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Monday, 30 December 2013

Aussie Curves - Christmas

Finally! I am able to take part in my first AC challenge postbaby!

Funnily enough, I have actually 'played along' with most of the themes, choosing outfits at some point in the week in accordance with the theme, but I just never got around to taking any photos, so they went unposted.

This week's theme should have been easy enough too, afterall, I was getting dressed up anyway, and surely there would be photos? Well... kind of. I yet again forgot to take any proper outfit photos! I was determined to take part though, and after coming home from a day of shopping I realised I was pretty much wearing the same outfit, just a different necklace, so I had Hubby snap some photos!

Peplum - City Chic
Skirt - City Chic
Sandals - Target
Necklace - Peeptoe

For Christmas Day I wanted something pretty, but comfortable. This outfit was just perfect. I had been lusting after the peplum trend, watching on in envy as so many different styles came out. However, as I was pregnant for most of this year, I could only watch on in envy. 

This is one of my firts purchases post baby! A beautiful floral peplum that can be worn casually or dressed up. What i love the most is that it goes in where i'm smallest, but also perfectly covers my soft post baby belly.

Another lusted after trend was pleather! I really didn't think this would look good, but this pencil skirt is a perfect fit. The best part about this skirt was that any mess spilled on it just wiped right off. A very neccesary feature when you have a newborn and a toddler.

My sandals are my current favourites. They are from Target and are just so comfortable! They actually slip on, with the back part being made from a stretchy velvety fabric. These shoes just seem to glam up the simplest outfit, and I am kicking myself I didn't buy the same pair in the cream and black colour that was also available. I can;t seem to find them instore at the moment. 

The necklace I actually purchased from Danielle (Danimezza) at the plus size market day that we participated in a few months back. It is by Peeptoe. I think it goes perfectly with the sandals, and also adds a bit of bling to a simple outfit. I will confess that I actually wore a different necklace on the day, but I prefer the look of this one! 

I hope you all had a Very Merry Christmas!

Check out what my fellow curvettes wore this silly season!

Christmas 2013

My all time favourite time of year is Christmas. I have always LOVED the magic that surrounds the 'silly season'. I really love everything about it. I adore the decorations, and always put my tree up on the 1st of December, or the weekend before it.

 I love researching every gift and selecting the perfect one for each person. 

Now I have Children, Christmas has become extra special. I love, love, love the mythology that surrounds Santa. I have had personalised Santa sacks made for them. On Christmas eve they get put on their bedroom door handle just before they go to bed. A special key is hung on the front door to ensure Santa can find his way inside.

We carefully select the snacks for Santa  and the reindeer and leave them out so they don't leave hungry.
The excitement of Christmas morning was tangible this year, with Abigail (who is nearly 3) really understanding what was happening.

Marcus... not so much! But nevermind, his Sister 'helped' him open his pressies.

Christmas morning breakfast is a special moment for us to eat together before we are joined by our extended family. We keep it pretty light, as we know there will be plenty of food to be had during the day. 
This year we enjoyed 'Overnight French Toast' (Recipe  to come!) and fresh fruit.

I adore Christmas food, baking special treats that I only make a Christmas, and I take an active part in planning the Christmas day spread, no matter who is hosting it. This year we hosted Christmas at our place, and had my In Laws over.  We had agreed that there would be no pre-lunch nibbles, so we had room for our  beautiful lunch. Lunch was a mostly healthy affair, with different salads and cold meat. Dessert was much more decadent, with an array of slices, fruit, pudding & cheesecake.

It was a beautiful, relaxing Christmas Day surrounded by loving family. Made extra special because it was this Little Man's first!

We backed it up the next day, with a celebration with my side of the family. This one was hosted at my parents place, and we had the most amazing seafood spread. So amazing that I didn't take any photos!!

Christmas this year was one of the best I have had, surrounded by family and friends, and filled with love and laughter. What more could you ask for?

Saturday, 28 December 2013

How we prepared Number 1 for the arrival of Number 2

One of my biggest concerns when we fell pregnant was how we were going to prepare our Daughter for the arrival of a sibling. We figured it would help that she would be 2.5 by the time her sibling arrived., and so hopefully be able to understand what was going to happen. Sort of.  However, we still wanted to make sure that she was prepared.

Started by talking to her and showing pictures of babies

We started by telling her that we would be having a baby Brother or Sister for her. We showed her pictures of babies. We also explained that the baby would be in Mummy's belly, and showed her pictures of that.

Took her to see an ultrasound 

We took her to our 12 week Nuchal scan. To be honest she lost interest very quickly, but she was very smitten with the ultrasound photos. So much so, that that's how we had her announce the pregnancy to family! She was given the photos and proudly showed them off, informing everyone that she was going to be a Big Sister.

Make a big deal about her becoming a 'Big Sister'

Everyone made a very big deal about her becoming a 'Big Sister'. We talked to her about how she would have a baby sibling, and we would point out examples of older siblings from other families she knew, such as her cousins.

