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Lifestyle

How to style a bedroom that will grow with your child

27th September, 2020

Styling a beautiful, cosy nursery is often one of the things expecting parents love to do in preparation for the arrival of their little one. However as most mums and dads can attest babies grow very quickly into toddlers then school-aged kids and in turn their once perfect space can become too young and will need updating frequently.

Designing a new room each time your child gets older can become a costly experience so it pays to instead start from the very beginning and create a space that can easily grow with him/her. With the help of Kristy Withers, founder of children’s furniture retailer Incy Interiors and Magdalene Liacopoulos, interiors stylist and founder of By Magdalene, here’s how to design the perfect kids bedroom that will adapt with age…

Gather all your visual references for a kids bedroom

“The first step when designing a kids room is pulling together all your inspiration images and visual references of furniture and decorator pieces, as this will reveal the style and colour combinations you are drawn to,” says Magadalene. It is during this process that Magdalene says that it’s important to consider trends versus classic design, what is actually achievable in the space, and what will grow with your child and your family.

Invest in key features like furniture

The furniture in your child’s room should be able to grow with them so think beyond the baby stage and look for pieces that can grow with your little one. Kristy says, “it’s important to select versatile pieces of furniture that will adapt to each stage of development, such as Incy Interiors’ Teeny cots which features rounded corners and sturdy, removable sculptured side rails that can be transformed into a ‘big bed’ as baby grows.”

To avoid a cluttered space Magdalene says storage is always a sound investment. “Pick a set of drawers that can be used as a change table by adding a topper. Also think about whether these drawers can work in another area of the home if they need to be relocated down the track.”

Also don’t forget about the lighting in your child’s room. Magdalene says it’s important to be able to control lighting (nap time is one such occasion) so “splurging on the right window coverings for your space will be money well spent.”

Image: Incy Interiors

Avoid themes

A jungle-themed nursery might be a cute idea for the first few months but it has a limited shelf life. “Having a ‘themed’ kids bedroom will date quickly so select pieces that with a little rearrangement could easily transition onto the next phase in your child’s life,” says Magdalene. “For example opt for a simple wall shelf (my favourite are by H and G Designs) over a Batman-themed one, and create a ‘shelfie’ where items are interchangeable as your child’s tastes evolve.”

Keep it neutral

A room that will grow with your child should essentially be a blank canvas that can be updated with a few key components so Kristy says a neutral colour palette is advisable as “you can subtly or dramatically change the room by adding accessories like throws and pillows which will completely change the dynamic of the space.”

Most importantly a kids bedroom should be a conducive space for rest. Both Magdalene and Kristy agree that a clean, streamlined space is preferable to filling a room with lots of decorative elements or working with bold, bright colours or feature walls to avoid overstimulating children and provide them with a calm space to sleep.

Choose pieces that have a long lasting purpose

Your child will likely have an extensive book collection as he/she grows up so Magdalene says a set of bookshelves is something that can easily work in a space no matter how old they get. She suggests taking it up a notch and creating a dedicated reading nook. “By adding a seat or floor cushion (Australian brand Little Connoisseur  have a cute range of floor cushions) it will be a comfy spot for storytime before bed, and as your child grows, a space where he or she can have their own quiet time.”

Magdalene say other elements that can work as your child gets older are things like baskets which are great for housing everything from nappies and toys to dirty laundry and will transition easily through the infant to toddler phase. Art prints (especially illustrations) are also an inexpensive way to decorate and are a classic and timeless addition to any bedroom.

Think beyond the room

It may be hard to imagine now but further down the track your child will want to decorate their own space so it’s important that things like furniture are able to be rehoused elsewhere in the home. Kristy highlights the new Incy x Hobbe Blush Rocker [below] as a great example of a piece that can be repurposed. “[It] features a clean silhouette and squared sofa shape that is a drastic departure from the traditional wingback nursing chair commonly associated with nursery rooms,” she says. “Available in blush or navy it features tapered legs in shiny rose gold to help create a modern day nursing chair with a design sophistication that will eventually grow up and out of the baby’s room to join you in the lounge.”

Incy x Hobbe Blush Rocker (RRP is $1,299).

