Cooking is an activity that Sophia and Grace really enjoying helping with. We baked a cake for Sophia’s birthday a few weeks ago and with the girls helping out with little things like stirring the batter and cracking the eggs into the mixture. This is why I’m always out on the look out for cookbooks that contain recipes that are not only kid-friendly but something they can easily assist with. There are so many books available out there but these are the books I really rate for their easy to follow recipes that are tasty and guaranteed to please even the fussiest eater.
Mandy Sacher is a paediatric nutritionist and definitely knows a thing or two about recipes that are easy, but also jam packed with nutrients to satisfy any growing child’s needs. I love the fact that this turns familiar kid favourites such as muffins and mac and cheese and gives it a healthy spin. Also she’s got plenty of dishes that are ideal for fussy eaters and also perfect for meals for the entire family.
Firstly, if you don’t have a Thermomix, this book is also available in a version that uses conventional cooking. But if you do, this is a great one to have on hand. Louise Fulton Keats hails from one of Australia’s most well known cooking families with her grandmother Margaret Fulton a cooking icon. As a qualified childhood nutritionist, Louise has pulled together a collection of recipes that are perfect for both toddlers and babies, and also super easy, so busy parents will definitely find it a handy tome to refer to whenever they’re stuck for what to cook.
Donna Hay is without a doubt one of Australia’s most well known names in cooking and now she’s turned her hand at writing a cookbook that’s made entirely for kids. What I liked about this book is that all the recipes are easy to follow and also something that the girls and I can cook together. I’ve referred to a Donna Hay recipe or two in the past and this book delivers the same style she has adopted for her other cookbooks: accessible, appetising and with dishes that you’ll come back to time and again.
I always love a road trip out of Sydney as it’s a great way to relax and have a change of scenery. This time around I went on a girls’ getaway with my friends Nadia Fairfax and Yan Yan Chan. We were lucky enough to be invited by Destination NSW and the city of Orange to experience everything this lovely regional city has to offer. After a busy few days at Fashion Week last month we decided to take them up on their offer and head off for a few days of rest and relaxation and some girl time. Orange is around a 3.5 – 4 hour drive out of Sydney so we all jumped in my car and headed off on a Tuesday morning. We definitely could have used more than three days enjoying the city but here’s my list of the best places to see, eat and shop.
Where we stayed
We stayed at The White Place House which is a gorgeous heritage cottage within walking distance to the Orange CBD. It’s always good to be in such close proximity to the action so we loved how central our accommodation was. Whenever I rent a house when I’m travelling I always inevitably see something whether it be a beautiful trinket or a luxe blanket that I really want to take home, so I was rather pleased to find that The White Place House has a store which sold an edit of the furnishings in our cottage. I may have taken home a souvenir…
Where to eat
It was my first time to visit Orange and one of the great things I discovered is that they’ve got a thriving food scene so we were really spoilt for choice as far as restaurants and cafes went. We checked out Orange’s hot new restaurant Charred Kitchen & Bar which uses local produce and cooks everything up in a wood and charcoal oven (their wine list also won an award from Gourmet Traveller Wine) and Mr Lim Korean and Chinese Diner where we enjoyed a great dinner and even better cocktails. I always like to scope out a good cafe whenever I arrive in a new town and we particularly rated Groundstone which is a Scandi-inspired cafe with good food and the coffee was awesome. Also Byng Street Local Store is a fave of locals (always a good sign) and we enjoyed a lovely breakfast there one morning. If picturesque surrounds are your thing make a point of sitting down to lunch at Racine Restaurant—it overlooks a vineyard and view is to die for.
What to do
If you’re into wine Orange is definitely the place to be as they have so many incredible vineyards. We enjoyed a private wine tour and tasting at Ross Hill Wines which is always a nice way to while away a few hours. Also we paid a visit to Heifer Station Wines where we were able to ride bikes and prune the vines and also sit down for a relaxing cheese and charcuterie picnic. Another spot I’d highly recommend is Swinging Bridge Wine where we also enjoyed a wine tasting and Rowlee Wines where we were lucky enough to enjoy a private tour of the estate. And don’t miss grabbing a drink at Ferment in the Orange Wine Centre which is both a wine store and tasting room.
If you’re in the mood for something active do the bushwalk to Federal Falls. It’s a 4km loop track that starts and ends at Federal Falls campground. You’ll pass through lots of tranquil scenery but the enormous rock faces we saw were a definite highlight. Get up early then reward yourself with a delicious breakfast at one of the local cafes for all that exercise!
