How to create the perfect Game Of Thrones dinner party

It’s no secret I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones.
I never thought I would get into such a show, because I just don’t really dig fantasy (unless it’s Disney or romance hahahaha) but just like the rest of the world, once I watched it I got hooked. So its safe to say that I am SO excited to see the final season!

Continue reading “How to create the perfect Game Of Thrones dinner party”

Mum Hacks To Help You Get Your Shit Together…

Ok so there are literally thousands of Mum hacks and Mum advice blogs out there.
So I am well aware I am not reinventing the wheel here…
But since returning to part time work as a marketing manager, two kids in tow, running a business, and be a multi passionate person and juggling different hats ( mostly my choice by the way).
I constantly get messages about how do I actually fit it all in? How do I cope?
Well the honest answer is… I don’t . I am not a unicorn…

Continue reading “Mum Hacks To Help You Get Your Shit Together…”

Just A Modern Day Mama In A World Full Of Old Fashioned Expectations…

Did you know that in 2019, women are expected to…
Return to work after having babies, as well as cook, clean, manage the home, have an immaculate house at all times, organise kids, feed the pets, do the washing, attend school events –  oh and stay healthy, be calm, loving, practice self care, and be groomed and well presented…

Or are they????

Continue reading “Just A Modern Day Mama In A World Full Of Old Fashioned Expectations…”

How to create a beautiful Valentines Day picnic…

Ok lovers, Valentines Day is just around the corner, so instead of the usual chocolates and tacky bears, I thought I would share with you a way to create a beautiful picnic with a checklist of things so you don’t forget anything!

Continue reading “How to create a beautiful Valentines Day picnic…”

How to host a kick- ass Christmas or NYE party without breaking into a sweat…

Well the countdown to Christmas is officially on!
I cannot believe how fast this year has flown! ( Pretty sure that’s what I say every year)

If you are anything like me and love to throw a party or host a gathering, this time of the year is really the best!

Continue reading “How to host a kick- ass Christmas or NYE party without breaking into a sweat…”

How to survive the school holidays with special guest, Anastasia from Kidspace Gold Coast

Entertaining your kids every minute of the day is exhausting.
It can be time consuming for you ( there are still errands to run, bills to pay and the clothes won’t wash themselves!) and it robs kids of the opportunity to learn how to entertain themselves ( an important skill!) Children need to learn to amuse themselves and to find interesting and fun things to do in a safe environment.
School holidays can often become very costly too. The go-to obvious entertainment choices are often expensive – e.g – The movies, a theme park, bowling, laser tag, play centres…. the list goes on!
Whilst those places are definitely fun and I still love to take Jude to them on the occasion, its not really sustainable to be going every day, or every week for that matter.

So I have been lucky enough to chat to Anastasia from KidSpace Gold Coast, to talk about everything you need to entertain the kids these school holidays!
Anastasia is a mum of three – two boys, almost 2 and 4, and a 14 year old girl.
She is also a primary school teacher and teaches year two locally – I suppose you could say her whole life revolves around children!
‘You think children get easier as they get older but some days my teenager needs more attention than my boys!’ Anastasia.

Nat – Thank you so much for sharing your tips with us Anastasia! I am so excited to use your guide myself! Can you please share a bit about how KidSpace came about?

Anastasia – No worries! I am more than happy to share!
KidSpace Gold Coast mainly came about because my 3yo was a REALLY active toddler. We needed to be out of the house by 8.30am or we were both going to have a bad day, and so having something to do every day became my goal.  I used to get anxious about having no plan, so I would trawl local websites to find information, wishing it was all in one place. I bit the bullet and I started my website, adding new adventures when my son was asleep. When my youngest came along I had two under two and was faced with a whole new round of challenges. I started looking for fenced playgrounds so I could sit with bub and not worry my toddler was going to make a run for it.  That’s when I realised that it was the small details such as fences and toilets that mattered. And coffee!

Nat – Yes fencing in parks can be very important and a deal breaker for some mums! I love that you share all this on your website! What else can we find on there?

