Friday, May 31, 2013

FFS Friday: 15 Seconds of Fame

Head over to Dear Baby G for more FFS goodness

I was interviewed by Channel Nine yesterday for an upcoming segment on the proposed government maternity leave schemes.

The house was spotless, I was made up like no-ones business, and running on time. The idea was to film me first at my weekly Gymbaroo class with Sebastian, then follow me home for more goodness with all my kids.

Upon walking out the front door I stacked it and put a rip in my new pants FFS

Sebastian was sheltered by me, and screamed only in fright. NO FFS

I twisted my ankle, and had to hobble up the 20 stairs to Gymbaroo FFS

I made it in plenty of time to feed Seb before class though, and watched as all the other mums turned up looking distinctly more glamorous than usual. Our room contained more makeup than a Revlon factory lol.

Every time they turned the camera on Seb he would vomit cheerfully for them FFS

His shining moment of fun and gurgles and NO vomiting they had left the room to film someone else FFS

I picked up Lolly from daycare and raced home in the hopes of changing her into clean clothes and straightening up her hair before the film crew arrived after taking a bit of a break. They were waiting when I got home. She looks distinctly grotty and snotty for this shoot. FFS

I bought pretty new cushions for my front kid-free living to brighten it up and make it look nicer. They filmed in the back kid room instead FFS

I bought a pretty pinkish/tannish scarf/cowl neck thingie to brighten up me, since I planned to wear my usual uniform of black on black. By the time I did a whole Gymbaroo class in it I was hot, itchy, and sweaty. I took it off, and forgot to put it back on for the interview. Got any blacker? FFS

Instead of crashing for his usual big sleep following a Gymbaroo class, Seb stayed awake and grizzly through the interview and ended up demanding his next bottle early. FFS

Lorelei turned into the shyest, most uncooperative toddler you can possibly imagine when the time came to film her. She kept turning her back on the camera, and doing the opposite of what she could hear them saying they were about to film her doing. FFS

Despite my cleaning the house so that it resembled a display home, they moved a couch out of the way to make room and uncovered a years worth of grime and debre. I've only lived here 5 weeks. FFS

We went over the road to the park, because I assured the crew they would get some awesome Lorelei shots of her climbing like a monkey. She took off for the top of the structure and started to climb down, took one look at the camera and called out "mum, help! I'm stuck!" After they abandoned their efforts to film her, she clambered down in 2 seconds without help. FFS

I threw Seb over my shoulder so they could zoom in on him. You guessed it, he puked. FFS

It wasn't too bad though, all in all. I'm sure they will be able to salvage 20 seconds of decent sound bites, although the camera man assured me he could also pull together an outtake reel of Seb puking. Sigh.

Have you had your 15 seconds of fame? Did it go more smoothly than mine?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kisses Make Everything Better

Looks like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth,
doesnt she.
"Mummee, wowee."

This was the tragic sound of my 2 year old as she held her hand up to my face to be kissed better. Kisses make everything better when you are 2.

Lip out, big brown eyes looking wounded, she cradled her sore hand. Upon closer inspection I realised there was a deep, and clear, bite mark impression.

"How did that happen Lolly?" I asked while I cuddled her close. After all, any owie needs kisses and cuddles, and bites are specially horrible.

"Bastian bite me" with a glower towards her 9 months old brother, rolling complacently on the floor, no sign of his evil doings showing as he sucked happily on a Dora toy.

Really? Really kid? Sebastian bit you. Really?

For the last few weeks Lorelei has been popping her fingers in Sebastian's mouth and making encouraging noises that he should bite her. Which he hasn't. And the game always ends with her giving him a mini lecture on biting.

"No biting Bastian. Not nice. No biting"

So back to present day, and my littlest daughter nursing her wounded hand waiting expectantly for her baby brother to get in the same trouble she gets in when she bites her cousins.

Except Seb doesn't have any teeth yet. Not even one. And with no other culprits in the house I think I know who bit Lolly's hand. Nice try kid.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

When Harry Met.....Maddy

If you're the parent of a tweeange girl you are probably no stranger to One Direction. Thanks to Maddy, I know more about Harry Styles than his mother probably does.

