Tuesday, 28 January 2014

CityHooks and CityGrips A Review and GIVEAWAY!

I am a real fan of Mum designed products. When it comes to knowing exactly what we need and want, I believe it's best to stick with the experience of those in our industry who have been there before us. So many things available to help Mums go about their day that don't come under this criteria can be mega-failures and a complete waste of time and money. Cheap knock-offs just won't do! I am a Mum business supporter at every opportunity when it comes to this business of Motherhood!
When I was contacted by Choopie to provide this review, naturally I agreed. Especially as their products are of such relevance to my blog. I got an even bigger buzz when I realised that Choopie is a business that is founded on the inventions and innovations of a fellow Mum.
Who better is there to provide us with those things that we need that actually work and work well?!

CityHook and CityGrips are two such Mummy-must-haves invented by a New York Mum.
Camie Gontier was frustrated at the sweltering heat and resulting sweat and dirt that accumulated on her hands that made pushing her pram in the city's Summer temperatures an unpleasant experience. She set about finding a solution that worked for her and so, CityGrips were conceived.

CityGrips are designer-inspired grip covers which attach to the handlebars of your pram. Their aim is to keep the grips of your pram in pristine condition and at the same time provide your hands with an extra comfort level when pushing your stroller. They work to absorb the sweat and grime from your hands, keeping you comfortable as you navigate your pusher. They are easy to attach, fully washable and come in a range of up to the minute designs that are just adorable.

The newest 2014 designs or choose from the CityGrips Classics range
 - image sourced from Choopie's website
The fabrication is similar to wet-suit material only lighter. They fasten easily to pram handles with durable Velcro. 
The CityGrips really do add a great deal of comfort to the handlebars! I have often developed cramps in my hands from tightly gripping my pram as I push. The incidence of this was noticeably lessened when I began using these. I love the way the grips look too! There are so many designs to choose from. I decided on the pink chevrons which are very fashionable at present. My pram definitely looks more lush with the addition of these!

Baby goods are so hideously expensive, especially prams, which can easily set you back up to $1500. The CityGrips are an excellent way to protect your precious investment over the years, through several children and maintain its resale value.
I have had several prams over the years; eight to be exact! I remember one of my most expensive ones being damaged by two of my boys when they were very little. They used to take nibbles out of the foam handlebars and at other times they would actually lick it when my back was turned! (A great game of theirs in the supermarket, was to see my reaction when I unwittingly put my hands on the bar and experienced the wet!) Had I had the CityGrips at that stage, my pram would have been kept lovely, longer.

Pictured here on my latest Bootiq stroller. No longer licked but definitely still attracting kid-grub!
CityGrips are available for double handled and single bar strollers and are universal too.

CityHook is another of Choopie's innovations. These are the ultimate hooks for attaching to your pram. Perfect for safely lugging your nappy bag, handbag and even lightweight shopping at an appropriate height. Again these attach with Velcro and are universal to all handlebar widths. The brilliant thing about these grips compared to others is their ability to rotate 360 degrees for complete maneuverability.

I like that this brand is clipless. I have had hooks in the past with clips and find them annoying to use in situations when I am flustered and in a rush. These are so multipurpose and can be safely used in so many places: change tables, car seats, cribs and even wheelchairs.

CityGrips are well priced at a reasonable $12.95(USD) and CityHook is $9.99(USD). Both items are available on the Choopie websiteChoopie ships internationally. Subscribe to their newsletter on their website and get 25% off your first order.

***GIVEAWAY***    ***GIVEAWAY***    ***GIVEAWAY***

Would you like to win your very own set of Choopie's CityHook and CityGrips?
Choopie have very generously offered a set of each in a style of your choosing to one lucky Six Little Hearts follower.
Please share this competition with your Mummy friends!
To enter, simply follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter App below. (App may take a few seconds to load.)
Entry is open to Australian residents only.
Winner will be notified by email and given 48 hours to respond.
If no response in this time, a new winner will be drawn.
Winner's name and address will be forwarded to Choopie for prize distribution purposes.
Judge's decision is final.
Good luck!
Please note: Your entry is only valid if you complete the mandatory requirements of this competition. (There are two of them.) If you do not complete these mandatory entry requirements then all your subsequent entries will be invalid and removed. Please play fair as others do take the time to complete their entries!
All entries will be screened to ensure they conform to these requirements.
Thank you for your understanding and good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Choopie provided me with my own set of CityHook and CityGrips for the purpose of this review. The opinions expressed herein are my own.


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Friday, 24 January 2014

Lil' Dudes with Guns...

