Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mega Review & Giveaway #2

Welcome to our latest giveaway! Read on for heaps of fabulous prizes, from things for Mums to baby products to kids things, there is something for everyone! Just use the Rafflecopter form below to lodge your entries, and most of all - good luck!

SUPPORi Baby Sling
The SUPPORi Baby Sling, exclusively available at Little M, is a baby sling with a difference.  It is an ultra comfortable, easy to wear, safe baby sling, that is so light and compact you can tuck it into your handbag or baby bag, and it has an extremely wide shoulder strap which means it doesn't cut into your shoulder or neck.  The mesh design is perfect for the Queensland weather, it certainly allows the air to move around your baby keeping them cool.  I have been using my gorgeous purple sling lately with my 16 month old, and what I love most about it is that it really is suitable to use with a toddler as it just simplifies the action of carrying her on my hip. Not only is her body supported properly, it saves my arms and makes little trips into the shops much easier if I don't want to take the pram.  The curved flexible design allows it to mold to both my shoulder and my little ones bottom and back. As an added bonus, if it gets dirty, you can just throw it in the washing machine on a handwash cycle and it is dry in a flash! What a perfect sling for busy Mums.  They are available in 5 different sizes and many different colours and patterns.
Win a SUPPORI Baby Sling in your choice of size and colour (depending on availability) valued at $57.95



Pillow Pets Pink Butterfly Dream Lite
How gorgeous are the new DreamLites available from My Pillow Pet! DreamLites are magical night lights that turn your child's bedroom ceiling into a starry night sky.  The beautiful Pink Butterfly DreamLite is our fave, and we have been having heaps of fun looking at the 'stars' as part of our bedtime routine.  These would also be fabulous for a child (no matter how old) who is afraid of the dark, not only do they provide a little light in the room, they would distract the child from being afraid because they are so busy watching the stars on the ceiling above them. My daughter also loves her DreamLite because it is so soft, and as she is a tactile sort of person, she loves to stroke and cuddle the wings and feet and head.  The DreamLites are available in 6 different designs at the moment, with more coming soon.  If you have a boy check out the Snuggly Puppy, its so cute!
Win a Pink Butterfly Pillow Pet DreamLite valued at $29.95



doTERRA Hand and Body Lotion
The doTERRA Hand and Body Lotion is a silky fragrance-free lotion designed to be blended with your favorite essential oil (or left unscented if you prefer your lotion with no smell). I think this is the most fabulous idea, I have added a few drops of Ylang Ylang to my bottle as its my favorite Essential Oil of all time. You could add oils to help you sleep at night, or uplifting oils to use at work in the morning, or even child-friendly oils if you child is suffering from dry or irritated skin. The possibilities are endless! This cream is very quickly absorbed into the skin and doesn't leave a greasy residue. Plus doTERRA have a 'no nasties' policy so you can use it on the whole family without any worry. There is also a 'Citrus Bliss' doTERRA Hand Lotion available which sounds divine and is only $15.00!
Win an Unscented doTERRA Hand and Body lotion valued at $25.00



Joli Natural Skincare Ruby Tinted Lip Balm
The Ruby Tinted Lip Balm from Joli Natural Skincare is a beautiful creamy lip balm with Rosehip Oil and Vitamin E to nourish and moisturise your lips.  The ruby tint adds just enough colour so you don't have to wear a lipstick (which I never do), so its the perfect compromise between a lip gloss and lipstick. What I love about the Joli Lip Balm is that it is so long lasting! I tend to get really dry lips in winter and this yummy lip balm stays on for ages. And I don't mind how much of this I use either, it has absolutely no nasty chemicals in it. Another plus is that it is handmade right here in Australia!
Win a Toffee Apple Flavoured Ruby Tinted Lip Balm valued at $12.95



