Ystad: charming town, Ale’s Stones

While we were staying in Malmö we made a trip down to Ystad. This small town is on the coast of Southern Sweden and faces Germany-Polish coast across the Baltic Sea. This quiet town has become world famous for the popular BBC series, Wallander. We aren’t fans of the show, instead, we came to see Sweden’s Stonehenge, the Ale’s Stones.

 

Continue reading “Ystad: charming town, Ale’s Stones”

My Christmas List…

Something I love about being an adult is being able to fulfil my own Christmas list. No more disappointments or being told that my wishes too numerous and unrealistic. Ok, some of it may be even too unrealistic for me to fulfil but at least I get to decide what is attainable and will remain a dream. Unfortunately with adulthood, so come the understanding of the value of money and that ‘things’ don’t make you happy. Nevertheless, ‘Santa’ has a sack of presents for me this year, so Christmas is going to be fantastic!

My interest (and obsessions) this year mostly revolve around colouring,  reading historical, politic and fantasy novels, Disney and travel. This is probably pretty obvious if you’re a frequent visitor to my blog. My life has changed so much since becoming a mother. I prefer to spend my spare time blogging, colouring, reading, watching late night and TV series, playing Disney Magic Kingdoms, planning future travel and eating out with friends. Shopping was previously a lifelong passion, but now it just seems too hard to look in a shop, let alone try something on and make it to the cash register to buy it. Until recently, everything I bought needed to double as nursing wear. So I expect in the new year I may try to get a few new items to update my wardrobe. I’m not too worried about that yet. At the moment I’m more interested in hobbies that are a bit more solitary since I spend my of my time accompanied by a small person, whose needs are more important than my own.

 

Continue reading “My Christmas List…”

Malmö: old city with a modern vibe

Next stop on our European trip was Malmö, Sweden. This was our second visit to this beautiful Scandinavian country, but our first time visiting this city. Marco actually has an uncle that lives in Göteborg, which we visited a few years back. This time we decided to spend a couple of days in Malmö, before making our way to Göteborg.

Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden and is situated in the south, near Denmark. Much of the city has an old-world feel, characterised by the decorative buildings, beautiful large squares, castle and parks. However, there are also modern feats of Swedish architecture that are just as stunning to the eye.

We were only in Malmö for a day and a half, so we tried to see as much as we could. We walked around Gamla Staden (the ‘Old Town’), tried all the classic Swedish pub food; visited Sankt Petri Church; saw the Turning Torso and nearby Scaniaparken; visited the Malmöhus Slott (Malmö Castle), Malmö Museer (Malmö Museum) and nearby Kungsparken; and tried enjoyed a selection of smörrebröd.

 

Continue reading “Malmö: old city with a modern vibe”

Eco Toys for 2-3 years olds

In time for Christmas, I thought I better share with you guys some of my favourite picks of Eco Toys for two to three-year-olds. My daughter 2 and a half, so we are familiar with many of these toys. This age group love to do a lot of pretending play. This is an expression of what they have learned from the world that surrounds them. It’s a really fun time to watch them pretending to copy us and be in charge of something smaller than them. It also makes play with us a bit more interesting, as the toddler can now take the lead.

My daughter is really interested in animals, miniature homes, baby dolls to care for, puzzles, cooking and performing with instruments.  When I began looking for toys to satisfy these interests I did find that most are recommended for age 3 years and above. However, I manage to track down quite a few eco toys that can be played with from age 2 years. Since my daughter has never been one to put things in her mouth I have bought her a few toys for 3 years old, with no issues. However, always be aware of the recommended ages and that these toys often contain small parts that your child could put in their mouth.