Anastasia – Now that my family has grown, my focus has turned to free activities – playgrounds, playgroups, shopping centre activities. I just don’t have $50 to drop on a paid activity for both of my boys (and sometimes their older sister). Most kids are pretty happy with a set of swings, a good stick or a splashy puddle anyway!

Nat – I just absolutely love that you focus on the free activities! Not because I am a tight ass or anything, but because I have to try to stick to a budget! And I am super impressed at the cool things you can actually do on the coast for free!!
What would your number one tip be, for parents to stay sane these school holidays?

Anastasia – My number one tip is have a plan! I find one active morning activity out of the house and one afternoon activity at home always works for us. Our morning activity is normally a playground or play date with a friend. Our afternoon activity is normally a walk to a local park, craft or backyard activity.  Know where you’re going and find out as much information before you go – where to park, nearest food and drinks, toilets, do you need a change of clothes? Take the stress out of your morning by knowing these details before you go.

Plan to be home for naps and lunches – that way you can throw on a load of washing or chill out while they sleep. It’s really important to have a good routine that gives you an hour of time to do whatever you want.

You can find the KidSpace latest guide to free holiday activities here: https://kidspacegoldcoast.com.au/free-school-holiday-fun/

Other handy hints to remember –

  • Be sure to search for coupon codes on shop a dockets, Facebook, Instagram etc because lots of the paid activities have special offers over the holidays too so you can save on those activities too!
  • Try to look ahead at your calendar so you can sprinkle paid and free activities
  • Organise play dates with family and friends so you can relax a bit more while the kids play together.

At home activity ideas

  • Play dough.
  • Cooking – I make pikelets often because its super cheap and I always have the ingredients. I also don’t mind if kids drops egg shells into that mix because we can always make another batch ( and Jude really loves to crack the eggs)
  • Water play – various buckets and containers set up on the veranda or in the shade in the backyard. Add plastic toys and even sand!!
  • Treasure hunts
  • Craft activities – painting, glueing etc.
  • Colouring in
  • Frozen play – put small toys in ice and you have to chip them out or spray with water.
  • Nature play – collecting leaves and sticks and rocks in the back yard. Then we paint with them. So much fun!
  • Backyard picnics – makes lunch time fun!

 

And remember to breathe, relax and try to enjoy the holidays too!
You WILL survive the silly season!

xxxx

 

How I threw a birthday party under $200

To some people $200 is still a bit much to spend on a party.
To others $200 is just loose change…
Kids parties come in all different shapes and sizes, so I thought I would share with you what I put together for Judes 3rd birthday and how I kept to my budget.

Amazing parties don’t come cheap.
I am talking the Pinterest, aesthetically beautiful parties. The ones with the neon signs, the balloon arbours, the array of entertainment, photo booths, the 4 tiered cake etc ( the list could really go on).
They are absolutely drool worthy!! Heck I want to throw myself one every second weekend! But sometimes that kind of party is just not do – able.
Whether it be budgets, time frames, or the fact you have family rules restricting parties to milestone birthdays only, every family is different ( or like me, who just had a baby and just really wanted to take things easy this year).
According to experts in the biz Party With Lenzo, the average minimum cost for a party is $300.
In a recent study in the UK, it seems the average min spend for British parents is $450.
So I thought with a budget of $200 I was doing alright!

When I asked Jude what he wanted to do for his birthday this year he said –
‘Mum I want a Spiderman cake, and a picnic with Archie, Isaac and Jabez ( cousin and 2 friends).
The party entertainer in me was like – ‘WHAT!!!! That is NOT a party!!!!!’
but of course, he is 3, so I didn’t say that…
Selfishly though, I would love to have a theme that is not a super hero, because seriously, that stuff can be so tacky! ( last year I threw a non tacky Batman themed party for him. I should really share that one day!) But kids love the bright super hero themes so I relaxed this year and this is how it rolled. ( Sorry I forgot to get some photos of the decorations details but I am sure your imagination can paint the picture)