Bought her a book

I went on the hunt for a book that might explain what having a baby sibling around was gong to be like. I was very fussy about what I wanted. I didn't want anything too wordy, and I wanted clear pictures. I was so happy when I stumbled across the perfect book.

Baby and Me by Emma Dodd

This book was perfect because it features moving parts on each page. The Sister goes through all the things she does to help her baby doll, such as bath it, feed it, change it's nappy and put it to sleep. To make it suit our needs better wherever they used the word 'dolly' I swapped it for baby. Abbie loved the book, and we were able to talk to her about all the special things we would be doing with the baby.

Transitioned her to her 'Big Girl' room early

We wanted to keep the nursery as is, so that meant moving Abbie to her own room. I didn't want her to associate being moved out of her bedroom with the baby's arrival, and w wanted her to be settled in advance. However, we did talk to her about how she was getting this new room because she was a 'Big Girl' and no a baby anymore.

She was very excited to see the room slowly come together, and really loved it when we did the big reveal. She loved it so much that she actually transitioned from the cot to the bed seamlessly. Setting up her room has turned out to be a great idea as she loves playing in it, and will happily go in her room for a play (or not so happily be sent in there for time out!). She saw it as something special that happened because a baby was coming, as opposed to something negative.

Spent time with other babies

Meeting her friend Liam

It just so happened that there was a bit of a baby boom amongst our friends just before we fell pregnant. Thus meant we were able to introduce Abbie to other babies, and talk to her about how she had to be gentle, and what she could/ could not do with a baby

Had her choose her sibling a gift

We took Abbie to a playschool concert. At the end we were choosing her a toy, when I thought to ask her to choose one for her baby. She decided she wanted to buy the baby a small version of Big Ted. She was very excited to choose it, and put it in the cot when we came home.

Before the baby was born I bought a same sized version if Litte Ted. So now Marcus has Big Ted from his Big Sister, and Abbie has Little Ted from her Little Brother!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Freezer Meals - Maltese Pasta Bake

This is another pasta based freezer meal. Really, I think pasta based meals are some of the best to freeze, as they usually cook so well, if not better!

This is a classic family staple in my Husbands family, and has become one I adore too. It is like a cross between and Italian Lasagne and a Greek Pasticcio but without the bechamel! Yummo! It is super easy to make. It is even easier if you have made a big pot of Bolognese ahead of time. I often make a huge pot of bolognese and then divide it up and freeze it. That can be used to make Spaghetti, Lasagne or Pasta Bake! For this recipe I am going to assume that you have already made your favourite bolognese ahead of time.

Maltese Pasta Bake

Serves 6


2 cups cooked bolognese sauce ( Check out my recipe here)
1 packet Penne Pasta - Cooked
5 Eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (set aside approx 1/4 of it to sprinkle on top)
1 cup grated cheese

In a big bowl stir the bolognaise, cooked pasta, parmesan and eggs together. Pour into baking dish.
Top with the remaining cheese.

Bake in moderate oven for approx 45 Minutes.


The resulting pasta bake should be able to be sliced into squares/rectangles and served.
If freezing, freeze unbaked, then bake in moderate oven with foil 'lid' until nearly cooked, then remove so the top can brown.
This dish is even better if you bake it earlier in the day, let it cool, then put it back in the oven to rewarm about 15 minutes before. This is how my MIL often does it, and it slices up perfectly.
The recipe is so easy, double it nd have one for dinner and freeze another dish!!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Marcus' Birth Story

I had a fantastic pregnancy with very few issues. We did have a fright after his first ultrasound, as my OB/GYN had trouble finding a heartbeat, and when found it was very low. We were advised to come back in two weeks, and either the heartbeat would be stronger.. or it would not be there. You can imagine the agonising wait, as I stressed and shed many tears. Thankfully, our next appointment revealed a very strong heartbeat. He was already living up to his namesake, and reminding us how 'fortunate' we were.

My only other issue was I had to have clexane injections through the pregnancy, due to developing a DVT the year prior. I remained active through my pregnancy, and worked hard to keep off as much weight as possible. However, from 30 weeks my belly grew at an alarming rate, and my OB/GYN started mentioning that I was going to end up with a large baby.

A 38 Weeks

As I was using Clexane injections my OB suggested that I may want to consider an induction date. It was revealed that if I went into spontaneous labour within 12 hours of my last injection I would be unable to have an epidural should I want it. Given that my Dr was expecting at least an 8 pound baby, he suggested I may want the option. I readily agreed, although I had not used an epidural with my Daughter, however I was unsure how different this labour would be.

As my induction date neared I felt very nervous. The baby was still high and not showing signs of moving down. I was questioning whether I should be forcing bubs out if he was not ready, and was worried about having an induction as my last labour was spontaneous. I reread my birth skills book 'Birth Skills' by Ju Ju Sundin and chose a few coping tools that I would use should I be induced. 

Finally the night before my induction came around. I was to go in the night before and have tape inserted to soften the cervix.  Once we were settled into the delivery room a midwife completed an internal. She informed me I was actually already 3cm dilated, and said she would call my OB to see what he wanted to do. 5 mins later we were told to go home and come back in the morning! 