Knotlace Necklace
Sometimes along comes such an original product it really takes your breath away. Such as the amazing Knotlace I have had the pleasure of test driving these past few weeks! How would I describe this piece of jewelery to you? Knotlace is a bendy necklace made of small metal cups that do not stain or tarnish.  It can be twisted and shaped however you want, you can even wear it as a bracelet or belt!! Over at the Knotlace website, they have a great 'how to wear' page that gives you heaps of hints and tips. I love wearing mine formed into a circle pendant most of all.  And yes, they are really strong... having a 16 month old I can attest to their strength as she has grabbed it and pulled on it with no ill-effect.  As a Mum with a young child, I love that this piece of unique jewelery lets me glam myself up and not have to worry about her breaking my normal necklaces.
Win a Knotlace Necklace in your choice of colour (silver, gunmetal, gold, antique gold or copper) valued at $29.95


From Baby to Kids Wooden Maraca's
Can I tell you how much I love musical instruments for kids? There is nothing cuter than watching your toddler have fun making noise and movement with an instrument.  From Baby to Kids really come to the rescue with their Kaper Kids Wooden Star Maraca's and Mini Maraca's, all made using non-toxic paint so they are safe for your little one. I have had so much fun lately with my 16 month old, she adores music and dancing, and these have been just perfect for her. They are just perfect for little hands, and as a parent its great to encourage activities that help their gross motor skills and co-ordination. Not to mention the smile that lights up her face when she is busy making noise! Too cute.
Win 2 sets of Maraca's - A Wooden Star Maraca and a Mini Maraca valued at a total of $18.00

Dinosnores
Wow. Can I start this review with Wow?? I'm so sad I didn't know about these when my sons were younger!! I was lucky enough to be sent 5 Dinosnores CD's to review with my children (my sons are 6 and 7 and my daughter is 16 months old). 'Forest Night' and 'Ocean Waves' are for ages 0+, 'Kitten' is for toddlers, and 'Pterosaur' and 'Tyrannosaurus' are for boys aged 6-8. Now, if your boys are anything like mine, anything that helps them wind down for bedtime is a good thing.  These award-winning CD's have had a range of benefits, especially as they share a room and can be tempted to talk and play up much longer than they should. The CD's help them with listening skills, distract them from issues that might have happened during the day, guide them through some relaxation techniques that capture their attention due to the subject matter (dinosaurs!!), and provide a soothing environment for sleeping.  My daughter has also loved the baby CD's, Ocean Waves in particular has captured her attention and quieted her (and me) for bedtime.  I have always loved guided meditations myself, and it makes me so happy as a mum to see my children respond so beautifully to these very clever relaxation stories and soundscapes. Only $19.99 each from Dinosnores.
Win either a set of 3 Dinosnores CD's for Babies and Toddlers (Ocean Waves, Forest Night, and Kitten) valued at a total of $59.97, or a set of 2 Dinosnores CD's for School-aged Children (Tyrannosaurus and Pterosaur) valued at a total of $39.98




Perfect Kids Party Shop Candles
Having 3 young children, I now find myself making birthday cakes endlessly (well it certainly feels that way anyway!). I can admit to you right now, I am no expert and my cakes are always pretty daggy (but made with love is my one redeeming feature). But do you know, I always struggle to find nice birthday cake candles for my cakes? I really really dislike licensed party products and that is all I can ever seem to find in the shops (plus my boys would throttle me if I tried to put a wiggles candle on their cake hehe).  However I now know about the Perfect Kids Party Shop, which stocks a gorgeous range of candles such as Soccer Balls and Princess Crowns (pictured below, image courtesy of Wilton Inc.). They are only $7.50 per pack, and are absolutely gorgeous candles that are very detailed and beautiful quality. I can't wait for my daughters next birthday to use the Princess Crowns on her cake!
Win 2 packs of Wilton Candles (one Princess and one Soccer Ball) valued at a total of $15.00



Bondi Chai
Put your hand up if you love Chai! Me for one! I would even go so far as to say I am a little addicted to Chai Latte and Chai Tea. If you are a Chai lover like me, have you heard of Bondi Chai?? It is described as a premium quality chai latte pre-mix, made from black tea extract along with a mix of spices and milk, honey and sugar. The pre-mix powder is designed to mix with milk, but I have been preferring to put the powder in a cup, add half boiling water, then top up with milk and warm up a little more in the microwave.  It is just divine on a cold winters day! It has become my little ritual once bub goes down for her nap to whip one of these up before I start work. It is also really exciting to read Bondi Chai has none of the 'industrial nasties' usually used in pre-mix powders such as fillers, emulsifiers, anti-caking agents etc (ewww just the sound of those puts me off). So a big thumbs up on Bondi Chai for me, its another amazing Australian company doing great things! The sachets are available from your local supermarket in 2 great flavours (or you can request a sample from the Bondi Chai website).
Win 2 packs of Bondi Chai (one Club Cinnamon and one Vanilla Honey) valued at a total of $13.98




