The Day I became a Mama! (Best Day Ever)

This weekend I am excited to be celebrating my second official Mother’s Day! This year will be extra special as I’m 21 weeks pregnant with my second bundle of joy, and perhaps thats the reason I’ve been alll nostalgic at how quickly the last two years have gone since my first baby (now toddler!) was born.

With that in mind, I figured it was a good time to sit down and write about my first pregnancy/birth story to remind us all just how special our Mum’s are. For my fellow Mama’s: I’m sure you’ll all giggle/wince in pain as I remind you all of your own stories! For those of you who haven’t experienced the ‘miracle’ of childbirth yourself: Don’t worry, mine’s a good story and there’s no mention of blood or guts or Vagina’s* I promise!

*That’s the only time I swear!

You’re Pregnant

I remember when I first found out that I was pregnant with Violet. Trav and I had recently gotten married in Central Park in New York City. It was literally a dream come true!  We then travelled to the Caribbean for the worlds best Honeymoon, and then ventured home via Miami and Dallas.  We’d been gone for 4 weeks all up, and it was the most surreal, wonderful time in our lives. We were married! In NYC! We just got home from the Caribbean! It was a lot to absorb, and I felt sure that the deep depression that normally follows a great holiday (let alone a wedding!) was about to sink in.

Getting hitched in NYC (image: Benj Haisch Photography)

Trav and I decided when we were on our honeymoon that we might be ready to start trying for kids. As much as I’d always wanted them, it’s such a huge decision and some moments I was convinced I was ready and then others I was like WHOA! I’m only 19! (Note: I wasn’t 19, I was 29 but I felt like I was 19….you know what I mean?!) So anyways, being in the Caribbean where there’s nothing to do but drink rum alllllll the days meant that we weren’t really thinking all that straight and logic went out the window.

Suffice to say, the day we got back to Australia I knew. I woke up super early the day after we’d flown home. I had this niggling feeling that I was pregnant, so I did a home test just to put my mind at ease.  It was positive. I did another one because there’s no way you can try once on your honeymoon and fall pregnant. It was positive too. I felt numb. I remember walking out into the kitchen with the tests and showing Trav. His reaction was total shock. I remember that I had no idea what to say or feel…..and so we just kind of hugged awkwardly cos we assumed thats what people in this situation did. We were both SO tired and SO shocked! We then made an appointment to see the GP straight away because I was sure they’d need to do a proper blood test which would probably turn out to be negative.

The drive to the Doctor’s seemed to take ETERNITY. I remember I almost fainted when it was time to get out of the car. When we saw the Doctor she asked “So, why are you here today”. I said “I think I’m pregnant”. I expected her to say “OMG! You’re so young! What are you thinking?!” She didn’t. She asked if I’d done a test. I told her I had…twice. “Ok then great. Let’s start doing some referrals and I’ll give you some forms for blood tests and hospital admissions”. Just like that. We were pregnant.

The ‘Joys’ of Pregnancy

The next few months were crazy.  I told my sister before I’d reached the 12 weeks mark because we were talking one day and I was convinced that she ‘knew’ (despite the fact that it was way too early and I wasn’t remotely showing or suffering any symptoms). She was excited! That made it feel so real. I wasn’t excited, more like terrified.  I also thought everybody at work knew, and that all my friends knew….in fact it was all I thought about ALL THE TIME. Then the sickness came, and it was hard to hide.  I remember one day a colleague was commenting on how strange my eating habits had become, and she said jokingly ‘You aren’t pregnant are you?’. I burst into tears….so that pretty much answered her question!

23 weeks pregnant with Violet. This was probably taken just before/after throwing up.

My pregnancy with Violet felt long and hard.  I was throwing up most days, sometimes once, sometimes several times a day.  I craved all kinds of stuff: potatoes, oranges, and for the first four weeks all I ate was kale (I have not touched the stuff since!).  I got hot easily, and this always led to me being sick.  One morning I was at a packed bus stop waiting for a peak hour bus to the city.  It was hot, and there was nowhere for me to sit.  Before I knew it, I was vomiting into a shopping bag in front of about 50 shocked onlookers.  No one said a word, they all just stared in horror.  I tied up my shopping bag and went straight home to cry and eat biscuits.

