Happy New Year!..looking forward and back at 2019

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday celebration and start to the New Years. I can’t believe its already 2020, it seems like just yesterday 2000 upon us. When we think about the people we were and the world we lived in, it completely mind-blowing. I’m feeling pretty optimistic about 2020. Not just for the world but also for myself.

Whats coming in 2020

So before I look back at the past year this blog, I thought I would do an update on what’s coming up in this year.

So my baby boy is coming in late May. I am 20 weeks today! I just had my 2nd-trimester ultrasound, which went really well. It made me feel better seeing that he’s still alive in there because he either kicks me for hours or is completely still. He was quite well behaved for the sonographer and she was easily about to capture all his important bits. He is kicking quite a lot now and finally hard enough for my family to just feel him from the outside. I’ve had quite mixed feelings about this pregnancy because I know exactly what to expect in terms of birth and all the sleep recently gained is going to be clawed back off me. But I’m also excited about meeting the little guy and having lots of fun baby time. Things will also be so different now that I can drive, have a few more parenting hacks up my sleeve and more confidence as a mother.

Before the baby comes I wanted to do another little trip with my family. So in a couple of weeks, we are heading to Tasmania! I’ve never been before, so I’m super excited to see what’s it all about and taste all the fresh produce.

I’ve already put together the itinerary for our 7-day road trip. It will begin and end in Hobart. But every day we will stay in a different town and visit others along the way. Some of the stops include Queenstown, Cradle Mountain, East Devonport, Launceston, Campbell Town, Oatlands, Richmond and Port Arthur. So it’s going to be quiet a fast pace road trip, with plenty of sites to see and cafes and restaurants to try. I won’t be able to do any hiking as I had originally hoped. This second pregnancy is a bit more difficult and I can only do 2 hrs walks in an air-conditioned shopping centre at this stage. But who knows, my usual travel boost may power me up so I can go for longer. Normally when I travel I only sleep 4 hours a night and don’t feel like I’ve had a great day unless I’ve been walking for 10-14 hrs. But it’s a lot different carrying a baby in my belly then in a baby carrier or in a pram.

As for the rest of the year ahead, I have no idea what is going to happen. I intend on being focused on my family, doing lots of activities and outings for the kids and trying my hand at meal prepping and new recipes. I’ve already been trying many new recipes from my Christmas present, Dinner: Changing the Game, by Melissa Clarke. So far I’ve made Black Bean Skillet Dinner, Sesame Chicken with Cashews and Dates, Zucchini Corn Cakes with Mint Coriander Pesto, Pomegranate Quinoa with Crunchy Chickpeas, Stir-Fried Tofu with Summer Squash, Basil and Coconut, and Fusilli & Roasted Cauliflower with Capers. And yes, they all taste just as amazing as they sound. Many are similar recipes that I have put together before, but just have that extra kick of flavour. So far my family have been a huge fan of all the recipes. Especially the Sesame Chicken, which has been requested to return weekly. I also really loved the Black Beans Skillet, which is so easy to put together and really satisfying. I recommend this book for you or as a present for any of your foodie friends. Its definitely going to be my go-to gift for upcoming birthdays this year.

The last big thing for 2020 will be renovations. At the end of last year, we completely re-tiled downstairs and began renovations on the downstairs bathroom/laundry. It’s pretty much complete, except plaster from the top cupboards to the ceiling and finding a mirror. The toilet, shower and barn door are also done. Marco did quite a bit of work by himself for this renovation. He removed the existing attachments, walls and floor tiles, sprayed the bronze windows black and painted and attached barn door. His father also did the electrical, which also saved us a bit.

Next, we will move onto my en suite and walk-in-robe, the second upstairs bathroom/toilet and lastly the kitchen. I’m most excited about getting a new kitchen, which I have been waiting for nearly 7 years. Since its the most expensive renovation and will have to outsource most of the labour, we may not do this until 2021. But I’m optimistic! We will use the same Carpentry business who did our laundry. They offer exactly the style that I wanted, use good quality materials and do an amazing job.

Look back at 2019

In 2019, I was a bit all over the place with blogging, especially towards the end of the year. The first half of the year was dedicated to my museum internship and the second half I was suffering 1st trimester morning/all day sickness. But I thought I would give you the highlights of all the major posts I wrote, in case you want to go back and check them out.