The categories that I have covered include:

  • Animal figurines
  • Animal and doll houses
  • Vehicles
  • Baby dolls and accessories
  • Puzzles
  • Memory games
  • Kitchens and appliances
  • Tea and coffee sets
  • Pretend food and utensils
  • Workbenches and Tools
  • Building & destroying
  • Little Shopper
  • Activity/Music Centre
  • Other pretending play toys
  • Ride-On

These picks are of course only a snapshot of what many of these great eco brands offer. So take a look at what else is available in their ranges to find the best toys that suit your child. These toys are all currently available in the Australian market. Be sure to google the toy name, as the websites that are linked to the brands and probably won’t able to ship to Australia. There are plenty of in-store and online toy stores that stock these items. If you have any questions about these toys, their materials and safety, its always best to email the brand directly and I’m sure they would be too happy to answer your questions.

If the child your buying for is younger then 2 years, please check out my previous posts Eco Toys for under 12 months and Eco Toys for 12-24 month.

At the end of this post, I have also included some links and information on where to find Eco toys, Safety standards and Certifications and a bio on these Eco brands.

 

Continue reading “Eco Toys for 2-3 years olds”

Family Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas. I look forward to it all year. For me its a time for magic, lots of presents, self-reflection, quality time with family and extra special delicious food. A few years ago the Christmas baton was handed to me, so I have been holding Christmas at my house ever since. Yes its a lot of work, but I love it.

Since I had my daughter, it’s been so wonderful to pass on the Christmas magic on to her. This year will be Octavia third Christmas and she will be 2 years and 8 months. Now she really understands who Santa is, what presents are and why mama keeps going Christmas shopping. She is so excited about this and has made going shopping with her easier if we are looking for things to tell Santa we want and need. We haven’t discussed the religious aspect of Christmas yet, I think this will be a conversation for next year or the year after.

Before we had Octavia’s first Christmas we began some Christmas traditions. We only started with few and will add a new one every year. I think it’s important to make traditions because it’s something we can all look forward, activities we can do together and will create magical childhood memories that we cherish forever.

 

Continue reading “Family Christmas Traditions”

Belgrade: the bohemian, proud, white city

Our last stop in Serbia was the capital city of Belgrade. This is one of my favourite  European cities and I was so excited to see it again. I love Belgrade because it’s modern yet old, the parks are beautiful and clean, the people are lovely, the shopping is good and the food is exceptional. Since we did most of the tourist stuff last time, this visit we got to see a few places we hadn’t been before. We only really had one full day, but I would have loved to stay longer.

Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe and has been known by main names. It was called Belgrade meaning the white city, by the Slavs. This is because the cities fortress looked white from the river. It is also known as the city that never sleeps due to its vibrant nightlife. It is also a very walkable city that is bursting with culture and history.
Continue reading “Belgrade: the bohemian, proud, white city”

Sokobanja: fresh, lush and healing

While we’re still staying Aleksinac had the opportunity to visit the spa town, Sokobanja. This is one of Serbia’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s located in the southeast of the country, between the Ozren and Rtanj mountains and is 400 m above sea-level.

Sokobanja has been famous for the therapeutic qualities of its thermal springs since Ancient Roman times. People travel to bath in the thermal mineral springs (28-45.5°C) and inhalation the fresh air, which has a high concentration of oxygen, ozone and negative ions and no pollution. There are even specialised hospitals that treat a variety of conditions, such as bronchial asthma and chronic hepatitis.

Sokobanja is such a beautiful and tranquil place. I found this amazing video which illustrates what a truly special place it is:  Sokobanja Green Heart of Serbia (produced by Dusan Stojancevic).

 

Continue reading “Sokobanja: fresh, lush and healing”

Niš: ancient city with a youthful vibe

While we were in the south of Serbia we visited the city of Niš a couple of times. It is the closest big city to Aleksinac (Marco’s hometown) and his place of birth. It is also the third largest city in Serbia, one of the oldest Balkan city and was considered a doorway to the west and eat in ancient times. Despite its ancient roots, this city has a youthful vibe. With bustling alleyways, live music, pop up markets and plenty of places to get good food and drinks, it definitely the place where you can have some fun.

We drove to Niš from Aleksinac, which only took 30 minutes, so we didn’t need to book a hotel. We visited a couple of times but unfortunately both times we didn’t have that long so we didn’t get to do all the sites. We did do a bit of shopping, visit the Fortress and Holy Trinity Cathedral and have a couple of great traditional Serbian meals.

