How you can ‘Make a mum smile in May’ & fab giveaway

May is a great month. Smack bang in the middle of autumn (the Fall for my northern followers) we celebrate Mothers’ Day (Sunday, 10 May). This significant day allows us to celebrate and appreciate the mums and mum figures in our lives. But this year, I want to think beyond it being just one day.

I am dedicating the month of May to kindness. I am dedicating the month of May to celebrating mothers. I am dedicating the month of May to acts of compassion. I am dedicating the month of May to….

‘Make a mum smile in May’.

And I want you to join me!

The concept of this initiative is very simple. I am urging you all to be mindful in may; mindful of cheering up a mum who needs it, mindful of helping a stranger out, mindful of supporting one another and mindful of sharing the love.

Often the simplest acts of kindness have a lasting impact. You can literally make a mum’s day with one small gesture or a few comforting words.

Here are seven ways you can play along:

  1. Cook a mum a meal. Hands down this has to be one of the most stressful times of the day for any mum, especially a new mum, and it’s a stress you can take away from someone. Have a think about someone you know who might need a dinner taken off her hands. Perhaps it’s a new mum, or perhaps it’s someone who’s having a rough time of it lately.
  1. Show someone you care. Let the mum wrangling three toddlers go before you at the cash register. Offer to help someone carry their bags to the car. Tell the mum whose child is having the mother of all meltdowns in the department store that you understand and ask her if there’s anything you can do to help.
  1. Think of a mum who’s having a particularly rough time and needs a little pick me up. Offer to babysit her kids so she can go for a walk, send her a gift voucher, drop off a little hamper of goodies or flowers just to make her day that bit easier.
  1. Ask someone if they are OK. This one is my favourite, as so often we like to appear that we are capable and able to juggle multiple balls. In reality most of the time we are all paddling madly like ducks underneath the surface, trying to stay afloat. So, check in with one another. By asking the question, it will allow a mum the opportunity to say she’s not feeling okay. Expressing your vulnerability is confronting for many but it is always very liberating.
  1. Tell someone they’re doing a good job. How easy is this? And how good is it to hear? I remember a time a passer-by in the park stopped to tell me I was doing a great job. I nearly cried. Don’t just wait for mothers’ day to tell your own mum she’s important either.
  1. Simply smile to someone who looks like they’re having a tough day. You may not have to exchange any words, but sometimes a quick smile is enough to improve their day.
  1. There is also kindness in not doing things too. In other words refrain from engaging in idle gossip, reserve judgment, don’t criticise other mums’ choices or parenting styles and refrain from comparisons.

Small acts of kindness don’t have to cost anything, or even disrupt your day. Please join with me and make a conscious effort to make a mum’s day. I’ll be using these hashtags and encourage you to use them also #makeamumsmile #makeamumsmileinmay #makeamumsday #mothersday

To celebrate ‘Make a mum smile in May’, the lovely team at hardtofind are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a $100 gift voucher for their online store just in time for mothers’ day. Treat yourself, or someone you know, to something special. It’s so easy to enter.

Tell me about a time when you have been the recipient of an act of kindness, or if you have performed such an act. Or share an idea below about how to make a mum smile. Good luck!

Conditions of entry:

  1. Answer the competition question below in the comments section.
  2. Like the NASD Facebook page.
  3. One entry per person.
  4. Open to Australian residents only.

The giveaway will close at midnight on Sunday 3rd May 2015. 
This is a game of skill. The winner will be awarded a hardtofind gift voucher on the strength of their answer and will be announced on the NASD FB page on Monday 4th May.

I’ll never forget the morning I was the recipient of a random act of kindness. A stranger noticed I was having trouble and with a few kind words and a helping hand she responded with tenderness. You can read about her act of kindness here.

Good luck and please remember to “Make a mum smile in May”. Remember, little gestures = big impact. Thank you :-)

Postscript: Half-way through writing this post, I paused to answer the door to a dear friend of mine who popped in to bring me a bunch of flowers. She knows that I am going through a difficult patch, and she has brightened up my day immeasurably with this act of kindness. True story. I’ve just put the tulips in a vase and they are sitting next to me as I type!

If you liked this post, why not join me over on Facebook. I’d love your company!

How to throw a terrific Rainbow Party

As a mum to three girls I’ve put on my fair share of themed birthday parties. I’ve done a Fairy theme; Garden theme, Pink theme (no requests for superheroes in our house!) and I’ve managed to dodge a bullet, er, I mean request for a Frozen theme. I just can’t go there. Queen Elsa has invaded too many areas of my life already and I need some distance from her. Against better wisdom, perhaps, I always ask my children what theme they would like for their party. I had hoped my three year-old would request a Fairy Garden theme as I could simply combine the previous two parties, and, voila! But no, given her favourite colour right now is “all the colours of the rainbow” she asked for a Rainbow Party. And she got it.

