Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Wordless Wednesday - The Daydream...

Little Daughter, what is it that you daydream about?

I think I captured your first ever daydream in these images.
You were playing on our bed on this morning and paused to listen to the wind gusting outside.
Old enough for true thoughts now it seems, though only 16 months young.
This week you have started to experiment with facial expressions. You might pull a frown or raise an eyebrow and then have a little giggle about it.
So much cuteness, I might burst for joy.
You are at my favourite age in all of childhood right now and where I ache for time to pause, just like you have here, so that I can keep you like this for always.

Linking up for Wordless Wednesday with My Little Drummer Boys
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Monday, 28 April 2014

Spring Cleaning In Autumn...

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Monier
What is it about the turn of the seasons that sees home-owners spring into a flurry of outdoor activity?
Does this happen to you at your place too?
You can bet each Spring and Autumn, we head outside to take action on a garden and home we have neglected for a long, lazy Summer or an even longer Winter.
Summer has a heat to it that makes outside living a little strenuous (besides a relaxing champagne by the pond-side on calmer nights), and Winter has a bite that keeps us firmly planted fire-side with little regard for the state of external things.
Yet it's that fresh, mild weather of Spring and Autumn that sends us out of hiding and makes us notice the strain of the extreme seasons on our abode; this milder weather which sees the kids finally venture out of doors and with them, the grown-ups, happily fleeing from the claustrophobia of internal life. (Whether coming out of it or fearing the approach of it.)
There's no doubt about it, Autumn looks great in any garden and just beckons us to make the most of it, even if it is in the form of work.

We have been doing loads of work around our house and garden since the weather has cooled. There is so much lying about the place! My kids, (the boys especially), make a huge mess of our garden constantly. They like to dig, build, throw and bury anything and everything. On top of the mess nature can produce, their input can make an already big job, massive.
Caught in the act - Taite walks all over the rockery and garden beds
Our slippery side entrance stairs. Lichen loves growing here in the cooler months
For us, it's time to whipper-snip the long Summer growths, sweep the leaves that are beginning to fall and trim and cut back the shrubs and trees before the mud and slush sets in. We have a wood fire too which means there's lots of wood cutting to undertake. Wood collection and preparation goes on all year here and you'd be surprised just how much of it you need to get through a Winter season. Likewise, the free fuel factor is a great motivator and another bonus of our home's location. We can have cost-free heating all Winter if we plan ahead.
Our ferns in our front yard: Although beautiful, when those fronds turn brown, they can look really unsightly, especially when they are placed as a feature in front of our lounge room window; there's no ignoring that! Motivation to clean up inspired by Nature herself.
This Summer we have sprouted a tree in our gutter
We have a 36,000 litre water tank on our property which saves us hundreds of dollars every year and provides us with all our household water requirements. I love the environmental aspect of that. The downside is that you must be very attentive about maintenance in regard to your roof and gutters.
In order to maintain the quality of our water, we need to be fastidious about keeping our roof and gutters clean and in top shape. Our roof is swept twice a year in the milder seasons, as part of our home's essential maintenance.
Another of our maintenance essentials, is to replace our broken or cracked terracotta tiles to prevent leaks. All that water quality maintenance involves lots of walking on our roof which can be damaging to older roof tiles. Local possums who clatter about nightly are culprits for this damage too. (And they are big possums out here!)
We have had a persistent leak over our lounge since we moved here (frustratingly, right above our television). We clearly need to replace some of our roof tiles. Monier are Australia's premier roof tile specialists and have a range of innovative and attractive roofing options on their website which definitely fit the bill for solving our needs here.
With the arrival of each weekend, we will again most certainly be out of doors, enjoying the mild climate while there's still the chance and cleaning like crazy while we do so. It makes for a guilt-free season spent indoors.
Is your home Winter ready?
What jobs do you undertake around your home in the cooler months?
Do you live in an energy efficient home?
Do your children (or pets) add to your list of outdoor clean-up tasks?
Have you entered the Shupeas Giveaway yet?
Read my latest review and enter to win a pair of gorgeous infant shoes for your child here.
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Friday, 25 April 2014