Where to shop
The girls and I had to check out the local shopping scene of course, and stumbled across a few gems. The Sonic is a must if you’re after beautiful, unique homewares, they also have a good edit of clothing that’s worth checking out. We also popped into Angus Barrett Saddlery & Leather Goods which has some amazing hand-crafted leather goods such as belts and bags. Hawkes General Store was another spot we liked, they had a great selection of clothes, shoes and accessories and really cute kids’ clothes.
This post was produced in collaboration with Destination NSW and Orange360
Another big week on Instagram (and on my blog)! I shared a few snaps from Sophia’s 5th birthday on our family farm in the Southern Highlands – if you’ve got a Disney princess lover in your life check it out!
Also given it’s officially winter I’m sharing my new skincare routine. The cooler weather means I’m more focused on looking after my skin – nothing worse than a dry, damaged complexion so I’m employing a new beauty regimen.
It only seemed like yesterday that Sophia was born so it’s hard to imagine my little angel is now five! To mark such a milestone occasion we threw a party for Sophia at my parents’ farm in the Southern Highlands in NSW. We always like to host parties there as there’s plenty of room for the kids to play and run around.
This year the theme was pretty much what every five year old girl I know is into: Disney Princess! I love a themed party as it makes everything else easier from the cake to the entertainment as there’s a distinct theme to work around.
For food, we did a sausage sizzle which is something we’ve done a couple of times that works really well for feeding both adults and kids. That’s my number one piece of advice when throwing a kids’ party: don’t double cater. We also had a few fruit and cheese platters and sandwiches, whilst the kids had a few treats like popcorn and lollies. We had a Disney Princess cake by Sweet Mama Cupcakes and cupcakes by My Little Cupcake.
As far as entertainment went we had pony rides for the kids (always a crowd pleaser!) and a jumping castle. I also always hire a birthday fairy to help keep the kids entertained and in the one spot. The kids love it but as a parent it’s always good to know that all the little ones aren’t running off doing their own thing.
We had gorgeous weather for the party so it was a perfect day for Sophia to celebrate with all her friends. Until next year’s party!
When it comes to Mother’s Day I find that sometime it’s often nice to bypass the busy restaurants and cafes and host a great brunch or lunch at home. My mum and sister-in-law both live close by (my parents actually live in the same apartment building!) so it’s really great to get everyone together at home and put on a lovely spread. Whilst I love entertaining, I don’t like having a stressful time prepping for it so I’ve learned how to make the process a whole lot easier. Here are some of my tips.
I don’t like having to make a mad dash to the shops on the day of any event I’m hosting so I like to do things in advance. I’ll often buy all my groceries ahead of time so the fridge is stocked with everything I need so all I have to do is assemble everything on the day.
Go for a simple menu
I favour a simple menu whenever I’m entertaining. I’ve found that if I’m hosting a brunch or lunch that putting together platters of food is far easier than having to whip up an entire meal. I’ll often do a sweet and savoury platter, so lots of fresh fruit and a cheese platter. It’s also easy to serve up things like pastries or delicious gourmet sandwiches. I find you can still have a really abundant looking table this way but you’re not having to slave away in a kitchen for hours.
Ensure drinks are pre-chilled
It’s easy to forget to put drinks in the fridge on the day so I make a point of just popping everything in there the day before. I like to have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks so I’ll always have juices and water and some beverages chilling. For any Mother’s Day event I always make a point of having something like rose, wine or champagne. I’ve worked with Sterling Vineyards in the past to throw a party and find their range to have some good options.
Dress the table
Part of any event is a really inviting table so I make sure that I put in the extra effort to dress it up. I’ll always have bunches of fresh flowers scattered on the table and also throughout the house. I also like to work with different types of flatware, dinnerware and glassware, mixing and matching pieces to work to a particular colour scheme or theme. I find having different platters of various shapes and sizes add an element of interest to the table. I think the aim is to always make the table look abundant so it’s inviting and pleasing to the eye.
Create a relaxing ambience
It’s always good to have a welcoming environment whenever you are entertaining and I’ve found a great way to do this is to have a beautiful scented candle burning. There’s just something about an inviting scent throughout the home that makes it a place people want to be. Also I like to have some relaxing music playing softly in the background to help lift the mood and add a fun vibe to the occasion. They’re easy and simple things to do but they can make all the difference.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner and it’s the perfect time to spoil your mum and show her just how much you appreciate her. In case you’re at a loss for what to get her this year, I’ve decided to share my favourite gift ideas — things I’ve got my own mum in the past and things I’ve received. These five things have always been a success on the gift front and I’m sure they’ll put a smile on your mum’s face too.
You’d be hard pressed to find a frazzled, busy mum who wouldn’t welcome being gifted a relaxing massage. I’ve always been really excited to be given a massage as a present as it means I can have a little time to myself. Plus not only is it usually something that most mums wouldn’t regularly purchase for themselves but it’s a luxe way for them to unwind.
