Easy Gluten Free Ice Cream Cake

When my family gets together for holiday celebrations, I am always in charge of making desserts.

I love baking and making sweet treats and could spend hours looking through recipes for something new to try.

This Easter I was doing my usual search for something delicious, when I remembered that whatever I made had to be gluten free, as a family friend who was joining us can’t tolerate the stuff. Automatically I thought about orange and almond cake, but that really seems to be the go-to choice of cakes and…..how many of those do you need to eat in a lifetime?

My other dilemma was that it would need to be made at least 2 days in advance and not go stale and yuck by Easter Sunday. I could not find anything that I really liked in all my recipe books, so I decided to make up my own. After enlisting some help from a friend who does not do gluten, I had all the info I needed to construct my ice cream cake. The perfect choice for a make in advance dish.

Please excuse the not-so-flash image, but we were happily munching away when mum suggested that I should pop the recipe on the blog! Clever girl that mum of mine.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 10)

1 X 2LT tub of Bulla Vanilla ice cream

1 x packet of Woolworths Mini Meringues

(or you can make your own and have plenty leftover to munch on later)

1 x packet Double D Marshmallows, chopped into little chunks

2 cups of frozen mixed berries

METHOD

Step 1 – Place the frozen berries in a large bowl so they start to defrost.

Step 2 – Prepare your pan. I used a round 22cm deep dish pan, but you can make it into a log or even a square if you prefer, as long as it has at least a 2 1/2 litre capacity.  Cut a sheet of baking paper long enough to fit the base, up both sides and a little extra overlap. Fold the paper over twice to create a strip. Lay it across the centre, up the sides and fold the excess over. Using two or three lengths of cling wrap, line the base and sides completely. This will make the cake really easy to remove when you are ready to eat.

Step 3 – Mash the berries a little and then scoop the vanilla ice cream into the bowl. Using a wooden spoon mix until just combined, crush the meringues in your hands and place in bowl with marshmallow pieces.

Step 4 – Mix again until just combined and then spoon the mixture into your prepared pan. Press down with the wooden spoon to make sure it fills all of the pan without spaces and smooth over the top. Cover with more cling wrap and place in the freezer.

This recipe should be made at least the day before required so that it is frozen solid.

You can decorate each slice with fresh berries or an extra meringue if you made your own.

Enjoy!

What is your favourite gluten free dessert recipe?

Sharing for #IBOT at kyliepurtell.com

The High Tea Party

the high tea party brisbane pink hope

It is not everyday you get to dress up and spend an afternoon with a best friend enjoying a delightful high tea, but that is just what I got up to last Sunday!

The High Tea Party starts it’s Australian circuit in Brisbane and offers you a perfect opportunity to get some girlfriends together for a little lot of merrymaking as you not only get to enjoy a beautiful dining experience, there is also free flowing champagne and shopping! It does not get much better than that.

While my friend of 39 years and Miranda Kerr were doing the tea thing….I was making the most of the bottomless champagne!

We arrived 2 hours before our official starting time and we are so glad we did. There was room after room of shoes, handbags, clothes, aromatherapy, tea, travel,
Tupperware, art, make up and more to explore. And that Royal Daulton display was just divine, I wanted to take it all home with me.

Once inside there was gifts on the table, unlimited tea and coffee, traditional High Tea favourites such as finger sandwiches, mini quiches, scones and delectable bite size morsels of yumminess…..yes, those chocolate mousse cups tasted just as good as they looked.

There were talks from sponsors and prize giveaways, your name goes into a draw to win $1000 of Royal Daulton, but most importantly there was a fashion parade, with a difference.

One of my blogging buddies Vicky from Life On The Hill was one of the models in the fashion parade featuring gorgeous gowns from Living Silk.

All of the models that took part in the parade are courageous women who have been fighting the cancer battle and they all got up on the stage so proudly and I don’t think there were many dry eyes in the house during this important part of the event to raise awareness for #pinkhope. They all looked so beautiful after being treated backstage to hair and makeup pampering.

the high tea party fashion parade featuring living silk

How fabulous does she look?

A big thank you to Vicky for letting me share in this very special day. xxxx

Find out when the next event is happening in your city and book a date with your besties. We really had so much fun and I am sure you will too! We have already decided that next year we are going to get a little group together as there were a few who wished they had been going too.

Have you ever been to The High Tea Party event?

Sharing for Lovin’ Life Linky with Write Of The Middle

5 Ways To Use A Notebook To Change Your Life!

journalling to change your life

If you are anything like me, you just might have a pretty notebook or two ten that you have not written a single word in yet.

If you don’t have a stash of prettiness, now might be the perfect time to invest in one or two, but really any notebook will do. One of the most powerful ways to invoke change is to write things down and make a plan. With the new year only two months old, why not try some of these ideas to help make 2017 really awesome.

A word after a word after a word is power” – Margaret Atwood

****

AWESOME AFFIRMATIONS

The stories we run on repeat in our brains, reflect how our outer world appears. If we continually put ourselves down we cannot thrive. When we continually tell ourselves I can’t do this or I don’t have that we create negative feelings towards that subject and the energy you project out is what you keep getting in return. Positive affirmations repeated over and over again, gently retrain the brain to think about things in a positive way.

