Sunday, May 31, 2015

July 2015: School Holidays for bigger kids

Now that I have kids that are not pre-schoolers, I am finding many activities advertised as holiday options are not really suitable. The ten minute craft activity at a shopping centre doesn’t do anything other than make us all wish we had stayed at home. School kids can pick an 'Eductainment' option from three days away and are not impressed by anything that attempts to be teaching them something. 

So here are a list of things that you might like to do these school holidays if you have school aged kids which are just simply fun, for all of you. 


This first one is actually a pre-holiday event, but I love a good fire. Plus, it’s winter, it’s cold and nothing beats a big massive fire. You should go,  celebrate that the long long cold nights are now officially starting to become shorter and warmer…even if it doesn’t feel that way.

Saturday 20 June. 

During the holidays there is also another event at the Collingwood Children’s Farm and chances are, your kids don’t get enough time these days to run around and get grubby. Go, be ipad free for a day and all sleep well that night.

Mansfield Lantern Festival

If you want to go to an entire festival to celebrate the longest night of the year, the Mansfield Lantern Festival looks like a fabulous event to go and check out. It's the first year this festival has been run so you will be the first to experience it. You get to make your own lanterns, check out the local markets, the foods and the fun. It really looks like a fun weekend. Mansfield is an easy drive from Melbourne...and there will probably be snow, so snuggle up.

All the details: Mansfield Lantern Festival.


Go to Royal Park. It’s such a great park and has the best climbing frames. It’s free.
Really you should just get in the car and go. Take towels. I wrote a bigger post about it a few weeks ago.

Chocolate Classes at Yarra Valley Chocolatier

I haven’t tried this one, but if you have a kid aged 6 -12, I think they would love this. Making chocolate at a real chocolate factory in the beautiful Yarra Valley. There are only four days that this class is available, so take a look early and book your kids in. It’s an adult free class, so I can only imagine that you will need to sit quietly somewhere with a great hot bevvie and a few chocolates to try until the kids finish what they are up to. So far it really sounds ok to me.

Details are here - let me know if you do go and can tell me what it’s like.

Sovereign Hill

A couple of years ago Sovereign Hill started the gorgeous Christmas in July festival for the winter holidays. Each year it has got bigger and better and this year looks like it will be really magical. There is no mistaking that Ballarat is cold. Believe me, I went to school there for 8 years and my chilblains have barely recovered twenty years later. So having a winter Christmas in July, even if it is fake snow, is just perfect, because you will be cold, there will be little having to pretend about how cold it is.  

You can easily do a Ballarat day trip from Melbourne, but I think it might be worth staying over for the night if you can manage to. It looks like the light show is going to be well worth it.

Head to the Beach!

We have long been groupies of Big4 Bellarine and we love it just as much in the winter. The indoor heated pool is cosy and warm and the nearby beaches are empty. You can run along them if that’s your thing, or rug up and just play on the sand. Surprisingly, the kids love the beach whether it is hot or not. Once you have enough sand in your gumboots for one day, just head back to the cabin, go for a bike ride, jump on those pelvic floor weakness alerting jumping pillows and have a lovely time.

Winter is off peak time, so prices are good, check it out here 

Indoor Water Park  - WaterMarc

Next on our list of day visits is the swimming pool at Watermarc.

With a heated pool, slides, and playgrounds that you can use no matter how crap the weather is. It’s a public pool so you won’t go broke just to enter and you can stay for as long as your kids want to play in the water, which for me is likely to be all day long.  I will be packing my own bathers, swimming for a few hours and eating hot chips for lunch. It’s kind of my perfect day, which the kids will just have to cope with.
Details for Watermarc here


Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream, and that it will be on at Hisense Arena from 2-6 July. 

This show is on every year and we have been for the last three. Every year the kids love it and last year Mr H came along too and really enjoyed it. He appreciated the fabulous skating skills of the actors and we all really enjoyed the show.

For 2015, Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream! I am a bit of a dreamer type so I think this theme sounds like the best one so far.

It's a show filled with cute stuff, big life size mice who can skate on a thin piece of metal...I can't even stand up in ice skates, so I do think this is quite a thing.

 Plus...a horse, on ice skates! 

Tickets are available all over Australia and are on sale here for all the shows.

OR, just leave a comment on this blog post because I also have a family pass (that’s four tickets) for you to win right here. Entering could not be easier, just tell me one thing that you will be doing with the kids during July. 

TICKETS are for the show on FRIDAY 3 JULY, at 2.30pm, in MELBOURNE (HISENSE ARENA) you must be available to attend the show on this date. 

Comments Open Monday 1 July 2015 and close Sunday 14 June at 11.59pm

If this is still not enough suggestions, I had a few more last year too, you can read them in the post: Sorted: 10 Great Ideas for the Victorian July School Holidays.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Don’t be a candle snob.

This is a sponsored post

I have many times confessed to be a lover of candles and while I am not super proud of it, I am also a bit of a candle snob.  Or a smell snob as I once called it. 

Even in my bio, over there on the right hand top of this page (not if you are reading in email or on your phone) but it says ‘fan of good smells’. Because I love good smelly things. I can remember days by their smell, so powerful are they to me.

