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Stay Cool for Back to School at Spotlight!

How to get organised with SMASH so you keep your cool this back-to-school season!

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Survived the merry chaos that is Christmas? Had a nice little fiesta between then and New Year (with hopefully some siesta’s thrown in for good measure)? As everyone around you starts to get back into the swing of things one thing is crucial for parents nationwide – it is time to get organised… and I don’t mean in the peaceful ‘Marie Kondo fold-it-until-it’s-tiny’ way, although my freshly organised wardrobe would say otherwise. No no peeps, it’s time to get organised for the start of the school year. Notice those decimated seasonal shelves with the odd ugly set of bauble’s and the crushed box of the elf who adorns many a shelf? That will be the state of the nation the week before school goes back. Don’t spend the last week of school holidays racing around like a crazy person, no one wants to have to drag their kidlets in and out of multiple stores trying to see ‘what’s left’ and convincing them that the emoji lunchbox totally won’t have them laughed off the playground. Keep your cool and follow my top tips for getting back-to-school ready:

 

  1. Figure out what you need

I am sure there was a book list brought home at the end of last year… right?! If calling around other parents doesn’t shed any light on the situation, note that a lot of school admin staff are back at work. If you ask nicely I am sure they will be able to email you a fresh copy, but I bet most schools have all of this online these days in any case.

2. Set a budget and shop around

This is where it really helps to know what you need in order to jump online once the kids are fast asleep and shop around for the best prices. By avoiding last-minute shopping not only will you avoid having to settle for the leftovers, but you can get far more bang for your buck. Keep an eye out for the back to school specials too – they’re hot at the moment!

3. Have a little fun

I remember as a kid being super excited about back to school time. Being a mid-January baby (the 18th for all of you wanting to gift me puppies and chocolate!) I got a little used to the token school-themed birthday gifts – a new backpack, some funky new stationery *cough*25% off SMASH stationery right now at Spotlight*cough* and maybe some trendy school shoes… come on ladies, I know you all had a pair of these bad boys

colorado_atlas_flashback   https://www.colorado.com.au/ATLAS-2-Black-193849.aspx

For me it was all about the stationery and the accessories. Back in my day *ugh so old* you had to reply on a frozen popper to keep your lunch cool but to also thaw out at just the right time so you could actually drink it too. Not anymore folks, these kids have got it good… enter the latest SMASH Enterprises range, exclusive to Spotlight!

* Please note, this post has been created in return for a product review. The thoughts, opinions and experiences expressed below however are my own… I mean who on earth would write a press release like this?!

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It is no secret I am a fan of the SMASH range, particularly the Nude Food Movers products. They look good, they are practical, and most importantly they are affordable! With something to suit every picky primary, pre-teen and fully fledged neurotic teen you can’t go wrong with SMASH. One thing I didn’t know about my friends at SMASH though is that their products are stocked in Spotlight stores. That’s right mum’s, you can cruise into Spotlight on the premise of going there for back to school goodies, and cover all bases – win win! Even better, Spotlight have 30% off all SMASH Nude Food Mover kids food storage items for their VIP Club members until this Sunday, January 13th. Want to see what’s on offer? Well I thought you’d never ask…..

smash_spotlight_lunch2   All you need for a lunchtime feast!

What better way to wrap up your back to school shopping in one hit than with this spunky little combo! Insulated lunch bag that looks super cool and actually keeps things cool – check, practical sectioned lunchbox that you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to afford – check, the best sports water bottle on the planet – check. I told you this would be easy guys. Don’t sweat it, I’ve got you!

The Boy Tech Light Lunch insulated bag is a winner in my books. A decent enough size that it can fit a lunch box, such as the SMASH Bento Switch Up or the Nude Food Movers Rubbish Free Lunchbox, it has the team’s patented ‘Blue IQ’ lining. This lining is not only designed to prevent food from staining or leaching into the fabric, it is easy to wipe clean and protects against harmful bacteria. No stinky, stained lunch bags here, the lining is food safe and ensures it will last longer than your average lunch bag.

By ensuring this guy will last longer, you will save money and therefore more easily justify spoiling yourself whilst wandering the aisles of your local Spotlight stores – ahhhh #mumwin

Next up is the Bento Switch Up. This one was new to me but oh boy am I smitten! There are two removable dividers in this lunchbox which means it caters for every picky-eater and fuss-pot out there. The silicone edged divider also creates two separate leak resistant compartments, perfect for keeping washed fruit from making sandwiches go soggy. The Switch Up also has a ‘Cool Skin’ layer which not only gives this Bento box its edgy look, but helps to keep lunch cooler and protect the lunchbox for longer. Go on, you’re now saving even more knowing this gem is going to last longer… you totally deserve to bump a little extra cash into the mum-fund!

Funky designs, sectioned and with a silicone-edged divider… it’s sexy and it knows it!

Bringing it home for the win in the ‘perfect lunch kit’ stakes is the legendary SMASH Sports Chiller. I won’t lie, the family don’t get a look in when it comes to ours (note to self: hide new one from them too!). My Sports Chiller comes everywhere with me… in the car, on play dates, out shopping and to work. My pet peeve always used to be having the condensation from my water bottle make everything in my bag wet, or leaving a little pool of water in my cars cup holders. With three levels of insulation (yep, THREE!) and a one-way sports valve, this legend also has ZERO condensation. I kid you not… I have one of these in my work bag with my yearly planner, wallet, phone, receipts, you name it… no leaking from the valve and NO CONDENSATION. Told you it was good…

smash_spotlight_sportschiller  #hearteyes

Now you have the basics covered feel free to add in a few other bits and pieces. When they’re as affordable as the SMASH range, how could you not?!