The delivery room

As we already had arranged for our Daughter to have a sleepover at my Parents place, Hubby and I decided to enjoy the evening and go out. We stopped off at our local town centre and enjoyed dinner and gelato, before heading home to relax. I was actually really lovely to spend that quality time together.

The next day we arrived at the hospital again at 7 am and were again set up in the delivery room. I was checked again, and had the syncatocin drip inserted. My OB arrived to break my waters at about 8:20 am, and within 20 minutes the first labour pain started.

At first they were mild, however the gained in intensity rather quickly and I started using my birth skills. I found when I had my daughter that if I could distract myself from the pain and focused another sensation then I could cope with pain much better. As a contraction built I tapped my fingers on the side of my monitoring machine, concentrating on the sound and the pattern of my tapping.  Contractions were consistently 2 minutes apart and lasting for 30 seconds for the next hour, while building in intensity. I started using more tools, such as a rattle that I would softly shake with one hand and shake harder as a contraction built, concentrating on the noise. I found standing was most comfortable, especially because my waters leaked continuously throughout. I later moved onto my knees , resting my head and arms on the bed and closing my eyes to rest between contractions. This stage of my labour had been going for about an hour and a half hours, before  I realised I had not used any gas yet! 

As I was nearing transition stage the labour pains became very strong. I used the gas, shook the rattle near my ear and had Mike rub my lower back. I finally got to a point where I told Mike I really could not take much more pain, and I needed to know how far I had progressed. He called the midwife and she checked me. I had progressed to nearly 8 cms, however bubs was still not engaged and was too high. She told me we were going to have to start working really hard together to get him down and we would need to start the pushing stage.

This stage I struggled with the most.  As a contraction would build she would push my cervix down in an attempt to get it below Bub’s head. I had to help by pushing . The pushing sensation was incredible but painful, and I struggled with getting the push right at times because the pain got the better of me. She told me I was going to have to keep working very hard, and I heard her call for another midwife and inform them she felt there would be issues with birthing the shoulders.This concerned me a bit, but I tried not to think about it.

 At points the pain overwhelmed me and I was telling Mike that I was scared and that I needed to know it was going to be over soon. He pointed out that it had been very fast, that it was nearly 11:30 and that I was doing so well to be at this stage already.

Once he was down far enough the Midwife called for my OB to come, so I knew it was near the end. This part is very much a blur for me, even though I had not used anything other than gas, and had stopped that a while ago, I was in a bit of a daze. Several midwives were called in to assist, and there was more discussion about the head and shoulders. My midwife told me I had to really really push, and really concentrate on it. She mentioned how it would be best for them not to have to use forceps so I had to work hard.

The midwives were helping me hold my legs my by this point, and with each contraction pushed my knees up almost to my shoulders while I had to push down really hard. Again, I started to feel a little overwhelmed and needed encouragement to concentrate on getting the pushing right. I tried to visualise how my pushing would be moving my baby down and out, and I found this helped.

 I kept going until they told me the head was coming out, but then I was told I had to stop pushing.  I know things were a bit frantic around me as they held my legs, and I asked them to guide me in what to do. My OB was reassuring telling me I was going great just to not push, that I was doing incredible. All I am really aware of at this point is the pressure and the intense burning sensation as Bub's head was partly out but they had me stop.

Mike later told me my OB had to use his hands to reach in around the head and hook into the shoulders to twist and tug him out. I just felt the burning sensation and pressure build and then finally an almost popping relief as my baby was pulled out.

Baby was put instantly on my chest and rubbed, and I looked to see that I had a baby boy! Marcus was breathing but was a bit dazed and in shock himself. They quickly weighed and checked him then gave him back for me to cuddle.

Meanwhile my OB was also having to tug out the placenta and he commented he hadn't had one that difficult to remove in a while. He then told me I was ‘incredible’ and that I had only one minor graze and that I had been very brave. Truthfully I still was not fully aware of what had happened other than there was a bit of trouble with the shoulders.

Physically I felt sore, my hips in particular really hurt, but after an hour I was able to get up and was escorted to the shower. I felt sore all over, but was on such a high. I was proud that I had achieved another epidural free birth, without any tearing.

Marcus did get a fractured collarbone due to getting stuck and being pulled out. However he seems fine and other than being understandably sore I am also fine. Best of all, I have a BEAUTIFUL baby boy to squeeze and enjoy!

Marcus Fortunato Xerri  was 4.3 kg when born, his head 38cm , and was born at 12:08 after about 3.5 hr labour

Monday, 9 December 2013

Introducing Marcus Fortunato

I have been somewhat MIA on the blog lately. I haven't participated in an Aussie Curves challenge for a while, or done any other blogging. I was preoccupied you see... I gave birth and have been enjoying every moment of my new baby.

I found it difficult to participate in any of the AC challenges at the end of my pregnancy. Mainly because my belly became HUGE and I lived in a few maternity dresses, a pair of maternity shorts and large tunic tops. Which did not fit well with any of the challenges!

