This post is brought to you by NobleOak Life Ltd

Has anyone else noticed that life has a way of putting way too much on your plate? I am one of those people who needs stillness and time to think to feel at peace with the world. But alas, the life of a working mum with three preteen/teenage daughters doesn’t allow for much of that.

Most of you will know the drill and most likely have one of your own. I get up early to get ready for work. I unpack the dishwasher, pop a load of washing on, make sure the girls are up and supervise their morning routines (lunches, hair, readers, spelling and the rest). I drop miss teenager off at her bus stop and head off to work while the other half puts the two primary school girls on their bus. I put in a 6 to 7.5 hour day supporting people who really need it, before heading home to pick up the kids and start the afternoon shift. (Afterschool sports, homework, cooking tea, refereeing sisterly disputes.) Need I say more? That is regularly 12-14 hours of ‘go time’ 5 days a week. No wonder we get tired!

Don’t worry. I’m not really complaining. I know I signed up for this and secretly, despite the exhaustion, I love it. I also know that pretty much all of us are paddling along in the same boat (or have been at one point.) I do wonder though, as women (or parents) would we be better off if we gave up the notion we can have it all? Or at least the notion that we have to ‘keep it all together’ and appear perfect while we have it all? Coz let me tell you, at least once every week or two I have a Chernobyl style mind meltdown over the endless list of brain-draining tasks that being the centre of a family’s universe, a woman with a job (and frankly just a person on earth) gives you. Give me an Amen if you can relate sister!

What is the answer? Status undetermined. But one thing I do know is that when women put their heads together the synergy they produce is outstanding and often powerful. In my own inquisitive (read nosey) fashion I’ve been fronting up to other busy mums and asking how they slay the busy mum demon and then experimenting with their answers in my own life.

  1. Teach your children independence. From as early on as you can begin raising little people who can look after themselves. Don’t be fooled into thinking your job as a mum is to do everything for them. A wise word of wisdom to remember is that as parents, our job is to do ourselves out of a job. From the moment they are born until they leave home we are upskilling them to ‘do it on their own’. Note to self: As kids get older they can do more and more of ‘the stuff of life’ on their own – and they should be encouraged to do it.
  2. Make time for the important life admin tasks. You know the stuff. The serious ones that are so easy to put off until tomorrow (over and over again) because we don’t have time in our 14 hours work days or the brain cells left following our mind meltdowns! Things like making sure you have an updated will, adequate insurance, good deals on your utilities and home loan and that you understand your superannuation. It seems as women we need to schedule time, perhaps once every 6 months, to make sure these things happen and don’t get lost in the ‘busy’ of our lives. (You can get a head start on this one by discussing Life Insurance/ Income Protection with NobleOak phone them on 1300 041 494)
  3. Plan to look after yourself. What? Who needs to actually plan to look after themselves? Busy women who work 14 hours days – that’s who. By the end of the school term, I am usually staggering from one thing to the next just trying to reach the magical holidays when the afterschool stuff stops and the morning routine slips away and becomes free-range. Do you know what refreshes you? For me it’s that mythical unicorn called solitude. Most days the only smackeral of that I get is the car trip to and from work, so I have learned to fight the busy demons and prioritse time for myself. It is important to learn what refreshes you and plan ways to build it into your life on a regular basis.
  4. Make a decision on your approach to the housework. Before I had kids I had a clean house and I loved it. These days I am one of those people who stumble into a room and thinks ‘how the hell did this get so dirty – didn’t I clean it six months ago?’ Because personally, I couldn’t settle on the idea of a cleaner, I’ve designed the girls chores around keeping the place liveable (and feeding pets). The floors, bathrooms and bin cleaning gets taken care of by girl power every week. For this, I pay them (a little less than a cleaner would cost) and take them on a ‘girls day out’ over the holidays to spend their earning. Housework is a relentless and thankless task. A regular theme from the women I talked to wasn’t so much based on how clean your house is but more on deciding how much time and energy you want to spend on it and designing a way to make that work for your family. You might need to pay a cleaner, lower your standards or work out ways to work smarter not harder.
  5. Train people (kids and partners) to put their stuff away. Arrrgghh – don’t get me started on how frustratingly repetitive and hard this one is. But I am told it’s worth it in the long run. Make them come back and get their crappy stuff. Don’t fall into the trap of putting things away for them. They have legs and they can learn to return things to their rightful place. A great idea passed on from a voice of womanly wisdom, is to have a basket (the washing basket works fine) in the main areas of the house. If they don’t put away after themselves stick their stuff in the basket and design a suitably heinous way of making them earn it back.
  6. Batch cook family meals. Along with housework, meal preparation seems to be the most bemoaned task on the busy mum list. It’s that ‘seriously you want tea every single night’ factor. Not to mention the grocery shopping and pantry management needed to keeping everyone’s bellies full. And the answer it seems is to learn the skill of batch cooking family meals. Other suggestions all run along the same line of pre-preparing. Chop up a weeks supply of veggies and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge, premake sandwiches for school lunches (unless your kids already make their own of course), and always have a frozen homemade soup in the freezer for when it all gets too much.
  7. Use frozen grapes to cool your wine. Okay, this one is just for fun but it’s seriously a good idea. The grapes won’t dilute your mummy cordial like ice will and they look great too.

