Keeping Christmas Simple – Shop Small

Shop Small

Last week I talked about my desire to keep Christmas simple, more joyful and the approach I’m going to take with gifts.

Today I’m going to introduce you to a number of lovely Australian women who make and sell products I admire. I’ve road tested things from all of them as well as having given them as gifts. I’m hoping people on my Christmas list aren’t reading this because I might be giving away some secrets…

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Kids in the Kitchen

Kristin blogs at Mamacino and has this year launched her Mamacino Homemade range of granola and other delicious whole food treats. She has also just released her first cookbook – Kids in the Kitchen. I’ve bought four copies already – three to give as gifts and one for us to keep. Thoroughly tested by Kristin’s three hungry children, the recipes are simple and mouthwatering and the book is beautifully photographed and printed.

 

Hanging Gardens

Hanging Gardens by Little Urban Farmers

Conceived and designed by a friend of mine, these nifty little planters attach to tiles or glass, allowing you to have fresh herbs at your fingertips in the kitchen. They also look fabulous in the bathroom with succulents or bath toys. They’re eco-friendly too and Michelle was a finalist in Kevin Macleod’s Green Heroes at last year’s Grand Designs Live. They come flat packed so are easy to mail to loved ones. I’ve given many of these as gifts and have a set of white ones in my house too.

 

Alisha1

Naughty Naturopath Mum and Essence Practitioner

Alisha is a naturopath and mum to two small children. She now runs her Australian Bush Flower essence-based business online and is a cheery presence on social media. If you haven’t heard about Bush Flower Essences before, have a watch of this video. I’ve had a number of Alisha’s custom blends to help with various things and I just adore them. I’m currently loving the Cravings blend to help support me on my gut healing journey. Alisha also stocks the amazing Love System range of skin and body care products which make beautiful gifts.

 

Alexx Stuart

Alexx Stuart

Alexx is a crusader for healthy living and amongst many other things, an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day. I have learnt a huge amount from Alexx’s blog and have cooked many of her recipes numerous times. If you’re quick, you can order a bag of her mother-in-law’s organic garlic, grown with love and care in the NSW Southern Highlands. Garlic not your thing? Try a copy of Alexx’s #1 Amazon best seller Real Treats (available as a PDF or Kindle format).

 

Mary Grace

Mary Grace Jewellery

Mary is a mum of six (!!) yet still manages to make gorgeous affordable jewellery, look fabulous and make it look easy. She produces a range of styles of earrings, necklaces and bracelets that is regularly updated and expanded. Her service is second to none and I’ve often bought things to give as gifts and been torn about parting with them. I think I’ll have to get another piece for myself when I put my Christmas order in. You can find browse the huge number of styles available on her website or on Etsy.

 

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4MyEarth

4MyEarth is a small Australian business dedicated to finding simple solutions to help reduce waste and other environmental impact. Rebecca produces re-usable food wraps, snack pockets, food covers and produce bags. I’ve used a bread bag for about 12 months to store my homemade bread and I’ll be ordering some of the food cover sets to go under the tree.

Go and visit some of these lovely ladies and get some Christmas shopping done quickly and easily while supporting small Australian businesses.

Which one of these takes your fancy? Do you have a favourite small online business you can share with us?

Caz x

Raspberry Infused Vodka

Raspberry Vodka

Once upon a time, there was a glut of lemons and a bottle of vodka. They were destined to make limoncello, primarily to give as gifts this Christmas but some for entertaining as well.

Alas, with one thing and another, the lemons and vodka did not meet. The lemons were used in ordinary, every day cooking. A few might have gone off… And then it was too late to start limoncello for Christmas anyway.

The vodka and empty bottles continued to sit in a corner in my kitchen reminding me of a task not done. Promise unfulfilled. And they were getting in the way.

Today was the day to give the kitchen a good scrub and I started in the vodka corner. Mainly because it’s a small space and I figured if I could just get one bit under control and nicely clean it would inspire me to keep going.

A flash of inspiration…

Raspberries. I have loads of frozen raspberries.

Raspberries + Vodka = Delicious! And February in Melbourne is still a great time for fruity summer cocktails.

After quickly consulting Chef Google, I settled on the following cobbled-together method.