Going to high tea is one of my favourite things to do, especially with my mum. I think it’s a lovely way to spend Mother’s Day and a great idea for a gift as you can enjoy a nice meal and spend some quality time together too.
I have a weakness for beautiful fragrances so I’m always thrilled to receive a new addition to my perfume wardrobe. The great thing about being gifted perfume is that every time you wear it you’re reminded of the person who gave it to you. I’m sure any mum would be happy to receive a lovely new scent this Mother’s Day.
I always enjoy looking for books to give to my mum and I myself love receiving new tomes to add to my collection. I’m a fan of biographies so I always gravitate towards that genre, and I’m particularly keen to read Michelle Obama’s book Becoming.
Adding a personal touch to a present is always a guaranteed way to ensure any gift is a success. I think creating a crafty gift is always lovely when you’ve got younger kids, and they really enjoy making it too. And given we all have so many memories stored on our phones I think anything photo related is always such a beautiful present, especially these days when it’s so easy to print or create something special with just a few clicks on your mobile.
Every year I’m faced with planning a birthday party for Sophia and Grace’s birthdays. And as any parent who has planned a birthday party of any sort can attest it can be a stressful experience trying to pull an event together for several children. To avoid stressing myself out every year I’ve managed to hone my party planning down into a simple strategy that will enable me to get a party off the ground without too much drama. Here are some of my tips.
Keep it simple
I’m not one to throw a huge party. Often the girls’ parties will include just close family and friends so it’s a manageable guest list. Also we will streamline things so we’re not dealing with a lot of decorating or multiple activities or an over the top menu that will require hours to be spent in the kitchen.
Have a theme
I’ve found theming a party to be a great way to provide some parameters to work within for the party. So I’ll often have a particular theme and then just base any decorations, activities and food around it. I’ve found this makes it easier as without it, there are just far too many options which can be stressful in itself.
Incorporate some entertainment
Having some form of entertainment for the kids is crucial for keeping them happy and occupied. In the past we’ve had games and I’ve hired a birthday fairy who does everything from singing songs to providing activities at the girls’ parties. If you can hire someone or have a friend or relative who you can rope in to entertain the kids, definitely do it as you don’t have to worry about what the kids are doing and where they’re running off to on the day.
I pre-prep everything and tend to buy all the groceries I’ll need to cater online. This way it just shows up on my doorstep and I don’t have to deal with the supermarket on top of everything else. I’ve also found that buying everything else online like party supplies and decorations is great as it means I don’t have to hit the shops and therefore it cuts down the time I have to spend on party prep.
Don’t get fussy with the menu
Try not to double cater if you can and just have one menu for both adults and kids. I avoid anything fancy and just stick to finger foods or we’ve had a BBQ in the past. This gets around having to spend a ton of time in the kitchen and more time just enjoying the party with your little one.
What are some of your tips for throwing a kids’ party?
Usually packing to go overseas can be quite frantic as I try and get my entire family packed up for a holiday but my recent work trip to Paris was a different story. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the global launch of the new Huawei P30 in the City of Light so it was the perfect excuse to pull together a few outfits incorporating some of my favourite new season pieces from my go-to Aussie designers.
Whenever I’m in Paris, everyone looks so chic so my packing was a little more considered, not to mention I had a few events in my schedule that I would be attending. Here’s a little breakdown of every outfit from my Parisian sojourn…
I’m really into suits at the moment and I love the cut of this one by Rebecca Vallance. I opted to wear this as a two-piece set and dress it down and make it sightseeing appropriate by pairing it with baby pink Chanel sneakers. When it comes to suits I’m really into double breasted jackets as I find they’ve got a modern sensibility to them. The cropped trousers also add a more relaxed feel to the outfit. The great thing about this look is that I could easily dress it up by simple swapping sneakers for heels.
For breakfast at the insanely beautiful Peninsula Paris, I wanted a look that was casual yet polished. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with the classic pairing of a white shirt with jeans. These Camilla and Marc jeans have been so versatile and are just the perfect cut and as such I’ve been wearing them constantly. The white shirt with its slightly billowy sleeves made for a dressy companion for denim, and paired with my new go-to Chanel sneakers, it was an on trend look that still maintained a dressy feel. My new Prada bag was also great for the trip as I was able to pair it with virtually all of my outfits and I could carry it via the handle or strap, making it perfect for sightseeing.
