Snack: 1/2 cup fruit smoothie

Lunch: Black quoina & rice salad with a carrot

Snack: 2 chocolate date balls

Dinner: Deconstructed taco: lean mince, cooked with onion, herbs and baked beans, raw beetroot, raw carrot, lettuce

Day 3

Breakfast: Natural yoghurt with blueberries with half an orange

Snack: Tuna sushi (out)

Lunch: Roast vegetable cous cous (150g)

Snack: 1 homemade ginger biscuit

Dinner: Warm chicken salad: with avocado, capsicum & vinaigrette dressing (out)

Day 4:

Breakfast: Porridge with sunflower seeds, wheat germ & small lady finger banana

Snack: Carrot & celery sticks

Lunch: Black rice with corn bok choy, dressed with cream cheese and a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce 

Snack: 6 cherries

Dinner: Homemade chicken & ginger wonton soup with carrot and bok choy.  After dinner: Apricot & oat ball

Day 5:

Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries and sunflower seeds

Snack: –

Lunch: Black rice with tuna, cherry tomatoes, corn and kale

Snack: 2 chocolate date balls

Dinner: Ham, spinach, avocado & fetta with sweet potato chips

Day 6:

Breakfast: High bran weet-bix with sunflower seeds

Snack: Almonds plus a few dates

Lunch: 9 grain bread with ham, avocado, cottage cheese, spinach, cucumber & tomato 

Snack: Cherries

Dinner: Warm chicken salad (out)

Day 7

Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries, natural yoghurt, sunflower seeds

Snack: Celery with peanut butter & snow peas

Lunch: Black rice, tuna, spinach salad, parmesan cheese (instead of dressing)

Snack: Apricot & Oat Ball

Dinner: Wholemeal muffin with lean bacon, egg, wholegrain mustard and spinach

Exercise

3 Group PT Sessions, 1 x 7K Run

Note: I have more time to exercise now my kids are older.  When they were younger, I couldn’t manage as much, but still found ways to maintain fitness and I shared some in this guest post for Diminishing Lucy.

Changes and Observations

Week one down.  I honestly like the food I’m eating and it hasn’t been too difficult because I’ve already made many small changes to the way we eat as a family so for my meals, I’m just tweaking them a little. The trick is taking the time to fit in more (smaller) meals during the day and being smart about preparing food (so I don’t get caught out).  I don’t have a diet to follow or anything like that — I choose my own food — but am trying to eat more whole foods, less refined, and making the calories count (like choosing quinoa instead of white rice; that sort of thing).

After a week, I’ve noticed a difference in the clarity of my skin.

I’ll update again next week.

HERE’S THE SECRET TO MY WEIGHT LOSS!

Five hard years learning, changing & growing. It’s as simple as that. ;)

Wherever you are on the journey, keep on keeping on. Just start somewhere. Onward. 

Summer & Festive Fashion & Giveaway

Sponsored by BIG W

“It was the highlight of my day,” my husband said later that evening.  I was surprised at this comment.

“Really?” I thought he was joking.

“I’m serious,” he responded.  “I loved seeing you in all those outfits. “

Ha! Sweet!

My gracious husband was the photographer for this post. I’m talking about festive fashion.  For me, this summer season is all about variety and I need my clothes to keep up.   There are long lazy days at home with the kids, day trips exploring, grocery shopping with four small people in tow, hanging out with my sisters, meeting with friends, and break up parties at night.

A few months back, I did another fashion related post with BIG W about refreshing my spring wardrobe. I’m thrilled with how the clothes fit around my life. I’m especially impressed with the quality of Aussie designer Peter Morrissey‘s label for BIG W.  This dress has become one of my staples – I wear it almost on a weekly basis and it looks as good as the day I purchased it; it’s gone through many washes without loss of colour or stretch.  (You read my interview with Peter Morrissey here.)

I already have a good variety of clothes at the moment; the only thing I needed was a pair of shorts and a few sleeveless shirts/singlets.  To spruce up things for the festive season, I often inject the sparkle with accessories in silver, gold, black, brown or pewter.  This means I look through my cupboard for existing items in my chosen highlight and then sometime add a few new pieces.

