Friday, 19 December 2014

Weekend Rewind - My Advice to Me, Or You... if You Are LIKE Me

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I am well known in my family for catastrophising things.

It's fair to say I am a bit of a drama queen and I tend to jump to the worst possible conclusion and imagine the worst possible scenario. You know, all doom and gloom, end of the world yada yada yada.

If I can't get hold of my husband on the phone during the day, its because he has been badly injured or worse in a car crash.

If my kids are late home, its because a tree has fallen on one of them or they have been cleaned up by a bus and are lying in a hospital with broken legs and no teeth and no one knows who they are.

If I hear an ambulance or sirens close by - it could be for one of my own and so I do a quick phone around to my Mum and Dad, my hubby etc and make sure everyone is OK and if I am not at home I call home and see if the answering machine works because if it is working then my house can't be on fire and all is well.

Yes I know I know... I'm totally neurotic.

An incorrigible worrier.

I have an unhealthy fear of 'What if?'.

I'm a complete stress head.

The end.

OK not quite. I'm not quite done with revealing myself for the utter weirdo that I am...

You see, the two things I was most worried about before going overseas to Dubai without my family, was that something would happen to me whilst I was gone and that my kids would be left without their mum and my hubby without a wife.

I even contemplated writing them a 'just in case' letter so that they would have something special to remember me by if something did happen.

Oh man I am cringing at myself as I write this and can't believe I really am telling you this. But, I do know I am not the only one who feels this way sometimes and I have to tell you that I for one feel better about the fact that I am not the only one who is prone to excessive worry about this kind of stuff.

The only thing I worried about more than something happening to me - was something happening to one of them whilst I was away. I worried that I would be on the other side of the world and then I would have to get on a plane to come home and I would be all hysterical like and have to endure a 14 hour flight home with no control over any situation and I would be crying and a total mess and security would try and stop me from flying because I wouldn't make any sense to anyone and ...... breathe.

I think you probably get the idea right?

Fortunately, nothing happened whilst I was away, but within days of getting back, my beautiful Dad was rushed to hospital with a super bug and septicaemia, and the siege happened in Sydney, and then those poor kids in Pakistan and Cairns this morning and all I kept thinking is THANK GOD none of that happened whilst I was away because I would have been beside myself and desperate to get home to my family.

Thankfully my Dad is doing OK and we will have him home for Christmas with us. My husband and boys are safe and well and I am home without being infected by Ebola or some way out there condition.

But the events of this past week have made me realise, that things do happen, and sometimes we cannot control them and whether we are there or not really makes no difference at all.

Life sometimes presents us with the most cruel and unimaginable situations and tragedies do occur every day. But we cannot live our life worrying every minute of every day for the 'what ifs'.

I can't live like that, and I am not setting a healthy example for my kids by living that way either.

So if you are a worrier like me, then my advice is this... let's hug our kids, tell our partners we love them and go and see our family if we are fortunate enough to be able to do so. Let's NOT take unnecessary risks or put ourselves in danger, but let's NOT deny ourselves the opportunity to grab life with both hands and feast on it like it is the most delicious late night kebab you have ever laid eyes on.

Let's NOT waste our precious lives worrying about getting sick, getting injured, getting old or what could go wrong for us or those we love. Life is for living and we owe it to those who are no longer with us to live every day and enjoy it for all of its gloriously wonderful and (yes) sometime scary beauty.

That's what I intend to do from here on in anyway.

I WILL be the change.

Have you ever been paralyzed by those 'what if' thoughts?
Are you a drama queen too or do you have an enviable 'go with it' attitude to life? If so what is your secret to getting it?

Link up your favourite post from the past week and then if you get a chance, pop around and say hello to some of the other lovely linkers. The Weekend Rewind blog hopping party starts every Friday night at 8pm and links will close on Sunday night at midnight. Link up here or over on Bron's blog (Heartfelt Living)Sonia's blog (Sonia Styling) or Kelly's at A Life Less Frantic.  It does not matter where you link as your link will show up in all 4 places.