So when Husband and I spotted these life sized cutouts of One Direction members in Target, we knew it would be the perfect treat to have stored away to surprise Maddy with some time. At $49.95 it was never going to happen, but when we realised they were on sale for $30, I parted reluctantly with some cash and hid Harry in the wardrobe for a little while.

The day came when Maddy's bedroom was clean, she'd had a fabulous week of being helpful and sweet, and I wanted to reward her. So that night, we set Harry up to loom over Maddy in the dark.


The thought was that she would wake to see a dark figure and would have a little freakout before switching on the light and spotting her idol. I figured the resulting screams, either from the dark figure or the idol spotting would wake us up.

It didn't quite pan out that way though. In typical tweenager style, she slept long into the morning, so that I was up and tapping away on the computor in the next room. Husband had paused at the door for a chat when stirring noises emerged from Maddy's room. Husband, from the doorway, peering down the hall, started to grin and I tiptoed over so that I could catch the action.

That's when a lifesize stranger burst into my line of vision, scaring the morning coffee out of me (I may or may not have wet my pants). I shrieked, and seconds later echoing cries were heard from each of the babies bedrooms as they were woken up abruptly.

Harry had been carried from a bemused and delighted Maddy's bedroom, so that she could show us her new treasure. He did a great job scaring the bejesus out of someone, it just wasn't her.

Ever had a practical joke backfire on you? Have a tween in love with One Direction?

Friday, May 24, 2013

FFS Friday: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

My brother and his partner gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby boy. NO FFS.

4 days later my brother tells me he is leaving her and the babies to go fruit picking in Griffith. FFS

When I offer my support to his partner, it turns out I am breaking the news. FFS

I've haven't broken up with someone on behalf of someone else since high school. I could slap him. FFS

In other news, turns out Madeleine was exposed to a man who has been arrested for child pornography last week (among other things) at a workshop at her dance studio last term. FFS

I paid a small fortune for her to attend that workshop run by this man FFS

Upon questioning, she (and her dance teacher) assure me that there was never any reason for our children to change clothes or costumes during this workshop and neither she nor any of her friends were ever left along with him. NO FFS

Upon scooping out his Facebook account like the nosy gossip I am, I was electrified to see that my daughter is one of his friends FFFFFFFFS

After logging into her account and frantically reviewing her messages I was further horrified to find messages between them FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFS

Fortunately the emails are harmless, although they are very recent so who knows where else they may have gone if it had continued. Unfriend, block, educate and breathe again.

Had a social media scare with your tween/teen? Broken up with someone for someone else? I'd love to hear about it

Didn't get enough of my whinging? Want to read more FFS posts? Head over to Dear Baby G for more FFS goodness

Dear Baby G

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Buying Bulk and Reselling to Save Money

When I got pregnant with Sebastian far sooner than expected (only crazy people deliberately have babies 15 months apart) it mucked up my big baby game plan.

The original plan was to have the kids 2 to 2.5 years apart. Prams, high chairs, cots etc would all be passed down to the new baby with no need for new purchases. All that went out the window since Hubby and I have clearly neither learnt to count, restrain ourselves, or use protection.

Seb's gorgeous cot
When I realised that both Lorelei and Sebastian would need cots at the same time (although actually, since we kept Seb in his crib far longer than we should have, this might have been avoided anyway), I set out looking at used cots on eBay.   Eventually I found a gorgeous cot, along with a portacot, girls bedding set, matching bumper & valance, big bag full of various sheets and other linen, and a bouncer for $120. We snapped it up and had it all home before the women selling it could blink.

We didn't need or want any of the other items, with the exception of the portacot. We already had one, but knew a second one would be handy on holidays until Lorelei was old enough to sleep in a bed.

So I broke it all down into separate componants. The bedding was washed, ironed, and photographed in a far more attractive light and listed on eBay. It was a popular and expensive set, and it sold for $60. Since it would cost around $120 brand new, I was pretty pleased. The matching bumper and valance sold separately for another $30. The bag of random, cheaper quality linen was listed on a facebook garage sale page, and sold for $10. The bouncer also sold for $5, and the mattress that went with the cot for another $6. Total sale price: $111.

