Fiji

This November we went on our fourth trip to Fiji (our third with the kids). It is, and will always be our favourite place for a relaxed family holiday.

The week before we left we went into holiday lock down. No childcare, no play dates, nothing. I did not want to risk one of us getting sick before a big trip!

For this trip we decided to not pack a pram, as we were staying at small island resorts. I didn’t think we would need it and both girls can capably walk.

Luckily we were gifted a TRUNKI before we left and it came in handy when moving about the airport.

Gem (our four year old) claimed the trunki as hers, and confidently rode it through the airport with me pulling along the strap.

The thing I liked best about the Trunki was I used it to store all the girls things to keep them occupied on the plane, keeping my bag free of all their kiddy items. It also fits perfectly under the seat in front during the flight.

Castaway Island

We spent the first week at Castaway Island which is simply stunning. The beach is the nicest I’ve ever seen, and perfect for little kids like mine that can’t swim as it’s nice and shallow.

Accommodation wise we had a beachfront villa but in retrospect I think I’d be happy with any of the villas available as we spent most of the day on the main beach. The pools looked great but we never swam in them.

The kids spent a little time in kids club, it’s from 3 years of age so we got a nanny for Rose (2) when she attended. Nannies are $10 FJD per hour and you pay them directly with cash. The babysat for us at night when we had dinner and the girls slept.

The food at Castaway was ok, above average. It was a buffet for the kids at every meal (they had some a la carte options too), and we had a la cart for lunch and dinner from one of they three restaurants.

I liked that you could get lunch take away and eat it on the beach or in your room.

We got the meal plan so we didn’t stress about the cost of eating.

Drinks are expensive at Castaway, so if you’re prepared perhaps bring your own.

I did love the beach bar however, and enjoyed a few cocktails on the beach while watching the girls play.

VOMO

It was our second visit to Vomo and what can I say, it’s my favourite place in Fiji. Not cheap but it includes basically everything.

The island is beautiful, the accommodation modern and comfortable, and the staff are lovely.

The kids club there is fantastic. It’s air conditioned and has great facilities including a movie room. The kids also ate both lunch and dinner in the kids club. The kids club in Vomo is from four years old. Rose had a nanny, Millie, for most of the day. It was $15 FJD per hour.

The sunset adults only bar is lovely and they now do meals there twice a week. They are also building an adults only infinitely pool.

The spa at Vomo is the best massage I’ve ever had. I booked three massages on this trip and each one I feel asleep! So relaxing.

The food this time around was sensational, we loved every single meal! I honestly can’t fault it, we are big on food so this really made our trip. The kids food (all al a carte, was delicious too).

The highlight of our trip was booking little Vomo for a private beach picnic. We had a lovely day collecting shells and eating lobster.

We booked our holiday through Belinda Hackett who was a fantastic travel agent and I’d highly recommend her!

Best ever Christmas Pudding ūüéĄ

I might be biased as I’ve literally grown up eating this Christmas pudding, but I do think it’s the best! It is my Nana’s recipe and she has been making it for 40 years.

I wouldn’t say it’s the quickest or easiest recipe but it’s definitely worth the time it takes to prepare. I usually aim to have it cooked by September/October, then leave it on the fridge until Christmas Day.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups Raisins

1 1/4 cups Sultanas

1 1/2 cups Currants

1/3 cup chopped mixed peel

1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds

1 small apple

1/2 orange

1 cup SR Flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

125g butter

3 cups white breadcrumbs

1 1/3 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1/4 cup brandy or milk (approximately)

Prepared the dried fruit by removing the seeds and finely chopping the raisins. Combine in a bowl with almonds and the mixed peel (I add glacé cherries sometimes too).

Peel and grate the Apple, grate the rind and remove the juice from half an orange. Add to the dried fruit and toss well.

Sift flour, salt and spices into a basin, and lightly rub in the butter.

Add the breadcrumbs, brown sugar, and the dried fruit mix.

Beat the eggs into a froth, add the brandy (or milk), then add to the mixture and stir well.

Turn into a large greased basin, approximately seven- cup capacity. Do not fill to the top- allow for rising.

Cover with a circle of greased paper and then double thickness of aluminium foil.

Put it in a saucepan of boiling water, allowing the water to come halfway up the basin. Cover the saucepan with a lid and boil for six hours. Keep adding boiling water to replace the water which has boiled away.

When cooked, remove the cover and paper, allow surface to dry out. Replace with new paper and foil, put the lid back on and store in the refrigerator.

Reheat in the same way as originally cooked, boil for two-three hours before serving!

ENJOY ūüėė

Working with Ryobi

So it’s no secret that we just renovated our home and I’m completely obsessed with ever part of it. Unfortunately part of making our home bigger was that we lost a lot of outdoor space. We used to have lots of lawn, but now its been reduced to a few small patches at the front and rear.

The grass in our backyard before:

If you watch my stories you will see we got rid of our big lawn mower (too big to store and didn’t need it) and I decided I would take on mowing duties and bought a hand mower. Well the hand mower was terrible to use and it took me nearly an hour to mow the small patch pictured above. In the end we resorted to using scissors to cut the lawn and I know a few of you found this to be very funny!