Do you have a secret that makes life possible while your out wrangling with the busy demons? I would love you to share it and maybe we can add it to the list ~ for everyone’s benefit.

This post is designed to bring together a collection of Cuisine Companion wisdom from the Aussie-o-sphere. It’s here to answer the most commonly asked questions on the ‘Cooking with the Tefal Cuisine Companion’ facebook page. If you have another question you desperately need answering, or some advice for newbies, you can add it in the comments below.

 

 

Should I buy a Cuisine Companion?

How do I get started with my Cuisine Companion?

Where can I find support and Inspiration to use my Cuisine Companion?

How do I convert thermomix recipes to use in my Cuisine Companion?

Is the cuisine companion dishwasher safe?

Yes. The bowl and lid are totally dishwasher safe. But always wash the spindle (the the blades rest on) by hand.

How do I take the lid apart for cleaning?

Tefal Tart and her Toys has a short video clip that should see you all sorted with this one.

Where can I get technical help?

Contact Tefal directly …

Hello and welcome to my Wellbeing Project. My goal here is simple ~ to improve my own wellbeing over 2018. There are no lofty goals or strict guidelines. There is just me making decisions day after day that lead to improved wellbeing in my life. My only real plan is to experiment with curiosity. Trying things and choosing to allow myself the honour of being an important part of my life. I will be kind to myself on this journey and take a stand against the voice in my head that tells me things have to be hard to be worthwhile and work. It’s just not true. Wellbing is about balance, self love and self nurture. All things we all deserve to give ourselves every day. My motto for this project “finding my wellbeing with kindness and simplicity.

Experiment number one: The 3-4 week elimination diet.

With the support of my nutritionista (Tania from Quintessential Health) I am giving up gluten and dairy for the next month to see if they are draining away my precious wellbeing. In particular, I need to find out if they are causing my horrible relentless indigestions and reflux, my occasional flare-ups of eczema, my happiness sapping insomnia and my ongoing nemesis of Hashimoto’s disease. So, I’m going gluten, dairy, corn and soy free for a month. (Oh yay me!) Below I will be keeping a diary of my first weeks so I can track my reactions, share recipes and record my progress. Maybe you’ll find that interesting – maybe you won’t. And that’s okay. Oh and just so you know, being a busy working mum I will be taking every easy option and cheat available to me too. (If I have to buy $14 a loaf paleo bread because I have no time to experiment with baking until I find one I enjoy – then so be it.) Simplicity and kindness to myself in all things.

Day One:

It felt pretty easy today. No struggles. Enjoyed my morning coffee with coconut milk. Made some cauliflower and sweet potato mash with bacon and onion in my cuisine companion and enjoyed a bowl. (Seriously good btw – the texture is all comfort food and tastes great.) Popped the leftovers in the fridge for another day. Made spaghetti bolognese for tea and had mine with roast pumpkin and sweet potato while the family had pasta. Then in the evening, I made some coconut and berry biscuits and ate a couple. I didn’t feel hunger or like I was missing out on anything. I felt a little flu-ish later in the afternoon – but nothing major. All in all the day was good.

Day Two:

Woke up feeling good but sleep is still a struggle. Tried almond and cashew milk in my coffee today. Still enjoyed it. I’m not really a huge almond milk fan – so that was surprising! Decided to blog this journey and started this post, which I hope to update regularly. But hey, if I don’t that’s okay too. Reheated some mash from yesterday and maybe missed the idea of butter on it. I love butter. It’s my thing. But the reheated mash was delicious anyway. Had another berry biscuit for morning tea and a mushroom and avocado leaf salad for lunch. I looked wistfully at the feta cheese in my dairy chiller as I passed it by. For tea, I tested my memory by re-learning how to cook quinoa, which I ended up mixing with some fried mushrooms and onion. Not bad.

Day Three:

I fully expected to feel the detox effects of no dairy today, but nothing. I feel good. I slept reasonably well and there isn’t even a sign of a headache. That’s one huge positive. I whipped up a bacon and capsicum omelette for breaky. It was a little bland without cheese and, as I was waiting for my weekly grocery delivery, there wasn’t much else to build the excitement levels. Lunch was a couple of rice and quinoa cakes with nut butter and tea took the form of chicken, avocado, cucumber and baby spinach wrapped in ice-burge lettuce leaves. That actually left me feeling pretty full. I had planned to use some leftover spaghetti sauce and baked pumpkin/sweet potato – but I couldn’t manage it. Some all in all a good day three. Surprising. I always thought day three was the killer!

Day Four:

Still feeling good.  No detox yet.  Slept pretty well too.  Good sleep is like an elusive, magic, money giving unicorn to me – so small happy dance.   It’s New Year’s Eve tonight and we’re off to Geelong to catch up with family.  So, in the spirit of looking after me, I got up early and made some coconut grain-free cookies.  Happy to say they taste pretty good.  Had some leftover sweet potato/cauliflower mash for breaky.  It’s so much like mashed white potato that it feels like I’m cheating.  Had lunch at McDonalds.  Well I had 4 rice cakes with nut butter, coconut yohurt with a banana and 2 of the above mentioned cookies.  Then for tea I had my left over bolognaise sauce with sweet potato and pumpkin.

