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Lifestyle

From snacks to sides: your stress-free Christmas entertaining guide

17th December, 2020
Image: Eatable

With Christmas just around the corner, our thoughts are quickly turning to the day itself and what we’ll be serving up to our nearest and dearest. While a feast is a delightful prospect, actually getting there is another story. For many of us, it can be a stressful experience trying to decide what to serve, with the daunting prospect of having to decide everything from nibblies to desserts and every morsel in between.

But as with most things, it always helps to have a little expertise on hand to help make it a little easier (and decidedly less scary). Which is where Liz Elton and Lisa Featherby, co-founders of food and entertaining site, Eatable come to the rescue. Both are alumni from Australia’s leading food, wine and travel bible, Gourmet Traveller (creative director and food director, respectively) so it’s no understatement to say they live and breathe all that goes into throwing a successful soiree.

Here, Liz and Lisa share their tips for everything from their go-to Christmas dessert to what drinks you need to have on hand and the must-haves on every table. (And stayed tuned later this week for their top tips on how to dress a festive table that will seriously impress.)

What are the must-haves for a successful Christmas spread?

Lisa: Condiments! We’ll be talking about the best condiments right up to the last minute on Eatable before Christmas. As long as you’ve ordered your protein—ham, turkey, seafood or whatever you’ve chosen, you can jazz it up with lots of side condiments for people to pick and choose their own adventure. 

Liz: I can’t go past a charcuterie platter. If lunch or dinner is delayed for whatever reason, it will tide everyone over until the main meal is ready. If everything else goes wrong, you can’t lose by keeping everyone’s glasses topped up with a chilled sparkling or Champagne.

What are some easy things people can do when it comes to the food/drinks that makes a big impact?

Lisa: I’d suggest investing in a big wine bucket that can hold a few bottles at a time, particularly bottles of Champagne. Have a tray of glasses to the side and let people help themselves. This makes drinks easy to pour, but also can become a bit of a feature in itself. A jug of iced water that has some fruit or mint leaves aded with a stack of water glasses to the side can also be a nice touch.

What are your favourite go-to dishes at Christmas?

Lisa: Trifle always features in some form for me, as I’m a big fan of summer fruit. Make a jelly, top with a flavoured cream or custard and lots of fruit. Buy a pannetore or pandoro and rip that into pieces into a bowl before scooping in the trifle. The yeasty flavour and spice of pannetore is one of my favourite Christmas flavours.

I love seafood, too. I’m usually keen to see some kind of seafood element over Christmas, and often served cured trout and oysters.

Classic roast pork and crackling is great and I love that with a light shaved fennel salad, or duck fat roasted potatoes if we want to be indulgent. 

What are your recommendations for great drinks to serve on Christmas Day?

Lisa: Bubbles are obviously key to get started, and Alexander Kirkwood, who is the head sommelier at Aria, has given Eatable his top picks for sparkling wines that he’s tasted this year.

I’d choose a brut (dry) style to start, or even a good pét-nat (short for pétillant naturel), as these can be quite interesting. Have a good mix of interesting and classic wines ready to go with the main feast, too. Make sure you know the wine weight so you can stagger them out correctly, starting with aromatic whites, then moving into a more textural white like a chardonnay or Chablis, and then if you choose to serve red, try chilling it first if it’s a hot day. 

With dessert, Moscato di Asti is always a winner – or you can come back to the sparkling, which is perfect with pavlova or trifle to finish – a demi-sec for a little more sweetness, or a saignée or rosé for something pretty. A new trend we’re seeing is low-alcohol wines, so if you want to include some of these, the alcohol volume doesn’t have to be high. 

Apart from that, there are a huge amount of great vermouths out there, so a Christmas Spritz could be a nice celebratory drink to start with – you can make these non-alcoholic, too – I love a classic Americano with Campari, Maidenii sweet vermouth and soda, but you could serve vermouth and soda and include some festive aromatics, like a fresh bay leaf or a slice of orange peel. Make sure you have plenty of ice, too, stock up well beforehand so you don’t run out halfway through the day.