I chose silver this time because it goes with so much of my clothes and has that Christmassy feel. I raided BIG W in the search for silver, and I found plenty in the form of summer shoes, necklaces, clips, earrings, bangles and bags.

silver shoes

silver heart necklace

silver necklace

silver bracelet

Accessories

Some ways I utilise my accessories:

– Wear a few different necklaces together at different lengths to give that layered look.

– bangles on one arm only, or both

– Adjust a long necklace in length by tying a lose knot at the back

– A black dress is always a winner for parties. Couple with heaps of silver sparkle for a fun look

– If you have small children and necklaces aren’t easy to wear (because you’re constantly being stranged!), stick to bangles for that added bling

necklace stack

Shorts!

Because I was impressed with the Peter Morrissey range, I went back to have a look again and found these adorable spotted shorts ($20) – the perfect length —- and they come with a green belt.  The singlet top was $5, shoes $15 and necklace $13. Not bad for a summer outfit!   I’m wearing a bracelet I already had here too.

Peter Morrissey Shorts from BIG W

If you’re interested in this library room I’m in, there are feature pics in this post: A Wall Bookcase

In this series of posts I’m doing with BIG W, the focus is about utilising what you already have by highlighting them with a few festive items.  I tend to group the type of clothes I have in terms of how I use them and where I typically wear them. This makes it quick and easy for me to fit the clothes around what I’m doing.

Casual

Items: shorts and knee-length skirts that can be coupled with different tops

Wear: shopping, meeting with friends, beach, day trips

summer fashion

  Wearing

  1. Peter Morrissey Shorts $20 (with green belt), white singlet top $5, necklace stack $13, bracelets on each arm $10, silver shoes $15
  2. As above with a green top I had in my cupboard for a different look

Relaxed

Items: slacks, maxi skirt, jeans, ¾ pants, flowy tops, singlets, tshirts.

Wear: shopping, meeting with friends, day trips, lounging, home days

summer fashion

Wearing

  1. Emerson chambray love heart top $19, white jeans, silver bangles $10, silver earrings $6.35 (pack of 3), silver shoes $15.
  2. Emerson white button up top, maxi skirt $19, drop crystal necklace $13, silver bangles $10, silver stud earring $6.35 (pack of 3), silver shoes $15

Party

Items: A nice going-out dress. A LBD always a winner. Red is fun and festive

Wear: parties, break-ups, get-togthers. Christmas

 summer fashion

Wearing

  1. Red knit dress (had for about 5 years), tear drop crystal necklace (tie up in length) $13, bracelet stack on one arm $10, silver shoes $15, hoop earrings.
  2. Black dress with see-through sleeves (from Forever New a few years ago), long heart crystal necklace $13, black shoes, silver earrings $6.35 (pack of three)

Floral & Summery

Items: Light summery dresses that can be dressed up or down

Wear: hot summer days, parties, going out for dinner, shops, beach….anytime I want to feel extra feminine.

summer fashion

Wearing

  1. Floral dress (Jeans West), all gold accessories this time instead of silver, Emerson cardi, nude shoes
  2. Floral dress (found in a little boutique), drop crystal necklace $13, purple shoes, bracelet stack on one arm $10, silver earrings $6.35 (pack of three)

Hair

I have two main styles that are my go-to and they both take under 5 minutes (in my hair) to do.

Down side-part style

  1. Blow dry hair and straighten with a hair straighter.
  2. Part to one side and use a clip or a 5 or 6 bobby pin together to hold in place.  Look for silver, gold or other coloured bobby pins for an easy and effective look.

bobby pin hair sytle

 

Upstyle

This is the hairstyle I often do if I’m going out. It only takes a few minutes.

upstyle hair style

It looks good with a clip or simple without any embellishment too.

easy up style

How to

Make up

When I have the inspiration of a party or event coming up, I try something new with my make-up.  Just one small new thing, and this becomes my thing for the season.  I went with a cat-eye liner look with a navy edge. Not too bad for a first effort.  Apart from the liner, I’ve kept it pretty simple in the eye area so I can get away with bright lips!

cat eye make up

It’s all about silver for me this season. I enjoy throwing sparkle on before I go out and I can dress up pretty much anything!