Many schools are currently encouraging parents to pack plastic/package free lunches, or what the SMASH kids like to call Nude Food – cheeky little buggers aren’t they?! I always thought this would be a right royal pain in the butt. I mean how could you ensure you had an appropriate-size container for all the different snack and recess options… then I became acquainted with the SMASH Nude Food Movers (NFM) range. I have, hand on heart, passed on so many containers in favour of the NFM gang. On high rotation in our household with the child who eats everything in sight and requires alllllll the snacks when we are out and about, are the Snack Tubes. Rubbish free, BPA free, dishwasher friendly (top rack) and microwave safe, these puppies are ready for anything. Added  bonus: you can simply take one along for short trips, or screw a few together for a variety of snacks or a longer outing. Get into your local Spotlight store quick though, the Nude Food Movers range won’t last long at 30% off for VIP members

The Double Snack Tube – great size for the bigger kids!

Just when you thought SMASH couldn’t get any more practical, enter the Glow Bottle. This little dude gave me serious heart eyes, as my little guy insists on having water with him through the night, but I always worry he wont be able to find it in the dark if it gets knocked off his shelf (because he is a wiggle worm/sleep ninja). The Glow Bottle has all the regular SMASH features busy parents love – recyclable, food safe, BPA free, just remember to not pop this guy in the dishwasher… hand wash please! Lay the bottle under a lamp for around 15 minutes before bedtime and any money you will have no dramas in ensuring your littles remain hydrated through these hot summer nights. I actually just had mine on the kitchen bench and here’s how it fared…

Eeeek – so cute!! 

So to wrap things up for you I will answer the questions I am sure are buzzing around in your head right now…

  • Is she really organised for back to school? We are at the daycare stage here and went back two days ago… so yep!
  • Does she just say she loves the products because SMASH tell her to? They don’t. I have literally used every single item I have been gifted for review to give you the best idea of how they fare. Turns out they’re pretty darn awesome, so we have phased out and passed on all our previous lunchbox-type items in favour of something I know will last, will be affordable to replace when the time eventually comes, AND look hella-cool!
  • The cost of back to school is insane, how can I afford to send my babes back with some cool new gear instead of recycling last years wares? At Spotlight they get it… sometimes you need things a little sooner than you have the funds for. To combat this they have both AfterPay AND ZipPay available, as well as gift cards if the relatives want to chip in and send the kids back to school with a spring in their step.
  • Okay okay you’ve got me Megan… I’m off to Spotlight! Smart move there buddy, not just a pretty face after all are you! To find you local Spotlight store click here. Alternatively, shop online from the comfort of your own home with a glass of wine and sleeping babes. With a flat rate of $8.99 shipping on standard items you can totally avoid dragging the kids through the store. 

 

Enjoy the last of the school holidays peeps. Hug your babes until they get annoyed with you and give them extra smooches, because as much as they’re driving you bat-shit crazy now, you’re going to miss them like crazy the minute they’re gone! #mumlife #parenting #thiswasmetwodaysago

Featured

Be ‘Back to School Smart’ with SMASH and Officeworks

No back to school sweats here, Smash Enterprises and Officeworks have got your back!

Hey there you, Happy New Year! How was your festive season? I hope it was full of love, good food and great company. Now that the season of giving is over no doubt all the parents out there are looking ahead to be organised for back to school. Feeling a little flustered? Don’t sweat it – be back to school smart with SMASH, available now at Officeworks.

Have a school list? Upload it as a file of photo, or drop it off in-store, and have the awesome peeps at Officeworks pack up everything you need (excluding textbooks) ready for you to collect and pay for in store. That’s right mums and dads… no dragging the kids around during holidays scouring the aisles and checking off your list. Embrace the calm, click and collect within 48 hours. Now that the notebooks, pens and folders are sorted you can get onto the fun stuff – lunch!

* Please note, this post has been created in return for a product review. The thoughts, opinions and experiences expressed below however are my own… I mean who on earth would write a press release like this?! 

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My friends over at SMASH Enterprises have got all your back to school (and work) lunch needs covered with their range of products found in your local Officeworks store. I have had a look at a few of the goodies on offer and thought I might give you guys the down low on a few of my faves – sounds good? Coolness, let’s go!

THE FRIDGE

Let’s hit you with the big guy first – The Fridge. This Lunch Bag is a dead set machine! I am pretty sure my husband has been eyeing it off since its arrival… hands off buddy, he’s mine 🙂

 

This legend will keep your lunch (or the kids…. whatever *insert eye roll here*) cool for up to 7 HOURS!! Pop the 2 handy gel packs overnight and then zip them into the inside pockets before you head off for school/work and voila, cool as a cucumber. The Fridge also holds a LOT of food… okay okay, maybe I will share it with hubby and the little guy.

BENTO SWITCH UP

Now we are getting clever. Back in my day *cringe* you had a standard lunch box where you had to squish your lunch into pre-set compartments. Sandwich a little bigger than usual? Expect it to look less than appetising when you pull it out a lunchtime – so not cool! Speaking of cool, hot Aussie summers and lunches never used to be a good combo. Thank goodness for the ingenuity of the kids at SMASH – may I present to you, the Bento Switch Up.