Day Five: 

Happy New Year!  Not sure if I’m feeling some detox or I’m just suffering from staying up to see in the new year with the girls.  Feeling flat and bored with my good choices.  I’m not hungry – but I am flat and bored.  There is no endorphin high in my grain free dairy free fodder.  Made some Quinoa and stir-fried veggies with some egg for brunch and had a small coconut milkshake with blueberries.  Wish I could describe how I feel.  Flat and bored seems the best I can do.  A slight headache and tired. (Two naps by 2.pm.) It’s not even like I’m craving anything foodwise – more the rush I get from eating something delish!  Weird huh. ……… As my day has progressed I’m pretty sure I am in detox.  Blaah.   The headache won’t shift and I’m grumpy.   Made chicken in almond meal crumb for tea and had it with a mega salad.  Attempted to make paleo mayonnaise – but failed.   I hope this detox is a quick one!

Day six:

Back to feeling pretty good today.  (Thank goodness.)  Bacon and an egg on a bed of iceberg lettuce for breakfast.  A mango and a small tin of tuna (which I thought was in olive oil but realised when I read the fine print it was an olive oil blend!! for lunch).   Went out to buy the goodies to do some more baking before I head back to work tomorrow.  Now I just need to make that happen.  Generally speaking, things feel okay again.  Recognising that I eat mainly for the endorphin high it provides and that seems to be linked with grainy food – I think.  I am hoping I will be able to re-introduce dairy and enjoy that.   (I miss my butter.)  But I could probably live with much less grain in my life.  Had the leftover Quinoa, bacon and veggie stir-fry for tea and then coconut yoghurt, with a teaspoon of nutbutter, banana, blueberries and applesauce mix up together for dessert.  Not bad.  

Day Seven & Eight:

Oh dear.  I think the detox hit.  Spent two days in brain fog land with a huge headache.  Well, the headache was mainly on day seven but day eight was like a headache without the pain. So much brain fog.  Such a great way to start work for the year – not. I keep up the GF & DF.  A few quick emails to my nutritionist to check it wasn’t related to the probiotics I started on day seven and then it was enduring the yuck.  To be honest it felt like an intense version of a bad day in my body’s life normally.  Just not fun.  My only other thought is that it could have been related to the yeast in some bread I made during the week.   I guess we will find that out later on in the elimination process 

Day Nine:

Thankfully feeling much better again. Took my probiotics and no reaction at all.  Feeling so much better and enjoyed a black coffee.  Seriously didn’t feel like eating though.   After my coffee, I did however choof myself off back to bed and slept for 2 extra hours.  Now that’s not something I ever do!   Spent the rest of my day off with the girls practising gymnastics in the lounge room. Had some homemade veggie soup with bone broth for brunch and then some tuna and avocado for tea.   Made the soup in my Cuisine Companion – turn out delish.  Really didn’t feel much like eating today.

Day Ten:

Nothing like feeling good again.  Despite the fact that it’s 39degrees!!   Got my cook on today.  Mid way through last year I bought a Breville Fast Slow Pro and used it as a slow cooker throughout the colder months.  Today I finally used the pressure cooker.  Made some amazing GR DF butter chicken for my lunch and some banana and coconut flour pancakes for breakfast.  Go me!

Day eleven to day twenty-eight:

As expected heading back to work meant updating here got forgotten.  Ops~a~daisy – but that’s life.  Thankfully it didn’t mean I stopped with the elimination diet.  I made the 28 days reasonably easily.  I had another couple of ‘detox’ days with headaches, brain fog, tiredness and this bizarre heavy face feeling (almost like a head cold but with no pain – just slight pressure.)  Each time it happened it was much less intense and shorter.   I had no trouble sticking to the no gluten, dairy, soy or corn.  I am still amazed at that – being a lifelong comfort eater.   I’ve eaten well and just followed my body’s lead with hunger.  The pressure cooker was an awesome help as I’ve batch cooked some yummy Indian chicken recipes and enjoyed having them with sweet potato and cauliflower mash.  I’ve eaten lots of eggs and frozen banana smoothies (loaded up with chia, nut butter, dates, maca powder and coconut yoghurt) and veggies/salad.  I’ve also experimented with a few different grain-free breads – which are a nice filler with meals and when hunger demands feeding. 

How do I feel now:

After 28 days I can tell you that I have not had reflux once.  Bonus.  In the first 2 weeks, I did get some indigestion but only mildly.  My sleep has been much better – but that needs to be a long-term (6 months plus) change before I fully believe I can say I sleep well. My energy levels are more consistent but not perfect.  I think the test of that will come next week when the girls head back to school and the crazy ‘busy working mum’ term time life returns.  Brain fog is much less.  I do feel clearer and more present.   Oh and my clothes are feeling losers than they did.  Weight loss for me is a slow journey (thank you thyroid) but I can tell I’ve dropped a few cms.  

The diary challenge:

This is how it works.  I reintroduce butter/cream at each meal for one day and then wait 2 days to see how I react.  And this is what happened.  I failed.  Boohiss.  By tea on the first day I had the heavy face feeling – almost like ahead cold.  It wasted all the next day and was totally gone on the third day.  No headaches or other strong reaction.  

