Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stubbies Giveaway!

Have you heard the news?  The great Australian company Stubbies is giving away more than 300 $30 vouchers over at their facebook page!!  Stubbies wants to outfit your kids in their winter school uniforms and so they are giving away more than $5,000 worth of Stubbies Schoolwear to Aussie Mums.

To enter all you have to do is pop over to the Stubbies Facebook page then:

Like Our Page
Fill Out the Entry Form
Tell us your favourite subject from school and why.
Share with your friends who love Stubbies Schoolwear!
Contest Ends April 29, 2011 @ 06:00 pm (EST)

We also have a $30 Stubbies Voucher to give away right here on this blog!

To enter, simply leave a comment here on this post and tell me what grade your child/ren are in at school.  If you are unable or do not wish to leave a comment you can send me a message via my Contact Form.

You can also leave separate comments for each of the following for further entries:

1. Follow this blog publicly
2. Tweet this giveaway =
Stubbies Giveaway at the @YrCheekyMonkey blog -

Conditions (please read):
~ Australian Entries only 
~ Be sure to leave your email address in your comment if your profile is protected - if I draw you as a winner but have no way of contacting you I will re-draw the prize.
~ Winner drawn randomly and notified by email.  Prize will be re-drawn if winner does not respond within 3 days.
~ Giveaway closes on Friday 29th April 2011 at 6pm (EST).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Teach/Learn

Lots of lovely links to Easter ideas today. It seems like most people are on holidays, so here are lots of things to read and do with kids.
Now you have more than enough to do leading up to Easter, have a great holiday!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Romantic Flair Personalized Mug Review + GIVEAWAY

Ever since my sons were born, I have had a tradition of buying a unique Christmas Tree Bauble for them each year, and after discovering Romantic Flair Original a couple of years ago, I have ordered them from Marthese - completely personalised with the picture and wording I choose!  Believe me when I say they are just gorgeous.

Marthese is now extending her wonderful talents to.... Personalized Mugs.  And the mugs are made of Fine Bone China with the images fired in a kiln (not screen printed like you find in most places that offer them)... which means that they are dishwasher safe.. and they do not fade with light or heat.  You simply provide Marthese with a special image, and a quote or message to put on the mug.  So the mug is completely personalised just for you or that special gift.  When you receive the mug in the mail, it is beautifully packaged in a gift box.

The mug I received from Marthese was just perfect.  I choose a very special family photo and included my own message.  Even though the photo I sent through was not ideal to use on the mug, Marthese played around with it until it worked (thanks Marthese!), and placed my message in nice script where it fit within the photo.  I am just so happy with the mug, it really is the most amazing gift.  If you think you might like to order one of these for your Mum for Mothers Day I recommend you order straight away to receive it in time (remember these are handmade by Marthese, and fired in a kiln, which does take a little bit of time).  You can find them in her store HERE.

I am so happy Marthese is very generously going to make one of you a personalized mug valued at $23!!  Please read entry conditions below carefully, as incorrect/incomplete entries will be invalid.

To enter this giveaway (required):
You need to do 2 things to be eligible to enter this giveaway.  First, leave a comment here on this post saying why you would like to win a personalized mug from Romantic Flair Original.  Then you need to head over to this post and leave a comment for Marthese about the Mugs.

If you would like a second entry you can:
'LIKE' both the Romantic Flair Original and Your Cheeky Monkey Facebook pages.

Good luck!!

Conditions (please read):
~ Australian Entries only 
~ Be sure to leave your email address in your comment if your profile is protected - if I draw you as a winner but have no way of contacting you I will re-draw the prize.  Winner has 3 days to respond, if no response received within the time frame, another winner will be re-drawn.
~ Winner drawn randomly and contacted by email
~ Giveaway closes on Saturday 7th May 2011 at 9pm Qld time/10pm NSW time.  The Giveaway will then be drawn on Mothers Day and the winner notified straight away.
~ Winner will contact Romantic Flair Original directly to organise prize, with prize sent directly to winner by Romantic Flair Original. 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy Personalized Mug, courtesy of Romantic Flair Original via Aussie Mummy Bloggers. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Top Tips for Building a Good Brand Reputation

When I started out in business with Your Cheeky Monkey in 2008, I was very firm in my belief that I wanted to have very strong branding, with a great reputation attached to the brand.  I am not professing to have a business degree, I just thought I would write about some of the things I believe, and attempt to achieve with my business and my brand. 

Ask yourself these questions:  How do others see your brand?  What do they associate it with?  Do you have a brand at all?