For affirmations to be effective, they must be written in a way that declares you already have that thing, or feel that way. Using words like when I or if I etc. will keep fuelling the negative belief because you are affirming that you don’t have it.

Think about all the things you would love to have, be or do and how you would feel when they are reality and frame your affirmations as a statement that its already happened.

Starting affirmations with ‘I am’ is very powerful as you are declaring it is so, with no room for maybe’s.

Write down every positive affirmation you can come up with, or a quick scroll through Facebook or Instagram for inspiration or google positive quotes/affirmations and start filling your book. When you need a lift or are having a tough day with a flurry of negative thoughts, read through your affirmations and feel your focus change and energy lift.

WEIGHT LOSS DIARY

The path to losing weight it one of those journey’s that can be long and arduous. Everywhere you turn their is another chocolate bar or vanilla slice waiting to be consumed. I have never been thin a day in my life and there have been a few times I have felt positively huge, so I totally get how hard it can be. So much emphasis is placed on what you CAN’T have when you want to shift some weight, but you can use a journal to focus on the things you can have and do to make it a more positive experience.

Obviously tracking your weight loss is a good place to start, but sometimes focusing on reduced measurements can be more rewarding. Use gold stars or cute stickers when you see the numbers go down for added incentive.

Make lots of lists such as exercise you actually enjoy, healthy meals that are easy to make, snacks that are good for you, clothes you would like to buy when you reach your next target and rewards such as a beauty treatment.

Adding photo’s of your success is a great motivator. You could also add pictures from magazines of how you would like to look and the clothes you would like in your wardrobe works a treat too.

Tracking everything you eat for a week or more can be confronting, but an honest list can be very powerful in helping you not eat that family size block of chocolate out of sheer terror of writing that shizz down!

BURN BOOK

This might not be the perfect choice for your prettiest notebook as some of things you use it for will be going up in smoke…literally!

Writing down your problems can be therapeutic in itself. Dumping your anger down on a page can help to release built up stress and rage.

When you have finished writing down everything that needs to go, tear the pages out and take them outside. You will also need some matches and a bowl or bucket. Set the pages alight and ask for all to released to the universe to deal with. Let it burn while you take a big deep breath or two and then place it in the bowl until it is only ashes.

If you are struggling for answers to a problem, take the time to write out what is concerning you, and then place the pen in your non-dominant hand and start writing whatever comes up. Don’t judge or analyse but let the words flow. By letting your other hand do the writing you are turning off the logical process of the brain and allowing the creative area to flow and this could be a way for you to tap into solutions that your logical thinking may not have thought of.

COMMONPLACE BOOK

This form of note keeping has been around for centuries and was developed as way of keeping handy information in one place long before the invention of computes, smart phones and tablets.

Rather than relying on memory, a common place book is an ideal way to keep track of things so that all the information remains in one place. Use it record scraps of information that you know you will want to remember them in the future.

Fill it full of quotes, ideas, cooking hints, reading suggestions, poems, movies to watch, quotes from articles or books, websites you want to check out, measurements and any other bits of information you don’t want to forget.

You can add photo’s, magazine clippings, paint chips or any other visual reminder.

This handy tool has eliminated all those little scraps of paper that I would continually jot things down on and then could never find them when I actually needed them. I leave mine on my desk but have a mini notepad in my handbag incase I need to jot something down whilst I am out and then I just add it in when I get home.

My middle aged brain is enjoying this one stop information shop!

GRATITUDE JOURNAL

We all have good days and bad days, but one of the worst things you can do for your emotional and physical well being is to go to bed angry.

Gratitude is a very powerful emotion that can open the doors to wonderful things. Giving thanks even when things are tough can really help to calm fear and frustration.

No matter how tough your day has been, going to sleep with your last thoughts being one of thanks and love will help you get a better nights sleep and will fill you with the energy of positive attraction.

Before you turn off the light, find one thing that you are grateful for that day. Even if it is just that this day is over and you have a bed to sleep in will be a good start. Write it down in a notebook that you keep beside your bed.

If you have had an awesome day, then write down more things. Flip through the book at the end of each month and bask in the feeling of all the great things that did happen. It is a surefire way to feeling good and inviting more of that into your life.

****

Do you love pen and paper, or have you gone the techno way to keep things sorted?

Sharing for the #Lovin’ Life Linky with Write Of The Middle.com

A Few Of My Favourite Things – Jan 17

Well just like that the first month of the New Year is already over.

I did find a few new favourite things and I hope the trend continues!

NEW TREAT FOR MY FEET!

The weather has been so hot, and I really hate wearing closed in shoes in the heat. Cute little thong arrangements might look nice, but they do not offer any support. After suffering for over 6 months with Plantar Fasciitis, I learned the hard way that wearing shoes that provide support is so important.

I don’t know where these awesome things have been hiding all these years, but Fitflops have been a game changer for me.