Weekend Rewind is taking a little break over Christmas and will back on 16/01/15

Thursday, 18 December 2014

You Have To Watch This Landing To Believe It - Hot Air Ballooning In Dubai

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This Bloggerati Getaway is proudly sponsored by Dubai Tourism

This whole trip seems surreal now that I am back at home and back into everyday normal life. It’s hard to fathom that yet just a week ago, there I was in the Arabian Desert in a Hot Air Balloon 4000ft above the ground and then crashing into the ground at 40km an hour in what our pilot described as a 10/10 ‘sporty landing’.

You have to watch the video at the bottom of this post to see it for yourself, because I have even had to ask myself over and over again “Did that really happen?”

I’ve had quite a few of those ‘did that really happen moments?’ since I have been back and it has taken me a while to comprehend it and process all that we experienced on that incredible trip to Dubai. 

To be honest I don’t even know if I have actually processed it, or if I ever will.

I had thought that standing out in the ArabianDesert at night on the Desert Safari was a life changing experience for me, but this Hot Air Ballooning with Balloon Adventures Emirates was a total game changer.

I am petrified of heights.

No bull, I really am.

I am one of those people who stands on the balcony of a really tall building and looks over the edge of the railing to down below and goes “Oh crap, it would be far too easy for me to just hoik myself over that railing and fall to my death”.

I am well aware just how insane that sounds and of course I would never actually do it. It’s just that for some crazy reason that I do not understand, I just can’t stop myself from thinking like that when I am somewhere insanely high and then I get all giddy and panicky and I have to get as far away from the edge as possible.

Yep… and yet I put my hand up to float 4000 feet above the desert in a basket held up by a bloody big balloon and a whole load of hot air?

What WAS I thinking????

What I’m thinking is that I am so beyond proud of myself that I did put my hand up to do it. In fact, proud doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel about overcoming that fear and experiencing such an incredible activity.

A 4.30 am wakeup call had me ready and on the bus at 5.15 am for the 45 minute ride back out into the desert.

Once there we were briefed on safety, we watched as the ginormous balloons were inflated. Once that balloon was up, there was no time to chicken out as collectively (under strict instructions to “Get on … QUICKLY”) we all scrambled our way into the basket.

Before I had a moment to think or rethink about what I was doing, we were lifting up into the air and I was mesmerized by the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen in my entire life.

I wasn’t even scared anymore…

OK.. I lie – I SO WAS scared, but for the most part I found flying over miles and miles of sand and camels and random gazelles - peaceful and surreal and I was oddly at ease.

Maybe the ease came as a result of our pilot (Captain Shaggy Michael Schaefer) reassuring us as we took off that he had in fact made over 1000 flights in his career. Who knows... but it sure was something I hung on to as we braced ourselves for a somewhat less peaceful landing.

I won’t spoil that landing any further for you… watch the video below which was kindly uploaded to You Tube by my fellow Bloggerati teammate Sharon The MakeUp Artist, to see it for yourself.

If you are planning on visiting Dubai and would like to experience this activity for yourself, you can book through Balloon Adventures Emirates here.

Realistically at approx $272 US per person, it is not something I could have afforded my whole family to do and so I am extremely grateful for the incredible #MyDubai opportunity. But, if you have the budget and the courage, I would wholeheartedly recommend you experience it for yourself.

As I said before… total game changer!

Have you or would you give hot air ballooning a go?
What have you done in your life that has been a total game / life changer for you?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

WIN The Perfect Fit

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Brought to you by Nuffnang and Clarks Australia

My poor children… during the last week of school their shoes were literally hanging onto their feet with the help of mismatched laces, hot glue and a little bit of electrical tape.

I’m not a complete miser. It’s just that I couldn’t quite bring myself to fork the dosh out for new shoes at the end of the school year when I know their feet are going to grow like weeds over the summer holidays.