 

Isn’t this a clever little poppet?! With a removable divider at the smaller end, and a silicone-edged divider which can sit in place anywhere along the larger compartment (or removed entirely) the lunch possibilities are endless. Not only that, but no more squished lunch when you pull it out – win win! Remember what I said about Aussie summers not being so compatible with school lunch boxes? Not anymore my friends. The Bento Switch Up has a ‘Cool Skin’ detachable base which not only protects the unit but also helps to keep lunch cooler just remember to remove it before popping your Switch Up in the microwave or dishwasher – you heard that right mums and dads… DISHWASHER SAFE #yourewelcome 🙂 Here’s a close up look at this handy feature:

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Just pull the tab to eject!

 

Wrap and Roll 4 Piece Pack

Next up we have a little legend whose uses are as endless as the Pinterest-perfect lunch ideas you spent the summer exploring. The Wrap and Roll 4 Piece Pack is the perfect rubbish free lunch option for those schools who request no excess food packaging be brought in, or for the eco-conscious parent. This pack is ideal if your little (or not so little) person is more of a wrap kid than a bread fan. The perfect size to ensure there is plenty of room for the full length of any wrap, you also get a handy Double Snack Box with fork, a snack pot (because little snacks need little homes) AND a handy freeze brick which fits just right. Take a closer look…

 

What a cutie right?! This handy 4 piece pack would be the perfect complement to Nude Food Day. Not sure what that is? Click here for more info.

10 Piece Pack

Rounding off our little exploration of the SMASH-Officeworks lunchtime solutions is the epic 10 Piece Pack. This pack would be perfect for the littler SMASH fanatics as it is a handy size and everything is bundled together to save bits and pieces getting lost. The Snack Pot and Snack Pocket sizes are also perfect for little tummies. I snuck into my local Officeworks and found two design options:

 

These handy packs have just about everything you need to set your little one off on the right foot for this school year, or for their first year of Kindy even *I’m not crying, you’re crying!* The 10 Piece Pack includes:

  • Lunch Bag (insulated walls, easy-grip zip for little fingers, and it keeps everything together)
  • Drink Bottle (reusable, eco-friendly and easy for littlies to use)
  • Sandwich Box (no squished sanga’s here!)
  • Spork (spoon one end, fork the other – winner!)
  • 2 x Gel Ice packs (for the ‘coolest’ lunch in town)
  • 2 x Snack Pots (handy to pull out and take on the run too)
  • 2 x Snack Pockets (for the more unruly snacks)
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Told you they thought of everything, didn’t I?!

I’ll let you in on a hot tip too mums and dads…. the 10 Piece Pack comes in at just under $10!! It’s okay, I’ll wait for you to get back up off the floor….

 

Overview

So it all looks good huh? I have mentioned a few of the features of each product under their separate sections above, but overall here is what I think of the Smash-Officeworks gear…

Pro’s

  • Easy to clean – a simple wipe down of the lunch bags is often all they need, and they are designed for just that
  • Dishwasher safe, top drawer – like I said before, you’re welcome (be sure to check individual products for washing instructions)
  • Fresh look – no babyish products here, these are for the cool kids!
  • Functional – each product and its components are designed to not only look good but to work well too
  • Keeping costs down means refreshing the lunch-gear for the new year won’t break the bank…. but don’t forget the peeps at Officeworks have AfterPay and ZipPay available if Christmas broke the budget a little more than expected 🙂
  • Versatile – changing up the lunch options? No need to buy multiple containers and boxes with these babies!

Con’s

  • The Fridge may be a little big for the average school bag… choose this bad boy for the teens or treat yo’self mum and dad!
  • Having bits and pieces inside each product means it’s important to keep an eye on the school bag daily to make sure it all comes home (and drill that into the kidlets!)
  • Sticky fingers – watch out kids, everyone is going to want to get their mitts on your cool back to school lunch gear!

 

Be sure to head into your local Officeworks store pronto to make sure you don’t miss out on these back to school legends, being in high demand they won’t be around for long!

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Lead by example… get Nude!

No no no no – I don’t mean literally, put your dang clothes back on peeps!

With the increased awareness on the impacts of plastics on our environment, particularly if you have been navigating the turbulent waters that are the New South Wales ban on single-use plastic shopping bags, I have been taking a look at how we can help here at home. We are Aldi shoppers, so the transition to bringing our own bags everywhere else was no biggie. But once I started to look at our daily wastage I realised a lot of it was coming from food packaging. The team at Smash Enterprises are here to save the day with their fun, practical and economical Nude Food Movers range!

* Please note, this post has been created in return for a product review. The thoughts, opinions and experiences expressed below however are my own… I mean who on earth would write a press release like this?! 

Playing my part as a Nude Food Day Ambassador for 2018 I was very generously gifted the tools to reduce my environmental impact, I just didn’t see it that way at the time! Staring at the rubbish-free lunch boxes, fruity movers, snack tubes and snack boxes I was impressed with the design and functionality but wasn’t entirely sure how to incorporate them into our daily life. Enter the toddler – problem solved!

Any parent knows that heading out for the day (or even just a couple of hours with my little guy) means you best be snack-ready. After being caught out a couple of times, this #newbie swore never again to be caught scouring the supermarket aisles with a ‘feral-hungry’ screaming toddler desperately searching for something remotely healthy and/or budget-friendly. Like every good scout says, be prepared (pretty sure that is also a line from a song from The Lion King – #disneymum strikes again!)

It is safe to say the Nude Food Movers make me feel like that smug, well-organised mum who is nailing parenting one snack at a time. From dinosaur hunts at our local wetlands centre, to my brother’s Oz-Tag carnival and every outing in between, our Nude Food Movers have been there to save my sanity.