Fitflops are my favourite shoe for support and comfort during the warmer months

I first discovered these clever inventions when I was shopping at the post Christmas sales, and they were not on sale. $199.00 for a casual shoe is a pretty high price tag so they stayed on the shelf.

Just a few days later I got an email from OO.com.au and I scored these beauties for only $55.00 including delivery. This bargain hunter could not wait for the parcel to arrive!

The moulded base provides great support for my instep and they are so comfortable to wear. Definitely worth investing in.

FAB NEW FRAGRANCE

I have had many favourite fragrances over the years and they damn well keep discontinuing them. I still have the tiniest bit of Tuscany Per Donna by Aramis left that I refuse to use.

It is really lovely to have a bestie that is prepared to take a gamble and buy you perfume for your birthday.

Versace fragrance

She did good, really good.

Versace Bright Crystal not only looks divine, but I absolutely love the really fresh but not too florally scent.

CHEERS!

On a very hot Brisbane day a few weeks ago, I went on a scavenger hunt around the city. We did not have to collect things, but photo’s for the prompts provided. It was one of the most fun things I have done for a long time, and fortunately the group of girls that I was in were so much fun.

One of the prompts was ‘Your team having a drink’.

Our very first port of call was the pub, as a drink was absolutely required.

We all decided to pick a different coloured shot to make the photo look kind of fun.

I love coffee

Whilst we all tried to decide which shot to have, the bar tender asked if any of us like coffee?

She obviously has never met me before, but I yelled yes the loudest and in return got this little glass of goodness.

Coffee + Tequila = Heaven.

This slid down way to smoothly that I was so tempted to abandon the rest of the hunt and make myself comfortable at the bar for the rest of the afternoon.

PRETTY AS A PICTURE

Kerrie Hess is right up there on my A list of illustrators that I admire.

I discovered that if you sign up on her website, you get an email each month with pretty calendar page.

kerrie hess prettiness

I have mine on a clip board at my desk and it is a really pretty edition to my office.

****

I hope you have had a great start to the year and things just keep getting better!

Did you find any fabulous new things in January?

Sharing for #The Lovin’ Life Linky at WriteOfTheMiddle.com

17 Things To Do In 2017 To Make It A Great Year!

How to make 2017 great

Hello 2017! What wonderful things will you bring?

The new year is now in its second week, how are those resolutions going?

If you made some the odds are pretty good that you have not stuck to them. If you have, YAY! You deserve a glass of bubbles tonight.

One of the best ways to start off a fresh new year and have it go pear shaped is to make plans and promises that require major changes to habits that you have been used to living with possibly for years now. If you have not stuck to your resolutions you already feel like a failure.

Change takes time unless you have willpower made of steel. I sure as hell don’t but I also do not want to keep living the same ‘stories’ that have dominated over the last few years.

2017 is a ‘1’ year which in numerology is the start of a new cycle, so it is the perfect year to start making the changes you want to see for your future. Small steps taken daily will help you form new habits and by the end of the year you will see some real changes.

Here are some things worth giving a try, they might be a good fit for you, or may help trigger ideas so that you can make your own list.

ONEA WORD

Choose a word to guide you through 2017 rather than a resolution. What is the one thing you really crave or the part of your life you would love to change the most? Choose a word that will constantly remind you of the direction you want to head towards. This year my one word is RELAX, as it is one of the hardest things for me to do, but I know it is something I truly need to master. I feel guilty when I made time to play with art supplies or read a few pages of a book as there is always so many things that need doing and being a single mumma means everything has to be done by me, there is no partner to help with the work load. I made this little reminder with some scrapbooking supplies and I see it every time I sit down t my desk.

one word 2017

TWO – CHANGE IT UP

Change can be scary. Our ego would be much happier if we just keep doing the same old things as it is comfortable there and feels safe. So often fear stops us from trying new things incase we fail, but trying new things is the only way to realise dreams. Sometimes just trying to decide on what steps to take can stop us from even starting. Try this little Feng Shui tip for inviting in change. Move 27 things around your home. Keeping everything in the same place allows stagnant energy to build up. At the change of every season move 27 things into different spots and allow fresh energy and ideas to flow.

THREE – CHUCK IT OUT

Decluttering is a buzz word right now and for good reason. You need to get rid of old things to make room for new things to come in to your life. Just start with one drawer and then move on to the next and throw out everything that you really don’t love. I have so many things that I hang on to because I ‘might’ need it, but late last year I started tossing and will keep going until every room in the house is done.

FOUR – DRINK IT

This coffee addicted mumma would rather sip on a skinny cino than a glass of water, but we all know that hydration is vital for good health. Keep some lemon and lime slices in a snap lock bag in the freezer and put a fresh slice of each in a big glass or water bottle and keep sipping the water during the day. I drink coffee because I love the taste and it does not have much effect in boosting my energy when I am running out of oomph. When I do need a pick-me-up, an extra big glass of water makes a huge difference.