Shop the look:
Shirt: by Camilla & Marc (currently not available)
Pants: Margot Cropped Straight Leg Jean by Camilla & Marc
For a trip to Versailles I wanted to dress up a bit but also wanted to remain comfortable so a dress seemed the perfect choice. I love the print and silhouette of this Camilla and Marc mini dress, but wanted to give it a little extra shape so I decided to cinch it in with one of my favourite belts by Isabel Marant. It was still slightly chilly during my time in Paris, so I decided to go for over the knee flat boots by Stuart Weitzman and a red faux fur coat to snuggle up in. My pink Bulgari bag allowed me to carry all my essentials but minus the fuss of actually having to carry a large bag. Also I was able to use the same bag when I was going out to dinner so it was a really versatile piece to take with me on my trip.
For one of my first strolls around Paris I opted for a great checked belted dress by Dion Lee. Given it was still a little chilly outside I layered it over a long sleeved white tee and paired it with my grey over the knee boots. When you’re travelling and have to dress for trans-seasonal weather I think boots are always a great option as they keep you warm but if it starts to get a little hotter you’re not left sweltering. My Prada bucket bag once again made an outing as it’s the perfect size for sightseeing and is easily converted into a slightly dressier option by carrying it as a top handle bag. I think one of the golden rules of packing for a trip is to ensure that whatever is in your suitcase can be worn in myriad ways so you don’t end up having to take your entire wardrobe with you.
We went out for dinner one night and I wanted to wear something dressy so it was the perfect opportunity to wear this chartreuse midi dress by Camilla and Marc. I love the simple and elegant silhouette of this particular dress but in such a striking colour it becomes a showstopper piece. It was a little cool to be wearing heels so black boots helped ground the look whilst still keeping me nice and toasty.
I brought this Rebecca Vallance suit along as I was able to wear it as separates with the jacket or pants paired with something else or as a set. Black suiting is always a classic option and it was the ideal outfit to wear out to dinner at a local restaurant. An all-black look when you’re travelling is a failsafe choice as it’s guaranteed to look chic and doesn’t require much fussing around. I kept my look quite simple, opting for black pumps and simple jewellery to channel a minimalist Parisian vibe.
Juggling a busy schedule, I always like to schedule weekends away to help recharge my batteries. Often we’ll head away as a family to our farm in the Southern Highlands, but sometimes Luke and I will head somewhere together for a little quality time. It’s always such an effective way to re-energise and recalibrate myself for the busyness to come. If you’re planning a long weekend here are my tips for making the most of some time away:
Pack something special
I always make sure that I pack something which is easy to wear but also something that makes me feel special. For me, going away is a time to experience new places and do something I wouldn’t usually do at home and this means wearing things I wouldn’t normally get to wear on a day to day basis.
So many times I have splashed out on an amazing dress for a special event and not known when to wear it again. A weekend away, is the perfect opportunity to re-wear these amazing pieces in a different environment.
My TOME shirt and skirt are a perfect set to take away because it is lightweight and easy to travel in for the car trip. Plus as they’re separates it’s easy to mix and match them with other pieces which means less to pack.
Stick to neutrals
The classic blue and white makes this outfit a winner to take away because it is easy to accessorise. Accessories are a must for short trips because it lets you change up the outfit depending on how the plans unfold. Switching between flats, heels and even sneakers allows an entirely new look for what I am wearing.
Try before you pack
It is important to try on the outfits before you go away to make sure that you pack a really tight edit of outfits. The more you plan, the less you have to pack as you won’t bring any unnecessary items. I always check that my outfit options will work with accessories such as the sunglasses and hats I pack to make sure I can wear things in multiple ways.
Bring a book
For most of us, time at home doesn’t lend itself to a lot of time spent reading because we’re all so busy. This is why I always pack a good book when I’m going away for the weekend as there is nothing better than lying in the sun with a book and getting lost in the pages.
Do your beauty prep before you go
I always make sure I have my hair done and nails painted if I am going away to ensure I’m beauty-ready for any occasion that may come up. My picks at the moment are OPI’S ‘Lost on Lombard’ and Bobbi Brown lipgloss.
When you get away, it is the perfect time to also indulge and pamper yourself and this includes catching up on beauty treatments. I have been using the KORA organics skin care range, which leaves my skin feeling so refreshed.
Pick an easy location
Luke and I pack the car early in the morning with the girls in tow and enjoy an easy ride to our getaway destination. From Sydney, one of my favourite short trips is to the Southern Highlands. It is a perfect way to escape a busy week and have a relaxing weekend.
Luke, Sophia, Grace and I like to make the most of weekends by doing something different and creating special memories together.
I was in between meetings this week when I found the most gorgeous petal chair at furniture store Matt Blatt. Needless to say it was one of those pieces that was totally Insta-worthy and I couldn’t resist snapping a few pics. What do you think? Do I need this chair in my life?