 

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By being prepared when out and about with the little guy, I not only save a bucket load of money, but also am able to ensure I have healthy snack options on hand that I may otherwise not be able to find at a pinch. For us, the standout winner has been the Nude Food Movers Rubbish Free Lunch Boxes. Their name says it all – handy separate compartments means that you can pack a good variety of foods without worrying that your sandwich is going to get soggy or your fruit is going to get smears of Vegemite on it!

Available in standard or Mini size, this lunch box is designed with function in mind.

IMG_9236 Nude Food Movers Rubbish Free Lunch Box 

IMG_0486 Nude Food Movers Mini Rubbish Free Lunch Box

Not only do these handy lunch boxes have great compartments including two removable leak-proof containers and a sandwich ‘seatbelt’ (to separate multiples or keep an ice block from making your bread soggy), but *drumroll please* they are EASY TO CLEAN! Each Nude Food Movers Lunch Box comes completely apart, lids and dividers included, for easy cleaning. This ensures that not only can you avoid cross-contamination, but these babies will last way longer therefore reducing unnecessary financial and environmental burdens of frequent purchasing.

IMG_9305 If I can pull this bad boy apart to clean, anyone can!

The Nude Food Movers range is not only practical but it is affordable. For the price some retailers are asking for the insanely complicated bento-style lunch boxes, you could easily set your family up with a standard size Nude Food Movers Rubbish Free Lunch Box (RRP $14), a Nude Food Movers Yoghurt Mover (RRP $6.97), a Nude Food Movers Fruity Mover (my work-fave, RRP $3.99) AND a Nude Food Movers Snack Tube (RRP $4.99). Now I only did general maths, but to me that’s a no-brainer folks!

Need more convincing? Didn’t think so. Because I believe in full-disclosure though I will include this warning:

Nude Food Movers are fun. Which leads to happy-snacking. Which, if you are my toddler, means you associate every bench seat or unfurled picnic rug with ‘snack break’. Ditch the single use cling wrap and sandwich bags, re-purpose the hard-to-clean/bland/boring old lunchbox, and get Nude!

For further product information head to https://www.nudefoodmovers.com.au/products/

If you missed the boat on Plastic-Free July and haven’t lost your marbles over bringing your own bags to the supermarket, get your family and your school community involved in Nude Food Day 2018. With generous grants available there is a lot of fun to be had. Head to http://nudefoodday.com/ to be in on the action.

 

Nude Food Movers in the wild….

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My name is Megan, and I’m an addict…..

#stationeryaddict

….. a stationery addict that is! Just ask my mum; it was a regular ‘thing’ to have to get out some scrap paper and go through my ‘collection’ of pens, textas, pencils, crayons, notebooks, folders and the like just to see what needed to be parted with and what could stay – a slow and heart-breaking process I still endure to this day.

As we hit the halfway mark on the calendar, and a winter slump here in Australia, I get the vibe that everyone is feeling a little ‘meh’.

Meh: (adjective) the less-than-fantastic feeling related to being uninspired, unmotivated and a little less cheery than usual *yep, that’s my own definition!*

Whether you are struggling with the mid-year work slump, or trying to get the kids motivated for back to school after these holidays, the team at Smash Enterprises have the answer for you – fresh stationery!

* Please note, this post has been created in return for a product review. The thoughts, opinions and experiences expressed below however are my own… I mean who on earth would write a press release like this?! 

With 4 exciting new ranges, available exclusively at Big W, Smash have the goods to give any kid (big or small) the pep needed to launch themselves into the second half of the year.

For me, Neo Galaxy was a sure-fire fave! The perfect range to help you ‘imagine, explore and inspire’, I am putting these bits and pieces together to help me plan out my creative endeavours and get my butt into gear putting together exciting and engaging content for all of you – win win!

With a range that includes out-of-this-world ring binders, lever arch and envelope folders, magazine files and intergalactic paper clips, the Neo Galaxy stationery bundle sets you up for productivity plus, with a little sprinkling of wonder for good measure. The note pads have already been disseminated between my work bag for ideas on-the-go, the kitchen bench for communicating with a hubby that works nights, and my fresh new space I am dedicating solely to my content/blogging work.

A big bonus for our household is the day planner! Perfect for setting out our week ahead, or for listing when those pesky school assignments, sporting commitments or school activities are scheduled, this little supernova has enough space for all of your little ‘to do’ lists to be bundled in one spot. No more having multiple lists or forgetting anything, have your week planned out all in one place, ready to tear off when it is time to move on to the next.

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The best part about the Smash Enterprises stationery ranges is the affordability. With prices starting from just $2.50, there is no better feeling than knowing you have been able to kit-out your kidlets (or indeed yourself) with shiny new stationery without having to rob a bank in order to do so… now that’s a #bigwin!

Whatever your vibe, the Smash Enterprises team have something to suit you and your little school-goer. Nothing like a little ‘incentive’ *cough*bribery*cough* to get the kids back to school so you can breathe again, am I right parents?!

Have a unicorn-lover in the house? Other Realm is the whimsical range you are after – Available in-store at Big W now!

OtherRealm

Worried about maintaining your street cred’ while feeding the top secret stationery addiction? Urban Graphic is right up your alley  – Available in-store at Big W now!

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Have a teen who needs funky new stationery but is beyond the bright and bubbly ‘kiddie’ styles? Paint and Play is the perfect match… also BRILLIANTLY suited to the workplace – Available in-store at Big W now!

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And my personal fave – Neo Galaxy!

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Get down to your local Big W store to pick up the perfect range for you and/or your kidlets… I promise you wont be disappointed!

PSSSST: the Neo Galaxy range featured above is available in stores from TOMORROW (July 15th) and won’t last long, so hustle peeps!

