Saturday, January 24, 2015

A wharf, a winery and a warm night

Some days just need to be written down to be remember properly. Because I tend to forget things over time. The little details especially.

Early morning sunbaking.

Today we woke after a sleep in and hopped over to the pool at our motel. I wore my bathers again and the girls worked on their underwater somersault skills.

We then made our way to the wharf at Echuca and boarded a Paddle Steamer. The Pevensky was our paddler of choice, it's old and interesting, but most importantly it was headed to a winery.

We cruised down the Murray River, enjoying the very minor breeze and seeking all the shade possible until we arrived at the winery. It's a short stroll through the bush to the cellar door and restaurant. The river on one side of you, the trees on the other, the wildlife all around and days don't feel much more peaceful.

Our meals were instagram worthy and the kids desserts were a real treat. Immy ordered the DIY gingerbread and Arabella ordered the meringue clown. Mr H ordered the cheese plate. It is possible that I tried every, yes every wine in the list at the cellar door before deciding on the champagne that can't be called champagne. A good drop of bubbles.

At the completion of our long lunch we headed back to the river, the kids put their feet in the water until our taxi arrived to take us back to town.

Post lunch Taxi!

Next on our agenda was more time at the pool, because afternoons include mocktail hours and the kids didn't want to be missing out.

Mr H had a siesta, so I figured it was green smoothie time too.

Apparently all this swimming was still not enough. Mr H was keen to get to the river properly and swim like the locals. The Murray flows strong enough that if you float for a few seconds you will drift along, so it took about 3 minutes before the girls grabbed their life jackets, ran up the river and floated down the middle. An hour later and I was keen to get going.  Once I got stung by a bee I was really damn ready to get going.

Moments before my foot said hello to a bee.
Stupid bee.

So we went out for dinner. Again.

Then we got ice cream, walked to the wharf and checked out all the old things both floating in the river and around it, until the mozzies drove us away.

It was dark when we got back to our motel at 9.30pm, but hey, it's holidays, so back to the pool they went.

I decided to rest my bee stung foot, blog the day out and watch Lleyton Hewitt in the tennis.

And That's The End of the Story.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The thing you need to look for when looking for bathers

We were a good hour from home and the talk started about whether the weather would be hot enough for swimming in the outdoor pool when I realise that I had left my bathers at home.

It's been three summers since I bought new bathers, back then I went and spent a small fortune on three pairs of togs that provided me with the coverage I wanted, holding me in where I needed it most and pretty much doing the best a few skimpy bits of fabric could do.

I unhappily hit the shops yesterday wanting new bathers. Shop number one held a lovely variety of bikinis, they were stringy, with little triangles that covered even littler bits of flesh.

Shop number two reminded me that all the bathers have been sold for the summer and perhaps I should buy a running bra and some running shorts. I actually even tried them on thinking perhaps this could work. Bloody awful.

I was close to giving up, but spied the local lingerie shop and crossed my fingers, held my breath and went in to ask if they had anything.

The lady said "Yes, I do, but I am not sure they will be what you are after."

Then I spied the one thing I had been looking and praying for.

Following on from that I saw the two words which are music to my bather searching ears.


I tried them on, and then another pair, and then a few more. In the end I couldn't choose which ones I loved the best.

But I grabbed a pair that just felt good.

Because that is what you need to look for. Whatever your figure, your attitude, your confidence, the thing you need when you buy new bathers is to be sure that they make you feel good. Not everyone else, not the teenager that you once were. Not the body you hope to have in six months.

You, right now.

So here they are. Me, not looking all model and marvellous like, but loving my new togs enough for a photo.

How do you do the bather shop? Any other tips?

Another Disclaimer.: Not sponsored at all. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Beach free summer

Are you a beach lover?

I am torn between loving the ocean and the waves. The sounds of the water, the natural beauty of a beach that just can't be replicated by humans no matter how hard we try.

But I also struggle with the hot hot sand and the absence of shade. When you go to the beach it is never just a five metre stroll from the car, and you seem to have to pack so much stuff. Then there is the sand that comes home with you.

Yet again this summer I find we are heading inland to spend our days. Places where it is hot, but there are also trees to sit under, rivers to wade in, pools to dive in, wineries to dine in.

Another summer holiday and it's another inland town we are heading to.