Giveaway

Congratulations to Rebecca and Gemma the winners of the last 2 giveaways.  I have another BIG W voucher on offer. Use the rafflecopter form below and leave a comment answering this question:

What is your best fashion tip for the festive Summer season?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

T & Cs – Must be over 18 year of age, Australian residents only, judged on merit.  Please read full terms and condition in the link above

*Giveaway ended. Congratulations Tiffany*

Disclosure

This post is sponsored by BIG W.  All views and materials (including photographs) produced are my own.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

Tie a Scarf into a Summer Vest

tie a scarf into a summer vest

My sister gave me a beautiful mint horse print scarf for my birthday.  I adore it! She also taught me how to tie the scarf so I can wear it as a vest over singlets and swimwear (looks especially gorgeous over togs when you want to be just a little more covered post swim).  Always a good thing to be able to extent accessory items!

One

The scarf needs to be large (and light)

how to tie a scarf into a summer vest

Two

Fold in half horizontally.

how to tie a scarf into a summer vest

Three

Bring all four corner together.

how to tie a scarf into a summer vestFour

Tie in a knot.

how to tie a scarf into a summer vestFive

It should make a circle like this.  With the knot to the back slip arms through the opening, like you would putting on a jacket (little demo in the video below)

how to tie a scarf into a summer vest

 Six

Adjust so the knot is in the middle at the back.

tie a scarf into a summer vest

Video

A quick (slightly awkward) demo.

More

Tip for tired eyes

Tip for Tired Eyes

How to brighten the eyes

My eyes often have that “I’m tired” look. Probably because I AM often tired. Ha! I have this ultra quick and subtle way to brighten my eyes and it only takes a few minutes to apply.

tips for tired eyes

Products:

Concealer

Nude eye liner

Silver eyeliner or eye shadow

Nude eye shadow

Mascara

How

After applying foundation:

  1. Apply concealer under the eye.
  2. Brush nude/campaign colour eye shadow on the entire eye lid, right up to the eyebrow line.
  3. Draw skin coloured (nude) eyeliner on the bottom eye lid.
  4. Press silver eye shadow into the inner corner of the eye.
  5. Coat eyelashes with one layer of mascara.

how to brighten eyes with make up beafunmum.com

New Hair — Rich Brown with Honey & Copper Highlights

long bob hair cut

There was this silly little indulgent plan I had at the start of the year, sort of like a celebration for all my children being at school.  The plan was to get a hair cut more than my previous once (twice if I was lucky) a year one.  But I get excited about my hair now because I found a fabulous hairdresser, and she does amazing stuff to my hair.  For the first time in my LIFE, I feel like I have a hair style. Ha! The colour is awesome — and I like to mix it up a little each time — plus, and more importantly, my hairdresser cuts my hair in a way that makes it manageable for me, and this is HUGE as I don’t like spending a lot of time on my hair.  So yeah, I rave about her.  You can look her up if you’re in Brisbane, here: Monique O’Rourke Freelance Hairstylist.

Before

I had my hair up this morning, so when I took it down, it was all curly and wild.

hair cut -- before

After

This time, we went with more honey and copper highlights instead of the red last time. It’s a similar cut, but the front is just a little bit longer and then sloping slightly up to the back.

photo (19)

hair cut -- long bob

Yay for that fresh haircut feeling!

Previous hair cuts

Warm Red-Brown

Autumn Hair

I Wore Green Togs

green one piece togs

Summer’s come early here in Brisbane.  Beach waves. Afternoon storms.  Hot sand. Big sunglasses. Even bigger hats. Ice cold water. Salads and sorbets. Bare feet. Cute dresses. Flowers in my hair. BBQs in the park. Pool days. Movie nights. All the good things to look forward to in the upcoming months.

I found these cute one piece togs are in Luang Prabang in Laos; of all the unlikely places to find swimwear!  After walking around the quaint town, I stumbled across a shop with the adorable emerald green swimsuit.  They are different than any togs I’ve seen here in Australia.