  • Wash and sterilise 3 bottles
  • Place 50g frozen raspberries in the bottom of each bottle.
  • Using a funnel, pour 50g sugar over the raspberries.
  • Top with 1/3 bottle of medium quality vodka (my bottle was 700ml).
  • Screw the lids on and give each bottle a few gentle shakes.
Raspberry Vodka


A beautiful rich colour already.

I’ll continue with ‘the shakes’ each morning until the sugar has dissolved and then hide them away in a dark cupboard for 3 months. Hopefully. They might get tested before then.

I was feeling down that I hadn’t got the limoncello made but now I’m feeling chipper about the prospect of raspberry vodka with soda and lime come February.

Have you ever had a plan go awry only to come up with a cunning new plan?
What’s your favourite infused beverage?

Caz x

Keeping Christmas Simple – Gifts

Simple Xmas Gifts

With Christmas fast approaching, as well as Master A’s birthday, I found myself in a state of overwhelm about it all the other day.

There’s so much to do. How will I get it all done?

I want it to to be beautiful, meaningful, blogable, Pinterest-worthy even.

Money’s tighter this year, I have to set a budget but not skimp. 

I want to be organised not stressed but I’m getting stressed about wanting NOT to be stressed.

Sound familiar?

If so, Myquillyn from The Nester has a piece of wisdom to get us back on track.

 It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful this Christmas.

SIMPLIFY

Simplify has been a guiding word for me this year as I realised I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. So how to simplify Christmas?

Today we’ll talk gifts.

I like to put a fair amount of thought into what I choose for the important people in our lives but I want to still be able to feel the joy of giving. I also want the process to be reflective of my philosophy of heart-centred living. Consistent with my values if you will.

Here are the key things I’m going to keep in mind this year to keep it simple, keep it joyful, keep it heart-felt.

Use What You’ve Got

I was going to make lovely upcycled heart ornaments to go with the teacher gifts but when I looked in the present box, discovered lovely porcelain ones I’d bought for next to nothing at an outlet store. The hearts can go on next year’s list. If you’re the sort of person like me who snaps up lovely things when you see them, have a good look in the cupboard and see what’s lurking there.

Streamline Handmade Items

I have made gifts for friends and teachers for many years, some years making up to a dozen types of edible or consumable items, some of which couldn’t be made or packaged until almost the last moment or were very time intensive.

This year I am going to keep to things I can make quickly in bulk ahead of time. Things I can make in my sleep so to speak but that still send a message of love and gratitude. I’m thinking about Lemon Sugar Scrub, Chocolate Granola and Chocolate Chai Syrup.

Theme Your Gifts

The people in our lives will have many intersecting interests so take advantage of that and buy multiples of things or gifts on a similar theme. Last year many of my loved ones received the Humans of New York coffee table book. Some of my ideas so far for this year include Keep Cups for the takeaway coffee drinkers, Adam Spencer’s Big Book of Numbers and a framed family portrait for the grandparents.

Shop Small

Last year I ended up buying a large number of gifts at Volumes, an independent book store/gift shop/cafe when a friend took me there for lunch – beautiful books, children’s activities, decorative items. I don’t think I’ll make it there this year as it is a bit of a drive but there are some local places I know I’ll visit.

There are so many talented women in the Australian blogosphere producing beautiful products that I’ll be seeking inspiration there as well. Look out for my upcoming post featuring my favourites.

I accept that I’ll probably lapse into the frenzy of Christmas at times but if I can just make things a little simpler, a little calmer then I can count it as a win.

Does gift shopping get you all hot and bothered? What are your tips for creating some calm from the potential chaos?

Caz x

Simple Chocolate Chia Breakfast Pudding

Choc Chia Pudding

Chia seeds are all the go at the moment and with good reason – they’re a powerhouse of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fibre and minerals such as calcium, manganese and phosphorus. I put them liberally in bread, cookies, smoothies, no-bake treats and of course, chia puddings.

There are plenty of recipes around for chia puddings with all sorts of ingredients, including superfood powders, lovely parfait style layers and crunchy, crumbly toppings. This recipe came about when I wanted to use up the rest of a can of coconut cream. Rather than use a pile of ingredients, I decided to keep it quick and simple – chocolate (of course) plus the left over coconut cream with a couple of tiny tweaks.