Just like humans can't replicate the ocean and the waves, they also can't bring the peace and contentment that sitting among the trees, by a flowing river with great food at your finger tips can give.

Going inland rather than coastal means you travel to more towns, check out more cafes, visit more places and see things that others just never do.

I like it.

I like it a lot.

The beach will always be magical. It will always remind me of teenage days of coconut oil, burnt feet and skimpy bikinis. However the lakes and rivers of Australia can show off pretty nicely too, and it's time we spent some more time with them. Plus, there are ponies, lots of ponies to ride.

Are you into lakes, rivers, beaches or pools? 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Community Dress Announcement.

I have been looking for the perfect dress for sometime. I have found a few, but they just were not quite right. Too long, short, expensive. Too floral, too bright, too tight!

But, being Christmas, I was stocking up on socks and jocks and school sports stuff at Bonds when I saw a dress.

It was perfect and it was on sale. At $25 I could not leave it behind. I have since worn it as often as I can.

It whips through the wash and doesn’t need ironing. It gives the arms a little cover for those that like it and the waist belt does not require a tight squish around the Christmas pudding girth.

I was sent some slide on shoes from the team at FRANKiE4 and they team up with this dress really well. Better then that, they team up with my crappola back even better. 

After I was down and out with my back in November I was told to accept the fact that I need to wear sensible shoes from now on. I even sent my work team an email to apologise for my sensible shoe wearing faux pas that would be required from now on.

The sensible shoe issue is tricky. I am trying not to gallop into my old age wearing shoes that make me look 109 years old.  Thankfully designers like those at Frankie4 have got my back!

And it seems they also have my Mother-in-laws. Because she has been seen wearing my shoes around quite a bit too! I am going to be giving a pair away on my Instagram account, pop over this week, follow me on Instagram and see if you can get yourself a pair.

I have also found myself a few kaftan’s this summer. I just haven’t quite got the right one yet. I have one that is going to be great to wear over my bathers…except I need to get some bathers…can there be any shopping worse then bathers?

What great fashion finds have you found this summer?

For those wondering, this is not a sponsored post. Bonds do not pay me. Nor do Frankie4, but they sent me a pair of shoes and asked me what I thought of them, I thought they were good enough to share with you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

How to do the Double Feature at the Drive In, with Kids.

The drive-in still exists and it's really worth booking in a night for you and the kids to go and check it out.

If you are like us and hardly ever see a movie of your choice then the double feature at the drive in just might be an option.

It takes very little organising and gives you a rockin' Saturday night out. OK, it might not be the biggest party of the year, but it is better then staying home, again.

We took ourselves off to the double feature and it worked really well. First up was the kid movie, Penguins of Madagascar. We set the kids up in the front seats with cushions and blankets and Mr H and I settled into the back seat. It was actually quite comfy, just a little more difficult to see the entire screen.

The back seat was perfect for us to eat all the good food without the kids even noticing.

Mr H snuck out to the diner and returned with popcorn for the kids and ice-cream and doughnuts. We were meant to share out the doughnuts, but that fake jam and sugar was too much for us and we slurped those up quite happily, not sharing.

With the front seat, the popcorn, a funny movie on and comfy cushions the kids watched their movie.

Then we swapped it all around.

The kids had a quick run around the Drive-in, watched the end of Big Hero 6 on another screen and got ready to cozy up in the back.

We re-positioned all the cushions and by 11pm when the second film started, Mr H and I took over the front seat. Within 15 minutes the kids were asleep in the back and Mr H got to watch the Hobbit in peace.

I must admit I didn't last the distance and fell asleep before the end.

At the end of the film, Mr H simply drove us all home.

The kids thought that staying out til 2 in the morning was fantastic, even if they were asleep.

Two movies for a family of four is only $45! Bargain. We really need to go more often.

We went to the Coburg Drive-In, so if you are in Melbourne, go and check it out. If you know of any other Drive-Ins, leave them in the comments so other people can check them out too.

*This is not a sponsored post. It's just sharing good stuff.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hello 2015.

Hello 2015.

So far so good.

The New Year has been celebrated with fireworks, picnics, swimming, and visits from family and friends. I even have the school shoe shopping complete.