ShuPeas Infant Shoes - A Review and Giveaway

We had the usual rush this morning in an effort to get off to school on time. There's always a million plus one things to do right at that moment when we are about to pass through the front door en route to the car. Eternally frustrating!
One of today's little misfortunes was losing Celeste's leather baby shoes. Today is wet and cold and even though she is walking nowhere in the outdoors this morning, it just seemed wrong for her to go barefoot. Her regular shoes have mysteriously vanished and are nowhere to be seen. I know they will turn up, but in the meantime, there was no better opportunity than now, to get cracking on that big box of goodies beneath my desk scheduled for up and coming reviews and giveaways, knowing I would get lucky!

Hello ShuPeas! My saviour on this characteristically crazy morning!

Here's why I already love ShuPeas before I even put them on Celeste's feet to try (and it's not just because they were already there at a crucial moment either!) :

ShuPeas are an infant shoe designed to cover 4 complete size ranges in the one shoe. They expand and adjust to your baby's size requirements in two whole ways. Lengthwise they have an adjustable tab which stretches to shorten or extend the shoe as baby's feet grow. Width-wise, they open and close via secure Velcro tab closures, meaning you can effectively make the shoe snuggly fit your ever-growing bubba's foot no matter what their age!

Baby's single pair of shoes can be worn as early as day one (if you're really keen on footwear, young), and up to 18 months (or beyond if your baby has little footsies like my Celeste).

Celeste gets down and dirty with the dust-bunnies, while trying to locate her other pair of shoes

What a brilliant design! I cannot tell you how many shoes we have bought our babies and had so little or no wear from, at all. Often we have purchased shoes and forgotten to use them, only to find that they no longer fit when we finally get around to trying them. With each pair of quality infant shoes costing anywhere up to $100, that's a lot of cash wasted! I am very picky when it comes to choosing infant shoes too. With little growing bones, this is something that is so important. Choosing first footwear shouldn't ever be done 'on the cheap.'

ShuPeas are a quality shoe and these little pink bunny lovelies are sewn in a soft, fine leather. Leather has the added ability to stretch and breathe as well as provide adequate protection. Perfect for little feet on the go and great protection from injury and toddler mischief.

The design of these shoes ensures they are always easy to put onto a wriggly baby foot. The shoe opens right up with no fiddly bits to make sliding it on or off, difficult. Thankfully, Celeste really loves shoes (like her Mummy), and is always willing to offer a foot for decorating. (Clothing is an entirely different situation however.) There is no part of these shoes that are not smooth and comfortable to touch, and are therefore kind on baby's skin. They are beautifully soft-soled too which allows the natural expansion of baby's foot to occur when standing, making them approved by Paediatricians and Podiatrists.

There are a great set of ShuPeas designs available at LittleM for little boys and girls in both leather and vegan options. ShuPeas are available to purchase on the LittleM website for a very reasonable $49.95. (Lots of other great products too so do check them out.) These would make a great gift for a new Mum as they are a shoe which will go the distance and at $49.95 for the equivalent of four pairs of shoes, they are great value too. I am really impressed with these shoes. For a more detailed look into how the shoes operate, definitely visit their website.

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

Like to win your child a pair of these gorgeous shoes?
Thanks to the generosity of LittleM, one lucky Six Little Hearts reader has a chance to win a pair of ShuPeas shoes for their special little person.

Please share the love! If you know an expectant Mum or a Mum of a new baby or toddler (and everything in-between), let them know about this review and giveaway.

Entry is easy, just follow the simple steps on the Rafflecopter App below. (App may take a few seconds to load). Please note: Two of the entry requirements are mandatory so be sure to follow the easy steps to make sure all of your entries count. Please play fair as others do take the time to complete their entries.
All winning entries are screened to ensure they conform to these requirements and those that do not will be disqualified.
Entry is open to Australian residents only.
The winner will be notified via email and given 48 hours to respond.
If no response in this time, a new winner will be drawn.
Prize cannot be delivered to a PO box.
Total prize value is $49.95 and is for one pair of ShuPeas shoes.
Winner is required to specify 3 different styles of their choosing from the selection available at the LittleM website and a single set will be chosen by LittleM based on available stock at that time.
Winner's details will be provided to LittleM for prize distribution.
Judge's decision is final.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was sent a pair of ShuPeas to try in exchange for my thoughts presented in this review.
All opinions are my own.
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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Life Lately - School Holidays and Other Ramblings...