 

 

So, you’ve just unpacked your brand new Cuisine Companion and now you’re wondering ‘where to from here?’ (Let’s be honest – it can be a tad daunting. ) You’ve spent a bucket load of money and now you need to prove to yourself it’s worth it. We’ve all been there and felt that mild panicky feeling as you stare at your shiny new machine and wonder how you can make it save you all the time, money and effort it promised before you paid for it.

This post is all about linking you up with five simple recipes to help get you started. They will teach you some basics and hopefully set you on the path to lifelong love affair with your Cuisine Companion.

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Let’s start with soup. You have never made soup as easily and quickly as you are about to with your cuisine companion. It’s ‘push one button’ simple! Tara from the VegeTARAian has created this gorgeous maple roasted pumpkin soup that will set your taste buds dancing. But in no time at all you’ll be playing around creating your own soup recipes, once you understand just how easy the automatic soup program makes it.

Summer Risotto

This is literally the first dish I ever made in my Cuisine Companion – and I’ve made it about a million times more since then. I seriously had no idea – and yet it was yumalicious! You can easily sub-out the 100mls of white wine for additional stock and as you grow in confidence you’ll soon find yourself adding bits and pieces to suit your personal taste. Risotto has never been so easy nor delicious! This recipe comes straight from Tefals Cuisine Companion Cook Book. Once you know how easy the Summer Risotto is you’ll be creating your own amazing combinations.

Easy Chocolate Cake

Cakes are pure child’s play in the Cuisine Companion. You can follow this recipe, converted from one of my own mum’s tried and tested old-style recipes, and substitute almost any type of cake and it will turn out perfectly. This one is divine though. Perfect for school lunches, impromptu birthday cakes or emergency afternoon teas.

Malaysian Creamy Satay Chichen

I love this dish from Mixing Food and Life. It’s very basic to make but looks and tastes a million dollars. It’s the type of dish people will think you’ve slaved over for hours, when in reality your cuisine companion makes it oh so simple.

Lemon Slice

My last suggestion to get you headed towards cuisine companion success is this simple lemon slice from Love Baking With My Cuisine Companion. A sweet treat made without the expected ‘biscuit bashing’ as the Cuisine Companion handles all the hard work.

My biggest tip to you as a newbie with your Cuisine Companion is ‘just keep cooking’. Put the effort in now to find 5 or 6 easy recipes that really suit you and yours and make them regularly. They will quickly become your mainstays and mean you are using your machine. Then start to experiment with new recipes. Make it a goal to try something new every week.

For regular recipe inspiration in your Facebook newsfeed ‘like’ the Cooking With the Tefal Cuisine Companion facebook page. There are also some other great blogs, facebook communities, and resources available. You can check some of them out here.

Frost photos. Any excuse for wandering around in my PJs on a -3 degrees Ballarat morning! Hey neighbors, look at me. I’m a crazy photo obsessed weirdo with my butt in the air and my nose in the grass. It’s okay though, my family totally agrees with you. This camera obsession is nuts.

I love the cool beauty of these shots. The way the camera captures the sun dancing with the icy frost. The strong greens, cool whites, and frozen raindrops. I am captivated by capturing this beauty. Freezing frozen moments of time.

Loving my journey with With Camera In Hand finally learning to shot in manual mode. These shots are taken on my Nikon DL500 – manual mode.

 

Have a plan. Why do you want to write your blog? Start with a clear purpose and the intention to keep this is in focus. (Maybe even have the purpose in the name of your blog or your tagline.) It makes it much easier to make all of the small blogging decision along they way when you know why it is you are doing what you do.

Be consistent. Consistency is a huge in both blogging and social media. Someone once said that the key to success is as simple as turning up every day, and I think that applies to blogging beautifully. If you want to make a success from being a blogger just chose not to give up. Keep writing and posting and generally turning up on your site.

Write your own rule book. Set a moral standard/code for yourself and your blog. And then disregard all of the rules and must do’s everyone talks about and make up your own set. In my opinion formulas produce copies. Being yourself produces unique, vibrant and stand-alone work that people will enjoy reading. My favourite blogs are the unique and quirky ones where people let their own personalities shine through. Sure, if you want to take a course or learn from the ‘experts’ do it. Learn your trade. But once you’ve got the basics right please leave it all behind and do your own thing.

Watch your stats mindfully. Everyone will tell you not to worry about followers and statistics, but seriously who are they kidding? We blog because we want people to read our work, see our pictures and hear our voice. Of course, you want to know how your blog is growing so yes you will need to check your stats. But make a choice to be mindful about it and don’t get caught in the trap of comparison – because like Mark Twain said “Comparison is the death of Joy.”

Write what you love. I know everyone says content is king, and they are right. Amazing and unique content will grow your blog faster than anything else. And yes, as they say, it’s an excellent idea to answer the question that people lay awake at night thinking about on your blog. But do all this without forgetting why you blog and what you love. Writing that comes from the heart stands out. Your passion and voice are the exact reason people will come to your blog.

It’s no secret I love to take photos. (Just ask my girls and they’ll roll their eyes for you.) I’ve owned a Nikon D5100 (DLSR) for years and taken most of the photo on this blog with it. But alas, always on the automatic setting. I’ve tried to learn about aperture, ISO and shutter speeds – but it’s always left me with a confused headache and potentially rolling my own eyes. Until now that is. With the help of With Camera In Hand I am finally shooting in manual mode …. and I like it!