Alright, I confess - I have been guilty of putting them in the wrong size shoes before though. I will never ever forget the mortifying experience of finding out my poor Marcia Marcia Marcia middle child’s feet were crammed into shoes that were a size and a half too small for him.

Nor will I forget the humiliation of coming THIS CLOSE to annihilating an entire shop full of sales people and customers when I my boys to get their shoes fitted at the end of a hot day of running around in sneakers.

I still have nightmares about the suffering we inflicted on those poor innocent people when my boys removed their shoes and the stench rose like a fog suffocating anyone in a 10 metre radius.

I have since learned to let them air their feet in thongs for a good few hours before we go into a shoe shop.

I have also learned that there a few things to consider when shopping for school shoes to ensure the shoes you send your kid’s feet to school in, are the perfect fit.

Our precious little rugrat’s feet are not fully formed until they are in their late teens, and until then they need to wear properly fitted shoes so that their feet have room to grow as healthily and happily as the rest of them.

Based on my history of buying shoes for my kids, a professional shoe fitter I am NOT.

Shoes that don’t fit properly will not only cause discomfort, but they can also they can prevent your child’s natural growth and lead to health problems. They can even adversely affect your child’s walking development and you could end up spending a fortune on orthotics like ummm someone I *ahem* know had to.

Here’s some information from Clarks Australia about how to maintain healthy kid’s feet;

Barefoot is best
There’s nothing better for young feet than walking barefoot, whenever it’s safe. It helps
muscles develop, allows the skin to breathe and feeling the ground beneath their feet will
help them learn to walk.

If your child is wearing socks, they need to be the right size and made of natural materials
(at least 50% wool or cotton as a guide). Because young feet are soft and pliable, socks
that are too tight can squeeze the foot into an unnatural shape and cause permanent
Socks that are too loose can bunch up and cause blisters and corns. Make sure that the
sock seams are well finished to avoid creating pressure points inside the shoe.

Regular hygiene
Young feet should be washed and dried thoroughly every day. This is because the spaces
between toes are prone to infections such as athlete’s foot.

A toddler’s toenails should be trimmed often using small, sharp scissors. You should always
trim straight across the nail.

It’s important to check little feet regularly, as nails that are too long can cause pressure points
inside the shoe. Some children’s nails will curl in, cutting the skin. Regular checks and
trimming will prevent this from happening.

Did you know that badly fitting shoes can not only cause discomfort, but they may also lead to unhealthy feet and even long-term damage to joints and posture.

Here are some common foot related problems to look out for – things that properly fitting shoes can help to avoid:

Feet have their own unique personality and it’s super important to have the shape and the size of your kid’s feet assessed by someone who knows what they are doing - a trained shoe fitter.

Clarks shoes have over 170 years of caring for kids’ feet, during which time they have learned a lot about little feet. They know all about kid’s feet and how they develop over time.

To make sure your child’s feet are fitted perfectly, they use their training and experience, as well as a specifically designed Clarks Foot Gauge which measures the length, width and depth of both feet.

You can visit any Clarks store to have your children’s feet fitted by Clarks specialist trained fitters, or alternatively you can do it yourself at home with Clarks Foot Gauge online here making it easier to check year round whether you should be updating your kid’s shoes or not.

Now the reason you should go and see those clever Clarks specialist trained fitters in store is because they carry out a 10 Step Check, to make sure that the shoes you send your child to school in are the Perfect Fit for them:

My boy’s feet grow so fast, and I have been tempted in the past to buy the cheaper shoes you can get from department stores. The problem is that often these cheaper shoes aren’t made of leather and so I asked - Why is leather so important when it comes to school shoes?

The answer my friends, (so I’m told) is that leather qualities have been proven to support and protect feet better than any other material. It is flexible but strong and it ‘breathes’ allowing perspiration to pass through, avoiding not only the nasty smells that could be responsible for wiping out the entire population of a shoe store, but also avoiding fungal and other gross foot infections.

