2015Life Love and Hiccups: 2015

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

10 School Holiday Ideas For Working Parents

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This post is brought you by Scenic World, where you can discover another world just 90 minutes from Sydney!



As we dive head first into school holidays, there is a whole lot of banter going on about all the different things we can do with our kids to fill the long summer days.

I mean Lord knows my kids NEED to be entertained because if I hear the words Im BORED one more time from any of my midgets, my eyes will disappear forever into the back of my head and my brain cells will turn to into a permanent mush.

There are soon many fun things we can do with our kids during the daylight hours, but what if Mum or Dad or both have to work during the school holidays, or at least part of the time?

Geez, does that mean we have to miss out on all the fun stuff too?

Im fortunate enough that I can generally work around the kids during the holidays, which also means that we can do some things together during the day, but the hubby cant.

Apart from one planned week he is taking off, he is pretty much working the whole way through the holidays, as are so many mums and dads.

So rather than put together a list of things you can do to fill your days throughout the school holidays, I have come up with a list of 10 things we can do with our kids in the afternoon and at nighttime instead.



1. Set up camp in the backyard and spend a night under the stars. Make sure to include the usual things on your itinerary, like singing songs, telling spooky stories (if the kids are up for it) and maybe even roasting some marshmallows.

2. Go out for dessert. We love going out for dinner but unfortunately our budget doesn't quite match the appetites of our three growing boys, but going out for dessert or even just an ice-cream after we have had dinner at home is certainly more doable.

3. Speaking of dinner pack it up and take it outdoors. Head to the park or the beach or somewhere scenic and have a picnic dinner. I dont know about you but I reckon food tastes even better when you take it outdoors.



4. Set up Movie Night in the comfort of your lounge room. Choose a really corny feel good family movie and be sure to include a candy counter because hellooo, it ain't no movie night without popcorn and Malteasers.

5. Go exploring by torchlight. Try to spot a possum or an owl or some kind of nocturnal creature. A park or street you have seen a zillion times automatically suddenly becomes so much more interesting in the dark.

Image source: ID 61007729 © Paul Looyen | Dreamstime.com

6. Get Out Amongst it. If you live in NSW, why not head along to Scenic World (just 90 minutes from Sydney) for their Summer Nights Event. Experience the beautiful Blue Mountains by starlight and dare yourself to go on the Scenic Skyway or Scenic Railway in the dark or soak up the twilight at dinner in the EATS270 Restaurant. Book your tickets here.

7. Host a cook off. Let the older kids fight it out for the title in a Masterchef style cook off and for the younger ones, well they could compete to create the best pizza topping or toastie filling. The bonus with this one is that you get a night off from cooking and although there are no guarantees that your dinner will actually taste any good, the kids will have fun trying to impress you.

8. Hold a trivia or games night. Pictionary, Celebrity Heads and Junior Trivial Pursuit are favourites in our house and the kids love it even better when they get to gang up on us oldies.

9. Have a Craft night. Pinterest is practically exploding with easy and fun craft options that are fun for both adults and kids to make together. My only advice is - HIDE THE GLITTER!

10. Visit your local zoo for a night tour. Most of the zoos are open for extended hours during the summer months for a night zoo experience and there really is nothing more exciting for the kids than hearing the sounds of the animals as the sun sets.

Are you working during these school holidays?
This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.
This post is brought you by Scenic World, where you can discover another world just 90 minutes from Sydney!

Friday, 18 December 2015

A Little Nordic Inspiration For Christmas

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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, you smell like dog and cat pee.

Ahem, sorry, clearly I have not matured a whole lot since I turned 10... or maybe we can just notch it up to the silly season and the fact that I live with four males who think that anything involving pee, poo, farts or bums is about as funny as me watching me run for the phone... which is apparently VERY funny given I cannot run to save my life.

So I am still here, all be it like you guys - I am knee high into Christmas festivities and enjoying the time with my special people.