Kidsline set sold for $60
We used the money from selling off all the bits and pieces to purchase a new mattress, on sale for $80. So the total end price for a quality used cot and new mattress ended up being $89. Bargain when you consider people  pay $500-$1000++ for the same items. It could have ended up costing only $15 if I were willing to use a second hand mattress but I prefer to buy a mattress that is geared towards people with allergies, since Husband is pretty bad.

Random bits and pieces

$89 is a huge savings on buying the cot brand new or even buying it second hand on its own. Many of the used cots I looked at would have cost close to how much we paid for this one with all its extra's.

Both babies now have cots that convert into toddler beds, so both will be able to use their own cots and linen til they are 4 or 5. This is fabulous, because it means when the time comes to set them up in big beds, I can gear the bedding and bed type towards an older child, and it should all last them through to high school. We found with Madeleine that we replaced all her toddler bedding when she got a little older in primary school, and again now that she is in high school and funnily enough no longer interested in pink fairies.

When the time comes, I will keep one cot for the future grandkids to use when they sleep over, and sell the other. We are almost at the point that I can sell the spare portacot, since Lorelei just went into the toddler bed recently. So the total of Sebastians cot costs will reduce again when the portacot is sold.

How do you make/save money? Ever tried buying in bulk and selling of the excess?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Breaking a Tween Up With Her Treasures

We made the decision to move from our own home into a granny flat during the Christmas school holidays. And at the time, I went into a frenzy of a spring clean, selling things, donating things, and throwing things out. It was a great opportunity to cleanse our home and belongings and get rid of unneeded clutter.

Although I hate to get rid of anything, I was able to part with many of my treasures. 3 kids later, I am realising that if I keep storing their belongings and mine I will soon become a candidate for that show, Hoarders.

We aren't this bad. Yet.

Madeleine, however, was a bigger problem. She was 12, going into high school, and still didn't want to get rid of any stuffed toys, littlest pet shops, pretty pink little room decoration, saddle club posters, etc etc. This on top of her growing liking for One Direction, nail polish, and other more teenagerish activities. So her room was overflowing with crap, and pretty much impossible for her to keep tidy. 

I couldn't convince her to pass things down to her sister though, or to chuck them out. She was attached to everything. So instead of forcing the issue, I got her to go through an activity with me that I was doing throughout the rest of the house. Everything had to be separated into 3 piles:

1. Things that she could not do without during our short stay in the granny flat (which turned out to be 3 months, not quite as short as I expected). School things, dance things, and the most used entertainment items (iPod, nailpolish, DS). She was given an underbed storage box and if she couldn't fit it into that, it couldn't come.

2. Things that she definitely wanted to get back as quickly as possible once we moved into our new home

3. Things that she didn't want to get rid of, but that she could do without for a while, so it could go into longer term storage if necessary.

I wasn't entirely sure how big our new house would be, and there was always the potential that I would leave lots of things in storage for a while. It turns out our new home is plenty big, actually bigger than our old home, so everything is gradually getting unpacked.

After 1 term in high school, without many of these belongings, Maddy is suddenly realising she doesn't WANT alot of it. Many things won't be making their way back into her room, and she is happy to pass them down to Lorelei or get rid of them altogether. She doesn't want the toys of her childhood, because she realises she won't play with them. She doesn't want all her baby stuff toys, because they don't fit with the new, older, room she has been creating for herself in this new home.

I'm glad I didn't make her get rid of things, because I think she would have felt the loss more sharply and been upset at their absence. By doing it this way, we have still culled her belongings, but it has come about naturally. It's definitely a lesson I will take on board as the 2 babies grow up, that maybe I can just put away things that they have outgrown, and give them the chance to get some separation gently.

Are you a hoarder, or are you able to make the cut ruthlessly when needed?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

There Were 10 in the Bed and the Little One Said...

Lolly "helping" Dad put
Sebs cot together
New house, new beds.

Both my babies have upgraded their beds this month. Along with the move to a new house and into bedrooms of their own, both have graduated beds. Lorelei has gone from cot to toddler bed, and Seb has made the long overdue move from crib to cot.