FIVE – SNACK SMART

Whilst a total diet overhaul would be a very good way to knock off the weight and improve how we feel, it takes super strong willpower to see it through. One easier way to start moving in the right direction is to watch what you snack on. Yummy treats are calorie laden and can make a huge impact on total daily consumption. Choosing healthy snacks will add boosts of goodness to your diet and help ease the guilty feeling you often get from stuffing a few biscuits or a bar of chocolate down your throat. Here is some easy suggestions.

snacks for clean eating

Image credit

SIX – CREATE A LITTLE SOMETHING

If you have a hobby, awesome, just make sure you find time to do a little every day. If you don’t, get one! If you don’t think you have a creative bone in your body, an adult colouring book and pencils is the perfect way to start. Engaging the right side of the brain, will give the left side a break from all the plotting and planning that it loves to do. Its all about balance. The to-do list will still be there when you have finished spending a little time playing with colours but the world won’t fall into a big heap just because you took a little time for yourself.

SEVEN – 10 MINUTES A DAY

Big goals don’t get achieved in a day. Write down the biggest goal you would like to achieve this year. Does it scare you because you have no idea how on earth you can make it reality? Below that big goal, write down all the things that will have to happen to make it real. Then everyday pick one small thing you can do to get the ball rolling. Even if you just start off researching, spend 10 minutes a day learning what you need to do or get to move you towards your goal.

EIGHT – FRESH IS BEST

I don’t have a special someone to buy me flowers anymore, so I buy my own. Nothing lifts your spirit quicker than glancing at a fresh bunch of blooms. Bring them in from the garden if you are lucky enough to have them or buy a bunch each week or so. I always get great value blooms from the supermarket, and as I work there I know what has come in that day so always get the best. Just make sure you throw them out as soon as they start to wilt or they will have a negative effect on the energy in your home.

i love fresh flowers especially lillies

NINE – SAVE THE POINTS FOR THE SILLY SEASON

Woolworths have upgraded their rewards programme and you can now select to collect your points and have them released in time for that big Christmas shop. You just have to let them know via the website that you would like to choose that option. You can also do the same thing with Coles and have your Flybuys points credited to your card whenever you like. If you buy groceries you might as well get something in return, so swipe the card each time you go shopping.

TEN – GIFT CARD CLUB

If your bank does not offer a Christmas Club style account, you can make your own. Each month buy a gift card and hide them away at home. When its time to start Christmas shopping you can take the cards to use for purchases. This is a much easier way to deal with Christmas without putting your credit card through its paces and then having to deal with repayment pain in the new year.

ELEVEN – START SMALL

Investing in shares can be risky and volatile, but can also be a rewarding way to expand your net worth. It is possible to start the journey into the share market for literally pennies until your confidence grows and results are seen. I don’t have time to spend hours studying the market and making the choices to buy and sell. At the same time one of my goals was to find a way to invest in something that can grow over time.  Thanks to one of the Facebook groups I am in, everyone was raving about Acorns and I presumed it was an American only initiative. A quick app search lead me to discover the Australian version and I am starting small to test the water and see how it all works. A big oak tree starts as an acorn, so I am seeing how big this can grow.

TWELVE – BURN IT

We all have issues that take up valuable real estate in our brain. Stories that keep popping in and cause us to feel stressed or upset. One way that can help release the grip these memories hold is to right them down in vivid detail as though you were explaining the situation to a best friend. Just the exercise of writing it down can bring calm and clarity, but tear those pages off the pad and roll them into a cigar shape, take them outside and set them alight. As they are burning, ask that your issue release its hold on you and let the universe disperse the pressure. (Please make sure you have a safe vessel such as a BBQ or bucket of water to place them in once you have set them alight so you don’t burn yourself)

THIRTEEN – ONE GOOD THING

Gratitude is a powerfully positive magnet. When you are thankful for what you do have it draws more good your way. BUT we all have days where nothing seems to go right and it is very easy to stay wallowing in a negative state. Everyday this year, I am going to right down one thing that I am grateful for. Even when the going gets tough I can still be grateful that the day is over and tomorrow is a new one. At the end of the year it is going to be fun looking back over a whole year of good things.

FOURTEEN – GO OUTSIDE

No matter what the weather is like, make time to go outside, connect with the glory of nature and breathe in some fresh air. Direct exposure to sunlight (not for too long) is vital for Vitamin D production and serotonin levels, the hormone that helps us feel happy. It is so easy to stay locked up inside, especially when it is cold and this can directly influence how we feel very quickly.

two of my favourite things the beach and coffee

FIFTEEN – SCENTUAL

If you have never experienced the power of Pure Essential Oils, make this year the one that you change. At the most simple level all you need is an aromatherapy burner, a tea light candle, a little water to put in the dish and some citrus based Pure Essential Oils. Don’t buy the fragrance oils from the cheap shop as not a single plant goes into making those and they have zero ability to make a difference. Choose from Lemon, Orange, Neroli, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Tangerine or Mandarin. All of the citrus oils are not only anti-bacterial so great for killing off airborne bugs, but they are all powerful mood enhancers. They will make your home smell fresh and will help lift your spirits. Please ensure you place the burner high enough that little fingers cannot get close to the naked flame and only start with one or two drops to ensure no one in the household reacts to them.