With only a week until Christmas, I am only just starting to feel a little bit of the Christmas spirit creeping. It's been slow coming on this year and I have no idea why really.

Likely its because I have been too busy to stop and enjoy it which is such a huge waste of a good Christmas season given I probably only have a couple of years left where the kids are willing to embrace Christmas in all it's cheesy glory.

I spent last night Christmas shopping an then I cam home and collapsed into bed and watched corny American and Canadian Christmas movies complete with snow and fairy lights and soppy endings and that totally did the trick, cause I'm feeling much jollier today.

Every year I pour over pictures on the internet of beautifully decorated Christmas trees. Of course I'd like to tell you I am researching ideas for my own tree, but you me and my kids all know that the only way I am ever going to get a tree looking as beautiful as any of these is when the dogs turn up their toes and the kids move out.

That's OK though, cause that's what we have Pinterest for - to drool over other people's gorgeousness.

Here's some of the stunning Christmas trees that have really had my tinsel in a twist.

Hope you guys are all doing well.

Are you ready for Christmas?
Are you feeling Jolly or have you been slow off the mark too?



 clockwise from top left: image sourceimage sourceimage sourceimage source

clockwise from top left: image sourceimage sourceimage source

clockwise from top left: image sourceimage sourceimage sourceimage source


clockwise from top left: image sourceimage sourceimage source




Sunday, 13 December 2015

Day Tripping - Scenic World In The Blue Mountains

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Brought to you by Nuffnang and Scenic World

As clearly as if it were only yesterday, I can remember our school trip to the Blue Mountains and my ride on the Scenic Railway.

OK, so maybe as clearly as if it were yesterday is perhaps slightly ambitious … let’s just settle with; there is a very definite (but somewhat blurry) memory of that trip sitting somewhere among the cobwebs and archives in my dusty old mind.

Whilst I can’t remember all the small details, like whom I sat next to on the coach trip there, what I bought from the gift shop or who I was sitting with in the railway carriage, I sure as hell remember the thrill of heading down that steep incline and screaming my head off with childish enthusiasm.


It was the same kind of ear piercing girlish squeal I  burst everyone's ear drums with last weekend when I sat with my own kids as they experienced the Scenic Railway for the first time for themselves, a chalkboard scraping kind of immature squeal that was bursting to the brim with fear, excitement and wild abandonment.



Alright you adrenaline junkies - so it’s not exactly on par with the Pirate ship ride or the Green Lantern Rollercoaster, and you are probably thinking I am somewhat lame for squealing the way I did, but I tell you - it’s a bloody steep drop down that mountain side and I’m not twelve anymore so getting me on anything that is not firmly bolted to the ground is no easy feat these days.

Last weekend my family and I were guests at Scenic World and all three boys of mine were completely enthralled with the history of the area and the mines, the wildlife and the landscape. Honestly, us ‘oldies’ were just as into as the kids and I loved the opportunity to spend some time with the boys exploring somewhere I have been for donkey's years.

The 310 metre Railway that caused me to behave like I was ten, was originally named The Mountain Devil and has a 52 degree incline and is the steepest passenger railway in the world. 

Whilst in the beginning it was used by the miners to transport coal up and down the steep cliff side, these days, thousands of people ride the railway as a fun way to explore one of Australias most beautiful area.
  


Just an FYI - the seats do have an adjustable position, so you can descend the hill in the original 52 degree position, or you adjust your seat for a less adventurous ride if you are feeling a little wussy!

No prizes for guessing which option my boys took!


The Scenic Railway is just one of the three rides at ScenicWorld in the iconic Blue Mountains, a family owned business that has been operating since 1945 when the Hammon Family took over the lease of the former coal and shale mine, and the other two rides at Scenic world are by no means lacking what it takes to get the blood pumping.