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Smash Enterprises Ambassador – Barista Buddy reviewed

Do you regularly pick up a coffee/tea/hot chocolate from your local café?

Did you know that little takeaway cup you are holding joins it’s comrades and ends up one in ONE BILLION of its kind used in Australia EVERY YEAR? Smash Enterprises know it… and since attending the Kids Business Bloggers Brunch in May, I now know it too.

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Here’s a thought… where do you think all those cups end up?

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Photo by Emmet on Pexels.com

 * Please note, this post has been created in return for a product review. The thoughts, opinions and experiences expressed below however are my own… I mean who on earth would write a press release like this?! 

Smash Enterprises have the answer with their you-beaut ‘Barista Buddy’. Available in Glass (330ml) or lightweight unbreakable plastic (275ml or 390ml), this little guy is ready to go from your daily work commute to warming up on the sidelines at weekend sports. I have been giving the Barista Buddy a solid run of late and let me tell you, he is one handy little companion! Made from super strong plastic, this little gem can be thrown in your bag at the end of the day, tossed in the dishwasher, and chucked in the car without fear.

My Buddy is regularly by my side, particularly on ‘work days’ when the local café is more than happy to fill up the customer’s own reusable cups! Swimming lessons, packed for work, afternoon strolls with my little guy around the block… he’s certainly become a regular around here.

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(What, you DON’T carry Quidditch goggles around in your bag??)

Personally I love how easy the Barista Buddy is to clean – properly clean! In the past I have had other ‘keep cups’ and travel mugs, but always felt that after a while they have become a little icky leaving me reluctant to use them. With its leak proof lid engineered for easy disassembly, there has been zero issues with keeping my Barista Buddy squeaky clean and fresh. Here he is all disassembled ready for a good scrub after a hard days work…

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The Barista Buddy gets a big thumbs up from me for practicality, function, style and social conscience credits. So, what are you waiting for? Head on in to your local Coles or Woolworths supermarket, pick up your own Barista Buddy for just $10 RRP, and help me save the planet one coffee at a time!

 

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Bloggers Brunch: Smash Enterprises Ambassador – Smash Sports Chiller reviewed

Meeting the team from Smash Enterprises was one of the highlights of the Bloggers Brunch event for me! Focusing on practicality and sustainability, these guys are all over it when it comes to innovative ways to improve everyday products. Being welcomed on board by Smash as a member of their ambassador team I was gifted their newly launched Sports Chiller to trial. Here’s how it went down…..

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* Please note, this post has been created in return for a product review. The thoughts, opinions and experiences expressed below however are my own… I mean who on earth would write a press release like this?! 

Smash claim their New hero drink bottle, the Smash Sports Chiller, has some pretty epic features:

  • Wide opening for adding ice cubes and for ease of cleaning
  • Lightweight and squeezable
  • One way performance valve
  • Dual wall insulation which keeps drinks 2.5 times colder than a regular reusable plastic drink bottle
  • No condensation!

Want a drink bottle that you can fill with ice from your regular ice-cube tray, without having to buy some fancy shaped new one? The Smash Sports Chiller has a wide enough opening to not only add some extra chill to your drink, but also makes it super easy to clean (go on admit it, you don’t clean your water bottle as much as you should – no excuse now!).

Super lightweight and a great size for small hands with short fingers #mine, the Smash Sports Chiller is easily squeezable but no so easy that it is going to crumble under the weight of the bits and pieces in your gym bag or average handbag.

The one way performance valve not only means it makes a practical option for sharing with your kids minus the risk of slobber – aim and squeeze people – but it also means there’s no gross gurgling type noise when you get to the end of your sipping action… you know it happens, don’t deny it.

Claiming your drink bottle keeps its contents 2.5 times colder than other reusable plastic drink bottles is an epic claim, but when lined up against my regular water bottle I use at work this was definitely proven to be the case. On an average day I would end up tipping half the contents of the bottle on the right out and refilling it because I’m a little bit of a princess when it comes to only liking my water cold. Today not only did I finish the whole 640ml without having to tip and refill, but I went for a second round! That is just shy of 1.3 litres of the good stuff people – go me!!

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Now for the big guns – the claim that this new hero drink bottle had a sweat free design with NO condensation…. ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH, NADA. I usually have to have a coaster on my desk at work to mop up the mess left behind by Mr BPA-free on the right up there, but no need for that with the Smash Sports Chiller. Zero condensation means no wet puddles on my desk, no wet hands, and no wet files – convenient and professional, HA! Go little guy! Added bonus was I could easily throw it in my bag at the end of the day, take off to an hour-long meeting at Parker’s daycare centre, head home and find that my pricey little planner I carry in my bag every day was bone dry. No condensation means no issue popping it in your bag or the kids bag – no more excuses for not having some water with you on the go!

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Overall I’m giving the new Smash Sports Chiller a massive thumbs up – boosting my water intake and being much more convenient to have on you at all times makes this new hero drink bottle a winner in my book.

Want to get your hands on one? Head to your local Coles supermarket and simply choose your colour – pink, grey or blue. At the bargain price of $10 though why not grab one of each!

 

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Bloggers Brunch: ARTISTRY Skincare – ARTISTRY Skin Analyzer reviewed

ARTISTRY Skin Analyzer – review

Hey there beautiful, happy Saturday! Can you believe it’s the back-end of May already?? Man this year is flying by. At the start of the month I was super-duper lucky enough to be invited to attend the Kids Business Bloggers Brunch in Sydney. Not only was there an abundance of inspiring bloggers and ‘social mums’ in attendance, but we were lucky enough to have a selection of great brands there too. One of those was ARTISTRY SkinCare….. who to be honest, I knew NOTHING about!