Making the most of the glorious weather, as a family we visited the beach one day during the holidays. I wore my green togs. And you know what? I didn’t really think about it.  What I mean is I didn’t stress about hiding myself under a towel, neither did I feel the pressure to be some sort of ‘yummy mummy’ (whatever that is). I didn’t really think about it but got out there and enjoyed the swim with my kids.

You see, I’ve worked on my health and fitness — slowly and surely — particularly during the last couple of years; (I went back and reread this post I wrote 3 years ago: feeling fat and ugly).  However, my goal isn’t to look amazing but to be the best I can be. Almost the same, I guess, but the foundation focus is different.  There’s a lot of noise about appearance…blah, blah, blah.  I just don’t buy it even though the message is sold everywhere, EVERYWHERE I TURN.  Oh sure, I want flattering clothes, I love pretty stuff, dressing up and the like, plus I enjoy the fact that my wardrobe fits comfortably again and that my legs are more toned.  But I have a slightly shifted focus: it’s not about appearance but embracing this life I am blessed with.

When I pondered about that day at the beach, I realised being self-disciplined about health paid off in the best way possible. Not because I hit the beach feeling like I was rocking my togs…but because I went to the beach without my usual binds — neither bonds of insecurity or pressure to attain to a societal ideal held me back.  There was a freedom for me to just be, and I celebrate that!  Work hard.  Shine without fear. And cute green togs are a bonus.

Interview: Peter Morrissey & $200 Big W Voucher Giveaway

Sponsored by Big W

It was one of those dresses I looked at suspiciously on the rack: horizontal stripes, stretchy material, sleeveless.  I’ll just try it, I thought.

As soon as the dressed slipped over my head to the rest of my body, I immediately knew I loved it.  I’m talking about this dress by Aussie designer Peter Morrissey for Big W.

peter morrissey big w

Dressing for My Life

In a usual day, I can go from a business meeting, to house cleaning, to the shops, (sometimes I even sneak to the beach), to the school pick-up so I look for clothes that are easy to wear and adapt.  Below is my priority list:

  1. Minimal ironing/easy care
  2. Classic cuts/style
  3. I enjoying wearing it
  4. Good quality/reasonable price
  5. Versatility

See, right at the top there is easy care because I know clothes will sit in my cupboard if they need special care.  I like to wear everything I have — not worrying too much about keeping things special — because I figure clothes are there to wear and enjoy.   This dress ticks all of the boxes.

Peter Morrissey Interview

peter morrissey clothes for big wTo celebrate Spring and the new range of affordable and stylish clothes from Peter Morrissey for Big W, I’m interviewing the designer. I adore how Peter makes it less about the clothes and more about the people who wear them.  He’s inspirational like that. Plus there’s another $200 giveaway on offer.

Kelly: Peter, love the new range!  If I had to sum it up in a line, I would say this: the range displays an amazing combination of wearability and elegance.  Where do you find inspiration for each new season?

My inspiration is always Fashioning the Life of men and women and offering them needs, wants and desires in the collection.

As I say, “If you wear the look you live the life”. I have stuck to a classic palette in this collection, so it’s easy to mix and match the pieces and create several looks for your wardrobe.

peter morrissey clothes for big w

I have the floral sleevless top.

Kelly: Do you have a favourite piece?

I am not lying when I say every piece is a favourite for a different reason based on why I designed it for the occasion in a woman’s life – from dressing for dinner to dressing to pick your children up from school.

peter morrissey quote -- white shirt

Kelly: Does easy-care factor into your designs? I ask because I look at many of the pieces and go: Peter knows I hate ironing!

Time is our greatest luxury and fashion should enhance our lives not torture it!! So yes I like to say I am VERY USER FRIENDLY!!

peter morrissey sunglasses

Wearing: Peter Morrissey Sunglasses.  I love the sleeve line of the dress as it comes just a little over the shoulders which is both flattering and comfortable.

Kelly: As mum to four small persons, time for myself in the mornings is premium.  Can you give me three tips on how to co-ordinate clothes so dressing for the day can be done quickly and confidently?

It’s how you feel that is most important because when you feel good in an outfit, you wear the outfit; it doesn’t wear you.