SIXTEEN – NEW

Let this year be one of discovery. Try new food, a different restaurant, a different brand or cocktail. Find a new fragrance, new shade of lippie or try out a different hair colour. Visit a new destination, fly with a different airline or play tourist in your local hood.  Join a group, take a class or have a go at a sport you have never tried before. The list of possibilities is endless, just give it a go.

SEVENTEEN – HUG THEM TODAY

Every day is a blessing, let the ones you love know how you feel, as tomorrow is not guaranteed. Share the kisses around, send a text or make that call. Enjoy every moment that you can. Love is truly the highest power we can attain and the most powerful healer of past hurt. xxx

****

What wonderful things do you want to experience this year?

Sharing for Lovin’ Life at Write Of The Middle.com

Party Perfect Pavlova!

Easy Pavlova Wreath

A fresh pavlova is hard to beat for good looks and great taste, and best of all they are SO easy to make.

I whipped up this one for a girls Christmas get-together, but you can change the toppings to suit any season or occasion.

It is always best to make the pavlova the day before required so that it can completely cool in the oven otherwise you risk it collapsing.

****

INGREDIENTS

4 large egg whites at room temperature

(Its best to separate one egg at a time into a small bowl first so that if any of the yolk accidently makes it through you can ditch that one and start again, as egg yolk will stop the whites from whipping stiffly enough.

1 cup of caster sugar

300 ml thickened cream

1 cup of thawed frozen raspberries mashed

2 kiwi fruit with skin removed and sliced

****

METHOD

Preheat oven to 140C.

Line a 28cm round baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

(If you don’t have a round tray you can trace a circle on to the baking paper and place on a square tray)

Place the 4 egg whites into a ceramic or glass bowl and beat with electric beater until thick and soft peaks form.

Add the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition until the mixture is thick and glossy.

Spoon the mixture into blobs around the edge of the tray to form a wreath shape.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, and then turn off the oven and do not open the door, until the pavlova is completely cold.

Transfer the wreath onto a serving plate.

Beat the thickened cream until stiff peaks form.

When you are ready to serve, dot the cream all around the top of the wreath as this is the ‘glue’ that holds the toppings in place.

Add the sliced kiwi fruit and drizzle the raspberry mixture over the top.

Serves 10 people.

****

Another really yummy pavlova topping to try is sliced banana and a smashed up peppermint crisp bar…..yummy!

This recipe gives you a firm pavlova, if you prefer a chewier style, try this recipe instead.

What is your favourite pavlova topping?

5 Things To Do Now To Make Christmas Easier!

christmas tips

Christmas is supposed to be about fun, spending time with family and eating lots of good food. The trouble is the effort required to get to that special day can be totally hectic.

For me work gets crazy, the social calendar gets full and this single mumma still has a household to run and mouths to feed. I need to try and make things as quick and easy as possible so that I don’t completely lose the plot.

Here are 5 things I do to make the countdown to Christmas as smooth and organised as possible.

No 1 – CLEAN OUT THE FRIDGE & FREEZER

I always seem to end up with a collection of half used jars of goodness crap at the bottom of my fridge and things in my freezer that I can’t really identify any more.

Before a single thing for Christmas cooking is bought, it is time to make space for them. If things are passed use-by they go in the bin and those that are still good, get used up quickly with the help of a little creative menu planning.

No 2 – STOCKTAKE YOUR PANTRY

Each year I am in charge of the baking and dessert making at Christmas and one year I forgot to buy caster sugar! Never again!

Clear out all the stuff that has been taking up valuable space and do a stocktake on all the non-perishable items you will need this year.

If you have never tried online grocery shopping, now is the perfect time to do it. The shops are getting busier so why not have all this heavy stuff delivered to your kitchen bench instead. Think about all those heavy things like dog food, kitty litter, soft drink etc. that you wont have to lug around. Woolworths and Coles have free delivery on Wednesday if you spend $150.00 or more.

No 3 – MAKE A LIST (OR 10)

Grab a little note book or even a left over exercise book and start writing everything down. Keep that book with you at all times during the month of December so that you know exactly where your preparations are at. Some of things in my book include –

Present Buying (whom and what has been bought)

Greeting Cards/Emails

Recipes to make (which book/magazine/website it is in)

Budget

Things to buy (candles, serviettes, batteries etc.)

Social Events including what I have to take

Gifts received (can be handy if you ever want to re-gift

No 4 – MENU PLAN

To save time, money and calories on take-away meals during this hectic time create a simple 7 day menu plan each week in the lead up to Christmas.

Choose quick and easy meals that can be on the table in a flash or make a double batch and freeze half for use later in the month. You could also organise a meal swap with family or friends who live close by so you get a night off cooking and get to try something different.

No 5 – HAVE YOUR PRESENT SHOPPING DELIVERED TO YOUR FRONT DOOR

Spending hours battling the crowds looking for that perfect gift for someone is no fun! AND if you love a good bargain then you need to check out some of these great online stores that will deliver your purchases to your front door for $10.00.