We have been heading to the movies lots. How expensive are movies these days? Way too much. I only go with tickets I have purchased cheap elsewhere or I buy the tickets online. I took my Mum to see Into the Woods last night. In case you didn't know, it's a musical. The entire thing. Not a song here or there, but the whole thing is in sing song tunes. I am a fan of musicals, but I wasn't expecting this. If you don't like people singing when they could be talking, you have been warned.

Until now Mr H and I have also been working. It's both easy and hard to work when lots of people are off at the beach. It's a great time to drive into work. My usual 50 minute drive was down to 22 minutes. It was like the road was all mine.

When you get to work, there is no pressure. Suppliers are not around, few people return your calls, emails get sent and the only reply you get is an out of office bounce back. People are more free to chat. We went to lunch and checked out new cafes - the ones that were open.

If you sneak a scroll through your facebook feed there are lots of people relaxing at beach houses, camping beside rivers and doing summer holiday things. But just when many of them are now heading back to the office Mr H and I have three weeks off. AT THE SAME TIME.

We haven't booked a trip anywhere. Yet. We might. Depends on the weather really. If it keeps raining then we are not going to be camping by a river. If it gets really really hot again, then we are not going to the bush where we are on fire alert the whole time.

But we need to get away somewhere, we just can't stay home for long periods of time. Three weeks would have us climbing the walls. We would end up going slightly mad.

We like to just google around and see where there is availability, where haven't we been, where would be good to check out.

We have spent the last few years trying to encourage our parents to purchase a beach house so that we could actually use it sometimes, so far they have both ignored our pleas. I think I hear whispers of "buy your own beach house" but I can't be sure.

We have three glorious weeks of just deciding each day what we are going to do. Some days we might just do nothing. Let the kids decide how many hours they want to play Sims and Minecraft while we read books, eat chocolate and lay in the sun. Who knows. It's all just part of the fun of living the unorganised life.

Have you taken any leave yet? Heading anywhere for the next few weeks? Got yourself a beach house?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 3: Shoddy Stuff of 2014

Every year I make some dud purchases.
 Some years there are a few that stand out more then others.
Here are my top three for 2014.

1. Mister Moss

I have a passion for real Christmas trees. Love everything about them and no matter how good you think your fake tree is, it's a fake tree.

When I saw the delightful Mister Moss Christmas trees on sale at a local shop, I grabbed them. I was excited about having Christmas trees all year round.

I bought three at once and Mr H hung them outside in our outdoor eating area.

According to the instructions they just need a good dunk in water once a week to keep them going.

But they seemed to be drying up so we watered them some more on days when it was 45 degrees.

When you water them you have to soak them in a bucket of water, imagine when you get the plants out of the water - they drip like crazy. This was ok for us as they were outside, but I don't know how you would cope if they were inside.

Then one of our trees started to die. I sent Mister Moss an email asking for advice and got no reply. The tree slowly turned a bit browner.

Then I asked a question on their instagram account to try and get some help. They ignored me again.

As our tree curled up its toes I went to Facebook and left a message there, but still, they didn't respond.

I gave that plant more attention then any other and still it died.

The string that gives it so much of its character, well that rots too. With all the watering it eventually breaks off, leaving your three perfectly aligned trees not so perfect anymore as the string levels adjust.

These plants are $75 a pop. They look modern and interesting and are a great centrepiece for a table or an event. Just don't go buying them if you want any follow up advice or service.

My remaining trees started to look like they were heading to heaven too so I have recently planted them in the ground, they seem to be the happiest they have ever been.

2. GEOX School Shoes

 My kids have funny shaped feet and they are expensive shaped feet.

I have tried to get them into some cheaper options but it just isn't worth it. The blisters, the innersoles, the falling over.

We have a local shoe shop that fits them in shoes that are comfortable and perfect for their feet. This year Immy started school in a great pair of GEOX school shoes.

For a decent pair of school shoes I forked out $120 and knew we would get most of the year out of them.

Until we didn't.

I was happy to pay for all leather shoes, I like that I can clean them up through the year and make them last as much of the year as possible.

Vinyl ain't leather.

If kids feet grow and you have to get new shoes, it's a bit of bad luck. But when the leather is not actually all leather, but trimmed with fake leather, and the toes of the shoes are gone through in just a few weeks...ANNOYING.