Liz: My family doesn’t drink alcohol, so I always make a big jug of non-alcoholic punch. I add fresh wedges of stone-fruit such as peach and basil or mint to a fresh juice and soda water, mixed with a non-alcoholic spirit and lots of ice. Seedlip do some refreshing, non-alcoholic spirits that you can make great non-alcoholic cocktails with as well. I have just discovered NON – a gorgeous non-alcoholic drink that is perfect for summer and special occasions. P&V in [Sydney’s] Newtown have a great selection of non-alcoholic spirits and shrubs.

Make the most of Australia’s beautiful summer fruits when it comes to dessert
Image: Eatable
What are some great entrees/mains/desserts to serve that are easy but delicious?

Lisa: I just love a glazed ham. There’s nothing to it as the work has already been done for you—all you have to do is find the right glaze to finish it. I’m a big fan of pineapple, brown sugar, golden rum and spices. We love curing a side of trout as it’s very easy to do and can be prepped a few days in advance and served cold, which is great for a hot Christmas day. A simple sauce like a classic mignonette for a platter of oysters over lots of ice is so easy to do. And if you want something that requires no time at all, a store-bought pannetore or pandoro can be turned into a stunning dessert just by adding a dollop of ice cream and some peaches roasted with some brown sugar and red wine.

What are your suggestions for guests to snack on when they arrive?

Lisa: A bowl of spiced nuts is always nice. You can buy raw nuts and roast them with some spices and salt. I love to make a pate around Christmas, and this can be done a couple of days ahead and served straight from the terrine mould. Or for something quite easy, you can make a smoked trout pate—simply buy some smoked trout and flake it, then whip it up with some creme fraiche as a quick and easy dip served with crackers. 

Fashion

Christmas entertaining tips with Stephanie Conley

13th December, 2020
Stephanie Conley is the founder of the hugely successful lifestyle blog, The Hostess

With Christmas just around the corner it’s not uncommon for stress levels to start skyrocketing, particularly if you’re the one playing host to family and friends. So to help make it easier, I’ve enlisted the help of Stephanie Conley—a former fashion designer turned founder of the successful lifestyle blog, The Hostess, Le Cordon Bleu alumni and Electrolux ambassador to share her top tips for making hosting any gathering over the festive season a breeze.

It can be an overwhelming task hosting family and friends during the festive season. What are some things you suggest people do to help make it easier?

Being organised is key to a successful and enjoyable day. Perhaps you could delegate desserts to other family members so you can concentrate on the main meal, it will take a lot of pressure off.

What are the key trends you’re seeing when it comes to entertaining that people may want to keep in mind for any gatherings over Christmas?

Creating a large grazing table is a great way to entertain and feed a large amount of people. Plating individual meals is very time consuming and often stressful if you have 20 plates to do. Get creative and dress your table with beautiful fresh blooms, use wooden boards and crates to sit platters on, as well as Christmas decorations, fresh fruit and nuts.

What would be on your ideal Christmas menu? 

Seafood is my go-to dish at Christmas, so a classic prawn cocktail, grilled scampi, an abundance of fresh salads and a citrus honey glazed ham. For dessert I always make pavlova and homemade rum and raisin ice cream.  

What’s something you think people should spend less time on when it comes to entertaining? 

Food – it doesn’t have to be 3 Michelin star! Rustic, casual and simple cooking is the best way to cook at home and entertain. The most important thing is to have fresh local produce, use good extra virgin olive oil and cook with love.

A well dressed table should be a focus for any host

What’s something you think people should spend more time on when it comes to entertaining? 