And so another school holiday period has been and gone and seemed to flash past us before I could really grasp wind of it. All I have to show myself that they (both the kids and the holidays), were actually around at all is a few candid shots (okay, maybe way more than a few), of my babies doing things to keep themselves entertained while my sanity was patchily preserved.
There was the week of rain that drowned Melbourne for the first half of the holidays. This part was difficult to say the least but the kids did find ways to keep themselves marginally happy. They all chipped in to produce this giant drawing as seen on Instagram. Impressive yes, and already in the bin (awful Mum - I have been doing some cleaning up and had to push all sentimentality aside), at least I have this photographic memento.
My youngest decided to ditch the hands and knees thing pretty much altogether and began her life on legs midweek around April 9th, aged 15 months. (Or is she 16 months?) This is my farewell to the experience of my own babies crawling during a long career as a Mum. I am saddened yes, but my heart has lifted to the sight of a very happy little girl who wobbles and waddles with a beaming-bright smile and with an infectious confidence and excitement to match. Crawling is now reserved for extra special occasions and quick missions like nappy change escapes and chocolate sightings.
She's got legs. She knows how to use them.
We visited the brand-spanking new Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. (Stay tuned for a coming blog post), where Celeste practiced her newfound skills with much joy over the Melbourne skyline.
Keeping one eye on the sights and one on the baby gave me a sore neck indeed!
My boys (and big girl), happily gamed in messy bedrooms for hour upon hour, day after day. Who was I to complain? Despite my weekday gaming ban which kicks back into effect as soon as the school holidays end, my kids were free to game themselves to oblivion these holidays and this they did. (Let's not forget it was raining endlessly but why make excuses? They were quiet and well behaved and that's all that mattered to this Mum.)
Indiana turned a 14. Fourteen! (I cannot believe I am a Mum to a 14 year old!) She nabbed herself a very expensive Canon DSLR camera and hastily retreated back to her room where she spends most of her life these days. With the increase in her age has come a new independence. For the first time ever, my big Miss has decided she no longer wishes to accompany us on every any family outing, choosing instead to stay home (in that bedroom), doing whatever it is that teens enjoy.
Apparently selfie taking while dressed in a onesie, alone, is what teens enjoy most
Another year, another event (Easter), another photo opportunity at the top of the stairs. My boys eagerly await the go-ahead on Easter morning, to commence their egg-hunt. I am witnessing their ageing looking back over these shots and a bit sniffly about that.
Keeping it real: Just minutes into the egg-hunt and Joaquin and Taite launch a full-scale brawl over legal ownership of a single dropped egg.
One saw it first: One touched it first - To whom does the egg belong? (I put that to you, dear reader.)
A sweet, albeit blurry image from minutes later when the youngest of the clan joins in. Realising sensibly, that they all have much more chocolate than they can ever possibly consume, Joaquin and Taite try to pass off some of their stash to the baby.
I am still wondering who that woman holding a baby and smiling directly into my camera actually is?
She looks as if she should be coming home with us.
Total photo bomb by an unknown member of the public.
We visited a chocolate factory. (Yarra Valley Chocolaterie - a coming blog post? Yes, maybe - why not.)
My boys scrambled along with Melbourne's multitudes, in the hunt for tokens which converted to eggs, awarded by this big, fluffy bunny. It rained and it was muddy but there was loads of chocolate to be enjoyed and so these minor inconveniences were ignored.
Were the holidays a success? Yes. It looks as if we had a great time, even if I can barely remember now thanks to the pace with which they travelled.
How were your school holidays?
What did you get up to? I challenge you to remember!
Who do YOU think had legal ownership of that dropped egg?
Have you entered the Funky Elephant Giveaway?
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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Cooking With Love Beets And A Balsamic Beetroot Salad Recipe To Try...