  1. Keep it simple: pants, top or shirt, jacket
  2. Pencil skirt, twinset or sweater
  3. A great dress that looks good with flats or heels

peter m quote

Kelly: How can fashion and personal style bring enchantment to the everyday?

Dress like you’re embracing life, not hiding from it.

If you wear the look, you live the life – so dress to express you, not worrying about dressing to impress.

peter morrissey quote

Kelly: Can you recommend a go-to outfit for those “I don’t know what to wear” days?

Black pants, white shirt, good bag and sunglasses as it always looks sharp, chic, whispers elegance and has a proudness about its look.

Kelly: Five essential wardrobe items?

  1. A Little Black Dress
  2. Black Jacket
  3. White Shirt
  4. Jeans
  5. Great Pair of Sunglasses

5 essential wardrobe items

Kelly: If there is one thing you want women to feel when they wear your clothes, what would it be?

That people tell them that they look beautiful before they ask them where there clothing is from or who designed it.

The new season Peter Morrissey collection is available now in store and online at Big W.

***************

It’s become my favourite go-to dress. I just may be wearing it too much!

big w - peter morrissey dress

1. All glammed up
2. More casual with Mox flats and a beige belt
3. On a still-cool day with my Bared boots & cream Emerson cardi
4. To the beach with a straw hat, Peter Morrissey sunglasses and aqua Emerson cardi

Celebrate Spring!

Just a little video celebrating the first of many beach visits this Spring.

Giveaway

To celebrate Spring, I’m giving away another $200 Big W voucher you can spend on anything in-store. To enter, use the rafflecopter form below.   There are 2 chances to enter (you can do just one, or both): 1. I would love to hear about your top 2 priorities when you look for clothes (leave a comment below); Tweet the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read my disclosure policy here.

15 Minute Workout Circuit + $200 Big W Giveaway

Sponsored by Big W

run

I’m not sure I can do this, I thought as my legs burned beneath me and my chest threatened to explode outside my chest.  500 metres! 500 measly metres: that’s all I could manage when I began training for my first 5k fun run (over a year ago now).

I remember feeling depressed after walking-jogging-walking most of the route mapped out around the streets close to our home.  In that moment, there was temptation to give up. Oh the PAIN! And yet now, a year later, I’m amazed to say I smash out 7 kilometres in my usual run. Keep. On. Keeping. On.

Which brings me to running shorts.  I never thought I would wear running shorts because I’m just not a running shorts kind of gal.  The reason is by wearing them, I look the part…and I don’t really want to look the part because then I need to act the part…and there’s the probable risk I look absolutely ridiculous. You know? However, now the days have warmed up, I find my tights hot to run in.

Enter Michelle Bridges’ (from Biggest Loser) ONEactive range.  So, I’m doing a few posts with Big W this month. Last week it was about my spring wardrobe, this week I’m doing fitness, and next week I’ll have an interview with fabulous Aussie fashion designer, Peter Morrissey.

Picture this: I’m standing there in the shop aisle, trying to decide if I can do running shorts.  I mean, how serious do you have to be to qualify wearing running shorts? I held them up in front of me to see how short they were.  I decided to give them a shot and in the picture (above) I’m wearing ONEactive running shorts, ONEactive Crop Top (pink) and a ONEactive Basic Active Tee.  Well, well, it turns out there’s a reason running shorts are designed…um…for running; regardless of how they look, they are cool, light, and fabulous to run in!

There are a lot of different types of active-wear and gear in Michelle Bridges’ ONEactive range and you can check it out here.

Fitness

Increasing my fitness has been a priority the past couple of years.  I feel strong and well; my headaches have improved 70%; I sleep better; and I stress less.  It can be challenging to find the time for exercise amongst parenting and I wrote about it in a guest post here: Finding Time to Exercise (although my fitness routine has yet again changed since I wrote it, the principals remain).

You just have to start somewhere and keep going.

When I was thinking about this post I really wanted to be able to give someone — anyone! — something to go away with.  So I asked my fabulous Group Personal Trainer Lauren from Phyzique if she would share a 15 minute circuit you can do at home with no special equipment.  Lauren (mum of two) is the best kind of trainer with the perfect mix of push, encouragement and knowledge. Very highly recommend for anyone in North Brisbane.