The reason why I was unable to fit into most of my wardrobe was definitely revealed on the 15th November when my Son entered the world.

I was induced at 8:30am and labour started shortly after. I had a speedy labour, with Marcus arriving at 12:08pm. He weighed in at a whopping 4.3kg (9.8 pounds), which was nearly double his Sister's weight when born!

I have been in a state of bliss since. He is a beautiful, content baby. He loves to be cuddled, and sleeps really well. Perhaps the greatest blessing has been seeing how loved he is by Abigail. She adores him, completely. She loves nothing more than cuddling him, and kissing his forehead, with her curls always tickling his face.

I have so much I want to share such as

- My struggles with breastfeeding and the decision to formula feed
- A full birth story
- How we prepared Abigail for our new arrival
- What craft activities we have been doing (aka entertain the toddler)
- What Christmas treats we will be making (and a few recipes)

So I am going to try to make time to write up a few more posts. In the meantime, i'm just going to keep soakng up this beautiful boy, and keep enjoying every minute of holding my precious new born, as time flies by so quickly!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A letter to Abigail - Before she becomes a Big Sister

My beautiful first born. You are the child that made me a Mother. Through you I have already learnt so much. Not just about parenting, but also about myself. I find myself wanting to change some things about myself just so I can be the best role model possible for you.

The moment you were born was really magical. I was blessed with a great birth, where I came out of it feeling empowered and proud to be a woman. it changed me. You changed me. We called all our loved ones and urged them to come into the hospital right away. Your Daddy and I were just so proud. So your family arrived. You were born at 8:02 pm and you were surrounded by family by about 8:30pm.

As a newborn you were very easygoing. You slept well. You were bottlefed, but fell into a routine very quickly. I joke that ou were just lulling Dad and I into a false sense of security. Sure enough, as you became more alert we discovered that we had a very feisty little girl.

You do nothing by halves. You run rather than walk. You demand to be played with. You have a strong will and you are not easily swayed from your path.

Parenting you can be challenging. You delight us, but also can be very frustrating. Yet, I find myself wanting to parent you in a way so that I teach you manners and respect, while still preserving some of that strength and determination. I firmly believe that this world needs strong, forceful women that know what they want. I want you to always be that. I also want you to listen, to behave, to follow instructions.

You have been very excited about becoming a 'Big Sister'. You like to kiss and cuddle my belly, and refuse to go to bed without giving 'Baby Brother/Sister' a kiss. It is not all smooth sailing though. I know you are nervous, anxious about what changes this will bring. I know this through your behaviour. You have been throwing huge tantrums over ridiculous things. You battle with your Dad over anything that will make him give you a reaction. For the first time ever you cry when i drop you off to preschool, insisting you want to stay with me. Your strong will and determination is testing us like it never has before.'

I am cherishing every moment in these last few weeks. Every cuddle we have I enjoy. I breathe you in and tell you how much I love you. We are setting up new routines so that they are familiar, but will make life easier for all of once once the baby arrives. We have been on some special family outings, just so we can soak up these last moments where it will be just the three of us.

By the end of next week you will be a Sister. I know you will be loving and caring. I know you will be as proud to share them with your much loved family as we were to share you.

 Just know you are loved deeply. Nothing will ever change that. You will always be my 'baby'. My precious girl that made me a Mother. You gave me the greatest gift on earth.

I love you Abigail

XX Mum

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Bushfires 2013

I think many of us have feared this would be a bad bush fire season. We have had hot summers, and not very wet winters. The ground is dry, and bush areas are littered with very dry leaves, and no moisture. Add into that 30+ days during what should be spring, and fierce winds and you have a recipe for disaster.
A devastating disaster.

I grew up in the inner suburbs of Sydney, so my previous experience of bushfires has mostly been from a distance. I do have vivid memories of fires in the 90's that occured over Christmas one year. My Grandfather was a volunteer in the Rural Fire Service in the South Coast of NSW. We always stayed there during Christmas holidays, and one year the area was impacted by bushfires. I can still picture him coming home after fighting a fire, exhausted and blackened from the ash and soot.

Now I live near the Hawkesbury region of Sydney. It is the perfect mix of semi rural and suburban. Yet, it also means I am closer than I have ever been to one of the harshest realities of living in this country.


The remains of a home in Winmalee, near the Blue Mountains.

I can smell the smoke in the air, and can see the dark plumes in the distance. My heart aches as I know that within those plumes are people's homes burning. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed, and thousands of hectares of land damaged. On Thursday, when the fires were at their worst, there were 3000 fire fighters on duty across the state. Many of them are volunteers, battling dangerous conditions to save the homes, and lives, of many.

An aerial view showing the devastation of the Bushfires in Newcastle, but also the homes that were saved.

I wish we could say that it is all over, but the harsh reality is that we are only just starting 'bushfire season'. Weather forecasts are predicting many more hot, windy days ahead. On these days one lit cigarette, bit of glass in bushland, or a backburn one wrong can spark a raging fire.