Are you big on beetroot?
I have to admit, I have never really actively sought out this fresh root vegetable at the supermarket before now.
We used to enjoy a home delivery of pre-selected organic fruit and vegetables couriered to our door and you can bet that weekly, it was our dusty little fresh beetroot that was left rolling about in that box long after the surrounding contents had been heartily consumed. Sometimes we managed to cook it with success (and really enjoyed it when we did), and other times, it was just a tough little lonely vegetable sadly left to rot.
The reality is, in its natural state beetroot is rather ugly, certainly dirty to handle and messy when cut and in my mind, it just didn't have a lot going for it. (Apart from the taste, which is lovely.)
That was, until we welcomed Love Beets into our lives...
Imagine the joys and versatility of juicy baby beetroots which have been peeled, cooked fresh and then vacuum packed without salt, sugar or additives (unlike its over-processed tinned relative). Did I mention they are packed and presented in the most gorgeous little attractive jute baggies too?
Time for me to rethink this tasty treat without any of my prior prejudices.
Baby Beets are an Australian family owned and operated business and very new to supermarkets, having arrived as recently as February this year. This is beetroot made convenient without any processing beyond the peeling and cooking stage: 100% beetroot, 100% natural.
The arrival of these in my post box gave me a little tingle of excitement. Suddenly a vegetable which I had only previously bothered with in its canned form, (making it quite limited to use), was open to a whole new interpretation in my kitchen.

Beetroot is a very trendy ingredient lately and is frequently making appearances as a feature in many gourmet recipes. It goes especially well with chocolate and can find itself at home in cakes, brownies, smoothies, dips and pizzas. It's never been more accessible and easier to use thanks to Love Beets.

I chose to make and share this salad recipe using Love Beets as a key ingredient. It's easy to prepare and would go very well alongside roast beef and is equally as enjoyable as a stand-alone dish.

1 - 2, 250gm packs of Baby Beets sliced into quarters (depending on how large you'd like your salad)
1 small punnet of yellow or red mini tomatoes (slice some for looks and leave some whole)
Assortment of salad leaves
1/3 of a cup of chopped fresh parsley
200-300gms of reduced fat fetta (I think the reduced fat has a better flavour)
1-4 tablespoons of pure olive oil (to taste)
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes or to taste.
Salad seeds (sunflower and sesame seeds roasted in tamarind give a nice crunchy texture - optional)

Arrange the salad leaves on the base of an attractive plate or shallow bowl
Add your beetroot quarters and tomatoes
Top with crumbed fetta, parsley and sprinkle with the balsamic / oil dressing and flaked sea salt and seeds to serve.

Quick to prepare and so easy with these chunky little no-mess beetroots

Some facts:

Baby Beets are available in major supermarkets and greengrocers and retail for $3 per 250gm pack (RRP).
There are a range of Baby Beets to choose from which apart from the natural variety include a gourmet flavour-infused beetroot selection.
Beetroots are hailed as a super food and contain antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids which may help to reduce cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Beetroot contains high levels of folate, silica and nitrates as well as fibre which can aid health in so many ways.
Fat free, low in calories and an excellent choice to keep blood sugar levels stable.
To learn more about the benefits of Love Beets and find their range near you visit their website here.

*I was sent Baby Beets to try. All opinions expressed are my own.
Do you have a problem with natural beetroot like me?
Do you have a fruit or vegetable which you always overlook as you think it's too much work to prepare?
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Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Melbourne Series #5 - High Tea at The Langham Hotel