Lifestyle

How to get your kids to eat more vegetables

20th September, 2020

Finding ways to get kids to eat vegetables is a constant challenge for most parents. I know it’s something that we have to deal with in our household on a daily basis, and finding new and creative ways to make vegetables appealing can become an impossible task at times.

This is why I’ve enlisted the help of paediatric nutritionist and founder of Wholesome Child Mandy Sacher, who has previously shared her great insights on kids nutrition on the blog. Here she shares her tips on how to deal with a child who isn’t really big on vegetables, and how to make it a process that’s less stressful and more fun.

Create a “rainbow” plate

“Many children I see are repetitive vegetable eaters—meaning that they eat the same limited range each and every week. Whilst all vegetables are beneficial, the ultimate goal is to eat a diverse range of colours and groups to get the maximum benefit. We all eat with our eyes first, so it makes sense to engage your child visually when encouraging them to eat more variety. Encourage your little one to create their own rainbow plate, it’ll engage their imagination and will lead to a nibble or two!”

Include one new veggie a week—and lead by example

“There’s often a strong connection between children who eat the same vegetables each week and parents who do the same. Through parents expanding their own repertoire, children will have an opportunity to see and taste a variety—and watch their parents enjoying the broader range, too!  Try salad veggies, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and brussels sprouts, and starchy vegetables like pumpkin or sweet potato.”

Don’t forget beans and legumes

“Beans and legumes are our most nutritious plant foods. Rich in proteins, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, fibre, minerals and phytochemicals. Hummus, lentil soup, bean stews and chickpea falafels are a fantastic way to introduce legumes to your child. Try kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas and lentils. For canned varieties, look for BPA-free cans wherever possible and rinse well beforehand to reduce sodium levels.”

Include sea vegetables

“Due to its high calcium content, seaweed strengthens bones and teeth. It’s also high in iron, has antimicrobial properties and is a good source of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre which helps prevent constipation.

Nori, rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C as well as iodine also contains protein. Use it for sushi, shred it over salad or create veggie-filled seaweed wraps filled with julienned carrots, cucumber, shredded chicken (or protein of choice) and avocado. If your child likes the seaweed snack packs that are commonly found in supermarkets, seek out varieties that are free from additives such as MSG or added sugar.”

Remember to use fresh herbs and spices 

“Basil is packed with essential oils which are known to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Use in tomato-based pasta sauces, sprinkle on pizza and mix into rissoles. 

Mint soothes upset tummies and improves digestion. Chill mint tea with a dash of raw honey or add fresh mint leaves and orange slices to water and serve in place of juice. 

Oregano is often used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and urinary tract disorders.  Add to chicken, lamb or beef dishes. 

Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins and keeps the immune system strong, tones the bones and heals the nervous system.  It also helps to flush excess fluid from the body and support kidney function.  Add to smoothies, chicken soup and pasta sauces.

Spices – as well as adding flavour, spices such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are packed with nutrients too. Add turmeric and ginger to chicken soup, sprinkle turmeric on cauliflower and add cinnamon to pumpkin and butternut squash.”

Create a veggie patch

“Children love planting seeds, watching them grow, and eventually harvesting what they have planted. It’s the best way to help them make the association between earth to plate, and to engage their curiosity about different varieties of vegetables. If outdoor space is limited, start off with herbs such as basil or oregano, or better yet get involved with a community garden.”

Shop for and cook vegetables together

Encourage your children to touch, smell and engage with their food.  Let them help with grocery shopping and encourage them to pick up new vegetables from the shelves and place them in the trolley themselves – this begins the engagement with the new food.

Little ones tend to be more willing to eat what they’ve helped to prepare and it’s important for them to be exposed to vegetables in their raw state and to understand how the texture and look of a vegetable changes when it’s cooked. Get them involved by asking them to peel carrots and potatoes (using kid-friendly graters), cutting lettuce with a plastic knife or adding grated vegetables to muffin batter.

It’s important for parents to be patient and to recognise that change is often slow with children.  Don’t be disappointed if they don’t eat the new vegetable or food the first time it’s offered – stay positive and freeze what’s not eaten and offer it again – persistent repetition is key here.”

What are some creative ways you’ve used to encourage your kids to eat more vegetables?