 

Continue reading “Niš: ancient city with a youthful vibe”

Serbian Wild Flowers

When we were visiting Marco’s hometown of Aleksinac, I went on a walk one day in a village with the rest of the young cousins. We walked down this long dirt road through the farmland and we found the most amazing array of wildflowers. I couldn’t believe how many different varieties of brightly coloured flowers I found amongst the grass and crops.

When I travel I always like to take photos interesting native flowers and plants. I like to add them to my photo diaries to the record the unique beauty of a place. I also like to find inspiration for colouring books and art projects.

Do you take photos of flora when you travel?

Do you use them for inspiration for adult colouring or other art projects?

How do you inspire your artistic side?

Do you like to walk through nature, flip through books or peruse sites like Pinterest?

5317192124252627293031323334

Happy Halloween

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween. This year was Octavia’s first time out trick-or-treating. She was dressed as her favourite Disney Princess, Rapunzel. It was so nice to share this with her and my little niece. They had so much fun.

We didn’t  do too many doors, since most didn’t answer. We are in Australia so it’s not that popular. Most of our neighbours are elderly Italians. A few we know and the rest we got to know, which was nice. Since most weren’t expecting us we got a variety of treats including some delicious italian biscuits. They were the first thing O devoured as soon as we got home and will be the only thing. I’m thinking we trade her chocolates and lollies for a toy. She is only two and a half all.

 

Continue reading “Happy Halloween”

Aleksinac: Our Serbian hometown

So last time I left you with my European trip we were in Italy. Next, we made our way to Serbia to visit Marco’s family. We spent a week in their hometown of Aleksinac and did some day trips to Niš and Sokobanja and a couple of days in Belgrade.

This is the second time I’ve been to Serbia and visited Aleksinac. The best part of this trip was seeing Marco’s family and introducing Octavia to her little cousins. Since I don’t speak Serbian I didn’t have many people to talk to. Luckily one of Marco’s aunts was an English professor. Octavia understands Serbian and she didn’t let it stop her having fun with everyone.

So you may be wonder where is Aleksinac? It is a town and municipality, which is in the Nišava District of the southern Serbia. It is believed that people have inhabited this area since the Neolithic age and most of the settlements are of the Vinča cultural group. Like much of Serbia, Aleksinac has been under the rule of the Romans, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. There are many archaeological sites in the area and nearby, which have largely been left untouched. So if you enjoy hiking this region has many mountains and old castles to discover.

To get to Aleksinac we first had to fly Belgrade, where we were greeted Marco’s father. From there it took a couple of hours to drive to the small town of Aleksinac. On the way back we took a bus, which took a little longer but was easy enough.

Aleksinac town centre isn’t really a tourist hot spot. I think there is only one hotel on the edge of town. However, there are nice places to stay at spa towns like Sokobanja or Ribarska banja or in the larger city of Niš. I did enjoy visiting Aleksinac to get a feel for every day of small town living. However, it does get boring in the centre of town. I found myself just wanting to get out of town to see some of the natural beauty of nearby sites and villages.


 

Continue reading “Aleksinac: Our Serbian hometown”

10 Simple ways to get greener: Tip 2# Grow something

Growing your own food and keeping indoor plants is quite rewarding. You nurture a little seedling and eventually, with the right care, it will pay you back in delicious produce or better air quality.

Many years ago I started my own small raised garden bed to grow fruit and vegetables in hope of producing my own organic food. Although I had some successes I also learned that some plants only live for a season and others can attract many exotic bugs that made my garden their home. Probably the most important lesson I learned is how much better my own produce tasted and how easy it can be too grown some staples.

When we bought our home we realised our soil was not the best, so again we set up raised garden beds, garden troughs a variety of potted dwarf fruit trees. Additionally, we added many potted indoor plants to liven up our home.

Continue reading “10 Simple ways to get greener: Tip 2# Grow something”