OK so I get it – kid’s feet need to be properly fitted and leather is best. But why should we choose Clarks shoes for our kids?

Because Clarks make SCHOOL PROOF SHOES. Yep tough, durable, everyday school shoes that include the PerfectFit Daytona, TheMachine Washable Cross Hype and the MightyTuff  Sawyer.

And with that 170 years of caring for kid’s feet under their belt… I trust that they know what they are talking about.

You can search for your closet Clarks store or stockist here or visit the Clark’s website page here or follow them over on Facebook.

One of you are going to win a pair of Clarks School Shoes (to the value of $129.95) for your child.

All you need to do to enter is tell me;

Why do you want your children to wear Clarks?

Then follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter widget below to be in with a chance to win.

Competition is open to Australian Residents only and is open now 
and closes 5:00 pm AEDST on Tuesday 6 January, 2015

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

What IS Normal Now?

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I along with you and millions of others am completely numb with shock at the siege that took place in our beautiful city Sydney yesterday and early this morning.

The fact that this is so close to home strikes like a searing iron rod through our hearts and yet I could not turn away from the TV as the events unfolded.

Last night, I tried to go about business as usual for the sake of the kids, but I felt fake and awkward in my actions and furthermore... clumsy with guilt.

I felt guilty that I was scared and shocked when every day so many suffer this torment in war torn countries around the world.

I felt guilty that despite what those poor people were going through... I could put a load of washing on and pick up stuff that my kids have left lying around. Just the usual sort of things we all normally do of an every day of an evening, and yet I was so conscious of my movements as I was going about these menial tasks because whilst my life at that moment was so... normal, a mere 30kms away 'normal' people were suffering the most unimaginable terror.

When we woke today to news that two lives have been ended so callously, it was a reminder that terrorism is exactly as the word describes, a means to terrorise the unsuspecting.

During the Sydney siege, we were asked to stay calm and go about our business as usual... but it's hard to do that isn't it?

Impossible even.

I mean seriously... how can anything be 'business as usual' after what happened?

Whilst you and I are not physically damaged in anyway by what happened, we are as a nation wounded and scarred psychologically... possibly even permanently.

I kept my boys home from school today, not because I was scared for their safety or anything like that at all. I kept them home because I just felt the need to have them close today. To hug them and tell them I love them and to hug them some more... not just for my sake, but for those families who lost a loved one yesterday and will no longer be able to hug their own.

Whilst my younger two boys are oblivious to what happened, my 13 old knows and we explained to him last night that in light of it all... that now more than ever... it is important to breed empathy and acceptance for those whose cultures, religions or backgrounds are different to our own.

It is important to be extra kind to those around us, smile at everyone, treat everyone with respect and show them that we will not aid ANYONE in their attempts to create a divide between the diverse nationalities that call this beautiful country home.

Maybe as a wider society, returning to normal or going about as per usual is not what we should be doing after all...

Especially if normal includes any form of ignorance or apathy.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas Made Easy

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Brought to you by Coles

Every second year, we play host to our family on Christmas Eve. It’s a big shindig, with pressies, and champagne and way too much food ... you know the whole hog so to speak!

I put so much planning into this one event.

I know I know, it’s just one night of the year and who really needs the added stress at an already stressful time of the year yada yada.

But I like to do it.

In fact I am one of those completely insane people who actually loves doing it all.

To me, Christmas Eve is a celebration of the fact that we made it through the year, together and in one piece.

It’s a night where we talk about our favourite memories of the year; declare our highlights and our wishes for the New Year coming. It’s a night where we laugh and drink and eat and soak up every last bit of that special Christmas magic that comes to a peak on Christmas Eve.

And so I plan everything, and I mean everything.

From the table setting to the menu, the little individual table gifts and even the music.
Hell yeah, I have a playlist of festive tunes with a special guest appearance by Michael Buble.

OK he doesn’t actually grace us with his presence, but you know, he is there in spirit for sure!