The table is where the focus is, so some effort is needed in the presentation of your table. Invest in some lovely linen napkins and a table cloth or runner. Buy some small table vases perfect for small arrangements that don’t take over your table or block the view of your guests. Update your salt and pepper shakers and flatware. All these little touches create ambience and once you have them you can keep adding and creating different looks for your table.

What are some shortcuts people can take to help put an event together easier?

There are a lot of items you can buy ready made and then just spend time on their presentation. For example an easy Christmas starter would be a fresh seafood platter of prawns, oysters, assorted sashimi and make or buy a dipping sauce. Arrange it all on a large platter with wedges of lemon and toss some watercress over the top with some crusty sourdough.

Glaze a ham and serve with assorted mustards and chutneys. Roast some root vegetables drizzled with maple syrup and rosemary then make a green salad with walnuts, cranberries and crumbled fetta cheese.

And for desert vanilla bean ice cream with fresh mango and crumbled ginger nut cookies on top.

This is a very simple and fuss free menu that everyone can do and would enjoy and it could be done the day of.

What are your key tips when it comes to decorating an event? 

Flowers are always a key item as they just brighten a room.

Beautiful blooms are key to making any event look amazing

What are your tips for styling a table that’s sure to impress?

A centrepiece of low fresh blooms, candles and an element of layering, whether that is using placemats or using a table cloth or runner to create some depth.

What are some things a host can do to ensure that when they’re hosting an event, they’re not spending all their time in the kitchen? 

A secret helper, someone to pour drinks, stack the dishwasher and clear the plates – find a helping hand who wants to do a few hours work so you can enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Also, having large appliances, like the Electrolux RealLife XXL Fully Integrated Dishwasher, is great so you can wash more at one time.  

What are three must-haves for any host? 

1. A well-stocked bar

2. Good food

3. A great playlist-music is essential

Want more tips from Stephanie? Check out her new podcast, in conversation with her husband Oskar Buhre where they discuss Christmas traditions, entertaining and staying organised.

Lifestyle

How to have a great staycation

9th November, 2020
How to make the most of a holiday at home/ Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

We’re all a little restricted in our movements at the moment, particularly when it comes to going too far afield for a holiday so it’s the perfect opportunity to embrace a good ol’ fashioned staycation. And yes, while it doesn’t quite beat being able to travel to an exotic, farflung location there is still something to be said for holidaying in your own backyard. Here are a few ways to make the most of it.

Pamper session

One of the best things about going away somewhere in my opinion is being able to check out the hotel spa. Being in luxe and relaxing surroundings while being able to enjoy a facial or massage is bliss. So, why not treat yourself to a pamper session at your favourite day spa? It’s the ultimate way to de-stress. Or if you want to stay closer to home, you can always enjoy a top-to-toe pamper session with a DIY facial and a mani-pedi.

Host a dinner party

Nothing says relaxation quite like a fun night in with friends. Choose a theme for the evening and either whip up a few dishes if you’re in the mood, or alternatively just order some nice takeaway (so many restaurants are doing at-home meal kits right now so take advantage of them) and sit back for a night of fun.

Play tourist in your hometown

We often take our local haunts for granted but there’s no doubt that here in Australia, we’re truly spoilt for choice when it comes to things to see and do. So pick out a spot that perhaps you haven’t been to in awhile or somewhere that you’ve always been curious about but have never got around to visiting and finally check it out.

Bondi Icebergs looking glorious… Australia’s full of beautiful spots to visit/ Photo by Nate Johnston on Unsplash
Go on a day trip

The best thing about day trips is that you can go somewhere new without the hassle of having to pack for a longer stay. So pick out a spot on the map and head out for the day. The change of scenery is often what a holiday is about and this is a great way to do it.

Have a movie night

If you want to invoke those holiday feels then why not have a movie night featuring movies set in your favourite destinations. Paris, New York, Tokyo… there are so many amazing movies set around the world, and it’s a great way to get that vacation feeling, minus the airfare.