Thick smoke could be seen from the city centre
My heart aches for the people whose homes have been lost or damaged. There has been one life lost so far. It is one too many. I have waited anxiously to hear that collegues and family members of friends are safe. I am going through my belongings and setting aside anything I can donate, as I know that many people have lost everything they own.

Most of all, I am in awe of the courage of our brilliant fire fighters. They are ordinary people, who are  putting their own lives at risk battling an unpredictable force of nature. They are heroes.

Firefighters protecting a property in Lithgow
All we can do now is wait and see.

Note: All photos have been taken from the NSW Emergency Coverage FB Page

Friday, 18 October 2013

Aussie Curves - Pink

Another week of Aussie Curves has rolled around. I did take photos for last week, but did not get a chance to write a post. Nevermind, I might share the photos later in the week. I think the more I can share how I dress while pregnant the better. Not so much because I am vain, but simply because there are so few photos of plus size Mumma's on the net I figure every picture helps :)

At nearly 36 weeks the emphasis is definitely on comfort when I dress. The weather had been going from really hot 30 degree days, to more mild 24 degree days. Added to the mix is the fires that are happening not too far from my home. That is a post for another day.

Shorts - Target
Top - Big W
Kimono Jacket - Tree of Life
Sandals - Kmart
Bangles - Lovisa
Necklace - Boutique stall (Unknown name)

I have never worn these shorts out in public. They are maternity shorts, and I have felt they were too short for me to wear. However I have seen so many fellow curvettes in short shorts recently, and they all look rather fab! I am very self conscious of my knees, which is why I've never worn these out. Except I realised when I look at other peoples I rarely notice their knees. So I decided to pop on my super comfortable shorts and head out to a fair with my daughter. In a case ultimate 'pushing my comfort levels' I also went out sans make up!

The kimono jacket is just beautiful. I love the pastel florals, and the light breezy weight. It was perfect for this week's pink theme. I love how it blends the two different patterns, and has such a soft pink tone. I kept accessories simple with a pretty bunting necklace and pastel toned bangles.

My sandals are super old, and date back to when I was pregnant with my daughter. I swelled up something fierce at the end, and these sandals (I also have them in gold & silver) were all I could wear, with the buckles widened as far as they could go. Thankfully I am much less puffy this time, but my feet are starting to swell in the heat.

I felt great in the outfit, it was comfortable, light and perfect for the school fair. It was lovely to spend some time with my daughter before the arrival of her sibling. We made purchases from the cake store, I picked up some beautiful material from a stall, and we shared a snow cone.

 Just what this Mumma and Sister  to be needed :)

What do you wear on hot days? Are you shorts-phobic like me?

Check what the other 'Pink Ladies' are wearing this week!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Formula Feeding Tips

I am currently in my 34th week of pregnancy. I am starting to get tired quickly, ache all over and am counting down the next 3 weeks til I am on leave.

I am also starting to prepare myself mentally by reading as much as I can. Some things I am reading just to remind me how to do it all again with a newborn, others are new pieces of information. One 'new' area I am moving into is breastfeeding. My milk never properly came through with my daughter, Abigail. I think this was for a combination of reasons (that would be a whole different post). However, there is no reason I shouldn't be able to breastfeed this time, so I am reading up on it.

Doing this it has made me reflect on the fact that finding information on formula feeding was so difficult. When I was trying to find tips the first time around it was so hard to find any information. Most sites simply told you that 'breast was best' but if you 'HAD' to, then formula feed. There was advice about making sure you give the right amount of formula, but not many tips on how to store it, pack it etc. Not to mention the many guilt inducing sites, that implied you were doing the wrong thing by formula feeding. Personally i'm pretty sure not starving my child to death was in her best interests, but anyway...

So, with that in mind, I want to share a few tips I learnt in my journey feeding my daughter. I will also share some tips other people have found useful, so you can find what works best for you!

Preparing for the day

We found that our daughter fed about 8- 6 times a day depending on her age and the amount of formula she was drinking. At night time we would steralise all bottles, then prep them for the upcoming 24 hours. This is how we did that
  • We had 2 formula containers with 4 compartments each. We measured the correct amount of formula into each compartment. This way we had it ready to go, and did not have to try to measure out the formula in the middle of the night while tired. Trust me, 2am is not the best time to pause and ask yourself if you had put 2 or 3 scoops into the bottle!
  • We had each sterilised bottle filled with boiled water to the correct level for the amount of formula. These would sit at room temperature on the kitchen bench next to the pre measured formula.

When it was time for a feed we would add the formula to the water, shake well, then heat it in the microwave. Always microwave without the teat on, just to ensure the teat does not overheat, or cause any possible pressure build up of the bottle.

By the next night after the last bottle was used all bottles were sterilized and the system was set up again.