Last week Miss 9 asked if I could get her a thermos for school lunches, she loves soup, mainly pumpkin, and asked to take some to school. Of course I said yes and then I made some soup and added in a few sneaky vegetables. Including broccoli. I forgot, that broccoli is NOT a good smell to have in a school classroom.

The poor thing opened that soup thermos up and within seconds some kids with screwed up faces had asked “What is that smell????” it was instantly closed and she went hungry rather then stink out her classmates.  Because a stinky lunch can be hard to live down in Grade 3.

I have promised not to hide vegetables in her lunch again.

It’s different at home, because I had been sent a new candle to try from AirWick. I must admit I hadn’t tried them before. I hadn’t even looked at them. I thought AirWick was more bathroom clean smells, not living room smells.

But the candle I got was called Lemonade Stand and it’s really really nice. I had it burning in the kitchen and no one had complained about the stinky broccoli smell because it was hidden. This is one home fragrance that you want, especially when visitors drop by.

It’s not an awful bouquet of rose smell, or lily of the valley, or grandma’s posy. It’s light and citrus and fresh and modern.

It’s going to save Mr H a fortune! My candle habit had started to get a little

expensive, because the more of them you burn, the more of them you have to buy, and when you are being a candle snob, that doesn’t come with a supermarket price tag.

Good books and good smells are my weakness! 

One of the other AirWick candles is called Fluffy Linen which sounds like a smell I want! I am going to grab it this week, because the lemonade stand is not going to last long at my current burning rates!

Did you ever get sent to school with a stinky lunch?
What’s the best smell around your place these days?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stuff I like: the May 2015 version.

Yep, it's good to share the stuff you like, not just whinge about the things you don't like. Here are three things floating my boat right now.

My reading this year has been pretty basic, I have struggled to get a book that I really enjoyed or to even get into reading much at all, which is very unlike me.

Over at my favourite (and world's best) online book club, I am a couple of months behind, but I was really keen to read "All the Light We Can Not See" by Anthony Doerr.

It grabbed me from the start, mixing in my love of historical stories and my fascination with how people coped during the second world war in Europe, because I just can NOT imagine, how they did. In this book, stories are woven around two teenage characters, a blind french girl and an orphan German boy. For all the books you may have read about the war or documentaries you may have seen, you won't know the story of these two and the people that surround them over the years. It's not always pretty, but it's addictive and hard to put down. The ending is a mix of sadness because the book is over and also because it might not finish as you would like, but I really don't know how I would have liked this book to end.

I recommend it, and give a rating of 9/10.

Do you have a case for your smart phone or iDevice? I had one, dropped my phone and smashed the cover and knew I needed a new one super quickly. Some of us just can not be trusted not to drop these things. As I carry my phone with me quite a bit too much,  I wanted something that included a pocket for other things - like credit cards, train cards, work security cards etc, but I didn't want the front of my phone covered. Then TA DAAAAA. I found the jimmycase. It was perfect and I had a little tweet about it with @Katrinas_Tweets who also had one.

The fine folk at jimmycase were also listening in and were super kind and sent me my very own. It's sturdy and handy, but is a little thicker then I am used to, mainly because it provides proper protection all the way around my phone. But, take a look, he's a super useful cover and cooler than any other you have ever seen. I just love using the pocket for all my little sticky note reminders.

Rating for this one would be an 8.5/10

Have you ever had a ridiculously expensive food that you wanted to try? I have been following the Pana Chocolate instagram feed for a long time and it always looks so good that I want to lick my phone to taste it.

When I see those little packets of luxury sitting in the hipster stores I sometimes stumble into, I can just never get myself to fork out the $7 for 45grams of chocolate.  You can buy 600 grams (or three packets) of Tim Tams for the same price. This week I decided to throw some Pana Mint Chocolate in with the fruit and veg, then I waited quietly all day until everyone was finally in bed. I made a cup of tea and broke off just one block of chocolate. I sat down with my slippers on, the remote beside me and slowly sipped my tea and nibbled on that little square of chocolate.

Was it good. YES IT WAS.

And it pretty much has nothing in it, no dairy, not gluten, no sugar, no whatever else that bodies don't like. So I guess that means it has no calories either.

If you were to compare this chocolate to wine, this is not a quaffer chocolate. If Tim Tams are your cask wine, Pana is your Grange, your top shelf French Champagne. A little is all you are going to get.

I think you would like it, for flavour I give this a 10/10, but for value for money, well you need to decide if you want the top shelf or not. It won't be a regular purchase for me, but if cash were flowing from me, I probably wouldn't eat anything else.

That's it from Moira this week. What about you, got any good stuff arriving in your house lately?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Where have you been?

Where have you all been this week?

I got invited to a blogging shindig last week, it included an invite for a plus one. For a change, because I had my Mum staying for the week which means I have a live in baby sitter, I asked Mr H if he wanted to come along. He decided he would so we took off into the city, landed in the penthouse of a swanky apartment and quickly realised that he was the only male at the event.