Little guests –  5
Adults – 7

Food
For the kids…
I made a fruit platter for when they arrived and then they had my favourite lunch packs ( see pics below)
Fruit I purchased – 2 apples, 2 oranges, 1 punnet blueberries, 1 punnet strawberries, grapes.
Lunch packs contained –
Cheese stick
Cookie
Vegemite sandwich star
Popcorn cup
3 chicken nuggets
I got all my fruit from the fruit shop and all the rest from Aldi.
Total cost for the kids food was – $15.25 ( $3.05 per head)

For the adults…
I served a small cheese platter which cost $17 to create.
Followed by burgers. I love to use the brioche buns from Aldi and the Angus beef patties. I just divide each patty into two as they are super thick.
Then I add, cheese, tomato, lettuce and mayo. Delish!!
They came in at $19.80 total.
So total cost of food per head for the adults was around $5.25

Drink
I used my drink dispensers and filled them with ice and added water to one, and apple juice to the other.
The juice was – $1.75

Decorations
These were all purchased from Choice discount store, except for the Spiderman balloons which were from eBay.
Plastic cups for popcorn and drinking – $2
Red and white lunch packs – $2 pack of 8
Red balloons with Spiderman – $4 with plastic sticks $2 ( I used these as decorations on a stick and then handed out to the kids as favours at the end)
Mixed balloons on the floor – $2.50 bag
Backdrop behind Cake – $1.20
Serviettes $1
Paper straws – $2
Paper plates $1
White table cloths – Already owned
Picnic rug – Already owned

Favours
Bags – $2
Plastic dinosaurs from kmart- $3 ( Judes favourite things and they come in a tube of about 20)
Bubbles – $2
Take home balloons ( mentioned previously and below on the stick)

Cake 
This was my biggest expense as it was something I wanted to outsource.
Cakes stress me out and Jude specifically wanted a Spiderman themed cake whenever I asked him. I knew I would fail at making that. He also said that he wanted cake as a present. So I guess it was kind of a present too ( shut up, I’m not a tight ass. He got some actual presents too).
The amazing cake was made by Deni Bakes on the Gold Coast and came in at $120.
It was absolutely delicious and I highly recommend her! ( You should check out her Facebook- Here

Fun
The kids played in the backyard and we had some running races.
I obviously have access to some fun party entertainment ( being a party entertainer and all) so we played a few games, danced and used the colourful parachute.
I also made my husband dress up as Spiderman and surprise the kids which was super fun! But I know not everyone can do that, and if you did, you would need to add the costs of the costume to your budget.

Total party cost $199.25

At the end of the day it was lots of fun and Jude still keeps talking about it.
We had minimal food left over and still have lots of balloons left over to use for other fun things.

The main thing to remember when you plan your party is – What is my budget? and how can I plan ahead to ensure I don’t blow that budget. (Planning ahead is always a good idea no matter what your budget!)
It really is easy to get out of control, so be mindful.
Kids really just want to play and have fun. They want to laugh and blow out candles. The 3 layered, fairy bread truffle, can often go un – noticed.

Anyway I hope this has been helpful to those wanting to throw a small easy party but didn’t really know where to start.
Good luck with your next party and I hope you and your loved ones get to enjoy it, no matter what the budget!

xoxox Nat

 

 

 

Trick or Treat! Halloween treat ideas!

We love Halloween at our house.
Our entire street gets into it and we all get excited to see what each other is going to dress up as. It is so much fun!

My husband and I actually used to dress up and go trick or treating with our friends kids, before we had our own! Pretty funny but true!
I think its interesting considering we were not allowed to go trick or treating as kids.
We both grew up in small towns and it wasn’t really a thing. I think these days our society is so much more multi cultural so it has become much more popular.

Every year we pop on our costumes and head out for some early trick or treating with Jude ( our little boy) and then we are home by 6pm so he can have some actual dinner and not just treats.
We then get lots of door knockers, so we always make sure we have treats ready to go.
I try to mix it up in regards to what treats I hand out, because lots of kids start eating their collection of goodies as they head from house to house.
So this year, I have teamed up with Cobs Popcorn to hand out their multi packs.
They are a healthy treat option and let me tell you – the cheese popcorn flavour is my FAVOURITE!!!! ( And Judes too. I had to fight him for a bag last week.)
Grab some at your local supermarket. ( they are really awesome for kids lunch boxes and party snack too!)