The clarity of colour and the ability to freeze time have me hooked. I have a lot of learning to go – but Michelle from With Camera in Hand has managed to make it all seem easy – so far. I’ve already managed to shoot equally as good pictures as those I’ve previously shot on automatic or on my phone. And it feels amazing.

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still

Probably one of the most stable family dishes in history!  I’ve been playing around with possible recipe combinations for a while, so I can stop depending on easy store-bought pasta sauces.  

Spaghetti Bolognese (Cuisine Companion Cooking)
Serves 6
Part of the Cuisine Companion Cooking Collection (roomformysoul.com)
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 carrots (chopped into 2-3cm chunks)
  2. 2 celery stalks (chops into 3-4cms chunks)
  3. 1 onion (quarted)
  4. 1/4 of a capsicum (roughly chopped)
  5. 2 cloves of garlic (or 1-2 teaspoons of garlic paste)
  6. oil
  7. 500g minced meat
  8. 2 tbsp brown sugar
  9. 2 tbsp tomato paste
  10. 1 tin of tomatoes
  11. 1 tin of tomato soup
  12. 2 tablespoon of stock paste (or 2 - 3 stock cubes)
  13. 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce.
Instructions
  1. (Ultra blade)
  2. Put carrot, celery, onion, capsicum and garlic into CC.
  3. Speed 12 for 20 seconds. (10 seconds if you prefer a chunkier vegetable base.)
  4. (Mixing Blade)
  5. Add oil
  6. Slow Cook for 7 minutes.
  7. Add mince
  8. Use a soft spatula to mix thru. (I have found using CC to mix meat tends to deconstruct it a bit much.)
  9. Add the tin of tomato, soup, sugar, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce and stock.
  10. Use a soft spatula to mix thru.
  11. Slow Cook for a minimum of 20 minutes. But if you have time longer is better!
  12. While CC is busy doing the hard work cook up your chosen pasta. You can also serve bolognese with steamed veggies or baked sweet or regular potato - if you prefer to stay away from grains.
http://www.roomformysoul.com/

 

Starting. That’s the hardest bit. Making words appear on a blank space. But not just words. Word in the right order the evoke meaning and feeling. (Quite obviously this is not something that has been happening much around here.) Words can be so beautiful and their power fascinates me. But, sometimes the effort it takes to make those words fall on the page in the right order is just too much.

But words are still beautiful and for me healing. For some reason, watching them fall on the page and reading them back to myself can open a window that seems connected to my soul. They have a wisdom that I have no memory of applying to them. That is a truly beautiful thing and I guess holds the key to why I have lived life loving them so much.

I am on the cusp of turning 46. My girls are growing like weeds in the spring sunshine. They delight me, frustrate me and bring me unspeakable joy. (Not to mentioned leave me living life at a million miles an hour as I drive them everywhere they need to be.) I think I’m leaving 45 behind as a much ‘wholer’ person than I started it. Thanks mostly to a wise lady counsellor who gave me the space to understand my own value. I’ve lived so much of my life completely without this awareness. But there was no way my heart could store value when rejection tore down every wall that self-value tried to build.

But now, things feel very different. Admittedly, I was a self-pitying mess. I was giving out love and compassion at a rate that was unsustainable and left me broken and miserable. A husband dealing with his own set of issues, a mother with Alzheimers and an aged father-in-law all jostled for my love and attention. (And that was before I even began to think about the girls – who are the centre of my life and deserve the best part of me.) My own brokenness stopped me seeing how desperately in need I was and left me on an exhausting treadmill continually trying to make everyone else’s life better (which of course is impossible) while I felt sad and sorry for myself. But, as things tend to do when they are ‘in season’ in your life, I started sensing the need for self-love. Articles would find their way to me and people would speak little words that that opened a chasms of need inside me. Gradually I began turning the love and compassion once reserved for other onto myself and a process of healing began.

I took myself off for counselling and allowed myself to feel and understand the rejection that had been choking me for 45 years. I gained some understand of the lengths us humans will go to to avoid the uncomfortableness of emotional pain. I guess, in essence, I made friends with it. Accepted it. Processed it. And put it into perspective. It’s still there. It’s part of who I am, but it no longer stops me understanding my own value.

Have you ever heard of Kintsukuroi? It’s the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with precious metals and has become synonymous with an understanding that sometimes things are more beautiful for having been broken. I am pretty sure kintsukurio is exactly what happened to me. I feel like my brokeness was made whole with the purest gold and my heart has become precious and beautiful. And that feels nice. Really nice. It gives me license to treat myself in a nurturing and caring way. To ‘mother’ myself and be totally in control of my own happiness. I know I have value – simply because I am me. All in all, I think it makes me a better person and life a lot more fun for everyone around me. (Thank you God for Kintsukurio – I think it might be my newest favourite word!)

So, today I have let words fall onto my page again. It felt good too. The words have worked their magic and helped me understand myself.

Spending cash is something we all do in the months before Christmas. We put a whole lot of time and energy (not to mention money) into buying gifts that will bring joy to the people we love on Christmas day. It’s a tradition, and let’s be honest, most of us love it. But how much thought goes into where the money from our gift purchases ends up? For most of us, that answer is simple. Not much. So this year the team from Ballarat For Families has decided we want to make it easy for you to support local small businesses while you’re ticking off your Christmas shopping list. Below you’ll find a growing list of Ballarat’s best boutique, handcrafted, family run or farmers-gate inspired small businesses that make products you’ll be proud to give this Christmas.