{Book} Chook Chook - Little and Lo in the City
Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing the first book for young girls from author Wai Chim 'Chook Chook Mei's Secret Pets'.  The next book in the divine series has just been published, and it is a tale of great adventure called 'Chook Chook Little and Lo in the City'.  The story continues the tale of Mei and her 2 chickens Little and Lo.  With her Mum remarrying and her brother going to University in the city, Mei decides to go on an adventure and visit her brother in the city (without telling her Mum and step-father of course).  Now this being Mei, lots of things go wrong resulting in some hilarious mayhem.  The adventure however ends up turning out for the best for everyone involved, with some very unexpected benefits.  I adore these books (yes I read them both myself) and they will be kept safe on my bookshelf until my daughter is old enough to read them herself.  The Chook Chook books are Chapter books which are suitable for girls aged 8 and up.       
Win a signed set of both Chook Chook Children's Books ('Mei's Secret Pets' and 'Little and Lo in the City') valued at a total of $30.00



{Book} A Modern Woman's Guide to A Natural Empowering Birth
After having 3 children (and definitely not planning on anymore) I wish I had been able to read this book before my journey with babies started. I have mentioned before what an avid reader I am when it comes to pregnancy and birthing books, but unfortunately this is not one I had the pleasure of reading.  A Modern Women's Guide to A Natural Empowering Birth is written by Katrina Zaslavsky (owner of Birth Goddess), with Afterward written by Dr Sarah Buckley MD.  The book features the most gorgeous collection of inspiring birth stories, Birth Plan help, expert tips, and so much more.  I particularly love how positive and empowering the book is for expectant Mums... and all the helpful tips and advice.  "Feel the fear and give birth anyway!" is a section on page 130 which sums the experience up perfectly for me.  It is absolutely natural for us to feel fear of the unknown, and this book helps deal with your fears and encourages you to expect a wonderful experience and a perfect outcome.  One bad thing reading this book right now in my life... it is making me clucky again!!
Win a copy of 'A Modern Woman's Guide to A Natural Empowering Birth' valued at $34.95




Right-e-o.... now you want to know, how do I enter to win one of these fantastic prizes?? Well, just use the Rafflecopter form below to complete the required steps. Please take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions attached to the giveaway. This giveaway runs for 1 month beginning 1st September 2013 (as per the Rafflecopter form). And finally, a huge big thank you to all the businesses and PR companies who have been so generous in providing all these wonderful products for review and giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 24, 2013

5 Things I hate about being a Mum

I suppose that sounds terrible doesn't it.... things I hate about being a Mum.  I guess I will be shot down in flames by someone somewhere along the way.  Oh well, if anyone thinks anything in life (no matter how much you love it) is perfect, they are wrong.  While being a Mum is the best thing in the world, there are times when it is tiring, frustrating, annoying, infuriating, and the list goes on.  What are some of the things you struggle with?  I tend to struggle with....
  1. Sleep. Or should I write that in capital letters SLEEP. One of the cruelest jokes nature plays on us Mums.  While we really need maximum amounts of rest to get through each day of looking after children as well as everything else we need to do like housework, cooking and work, we usually end up doing it on about 3 hours sleep a night.  Whether due to crying babies, sick kids, nightmares, whatever, I don't know about you but there always seems to be something interrupting my beauty sleep. Consequently ending up as Cranky Mum most days.
  2. Having a baby or young toddler means when there is a family outing you either end up staying at home with the youngest of the family, or you end up being the one who has to spend all her time watching and looking after the little one, missing anything interesting and making you wish you had gone for Option A - Staying at home.  See image below for illustration.  A recent family outing to Thunderbird Park on the Gold Coast where you dig for rocks with minerals in them.  Oh yay, I got to watch my 16 month old getting her nappy filled with rocks and sand and catching her from falling down the hill because she is at that annoying toddler age where they can't even walk properly but won't hold your hand or be held.  Exhausting!!
  3. When you have more than one child you get to listen to them arguing and squabbling pretty much constantly.  I'm sorry but I have to admit it drives me absolutely bananas.  I'm pretty sure all siblings in the world carry on like this, which doesn't really make it any easier.  Someone get me some earplugs please?!
  4. Getting asked by your husband/partner "What have you done all day".  I don't know about you, but when I get that I am pretty much willing to stick something where it hurts.  It is the rudest, most insensitive thing that can be said to a Mum in my opinion.  Babies and young kids are bloody hard work, and when they are on the move it makes getting anything done 10 times longer and 10 times more difficult.  Agree?
  5. Never having any time for yourself.  This is exacerbated if you have kids at home with you full-time of course, and while we all know the younger years go very fast and before you know it they are off to school (then Uni, then moving out of home), its still nice to get some peace and quiet to either lie and read a book or have a nap (nap.... what's that?!) or go to the hairdresser or for a massage.  It's really hard when you need to rely on other people to look after you kids so you can get an opportunity to do this.



Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review: Wine Selectors Chef Series

There is nothing better than ending a long difficult day with a glass of wine.  Actually, I end most days whether good or bad with a glass of wine.  I'm definitely no expert, but I do know what I like... and as I don't drink any spirits or beer, I do tend to be quite fussy about what I am drinking.  Oh, did I mention sparkling???  Put a glass of that in front of me and I really can't say no ;-)

I was therefore quite interested to hear about the new Chef Series of wine and sparkling wine available from Wine Selectors.  This is a unique new concept where some of Australia's favorite chefs and premium Australian wines have worked together to produce a range of exclusive wines to match with particular foods.  These wines are only available from the Wine Selectors website or from the chef's own restaurant.

The two wines I have reviewed are shown in the picture below:

  • The Alastair McLeod Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV is a Tasmanian Sparkling Wine matched to local Brisbane produce by Alastair McLeod.  This is one of the most beautiful Sparking Wines I have tried, and impressively left me with no headache as a lot of Sparkling Wines do.  This Sparkling is a perfect match for a recipe such as Rock Oysters with Saltwater Vinaigrette and Wakame. Priced at $41.00 per bottle this is certainly an option for a very special occasion and I would highly recommend it over an imported Champagne.
  • The Ben O'Donoghue Pinot Gris 2011 is a Mornington Peninsula wine, described as the perfect food wine as it is moreish and savory but doesn't over power the food. I have to admit I have not drunk a lot of Pinot Gris, however it is certainly one I will be trying a LOT more of in the coming weeks.  This wine to put it simply is divine, light and tasty with no heaviness or bitterness at all.  In other words, very easy to drink, and as with the Sparkling, no headache afterwards which says volumes about its quality in my mind.  The Pinot Gris matches with a dish such as Crab and Rocket Linguine, which I tried out with this wine with great success. The Pinot Gris is $29.50 per bottle, a great price for an amazing wine in my opinion.




The making of the Crab and Rocket Linguine!  A truly luxurious dish that added a little bit of glamour to my humdrum life.  Filled with fresh ingredients such as tomato, rocket, and crab, it is one of those super simple dishes that tastes just beautiful.  The Pinot Gris was a divine match, I felt like I was eating at a restaurant!





What a great initiative, marrying these wonderful Australian wines with top Australian Chefs.  I hope I have encouraged you to investigate matching your wine with food, it certainly is something I haven't done before but is not only fun but delicious too.


Disclaimer: I was sent 2 bottles from Wine Selectors to review for this blog, no payment was received for this post and any opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Changing nappies, washing hands, & sore dry skin

Before having children, I had lovely hands! I had time to have the odd manicure, and they just didn't need too much looking after for the skin, cuticles and nails to stay looking nice.

Fast forward 8 years or so, and since having my first baby, my hands have been dry and sore, with cracked skin in places, and I have even had eczema develop around my fingers where my rings are (which I have never suffered from before on any part of my body).