Draw up a hit list of places you want to eat

One of my favourite things to do whenever I’m away is to check out all the local food spots. Dining out is my fave way to immerse myself in what a destination has to offer, and it’s something that’s so easy to do at home. I’ve often got a mental list of new places I’d really like to eat at, but sometimes end up just heading to places I’ve been to before whenever we head out to dinner so a staycation is a great opportunity to tick a few of those spots off your list. Whether it’s a cool bar, a brunch spot that’s had rave reviews or a hole in the wall pizza place, here’s your chance to holiday one dish at a time.

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

Storage tips for kids’ bedrooms

8th November, 2020
Ample storage is key to a kids’ bedroom

As anyone with kids can attest, children have a tendency to accumulate a lot of stuff. From books to toys and clothing, the sheer volume of things required by little ones is immense and can sometimes feel like it’s taking over the entire house. Which is why storage is so important. Having plenty of places to store things is key for maintaining order in a household (this is definitely the case at our place) and is also a great way to help teach kids about tidying up after themselves.

Sophia and Grace now share a bedroom which means we have to organise double the belongings so I was on the hunt for a storage system that looked nice but was also really practical. So when I teamed up with Pottery Barn Kids to trial their Cameron low storage system in the girls’ room it got me in the mood to organise their space. In the process, here are some things I’ve learned…

Regularly declutter

It’s worth getting into the habit of decluttering regularly. Doing an edit of all the girls’ things allowed me to identify things that they had outgrown or no longer needed and this in turn freed up a lot of space to store the things they are currently using.

Think about how the space is being used

Take the time to look at how the space is being utilised. For example, which toys need to be within easy reach? What books do they keep coming back to? What clothes are always on high rotation? This will give you a place to start and will help you determine what will go where.

Make everything within easy reach

If you want to encourage your kids to help with tidying up then it’s important to make everything easy to reach. I love the Cameron storage system for this reason because all the shelves, cabinets and baskets are all readily accessible which means the girls can put everything away once they’re done.

The more types of storage the better

I’m a huge fan of having as many different kinds of storage as possible. Open baskets are great for storing things that are always used and need to be accessible (or put away quickly). I love cabinets for hiding things away that we may not necessarily want on display or use often. While shelves and little cubby holes are perfect for everything from housing books to toys and showing off various trinkets and decorations.

Consider storage systems that will work with your house

I’ve always liked any kids’ furniture in our house to go with the rest of our decor. Anything white and in a simple design has always been our go-to. I think this allows for a little more cohesion in the home and will also make storing the kids’ things just a part of your home’s interiors as opposed to something that sticks out. Also, classic designs will mean that your furniture will grow with your kids and can be utilised in bedrooms at any age, or alternatively reworked into another part of the home.

I like having multiple types of storage to cater for everything from toys to clothes and books
Utilise things like bookshelves and hat stands to not only store things but make them a feature of the room
Cubby holes make for a great place to display decorations or storing belongings
Utilise floating shelves or a bedside table for displaying trinkets or housing favourite items
You can never have too many storage options! Consider adding mini shelving on existing drawers or bookshelves
Do a tight edit of things that you want to display then put away the rest to avoid the room looking too cluttered

This post was produced in collaboration with Pottery Barn Kids

Lifestyle

My guide to the Southern Highlands

28th October, 2020
Bowral in the Southern Highlands. Pic: Destination NSW

Given travel is restricted right now, travelling too far afield isn’t really on the cards for most so it’s a great opportunity to explore regional Australia. One of my favourite spots in NSW is without a doubt the Southern Highlands. We have a farm in the area so we’ll often pick the girls up from school on a Friday and drive down for the weekend. And you’re guaranteed to find us there most of the time during school holidays.