When the good people over at RYOBI heard my plight they decided to send me a brand new RYOBI ONE+ cordless line trimmer. RYOBI has a big focus on supporting women in doing DIY around the house and therefore create products that make it easy to do so. And wow was this machine is not only easy to use but super easy to set up too. I love it.

So last weekend I took the beautiful RYOBI ONE+ cordless line trimmer out of the box and gave it a whirl. It was incredible. It cut the grass with ease and I was done in about five minutes. It was really fun to use to.

The thing I liked best about the RYOBI ONE+ cordless line trimmer is that its battery operated so you don’t need to worry about petrol which was a huge pain with our previous mower. You just plug the battery in to recharge it. Once it’s charger you just pop it into the back of the RYOBI ONE+ cordless line trimmer. Very user friendly. RYOBI is also so confident in their ONE+ tools, they back them all with a 6 year replacement warranty.

Here is the battery charging:

The grass after:

Some more BEFORE & AFTERS:

Thank you so much to RYOBI for sending me something I needed and love using. I also applaud you for encouraging women to be more active in DIY projects. RYOBI has over 70 tools in the ONE+ range so there is a tool to suit and DIY project that you might have.

RYOBI tools can be exclusively purchased through Bunnings Australia and New Zealand.

For more information click here to visit their website 

Medela and My Breastfeeding Journey

A few weeks ago I attended to bloggers brunch in Sydney where I got to meet with some amazing brands, including Medela. Whilst talking to the beautiful ladies on the Medela stand I got the opportunity to reflect on my own breastfeeding journey. Medela were proudly showcasing the most beautiful artworks created by students for Medela depicting what ‘Mother’s Milk Means’ to them. Firstly I wanted to share with you my favourite art piece:

This picture resonates with me as it is such an accurate description of how breastfeeding felt to me. For nine months my body grew my baby on the inside and for six months my body grew my baby on the outside. We were one.

Lets now talk about my breastfeeding experience with little Gemima Grace. Before having children I was determined that I would breastfeed. I didn’t have a back up plan and bottles and formula were not part of my ‘prepare for baby’ shopping list.

I had Gem at term, she was a big baby and came out hungry. Little did I know (I found out 10 weeks later) that I had retained placenta ( which required surgery) so my body didn’t naturally start lactating. The first three days of Gemima’s life she screamed for food and I had nothing to give her. On the third day the nurses started getting me to express/pump using the hospital grade Medela machine. This was my first experience with Medela. We also started toping Gem up with formula as even with all the pumping I still wasn’t producing any milk and I did not want to leave my baby hungry (thank god for formula). I was using the Medela machine every three hours everyday so I called my husband to organise one for home. He rushed off to baby bunting to buy the Medela Swing (it’s THE BEST) breast pump on the market so it would be ready for me when I got home.

After a week in hospital I took my baby home and kept up the breastfeeding, bottle feeding formula then expressed milk, then expressing regime every three hours for two weeks. Slowly over this time my milk increased and by week three I was finally able to just breastfeed, no bottle, no top ups,  just pure breasty goodness.

So for me the Medela breast pump meant I could continue my breastfeeding journey as I had always wanted. This meant the world to me as breastfeeding was important to me. I continued my breastfeeding journey until a Gemima was 14 months. Was it hard work? Yes, it sure was but so worth it in the end.

Medela supports women and communities in many ways. Their breastpumps really are the best of the market. They have an amazing recourses available to women and a blog you can join here that sends you regular information and support for your breastfeeding journey.

So what are my top tips to support women to breastfeed?

1) Be informed, there are lots of free information and help out there.

2) Be open with others about your breastfeeding journey, it’s normally to find it hard.

3) Be kind to yourself, breastfeeding sometimes isn’t easy.

Bec xx

 

Putting the social back in social media

Ok so recently I ticked over to 10,000 followers on my¬†Bargain Styler¬†Insta page. This is significant because I have only had the page for 6 months, so it’s a great achievement in that short time. When this happened to received a few messages from other Instagram pages asking me how I did it so its prompted me to write a post about how I have grown my Instagram page.

First of all I feel I started the page for the right reasons. I simply wanted to share my finds. I never went into it thinking about what I could get out of it, I have only ever wanted to share. Secondly I have honestly never been follower focused. I’d still be doing what I am doing now (including all mu Insta stories) with only 100 followers because I genuinely enjoy it and love doing it.