Dad took the boys with him to the supermarket recently.
When they returned, they were all gushing with excitement and yabbering at once.
It turns out, Dad had bought them cap guns! (Remember those? Like 1978?)
Yes, they're still around!
Within minutes, packets were torn,
Fingers fumbled,
Lots of yelling "Look!" "That's mine!" and "Whoa!"
Off they all ran to play; a conglomerate of caps and plastic jangles.
There was lots of posing, aiming and concentrating as little hands sorted their ammo, admired and managed their weapons.
The guns were a hit for days.

When Joaquin casually passed me a few days later dressed like a gangster from a 1970's TV series, I just knew I had to grab my camera and catch the action!
There they were, on the balcony in full swing, acting out a sensational story which involved gun battles of epic proportions.
(According to Joaquin; Ruben's Dad had killed Joaquin's Dad and they, the wronged Sons, were avenging the deaths!)

Guns are not a toy I would normally buy my boys. I have seen them play guns with sticks and other objects as substitutes however. I certainly cannot prevent that though I do discourage it. They do play age appropriate computer games with firearms and even Megabloks. (Halo for example, is a Sci-Fi Army based game they all adore.) I am still a no-weapons parent but clearly they were getting a lot of boy-joy from these little pistols.

Boys seem to just naturally gravitate towards war-play.
For now I am happy to let them have their fun. After all, I enjoyed watching this game as much as they enjoyed playing it. There was lots of imagination firing between them.

Ruben - totally immersed in his role.

If you are a parent of boys, do you let your Son/s play with toy guns?
Did you play with toy guns when you were little? (I did, and I loved them!)
Please share your views and stories - I'd love to hear them!

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Monday, 20 January 2014

The Melbourne Summer Series #2...Gulf Station

Are you up for a pretty post? Lots of gorgeous images follow!
Here's my second second instalment in my Melbourne Summer Series and she's a stunner.
Nestled in outer Melbourne's picturesque Yarra Valley region is The National Trust's newly opened Gulf Station.
Gulf Station is a true pioneer farm and the oldest preserved example of its kind in Australia. Originally on 25,000 acres (now 640), Gulf Station was established by John Dickson in the 1840's. In 1856, the property was transferred to William Bell and Thomas Armstrong and when Bell married Mary Ann Little in 1860, he also purchased Armstrong's share and built the Gulf Station property as we see it today. They produced eight children between them and the surviving five lived and worked at Gulf Station for the duration of their lives until the last departed in 1951.
Jack Smedley, a nearby neighbour, purchased the Station from the Bell's and presently it is safely preserved by the National Trust as a national treasure of great significance.

The homestead and its numerous outbuildings are all solidly built, serious affairs reflecting the hardships of the times. Everything had to be grown, harvested or bred onsite. Long days and nights were a reality. Yes, Pioneers had it tough! The kitchen was an example of this fact. A huge open fire produced all the food and drink requirements of this working farm's inhabitants. I would loathe not appreciate cooking here day after day in all weather conditions in the long dresses of the 1850's. (Great to visit these days though!)

Things just don't get more Australian than this. It's like a movie set but with a vibe of ancient reality about it.

The home itself is so pretty and picture perfect. The entire homestead smells of old wood and dust with a hint of fresh florals from a gorgeous rebuilt cottage garden. Many of the trees are original to the property and still bear fruit. Beautiful little paths wind about fringed by miniature hedges, lavender and assorted flowers and bushes. Within minutes of our arrival, my children were happily racing about the pathways at the invitation of our well-versed guide.

The home on the property is viewed via a tour. It is so ancient; robust and delicate at the same time. Sparsely decorated to reflect the hard realities of pioneer life, only a few authentic items embellish the rooms which are original to the property.
Wallpaper is peeling, paint chipped, roof beams are exposed in places and water damage evident. It all adds up to a genuine pioneer experience.

Despite the property being almost like a ghost town experience, my kids were thoroughly entertained here. There is so much space to run and many out-houses to explore. The farm has a series of children's activites on offer to keep busy bodies even busier! There's a Farm Trail Walk which introduces various buildings on the property like the old school house, butchery, hen houses and piggery. There are animals too. My kids loved offering grass to these Clydesdales.

(Clydesdales were originally bred here and sold to the British Army in India!)
There's a Farm Trail Investigation for kids to follow where they collect 'hints' around the property to earn stickers which also proved a hit with my younger ones.

For me, the prettiness of the rustic old intermingled with the fresh, stunning gardens were the highlight of the visit. There were serene scenes and picturesque Australian scenes at every turn.

This ancient grape vine still produces fruit.
Pretty, pretty, pretty!
 There is a Maize Maze currently growing on the property which was to open on Boxing Day 2013 and a hay bale waterslide too. Disappointingly for the kids, neither were operational when we visited. We will be returning in a short while however to experience these attractions at this precious heritage property.
You can learn more about Gulf Station by visiting the National Trust's website here.
Gulf Station is situated at 1029 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen, 3775.
 *My family were guests of the National Trust in exchange for this review.
All opinions expressed are my own.