Now let’s be real – if you know me, have seen my ‘non-curated’ Insta squares, or just get my general vibe then you will appreciate that my skin care routine is less than amazeballs. I only remember to use my cleanser because it is kept in a painfully obvious spot in the bathroom where I knock it over multiple times a day. I rarely wear makeup because I would rather sleep for 15 minutes more. I am pretty good with sunscreen these days though – go me! As I worked my way around the room I left the ARTISTRY team until last. The girls were doing mini-makeovers with their insanely complete makeup kit as well as some skin analysis thingy. Ah heck I thought to myself, I’ll give the skin analysis a crack. WOAH – was I left impressed!

* Please note, this post has been created in return for product. The thoughts, opinions and experiences expressed below however are my own… I mean who on earth would write a press release like this?! 

ARTISTRY is the Beauty arm of Amway, a global company with over 50 years experience in business. As I drifted over to the chair I was greeted by Donna, one of ARTISTRY’s National Trainers, and I had no idea what I was in for. Megan, meet the ARTISTRY Skin Analyzer (note: no typo!), a lightweight portable device that analyses your skin to make the best possible product recommendations for you. A quick chat about my routine (none) and age (cringe) and we were on our way. Here’s a selfie of the Skin Analyzer in action, taken by someone who clearly hasn’t perfected their ‘casual look’ yet…

BloggersBrunch_ArtistrySkinAnalysis

The ARTISTRY Skin Analyzer takes a reallyyyyyy close look at 8 different skin conditions including hydration, elasticity, pigmentation and *gulp* wrinkles. Once the analysis is complete you are then shown, on a big screen facing the entire room in this instance, your results in a clear informative set of images and graphs. Here are a few of mine as an example:

ARTISTRY_SkinAnalyzer_SebumARTISTRY_SkinAnalyzer_PigmentationARTISTRY_SkinAnalyzer_PoreARTISTRY_SkinAnalyzer_Wrinkle

Now let me take a moment here to gloat when it comes to the wrinkle image. From the bar above you can see the average is around the 15 mark… I am way down under 5. The marvellous Donna asked me again what my skin care routine was. When I said “best described as hit and miss” she then advised me that I promptly call my mum and thank her for her genes… which I did 🙂 Thanks again mum!

At the end of all the scanning, which remarkably only took a few minutes, we got some solid results. Being a visual person, this spoke to the core of my being – show me the way ARTISTRY!

ARTISTRY_SkinAnalyzer_ResultsSummary

Combination skin: BOOM, but what exactly did I need to focus on in order to get my butt into gear and look after the genes my mumma gave me.

ARTISTRY_SkinAnalyzer_ResultsGraphic

The graph above shows three shaded pentagon sections: the good, the bad and the ugly (or as ARTISTRY more appropriately refer to it ‘good, precaution and care needed’). For me it’s hydration and elasticity that I need to be mindful of in my routine. The ARTISTRY Skin Analyzer then came up with the recommendation of a few key products and brand-specific systems that would best-benefit my skin type. Winner!

I walked away with a better understanding of the condition my skin is in. I also felt confident that unlike other ‘consultations’ I have had over the years I was given accurate information specific to me, not just a ‘stab in the dark’ summary of the state of my face by someone who had read a flyer on how to sell me their products. A big thank you to Donna from ARTISTRY for her friendly professional approach to my little consultation, and for not making me feel for a second that I was being judged for not investing time and effort into my skin care routine #beenthere #donnarocks

For more information on the ARTISTRY range of products, click here.

Maybe you are looking for a little side hustle of your very own, and would like to be able to front a group of keen potential clients with a tool to add credibility to your consultation? Whether your interest is health or beauty, Amway has a way for you to become part of their team. For more information head to http://www.artistrystartup.com.au/.

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She’s the sky that holds the clouds

A little about the woman I call my mum…

This is my mum – aka mumma bear, aka Nannie Annie, aka Anne….. and she’s going to kill me for posting photos of her (hi mum, love you!!)

Mum.JPG

I was born a daddy’s girl and that never really changed. It was no secret, in fact it was painfully obvious, but that’s okay because my darling younger brother is a mumma’s boy #balance.

A little about this woman we call mumma bear: she is about as subtle as a sledgehammer, she irons EVERYTHING (socks and undies included) and she refuses to leave dishes on the dish rack (everything must be dried with a tea towel). She is also the most giving human being I know (often at her own expense), she is the level-headed advice you won’t always admit you need (but deep down know you do), her door is always open and she loves without measure (whether or not you deserve it at the time).

Anne Barnes is a mother, a taxi, a Nannie (not only to her grandson but to a collection of family friends), a second mum to many a footballer, a pit stop for those travelling through Sydney. She works hard – too hard – yet still managed to juggle raising a family with our dad, doing all the running around, making sure we never wanted for anything, managing football teams and clubs, running canteens… I’m pretty sure she runs on sugar. She is our family’s rock, the strength we need at the toughest times, a cancer survivor (twice no less – she’s just stubborn), and our ‘home’.

It wasn’t until I became a mum myself that I ‘got’ my mum. The washing, the tidying up, the wanting to know when we would be home, the naggi…. I mean ‘reminding’ was all for us, so that our lives could be better, run more smoothly, and result in less last-minute cries for mums help!

More and more these days I find myself saying something out loud or doing something that reminds me of my mum. Not so long ago my response to that would have been “OH CRAP”, but now I smile to myself. As a mother I am more my mother’s daughter than I have ever been. If I grow to be half the mum to Parker that she has been to my brother and I, then I would say I’m doing a damn good job.