If you have the time to look (which most of us don’t) this town is filled with creative, kind-hearted, energetic individuals and families who work hard to bring Ballarat to life every day. So this year let’s consider keeping things local by putting our money in the hands of Ballarat’s businesses. Wouldn’t you like your hard earned dollar to help support the people you pass every day down the street? We would. And we think that given the opportunity you probably would too.


Long large collage

Ballarat Local Gift Inspiration for Adults

The Gift of An Experience

  • Eat Drink Share are Ballarat’s home of gourmet walking tours through local cafes and eateries. A great gift to share with a friend.
  • Lost Ones Gallery in Camp Street offers interesting courses and workshops focused on skills that have been lost over the years. A fabulous gift for someone who enjoys things a little outside the box.
  • ClayMotions is a local pottery place that offers gift voucher for classes. There are adult, kids and special Mum’s Time Out sessions.
  • MelTPhotography is a Ballarat based boutique studio specialising in pregnancy, newborn, baby & beyond! If you’d like to get some photos organised now to include with gifts they have pre-Christmas gift vouchers with a 10% discount and offer pre-Christmas mini sessions in November and December.

The Gift of Gorgeous Jewellery

  • Bok Bok B’Gerk is developing a reputation around town for their quirky hand painted, laser cut jewellery. Made from the ecofriendly wood of the alder tree their pieces are colourful, stylish and have just enough whimsy to spread joy wherever they go.
  • Fifth Avenue Collection. If you’re looking for something delightful but with bucket loads of heart this might be the perfect gift idea for you. With range of high-quality fashion jewellery for women, men and children this business is run by the owner of Wala Animal Sanctuary in Ballarat. Wala is a volunteer based animal rescue centre and all proceeds from sales go directly to caring for injured wildlife!
  • Billy G is the home of Ballarat’s favourite jewellery & accessories! Billy G creations are handmade with wood & clay (and of course with love) by Sarah, a local art teacher & Mum. Necklaces, ear rings & key rings for ladies & minis can be purchased locally at Crawford’s Pharmacy & Rubilicious Wax & Beauty Bar or through their Instagram or Facebook.
  • For something a little different and engagingly beautiful how about checking out the Jewellery from Ballarat Placentas. Owned and operated by Victoria’s only DNA artist this is really something special you can find right here in Ballarat.
  • You might like to think about something unique from DeeDeeDeesigns Etsy store. A local Ballarat creatives store stocking handmade Jewellery and ceramic tableware.
  • Local to Buninyong, Little Poppy Designs creates thoughtfully designed, unique, handcrafted clay jewellery and accessories. Each item is individually made, rolled and shaped by hand so no two are identical.
  • Colourful Tastes makes gorgeous dream-catchers along with lovely wood and clay necklaces, earrings, key chains and silicone necklaces.

The Gift of Local Quality

  • Mt Buninyong Winery has a lovely collection of wines. Pop out and visit and put together a personalised selection.
  • Debee signature balms is a local business that produces quality bee’s wax lip balms.
  • Mia and Talbot Soy Candles produces beautiful soy candles using pure soy wax, fragrance and essential oils. Candles for everyday use, corporate gifts, weddings, baby showers and all special occasions.
  • Enga Arabic make local, organic and ethically sustainable coffee. Paired with a gorgeous set of mugs, or even on its own, this is the perfect gift for the coffee lovers amongst us.
  • You know what they say ‘you can’t buy happiness but you can buy tea.’ One Little Leaf is a Ballarat Business that blends their own gourmet teas. Their range includes gift baskets and gift certificates and an exhaustive range of teas with something to suit even the most passionate tea drinker.
  • Shades of Phoenix hand blends and mixes top quality nail polish here in Ballarat. Their product is 3 & 5 free vegan-friendly and animal cruelty-free. They also stock jewellery created from their polish including earrings, necklaces, rings, bobbi pins.
  • Gordon Hat Shoppe is the place to go if you’re looking for a hat that really says something special. With old world charm and styles for both men and women they just might be the perfect place to find a gift with a difference.
  • Tegan Neville is an intuitive artist whose business, ART from SPIRIT, sells original artworks framed and unframed, gift cards and her book Connecting Within – artworks and inspirational messages.
  • Maria’s Alternative Clothes and Artworks at 107 Sturt Street will add some colour to your gift giving! Bright, bubbly and interesting clothes, jewellery, scarves, hats and more. Giving a gift from Maria’s is like giving the gift of happiness.
  • From the gritty to the pretty with just a touch of twang, you’ll love what’s on offer at Ballarat’s own Pinup, Rockabilly and Psychobilly store. Frock this town with Lana-Rose at 14 Lydiard St North.
  • Just Coz Candles Individually hand poured candles & melts made from all natural Soy Wax. With an expanding range of fragrances, they’ve recently introduced wooden wicks which give off a lovely crackle as they burn – adding to the ambience of burning a candle.