Fashion

How to create a stylish and functional nursery

24th August, 2020
Get the basics right and enhance the room with decorative flourishes

As the founder of premium baby and children’s furniture brand Incy Interiors, if there’s one thing Kristy Withers is well versed in, it’s how to create a stylish and functional nursery. In the early days, there’s so much time spent in the nursery changing, feeding and putting baby to sleep that it has to be a place you love being in. And with endless inspiration for nurseries available, it’s important to know the difference between a simply Insta-worthy space and one that’s actually practical and useable in real life. Enter Kristy, who is sharing her go-to tips for not only creating a gorgeous nursery, but one that’s designed to make day-to-day life with your newborn easier.

What are the most important things to consider before styling a nursery?

“The first thing I look at when designing a room is to understand what space you have to work with. What is the floor space, how high are the walls, where are the windows and doors located. This is really important to understand upfront to save a costly purchase down the track.”

What are some of the key essentials in a nursery?

“The absolute essentials for any nursery are a cot, change table and nursing chair. You spend most of those early months either feeding, changing or getting them to sleep (and staying asleep) so choosing these pieces wisely is so important.”

What are your tips for creating a great space on a budget?

“Great design doesn’t need to be expensive. Rather than painting walls you can create an amazing space with inexpensive removable wall decals, which is also a great option for renters. Buying prints rather than originals is a great way to create interest on the walls without spending a fortune. Another one of my favourite tips is to buy beautiful wooden toys that can double as decoration as well as a plaything, saving money and the environment.”

Kristy says choosing quality furniture is important

What are some things that perhaps aren’t entirely necessary in a nursery to start with?

“A bassinet is not a must-have but it was so helpful for me. It meant the baby was right next to me for middle of the night feeds and I could move it around with me throughout the day. I also deliberately left both of my children’s nurseries bare and then I purchased accessories such as toys, books and decorations as their little personalities started to show. This meant that their rooms were more of a reflection of them rather than me.”

What are some nursery design trends you’re seeing right now?

“I have been doing this for 10 years now and it has been so interesting seeing how nursery design has changed over that time. When we first started, nurseries were navy and red or yellow and grey. As general tastes have changed so have the nursery design trends. Mid-century is becoming much more popular.”

What are some of your best tips for maximising storage?

“Storage is something you can never have too much of. Always look for a change table with inbuilt storage as well as one that converts once you are done with it as a change table. All of our Incy change tables either convert to a dresser or a bookcase so that they can be used for years to come. Other great storage options are ottomans, toy boxes and storage baskets.”

Minty Magazine CoLab Styled by Madeline McFarlane Photography by Francoise Baudet

What are some of your fave design flourishes for nurseries?

“I feel so lucky to do what I do as children’s nurseries/bedrooms are the one space in the home where you can really experiment with things and have a bit of fun. I’m a huge fan of textures so I love mixing various fabrics and finishes. Leather, velvets and metallics are my absolute favourites right now. Mixing the three can create a feeling of warmth and luxury at the same time.”

What are the splurge and save items in a nursery? What should people invest in and what are some things they can afford to scrimp on?

“I always feel biased saying this but I am a big believer in spending as much as you can afford on good quality furniture, it can them be passed down through multiple children and my ultimate goal is for the furniture we are producing right now to be handed down to our children’s children. The items I tend to save on are the accessories. There are so many amazing Australian brands right now producing beautiful linen, artwork, toys and accessories. If you save on the accessories you can then swap them out for the next baby or when transitioning to a toddler/big bed.”

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

How to give 3 breakfast faves a nutritional boost

10th August, 2020

If you’re a fan of having the same thing for breakfast most days then you’re not alone— we’ve all got that one go-to we come back to time and time again. And while having a tried and tested fave is great, it’s also important to have a little variety in our diet, particularly when it comes to what’s on our plate.

Nutritionist and author of Eat, Drink and Still Shrink, Michele Chevalley Hedge says when it comes to breakfast there are three things we should strive to include.

“For most busy people and children, I recommend eating a breakfast that has a protein, fat and a smart carb. Why? Protein for blood sugar balance, immunity, and its amino acid profile. Fat for its satiating qualities, hormone balancing, brain building—not to mention the fact it’s great for glowing skin. And smart carbs for energy so you are not burning out your adrenal gland or sitting in brain fog by running on just coffee. Our body and brain love a little smart carbs and it’s our preferred source of fuel for the busy, active person.”