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Friday, 17 January 2014

Ella's Kitchen Review and GIVEAWAY!

I have fed Miss Celeste my homemade baby foods since she first started solids at 4 months. She has been happily chomping on my creations all along. (Unlike the older kids who take one look at my meals before yelling "I'm not eating THAT!" and taking off). Sigh...
I like homemade baby foods. They are best for giving your baby all the good stuff for growth and development. They are inexpensive, quick to prepare and give them the best start. You don't need to be told that really.
Recently I was outside with my little Miss in the bright sunshine and noticed that she was a lovely shade of orange! This is due to her love of my pumpkin and carrot based creations. I am slightly mortified that she has become a shade resembling my meals. She looks as if she is sporting a cheap fake tanning product. 
Time to branch out and try some new foods I think!
Step in Ella's Kitchen.

Ella's Kitchen make delicious, natural baby foods just like Mums make. The only difference really, is that Ella's Kitchen meals were actually made by her Dad!
Ella's Dad, (Paul Lindley), began Ella's Kitchen because he believed all children should have the opportunity to enjoy healthy foods that not only taste good but are enticingly fun to eat too.

The range is presented in fun, squishy pouches with twist off and resealable tops. Small children can handle them on their own and slurp them straight from the packs. Great for that pesky independent streak! Alternatively squirt portions straight onto the spoon for younger babies to prevent wastage.
The Ella's Kitchen range is organic so no chemicals or unwanted additives to interfere with growing bodies. There's no need to feel as if you are harming the environment either with no GM foods making their way into these products. Other benefits include:
No added sugar, salt or water,
No thickeners,
No gluten or wheat and
No additives or preservatives.
100% natural. 100% organic.
Ella's Kitchen is basically as good as it gets for us time-poor Mums who sometimes always need a helping hand. It's a guilt-free, simple way to get the goodies into your child while juggling a million other pressing demands.
I found the pouches to be enormously convenient to carry anywhere. Great to pop into the nappy bag or handbag without taking up too much space or adding weight (and worry) like glass jars.

As for the range itself, it's brilliantly extensive and creative. I will confess that I have in the past peered at Ella's Kitchen products at the supermarket purely for inspiration when preparing my own baby foods! Some of the flavours we had fun trialling for this review were:
Broccoli, Pears and Peas,
Strawberries and Apples,
Carrots, Apples and Parsnips,
Chicken Casserole With Rice,
Spinach, Apples and Swedes,
Apples and Bananas,
Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli and Carrots.
Then there's the yummy extras like Banana Baby Brekkie (smooth fruit yoghurt and rice) and even smoothies like The Purple One (squished smoothie fruits).
The pouches can be consumed on their own or mixed with your own choices such as baby rice or even blended with your own cooking to tailor foods suitable to your baby's age and stage.
While I was photographing the products, my older kids got all excited and asked if they could eat them too! Apparently kids at school have these in their lunchboxes. Now there's an idea!

Miss Celeste was suitably impressed. She had no problems with eating anything from Ella's Kitchen and going by the number of empty bowls I washed, I can only presume she really liked the products. I am hoping in the coming months, with the introduction of this range's variety in her diet, she will change to a more natural colouring. Better stick to the green pouches for a while!

The Ella's Kitchen range is available at Coles supermarkets Australia-wide. You can learn more about Ella's Kitchen on their website here. Or why not follow Ella's Kitchen on Facebook for up to the minute updates on their exciting products.

All this could be yours!

Thanks to the generosity of Ella's Kitchen, one lucky Six Little Hearts reader has a chance to win an Upcycled Ella's Kitchen Pouch filled with Ella's Kitchen goodies for their little one/s to enjoy! Please share this competition with your Mummy friends!
To enter, simply follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter App below. (App may take a few seconds to load).
Entry is open to Australian residents only.
Winner will be notified by email and given 48 hours to respond.
If no response in this time, a new winner will be drawn.
Judge's decision is final.
Good Luck!
Please note: Your entry is only valid if you complete the mandatory requirements of this competition (there are two of them). If you do not complete these mandatory entry requirements then all your subsequent entries will be invalid and removed. Please play fair as others do take the time to complete their entries!
All entries will be screened to ensure they conform to these requirements.
Thank you for your understanding and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please follow Six Little Hearts on either Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or Bloglovin' or subscribe by email or RSS Feeds to receive my latest updates on new posts, reviews and competitions.

Ella's Kitchen provided me with a selection of products to try for review.
All opinions are my own.