Planning it all ahead of time means no stress on the day and more time to actually enjoy the occasion and be a part of the memories… not just the one in the kitchen preparing them.

OK, so we have established that I want this night to be perfect.

What can I say?

I am a complete sucker for traditions and anything Christmassy and I’m beyond thrilled that Christmas Eve dinner is ranked at the top of my kid’s list of all time favourite things about Christmas.

Take that Santa!

As we all know, I’m by no means the world’s greatest chef. Not even close.

In fact not even sure that I am technically qualified to use the chef word at all.


But despite this fact, I’ve been giving it a good old go lately when it comes to trying new recipes and I am totally game to try anything… except on Christmas Eve.

Yeah Christmas Eve isn’t really when I want to be attempting to cook something I’ve never tried before because, well… let’s face it - if I stuff it up,  I’ll probably fall to pieces.

YES I am THAT obsessed with pulling off the ultimate Christmas do for my family.

And so every year when it is our turn to host Christmas, I try out the planned menu and recipes on a group of friends first.

I serve up all the very same things that I plan on serving up on Christmas Eve. Call it a trial run if you will…. I call it a damn good excuse to invite some friends around and let our hair down.

Rule number 1 in this game is that the food needs to be easy.

Not too much effort and not too much cooking, because hello… it’s December and it’s typically hot and humid. The last thing I want to be doing on Christmas Eve is playing the role of Sweaty Betty in the kitchen.

Nope, I aint got time for that!

This year given my collaboration with Coles, I decided to try out some recipes from their December Christmas magazine. All the recipes can also be found on the All the recipes can also be found on the Coles  & Taste websites.

They have recipes for everything including traditional hot Christmas dinners and the seafood and salad feasts that my family prefers.

Christmas is all about sharing great food right? So it makes perfect sense to savour the season with festive Christmas recipes, indulgent desserts and light summer meals, and I’m telling you – the Christmas Issue of Coles Magazine has it ALL.

There’s even a fabulous menu planner in this Christmas issue for us control freaks, so we can cherry pick from all the recipes inside the magazine to pull together the perfect Christmas spread based on ingredients that we know our family will love.

Taste also has aChristmas Menu planner on their website that you can use to plan your ultimate Christmas feast and there are over 80 menu plans to choose from.

We are seafood hogs in our house, so of course I chose seafood as our main theme and since all those luscious berries are in season, they featured heavily too.

Here’s what our Christmas menu this year looks like.

The raspberry cocktails were an absolute hit on the test run night.

Honest to God you guys HAVE to get the Coles Magazine for the Raspberry Cordial recipe alone.

In the magazine it is referred to as the Raspberry & Lemonade Cordial… but at our house, it was called a Berry Christmas Raspberry, mineral water and Vodka cocktail.

I served these babies up over ice in cute little mason jars and the kids had their own Orange and Lime mocktail mix.

The Smoked Salmon and Dill Pikelets took next to no time to put together and made for the perfect starter to have with the cocktails. 

They are little bite size pieces that are easy to eat with one hand, leaving the other to hold your glass of bubbly or wave manically through the air in an animated conversation.

Dessert was the Piece de RĂ©sistance.

OK so my White Chocolate Crackle trees I made for the kids didn’t exactly look like the ones in the Coles Magazine… it turns out that trying to stick on mini M&Ms with chocolate was far too fussy for me.

But the Lemon cream, Berry and Macadamia Tart was literally THE EASIEST dessert I have EVER made and it was scoffed down in record time by the troops.

What are your plans for Christmas this year?
Are you hosting it or are you heading somewhere else?
Do you do anything special on Christmas Eve?

Don't forget to enter to win a $1000 Cole Voucher

Entries close 20th December 2014 and the winner will be notified by email/direct message. 
This competition is not exclusive to Life Love and Hiccups and one winner will be chosen from entries submitted across 6 individual blogs.
The competition is open to Australian residents only and is a game of creativity in which the judge’s decision is final.