I’ve done all the exercises below myself, and they work!

15 Minute Circuit

Warm up for 5-10 mins

Example warm up exercises: Walking, Jogging, neck rolls, arm circles, squats, wide squats, calf raises

15 Minute Circuit

Complete each exercise in the circuit for 30 seconds.  Then rest for 2 minutes and repeat the circuit
another 1-2 times

1. Beginner: Wide squats or Advanced: Frog jumps

Wide Squats

15 minute circuit -- squats

Frog Jumps

15 minute circuit -- frog jumps

Stand a little wider than hip width apart.  With toes pointing to the outer corners, bend down, keeping chest up.  Then, jump up and land in the same squat position.

2.  Walking push ups. Beginner: on knees  Advanced: on toes

15 minute circuit -- walking pushups

Start with hands together, all of body in one line.  Make sure your hips are not sagging and bottom is not raised.  Place 1 hand out, a little more than shoulder width apart, bend elbows and push up. Hands come back together again before the action is completed on the other side.

3. Spiderman

15 minute circuit -- spiderman pushups

Similar to walking push ups: place hands a little more than shoulder width apart.  Start with feet together, keeping control of your core, and bend 1 leg out to the side, bend elbows and then push up.  Place leg back in to starting point and bend the other leg out to do the other side.  Keep repeating this action and concentrate on keeping the body in 1 line.

4. Lunges

15 minute circuit -- lunges

Step out 1 leg, bend the back leg down to 90 degrees, making sure the front knee does not bend over your front foot.  The knee should stay in line with the foot. Feet come back together, repeat on the other leg.

5. Tricep dips on chair or bench

15 minute circuit -- tricep dips

Perform these on a bench or step and make sure the elbows point directly behind you as you lower your body down and back up again.

6. Step ups on step or chair

15 minute circuit -- step ups

Use a height that you feel comfortable with and step up with alternate legs each time.  Concentrate on squeezing the bottom as you rise.

7. Bicycle crunches

15 minute circuit -- bicycle crunches

Perform this exercise slowly. Using a cycling motion with the legs, extending the legs out straight each time.  Alternate the elbows from side to side, so the opposite elbow touches the opposite knee.

8. Bridge: beginners on knees  Advanced on toes

15 minute circuit -- bridge

This is a core exercise.  Make sure your elbows are under your shoulders and your bottom is in line with your back.  Once in position, pull your navel to your spine.  Hold. Complete this on the knees if you have back problems.

Cool Down

Stretch after every workout.

Print

Printable (2 pages with instructions) to stick on your fridge if you want the challenge!

15 minutes circuit

Note: please consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Giveaway

I’m giving away another $200 Big W Gift voucher this week.  To enter use the form below.  There are two chances to enter: leave a comment below about your fitness goals or challenges, and for an extra entry, you can like Big W on facebook.

Giveaway ends 31 August 2013 at 10:00 PM.  Please read all terms and conditions in the link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you

Huge thanks to Lauren from Phyzique for helping me with this post. You can find the Phyzique on facebook for fitness inspiration.

Disclosure

Read my disclosure policy here.

My Spring Wardrobe + $200 Big W Gift Voucher Giveaway

Sponsored by Big W

big w emerson

“No husbands were harmed in the making of this post,” he said in a reporter voice at one point.  See, that’s the sort of thing my husband says that makes me laugh, and you can see it reflected in the pictures.  Love that man and how he humours me and my many projects.

On this particular afternoon, we headed out with the children to a favourite spot where my husband patiently played photographer because I wanted share three main reasons why I organise my wardrobe for each new season.

1. To celebrate the new season (helps me feel fresh)

2. To save time when dressing (I enjoy fashion but I don’t have a lot of time)

3. To help me utilise items already in my wardrobe (so things don’t go to waste)

I give a little splash to my wardrobe each season to extend what I already have; however, this season, I needed a few extra pieces because I kept off much of the weight I lost during my 300km charity ride in Laos (bonus!).  So, I was glad when Big W was keen to work with me because I’ve purchased, worn and enjoyed the Emerson range before and found it to be great value, easy wearing and good quality. I especially love their 3/4 sleeve cardigans this season.