I had to go and buy more school shoes in the same size Immy was already wearing because these fell apart so quickly.

If I wanted half vinyl/half leather shoes, I would have bought them in the first place.

If you are buying GEOX shoes you might get a great fit, but be aware you might be forking out for vinyl rather then leather.

3. The ANZ Bank

I know, we all hate banks, they take our money, make us pay too much interest and the fees. THE FEES.

However, I quite like a decent bank. I like the apps that make knowing where my money is (and isn't) and I like the security of having a little place that my wage goes to each week. I like direct payments of my bills and I am happy for our banks to be making a gazillion dollars a week, it makes me comfortable.

Banks are now very well equipped to know just what is going on in the lives of their customers. Some people think the banks even have a little too much knowledge of our everyday actions.

So there is no excuse for poor marketing and lazy direct mail marketing campaigns.

The ANZ bank, the very same bank that closed my Mums account within days of my Dad dying (let's not even get started on that one) is able to know that a person is dead within a few days.

Yet, they can not seem to work out how to tell the people over the partition in the work station looking after insurance marketing. Instead, they keep sending my Dad letters, mainly asking if he would like to take out a life insurance policy.

The answer is YES. Yes, he would really like to take out a life insurance policy, but as you well know ANZ, he is six foot under and can't seem to sign the paperwork. However, should you find a way to bring him back, we promise to take up every insurance policy you suggest.

What has been the most shoddy purchase at your place this year?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Theme Free Birthday Party

Remember back in the day when you just had a party, your Mum sent out the invites and then on your birthday all your friends came over for a play. You all played in the backyard and then the grown ups served a cake, usually from the Women’s Weekly cookbook.

Such great memories and I don’t remember my Mum being particularly stressed about these events. Perhaps she was and I was ignorant of it.

Immy wanted to turn 6 with a party at home this year. After the ease of having her party totally outsourced last year I was a bit reluctant. I started by asking her what kind of party she wanted, but Immy kept not providing me with anything. It took me some weeks to figure out that she didn’t want any theme. NONE.

Gourmet Food for 6 year olds.

There were requests though. There was to be pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey and musical statues. There was also a requirement for a giant bowl of lollies and cupcakes. She wanted all the dress ups out so people could wear any thing they wanted.

She requested a cake in the shape of a dog.

Pinterest was not much help with any of the party planning for a theme free birthday. Instead I just had to sit back and accept that the party was going to be pretty basic. When it came to food Immy requested fairy bread, party pies and sausage rolls – it couldn’t get any easier.

It ended up being such a delightful party. Our house and backyard was filled with little girls just running around playing.

Miss 8 and her friend Mr 8 asked for a job to do so I set them up at the Nail Bar and Tattoo Station using some nail polish and make up that had arrived in the mail from Shop Naturally. I had a large packet of fairy tattoos which they all applied with gusto.

Once they had their fingers painted and learnt how to apply the tattoos, each of the kids really became quite creative with both the paints and the tattoos. The Dads joined in too, leaving with freshly painted toes. 

I took up the offer from a friend to help me out with the cake and she whipped up a dog that even had an I for Immy on it’s collar.

The most stressful part of the entire party was having to decide if I should put a gift in every wrapper of pass the parcel. I ended up asking what to do on my facebook page and the answer was clear, 95% of Mums are sick of  kids expecting a prize. They are happy for their kids to realise that there is only one winner. So with that support I boldly went for the one prize only option and the kids had no problem with it at all. Most had never even played pass the parcel.

Dress ups were a big hit with some kids wearing an outfit for the entire party. I also dragged out a CD player with a microphone which was used (loudly).

While some kids sang others sat and played Barbie and some went to play with the dog. A few others swang upside down on the swing set.

I left the chalk out and asked people to leave a message on our chalkboard wall.

I provided minimal direction for the entire party other than pointing out where the food and drinks were. The rest of the time I left it to the 18 kids to work out what they were doing.

Ten minutes before the end of the party I served the cake, it was delicious, and then most of our guests went home.

We continued celebrating all afternoon and then for dinner with more family and friends until eventually the birthday girl fell asleep on the floor beside the new Barbie Glamper Van.

The theme less party was nearly as stress free as the out sourced party. It might not ever get a pin on Pinterest, but I highly recommend it.

Your kid will certainly Tanck you.

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