Keeping this in mind, there are a lot of us who tend to gravitate towards staples like toast or oats for most of our morning meals. So, here Michele shares are some easy ways to give them a new, healthy spin while also ensuring you’re ticking the protein, healthy fats and smart carbs box.

Are you an egg lover?

Try scrambled eggs or any eggs (protein) with some roast vegetables (carb)  from your evening meal and toss it through with extra virgin oil (fat) drizzled on top.

Hard boiled eggs or any eggs (protein) with hummus ( fat and smart carb) on a bed of rocket or spinach. 

Are you a toast lover?

Grainy toast (smart carb) with extra virgin olive oil (fat), tomato, and an egg (protein)

Gluten-free bread, charcoal bread or seeded bread (smart carb) with pesto (fat) and goat’s cheese (protein) 

Sweet potato toast* (smart carb) with avocado (fat) and smoked salmon (protein) 

*sweet potato toast is simply a slice of raw sweet potato in the shape of bread toasted twice in the toaster or sandwich press.

Are you an oats lover?

Oats* (smart carb) with berries and plain greek or coconut yogurt ( protein and fat ) with seeds and nuts (fat) and a pinch of cinnamon

Oats (smart carb) with a teaspoon of coconut oil (fat) sprinkled with seed and nuts (fat) 

Oats (smart carb) with greek yogurt  (protein and fat) and a teaspoon of protein powder (protein) mixed through, topped with berries for a vitamin C hit.

*1/2 cup of oats mixed with F and P should be satiating and not be too heavy on your digestion.  

‘Eat, Drink and Still Shrink by Michele Chevalley Hedge, Published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99, Photography by Cath Muscat’  

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

Inexpensive ways to revamp your home according to interior design duo The Design Paddock

3rd August, 2020

Whether you’ve watched a hefty dose of home renovation shows and suddenly want to refresh a room, or you’ve just had enough of looking at a particular problem area, revamping your home can be exciting but also a bit daunting at the same time. Where do you start? What should you keep and what should you change? And how can you do it without totally blowing your budget?

That’s where interior designers Katrina Garrett and Millie Alison of The Design Paddock come in. Experts in both residential and commercial projects, they have extensive experience in reworking a space and giving it a fresh new spin. And here, they share their tips on how to re-do a space to achieve maximum impact on a budget.

Neutral tones can freshen up a space and is extremely versatile

Pick up a paintbrush

“Paint is one of the easiest ways to make a huge transformation to your home. When considering paint, look to places such as your front door, the exterior, the entry hallway, get rid of feature walls and look to something more neutral that can make the spaces feel larger, particularly in your main living areas. It’s obvious why people are drawn to the neutral tones as they are so timeless and work with varied furnishings.”

“Look to your kitchen and bathroom joinery, there are so many paint options out there now for tiles, benchtops, laminate and more. A fresh coat of paint can make a massive change to these areas, particularly if they are dated and need a facelift.”

“Paint doesn’t just apply to the home, look at painting some furniture pieces inside or even your old outdoor pots, there are endless ways with paint. You can even paint your roof if it’s looking shabby.”

Focus on details 

“These details in the home that get used daily and most of the time are somewhat forgotten about, but when updated to something more durable and consistent with the style of your home, can make a massive difference.”

“We find that a lot of older homes tend to have inconsistencies in their door hardware, particularly noticeable when down a hallway. Look to changing to something the same that allows the home to have “flow”. This doesn’t just apply to doors, look at changing your hardware in bedroom robes, the kitchen, laundry and bathroom.”

Change your wall art, change your space

Dress an empty wall

“Sometimes all your home needs is a reshuffle. Look closely at some of your walls and where might be an opportunity to decorate.”

“Find free art! We are actually the biggest fan of hats, not only wearing them, but decorating with them. Hats are always something that people seem to hang onto forever, they might be tucked up at the back of your laundry coat hooks.”

“Try bringing them out and clustering them on a wall over a console. They not only look great but bring a sense of a ‘story’ from a collection.”

“Print out some new photos, black and white photos framed in a feature wall always look sophisticated.”

Let the light In

“There are honestly endless window furnishing options out there and we feel that they are just a beautiful piece to finish off a space. Their softness, texture and warmth can instantly make a home feel “homey”. We love to specify sheer curtains in living spaces for their floaty aesthetic and a feature roman blind for bedrooms. A block-out is always great for the colder climates.”