The reason for this change?  Well, after you have your baby, you are washing your hands after every nappy change.  So not only does the soap dry your hands out, having your hands in water all the time doesn't help either.  Also things like washing Bub's bottles everyday if you don't wear washing up gloves (like I am in the bad habit of doing).

A study of healthcare workers published in 2012 by the NCBI showed that frequent hand washing is strongly correlated to hand eczema (Source www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22486567).  The National Centre for Biotechnology Information also highlights the importance of washing hands because "washing hands is the best thing you can do to prevent the spread of germs" and they go on to recommend "using hand lotion after washing hands to prevent your skin from getting sore" (Source www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804454/).

Changing soiled nappies is of course a potential source for germs, and so its absolutely imperative to wash our hands afterwards.  No wonder us poor Mums end up with hands with such red, dry, sore, cracked and not to mention ugly skin!!!

I find my one saving grace with this situation is to really be conscious about using a good hand cream many times through-out the day, and last thing at night before I go to bed.  In the past I picked up any old hand cream from the supermarket or chemist shelf.  But you know what, these chemical filled creams end up making the problem worse not better, even the ones advertised as being for very dry or problem skin.  So, sick as I am of sore dry skin, instead I have been using some gorgeous creams all handmade here in Australia with natural ingredients... with fantastic results I'm happy to say. 

Divine Infusions Soothing, Protecting, Healing Balm
The Divine Infusions Soothing, Protecting, Healing Balm is a multi-use Balm that is not only able to be used for a hand cream, you can also use it for an after-shave balm, as a nappy cream, on Psoriasis and Eczema, as well as heaps of other recommended uses.  I have been using this divine Balm at night before I go to bed a lot as it is a beautifully rich 'butter' that only has a very light scent of Coconut, so its perfect to put a thick layer on at night.  I have also been using this to great effect on my heels at night.  Containing ingredients like virgin coconut oil, macadamia wax, olive butter, shea nut butter, and calendula and chamomile oils, you can see this is a nutrient rich Balm that is only made with completely natural products.  The Divine Infusions Balm starts at $25 for a 100ml jar (+P&H).  If you have any questions or would like some more information why not head over to the Divine Infusions Facebook page.



Nikki T Olive Leaf, Kakadu Plum and Mango Butter Hand Cream
The Nikki T Olive Leaf, Kakadu Plum and Mango Butter Hand Cream is an 'Overnight Nourishing and Regenerating' cream that comes in a very handy pump bottle.  This is a very light and quickly absorbed cream that I have actually been using during the day as well as at night (I like the pump pack on my desk to use when working).  The list of this cream is very impressive, with ingredients like organic Australian macadamia oil, sweet almond oil, organic avocado oil, olive leaf extract, Kakadu plum extract and lavender floral water (just to name a few!!).  Note all the Australian products in the ingredient list, how exciting to see this!  The cream has a lovely scent, woodsy and floral and very Australian.  The Nikki T Hand Creams are handmade in Bondi and sold on etsy for $22 for a 75ml tube (+P&H). If you have any questions or would like some more information why not head over to the Nikki T Skincare Facebook page.


Embalm Skincare Hand Cream
The Embalm Skincare Hand Cream comes in a gorgeous little glass jar, and is what I would describe as a whipped cream. The Embalm Hand Cream is 100% natural as well as bring suitable for vegans (although not for use in pregnancy as it does contain Lavender, Lemongrass and Spearmint Essential Oils). As this cream is lovely and thick, it feels wonderful on especially dry hands, and the scent is refreshing and uplifting with the yummy Spearmint smell.  Suitable for use at any time of the day, it contains ingredients such as Rose distillate, Rice Bran oil, Shea Butter, and Vitamin E.  Yum!  The Embalm Skincare Hand Cream is $27.95 for a 20g pot (+P&H). If you have any questions or would like some more information why not head over to the Embalm Skincare Facebook page.



I'm really excited to finally have hands with soft moisturised skin again, thanks to finally realising I DO need to put in an effort to taking care of my hands, and to staying away from the commercial hand creams that just seem to exacerbate the problem. A big thank you to the wonderful ladies out there who are making such beautiful and effective skincare products!


Do you have sore dry hands? What steps do you take to stop it happening?