K MART

CATCH OF THE DAY

OO

BUY INVITE

Just about every shop you like can deliver to your home or organise a click and collect where you place your order and then pick it up instore. Save your legs and time and let someone else do the walking for you.

I hope some of these tips will make your run up to Christmas Day a little easier.

What is your favourite way to stay on top of it all? I would love to know!

Sharing for #ArchiveLove at BloggersandBacon

How To Pack Light For Your Next Trip!

how to pack light for your next trip

Holidays are just around the corner and is so exciting to head off and leave routine and alarm clocks behind. One thing that can be very stressful is trying to decide what to wear whilst you are away as baggage restrictions will not let you take your whole wardrobe with you unfortunately. After spending 13 years as a corporate travel consultant I have learnt a few tricks about how to make a mini mobile wardrobe work hard so you can look stylish everyday!

Last weekend was an extra long one for me, in 5 days I had 3 hours of train travel to get from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast for a wedding, a flight from Maroochydore to Sydney, two different hotels in two nights and a flight home to Brisbane. I had to lug my suitcase everywhere myself so I was determined to make my smallest suitcase work so that I did not exceed the 15 kg weight limit nor break my back lifting and pulling it around the country!

CHOOSE CLOTHES THAT MIX AND MATCH

Work out what your favourite colours are and pick one or two to work with as a base. Ideally you want 2 or 3 tops that can be paired with one pair of pants, shorts or a skirt. I chose black and white as my base, as this classic combination always looks fresh and classy.

vivid international clothing

(Both tops and sheer black cardigan are from Vivid International and white cami from Big W.)

Consider pants with elastic waist bands as they are much more comfortable if your travel requires a lot of sitting and you don’t need to pack belts.

Don’t forget leggings for supreme comfort. They are light weight and can be worn under long pants if you are heading somewhere cold.

Select drip dry fabrics that can be quickly hand washed at night and hung up in the shower to dry ready for another wear.

Use jewellery to add pops of colour or to glam up at night.

Don’t pack shoes that are not super comfy or cannot be worn with multiple outfits as they take up too much space and are quite heavy.

Limit yourself to one cardigan or jacket in a neutral colour that will go with everything.

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR SUITCASE SPACE

Roll each outfit into a tight sausage shape and wrap in cling wrap. This will not only keep clothes fresh, but you will not have to iron them.

Buy mini size toiletries or decant your favourites into small travel bottles.

Stuff socks into shoes to help them hold their shape.

Pack a small snap lock bag of washing powder for hand washing clothes mid trip.

Pack underwear into snap lock bags with the air expelled. Worn items can be put back into the bags until you get a chance to wash them.

Use a pretty cosmetic bag for your make-up that can double as an evening bag if needed.

Take medication out of the boxes and put the sheets into a small pouch.

****

Vivid International fashion

(Top from Vivid International and pants from W.Lane)

I was gifted a selection of the Spring/Summer range from Vivid International for editorial consideration. Each piece has been so comfortable to wear and they travelled beautifully. I am wearing size 16 and they are a generous fit. There are over 350 boutiques in Australia and New Zealand and you can find your closest one here.

What is your favourite packing tip?

Are you heading away for the holidays this year?

Sharing for #IBOT with Kylie Purtell.com

 

How To Fund More Fun Into Your Retirement!

Property investment for retirement

How many years do you have left before you can walk away from your job for the last time and enjoy life in retirement? More importantly, have you worked out how you are going to cope financially when those pay packets no longer land regularly into your bank account. The sooner you take action and work out how to fund more fun into your retirement the better off you will be. Relying on the age pension and your superannuation may simply not be enough to guarantee the freedom you would like in your golden years.

 

You can’t party on the pension!

Even if you own your home outright, life on the pension will not allow you much room for play. The current payment for a full pension is $436.00 per week for a single and $658.00 for a couple (eff. Nov 16) and at first glance that looks ok and you can definitely get a counter lunch or two at the local club with that. Prepare even the most basic of budgets and by the time you have allowed for major expenses like rates, insurance, health insurance, home repairs, food, electricity and motor vehicle expenses, there wont be much left for holidays or filling the fridge with Moet.

The introduction of compulsory superannuation has ensured that every working Australian will have something in their fund to use in retirement, but unless you have contributed additional funds personally or have an employer that has added more to your fund as part of your employment package, you could be very disappointed in how quickly your super is spent.

 

Create an additional income stream with real estate

 

The equity you have in your family home can be the key to lots more fun in retirement. In almost every part of Australia, real estate prices only go up. Purchasing an investment property sooner rather than later could provide you with an asset that continues to grow in value. Depending on your circumstances when you retire you could sell the property and enjoy the capital gain or continue to receive rental income. Throw in the tax benefits that can come with real estate investment and you could be on a real financial winner.