Happy Mother’s Day mum, love you – no contract!

“Mother Like Mine” – The Band Perry

She’s the sky that holds the clouds
She’s the lady of the house
A blind believer in all I dare to be
There’s no safer place I’ve found
Than the shoulder of her white night-gown
Oh I’ve got the best and the worst of her in me
I’d share her if I could

Oh the wars would all be over
‘Cause she’d raise us all as friends
And no one would ever wonder if somebody wanted them
We’d walk on grass that’s greener
And our cares would all be freer
If the world had a mother like mine

She’s our father’s one great love
She’s the one he wanted most
She’s the light in the window of the house I grew up in
She takes the midnight call
She’s the bravest of us all
And she sings in the garden that she let’s her hair down in

Oh the wars would all be over
‘Cause she’d raise us all as friends
And no one would ever wonder if somebody wanted them
Tonight would be easier
And our dreams would all be deeper
If the world had a mother like mine

Don’t go away
Don’t go away from me
Oh I understand
She is a helping hand
But I have to say

She’s the sky that holds the clouds
She’s the lady of our house
We all need her
But no one more than me

Oh the wars would all be over
‘Cause she’d raise us all as friends
And no one would ever wonder just how much she wanted them
We’d walk on grass that’s greener
And the dishes would all be cleaner
If the world had a mother like mine

Oh like mine.

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Mum guilt: an epidemic

Come one come all, and listen to a tale of woe. A story about a mother, so twisted by the opinion of others and the influence of social media, that she suffered a truly horrible affliction known as… ‘mum guilt’.

Sounds truly horrible right? Truth is this shit is at epidemic stage! (Note: I swear, not for the sake of it but for effect. Sorry – hang in there, it’s really not that bad)

Show me a mother who says she has never felt a pang of mum guilt and you will have yourself a liar people. It seems no matter where we turn mum guilt is on the up. Everyone has heard of it, everyone has felt it, and yet we still fall prey to its cold pitiful grasp. Why? Well that is a very good question.

Since the dawn of time people have had babies, it’s pretty much how population growth works. Over the course of time there have however been various changes to the way we not only have, but also raise said babies. Biology, medical advances, technology, community – it has all adapted and changed, and with it has the way we raise our kids. Once upon a time it was the norm for a woman to not work and to stay at home raising her (generally bountiful) offspring. There was a sense of community. The proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” was most likely deeply rooted in this era. Today’s parenting landscape however is vastly different.

Think of what the typical family unit is, by definition, to you. Now share that with the person next to you (or wait until you know the person next to you, do not interact with that creepy person sitting next to you on the train!). Okay for safety’s sake scrap that step. Instead, survey 5 people you know and I can almost certainly guarantee one thing – the answers will not all be the same. Yes the stock standard “mum and dad with 2.5 kids, a white picket fence and a dog called Spot” will get trotted out, but more and more the answer is changing. Take my family for example – Mum and dad with 1 child, no front fence and dog is called Lara, or LARA when she’s being naughty (she’s a Beagle, that happens a lot). Other families I can think of include mum and dad with 2 kids, mum with 1 kid, mum and mum with 2 kids and 2 dogs (busy house!). The landscape is changing.

As the landscape changes, so do a lot of other things, including how we function as a society. The generation before mine cannot fathom airing one’s ‘dirty laundry’ on social media, but we have all see the good old cryptic Facebook status or the heartbreak/revenge Instagram ‘square of truth’. The current generation like to share, but that is not always a good thing.

I will be the first one to admit I have found great solace and confidence in myself as a mother from social media. Throwing a question out there to the local mum’s Facebook group at 1am gets you instant advice and feedback from other people on the same journey as you, sleep deprived and all! Yes yes, there is often a bit of ‘Mean Girls’ action happening on these pages, but that is nothing a good admin team can’t sort out (if you are a Newcastle/Hunter Valley mum you need to get among the ‘NHM Newcastle/Hunter Mums Group‘ action, their admins are brilliant!). I will be the first to admit though, that I have fallen victim to the epidemic that is sweeping mum’s world-wide: mum guilt.

That perfect Instagram shot where it looks like no one else is around (but someone has to be taking the picture right?!), the kids don’t have grubby clothes or faces, and mum doesn’t have a hair out-of-place. The snaps of family holidays to Disneyland when your biggest trip is to Aldi for the Special Deals (though that one kind of compares to the running of the bulls, so that can count as ‘exotic’). The image of the mum who can be at home full-time with her babe/s for as long as they need her to be, or she feels the need to be. Ouch, multiple bouts of mum guilt right there.

Mum guilt is born of one thing that we all have in common – love for our babes. A desire to give them the best of everything, to be there to witness every single accomplishment no matter how small, and to experience such moments of pure joy and bliss with them that the years of no sleep and snotty noses are all but forgotten. So why do we feel it?

Some say it is the competitive side social media brings out in us. I’ll pay that, because if you get too wrapped up in those squares and status updates you sure as heck can get a little green with envy, which doesn’t always bring out the best in us. Others say it is the rise in working mum’s. When you have to return to work just to break even each week, only to feel sick at the thought of leaving your babes with someone else. This one resonates most strongly with me. Sure I have felt that competitive beast rumble within whilst scrolling through Instagram, but for me personally it is the working mum juggle that hit me in the feels. I wrote about this for a fab site called Self Start Mums back in March. I highly suggest you take a look-see of course!