Other suggestions:

  • Some people prefer to pre mix the formula with the water and keep the bottles prepared in the fridge. We preferred not to use up our fridge space, but it you may like this better!
  • Some people suggest making up a days worth of formula in a large jug, and then pour it into a bottle. Some babies drink more or less at different times of the day, so this can be a good method for that. However, you do need to be careful worth measurements with this method. You are more likely to over or under calculate your water to formula ratio
  • With any pre-made formula you must use the formula within 24 hours

Sterilizing and cleaning bottles

It is very important to properly clean you bottles and teats. We found it best to rinse out a bottle once used, then put it in our microwave sterilizer. That way most formula residue was already washed out, and then the bottles are sterilized that night.

Once a week we would also soak the bottles and give a good scrub with a bottle leaning brush before sterilizing.

Other suggestions:

  • Some people prefer to use a sterilizing tablet or solution such as Milton. If you use this method you wash out he bottles, then soak them in the water solution. My sister used to do this and she kept all the bottles in the solution in a sealed container until they needed using
  • Some people prefer to use an electric sterilizer instead of a microwave one. Or you can use a large stock pot and boil your bottles. You do need to check that your bottles actually fit in whichever sterilizer you use!

Feeding while out

The trickiest part in formula feeding is having the water warmed for a feed. I tried a few methods with varying success. I must admit, I was pretty pleased when my daughter decided she liked formula at room temperature!

So, here are all the methods I tried

1) Take a bottle with prefilled water. Fill a thermos with boiling water, and have a container big enough to fit the bottle in, plus water. When the formula needed warming I would mix up my pre-measured dry powder with the water int he bottle, then I would put the bottle in the larger container. Fill around the bottle with boiled water from the thermos, let it sit until warmed.


  • Could heat the bottle no matter where we were


  • Time consuming (so you have to anticipate when bubs needs a feed, or listen to their hunger screams until warmed!)
  • Takes up a lot of space having to carry a thermos and bowl (Although some bottles might fit in your thermos lid)
  • Need a really good thermos that stays hot
 2) Take a thermos filled with hot water. Have a bottle with cooled water, just below the amount of water needed. Add the hot water to the cooled water until desired temperature, then pour out excess water and add formula.


  • Less time consuming than the above method
  • Could heat bottle no matter where we were


  • If you over added hot water you could have a dilemma
  • Can be a bit of back and forth until you get the right temp
  • You had to have somewhere to pour the water out.

3) If you are heading out for just one feed you could fill the bottle with boiled water, and by the time bubs is ready for a feed the water should have cooled down


  • Simple, quick and could heat bottle no matter where we were


  • You are relying on the water being cool enough by the time bubs wants is

4) Have water measured in bottles. Take container with pre-measured formula. Use a microwave to heat (often in the parent room, or can get a cafe to heat it for you) or ask for boiled water from a cafe/restaurant to heat the bottle


  • Less to carry
  • Can be heated quickly
  • Most shopping centres have a parents room with a microwave or at least a bottle warmer (I never liked the bottle warmers, the water always seemed dirty, they were often broken or I couldn't work out how to use them!! )


  • You are relying on there being a microwave/ boiled water accessible. Some cafes will not heat your bottle, or give you boiled water, for liability reasons
  • If you get someone else to heat the bottle you run the risk of them over or under heating the bottle

They are all the methods I know of. In the end I used option 4 the most. However, if  I thought I would be going somewhere that there was no access to a microwave or cafe I would pack a thermos in the car. Even better, see if your bubs will take the milk at room temperature, and then all the above is solved. I discovered Abbie would take it at room temp when she was about 6 months. We were on the opposite end of the centre to the parents room, and she was screaming hysterically for her feed. Desperate times, desperate measures!

So there are some of my best tips for formula feeding. If you have found your way here looking for some tips and advice I hope you find the above helpful. If you have any tips yourself please share in the comments below. Most of all, enjoy this precious time of your child's life!

Note: I will be moderating the comments. There are some crazies out there, and for some reason how you feed your baby can be a sensitive issue. I will not tolerate any shaming or formula feeding bashing. No mother that chooses, or has to, formula feed does so without knowing that breast is best. Enough said.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Festival - Aussie Curves

I have not been to a music festival in a long time. I confess, now days my idea of a great festival is a foodie one!

When I was younger I loved a good music festival, and went to the Big Day Out for a few years. I still remember my first BDO. I wore cut off army cargo pants, that I had purchased from an Army disposal store, A tie dyed shirt, and a pair of canvas shoes that I had painted pink and aqua and coated in glitter.

I remember heading home after the concert on a high. I was completely saturated, not because it had rained, but because I had encountered my first mosh pit and I was covered in other people's sweat. I was buzzing with excitement over the amazing day I had experienced. I had seen, heard and smelt things I had never encountered before (including a rather strong whiff in the air that I discovered later was pot. Ha Ha!!)

My first ever mosh pit experience was during Courtney Love's set with her band Hole. At one point she took off her top which led to me being practically crushed as all the blokes around me rushed forward for a better look. As I am short I was wedged up at shoulder height amongst all the sweaty, leering crowd. This was fine, until she put her top back on and the crowd moved back, causing me to become unwedged and fall to the littered floor and nearly trampled on! I should have been scared but I was actually rather thrilled with my first mosh pit experience, and looked forward to many more!