Other than the constant sickness, and the heartburn, and the leg cramps, I had a pretty normal pregnancy and was looking forward to meeting my baby for the first time.  I wondered what it would look like, if it was a girl or a boy, and whether or not the birth would  be as awful as everybody makes out.  Trav and I decided pretty early on that we wanted to find out the sex, even though I was convinced I was having a boy! The day of our 20 week scan rolled around, and I remember being in the shower that morning and thinking ‘How exciting! I’m going to see my baby today!’.  As I stood there, I had this massive wave of realisation: IT’S A GIRL.  I don’t know where it came from, as I had always wanted a boy first and had my entire boy nursery theme pinned on Pinterest!  I decided to ignore the premonition and off we went to the scan.

It’s a WHAT?!

Lo and behold, the premonition turned out to be correct.  It was a girl! Trav was excited.  The guy doing the ultrasound was excited. I was NOT EXCITED! We were then told we’d have to wait a while whilst they printed up the report. Trav and I went for a walk outside.  I cried. Like, bawled my eyes out. I cried because I was having a girl, and then I cried for being so awful about wanting a boy instead. I WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A BOY!!!!!

Later that day we went to IKEA to look at nursery furniture.  I cried there too, as I looked at all the cute boy stuff that was supposed to be in my nursery.  Yep. I was a pregnant hormonal mess and the only thing I thought I ‘knew’ about this baby turned out to be totally and utterly wrong!

Now before you all have a go at me for being ungrateful and anti-girl, I have to say that with a bit of hindsight the way that I behaved at that news was ridiculous and if someone else told me that story I’d be all judgemental too, but I promise you all that once that news eventually sank in I let go of my boy baby obsession and started focusing on all the excitement that a little girl would bring (pig-tails and ballet!)  It was also a good lesson for this soon-to-be Mama that babies are not predictable, or something you can control and I quickly learnt to just roll with punches for the remainder of my pregnancy!

Hello?

For the months leading up to my birth, I met regularly at my midwife clinic with a group of about 10 women who were all due to have babies in the same month.  It was great and enjoyed talking to other first time Mum’s who were experiencing some of the same symptoms, emotions, fears and general craziness that I was. I remember the last few sessions I attended were getting smaller. Some of these girls had already had their babies! I was convinced that I’d be giving birth around 38 weeks. Once again, I was wrong.

40 weeks pregnant. She’s never coming out!!!

39 weeks came and went….nothing. 40 weeks came and went….NOTHING! I figured this baby was just going to stay in my belly and we’d just continue living our lives.  Eventually, the midwives starting talking about inducing me and this terrified me. I asked to wait as long as possible for this to happen so that I could hopefully kick things off naturally, and they agreed.  During the next few days I did it all: Acupuncture, raspberry  leaf tea, Clary sage oil (which smells like shit by the way) and eating copious amounts of pineapple.  Well I’m pleased to say, that the day after I consumed an entire pineapple whilst perched on my fit-ball (nothing to do with fitness, it was just the only way I could sit comfortably) I woke up the next morning to the early signs of labour! It’d been 41 weeks and 3 days and the little pudding had decided she was ready!

Go Time!

It was still pretty early in the morning (about 4am from memory) and I woke up feeling weird.  I’d had Braxton Hicks before though, so I decided I’d go get into the bath to try to make myself more comfortable.  Trav got up and was getting ready for work, and when he came to say goodbye to him I gently suggested maybe he should just stay home today.  Within a couple of hours, it was pretty clear that today was the day!

Things are a bit of a blur from here on in, but I remember calling the mid-wife, and then my Mum and Sister turned up for moral support.  Things seemed to progress pretty quickly and before I knew it, we were headed to the hospital.  I was kneeling on the back seat of my new car, thinking Christ I hope I don’t ruin the leather seats! I also remember glancing out the window when we were stopped in traffic, amused at what at the people in the cars next to us must be thinking.