When I returned to work from maternity leave, it was a little earlier than I had intended. That whole shebang can be read about here. I knew I wouldn’t like it, but when life gives you lemons best to just get the salt and Tequila ready! What I wasn’t prepared for was the guilt. I was doing the very best thing for my family. I was ensuring we had a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, and yet it still hit me. Guilt…… meh…… my babe was at home with his dad. He wasn’t being left with a stranger, or being dropped to a centre full to the brim with other kids. He was with the other person who loves him most. It still got me though.

The more mothers I talk to thought the more I learn that mum guilt does not discriminate. It hits those who work, those who don’t. Those who have to work to survive, those who choose to for their sanity or to fulfill their personal goals. It hammers mum’s who are dressing their kids in new clothes while they are still trying to fit their post-baby bodies into their pre-baby clothes. It targets first time mum’s and those who have done it all before. And as I most recently found out through talking to a colleague at work, the bastard doesn’t go away once you are a few years into this motherhood gig.

All sounds a little grim doesn’t it? Well, thankfully there is a solution, but it’s going to take some work (because we all need MORE to do right!):

  • Find your tribe, love them hard – I found this saying made my eyes roll at first, but I get it now, I truly do… because I have found mine
  • Put down the phone/laptop/desktop (why are you carrying that thing around?!) – if it’s all feeling a little overwhelming and you find the green-eyed monster knocking on your door, log off. Go outside, ground yourself (in the earthly sense not the ‘go to your room’ sense), sit down and be silly with your babe. It will pass, and your perspective will clear
  • Know yourself – as a mother, as a wife, as a friend/daughter/employee/sister/dog-mum/whatever. Know that you are the very best person to be that little ones mumma, and own that shit!
  • Be realistic – those perfect Instagram squares you’re looking at take a whole lot of work you know. That picture-perfect family portrait took around 562 clicks, 25 filter changes and more than a few grey hairs in most cases, just ask any professional photographer how many snaps they take to get the one great shot
  • Forgive yourself – this one here is my fave. You won’t always be perfect. Sometimes you will yell, sometimes you will cry, sometimes your kids will eat chicken nuggets 3 nights in a row because you just do not have the will to fight them about it at the moment. They’re fed, ‘this too shall pass’, and tomorrow is a new day to try again.

Have I waxed-lyrical enough for you? In all seriousness though, no one is perfect at this game. We all get played by it from time to time, and every now and then we score a perfect round. Enjoy those moments, breathe your way through the rubbish ones, and live to fight another day (especially if you have a toddler). Go on mumma, you got this.

Now I am off to stick this post to my fridge, because we all need a little reminder from time to time!

x

(See below for photo of mum guilt in overdrive – Parker’s second day in childcare, the first day he cried when I left him)

MumGuilt_tears

 

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Just forgetful, or something else?

Ever find yourself suddenly ridiculously forgetful? Wonder how on earth you got dressed (wait! okay all good, I’m wearing pants), got out the door and are where you are right now? You’re not crazy, and as it turns out you’re not alone.

Around 8 months ago I was worried. I was forgetting everything – passwords, phone numbers, things I said to people mere seconds before, it was like my brain completely ditched the ability to retain information. Hot tip – don’t google that shit! Once I had calmed down and accepted my (self) diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumour, I booked myself in to see my GP. Dr Palipana (or Dr P as we call him, because Parker will be light-years away from saying his full name) is a legend. Not only is he the only doctor my husband is happy to see, but he is very thorough. Blood tests were done as an interim and they pointed to a significant deficiency in Iron, standard for me, and a very significant deficiency in vitamin B12. We discussed this a little and I had a course of shots, then began on a steady course of vitamins. Always one to Google though, I found out some interesting facts about B12 deficiency:

  • We can’t make vitamin B12 so we need to have it in our diet. We need it to maintain healthy cells and DNA, prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia (this is different to iron deficiency anemia) and keep nerves and the brain cells healthy.
  • Vitamin B12 is only found in foods of animal origin for example dairy foods, meats, poultry, fish and seafood.
  • As people get older the absorption of vitamin B12 can reduce, but because the body stores and conserves vitamin B12 it takes time for symptoms to develop.
  • Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency to look out for:
    • Strange sensations or “prickles”
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of memory
    • Pale skin
    • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
    • A smooth, red tongue
    • Changes in mental health like depression.

 (https://www.womenshealth.com.au/vitamin-b12-deficiency-symptoms)

Reading those signs was like a light-bulb moment for me. Fatigue and loss of memory were epic issues for me at the time. I usually had an epic memory, much to my husband’s dismay (though he reaped the benefits of my temporary mental blanks), and I always seemed tired. Even if I got a good solid night’s sleep, I was tired and would often nap on the weekends when Parker did. I wasn’t depressed, but I was very ‘meh’ about a lot of stuff. All of this aligned perfectly with what Dr P had seen in my blood test results.

Fast forward to today and there has been a marked improvement. My Iron levels were still a little low, but a change in supplement brand fixed that up. My B12 is up with the help of a daily B complex vitamin. It is in the ‘good’ range but still at the lower end, so that is something that Dr P and I check regularly. Most importantly though I feel better in myself. I am able to get more done in my day. I still enjoy a nap but don’t find myself ‘needing’ one as such (hey, who doesn’t like naps?!). My memory is certainly better – I am pretty sure my boss can attest to that by the reduction in blank stares she receives (the husband is not so keen on this one though). I feel more ‘me’ again.

The moral to the story kids is if you feel ‘off’, not quite right, or just not really yourself, get your patootie to your friendly GP and discuss it with them (NOT Dr Google). You are the best judge of how you are feeling, and you deserve to feel on top of your game.

Stay true,

Megan x