There are plenty of things to consider when choosing an investment property such as location, close access to important amenities such as public transport and schools, as well as current demand on properties in the areas that appeal to you.  Before you get excited about seeing ‘SOLD’ splashed across the ‘For Sale’ sign it is imperative that you do your homework and please get advice from experts in financial planning and real estate before you make large investment decisions.

 

Don’t sink your savings into a lemon

 

buying an investment property to fun retirement

 

It is very easy to get a little carried away when looking into buying an investment property. On the surface everything may look fresh and fabulous, but you need to be very wary of vendors and real estate agents that have only one goal in mind. Sell the property!

With the help of paint, fake walls and floors or new tiles, a myriad of problems can be hidden from sight. The last thing you want is to buy a ‘lemon’ that will require you to sink your savings into big ticket repairs and maintenance outlays. It is absolutely imperative that you have a thorough building inspection done buy an independent expert in preference to a company suggested to you by your agent that might not provide a completely accurate report.

Action Inspections are a fully accredited and compliant company that have been providing concise property inspections in my home town of Brisbane for 28 years. You will be amazed at the extent of detail that goes in to providing a Pre-purchase report. If you are anywhere else in Australia, a quick internet search will help you locate a suitable company in your area that could save you so much money in the long run. Don’t forget to ask friends and family for recommendations as well, they will know whether their report was accurate or not.

Retirement should be all about sleep ins, planning fun getaways or spending quality time with family and friends rather than a continual circle of stress about how to pay the bills. An investment property has the potential to help you fund more fun in your retirement. You have worked hard for all that you have, make sure you don’t jeopardise any of that by making choices without expert assistance.

* This is a sponsored post, all opinions and ideas are my own.

Have you made any plans for retirement other than superannuation?

 

How To Turn A Gourmet Food Hamper Into A Delicious Christmas Lunch.

how to turn a gourmet food hamper into a yummy christmas lunch

Every year without fail Christmas rolls around again and the hunt for perfect presents and planning luscious meals begins. If you are like me and don’t have hours spare battling the crowds at the shops or flipping through a pile of recipe books, I might just have the perfect solution for you! Last week I enjoyed an afternoon of taste testing beautiful products from a gourmet food hamper or ten that were provided by Australian Gourmet Gifts.

Whilst munching away on an amazing selection of goodies and sipping on a glass of wine, I was already ticking people off my present shopping list who I know would love a big dose of good food in their home this festive season. At the same time I was planning a menu that was easy to prepare but would taste fantastic and impress all those sharing the table on Christmas Day.

When only the best will do!

I come from a family of dedicated foodies that spent decades involved in restaurants and gourmet food shops. A BBQ chicken from the supermarket deli and a store bought pavlova just will not cut it with my clan. Putting a really nice meal together can be easy with the clever use of tasty ingredients with really fresh produce and choosing recipes that can be prepped well in advance so that you can spend the day relaxing and not slaving away in the kitchen.

With so many hampers to choose from, the hardest part was picking the best hamper to use as the base for creating the menu. In the end the Gourmet Connoisseur Hamper won out for its great blend of savoury and sweet inclusions and there will still be plenty of goodies left to enjoy in the new year.

gourmet hamper christmas lunch

 Image Credit – Australian Gourmet Gifts

 

Delicious Christmas Lunch Menu Ideas

EASY ENTREES

Plate Up A Platter – The easiest way to start off Christmas Day celebrations is with a platter of delectable nibbles. Take The Natural Nut Company – Entertaining Nut Platter and the Absolute Organic – Antipasto Organic Mixed Olives to get started. Add your favourite cheeses, dips or pate and a selection of savoury biscuits and chunks of fresh sourdough bread.

Pesto Puffs – Ready made puff pastry sheets can quickly be turned into yummy mini quiches that can be made the day before and reheated on the day or served cold. Simply add 1/2 teaspoon of Australian Country Gourmet – Sun Dried Tomato Pesto to each one before adding the egg mix from this recipe.

MAKE AHEAD MAINS

Ham It Up – A freshly baked ham will be a winner for you this year and any leftovers can be frozen in portions for use throughout the New Year. Place the whole ham on a chopping board and using a small sharp knife gently remove the rind leaving as much of the fat as possible. Score the fat in rows firstly across the ham and then from top to bottom. Spread a generous amount of Hank’s Jams – Fig & Cinnamon Jam all over the scored section and sprinkle with finely chopped macadamia nuts. Place the ham in a large baking dish lined with foil and baking paper. Sprinkle a little water into the pan before baking at 180C for 45 minutes, basting after each 15. Serve warm or cold with a big bowl of crisp salad.

Terrific Turkey – Instead of spending hours baking a whole turkey, why not try a turkey breast roll instead. Follow the roasting direction on the packet and when it is done remove from the pan, but don’t throw out the all the deliciousness remaining in the bottom. Scrape it all into a small saucepan and over gentle heat add 300ml of thickened cream and 1 heaped dessert spoon of Australian Country Gourmet – Chardonnay & Sage Creamy Mustard and bring to a gentle boil for 1 minute and you now have a super sauce to serve with your turkey. Bake a large tray of mixed vegetables at the same time as the turkey sprinkled with Maggie Beer – Extra Virgin Olive Oil and some fresh sage leaves.