By the time we got to the hospital, it was ON! I remember it feeling like an outer body experience, walking into the foyer in my Peter Alexander cupcake nightie and thongs (a ridiculous vision in itself), looking at all the families holding balloons and flowers, all who seemed to recoil in horror (or worse: amusement!) at my appearance.  We hadn’t even made it to the reception desk to ‘check in’ before I had a huge contraction and I had to hold on to a hand rail along the wall and try not to have my baby on the linoleum.  Trav later told me how horrified he was to look over at me in this position and how embarrassing it was.  I can honestly say that at the time, I wouldn’t have cared one bit! If only he knew what was coming!

We’d arrived at the hospital around lunchtime, and by the time I walked into the examination room to check how dilated I was, the midwife on duty took one glance in my direction and said “Oh, she’s in labour! – take her straight to the labour suite!”.  This was a little surprising to me, as I’d understood labour could take days….but hey, it’d been 41 weeks I was good to go!

Our first family photo taken moments after Violet was born.

I remember the labour being fast, and thinking that it wasn’t as painful as I thought it’d be…but it was so difficult!!! More than once I thought that perhaps she just wasn’t coming out, but then all of a sudden she was being held up for me to see! I was so relieved that she as here! I remember thinking she was red (overcooked) and HUGE (9lb 8oz) and the most beautiful potato-like creature I’d ever seen!

I remember the midwife putting her on my chest, and me thinking, I guess I should probably cry now?  I think perhaps I managed a few tears but the whole thing was so surreal: I had a baby. I was a Mama! They asked us what her name was and we proudly told them that it was ‘Violet Mae’. A beautiful name for our beautiful blonde bombshell of a girl. They told me to try breastfeeding her. ‘Ok!’ I said, whilst I secretly thought how the hell do I do that? Turns out I didn’t have to know, cos that teeny tiny (gigantic) baby just went for it by herself! She’s good like that.

I remember feeling happy that everything had gone how I’d hoped.  I managed the whole birth without any drugs or intervention and I felt pretty good actually! I felt proud to be a woman and marvelled at how clever we are. We’re freakin amazing! Then they told me that actually I’d had a third degree tear and that I’d need surgery right way. Farrrrrrrrk! Still, even with that fun curve ball, I still remember the whole thing rather fondly and once again felt grateful that for me it was overall a positive experience.

My blonde bombshell Violet Mae.

The After-math

After surgery, I remember waiting in recovery for the all-clear when Trav came in with our big chunky baby. That’s when it all hit me! I’d only known that baby for a matter of hours, yet I’d missed her terribly while she was away from me! It made me so happy to see Trav as well. He was a Daddy now!  He’d taken care of her whilst I was in surgery and that just made my heart so full. He’d already bonded with her and was pointing things out to me, like her long fingers or her mop of blonde hair. The two of them were already buddies and it was the most beautiful thing to see.

Shortly after, they transferred me to my hospital bed where I was to stay for the next few days while I recuperated. My sister was standing at the end of the bed holding Violet while the nurses were fussing over me and getting me sorted.  I looked up at the two of them and at that moment Violet turned her big potato head and looked right at me! It was the freakiest thing ever and both my sister and I were like Did that just happen? I didn’t think newborns had head control! (To be fair, she was practically a toddler when she was born so I guess that explains it)

My beautiful baby girl with toddler-like head control.

The next few days, nights and weeks all seemed to fly by/drag on and to be honest the after-birth hormones are worse than the pregnancy ones! I remember watching Despicable Me and crying through the whole movie despite it being a very funny children’s cartoon.  I remember being tired and wondering if I’d ever sleep again. I remember worrying about every mark, rash, spot, or any other change in Violet’s appearance.  I remember my milk coming in and thinking it was WAY worse than labour! I remember sitting up at 2am thinking how beautiful and amazing my daughter was.  I remember sitting up at 4am thinking I was going to die if I didn’t get more sleep. The whole newborn experience is magical and horrendous all at the same time, and whilst it feels like eternity whilst you’re in it, two years later I look back and think it was all over too fast!