  1. Be the same person you are in business as in real life.  There comes a time when you need to meet colleagues and customers, and you don't want to be in a position where you know you have mis-represented yourself. 
  2. Be honest.  I don't think this one needs much explanation, do you?
  3. Always do what you say you are going to do, and follow through.  In other words, deliver on what you promise.  If you say you ship orders out within one business day, DO IT. 
  4. Beware of social media.  I have seen other business women say very negative things about others on facebook and belive me, no-one likes it or respects you for it.  While we are all human, and sometimes might have a bit of a whinge, be vary wary about attacking others in a public domain.  And it goes without saying, never ever participate in a public fight, it will make you look like an imbecile (to put it bluntly).
  5. Know you will make mistakes.  Look, no-one on this earth is perfect, and we can't please everyone all of the time.  Sometimes you will say or write something someone will dislike, and while it can be easier said than done, you need to put it behind you and move on.  Make a public apology if needed, sometimes it is quite possible to turn a negative into a good public relations exercise.
  6. Make sure you are consistent with your branding where-ever and what-ever you do.  Plaster your logo everywhere.  Your facebook page, website, blog, twitter, email signature, advertising, etc etc all need to be saying the same message with the same logo.  
  7. Love your brand, believe in it, and be passionate about it.  If you don't, why should anyone else?
  8. If you are operating a retail or service business, make customer service your number 1 priority.  Treat others as you would like to be treated.  Keep your customers informed, and again be honest in your dealings.
  9. Know word of mouth is a powerful tool.  People talk when they have a terrible experience, and people talk when they have a great experience.  As a business owner, what category do you want to fall under?
  10. If you are serious about your brand, commit to it 100%  I personally think it is better to do one thing GREAT rather than being wishy washy and always beginning new projects.  Stick to your beliefs, always be learning, and your identity and brand will shine.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

History of Hot Cross Buns and How to Make Easter Gift Tags

Along with Christmas and Birthdays, Easter is a wonderful time of family togetherness and celebration. Even though Easter is a traditional religious occasion, it is also a celebration with strong commercial and cultural meanings for us here in Australia. Did you know that the Easter holiday existed in pagan times, and celebrated renewal and re-birth? In more recent times, Easter is when Christians celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

I know Easter is approaching when hot cross buns make an appearance in the shops. Our family loves hot cross buns and wish they were available all year round! But hot cross buns have a deeply religious meaning too. The round shape represents the shape of the rock that was removed from the front of Christ’s tomb, the spices represent the frankincense and myrrh, and the cross of course represents the crucifixion. They are also supposed to not contain any eggs or dairy products so people celebrating Lent are able to eat them. I think it’s a good idea to discuss this with our kids when they are old enough to understand, even if you don’t celebrate the religious side of Easter its wonderful if our children have an understanding of this side of Easter as well as the fun side of chocolate and bunnies.

I’m sure that you and your family, like us, have developed your own Easter traditions. As with most others, we enjoy a fish dinner on Good Friday. I stock up on hot cross buns to last the long weekend. We support Australian culture by giving our children Bilby’s instead of Bunnies. And because our children are still young, we have heaps of fun doing an egg hunt. If you are in Sydney you might attend the Royal Easter Show each year!

Looking for some low cost things to do with your children in the lead up to Easter?  Here are some ideas:

• There are lots of free printable colouring sheets available online, find some your child will like and print them out. You can even make an Easter colouring book of your own by stapling the sheets together
• Do some fun crafts such as making Easter hats or paper baskets ready for the Easter weekend.  You might like to check out my post Making Easter Hats on a Budget.
• Plan your Easter Egg hunt
• Research and talk about the real meaning of Easter
• Lend some Easter books from the library
• Bake some bunny shaped biscuits or hot cross buns

Making Easter Gift Tags

We are going to be making and decorating some Easter gift tags, which is super easy.  These add a beautiful personal handmade touch to your Easter gifts or baskets.  Draw and cut some egg shaped ovals out of heavy paper or cardboard (I like them about 3 inches high), punch a hole in the top, give them to the kids to decorate on one side, either by drawing or using glitter etc.  Finally thread some ribbon through the hole!  They are now all ready to use for your Easter gifts.

So, whether you are a Christian family or not, the Easter long weekend is a perfect time for us all to enjoy and celebrate each other’s company and perhaps start one of your own special family traditions.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Calm Kids

A few weeks ago I was pleased to meet Jennifer Jefferies, the author of the book 'Calm Kids' (among others).  Jennifer is a naturopath, life balancing expert, author and speaker.  I naturally was most interested in her resources for children, and I have had the pleasure of checking out some of her things lately and thought I would share them with you too.

The book Calm Kids is such an amazing resource.  It is basically a guide to natural therapies for children, and covers topics like aromatherapy, feeding, moving, healing, and nurturing.  While I have quite a few aromatherapy books I always refer to, I don't have one specifically for children, so I just love this book and all the information in it.  There is aromatherapy recipes for things such as Constipation Tummy Oil, Flu Bath, Head Lice Scalp Oil, Cradle Cap Scalp Oil, and tons more.  This is one reference book to keep handy when you have kids around, that's for sure.  