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I am just in love with this time of year.
There's nothing better than having zero routine.
Plans are imagined on the spot and carried out at leisure.
Bodies rise in the morning when they are ready.
Food is eaten when hunger reminds us.
Children loll about in their pyjamas as long as they wish.
Toys are played with, movies watched, sweets enjoyed - whenever.
Summer is the best!
I wish our lives were always so free. 
I am trying to avoid thinking of the back to school routine.
I am enjoying my six children.
Here and now.
My camera has been capturing some beautiful moments with them:

What have you been up to these holidays?
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Monday, 13 January 2014

The Summer Series #1 - Rippon Lea

Over the coming weeks, I will be presenting a series of reviews on some of Melbourne's most iconic destinations. Having been born and bred in Melbourne, (and as a result, passionately in love with her), there are certain places that are jewels not to be overlooked by both its residents and visitors.
The National Trust kindly hosted my family to enjoy a series of outings in our beautiful city over the school holiday period. I will be displaying those properties we visited here in a succession of posts. I hope you will enjoy the images as much as we enjoyed the breathtaking journeys we experienced attending each of them in person.

The first of the properties we visited was Rippon Lea. This elegant mansion was home to two of Melbourne's wealthiest families for over 100 years. Designed and established in 1868, the mansion encased the lives of Frederick and Marian Sargood and their family.
The Sargoods made their fortune as the owners of a successful drapery firm during the time of the gold rush. During the 1870's, Sargood was elected to the Legislative Council and eventually went on to become Victoria's first Minister for Defence. When Frederick passed away in 1903, Lady Sargood sold Rippon Lea to the then Victorian Premier, Sir Thomas Bent.
In 1910, the home changed hands again and became the residence of Benjamin Nathan and his family. In 1935, his daughter Louisa Jones, inherited the home and the example we see today has remained largely unchanged since the re-decoration carried out under her guidance around that time.
In 1972, Louisa died and left the mansion to The National Trust and as a result, to all Australians to enjoy into the future.
Thank goodness for her generous donation too. What a diamond this residence is.

Yes, the Sargoods had it Sar-Good! (So good! - Say it with a posh accent!)
The home was certainly a fitting residence for these families of standing. Lush and extensive gardens surround a mansion of such majesty reached via a long and winding entranceway which once would have seen many persons of importance arrive in both horse and carriage and vehicles. First sight of the house from this driveway draws a sense of awe. It is large, imposing, elegant and elaborate.

Extensive lawns are fringed with even more expansive gardens bearing established trees, flowerbeds, orchards, rotundas and even its very own lake for boating! (Not forgetting the tennis courts and swimming pool). Pathways invite visitors to wander and admire. Every angle has a new discovery, decoration or scene to behold. It is hard to believe you are in a suburb of Melbourne as it is more like a scene from the countryside of England. The only exception to this is when you pass by the fence where the ABC studios are located.
During the 1960's and 1970's, the family fought a long and difficult court battle to retain a section of their pleasure gardens after the ABC attempted to acquire it. Thankfully, the family won the right to retain their property. To have removed some of the splendour from this prized home would have been a serious mistake indeed.

Visits inside the house itself are conducted in small-group tours. It is such a magnificent home! From the moment you are invited inside and the doors are closed behind you, it is as if you have stepped back in time; as if the family and their servants have just gone out.

Time has frozen here and captured so much elegance and beauty within it. The sounds of modern Melbourne are shut out, replaced by an imposing silence and a sense of living history.
Our tour group had a total of nine young children in it. Oddly, the awe they felt under the weight of this impressive residence silenced them all for the duration of the tour! (When does that ever happen?!)

The grand dining room. A breakfast table in the master bedroom and vintage pictures
of the home's former inhabitants.
Rippon Lea is in its original state, as decorated in the 1930's by Louisa who was very much into the Hollywood style of the time. Embossed, gilt wallpaper from the age of the Sargoods was painted over with cream paint, as were the black marble columns and even a giant gilt frame featuring an original oil painting of untold value - an unfathomable decorating error but done and irreversible nonetheless. It was the taste of the time and the height of fashion.

The servants area at the rear of the house.
House employees washed dishes for 300-400 guests at this rustic sink!
The servants had a separate area below the home which is open to be freely explored outside of the tour. The area is plain and simple and illustrates the hard working lives and times of the lower classes who lived a life in service to those fortunate enough to be in the upper rooms. 
Rippon Lea is a perfectly preserved Victorian residence and one definitely worth experiencing. We were touched by its magic for weeks and just a wee bit envious! More information can be found here regarding its history, opening times and function facilities.

Rippon Lea is located at 192 Hotham Street Elsternwick, Melbourne, Australia.
Have you experienced Rippon Lea before?
What is your favourite National Trust property?

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