DSC-0709

Other treat inspiration that I am totally loving right now

The Ghost Hi Hat Cone
Go and check out Cindy Rahe. She is amazing!
Here is the link to create this fun recipe 
30925375888_e1e877956b_o

Halloween Pretzels
these are a super easy treat to make with the kids!
Check out the recipe here thanks to Garnish and Glaze.

halloween-chocolate-covered-pretzels-12

Personalised Treats
I love to personalise treats too! Even if its creating brown paper bags filled with goodies and a personalised sticker on the outside.
Check out the amazing range of personalised party products from Print and Party!

Pumpkin-Halloween-Party-Sticker-510x510

Happy Halloween Party Lovers!

xxx
Nat

5 ways to cut the catering costs of your next kids party…

Lets talk food!
I will admit to you straight up – I have always been that person who hovers by the food table at any event or party. I LOVE food! And when I throw a party I hate for anyone to go hungry. But making sure everyone is fed and happy doesn’t mean I need to break the budget.

Something I also see a lot at kids birthday parties is food wastage!
It pains me so much, to see so many over catered parties. Beautifully prepared food, presented so nicely and you know hours of (stressful) grocery shopping, chopping, cooking, frying, baking went into creating the delicious food laid out at the party, only for so much of it to get wasted! (Insert party mums tired, disappointed face here)
There is no need to have copious amounts of food on arrival, plus food platters for lunch, plus sweets, chips, lollies and cake, oh and then there are the parents platters! SLOW DOWN NOW!!!!!

At the end of the day, kids don’t eat much. (Well not in one party anyway.)
Most parties are only in a 2-3 hour time frame and during that time kids are busy running around playing games with their friends and are very distracted. So trust me when I say – DON’T GO OVERBOARD ON FOOD!!!! (Sorry for shouting but I just wanted to make sure you were listening.)
Anyway… Here are my top 5 tips to help you cut back on your party catering costs as well as help you to save on food waste. Enjoy!!

1 – PARTY LUNCH BOX
This is seriously my all time favourite!
Party lunch boxes are great because you can prep in advance.
You individually portion each lunch box and then encourage all the kids to sit down on a rug or at a little table to eat their portions all at once. It helps to create a moment of peace in the madness of parties and gives structure to your party. ( I love a bit of structure and believe it or not so do kids!)
It also stops food wastage because you are making just enough portions. Oh and did I mention it helps cut down on you hanging in the kitchen, so you can actually enjoy the party too?
Here is an example of the party lunch box I use to fill with food for kids under 6 parties. You can buy the boxes online or from most discount stores. Alternately you can use large paper bags from the super market. Or get super creative and use little buckets or anything that can hold some food! Decorating them can be fun too if you are that way inclined!
And don’t forget to make sure you are firm with getting rsvps back for your party so you make the right amount of party lunch boxes.

kraft_lunch_box_hedgehogshop

Here is a list of food I use in my party lunch boxes

1 x Sandwich – ( Or a wrap or sushi –  the choice is yours).
I often use cookie cutters to make the sandwich into shapes and it looks fun to eat!

1 x cheese stick.

1 x popcorn or pretzels/crackers.
You can use pre packaged or buy the big bags and portion onto paper cups or paper bags to put in the lunch box.

1 x cupcake ( or jelly cup or cookie, muffin or chocolate crackle)1 x fruit cup or fruit stick
I just use the clear drinking cups and fill with chopped fruit .