The Gift Of Support for a Small Business

  • When Baby Meets Business. A brand new book by Ballarat author Rachel Allan. Available for pre-order on site from 14th of September. “In an effort to combine the roles of mothering and business owner many are left with the feelings of guilt-guilt for either not giving to their children or not working enough in their business. When Business Meets Baby provides practical tools and tips, giving you permission to create balance in your life.”
  • Dorothy K – online success coach provides websites for ballarat small businesses (and beyond), training in online technology, as well as business coaching for women who want to start their own business. Dorothy K has a special Christmas offer of a 60 minute “Turn your blog into a business” coaching session for $90.

The Gift of Relaxation & Pampering

  • Ballarat Salt Rooms have Ultimate Relaxation Packages available as a gift voucher. The ‘Floatassge’ is a 30 or 60-minute massage followed up with a 60-minute floatation session. It’s relaxing just reading about it! The ultimate in Relaxation Packages for someone you love.
  • Shimmer Beauty Therapy have a range of gift vouchers available to spoil someone special. They also stock “pamper packs” made especially from local products and including a voucher to use on Shimmer Beauty’s services as well. (Shimmer Beauty Therapy is located at 420 Sturts Street.)
  • Apple Orchard Beauty specialises in helping busy women look and feel their very best by helping them take time out to relax and unwind. They offer a range of tailored beauty treatments for women including facials, waxing, lash and brow tinting, manicures, pedicures, massage and pamper packages. Certificates are available for gifting. Apple Orchard Beauty is located in Brown Hill.
  • Buninyong Beauty Therapy specialises in hydrabrasion facials, electrolysis massage, manicures, pedicures, waxing and professional makeup. Offering gift vouchers and specialised individual treatment packages they pride themselves on being a Ballarat small business.

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Ballarat Local Gift Inspiration for Children

The Gift of An Experience

  • It’s a fact. Kids love getting their hands on clay! ClayMotions pottery offers gift vouchers for classes designed especially for kids.
  • We all know kids love painting and making things. Funky Plaster Fun For the Whole Family have a range of gift baskets filled with plasters for great prices ~ with or without paints. Loads of fun for hours to come.
  • Or if you prefer your art sessions ‘out of home’ Addictive Art offers gift vouchers for 2D and 3D plaster moulds, canvas art, door hangers, gift boxes & mirrors along with a playroom for the early finishers and complimentary tea of coffee for the big people.
  • For those starting to think about school in 2018 or 2019 a voucher for a term of classes at Little Learners Club Ballarat. Learning the basics of learning so they’re ready fly.
  • Make Art School offer classes for preschool, primary and secondary students, as well as workshops for adults. They also stock a selection ‘art kits’ that will be available on the Make Art school website. A perfect stocking filler.

Gifts for Babes in Arms

  • Chill Mumma are a local ‘mum & pop’ team who makes rad furniture for toddlers. Scandinavian inspired design with simple clean lines. Locally handmade and priced so that everyone can have some beautifully designed baby/toddler goodies!
  • Cushie Tushies Ballarat offers a range of delicious natural skincare products for mums and bubs, along with organic cotton comforters and naturopath blended herbal infusions. Of course, quality cloth nappies and accessories are always available too!
  • Arabella + Autumn make stylish timber play gyms, play gym toys, teething toys, wooden rattles, dummy clips and beautiful baby wraps. These products not only look stylish but also provide the added benefit of avoiding harsh plastics.

The Gift of Local Quality for Kids

  • A dolls house is a memory that lasts a lifetime and now gifting your little one’s a tiny dream home doesn’t have to mean compromising on style. Mostly Miniature designs and produces the latest on trends miniature furniture fit for those most magazine-worthy of dolls houses. Seriously, it’s fabulous and made right here in Ballarat.
  • Flamingos and Foxes specialises in custom made items for children including name blocks, height rulers, mountain blocks, cameras and much more! They also have a joint partnership with Rivers Gift to raise money for research into the cause of SIDS. (This business also has an ETSY store if you use the code FREECOLLECT local residents won’t need to pay postage.)
  • Tarmak Kids make handcrafted cubbies and mini furniture that will make your child the envy of the neighborhood.
  • Jilly Junior Lace Teepees might just be the sweetest thing you’ll see this year. Pretty much guaranteed to make little girls swoon. (They also have a lovely range for boys too.)
  • Quib and Co. are a local small business with a range of stylish gear for the little peeps to wear.
  • Eluca Designs are Ballarat’s one stop shop for personalised and unique name blocks for little ones. They also produce individualised Christmas bauble blocks, milestone blocks, block jigsaws and even full alphabet sets!
  • Kardan Creations make gorgeous customised buntings for birthdays and room decor as well as being Ballarat bespoke board specialist! Birthday boards, odd stock boards, key hanging boards – they’ve got the lot.
  • Visit Celebrate at 1/403 Warrenheip Street in Buninyong for a creative collection of toys and trinkets designed to spark the imagination and set the stage for creative play. Celebrate’s owner also runs the gorgeous Deer Little Parties – for all your party planning, event styling and party hire needs.
  • Just Craftin’ Around Carlee’s Handmade Crafts makes a series of lovely pre-Christmas crafts including Santa sacks, glass brick lamps and Santa plates. As well as a collection of other items to help make Christmas super special for the kids.
  • Fontea is a unique home based store in Bullarook that you can visit by appointment. Stocking a wide range of products, including gorgeous felt fairies, handcrafted jewellery, handbags and much more. Order are also taken online.
  • If you still need more inspiration for the bub in your life but can’t find it locally another option is Not In Shop. An Australian wide collection of bespoke products for Australian Families.