DELECTABLE DESSERTS

Posh Pudding – A store bought plum pudding can be ready to eat after just a few minutes in the microwave. Have your guests begging for more by serving it with the best Brandy Cream. For the final touch grate a few pieces of Rinati – Elite Almond Hard Nougat to sprinkle over the top.

Individual Ice Creams – If you would prefer something cold for a hot Christmas day, why not make these little ice cream bombs. Into a large bowl add a tub of good quality vanilla ice cream and beat until softened. Add some crushed Ital Choc Hazelnut Biscotti and a handful of frozen raspberries. Spoon this mixture into bowls that have been lined with cling wrap for easy removal and place in the freezer until it is time to serve. Swirl a generous amount of Australian Country Gourmet – Rich Chocolate Sauce on to each plate before placing the ice cream on top.

creating an easy christmas day lunch

Image Credit – Grace and Co. Property Styling

Don’t forget to stock the fridge with plenty of Christmas cheer and make sure you add a bag or two of ice to the shopping list.

You can order all the Christmas hampers and gift baskets (including the really lovely ones that come delivered in the luxurious black metal cooler in the pic above) that you could ever need without stepping into a single shop from Australian Gourmet Gifts and free delivery is included, so it does not get any easier than that!

This is a sponsored post as I was a guest of Brand Meets Blog that organised this tasty get together on behalf of Australian Gourmet Gifts and all opinions and ideas are my own.

Which is your favourite gourmet food hamper?

Are you cooking Christmas Day lunch this year?

Sharing for #IBOT with KyliePurtell.com

Give A Bag Of Hope This Christmas! #itsinthebag

#itsithebag

#itsinthebag

Yesterday I bought my first Christmas magazine for the season, no doubt the first of many.

I am lucky to have family to spend this special time with, in fact its one of the few times a year we all get together as we are all so busy.

For many women, Christmas will just be another day, probably a very tough one.

Everyday the number of women who are homeless or have simply walked away with nothing from a domestic violence situation is growing.

The most basic necessities that we take for granted they just do not have.

When you are planning your celebrations this year, could you please add one more thing to your list.

A HANDBAG

You don’t have to go out and buy one, it can be one of yours that you just don’t use anymore.

I cleaned out my extensive handbag collection the other day and I have kept two that I am going to fill up. The others were showing signs of just too much wear and the idea of passing those on just did not sit well with me, so I binned them.

Or pop into your local Op shop and grab one that is in decent condition.

Fill the bag full of things that would put a smile on a ‘sisters’ face.

Practical things are great such as personal grooming items are perfect.

Pretty things like a notebook and pen or a piece of jewellery are ideal.

Share The Dignity will have collection points all around Australia where you can drop off your bag between 19 November and 3 December.

Together with charity organisations around the country these bags will be given to those ladies in real need in time for Christmas.

There is a list of suggested items on their site as well as a few things you are not allowed to pack in your bag for safety reasons.

You can join their mailing list to get updates on drop off locations in your state and they will be listed on the site closer to the date.

Christmas is the perfect time to share some generosity with others and this awesome idea will ensure that every dollar you spend is going directly to help shine some positivity and love where it is so desperately needed.

*****

** I was not asked or paid to write this post, it is a project that I am supporting and really hope that you will too.

xxx N

*****

Sharing for #IBOT with Kylie Purtell.com

Yummy and Healthy Avocado Hummus

Avocado and Hummus dip

This yummy dip was an accidental experiment that turned out to be really awesome.

I have never made my own hummus before and decided to give it a try when I had the family over for Fathers Day.

I wanted something easy and tasty for us to nibble on before lunch.

My original plan was to have a bowl of hummus and a bowl of guacamole, but when I opened the seemingly perfect avocados they were almost completely black!

I salvaged what I could and decided to throw it into the hummus, glad I did.

Thankfully there was a tub of marinated antipasto goodies in the fridge to add to the platter and save the day.

***

INGREDIENTS

1 avocado (skin and seed removed)

1 400gm can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

1 small clove garlic (finely diced)

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

salt & pepper to taste

***

METHOD

Place all ingredients into a jug and blend together well with a stab blender until smooth or use a food processor if you prefer.

(I am just tooooo lazy to wash all the bits, so the stab blender is one of my favourite kitchen tools.)

The recipe is enough to fill two of the bowls shown in the picture.

***

You can make this a few hours in advance, cover tightly with cling wrap and keep it in the fridge until ready to serve.

Wholemeal pita bread makes a great accompaniment and are also very easy to make.

Slice a whole pita bread in half and they cut each half into wedges. Bake in a moderate oven for approximately 8 – 10 minutes until they are crispy.

If you want to make these in advance you can by allowing them to cool to room temperature and then seal in a freezer bag until required.

Enjoy!

Have you ever accidentally made something yummy?

Linking up with Kylie Purtell for #IBOT

Previous Older Entries


Digital Parents