Salad-in-a-cup-2

2 – JUGS, JUGS, JUGS
Serving drinks in jugs or drink dispensers is much more cost effective than the individual juice or cordial packs. Use throw away cups with the children names written on them to help encourage the kids to re use their cup each time. Alternately, give them keep cups with their names on them so they can take home as a party favour instead of a lolly bag!

pb-classic-glass-drink-dispenser-c

3 – THE 4 PLATTER RULE
Have you heard the 4 platter rule? Well, I made it up so don’t feel bad if this is the first time you heard it!
This is a great way to focus on what you need to buy, create , cook and serve. It keeps you on track, on budget and stops you from going overboard.
This is how it works…

Platter 1 – Fruit – You can make it look as pretty as you like. You can put the fruit on skewers or just make a nice fruit salad. The choice is yours. Don’t buy too much fruit though. Kids will only eat an average of 3- 4 pieces each ( unless your serving strawberries… kids go nuts for strawberries!)
For a party of 10 kids I recommend – 3 apples sliced, 3 oranges cut into quarters, 2 punnets of strawberries cut in half, 1 half water melon sliced into triangles, some grapes, and either some pineapple or 2 bananas sliced. (whichever is cheaper. Also keep in mind banana can go brown when sitting out for a while)

Platter 2 – Sweets and chips – This platter is great for fairy bread, jelly cups, chips, pretzels, popcorn, lollies, crackers and cheese. My tip is to only choose 3 things on this list. You definitely don’t need to serve all! (Remember we are saving money people! Feel free to even skip this platter if you want to really stay on a low budget)

Platter 3 – Main food – This platter can have sausage rolls and pies, pizza, sandwiches, sushi (can be a bit expensive though), bbq sausages on bread, mini hamburgers, fried rice in cups, nuggets and chips, fish fingers and chips hotdogs etc. Just be sure to choose 1 type of  ‘main food’ to be served on this platter.

Platter 4  – Cake!  – Obviously cake does not have to be served on a platter, but cake, cupcakes etc are your 4th ‘platter’ / final serving of food at the party

dylan-nolte-546887-unsplash

4 – ADULTS, SHMADULTS…
I am sure most mums and dads will agree that when we attend our children’s  friends parties, we don’t expect to be fed. Obviously this is a different story if you have been invited to a family event  or if it is a specific lunch/ dinner or bbq event (if this is the case I say go with the 4 platter rule).
There is no need to create a whole seperate menu for the adults. I recommend (especially parties for young kids) to just do a small platter of crackers, dips and chips. And something to drink like soft drink or water. Most mums and dads will usually pick from the kids platters anyway!

victoria-rodriguez-434501-unsplash

5 – KEEP IT SIMPLE
At the end of the day, a small table of snacks followed by a main serve and end with cake will do the trick. Choose foods that are filling and then you won’t need as many snacks (which add up the $$ and get wasted the most). You will also save money if you make things yourself. And remember… the food doesn’t have to look like a 5 star Pinterest party! Kids will not notice!
Filling foods that I recommend,  (that will actually get eaten) are – pizzas (Aldi and Coles have frozen pizzas for $3 and I just add extra cheese), sandwiches, mini hamburgers, fish fingers or chicken nuggets and chips (can be frozen or hand made), sausages in bread, sausage rolls and mini quiches.
Keeping the party short and sweet is also a handy tip! 1-2 hours is ideal.

s-o-c-i-a-l-c-u-t-630679-unsplash

I hope you enjoyed my handy hints! Happy partying!
Oh and happy money/ food wastage saving!
xxx
Nat

Why I dressed up as a princess until 33 weeks pregnant…

I know what you are thinking…
a) She must be crazy.
b) She would have looked ridiculous dressed as a princess at 33 weeks pregnant!
Well calm your farm people… there is more to the story.

It is no secret, I love what I do. I can be corporate Nat by day and princess/ character Nat on the weekend. My hobbies are my passions and I get paid to do what I love.

I chose to take on this crazy character / corporate life and to achieve my goals ( just like everyone else does to strive to live the life they love) And I need to still make money and pay the bills right?
I also built this character life business from scratch and have worked damn hard to build it to the reputation I am proud of. So yes, sometimes I would worry that all my hard work would fall away if I took time out too soon.