The Cableway is the steepest and largest Aerial cable car in the Southern Hemisphere that takes you on a 545 metre journey down into the Jamieson Valley where you can explore the breathtakingly lush rainforest before getting lift on the cable car or the Railway back up to the top.



The Skyway is a glass bottomed cabin that is suspended 270 metres above the ravines and waterfalls and is something you just HAVE to experience. Don’t worry if you don't think your stomach can handle the glass bottom, there are seats and areas with solid non see through floors in the cabin where you can take in the spectacular views in a less adventurous way.










The Blue Mountains truly are spectacular, but if you are only going to stand at the lookout at Echo Point along with a zillion other tourists and stare at the three Sisters, then you really aren't going to do the area justice.

You need to get down there and into it, under the lush canopy and wandering through the bush to appreciate the beauty of this area. 

That being said - it is very easy to wander off track and get lost in the huge expanse of bush land that surrounds the mountains, so exploring from the comfort and safety of the 2.4 kilometre walkways and clearly marked tracks within the Scenic World boundaries is the perfect way to experience the mountains in all their glory.

There are tracks to suit everyone including disabled access, and whether you choose the easier walks or the more challenging trek up to the three sisters, you are guaranteed to walk away with a true appreciation and respect for the incredibly beautiful landscape.



Scenic world is open 365 days a year and it is totally worth exploring the mountain seasonally or during the Scenic World Summer nights. With an Annual Pass you can do just that and go on the railway and the Cableway and the Skyway as many times as you like which your kids will LOVE. Of course your pass entitles you to freely roam the paths and tracks and when you are done and the kids are knackered- there are two dining options EATS270 and the Terrace CafĂ© -with arguably the best view around, where you can grab a bite to eat and something to quench your thirst.

Scenic World Annual Passes are a fabulous idea for an experiential gift for your family this Christmas. With free entry on any day of the tear, unlimited rides all day, every day, 15% of all additional tickets, retail purchase and food and beverage as well as special offers and events throughout the year - the family pass is awesome value for money. 

Since an Annual Pass allows you to visit as many times as you like, you get to take advantage of the special events like the Scenic World Summer Nights where you can experience the Blue Mountains after dark in all of its star-lit glory.

Can you just imagine how cool it would be to ride the Scenic Railway or the Skyway and Cableway in the dark, or eat dinner at twilight with that magnificent view in front of you?!


You should also schedule in a visit to see the Sculpture at Scenic World as it celebrates its fifth exhibition in 2016. It is Australia’s only rain forest exhibition held over 30 days between April 8 – May 8 2016.



Grab an annual pass for yourself or your family here, or alternatively, if you are day trippers or visiting from interstate, arrive before 10am during the Summer school holidays and you can receive an early bird discount on a day pass for your family.

Christmas season tickets for visits between December 26 – January 3 including unlimited rides on the Railway, Skyway, Cableway and Walkway plus plenty of onsite activities, are now available online but are filling up quickly, including the popular early bird tickets! Choose your preferred date and time and visit the ScenicWorld website here or call them on 02 4780 0200 to book your tickets.

What’s something you did as a child that you would love to experience again with your kids?
Have you ever ridden the Scenic Railway?
Are you any good with Heights?

Thursday, 10 December 2015

When Blogging Becomes Too Much Pressure

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I'm not going to lie to you... my blogging mojo has been a bit AWOL of late... you know just in case you hadn't noticed all the crickets and tumbleweeds floating around here lately.

It's been a combination of things that has put a dampener on my bloggy libido - life's been busy, works been even busier, schools winding up, end of season sports, kids, animals, planets, stuff yada yada... but the truth is, I've kind of been feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all.

I've wanted to blog. Heck sometimes I've even had something semi worthwhile to say... but then totally out of the blue, I went and developed some kind of stage fright or something.

I've heard about this happening to bloggers.

Actually from what I understand it's pretty common, but I have no idea why it took five years of blogging before it slapped me in the face and my confidence fell in the toilet and I suddenly became so self conscious.