Seb pretty much had his head and feet touching both ends of the crib, and had a habit of hooking both his legs on each side to lift himself up into the air to unwrap himself. He should have gone into a cot a few months ago, but it was in storage and it took us longer to move from the granny flat to a place of our own than I expected.

I take alot of pleasure in making up their beds for the first time, even though they never look this cute again!

Lolly just turned 2 last week, so I wasn't 100% sure that she was ready to make the move to a toddler bed yet, but while we were on holidays she kept climbing out of her portacot so I figured I may as well give it a whirl at home. The last thing I want is her working out how to climb out of the cot and falling down to hurt herself!

The first 3 nights were brilliant and I was patting myself on the back for having such a well behaved toddler! She'd jump into bed, I'd give her a kiss, and that was the last I would see of her for the night. Clearly, I am a fabulous parent.


Night 4 came, and as I was settling down with Husband on the couch to watch some Game of Thrones (loving this show, can't believe it has taken me this long to find it!), I heard the pitter patter of little feet running down the hallway. Seconds later she burst into the lounge room with a cheery "hello baby!' (unfortunately she has picked this up from her father!) and bounded onto the couch in between us.

So much for my fabulous parenting. It took another 2 weeks of consistent settling and bedtime routine before she has started to get in bed and stay in bed at night.We are reading her a book in bed each night, and at one point I was sitting quietly in the corner for an hour till she fell asleep. Yay, that's no longer necessary, because there is so much I can be doing with that precious, all kids asleep, time each night. Unpacking some of the never ending boxes for starters.

Fortunately she is now staying in bed each night with no drama's but it took persistence! She has fallen out of bed twice though, despite the safety rail. I have found her each time crouching on the floor, bewildered and upset, but still half asleep. Poor bubba gets a kiss and cuddle and I settle her back into bed.

 Seb on the other hand is a whole other problem. Now that he has so much room, he is rocking and rolling all over the bed and I can't keep him wrapped long enough to fall asleep! I'm going to have to invest in another swaddleme soon I think, because the little monkey thinks its hysterical when we come and scold him and try to rewrap him.

The ideal nighttime situation
What actually keeps happening
Oh well, will keep trying and in the meantime it gives us lots of giggles.

Did your kids make the transition to new beds easily? Or did they put you through lots of night time fun as well?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cake 2 The Rescue: Review and Giveaway

Massive parent fail this month. Life has been so busy, moving into the new house, starting a new part time job, unpacking constantly, that before I knew it Lolly's birthday was only 2 days away.

2 days.

And I hadn't planned the cake. Presents can be wrapped at the last minute, but the cake needs some serious planning, and in my case, practice. I usually give myself a trial run before making anything special so that I minimise the chances for failure, because frankly, Martha Stewart I am not. 

Enter Cake 2 The Rescue. I have seen these ladies about the blogosphere before, but I wasn't entirely sure how their product worked. Their name pretty much had me convinced that they were what I was looking for though! I sent off a frantic email and had a prompt response promising express post shipping that day. Hows that for killer service.

Sure enough, my parcel arrived Thursday morning, PLENTY of time to cook and decorate before Lolly's birthday on Friday. When I ordered it, I wasn't 100% convinced that I wasn't going to need some special bakeware, ingredients, baking implements, skill, etc. You know. Things I don't have, and don't really have time to source right now.

So I was pleasantly surprised when the only things I had to bring to the baking party were eggs, milk, and butter. Oh, and my mixer. That's it. The kit came complete with cake mix, fondue, template, food colouring, and best of all, idiot proof instructions and tips.

Would you believe you even cook the cake in the box it all comes in? No need for a special tin to make this happen. Just mix all the cake mix, milk, eggs and butter together, pour into the box, and into the oven.

Cake mix goes in

Delicious fluffy cake comes out

I honestly always thought that a detailed character or novelty cake would be difficult to make. Not so much the actual baking part, but the shaping and decorating. I could not believe how simple and idiot proof this was. My kit gave me simple, step by step instructions for every part of the decorating journey. Using their included template I cut out the pig shape cake, and copied their icing and piping process.