“Bring in more natural light. You might find yourself in an older home with large verandahs or an overgrown garden. Look at ways that might increase the natural lighting in the home. It might even be a case of replacing some full panel doors to be half glass or adding in some skylights.”

“Look at updating your light fittings. Commonly some rooms can offer little light or can be placed simply in the wrong location. Look at incorporating varied lighting styles; combine table lamps, floor lamps, dimmable downlights and pendants; these can all provide different levels of lighting for different times of the day offering the home some ambience and an all-round cosy feeling space.”

The simple act of changing up your cushions can make a space feel new again

Revive soft furnishings

“Old, tired patterns and fabrics can date the space. Whilst high-end specialty fabrics are in the designer’s toolbox, there are plenty of handsome and budget-friendly fabrics available. Quality doesn’t always mean big name fabrics. Replacing accent cushions on the sofa, consider getting slipcovers made for existing furniture that is in good condition and you’re not ready to part with. This will give the room an instant lift with the added benefits of being able to throw the covers in the wash.”

Semi-customised curtains

“Try repurposing ready-made natural linen curtains from [a store such as] Pottery Barn that don’t cost an arm and a leg and adding a fun and sophisticated trim. Get an upholsterer to sew the trim along the side seams for added depth and detail. They will look completely custom!”

Introduce paneling

“Looking to add interest to a featureless room? Try adding paneling to the walls! We are a big fan of Hardie Groove – durable fibre cement VJ sheet panels. Not only does this provide sophistication uniformity to a room but it’s also a cost-effective solution for the home. We love using this in kitchens, bathrooms (excluding showers) and laundries as you can paint it your own colour, they offer a range of styles and they won’t shrink or swell with moisture.”

Lifestyle

Best breakfasts to start the day with according to a dietitian

27th July, 2020

Top sports dietitian and nutritionist Peta Carige knows the key to a good breakfast. Having worked with elite athletes (some of which are gold medal winning Olympians) she knows they best foods to fuel up with at the start of each day.

So, if you’re stuck in a breakfast rut, trying for a more nutritionally sound start to the day or simply want more energy, these are some of the best breakfasts to consider putting on your plate. The best bit? They’re high on the taste scale too.

Oats

“Oats made with water or milk with your favourite toppings are not only extremely comforting in winter but also extremely healthy. They are a great source of soluble fibre which is great for your bowels but also helps keep your cholesterol levels low. If  you just can’t fathom having oats without brown sugar, try having half cinnamon and half brown sugar to reduce the quantity, or top with your favourite fruit, some coconut and seeds to make it even more filling.”

Overnight oats or a homemade version of bircher muesli

“Homemade bircher is the key to this breakfast as you can control what it  is soaked in and mixed with. Uncooked oats that are soaked have the highest resistant starch levels of all of the oats which makes them the best choice to feed your gut microbiome. When you make them at home – soak them in your favourite milk or water and mix in fruit, yoghurt and nuts and seeds the next day.”

Rye toast with toppings  

“Rye bread is the best combination of fibre but is naturally lower in gluten, so it suits more people’s digestive systems really well. For toppings aim to include at least one source of healthy fat such as avocado or peanut butter and one source of protein such as ricotta or smoked salmon.”

Omelettes

“Eggs are such a great breakfast for so many reasons. Firstly, they are high in protein so it will fill you up until lunch so there will be no excuses to have a break from your work for a snack. Also, eggs are a great way to hit your five serves of vegetables a day. Add into your omelette leftover vegetables form the night before or a handful of spinach and mushrooms.

Smoothies

“These are more of a summer breakfast but now is a great time to come up with your favourite flavour combinations. If you follow some basic guidelines, they are not only filling but extremely nutritious. Include the following: 1 serve of  fruit (1/2 cup), 1 serve of vegetables (1/2 cup), a source of protein (nut butter, Greek yoghurt or handful of nuts), 1 tbsp fibre (psyllium husks, oats, LSA).

Homemade beans

“A little time consuming, but the perfect way to increase your legume intake. Mix your favourite beans with passata and add your favourite vegetables and spices. Cook on low heat until well heated and infused with flavour. Serve on toast or pour into an ovenproof dish and add an egg to have a baked shakshuka.”