It definitely holds a special place in my heart as my family and I have spent so much time there over the years but I also love coming back time and time again because there’s so much to see and do. From the great food and wine to fantastic shopping and beautiful surrounds and spending time in the great outdoors, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re in Sydney like I am, it’s only and hour and a half drive but when you get there it feels like such a different world. So, if you’re looking for your next weekend away, check it out, and be sure to stop in at some of my fave spots to shop, eat and have fun. Here’s what to do in the Southern Highlands.

Where to shop

Suzie Anderson Home

Located in Moss Vale, I love going here to go furniture shopping. So many great pieces.

The Bronte Tram

If you’re into antiques definitely check this place out. I’ve found so many hidden gems.

Dirty Janes antique market in Bowral Pic: Destination NSW

Dirty Janes

This is an amazing antique market located in Bowral which has the best in vintage pieces. There are over 50 dealers and you can find everything from furnishings, to ornaments and jewellery.

Lydie Du Bray Antiques

I’d described this as a treasure trove of antiques. If you love antiquing then the Southern Highlands is definitely a great destination for you.

Where to eat

Eccetera

This is my favourite place for a casual dinner. It’s family-friendly and the food is delicious! My kids love the pizza and pasta and not to forget the Nutella pizza for dessert! 

Caffe Rosso

We go here for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s Italian and the food is great. It’s also right next to Harris Farm so I always stop in before or after my weekly shop.

Station Coffee House

Our property is near Mittagong so we often go to the Station Coffee House for breakfast or lunch. From burgers to salads it’s the prefect casual cafe lunch spot.

Bernie’s Diner

for the authentic burger and shake experience. the kids love it with the old school booths and diner.

Berkelouw Book Barn at Bendoley Estate, Berrima. Pic: Destination NSW

Berkelouw Book Barn and Cafe

Located in the Bendooley Estate winery, we love stopping for a pizza here and perusing the books in the book shop. 

Highlands Merchant

Located in Moss Vale, this cafe does great coffee and is right next door to Suzie Anderson Home so it’s always a good place to visit. 

Toshi’s sushi

This restaurant has a Japanese style dining room so it’s a a fun way to eat with friends. Everything on the menu is delicious. 

The ground of Mount Ashby Estate, Moss Vale. Pic: Kramer Photography; www.kramer.photography

Mount Ashby Estate

This is my favourite for Sunday lunch. I love stopping by for a cheese or charcuterie platter and a glass of wine. It’s particularly nice on a beautiful day. Book a table outside and let the kids run around the beautiful lawns. Onesta Cucina is the restaurant onsite and it’s my go-to for a special occasion dinner.

Centennial Vineyards Restaurant

I love this spot as it’s perfect for a long Sunday lunch. It has a cellar door too, so it’s perfect for wine tasting too. 

Gumnut Pattisserie

I can’t go past this spot for amazing pastries and cakes. Everything’s so tasty that don’t be surprised if you’re back for repeat visits

What to do

Horse riding at Rosthwaite Farm

We keep our family ponies here and love taking the girls whenever we’re in the area as they have such a great time riding. They offer riding lessons, trail rides and/or riding camps so perfect for keeping the kids occupied.

Trail walk at Fitzroy Falls

Going for long bushwalks is something we like doing as a family and I highly recommend this spot. It’s so beautiful and the waterfalls are breathtaking. 

Visit Farm Club Australia

Parents usually are often big fans of this spot as they have animals for the kids to pat. There is also a farm shop, organic market garden and grass-fed cattle butchery, if you want to pick up some beautiful, fresh produce.

Spend an afternoon at the Burrawang Village Hotel

Grab a drink and settle down for the afternoon. It’s a good spot for lunch too. And the scenery is just gorgeous.

Lifestyle

The beginner’s guide to indoor plants with The Plant Society’s Jason Chongue

1st October, 2020

Whether it’s falling in love with a greenery-filled home, are wanting to spruce up your space or the fact you just want to brighten up your work desk a little more, we all have our reasons for bringing indoor plants into our lives. Keeping them alive is another story!