As you can see, I'm messy and erratic in the kitchen! I try not to be, but somehow I end up getting icing everywhere. And no, a rolling pin was not needed for this cake. I've never used it before and had hopes it might be needed but alas. No. 

The end result of following the fabulous Baker Girls detailed instructions? A foolproof, Peppa Pig cake. I just can't get over how easy this was to produce a cake that I would cheerfully have paid $60-$70 for from a bakery. If not more. 

And best still, I made it. I didn't buy it premade. I got to see my daughters face light up and know that it was from our home made efforts.

The Cake Rescue kits retail from $29.95-$49.95 and come in so many varieties. There's something there for every occasion, from a babies 1st birthday, Mums 60th birthday, even Australia Day! Some of my favourites that I am eyeballing for future use are below:

 I have a soon to be teenager that I know would LOVE these. Because I loved their service and product so much, I contacted the Baker Girls to ask if I could pretty PLEASE give away one of their fabulous products to my readers.

One lucky reader will win a Cake Rescue Kit of their choice. All you have to do is visit the Cake 2 The Rescue website and tell me, which Cake Rescue kit would you choose if you win? Additional entries available for overachievers!

And as an extra bonus, the Baker Girls are also kindly offering a 5% discount to Mummy Hearts Money readers, so you can head over and buy your emergency cake today using the code VALENTINES.

Entry Via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Sponsors love to receive feedback on their products, and I love to hear from you about my content. Please feel free to leave some loving in the blog comments xx.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Good Golly Miss Lolly! She's TWO!

Where did the time go? Not so long ago, I was toddling off on Maternity leave with my tummy WAAAAY out in front of me, ready to have this gorgeous girl by planned c-section.

I woke up to find a pink cheeked Daddy introducing me to a round, chubby faced, little dumpling that perfected fitted the pre-picked name of Lorelei.

Time flew, and she was turning one before I knew it.

And now, after a jam packed year with so much in it, mummy going back to work, a new baby brother, mummy back home again, mummy in and out of hospital, moving to a new house, she's turned TWO!

We had a massive birthday party with all the family last year. I don't give my kids parties every year, but of course we always celebrate with presents, a nice dinner, and a cake. As my big girl has gotten older it also often includes a day out doing something special if there isn't a party.

Miss Lolly is lucky enough to have been born on the same day as her cousin. And since their birthdays fell on a Friday this year, which is the day we always have dinner with the in-laws, I figured I better pull out something pretty good as a cake. With the help of Salz, (and Husband may have done the baking the night before since I was pretty frazzled) we pulled together some gorgeous piggy cupcakes (thank you Pinterest!) and a Peppa Pig birthday cake (cake design and kit purchased from Cake 2 the Rescue).

Piggy cupcakes sourced from Pinterest
"Pig Babe" cake from
Lolly and I enjoyed a morning at a playcentre with Salz and Aneesa before returning home for naptime. It was a nice, playful morning that was all about the girls (and not at all about the latte's). But the best moment was when the girls saw their cakes. Both faces lit up, and Lolly shouted "Hoo-Ray" cheerfully when we sang for them.

It was a fabulous day, and Lolly was tickled to have everyone singing for her. She loved ripping into her presents, but was a little confused two days later when it was my turn to get presents for Mothers Day.

Love you lots my littlest girlie. Hope your day was magical and you look back at these photo's one day with pleasure. xx

Like my cake? Watch out tomorrow for a full review and giveaway of the cake2therescue product

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Mash Up

Those of you following on Facebook or Twitter may have noticed the numerous attempts at mashed potato in the last week.

Despite trying repeatedly over the years I have never been able to produce edible mash. That doesn't mean I haven't made the family eat my productions. They've eaten lumpy mash, crunchy mash, runny mash, slimy mash, but never smooth and creamy mash.

Husband can produce a perfect mash every time. Smug bastard. So it tends to fall to him to make the mash for a meal, I just prepare before he gets home from work by peeling and chopping the potato's. 

Hehe. While mashing, my Breville AIO turned it
into squiggly worms. I had to take a photo
When I was gifted the new Breville All In One, I was determined to master the mash. End of story. No more terrible mash.

Effort number one was a fail. I followed the recipe in the booklet that came with the machine and turned out perfectly liquid mash. 