Quinoa bowl

“This may sound odd, but a lot of us, especially when we are trying to eat   healthy at nighttime, then struggle to include adequate wholegrains and therefore fibre in our diets. Quinoa is gluten-free, high in fibre and protein, so it makes for a filling breakfast. I cook the quinoa in advance for a couple of days then mix with Greek yoghurt, berries, and sprinkle with trail mix. It tastes like a crunchy bircher muesli and will keep you full for hours.”

Fruit toast

“I hear the disbelief when reading this, but why can’t you add this to your rotation of breakfasts? Especially while we’re at home and not eating on the run. You can top your fruit toast with either a nut butter or ricotta and some extra fruit. This feels like you’ re eating such a treat, so it’s the perfect Friday Fun Breakfast.”

What are some your fave go-to breakfasts?

Lifestyle, Shop

Luxe home buys for less than $150

24th July, 2020

Want to update your home? It doesn’t require having to spend a fortune. Given we’re all spending more time at home these days, it’s not uncommon to start looking at things with a more critical eye and seeing where different areas might need updating. Doing so however doesn’t mean having to make big changes— you can often change up a space by making simple, cosmetic tweaks. And one of the best ways to do that is with a handful of great accessories.

I’ve always found small updates can be really impactful. Adding a beautiful vase of flowers around your home or creating a stack of gorgeous coffee table books or updating the cushions on the sofa can all work together to freshen up a room. You can also work new pieces within your existing decor, moving things around to create new combinations that can instantly make a tired room feel brand new.

So, if you’re in the mood to spruce up a space, here are a few great pieces to consider.

Fashion

My fave fish recipe

17th May, 2020

Having been cooking virtually every meal at home over the last few weeks I’ve been relying a lot on tried and tested family favourites to make getting a meal on the table every night a little easier. It’s just good to know that everyone will like what’s on the table and there won’t be any dramas with what’s been served up. Enter this fish recipe (see above for the finished product). I shared it on Instagram a few weeks ago and had some requests for the recipe, so I’m sharing it here. I swear by this dish, as it’s one of the rare times I can get Luke to eat fish! It’s healthy, quick and easy and I highly recommend giving it a go.

Ingredients

1 knob ginger

2 cloves of garlic

1 long red chilli (you can leave this out if you don’t want the heat)

1 bunch spring onions

1 bunch of broccolini or green vegetables of your choice

2 cod fish fillets

olive oil

2 tbsp soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari soy sauce)

2 tsp honey

Jasmine rice for serving

Optional: extra soy sauce, sliced chilli and coriander for garnish

Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced.

2. Cook rice.

3. While the rice is cooking, finely grate the ginger. Mince garlic. Finely slice the spring onion. Finely slice the long red chilli (if using).

4. Trim broccolini (or green veg) to get it ready for later.

5. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, long red chilli (if using), spring onions, soy sauce, honey and a drizzle of olive oil and mix well. This forms your marinade for the fish.

6. Place large squares (around 30cm) of aluminium foil onto an oven tray (one per person). Divide the broccolini between the squares and top with the fish fillets. Spoon the marinade over the fish and vegetables and fold in the foil to form parcels. Make sure you fold the parcels tight as that will keep the steam in and help the fish to cook.

7. Pop the fish parcels on an oven tray and put it in the oven to bake for 15 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. 

8. Place rice on plate. Open up the foil parcels and top the rice with the veggies and steamed fish. Spoon over any remaining juices from the parcel.

9. For extra kick, I like to add a little extra soy and chilli on the fish once plated. I also top it with a few coriander leaves. Bon appetit!

Lifestyle & Social

What’s getting me through the week

8th May, 2020

It’s all about getting back to basics right now and as a result it’s the simplest things that are bringing a little brightness into my days. I’ve been embracing cooking, spending time with my family and also ensuring I’m incorporating some exercise during the day which has made another week of being in iso just that little bit better.

My slow cooker

I know I might be late to the party on this but I recently got a slow cooker and it has been amazing! I got one by Russell Hobbs and it has been such a great addition to the kitchen. It’s made getting a yummy dinner on the table easier and quicker in amongst home schooling and running my business, as I can quickly pop something on in the morning and by the evening it’s ready to go.