If you weren’t born with a green thumb and have been prone to killing even the hardiest of cacti in the past, then you’ll be happy to hear that there is a way to keep plants in your home thriving.

“There are so many reasons for having plants in your home. Not only do they purify the air we breathe, but they also bring a sense of life indoors. When it comes to styling your home, plants make affordable pieces that evolve and ground themselves in your home,” says Jason Chongue, architect, interior designer and co-founder of The Plant Society.

So before you start introducing some new green friends into your home, read this guide first, on how to care for indoor plants.

What are the major considerations when it comes to what indoor plants to introduce into one’s home?

“If you are living in an apartment or small space, gardening in small spaces can instantly bring life to your urban environment. Before you head out to your local nursery it is important to plan.

My tips for small space gardening are:

  • Observe the light on offer in the location you are wanting to grow your plants. Always think about the intensity and duration of the light on offer.
  • Be honest with the amount of care and conditions the plants will receive. If you receive harsh lighting on a balcony, you may want to consider drought tolerant plants such as Olive tree (Olea europaea) and Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe).
  • Try not to overcrowd small spaces with too many plant types. In small spaces choose two to five species and repeat these in your space. 
  • Play with texture. Use simple flat foliage with heavily textured fine foliage. Using plants like Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera deliciosa) and Mistletoe Cactus (Rhipsalis) can create interest and depth.
  • Always cluster plants in odd numbers with a range of sizes and heights.”

How much light do indoor plants actually need?

“The amount of natural light each plant requires will be dependent on where the plant originated from. It is always good to research whether a plant naturally grows in an arid, tropical or even Mediterranean environment and try to match this with conditions in your home. If you find you don’t have similar conditions, it would be better to choose plants that will thrive in your conditions.”

What are some of the easiest indoor plants to care for those who are beginners?

Indoor plants I’d recommend to those starting out I’ve nicknamed ‘Ice breaker’ plants. These are Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera deliciosa), Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum). These plants can adapt to a range of lighting levels and even teach you how to garden.” 

The monstera deliciosa is a great ‘ice breaker’ plant

What are some of the hardier plants to own if someone has not had much luck with keeping plants alive in the past?

“This will be dependent on the natural lighting conditions on hand but much like a beginner gardener try Fruit Salad Plant (Monstera deliciosa), Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) indoors and if you’re wanting hardy plants for outdoors explore using cacti and succulents.”

What are some of the big mistakes people often make when it comes to caring for indoor plants?

“New plant enthusiasts often choose a plant purely on aesthetic rather than by the natural light they require. It is important to assess the natural light on offer in your space and select a plant accordingly. When it comes to plants, they all have different requirements, if you can best match the plant to the light conditions in your home then you will be off to a good start.

Secondly poor-quality potting mix can lead to a range of watering problems. Always use a premium grade potting mx so that your plants have a good balance and source of nutrients.”

Choose a day of the week to check on your plants

What are the basics when it comes to keeping indoor plants alive and thriving?

“When it comes to indoor plants the best advice is to ensure you nurture your plants regularly. Choose a day of the week when you aren’t typically busy and spend this time checking the soil and foliage of all your plants. This will help you understand if they require watering or specific care. Make sure to also observe under the foliage to monitor any pests which might have made themselves at home.”

How can you tell when a plant needs watering and when to leave it alone?

“Make sure to water your plants regularly. The best way to check if your plants are ready for a water, is to use your finger to check that the top inch of soil mixture is dry before watering. If it feels dry, it’s time for a water.

In the warmer months your plants will require adequate watering to sustain them through the warmer weather. In the cooler months, your plants require less water. Make sure to ease up on watering, by watering less frequently.

Don’t allow your plants to sit in water as this can lead to root rot.”

How long do indoor plants generally last?

“With the right care, plants can outlive us. I’ve had many plants passed on to me and have many plants I started growing when I was 10. Some plants have a shorter life span however some plants can live long lives.”

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’