For the Live section of my blog, I continued writing about our Nordic trip. This 3-week trip took me nearly a year to write about in my off-time because we covered so much. I then began writing about my travels to the USA. It was a few years ago, but it is the only major trip that I hadn’t documented. I haven’t finished this, so I will continue writing about it this year. So far you can read about my first 6 days in New York and some of my older posts Eating through…each city, we well my Tips and guide for the Florida Disney parks and each Disney park in Pictures. Other things I covered this year was my Ancestry DNA results, which have since changed, so I intend to write about this in the future. And also O’s Unicorn Party.

For the Eat section of my blog, I mostly included posts from my travels and a few new recipes. I was pretty lazy in terms of recipe development in 2019. I found myself cooking a lot of the same old meals week to week. They were healthy but also familiar to my difficult child. Here are some of the recipes I did post:

For the Colour section of my blog, I was also quite slack this year. Although, I did spend a lot more time on the pages I coloured and I have improved a lot. Below are some of the book reviews I did with completed pictures and video flip through, as well as my special seasonal colour from a variety of my books.

8# Life update: Big changes

I’ve been a bit quiet the past few months, as I prepare for the changes in the year ahead. I can’t believe its almost the end of 2019. This year has gone so much faster than the past few years for me. I’m not sure why, but it may be because I have been getting a lot more sleep with a 4 year old.

So the biggest change that I have been trying to get used to and also preparing for is a new baby. I am currently 15 weeks pregnant and due in late May. I only announced it recently to my friends and family, even though I have known since I was a few weeks pregnant. I had a bad cold early on and then a minor spout of food poisoning, which had me a little paranoid. However, everything seems to still be going well. I had a chance to hear the babies heartbeat and speak to my midwife and she wasn’t concerned. The photo below is the little bub at 7 weeks. I won’t be able to get another look in until I’m 18 weeks.

Since I had my initial scan I have also done a non-invasive blood test around 11 weeks. I found out I am having a boy! I wasn’t so surprise at this because my symptoms have been really different from the first time around.

First, there were crushing migraines that didn’t fade with pain relief. Next, I had constant morning sickness that was probably wasn’t as bad as last time, but is lasting much longer and doesn’t seem to get better with crackers and ginger tea. I have also had shortness of breath and exhaustion when standing for too long. I don’t know if this is because I am older then last time or just a different experience. Lastly, I have started showing really early. Last time around, my tummy was so small that they had to scan me at 35 weeks because they were worried the baby was too small. But this time around, my body knows what to do. So I have a huge tummy, which doesn’t leave much room for food. It’s not hard to overeat, which is quiet painful for hours after. On the bright side, I’m not disgusted by food too much. I can stand to eat greens and beans if they are put in front of me.

The next big thing is that my little O has graduated Kindy! That means she is starting school next year in grade Prep. She is so excited and although we had some reservations about holding her back another year, we ultimately decided it was best she starts straight away. I think she needs to be enrolled somewhere every day, with some old and new friends her age. She’s going to learn Japanese, taking dance classes, participate in sports, as well as learning the basics for reading, writing and maths. I’m so excited to see her thrive in her first year and hear about all the next things she learned and the new friendships she will forge. It will also be nice to have the house to myself for 6 hours a day, with a newborn.

So in preparation for the next year, I have already been planning a baby nursery. I am determined that this baby isn’t going to co-sleep like O did. As magical as it was, I’m hoping this one doesn’t need to comfort of a warm body and wake up every hour for the next 4 years. I only recently got O in her own bed for the entire night. So with this enthusiasm, I have been looking at the amazing range of Greenguard Gold certified nursery furniture at Pottery Barn Kids. Aren’t they gorgeous? Most of them also convert into toddler beds, which is really handy when they are in the awkward phase of climbing out of the cot, but can’t be put in a single bed yet.

So that’s the big change in my life that is coming in 2020. I am hoping that I will still be able to blog in the new year and this baby is a lot more manageable than my first. But I guess time will tell how things will go the second time around.

Have you got any new changes in the new year approaching?

Pottery Barn Kids eco-friendly finds

I just love hunting for homewares and home decor. I could spend hours looking in showrooms and pinning my favourite furnishings and decor. Since having my daughter I am always on the look out for pretty eco-friendly, organic or non-toxic furnishing and manchester. Brands that carry these lines are usually hard-to-find, expensive or only sell online (imported). Big retailers usually don’t carry these kinds of goods. When I have asked questions about the products they sell I usually get a blank stare and the (imaginary) Australian compliance lines. One big retailer that I have found that carries beautiful interior goods for kids, which offers eco-friendly options is Pottery Barn Kids.