I realise that it's probably completely 'uncool and so un-schmick' for a a blogger to profess to the wheels falling off, but I've never exactly been a cool type anyways and nor do I ever want to be guilty of projecting an unrealistic view of life to the world.

I've thought long and hard about what has been going on, and I've come up with a number of explanations as to why I have been feeling this way.  I wanted to share them with you guys, just in case there is a chance that another blogger (be it a veteran or a newbie) reads this post and totally relates and then feels at least a little bit of the pressure lifting of them.

I specifically chose that word - 'pressure', because I think that 'pressure' is probably the biggest demon at play here.

It feels like everywhere you look these days there are all these articles and blog posts, conferences and ecourses on how to be a better blogger or a bigger blogger. How to create more dynamic content, lure people into your blog, build your audience and generate more comments. How to create better graphics, take better photos, make more money and how to grow your social channels and... how to milk a three legged cow whilst you're blindfolded with your hands tied behind your back.

OK so maybe that last bit isn't exactly true... semantics really.

The point is there seems to be so much damn pressure to be some kind of blogger extraordinaire, is it really any wonder our confidence goes and gets itself kicked in the balls?!

What happened to just firing up the computer and sharing random shit for the sake of sharing random shit?

Sharing photos, stories, ideas, thoughts and feelings, that's what blogging was originally about for me. But somewhere along the way I started to compare myself and put unnecessary pressure on myself to perhaps be something that hey... maybe I am just not supposed to be.

The more I became aware of the pressure I was feeling, the more it began to manifest, until I felt like I was running into AND creating unnecessary pressure for myself every which way I turned. It got to the point that whenever I did actually sit down to blog - my brain froze and my fingers kind of just hovered over the keyboard going "duhhhhh".

When your friends or family or other parents from school or people from your work know that you blog, then there is a good chance they will read what you write. Of course whilst that might be good for your stats and all that, it comes with the risk that they are going to read something and not like what you have to say, or they think you are writing about them when you're not and they end up feeling offended and pissed off with you for no reason at all.... Doh pressure!

Whilst monetising your blog is a great way to earn some money from doing something you really love to do, don't be fooled into thinking it is easy money. Once you put a price on your posts then you are expected to maintain your stats and your numbers and your reach blah blah... I mean it's only fair to the brands who are paying to work with you right? Pressure!

If you discuss something that is remotely controversial and you dare to plant your feet on one particular side of the fence, then naturally you might upset the people on the other side of the fence. Um pressure!

Am I sharing too little, not sharing enough?

Being too cryptic or being too blunt?

Do I look like I'm boasting or am I moaning too much?

Will I be judged?

Am I as good as her, as funny as him, as witty as her or as real as them?

I'm not pretty enough to be in front of the camera but am I good enough to be behind the camera either?

Do I have a single God damn creative bone in my body?

Gahhhhhhh PRESSURE!

So there, I just went right in and said it all and hot diggety dang I feel relieved for saying it.

Clearly I have been suffering from some self confidence issues lately and I am so much happier now that I have shared that with you.

I didn't tell you all of this for you to go "poor Sonia" and pump my ego or blow a little hot wind in my direction or anything even remotely like that. I wanted to tell you that because it is what it is and it really doesn't matter whether you have been blogging for five weeks or five years, it can happen... cause sometimes shit just happens for no particular reason at all.

My advice to you if you are a blogger and you ever find yourself feeling like this ... take a step back for a while. Don't put any pressure on yourself to write on your blog or read other blogs for a while.

Give yourself a little breathing room and the space to remember why you started blogging in the first place.

Your well being, your family and your life in general is more important that a pretty blog or fancy images or impressive numbers.

I mean without your family and a life you enjoy living - what the hell would you write about anyway?

As for me, well I feel my mojo creeping back in and I am looking forward to finding my rhythm again and writing and reading... but with a little less of the pressure on myself this time.

Cheers my friends!