Each week for the next 3 weeks I’m giving away a $200 Big W voucher so you too have a chance to spruce up your Spring wardrobe with Emerson.

Steps to a Fresh Seasonal Wardrobe

1. Cull

Each season I do a quick cull by looking through the items I have, and giving away clothes I don’t wear or don’t fit. Be ruthless.

2. Choose a Season Highlight Colour

Classic fashion pieces in neutral colours like beige, navy, black and white are always useful.  Plus I have a lot of red, because I like wearing red (I think it’s important to have that zing colour). Then, to inject some personality and freshness, I decide on a highlight colour. Last year it was coral (as pictured below).

coral colours

Deciding on a highlight colour gives direction to my wardrobe which then makes it easy to dress and find complimentary items to wear.  This season, I’m going with aqua because it reminds me of the sea.

3. Inspiration

Inspiration: it makes me think outside the box and helps to maximise my wardrobe.  For me, colour is the ultimate inspiration and I often browse and search a fabulous website called Design-Seeds for different colour palettes to help me match the items and accessories already in my wardrobe with my new clothes.   I’ll show further below how this works.

4. Sort

Inspiration in hand, I then sort and explore my wardrobe (including shoes, belts, bags, jewellery & other accessories) so I can test different items together.  The best way to do this is spread clothes all over the bed and just start putting items together.

spring wardrobe

5. Organise

Pulling everything out gives me a visual of my wardrobe and what combinations work.  It’s amazing how much you can mix and match pieces and accessories when you invest a little concentrated time.  Then, I organise it all in my wardrobe, by hanging tops together, then shorts/skirts, then dresses.  I hang jewellery on a railing inside the wardrobe (as pictured in this post).

Spring!

Taking the time each season (takes about an hour) to think about my wardrobe makes dressing stylishly FAST and enjoyable.  Below are picture of how it came together: new clothes + colour inspiration + existing wardrobe.

Outfit one – Beachy

big w emerson -- aqua shorts

design seeds pink

Wearing: Emerson Contrast Cardi, Emerson Aqua Demin Shorts, Pink Flats (a year old), Brown Belt (5 years old), Peacock Necklace (gift from my sister), Ecco Brown Plait Bracelet, Aqua ring from Diva (2 years old).

Outfit Two – Classic

big w emerson -- white shirt

design seeds red aqua and white

Wearing: Emerson Classic White Shirt, Emerson Dark Denim Skirt, Aqua Bon Bon Bella Necklace, 30th Birthday Floral Shoes (5 years old)

Outfit Three – Classy

peter morrissey dress for big w

design seeds black blue and yellow

Wearing: Peter Morrissey Striped Dress, Peter Morrissey Sunglasses, 3 Blues Lovsia Necklace (gift from my SIL for my birthday last year), Yellow Wedges (for my birthday last year), Cuff (from my recent trip to Africa), Fiorelli bag (I picked up on a sale table 4 years ago).

* COMING SOON! Interview with Peter Morrissey about his Big W range.

Outfit Four – Smart Casual

big w emerson -- denim skirt

design seeds red navy beige

Wearing: Emerson Dark Denim Skirt, Emerson Black Singlet, Emerson Beige Cardi, Red Belt (from a little shop in Montville 2 years ago), Ecco Wedges (1 year old), Red &  Silver Bracelet stack (gifts from a friend last birthday), Bag from Italy (recent gift from a friend)

Outfit Five — A Little Cute & Quirky

big w emerson -- cardi

design seeds purple pink green

Wearing: Emerson Black Singlet, Emerson Beige Cardi, Purple Pants (4 months old), Pink flats (a year old), Bon Bon Bella necklace, Diva Aqua Ring (2 years old), Black Bluebird Purse Clutch.

Outfit Six – Floral

big w peter morrissey

design seeds green

Wearing: Peter Morrissey Print Navy Top, Emerson Dark Denim Skirt, Peter Morrissey Sunglasses, Vintage Pearl Necklace as a braclet (found at a thrift shop), Pendant Necklace (gift), Green leather court shoe (found at a thrift shop) or Blueberry Mox Shoes

Outfit Seven – Everyday Glamour

big w fashion - emerson dress

design seeds red blue pink

Wearing: Emerson Blue Cardi, Emerson Print Dress, Ecco Wedges (a year old), Bon Bon Bella Aqua Necklace, Peter Morrissey Sunglasses.