You’re Pregnant. Again!

It’s crazy to reflect and recall all these details and know that we’re about to do it all over again with our second baby due in September (eek!). Maybe I’m crazy for wanting doing it all again but I also can’t remember what life was like before I was a Mama! It’s a hard, dirty, emotional and often thankless job, but its also the most rewarding wonderful gift and I feel privileged to be a member of such a super cool club!

Baby number two! Due September 2015

So to all my fellow Mama’s:

Happy Mother’s Day!

Remember how amazing you are and how far you’ve come! Remember to celebrate not only your own achievements, but your Mum’s too (clearly she did a good job…look at how amazing her child is)

All I want for Christmas….is Christmas!

Christmas hands-down is my favourite holiday of the year! Since I was a kid, Christmas has always represented something wonderful to me.  Even now as a fully-grown adult, I still get a little cray cray when I know Christmas is just around the corner! It’s a time of giving, love, and eating your entire bodyweight in desserts that have lovingly been dipped in rum, brandy, or any other manner of alcohol…I mean, what’s not to love? There are just so many examples of what I think makes Christmas one of my favourite times of the year, but I’ve done you all a favour and narrowed it down to just five….

Five reasons why I love me some CHRISTMAS!

1. Food.

Ok, I know this isn’t what Christmas is really meant to be about, and perhaps there’s some psychological reason it is also my ‘number one’ one this list, but seriously – Indulging in anything and everything you want just once a year really is a kinda magical event isn’t it? I love the roast meats, the ham, the delicious side dishes, and Lordy I love me some desserts! I know it may sound like I’m a gluttonous pig (I’ll accept that), but it’s not just about gorging yourself on lots of food, its more about sharing food at the table with family! Because let’s face it, in this day and age a family dinner is a rare thing so it’s nice that Christmas time is all about breaking bread with those you love! (P.s. I recommend wearing stretchy pants to allow for all that bread that you not only broke, but devoured in its entirety).

Just a simple Christmas meal…I hope there’s enough food!

2. Kickin it with your Nearest and Dearest.

Perhaps my favourite thing of all about Christmas, is its a pretty much guaranteed time of year when all of your family come crashing together and just hang out.  Coming from a split family, it’s a little more difficult logistically for us to see everyone on Christmas Day, but we sure do our darndest to make it work which sometimes means our Christmas Day is spread out over a couple of days to fit everybody in.  It can be exhausting, and it’s almost always stressful, but at the end of the day Christmas isn’t the same without family and friends and it’s kinda cool that we get to celebrate it over and over again!

Here’s a selection of the fruit-cakes that I’ll be kickin’ it with Christmas Day. No words really.

Family of Fruit Cakes

3. Singing along to Christmas Carol’s

Ok, this is one of my greatest joys at Christmas time, and I’m lucky that I married a fellow Christmas tragic because Trav indulges in my need to play Christmas Carols on high rotation at this time of year.  He even overlooks my severe Michael Buble obsession, which is a no-go zone for any other month of the year! Despite my years of having the Christmas Carols played over and over and over when I was employed in the retail industry, NOTHING can kill my love of Christmas Carols! I’ve even managed to find a radio station that plays only Christmas Carols on the weekend, so if you drive past a lady in a soccer-mum car who’s singing FA-LA-LA-LA-LAHHH! At the top of her lungs whilst stopped at the traffic lights, please feel free to roll up your windows and speed past, I totes won’t be offended!

Possibly the best Christmas Carol of ALL TIME! You know you love it.

4. Watching Christmas Movies (the good, the bad, and the hilarious)

This year, Trav and I decided we’d make it our mission to get through as many Christmas movies as possible.  We’ve watched so many already, some old, some new, some that we wished we’d never seen (Bill Murray in Scrooge – Seriously, the ‘feel good’ genre has never felt so BAD!) But my all time favourites are Love Actually, Elf & Home Alone, but there’s no denying that National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the best Christmas Movie of all time. We watch it every year, and it just never gets old! It’s a Christmas classic and if you’ve never seen it, then you seriously have not experienced true Christmas-themed hilarity!