From what I gather I think for the most part the music festival experience has stayed the same as what I first encountered. Although, I understand the mosh pit is somewhat safer today after the tragic death of a young girl that occured at my final BDO.

Another thing that has changed since my first festival is the availablity of plus size clothing for the young girl. You see, my choice of men's cargo pants was not simply a fashion choice. They were the only shorts that actually fit me at the time. I was not a size 14 (I was most likely a 16) and at the time very few clothing for my age was made beyond a 14.

So, for this week's challenge I have put together an inspiration board of festival friendly clothing for the plus sized festival goer. The emphasis is on comfort with a little whimsy!

Music Festival Style

Print tank top / High-waisted denim shorts / Lana Lace-Up Canvas Shoes - Black - Target Australia / Daisy Chain Headband / Accessories - Target Australia

For me this outfit is perfect.Shorts that keep you cool but also avoid chub rub. A relaxed singlet with a funky print. Flat funky sneakers that offer comfort as well as style. A flower crown for a touch of whimsy. A bright cross-body bag where you can keep some money, ID, sunscreen and a small water bottle.

Check out what the other fabulous curvy festival goers are wearing this week!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

5 tips for making your grocery budget stretch further.

I never gave much thought to how much my Husband and I spent on groceries or take away until I was getting ready to go on maternity leave with my first child. In order to prepare I decided it was time to look at where we spent our money, and make a plan for the following year while I was on maternity leave.

This was a painstaking process as we had never kept track of our expenses. We pulled out every bill from the past year, backtracked through our bank statements to find any reference to grocery shopping, and generally looked at our expenditure and catergorised it. What was most shocking was the sheer amount of money we simply could not account for. It had gone on miscellaneous items, eating out, and just general frivolity.

While I was on leave I really looked for ways to make our grocery shop stretch further, and since then I would say we do pretty well. I won't pretend that we have a super low grocery bill, there are certainly areas we could cut costs further, if needed. However, we are also aware of those choices we make that make the bill a little higher. Choosing certain brands over others, not always using the cheapest cuts of meat etc. I do know that we do one major shop every 2 months spending about $300 and then small top ups equaling maybe another $50 -100 a month. These are often for non bulk items suc as milk, fruit and veg. The big shop also includes items such as nappies, wipes, cleaning products, and the occasional 'I bought because we saw it' splurge.

So here are my top tips:

1) Have a 'Eat what you have' week (or two)

A week or so before a bi- monthly shop I go through the fridge, freezer and pantry. I check what meat and vegetables I have that need using and write them down. I then check what items I have in the pantry. Armed with this knowledge I wrote down as many meals as possible using up as much of the ingredients as I can.

This is a really great way of ensuring you are not wasting anything. It is surprising how many more meals you can actually get when you think you have nothing left. I aim to take any leftovers in the freezer for lunch that week, and use up and last bits of sauces that may be in the fridge.

2) Meal plan

Once you are ready to do a big shop, do a big brainstorm of what meals you would like to have. I make up a table with 3 columns. In one column I put the names of meals. In the second I put any ingredients; or in some cases if trying something new, I put the recipe. Once I have down a big brainstorm I then put the tiems I need to buy in the far column. I check where I use an ingredient more than once, I make sure I have the quantities of meat I need, and I remove any items I may have already.

When brainstorming I think about the following
- What are our favourite meals to eat?
- Is there anything new I want to try?
- What are some really quick, cheap meals. These are for the days you might be tempted to just get take away
- Have a mix of meals that need fresh ingredients (Fruit, Vegetables, Herbs) and some that can use freezer and pantry staples (Frozen Vegetables, oven wedges, canned corn etc)

3) Make what you can from a few staple items

I personally don't use many packet mixes. This is partly due to cost, and partly due to concern about what is in some things (preservative, salt, anti caking ingredients etc).

So many meal bases are actually really easy to make yourself, and last a long time. There are so many things I can make so long as I have the following items
- Soy Sauce
- Minced Garlic and Ginger
- Honey
- Olive Oil
- Spices ( I use paprika, cinnamon, tumeric, cumin, fennel, dried chilli and basil the most)
- Cornflour
- Tomato Paste
- Tinned Tomato/Passata
- Coconut Milk
- Cornflour

From the above items I know I have everything i need to make Asian marinades, Mexican spices, Italian sauces, gravy and curries. That means there are a lot of meals that can be made where I just add meat, vegetables and a either pasta, rice or wraps.

4) Reduce your meat intake

Being Australian, many of us have been brought up on the 'Meat and 3 Veg' meals. This is fine, except the serving size of meat is often too large.

My Husband and I noticed that when we ate meals such as stirfrys and curries we could easily use about 250g - 300g meat between us. This still often left enough foe either a second serve, or leftovers for lunch. We bulk up a lot of our meals with vegetables, and have tend to have a carbohydrate too. We will tend to only have a meal the requires a whole piece of meat once a week.