Effort number two was also a fail. I read all the tips I was given on twitter (thanks Lisa!) and Facebook and in person by people who had read my efforts and found them hysterical. I was prepared. I peeled the potato's. I chopped the potato's. I placed potato's in a pot. I scolded Husband when I discovered him stirring my potato's. I chucked a tantrum when I realised he had moved them to a different pot because he felt my pot was too small and he didn't want a repeat of the previous nights failure. Husband ended up taking over the whole process and turned out perfect mash. I repeat. Smug. Bastard.

Effort number three however, was a perfect, delicious, creamy, smooth mash. No one has ever made mash this good. I swear.

My tips for turning out the perfect mash?

1. Plan to cook them when bastard Husband isn't home
2. Influence the babies feed times so he will be asleep during feral hour for once
3. Start cooking them BEFORE feral hour starts
4. Have a bowl of snacks ready to toss into the ferals seagulls toddler's mouth every time she comes near you while preparing your perfect mash
5. Restrict TV time all day then produce 30 minutes of Peppa Pig during cooking time
6. Ignore the recipe. You will never get the ratio's right. 6 potato's? Big? Little? Medium? Who knows.
6. Shake drained potato's over the hot plate again to dry out the excess moisture
7. Put the milk in AFTER you have mashed the potato's and combined the butter. Add a little at a time till you are happy with the consistency. Don't add the whole recipe recommended amount all at once since you may not need it all.

Creamy, smooth, yummy mash. Would you like some roast
beef with that mash?
Voila. Perfect mash. So ner Bastard Unbeliever Husband.

So now I have mastered the perfect mash, I will be turning my attentions to making a perfect cake. And not from a packet mix. That's how confident I'm feeling.

Do you have something you just can't produce in the kitchen? Unbelievers in your household?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Using Freebies to Stretch the Budget

I love freebies. I don't care how I come by them, samples, prizes, friends, I love them. If a brand is offering a sample, I'm the first one to sign up. A person on the side of the road wearing promotional clothing handing something out? You better be careful not to get in my way because I will stampede anyone to get at the promo person. Goodie bags at expo's? I'm in heaven. And I spend a few hours every week trolling for competitions and giveaways that I can enter. The smaller the prize the better - sounds dumb right? But I've never won an iPad or a holiday, whereas I am CONSTANTLY winning smaller household products and toys for the kids. At least 1 prize a week.

But it's only worthwhile if you actually USE the samples and freebies. I've noticed that alot of my friends or family end up throwing samples into draws, probably with good intentions of using them, but go on using their normal day to day product. And the sample just sits there gathering dust until a cupboard or draw gets a spring clean and it gets thrown out.

I make a habit of using samples first before other products. That way they definately get used. And although it might be hard to see the impact on the budget, by using the all the samples up it means my normal products go just that much further.

For example, at the moment I am not purchasing any baby nappy rash products, body wash, or dishwashing detergent because we are still using up the samples/prizes of these products. I also have a bunch of packet mixes that I cook with - maybe I wouldn't have purchased some of these meal types but I am definitely willing to give them a go since they were given to me by a friend who had too many and they would have expired. Not paying for these items is saving me a small amount on my grocery bill, and since there is always something every pay that I don't have to buy thanks to samples it all adds up.

Where do you get your hands on samples and freebies?

1. Brand facebook pages are becoming more and more popular for samples. Like your favourite brands and keep an eye on their streams.
2. Websites often have a sample offer that you can sign up for. Especially baby goods, there is so much available in baby goods. I will confess I have yet to purchase any nappy rash products at all since Lorelei was born almost 2 years ago. And I have 7 month old Seb now too.
3. Email companies that you are interested in to ask for freebies. I've had many companies send me a sample to try out even though they didn't have a sample program on their website.
4. Expo's are sample heaven! All the brands are desperate for a slice of your business, and will giveaway samples in the hope that you will try and end up buying
5. One of the market research panels I am with (Red Galah) often offers a sample bag in conjunction with (or instead of) payment for a focus group. There's often products that aren't released yet on the market
6. Check your favourite products website for competitions to enter. And check the terms and conditions to see how often you can enter - sometimes you can enter daily and I find those ones are generally a sure thing if I have the patience to keep entering.