This is only a small selection of all the mixing and matching I can do with my wardrobe this Spring. Celebrating it! Loving it!

Giveaway

Now the fun part.  I’m giving away a $200 Big W gift voucher each week for 3 weeks, starting right now!  For your chance to win, use the simple Rafflecopter entry form below.

Starts 17 August, Ends 23 August. Read full terms and conditions by clicking the relevant link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What would your highlight colour be?

All view are my own. Read my disclosure policy here.

More

The lovely Kate from Kate Says Stuff is doing a giveaway too, so if you want another chance to win, head over to her blog here.

I don’t cry for my body anymore

I could feel the sweat trickling in tracks down my body.  It had been a hard training session.  As I walked in the door — home — I pulled off my wet t-shirt, enjoying the cool relief as the air hit my damp skin.  I walked around that way, for a good 10 minutes before taking a shower: shorts, socks and a crop.  As I casually chatted to the children about the upcoming plans for the day, I noticed my son (5) staring at my belly button.

“What?  What are you looking at?” I was curious.

“That there. It looks like a cut. What is it?” he said.

I glanced down at my belly button to see he meant the strange and lonely stretch mark that snaked its way through my navel.

pregnant with fourth child“Ahhhh, that.  When I carried you inside my stomach, it needed to stretch so much,” I put my arms out in a circle in front of me, “That the skin tore a little.  That strange one right there, all by itself, only happened when you were in my tummy. And you know what? It reminds me of you, so it’s really kind of special.”

I was surprised how his face lit up.

“So you can remember that I was inside your tummy once,” he reiterated with a delighted chuckle; big smile. Then he ran off to play outside.

And so I think of them, I do — the now silvery lines sitting under my navel, and the one lonely one above it, that marks the birth of my only son — I think of them as beautiful, as special.

But it wasn’t always like this.  I distinctly remember the moment, during my first pregnancy, when I noticed the first stretch mark marring my smooth skin.  I cried that day.  But I don’t cry anymore for my body.  I train it, I feed it, I rest it, I entrust it to the one person who cares for my heart and too: sees my imperfect body as beautiful; and I love it for giving me my four children.

Sometimes things need to be broken so they can become more beautiful than before. That is what motherhood did for me. It stretched, pulled, and even tore at my person.  Yes, such violence. Such love. Such highs. Such lows. Such fear. Such joy.

Grateful for SUCH complex beauty.

All of it.

motherhood

Remembering my first year with son.  He’s one in this picture. 

Now he’s a little boy — five going on six — full of energy and questions.

New Hair – Warm Red-Brown

This year I decided (as a celebration now all my children are at school) to try and schedule a regular haircut/colour.  Go me! For the past 12 years, 6-7 months (even up to a year) between haircuts was the usual gap.  So the plan was to be realistic, and make time for a haircut every 3 months.  Well, by the time I got to it this time, I worked out it’s been 5 months since my last hair cut. Ha! So, not quite 3 months, but I’m getting there.

Oh, it feels great to get a fresh style and a pop of colour!  My awesome hairdresser knows how I enjoy a bit of colour but struggle to get to the hairdressers regularly, so she puts in under highlights so there’s no obvious regrowth, and a Demi-permanent on the top so the fade is gradual.  Works a treat!

The colour this time is a redish brown with red & golden highlights coming through underneath.  The cut is short enough so the style is easy to manage, a sweeping fridge shapes the face and the edges are a little edgy for a bit of fun. Edges are edgy. I’m sure I can write that better. Wait. The edges are funky. There you go.

I love it all.  Now, I’m trying to work out how to style it so it looks exactly like this again…

Until next hair cut sometime in the future.

hairstyle -- red undertones

When my 5-year-old son saw me in the afternoon he told me it looked like “Rock Star Hair” so here’s my coolest look.

sweeping side fringe

Hair by Monique O’Rourke Freestyle Hairdresser (Brisbane)