Pottery Barn Kids is part of the American parent company Williams-Sonoma, along with Pottery Barn and West Elm. Over the past few years, they have opened stores across Australia. These three brands are mostly housed in the same locations. Their products vary from reasonably priced to expensive. However, I do find the quality of the furnishings are quite good compared to large Australian retailers and the website gives plenty of information on materials and certification. In saying that there a lot of terrible MDF furniture and a bit of green washing, but if you know what your looking for you can find some great products. I have noticed that many eco-friendly products lines on the American website are not offered in Australia stores. However, I was assured by a store manager that these products will make their way over in time.At the end of this post, you can find the information of different certifications that most of these products carry.

These are some of my favourite eco-friendly finds that are available in store at the moment:

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Eco Toys for 12-24 Month

Buying eco, non-toxic toys for this age group can be a little trick. They go from being little babies to toddlers so fast and need toys that stimulate their fine motor skills. Many of these more interesting toys can have smaller pieces and are recommended for 24 months or even 3 years. However, I found some toys that can be used by toddlers between 12-24 months. The categories I cover include:

  • Activity Centers
  • Musical Instruments
  • Shape Sorter
  • Puzzles
  • Blocks
  • Walkers
  • Ride on
  • Push n’ roll
  • Small Wooden Dolls  and Accessories
  • Larger Baby Dolls and Accessorie

  • Cars and other Vehicles

For more information on the brands that I recommended and some info about them check them out at the bottom of this post.

This is a follow-up to my last post on this subject, Eco Toys for under 12 months. If you’re interested in buying for this age group or want to know more about why I prefer eco, non-toxic toys and more tips, please check it out.

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Organic Baby and Kids Clothes

Something that was very important to me when I was preparing for my daughter was buying organic baby clothes, produced with GMO-free, pesticide-free materials and free of chemical processing. I resisted the urge to buy every cute baby outfit I saw and stick to safer and more eco-friendly brands that I felt more comfortable with.

So why do I prefer organic clothing for my baby? Well for a start something I found with most organic brands is that they can tell you where the fabric is from, where the clothes are made and how they are processed. This transparency is something that you will not get from big department stores or many brands. They can’t tell you anything and will just repeat the same old line that it meets ‘Australian standards’. Unfortunately, these standards don’t cover harmful substances or meet standards covered under OEKO-TEX certification. Many of these organic brands are covered under Global Organic Textile Standard or  OEKO-TEX. If they are not I’d be asking a few more questions.

Babies skin is a lot thinner than ours and can easier absorb harmful chemicals. I feel better knowing that the clothes I am buying for her wouldn’t have anything harmful chemicals and dyes. Cotton is heavily sprayed with pesticides and synthetic fabrics are made with petrochemicals, plastics and other substances. Then the fabrics need to manufactured into clothes, so finishing chemicals and flame retardants may be added. The Australian Standard states that Children’s nightwear and limited daywear (for sizes 00 to 14)  must have fire hazard information label. This means they have been chemically treated or are a snug fit. If not buying organic it’s always best to check that snug fit is the reason for low fire danger. For more information on this subject check out the links below.

Not all organic baby clothes are created equal so it’s always best to check out their website or ask a few more questions before you commit to purchasing. Below are some questions that I like to ask.

Tips for buying organic on a budget:

  • Sign up to baby boutique and favourite brand websites for sales and vip events
  • Take advantage of Instore sales and Outlet stores
  • Gift registry for stores or websites
  • Buy basics in bulk to take advantages or sales and free shipping
  • Web search favourite brands and style until you find sale/free shipping
  • David Jones Gift vouchers
  • Only buy what you need!
  • Invest in organic pyjamas (to avoid flame retardants)

Below are some organic brands available to buy in Australia. Although there are heaps great brands, many you may only find online or in baby boutiques. You can find a few brands in David Jones, such as Purebaby, Huxbaby and Naturebaby. The only brand that I am aware of that has physical stores and outlets is Purebaby. H&M also have their Conscious range, which uses organic cotton. Target and Best & Less also have an organic baby range (note you get what you pay for). Although buying in-store can be easier sometimes, some of these other brands have quite unique prints and have quite good quality materials that continue to look new after many washes.

My favourites are Purebaby, Sapling Child and Joey Jelly Bean. All of which haven’t faded over time and stretch well for growing babies. H& M is good for basics and washes well. Best & Less was probably my least favourite in terms of fabric longevity and shape.

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