I freely admit that I am a freebie whore. But every now and then a company gets lucky (possibly the worst pun I have ever made) and I like their product enough as a result of trying the sample to make the change. So the freebies work, although they have to work damn hard. As you can see often there are 2 brands competing at the same time. The photo's to the right are just a quick sample of the freebies in my home in use at the moment. There are probably more, I just ran around grabbing what was easily visible for the photo's.

Are you a freebie whore too? Does the sight of a promo person get you to change your route to make sure you cross their path? Tell me the best freebie you ever got your hand on!

Linking for love with Essentially Jess.
***Diclaimer: This is not a paid or perked product flog. With the exception of the kleenex products that I think I got in a blogging swag bag, none of these products were given to me without the brand knowing that I had a blog that they may be mentioned on***

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Beginners Guide for Brands Working With SAHM Bloggers

When I say beginners guide I'm referring to me not the brand!

 "I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You've got mail." ~You've Got Mail ~

That's how I feel when I get any kind of PR or Brand email. And I may or may not do a happy dance not unlike Jim's American pie dance.

Often I can't accept an invitation due to logistics. And I figure there must be lots of bloggers in the same boat as me. So here are my tips for getting fresh, funny and unfrazzled bloggers to your event. I'm a wee baby blogger though, so it's always possible my two cents is worth just that.

1. Don't forget the kids. Many of us are SAHM. So any invitation that doesn't include my kids is going to involve a babysitter which already reduces my chances of attending. I will be very selective about which events I sacrifice my time with my kids for (and beg babysitting services out of the relo's). Events that either include my kids or have some kind of nanny/angel service have a much higher chance for me to attend

2. Remember the mummy responsibilities. 9am starts really (REALLY) don't work. With a school run to cater to it just increases the logistic problem to be on time for a 9am start which is often in the city. While the corporate office day probably kicked off 1-2 hours earlier my ability to do anything for me kicks off once I have waved my cherub through the school gates. 10:30-11 starts are much more compatible with the school day

3. Wifi and Social Media. Want me plugging your message across my social media networks? There's nothing like free wifi, good hash tags, and some brilliant photo ops to get me tweeting and instagramming.

4. Don't forget the home players! Speaking of social media networks, if you really want to go viral give me an incentive to play along at home even if I can't attend. Offer the chance of a giveaway and i'll hang on every tweet and Instagram trending with your tag. This will give your blogger attendees more engagement with their social media messages, and also give you the opportunity to connect with bloggers in other states.

5. Make it a win/win/win. Offer me something for my readers. I feel a bit like a hooker when I plug your brand without there being something in it for my readers.

Any other bloggers have any tips to add? Or maybe you don't agree with my points - add your two cents!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

On Food Processors and Mashed Potatos

Brace yourself. Its a long one. And I guess you might consider it sponsored, although I didn't get any money or get asked to do a write up or anything.

There are times when this blogging gig rocks.I get invitations and offers for the most incredible things, and while I don't take up about 75% of what gets sent my way, from time to time something tickles my fancy.

This time, it was an invitation to the Appliances Online Mothers Day morning tea. We would be given a demonstration by the Monday Morning Cooking Club, then hang about for some good food and company.
12 months ago I probably would have knocked this one back. I hate cooking. I'm a terrible cook. Most of my culinary efforts include premade sauces and packet mixes. So I have no idea how I scored an invite to this event.

But since going on maternity leave with Sebastian, I've been determined to make a wider variety of meals, and to make more of them from scratch. It's slow going, and I'm still a very experimental cook (as my kids and Husband will agree!), but I produce more and more meals from scratch these days. It's a fabulous savings in money, and I'm also finding that on the odd occassion I get it right, it also tastes better.

With that in mind, I'm finding I wantneed a bigger variety of gadgets in the kitchen. I'm kind of working with a small plastic cake mixer, a cheapie slow cooker, and a wok.

These days what I want is a slow cooker with a timer, a food processor, a killer cake mixer, maybe some kind of multi cooker to deal with vegetables, rice, etc. But I want it to take up as little space in the cupboards as possible so if one or two machines can fill multiple slots that would be awesome.