Mr H is a good egg and didn't let it bother him too much, but he whispered to me, 'so what happens now?' Because at these kind of gigs it isn't always obvious. You don't know if you are expected to do something, eat something, watch something, sit somewhere. At first, you kind of feel like an impostor, expecting someone to say, 'hey, you shouldn't be here'. 

Reality is, the organisers just want you to relax, to hang out, to chat, to check out some products, to socialise. There are no real expectations unless you want there to be. 

It was put on by Dairy Australia, so, we ate cheese, LOTS of it. and if you have been reading for awhile you would know that me and cheese, well, we really are the best of friends. I don't think I have ever met a cheese I couldn't be friends with. I was happily reminded that cheese is a pretty good thing to be friends with, it loves me back too.

The next few nights of the week I worked, kind of. I went to work and listened in to some intense focus group research meetings. They are kind of torture for marketing people.

You have to sit and listen to people spin stories (made up stuff, inaccurate stuff, stupid stuff) about your product and service and you don't get a chance to yell through the glass to say you're wrong, YOU ARE WRONG. Instead you have to accept that these are the thoughts of real people. People who are choosing not to buy your widget because of all the things that they don't know. Do you know what people do when they don't know something? Well, some, about 2%, will seek an answer by doing a bit of ground work, but 98% of people, well, they just make it up and tell themselves they are right. 

It made me think of all the things I think I know about things that maybe I don't know about things so do I know any of the things?

Which is why it was really great to head off on Friday to a factory in Footscray, that's a suburb in Melbourne that most of you won't actually ever go to.

I went there to help out with The Highlands Foundation. I went because I really like to do some work sometimes that is real helping. Not massive fundraisers or giant projects, just little ones, run by passionate people who just do stuff, they don't let logistics and rules and regulations get in the way.

The Highlands Foundation just want to get a pack of stuff to ladies having babies in Papua New Guinea. They make up these great packs filled with donations from all over the place, warm blankets, knitted rugs, a clean towel, a piece of soap, a pair of undies - these are the 'medical' needs that many mums and bubs need. They just need to be clean and warm, that simple basic requirement keeps them alive. They do MUCH more too, but I could actually help with the packing bit and chat with the midwives who travel over there to help train local women to help. It was good exercise for my heart and my brain and my wobbly bits.

But enough about me, where have you been this week? 

Friday, May 1, 2015

I grew an egg.

It's true,

On Easter Sunday morning, I woke up and the Easter Bunny had left a lump on me the size of a Cadbury Creme Egg.

Or perhaps you could call it a third boob.

Medically, it started as a 'lump on right chest wall' before it progressed to a 'possible soft tissue tumour'.

From that moment, my brain went wild. It floated to the darkest of darkest places you can imagine.

I was instantly propelled from my doctors rooms to ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans, thallium scans, injected with radiation and contrast dye and underwent a biopsy, all in a few days.

As I sat in one particularly unpleasant MRI scan with the contrast dye floating around me and with the straps pulled tight over the barrier holding me still I tried to get myself to write a blog post in my mind. They needed me to remain still, stiller then still and my breathing was causing too much movement. As I mentally wrote the blog post I wondered what other people think of when undergoing MRI scans. I doubt many write blog posts in their minds to try and remain calm. I thought I 'd to write a post that would suggest people take in an eye mask. It's squashy in there, but if you can't open your eyes, you can pretend you are on a plane, floating above the earth flying anywhere you wanted. You can't even take the eye mask off if you want to because your arms are strapped down under the shield across your body.

Thallium Scanner contraption, this one is not scary at all.

Without the eye mask you can not trust yourself to not open your eyes. Even if you don't feel claustrophobic, once you open your eyes you are back in a medical procedure and your mind is at risk of floating to all those places that you don't want to visit. A mind in a dark place can be hard to get back to the light.

At one stage when the narrow bed was brought out of the tunnel, the nurse asked, 'Are you ok?" I replied with the only answer possible. "No, but I have to be, shove me back in the tunnel and let's get this over with."

Because you have no choice when your body grows eggs and lumps and third boobs.

After about 20 minutes I couldn't think of anything else to write in the blog post in my mind, so I decided to sing myself a little song, only I couldn't think of anything to sing, so I ended up with a chant, "Better then dead, better then dead..." Mr H suggested that next time I try something more upbeat, like "Stayin' Alive!"

After 30 minutes, it was over, not really all that bad after all, I just needed to get my mind focussed on the task and keep reminding myself that this is not going to last for long. If you need a chant for your head, I suggest using...'It's nearly over, it's nearly over.' because it really will be.

You get to wear special jarmies in your MRI. 

Behind the scenes, outside of the medical rooms was my cheer squad, sending me text messages and funny images and links to make me laugh. At home there were cards and flowers and food and picking up my kids and keeping me company. There were people who did little things that made big differences.

Today I went to see my specialist who gave me buckets of good news. He confirmed that the egg is benign. Lumpy is not Cancer. But, the third boob has got to go.

I need to head back to the hospital and have some surgery across my chest. My bikini days might be officially over for good (just in case I didn't think they already were) and I am going to be going through a couple of weeks of discomfort, but really, that's ok, it's gonna be ok.