The spectacular chocolate fountain at the Aria Bar and Lounge's weekend Chocolate Bar Afternoon High Tea.
Time to dress up in your finest floral frock and paint on the red lipstick. Today I am taking you on yet another high tea experience and it's a glorious one made even more exciting for you, if you are a chocoholic.
The Langham Hotel is ideally situated in the heart of Melbourne city at trendy Southbank; home of fine dining and central to the best tourist attractions in town. (The towering Eureka Skydeck88 is just a short walk from this quality hotel's entrance.)
From the moment you enter the foyer here, you will leave the world of the everyday behind literally and enter a luxurious place where you will be sensually seduced by a d├ęcor and atmosphere which is truly beautiful to behold.
Giant chandeliers, delicate scents of ferns and florals, sparkling brass, cool marble, lamps and linens
Carriage lamps, cascading waterfalls, subdued crystal lighting, water soundscapes...
Add the sensual tinkering of the live piano music, which trickles down from the pianist above, and envelops the bustling foyer...Yes, it's lovely isn't it!
I was awash with the sensuality and presence of the place.
It is simply stunning and scores maximum points on impressive factor - and it just gets better.
We were here to review the weekend Chocolate Bar High Tea offered at the sumptuous Aria Bar and Lounge. Weekend High Tea at The Langham is a special chocolate affair and a little different to your standard afternoon tea experience. For starters, high tea begins in the manner we were familiar with, but the traditional top tier of your platter is presented instead, on a giant table of goodies worth waiting for.
Our afternoon began with our tiered platters containing delicious and healthy savouries served with a glass of sparkling. These are the lovely essentials with which all high tea's commence and are the healthy component of the luncheon.
We enjoyed ribbon sandwiches with an assortment of fillings such as smoked salmon, cucumber, egg mayonnaise and cress and cream cheese and chives. There were savouries and quiches, warm and tantalising.
Scones were offered too, as is standard fare, with strawberry jam and fresh clotted cream - delicious!
Pictured are two high tea services, on the left is a vegetarian selection, the right, the regular offering.
We paced ourselves for the best part of this high tea experience however, which was yet to come.
Before we were seated, we passed by this incredible, centrally placed table display of cakes and chocolates, truly capable of making any diet redundant:
A magnificent Perspex Eiffel Tower of chocolate desserts surrounded by more chocolate based delicacies than I have ever seen in my lifetime. Wow!
Inviting tarts, truffles, mousse, custards and fudges, all chocolate themed...there was so much on offer and all of it in a word - exquisite! Everything was catalogued with cards to help make the selection easier. I tried hard to pay attention to the names but in the end, the visual appeal just swept me away and I taste-tested on looks alone and without regret.

Glorious liquid chocolate tarts set in perfectly sculpted chocolate cups topped with chocolate leaves

These stunning little bombs in an impossible shade of red were knockouts! Not only were they exceedingly pretty but the taste was amazing!
La Cherise: Belgian dark chocolate mousse 58%, Morelo cherries, macaroon base and red spray glaze: Divine
 Tea was served in heavy silver pots with that posh, traditional English look about them that begets pinky-pointing. I enjoyed bottomless cups of the Silk Road Blend consisting of the finest Chinese Silver Needle white tea with aromatic jasmine flowers and whole Iranian rosebuds; gloriously flavoured and scented and perfect for setting off the chocolate flavours of the afternoon.

High tea at the Aria Bar and Lounge is such a cosmopolitan affair. The idea of a smorgasbord of chocolate is a wonderful one and extremely pleasurable to both view and sample. When else would you ever have the chance to absorb so many beautiful sights and tastes? The flavours were magnificent and my only disappointment was the fact that I couldn't eat more! I am already planning a return visit here, with full intentions of eating my way through the offerings.
Here is a high tea experience for a very special occasion, made even greater by the fact that you are dining in the centre of a wonderful city with the best of its sights within short reach. There was genuine atmosphere in the Aria Bar and Lounge and it was a 'bustling' experience in every positive light, dining here.
Really though, who needs a special occasion to dine like this? Just let yourself deserve it and go!
There are a variety of signature High Teas on offer at The Langham Hotel in Melbourne. You can visit the website here to see which experience you'd like to try or to make a booking.
Reviewed here is The Chocolate Bar Afternoon Tea which operates on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-2pm and 2.30-4.30pm and costs $75 per person with some additional charges applying for beverages. For bookings call 1800 641 107.
 The Langham, Melbourne. 1 Southgate Avenue, Southbank, Melbourne, Victoria, 3006. Australia.
*Myself and a guest experienced a high tea at The Langham Hotel Melbourne
 in exchange for my thoughts presented in this review.
Linking for IBOT
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