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Ballarat Gift Inspiration for Families

The Gift of A Family Experience

  • Looking to reduce your family’s carbon footprint through tree planting? Fifteen Trees might be just what you are looking for. Through the Fifteen Trees website you purchase native trees for community groups to plant and once planted you get to see your trees. Trees costs from $4.30.
  • An annual family pass to Sovereign Hill, Kryal Castle or The Wildlife Park is a wonderful idea for a family. Give them the gift of being able to pop in for picnics, visit the shops or just return again and again to enjoy the experience. (Can someone tell my why we don’t have an economical joint family pass for all three available for locals!)

The Gift of Local Quality for Families

  • ‘Event Evolution Photography’ is Ballarat’s new go-to solution for event photography. Specialising in capturing memorable moments at children’s parties, family gatherings and community events as well as corporate functions. With gift voucher available for purchase this has the potential to be a perfect gift this Christmas.
  • No Nits Naturally. Plan on 2016 being a year free from Nits. This lovely Ballarat Based small business will help you reach that lofty goal!
  • Bird and Blossom is a delightful locally based online boutique store filled with hand-crafted goodness. Prints (personalised and inspirational), jewellery, home decor and felted toys. It’s the perfect place to find a ‘one of a kind’ gift for someone special.
  • Antipodean Love is the online home and now retail space, for the best Australian and New Zealand designer gifts and homewares, whether it’s for a ‘thank you’, new baby, birthday, anniversary or to treat yourself. Antipodean Love believe that Australian and New Zealand gifts definitely do not need to be tacky and that you want to give and receive a gift that makes you feel happy and proud.
  • Formosa Gardens Nursery Cafe Gift Shop is a local family owned business that’s been operating in Ballarat since 1977! They stock cute animal statues, vases, hand-made jewellery, ladies and kids boots, watering cans and children’s capes clothing just to name a few! Well worth stopping to explore.

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Ballarat Gift Inspiration from Independent Consultants

  • Visit Audrey a local Ballarat Phoenix Trader consultant for cards and gift wrapping for Christmas.
  • For those who love fabulous nails, you’ll find some awesome gift ideas at Jamberry Nails with Adrienne.
  • Independent Scentsy consultant Lorenne has a safe and delicious alternative to flamed candles. Specialising in electric warmers and fragranced wax bars to make your home smell divine!

Are you a local Ballarat Business that needs to be on this list? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and we’ll get in touch.

Do you ever feel like internally you need to thaw out? 

Apparently I do.

My soul feels frozen and numb.

Not necessarily in an evil or destructive way.

But none the less unyielding and unwilling to give. 

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I don’t exactly know what this means.  It’s a new feeling for me.  I’m usually so good at being introspective and understanding myself.  I ask myself questions and give myself answers and seek the wisdom that comes from within.

But not now.  Now all is silent and all I can do is wait.

Wait for my soul to thaw and movement to begin again. 

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I’m not even particularly sure why things are as they are.  I’m a mum and  life is  busy.  I work.  I care.  I tend to my growing babies.  But perhaps I don’t tend to my own self enough.  Life, marriage, work, mothering, home maintenance, family and friends all jostle for priority and carry their own ‘barbs of wire’ that scratch and sometimes  draw blood if they are ignored. 

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I find it hard to nourish my soul and some days it screams for attention and love.  I tell it to ‘shut up and wait’ because there is always something or someone else that needs my care and  concern more than it does.   This is not really helpful.  After all, I’m sure all it wants is my kindness. 

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But even with my frozen soul, I feel a flicker of hope.  Hope because I know a thaw is coming.  I can sense it shimmering away just over the horizon.  Waiting for the perfect time to spill over like sunlight and bring justice to my world.   It will bring deeper understanding, answers, and fresh perspective.  And that’s what we all need, right?  Feelings and emotions will start moving again.  Passing through and whispering their little secrets of wholeness into my being.  Growth will happen and new things will blossom.  New strength.  New insight.  New joy for life.  

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Expectations bring hope and from hope springs the delights of life. 

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I found this little fellow at my front door the other day.  Happily resting in the shade of our porch from the heat of a summers day.    Up close and personal shots of insects lead me to believe they are inspiration for every alien character on Dr Who and Star Trek. 

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And this funny little creation has built his home in my front garden. He patiently waits out the summer heat curled up in the large leaves, all the while keeping his fingers on the pulse so he knows when something delicious stumbles its way into his web of doom.  (Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly.) 

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If I could dive into a colour that colour would be indigo.  I love it with as much passion as you can love a colour. Luckily for me,  these crazy wild daisies grow like weeds around these parts and while they’re a bit small for diving into, their presence makes me happy. 

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 I’m not sure who calls this home, and frankly, I’m not sure I want to.   But I do wonder how it manages to make things so perfectly round in the hard dry summer lawn.  Clever critter. 

Macro Spider hole

Beautiful bee doing your thing.  Keep on pollinating and producing – loving your work. 

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All of these, plus many many more, were taken on my Galaxy Notes 5.  I’ve been spending some child free/work free  time playing with macros.  I love the way macro photography makes you see things in an entirely new light.  It opens up a tiny little world and makes is real to us monster sized humans. 

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