My top few points are:

  1. Be social on social media! Sounds simple but you’d be surprised how many people just scroll though without a like or comment. Zoe, the¬†The DIY Decorator¬†started a movement awhile ago with the hashtag # IF YOU LIKE IT LIKE IT and that is so true! Its super important to engage with other accounts on a regular basis. I try to comment on as many photos as I can to create good engagement. You’ll generally find that accounts you interact with with often comment back on your photos too. This started as I love when people comment on my photos, and you know the old saying ‘treat others as you want to be treated’ or something?!
  2. Get onto the Insta stories. I read somewhere that Instagram rewards accounts that regularly post Instagram stories to their feed with exposure, so it’s worth a go. People freak out about what to do in their stories but I guess its just a little ‘behind the scenes’, even the simplest things like sharing an easy recipe or new find! You can start off by using a filter if you feel more comfortable (I personally don’t like them). I find the best light to be in the car for some reason, so that could be a great place to start. People like to connect with others so it’s a great way to show more of yourself.
  3. Be a giver. Don’t put too much on your feed about how wonderful your life is. I especially now turn away from accounts that flaunt a life that for me is now unabtainable. I know most feeds are curated but the feedback I always get is how normal my feed is, and thats because I don’t try and be someone I’m not or portray a life other than my own. Try to put as much on your feed thats relatable and gives something to the viewer.
  4. Spend time on Instagram. I honestly spend a lot of time on my Instagram. I enjoy taking the time to reply to comments and messages and creating lots of engagement within my account. If someone takes the time to send me a DM I always take the time to reply. I love getting messages and comments.
  5. Share, share, share! If I see something I really love I will always post to stories or even post to my page! I don’t want it to be all about me, sharing other peoples finds and photos is lots of fun. I have pretty much grown my account from all the shares and comments I have had in the past few months. I have definitely got by with a little help from my friends.
  6. There is so much love (and followers) to go around. Don’t compare your account to someone elses and try not to be jealous. There are plenty of people using Instagram and plenty of followers to go around. Sharing or even mentioning another account is a GOOD THING and will only benefit you in the long run. It’s good to spread and share the love.

Finally have fun! Enjoy the community you will find once you get involved, be positive and upbeat and just be yourself. Hope this has helped xx Bec

What do you do when there is no one?

So I have been thinking about this for awhile as I am constantly reminded in posts and memes on both Instagram and Facebook. People always say (especially to new Mums) that if you are struggling don’t forget to reach out and get help. In any situation really it’s always said ‘ask for help, you’re not alone’. So my question is what is Plan B if when you reach out no help is received?

So I guess for me when I read these quotes and hear this advice I get upset. In my life and what I have found is there is no help. Even when I do reach out, or am struggling there really is no one there. In fact I find the more you reach out and tell people your struggles and what you need to faster they in fact turn away.

Please don’t get me wrong. I have great friends and some amazing family but the people I surround myself are just super busy OR in the exact same position as me, treading water just making it through each day. Grandparents just seem super busy these days, 60 is the new 30 and my Dad has a busier social life than me! My husband is my partner in everything and we rely on each other for everything. He is amazing.

I probably should point out where I am coming from. My Mother spent the majority of my life being really unwell. She spent the last 10 years of her life in full time care, it’s a really hard part of my life I don’t really talk about. Anyway, myself, my sister and my Dad were really the only people who saw her on a regular basis. Throughout these last 10 years I yearned for help, for more support but it never came. At her funeral last year so many people turned up. So many. Where were they when she needed them in those last 10 years? If only each of them had done one visit/helped only once a year it would have made a world of difference….. anyway, I’m off track.

So I guess when I started to have children I already knew that no help would come. Luckily Andrew works hard and we have the means available to have a cleaner, buy ready made meals (needed especially in those newborn early days) and pay for the occasional babysitter and childcare. But what if you don’t even have that? What if you are seriously on your own? There must be so many people out there like that.

Every so often I just need to reach out, vent, scream I NEED BLOODY HELP. But you now what…. nothing happens. Friends will reply with ‘yep, I’m in the same situation’ family members will say ‘well this is what happens when you have kids, it was hard for me too’, and some people, well they just turn away.

I know life will not be like this forever, it’s just hard right now. Thanks for reading. Bec

The Ups and Downs of SAHM Life

So I am currently full time at home with the two kids. How did this happen? Well prior to having Gem I had just completed my post graduate degree in Primary School Teaching and had started doing some relief teaching. I was also working part time in retail at the time. When I was 30 weeks pregnant we moved interstate from Adelaide (we were in Adelaide for a few years for my husbands work) to Sydney so any jobs or relationships I had with work were lost.

When Gemima my eldest was 11 months we finally returned back to Melbourne as the decision was made that I would stay home for good as the costs of childcare was just too expensive.

So two kids and three and a half years later and I’m pretty over being at home full time. The girls spend all day whinging and fighting and demaning food which only seems to end up on the floor and not in their mouths. I have 10 hours of childcare a week (split over two days) and that is my saviour. However the childcare only runs the school term so school holidays are a killer. With no family help available the days can be long.

I love my kids but staying at home with them full time definitely isn’t what I thought is was going to be. This blog and my Instagram page has been a big help as it’s given me something else put my energy into, so everyday is not so mundane. Don’t get me wrong I bloody love my kids but being alone with them most days is definitely not healthy for the mind.

I know this time will pass but I don’t think I’ll miss it. I’ll miss them being so cute and little but I won’t miss these long, lonely days.