Husband and I have been trolling the various appliance stores over the last few weeks, reading the backs of boxes, and watching the occasional demonstration. Not knowing precisely what our long term cooking needs are, and how various appliances can help, we're not quite sure what we need. And I'm reluctant to spend any money unless I know it will hit the mark.

For now we are still looking. There are plenty of blogs reviewing appliances at the moment so I've been going over all of them. You can see why I was pretty stoked when I got the invitation from Appliances Online. I had never heard of the Monday Morning Cooking Club though, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Their website just didn't bring them to life for me.

After a stressful drive in which I was sure we were going to be late (and I am annoyingly anal about lateness, my own and other peoples), and tried to convince my chauffeur SIL Salwa to take a few creative detours we made it on time for a tour of the Appliances Online operations and our demonstration. Side note - the Appliances Online operation is pretty cool. In my professional life I was running a national bank call centre before going on mat leave, so I was interested in all the wrong things on the tour. I kept having to remind myself to focus on appliances, and not on call centre stats. I was dying to talk to the staff there though, it looked like they had a great workplace culture.
See how the mission statement is the backdrop for each work
station? I thought that was neat. The CEO was sitting out there
at a hotdesk in the call centre too, not locked away in an office. 
Anyhoo, back to the Monday Morning Cooking Club.These women are incredible. They are a group of 6 ladies who have been doing their cooking thing together on Mondays for years. Kind of a masterchef playgroup. A few years back they stepped up to the challenge of gathering Jewish recipes and immortalising them in a cookbook for charity. This cookbook not only shares the special family recipes looked away in little old Jewish lady minds, it also captures the spirit and stories behind the recipe.
3 of the 6 Monday Morning Cooking Club
I watched 3 out of the 6 banter and bicker their way through 3 demonstrations. Given my newfound interest in appliances and my complete ignorance in how to use them I was fascinated to watch them whip together the 3 recipes in the Breville All In One, which I believe is a fancy schmancy food processor. It really only took a minute or two for each recipe to be well combined, and these women made it look so easy.
I admit to getting a little distracted when I found out that the filling of the Kindlech was Nutella and raspberry jam mixed together. I can see alot of possibilities for that mixture. icecream topping, strawberry dip, sandwiches, cupcake icing....see? Distracted again.
Kindech with the delicious Nutella and raspberry jam filling

The three recipes that were demonstrated for us were Honey Macadamia Nut Wafers (thin, crispy, and so ridiculously yummy), Almond Kifli, (mmm, a little shortbready for me, but still good), and Kindlech (surprisingly not as overwhelmingly sweet as I expected).

And afterwards, we got to sample all of them as well as lots more while getting time to chat. I LOVE blogging events, because bloggers are some of my favourite people. Even if I don't read their blog, I still love talking to bloggers, although in this case there were a few I had met before and have been following for a while. Its always nice to catch up and even better when it includes good food!

 The icing on the cake though, was the Monday Morning Cooking Club recipe book and Breville All In One I was given to take home. Yay!
Salwa and I with our new goodies
I would like to say that I miraculously turned out something fabulous first try with my new AIO. But no. I gave mashed potato's a whirl, since its something I have NEVER been able to get the hang of. I followed the recipe, and still turned out a runny mush. But I can say that the AIO turned it into runny mush VERY quickly and easily. I will give it a whirl again tomorrow night and see if I can do better. And no, there is no photo of the outcome. I may or may not have had a tantrum when it didn't work out as hope for. Instead here is a picture of the machine sitting nice and compact on my counter top. The only annoying thing about it so far is the one random attachment (whisk?) that doesn't sit on the unit. I'm not sure what to do with it.

Another side note - Jewish recipes don't include any pork products, so as a partially muslim household this is a great addition for us. For all my inlaws that may or may not read this occassionally, this is definately a cookbook you would get value out of.

Being a complete food processor newbie, I am curious as to what else I can do with it. Soup, presumably. And I know that my mother uses one to make her cheesecake base.

Anything else? Also, if you have a miracle multi gadget at home that you swear by, feel free to plug them so I can check them out.