It has certainly been physically exhausting at times and I definitely worked those kegal muscles while needing to pee during many a face painting session. But, I figured if old mate Serena Williams can win a grand slam while 20 weeks pregnant, I can damn well host a party as a mermaid at 33 weeks!

This pregnancy ( this is baby number 2) I suffered horrible nausea until 22 weeks pregnant and was on prescribed medication just so I could actually eat and function like a normal human, so there have been some pretty hairy party moments when it has come to entertaining at parties.
Like in the early days of pregnancy, after a particular party, the party mum was chatting away to me when I was ready to dash out the door to the safety of my car. She had no idea I was pregnant of course and I was trying so hard to hold a spew in my mouth and nodded fast and rudely to all her chit chat to try brush her off so I could get out of there!
When I did finally escape, I ran across the road to my car and proceeded to spew next to the front tyre… ( dressed as Moana). I never looked back and have never actually spoke to her about it. So if you are reading, I am so sorry if you thought I was hung over, rude or otherwise. Just preggo.

When I started to show a belly ( which lets face it was pretty early… like 9 weeks!) I would tell the parents when they were booking that I was pregnant so they had the chance to hire one of my other beautiful girls who work casually for me, or just deal with the fact Elsa has a pudgy belly. No one ever cared! DID YOU HEAR – NO ONE CARED!!!!
Is it weird that I was surprised???
Like not once did a parent say – no thanks, no preggo princesses here thanks.
It was very refreshing.

Why is that refreshing you ask? Because in the corporate world, things can play out very differently when you announce your pregnancy.
Not now in my current corporate job ( because they rock and totally champion the world of the working mumma) but in previous work places.

I know of various unfavourable treatments including dismissal, denial of promotion and some women I worked with in the past were put on 6 monthly contracts when they returned from their first maternity leave, due to the employer fearing they would have baby number two soon after! Its awful!
There is this stigma of ones ability to meet deadlines, or to have co workers start using the term ‘baby brain’ or say ‘oh gosh she’s probably at another baby appointment’.
WE ARE GROWING FREAKING HUMANS PEOPLE!!!!!

Occasionally I have had people say to me ‘So do the kids think you look funny as a pregnant fairy/ princess?’
The answer is no.
In fact, my mum is so good at making puffy princess costumes, that you couldn’t even tell I had a bump ( see pics below) Cheers for that mum!
Also I am a professional and wasn’t going to show up looking ridiculous. Right!?

So, in summary, I dressed up until 33 weeks pregnant because I either work at a desk, or I can hide my bump under a puffy gown and get paid to do more of what I love. I am capable and hard working and want the best for my family.
Being pregnant is cool, not a disease.
There are hairdressers, nurses, female miners, council workers, landscapers etc that are on their feet all day long while pregnant. They work longer hours than this chubby princess, so if everyone was happy for me to bring the magic and party fun to their little ones parties, I was willing and ready.

But now its time to hang up those wings and glass slippers until this baby arrives. Yay!!
I will be back and ready to party again soon ( but not too soon because I want to squish this new bubba as much as possible and not leak breast milk all over my costumes).
And I hope that by reading this, we can try to break some of the stigma that being pregnant means you suddenly can’t do your job or that you should stop work and feel guilty ( depending on your circumstances and health of course) And if you do have to stop, don’t beat yourself up either. Do whats right for you.

Shout out to all the mums doing what they do, juggling the shit out of life. You rock.

xxxxxx

Nat

fairy
15 weeks pregnant

IMG-7065-Facetune-10-03-2018-15-55-59
18 weeks pregnant

IMG-7085-Facetune-10-03-2018-15-59-35
18 weeks ( and I promise I never went to a party dressed like this. I just wanted to show the difference in costumes)

IMG-7160
18 weeks pregnant

unnamed-9
25 weeks pregnant

unnamed-10
22 weeks pregnant. The puffy skirt and the belt detract from the tummy.

unnamed-8
28 weeks pregnant! Puffy skirt hiding the bump!

unnamed-11
33 weeks pregnant! The last dress up! ( looking a little chubby here! But the dress hides a lot!)