Australian Women’s Weekly slow cooker recipe book

To accompany my new favourite appliance I had to enlist the help of this great cook book. It features so many great recipes and so far I have tried making Mexican pulled pork, Hungarian goulash, Thai chicken curry and my husband’s favourite – American ribs. Can’t praise this book highly enough as cooking at home for almost every meal has meant needing to have plenty of dinner inspiration at the ready and this doesn’t disappoint. 

The Last Dance

This docuseries featuring Michael Jordan and the 90s Chicago Bulls is consistently topping Netflix’s list of most watched shows so we decided to check it out and it has quickly become a fave in our house. I was a huge fan of MJ as a little girl in the 90s as my brother used to watch all the Chicago Bulls games when we were kids and it has been great to relive all those moments and check back with some of the iconic players of the era.

Horse riding with my girls

Even during isolation we have been luckily enough to be able to ride and exercise our ponies. It’s so amazing to get out in the fresh air and be with these incredible animals. It’s one of the things I absolutely love doing with my girls, and it’s nice to see that they’ve also developed a love of horses.

Exercising during the week

Every weekday morning I try and get out of the house by myself for a run and some exercise. My husband and I tag team—he goes first and then, when he comes back to be with the kids, I head out. It’s only for about 40 minutes but it’s a great way to start the day. I also mix it up with Fit For Dreams Zoom classes, especially when it’s raining. 

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

Stephanie Conley’s tips for easy cooking at home during isolation

4th May, 2020

With a successful career as a fashion designer, with the likes of Naomi Watts and Kim Cattrall wearing pieces from her eponymous label, Stephanie decided to follow a different path, one that would allow her to follow her passion for food. Having studied at the Le Cordon Bleu and a brief stint in catering, she decided to start her blog, The Hostess. The hugely successful site is now where Stephanie is able to share her love of food with the world. From her favourite recipes to helpful entertaining tips, Stephanie’s aim is to make cooking and hosting friends and family a fun, exciting and enjoyable experience.

With all of us now having to self-isolate, and with more time spent at home, it means we’re all getting very acquainted with our kitchens and cooking is on the cards every night. To help make getting dinner on the table nightly an easier but also tastier exercise, I turned to Stephanie to share her top tips for quick, easy cooking that will still impress.

Get organised at the start of the week

“Thinking of a new dish to cook every night for the family can be a challenge. Make no mistake that cooking and the time it takes to get a meal on the table is not a quick fix. I always say the only way to combat this is to be organised. At the beginning of each week take the time to sit down and work out your menu for the week ahead, you can be ahead in what you need to buy which will give you more time to do other things rather than continuously go to the market to pick up food.”

Stock your freezer

“I always have a few things in the freezer that I can easily take out and defrost. If you can make two of something and freeze the other you can have a cheat day!”

Set a time limit

“When thinking of meals to cook, choose weekly dinners that can be prepped and cooked in around 30-45 minutes. More involved recipes should be for the weekend or when you can take your time and enjoy the cooking process.”

Stephanie’s new cookbook At Home with The Hostess will be available this week

Experiment with condiments

“Focus on experimenting with salsas and sauces that can add flavour quickly and using lots of fresh herbs. Fish tacos are a great way to get the kids to eat fish, make a simplified version for them then spice yours up with a quick salsa and cabbage slaw. I always have meatballs in my freezer and the kids love them with pasta but I like to add black olives and chopped parsley to mine and have a rocket and fennel salad.”

Stock up on the basics

“Have a pantry stocked with the basics such as oils, vinegar, dried herbs, spices, nuts, grains, beans and pasta. Look to these pantry staples for inspiration. Other great ways to simplify your cooking is to gravitate to recipes that can be cooked in one pot or meals with 5 ingredients, it takes the pressure off  and they are quick and easy to pull together.” 

Have go-to weekly dinner options

“Some of my favourite weekly dinners are fish tacos with fresh salsa, meatballs in tomato sauce, beef stroganoff, roasted veggie bowl with freekeh, seared salmon nicoise and beef burgers with homemade pickles. We love to have a BBQ which is very simple but I always make great sides of salad and veg to keep it interesting. I like to focus of fresh produce and home cooked simplicity.”