Another good idea is to have meat free meals. This might mean a vegetarian or fish/seafood meal. Frozen prawns and fish are not very expensive, and make quick, cheap meals. Some of our favourite meat free meals are:
- Spinach and Ricotta Canneloni
- Prawn Fried Rice
- Salmon and Vegetables
- Vegetable Frittata or Quiche

5) Use some cheaper items  and buy in season

You can use cheaper cuts of meats and this does not always mean fattier. I just cut off any visible fat and slow cook the meat, This is great for curries and stews, as well as roasts that you slow cook.

I tend to use a premium mince, which has less fat. It does cost more tat the super cheap mince, but I tend to think I get more out of it as there is less fat in it. Also, it is very easy to bulk up mince by adding carrots, celery and other vegetables to any mince mixture.

I also use canned beans. These can be added to mince for a mexican dish, can be made into a simple side dish (can of 4 bean mix, some vinegar dressing, a can of corn kernels, fresh herbs).

For fruit and vegetables if you look at what is in season you can have fresh produce that is very cheap. It is also worthwhile checking out any marked down items. These are often close to expiry, but if you plan to use them for a meal within the next few days they are fine. Or if they are an item you can cut up and freeze.

What are your top tips for reducing your grocery shopping budget? Please share them below!!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Our Movie Themed 30th Birthday Bash!

My Husband and I share our birthdays approximately 2 weeks apart, so we knew that it was going to be best to share a 30th Birthday celebration.Neither of us have had a birthday party since our 21st, and will be unlikely to have another until our 40th, so we decided to go all out!

We actually settled on a movie theme almost a year earlier. It was the only theme that we deemed suitable for the both of us. Originally our plan was to have a backyard movie party. However we realised the weather was too unpredictable, and our guest list grew.

We hired a local hall, booked catering and wrote up a guest list.

Now was the fun part. Planning. We both actually really enjoyed planning this celebration and commented to each other that we hadn't put in this much effort since our wedding! In fact, my Husband thinks he put in more for this celebration!

The Food

I love to cook, and usually I insist on making everything for a celebration from scratch. Yet, this time I decided to get it catered. I looked around at different catering options and found you can have woodfire pizza, made fresh. They turn up with a woodfire oven on the back of a trailer, dough and all the toppings for a variety of pizzas. The pizza was unlimited for 3 hours, and included entree, main and even dessert pizza.

It was a huge hit, people ate until their bellies were full, and we had about 20 boxes of leftover pizza at the end of the night! (These were pressed on people as they left, so happily we only took home 3 savour and 3 sweet).

I also made 2 salads and had a fruit and cheese platter, although truthfully these were not really needed.

The Cake

I do a bit of cake decorating on the side, so I made the cake. I was pleased with how it turned out, and wasn't too difficult. Although it was meant to be two tiers, however one tier didn't look right so I took it off and just cut it up when serving cake later.

The decoration

I had pinned a variety of ideas for table centrepices using news reels and other movie items. However, I found that to buy some cheap plastic reels would be $13 a table, which I thought was too expensive given we wouldn't use them again.

Instead, I decided to use some large popcorn buckets, and have some helium balloons in the colour theme inside them.

Around the walls we had some Elvis and Marylin posters (We had actually won these a year ago at a work trivia night, along with some movie themed plates and some banners. It was after we had already decided to have a movie themed party). We also found on the internet some high definition movie posters, and printed them at my Husbands work in A3, then laminated them, These posters were scattered around the room.

Tables and chairs were part of hall hire, and we were delighted to discover the chairs were black,which matched the roll of black tablecloth we used on the tables.


My Husband is a movie buff, and knows so much movie trivia, so he decided he wanted to have a trivia competition though the night. We spent a few weeks coming up with questons, making the slideshow, downloading movie clips for some of the questions and making answer cards.

Despite some questions being way too hard, people seemed to really enjoy the novelty of the trivia and many laughs were had.

For prizes we made up mini popcorn tubs filled with chocolate bars and microwave popcorn. The winning table each received a tub. We were lucky because the chocolate bars were on sale when we bought them, so each tub only cost about $6

Candy Bar

I know lolly bars are being done to death, but it is with good reason! They are a crowd pleaser. We used jars that were left over from our wedding and filled them with popcorn. I then borrowed the rest of the jars from a friend and ordered lollies in bulk from an online shop.

We found popcorn boxes that fitted our colour theme, and hung some '30' strings behind as a backdrop.
It looked amazing, and adults and kids alike loved filling up containers through the night, and took some home too!

Kids Corner

We had a few kids attending, including our own daughter, so we decided to set up a corner for them. We put down some rugs, pillows and beanbags in a corner. We set up a mini dvd player, and some crayons with paper. The kids played happily all night and were well behaved.

Dress Up!

We asked everyone to dress up as either a movie character or movie star. Everyone got really into it and looked great! It was a bit of fun, and worked as a good conversation starter with people.

Wolverine, Cleopatra and Jessie!

Our 30th was so much fun. The best part of all was being surrounded by the people we love. It makes you appreciate all you have achieved in 30 years and understand that life is successful when you are surrounded by people you love :)