What I love about hosting birthday parties at home, aside from the creative styling and personality you can create, is the way it’s a full family affair. Everyone gets involved in the planning and anticipation of the day. It’s not just about the birthday girl; it’s a complete family celebration. All my girls “helped” make the cake (read: lick spatula, spill flour all over kitchen floor, and cover themselves in cocoa). But it’s fun. So, want to know how you can create a fabulous Rainbow Party for your little one? Here’s how I did it. Theme & Styling Naturally a rainbow party must involve, well, lots of colour! So you can go nuts with decorating and the colours don’t really have to match. I chose to include a running theme of a rainbow bunting, which appeared on the invitations, name cards, wrapping paper and thank you notes. I hand-made the birthday invitations as there weren’t a lot of guests and I enjoyed it. But you could just as easily create something on your computer and print, if crafty stuff isn’t your thing.

We held the party out in the garden. The kids sat down at a collection of kids’ tables that had been joined together and covered in white wrapping paper. I scattered rainbow confetti dots over the table and placed jars of crayons on the table so the kids could go nuts drawing over the table. I added jars of rainbow-coloured candy to enhance the theme. Amazingly not one of the kids actually opened the jar. They saw it as decorative only!

Each table setting had a rainbow napkin, coloured plate (you know those IKEA ones that EVERY family owns) a mini tub of bubbles, a bamboo fork covered in washi tape colours, and a milk bottle jar with hand tied twine and hand made name tags (with the rainbow bunting theme) and coloured paper straws.

Outside I hung brightly coloured honeycomb tissue balls in the trees and the wind conveniently scattered rainbow confetti all over the grass. Naturally we had colourful balloons (confetti balloons were the highlight) and rainbow streamers hanging from the roof near the party food table. We made a birthday sign, which the girls coloured in oil pastels in all the colours of the rainbow! I also scattered rainbow coloured pinwheels around garden. And naturally, no rainbow party would be complete without a Rainbow Piñata! The food

You can have a lot of fun with a rainbow theme and there’s no shortage of inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram to, um, “borrow.” Here is what was on the party table spread: Rainbow “confetti” marshmallows. I made these a few days in advance and stored in airtight container. Simply melt some chocolate, dip marshmallow in, and dot with sprinkles of confetti confectionary. These disappeared in seconds!

Rainbow fruit sticks. I figure if you present it well, they’ll eat it, even if it is fruit. Simple thread grapes, blueberries, watermelon or strawberries onto a bamboo skewer and watch them disappear.

Star-shaped fairy bread. In my mind, it’s not a party unless you serve fairy bread. Easy. Yum. Confetti cup cakes and Rainbow cupcakes. Again I credit Pinterest with the inspiration behind these rainbow cupcakes. I made the cupcakes in advance and froze, and then topped with icing the night before the party. The icing is simply blue buttercream (to resemble to the sky) and then the clouds are mini marshmallows and they’re topped with a colourful sour strap to form a rainbow. HOW COOL ARE THEY?

Rainbow popcorn. Store bought and served in cup cake holders. Easy, colourful and devoured by party guests.

Rainbow confetti cake. The cake is always the most stressful part of any party and that is why I always start the process several days before. If you’re not a baker, save yourself the trouble and buy a cake from the supermarket and decorate. Simple. If you like a challenge, then you might want to experiment with something more creative. I made a chocolate mud cake, which I poured into two cake tins. Then I sandwiched together and iced around the cake with pink buttercream. I draped the cake in white fondant and topped with bright polka dots of fondant. It was a big process and not for the faint hearted.

To drink. Juice in milk bottles with rainbow coloured straws and individual name cards attached.

Party bags. The rainbow coloured party bags were filed with crayons, test tubes of candy, mini rainbow and coloured play dough tubs.

Entertainment The party went for two hours and outside of eating the guests enjoyed getting their nails painted (thank you, older niece), playing pass-the-parcel and smashing the rainbow piñata, which was filled with colourful Slinky’s and bouncy balls.

If you’re considering themes for your little one’s next birthday party, go the Rainbow theme. It’s impossible not to feel happy when surrounded by so much colour.

First published on Kidspot.

White chocolate blondies

If you’re after a sweet treat that the kids and adults will love, look no further. These white chocolate blondies tick all the boxes, but be warned – they won’t last long! You can add a handful of frozen raspberries or blueberries to the mix or any nuts if allergies aren’t an issue. I am a chocolate lover and usually prefer dark chocolate recipes, but in some cases, blondes really do have more fun!