You can also purchase the Calm Kids book in a Calm Kids Complete Kit - this kit contains an electric essential oil vaporiser, a special wooden box with 3 aromatherapy blends specifically for children (breathe, calm kids, and study), and the books "Calm Kids" and "Sanity Savers".  I just LOVE the essential oil blends in this kit, the 'calm kids blend' in particular is just wonderful to use at the end of the day to help wind the kids down... and can I admit to you I have snaffled the 'study blend' and am using it in the office as I type! 

As an adjunct to her work/life balance work, Jennifer also sells some great healthy snacks over at her Isagenix site - the Berry Slimcakes in particular are pretty good!

You can also join Jennifer on her facebook page to stay up to date with all her news.  And for lots of other interesting articles have a browse of her articles page.

As a final note, I would like to thank Jennifer for sending me her products to try, I can't speak highly enough of them all!  I'd like to end with one of her quotes out of the "Sanity Savers" book that really struck a chord with me - "SPEAK nicely to yourself.  Focus on replacing negative self-talk with POSITIVE"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Slow Cooker Minestrone for Busy Mums

Since becoming a Mum I have personally found it quite hard to balance meals between being quick and easy to prepare, and being nutritious enough for a busy growing family.  I have always worked as well, so tend to lack the energy and motivation to cook fancy dishes with lots of steps in them (ok - I am a gigantic fan of one pot dishes).  With the cooler weather just starting, I thought I would share with you one of our favorite meals.  There are many reasons I love minestrone - its healthy and good for you, its easy to make, its really yummy, you can customise it to suit your family, and it's also a great excuse to clean out the vegie drawer and use up any vegies that you might otherwise throw out.  The proportions of ingredients don't really matter, you can add some water as its cooking if it gets too dry.

The minestrone I make consists of steps more than a set recipe, and the main ingredients must include beans, vegies, liquid, and pasta.  So, here is my recipe, or rather my guide to the steps in making minestrone.  Ideally put this on fairly early in the morning.

Start by putting your choice of beans in the bottom of the slow cooker.  If this is a spur of the moment recipe I will use a drained can of red kidney beans or 4 bean mix (or any other type of bean you like).  If you are planning ahead, you can soak some dry soup mix beans overnight, then the next morning just rinse them well and add to the slow cooker.

Here is the fun bit.  Clean out your vegie draw, chop everything in small pieces, and chuck it in the slow cooker.  The more variety, the better.  Some suggestions include - potato, pumpkin, sweet potato, onion, garlic, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, celery, cabbage, capsicum, etc.  Add a nice sprinkle of fresh or dry herbs.

I generally add a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes and some chicken stock, then top up to nearly the top of the slow cooker with water.  If you have no tinned tomatoes, a jar of tomato based pasta sauce and/or tomato paste and/or peeled fresh tomatoes will work just as well.  (Tip - If you see tomatoes on special, buy a heap and stick them straight in the freezer.  To use, just take straight out the freezer and the skin will rub straight off.  You can chuck them frozen whole and peeled like this straight in the slow cooker, just chop them up later in the day when they have cooked through).

Then stick the lid on and cook on low all day.  If you don't put this on until lunchtime be sure to set it on high.   Stir a couple of times during the day, if you are home.

A little while before serving time, cook your pasta separately, then stir into the minestrone.  About 1/2 - 1 cup dry pasta should be enough.  If you don't have any small pasta like macaroni, just break some spaghetti into small pieces.

To Serve
If you have small children (or a husband) that might turn their noses up at this, disguise it by sprinkling on lots of parmesan cheese and bacon bits, and add a dollop of sour cream.  For a baby, blend to desired consistency.  Serve with fresh crusty bread or toast.

This amount of minestrone is generally enough for our family for 3 meals (two fresh, one in the freezer) and 3-4 individual serves to freeze.  Great for families with a new baby!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In support of Immunization

It's very distressing to see in this morning's local paper another baby seriously ill in hospital with Whooping Cough.  Also in the article is a mention of a resurgence of cases of Measles at the moment.  The immunization schedule which has existed for many years now has done such a good job of eradicating so many serious diseases that there is now large pockets of communities that think there is no need to immunize (or they think that the risks of being immunized outweigh the risks of catching the disease).  So, now, we are having to see families suffering through the unimaginable stress of having tiny babies and young children catching these terrible and totally preventable diseases.

While I realise this is a very emotive topic for some, I can't stress enough my support and belief in immunizing against these life-threatening diseases.  This is not a scientific post, I'm not going to start quoting studies, I'm just stating my support of immunization here in Australia to keep these diseases at bay.  I can't imagine why any parents of young children would want to put their children at risk by NOT immunizing.