Friday, 4 December 2015

A Bohemian Inspired Christmas Wreath

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I may have somewhat over-exaggerated when I said the other day that I hadn't anything at all yet to get ready for Christmas.

I've done like one thing.

Yep. I've made a Christmas wreath, so that's a start right?

Granted, it's not your traditional Christmas wreath like the ones I have made in the past... it's a little bit different in that it's sorta beachy and I guess you could say boho even.

I like it.

I like that it is different to something I would usually adorn my door with, and given this year (when I eventually get around to it) I am planning on sticking with white as my main colour in our Christmas decor, this wreath is going to fit my theme as perfectly as my fingers fit cheezels.

Alright, so I admit I may have cheated a little, because this wreath didn't actually start out as a wreath.

It began it's life as a dreamcatcher  I made a week or two ago at one of our workshops, and then it just sat around in the warehouse kind of doing nothing.

I kept staring at it and promising I would eventually find it a permanent place to hang and then ... I did nothing and it just continued to sit there looking all lonely and woeful.

A packet of feathers, a hot glue gun and a bit of beach blinging later and lovely people - we have a bohemian inspired Christmas wreath.

The dream catcher part was super easy. 

I simply wrapped a metal ring with some cotton fabric strips and then I used leather thonging to attach a crochet doily to the centre of the ring.

It was then a case of hot gluing the feathers all the way around the outside of the ring and some shells on the front and Boom chaka chaka- this little dreamcatcher was pimped up and given a whole new purpose as a Christmas wreath.

Now if you really want to go and get all inspired to create your own gorgeous Christmas wreath, then you need to take yourself on a little blog hopping road trip, because today I am joining up with eleven of my fellow bloggy pals to take part in a Christmas Wreath Showcase. 

Yep 12 bloggers and their 12 Christmas wreath creations - that's enough to get your Jingle bells jingling!


Grab yourself an eggnog (do people actually drink that stuff?) and follow the links below to check out all the other gorgeous blogger's wreaths and Christmassy creations.

Happy Christmas Blog Hopping!

Mum Little Loves - http://mumlittleloves.com.au/christmas-wreath-showcase 

Do you have a traditional wreath on your front door, something a little different or maybe nothing at all?
What style / theme are you decorating with this Christmas?




Wednesday, 2 December 2015

In a Christmas Tizz

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Hello lovely people!

Can you believe we are already in December and Christmas is practically yanking at our ankles?!

I don't know about you, but I am SO FAR behind in getting anything organised for Christmas, and by far - I mean I haven't even entered the gates.

Heck I'm still in the bloody stables snoring my head off!

I haven't put up my tree, I haven't played a single Christmas song and for crying out loud - I HAVEN'T even started shopping yet!

This is seriously the most behind I have EVER been when it comes to Christmas and sweet baby cheeses I am starting to hyperventilate just writing about this.

Breathe Sonia Breathe.

So last week I was invited to a gorgeous Christmas Craft lunch by Ferrero Rocher.

We arrived at Acme in Rushcutters Bay to the most divine gold chocolaty oasis and we spent the afternoon crafting, chatting and eating, drinking the most moreish grapefruit spritzers and stealing chocolates from the incredible displays.

Hey - it's chocolate!

Like that WASN'T going to happen!

Because I cannot do the styling any justice with my words, I took a zillion snaps of the event to share with you instead.

At the end of the epic photo story is a video tutorial where you can make the sweetest (pun intended) table decorations for your Christmas table using Ferrero Rochers in under 2 minutes.

For the win!

I am starting to breathe again... for now. And maybe I'll just give everyone a shitload of Ferrero Rochers for Christmas. That wouldn't be all that bad now would it?

Enjoy!

Are YOU all organised for Christmas yet or are you totally stressing out like me?
Are you feeling the Christmas Spirit yet?












For more Christmas craft ideas from Ferrero Rocher, checkout their Facebook page here.