 Ingredients

  • 150g white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 100g butter, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup white choc chips (or substitute with nuts)
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Icing sugar, to dust

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Brush a 16 x 26cm slab pan with melted butter. Line with baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang.

2. Melt chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water) Use a metal spoon to stir until the chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Keep a close eye on the chocolate as white chocolate is temperamental! Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk the eggs and vanilla essence in a jug to combine. Stir the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture until well combined.

4. Combine flour, baking powder, white choc chips (or nuts) and sugar in a large bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into prepared pan.

5. Bake for approx. 40 minutes. Set aside in the pan to cool. Dust with icing sugar and then devour!

6. Ready to eat!

Trust me, these blonde babies are DELICIOUS. Enjoy! :-)

The happiest moment of my life

The moment I became a mother was the happiest moment of my life. Nothing that had happened prior to that moment came close to hit of euphoria I felt when my baby was born. Because what I felt was so much more than happy. It was an epic rush of unparalleled joy. I was elated at what I had done, thrilled at becoming a mum, amazed that I had created new life, stunned at the precious little bundle that was presented to me. No other joy in my 31 years held the power of that moment. I won’t sugar coat the 32 hours of hell prior to her birth. My labour was long, hard, and full of intervention. Apparently my cervix was not very cooperative (read: a little pissed off at being induced and told to “hurry up”). It decided not to play ball. After over 20 hours of intense contractions that generated minimal dilation, I accepted an epidural, defeated and exhausted. As my husband cheerfully ate a hot breakfast of sausages, eggs, bacon and toast, I wanted to slap him. But all the varicose veins, sleepless nights, hip pain, nausea, headaches, labour pains, stirrups and horrendous vacuum extraction were forgiven the moment my daughter was delivered onto my chest. With an ear-piercing wail in sync with the cracks of thunder outside, it was over. The wait was over. The nine months of anticipation were over. I had met her. I had met my daughter. I had become a mum. I was the happiest person in the world. (more…)

7 signs you are an over-thinker, like me.

If the headline of this piece grabbed your attention, there’s a good chance you identify as an over-thinker. Well, welcome to the club! I am a chronic over-thinker. I over-think, well, pretty much everything. In fact, I over-thought his story for so long, I almost didn’t write it. Procrastination is a by-product of an over-thinking mind. Over-thinkers tend to over-exert the brain and consequently we over-analyse EVERYTHING. Interestingly, if you’re an over-thinker, you probably won’t have to think too long to relate to this.

Here are six signs that you’re an over thinker:

  1. You suffer from Decision Anxiety

No decision is quick for the over-thinker. Over-thinkers micro-analyse every possible aspect of a decision, rehearsing potential scenarios and calculating outcomes in their head. The over-thinker is often burdened – actually make that paralysed – by indecision. Being an experienced chronic over-thinker myself, eating out presents major challenges. The longer the menu, the more difficult my choice. I will agonise over the options, mentally weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of each dish. And when finally I come to a decision and order the mushroom risotto, I take one look at it and immediately wish I ordered the fish. Disappointment and “buyer’s remorse” inevitably follows whatever decision I make. (more…)

My “baby” turns 3. And she moves from cot to bed.

Three years ago, we welcomed Miss H into our family and I became a mum of three under three! She has blessed our lives with fun, cheek, laughter and love. Bucket loads of love. She’s an affectionate little thing, and though she’s outgrown many things, she hasn’t outgrown cuddles (thankfully!).

I always get nostalgic around the girls’ birthdays, reminiscing about their birth and reflecting on the early days. I loved my labour with Miss H. It was a (mostly) positive, enjoyable experience free of the trauma and intervention of my previous two labours. You can read her birth story here. While the birth was lovely, the post-natal complications were traumatic. And if you’re up for that story, you can find that here. (more…)

Simply Scrumptious Coconut Cake

Sunburst Coconut Cake: a beautiful moist cake infused with coconut.

If you’re after a quick, simple, delicious cake that the kids are guaranteed to love, look no further. I have the perfect recipe for you, courtesy of Sunburst. This scrumptious coconut cake ticks all the boxes: – It’s moist, yummy and doesn’t need an icing so in my books that makes it healthy :-) – The recipe has only a few ingredients, making it affordable and simple to follow. – Degree of difficulty is ‘EASY’. That’s a win! – The kids can easily help in the kitchen. – The sunburst spread is palm oil free so that’s good news for the orang-utans. – 5 cents of every purchase goes to Orangutan Foundation International Australia. (more…)