It whipped together in a couple of minutes and topped with fresh berries the next morning I had a delicious, healthy, sustaining breakfast. I’ve since made it for other people and it’s gone down a treat. It’s like having dessert for breakfast, so why wouldn’t it?

Simple Chocolate Chia Breakfast Pudding

2 tblspn chia seeds
1/4 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup coconut water (or milk of your choice)
2 tspn raw cacao powder
1 tspn maple syrup
1/4 tspn vanilla
pinch of salt
berries to serve

Mix all ingredients except chia seeds and berries in a bowl until well combined.
Fold through chia.
Pour into a serving dish (I like to use a nice glass or bowl so it feels a bit fancy).
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Serve with fresh berries.

All measurements are approximate – it won’t make or break it if you guestimate.

Let me know if you try it or if you have a favourite chia pudding combo.

Caz x

Upcycling With Chalk Paint

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I love a good upcycle. I love the challenge of taking something and turning it into something new.

I love how upcycling can allow me to keep things that might otherwise not continue to be useful or beautiful. Especially things that have sentimental value.

I’ve had my eye on Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for some time but baulked at the price being charged here in Australia. My perfectionist tendencies came to the fore and consequently I didn’t get going on a project as I didn’t want to ‘stuff it up’.

In my roaming around the interwebs, I discovered Websters Chalk Paint Powder. You can add this to any acrylic paint to create a very similar product. Sample packs are available for a really reasonable price, I thought I’d give it a go. [Read more...]

Why I’m Embracing Being Perfectly Imperfect

Perfectly Imperfect

We all can be our own worst enemies at times. You know, getting in our own way when we really want to move forward or up or sideways or diagonally or somewhere.

After years of knowing that I’m really hard on myself but not understanding why I keep getting in my own way, I finally reached a point a year or so ago where I could own the perfectionist tag. I never identified with it before. That was ‘other’ people.

What does perfectionism do for me?

Being a perfectionist has led me to achieve some neat things, usually for other people’s benefit rather than my own. And I mean that in a good way – I love doing things to benefit others and gain a lot of satisfaction from it.

Being willing to ‘work myself to death’ has enabled me to be part of some fabulous experiences. But not be able to fully embrace them as I was so exhausted and stressed. [Read more...]

Eating Our Way Around Singapore (Part 1)

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Marina Bay Sands from Gluttons Bay

My musician hubby had a month long job in Singapore recently which gave Mr 7 and I the chance to hop on over for the middle part of his contract. That way we wouldn’t miss each other too much, we’d get a kind of family holiday plus a visit to Legoland Malaysia into the bargain!

We all love to eat in this house. Nom nom nom. My cooking is often inspired by the food we’ve eaten in our travels around south east asia over the last 18 years. Singapore has so much great food as it’s a meeting place of many cultures and cuisines.

We basically ate our way around the island, exploring the different ethnic quarters as well as the primarily residential area that was our home base. [Read more...]

Nutty, Seedy Cookies

Nutty Seedy Cookies

I’m always on the hunt for baking recipes that pack a punch of goodness. I like to adjust, substitute and add things to increase the ‘value’, particularly for Mr 7. Cookies seem to be a better way to get nuts and seeds into him as he finds the contrast of textures too much in a muffin and muesli-type bars don’t appeal. [Read more...]

Listen To Your Heart

Listen to Your Heart

Listen to your heart…

No, not the Roxette song from the late 80s and I’m not talking in the romantic sense either.

Listen to your heart… Open your heart…

The universe has been conspiring to place women in my path to ensure I get the message:

Stop over-thinking.
Get out of your head and into your heart. [Read more...]

Confessions of a Dishonest Mama

Mothers lie

Yes, I lie to my child. Not just about the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny either.

Sometimes I lie to my child about what I’m feeding him.

As I’ve mentioned before, my Mr 7 has sensory and anxiety issues with food. It makes feeding him frustrating, difficult and sometimes embarrassing when other people don’t get why your child won’t eat millions of things ‘all’ children eat. [Read more...]