Can anyone else relate to this scene?

5. Being Lovely

Christmas is a time of year when even the hardest of hearts should soften, and go out of their way to be all sweet and lovely to others! There are SO many ways that you can be lovely at this time of year: You can bake cookies, you can donate small change, you can volunteer. The best thing is, it’s not only perfectly acceptable to be sickly sweet at Christmas time, it’s actually expected! You can dish out a whole lotta lovely to your friends, your family, and even some random stranger who looks like they could do with their own helping of Christmas cheer.  It’s these small actions that can really make someones day and I think Christmas is the perfect time of year to go out and just be kind to one another! (Oh god, now I’m quoting Ellen! See what Christmas does to me?)

Here’s a way that I’ve been lovely this year: Donating time and money to the Rafiki Mwema Charity.

Rafiki Mwema Girls

Tell me, what is your favourite thing abut Christmas? Or are you a grumpy ol’ Scrooge who treats it like just another day of the year?

I Totally Baked! (Christmas Crackle Puddings)

Anyone who knows me knows that baking isn’t my strong point however when I heard two of my fave foodie bloggers Lauren from Create Bake Make and Lucy from Bake Play Smile had put together a recipe E-book filled with sweet delectable Christmas recipes, I knew that I HAD to buy one!  Don’t get me wrong, I love eating delicious Christmas treats, but I’m not a precise baker so my cakes/tarts/biscuits rarely turn out edible due to me ‘guesstimating’ what a cup of flower is and ‘improvising’ by using brown sugar instead of caster sugar….you get the idea!

Christmas Crackle Puddings

A cracker of a Crackle, if I do say so myself!

So Imagine my surprise when I attempted to make these gorgeous little Christmas Crackle Puddings and they actually worked, AND looked quite good too! (In my own, very modest opinion!).  Like always, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly and I took my own liberties when it came to decorating my little puddings (Ie: One M&M per pudding simply wasn’t enough, and those little silver balls that I added were just sitting in my pantry begging to be strewn across the top of one of these bad boys!) but they were so simple to make, even I couldn’t stuff it up!

In fact,these little Puds turned out so well, I was actually able to take them to a Christmas BBQ and openly admit that I’d made them myself! A few people didn’t believe that they were mine….yep, they were that good! Not only that,they were all gobbled up so quickly that I wasn’t left with that awkward moment where you have to take your sad little creations home with you. Worst walk of shame EVER! Lucky for me, for once in my life I got to strut back to my car, empty platter in hand feeling all accomplished and up-myself. And that, my friends, is what Christmas baking is all about!

If you’ve still got Christmas baking to do, I highly recommend you get yourself a copy of this little Christmas Recipe E-book so you too can be all smug and up-yourself at the next Christmas family gathering! If you’d like to win one I’m currently giving a copy away over at Pineapple Traders so pop over and enter for your chance to WIN!

The E-book I keep carrying on about!

This is the recipe E-book I keep going on about!

Tell me: What’s your favourite thing to make/eat at Christmas time?

My ‘Scatter Love’ Story: When Marns met Pam

Scatter Love Postcards

Scatter Love! image: Fat Mum Slim & Emma Kate Creative

I want to tell you guys a little story that I’ve been meaning to share with you since I first started this blog.  

The story is about my friend Pam.  Pam is my 70-something year old neighbour, who is full of sass, old-school attitude, and a heart as big the ocean. Pam and I have now been friends for about a year and I thought it was timely to tell you our story, since it all began with the original Scatter Love project that was dreamed up by two very talented ladies Chantelle Ellem aka blogger Fat Mum Slim & artist extraordinaire Emma Kate.

Now that the latest range of Scatter Love postcards are available {and cos it’s nearly Christmas and I love me a feel-good story at this time of year} I thought I’d share with you the original story of how Pam and I went from being slightly hostile neighbours, to the best of friends!

Here goes:

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Scatter Love project, its basically a pack of 10, beautifully designed post cards intended to be popped in the mailbox, sending messages of kindness and love to your friends, family, or even a stranger. This small act then ‘scatters love’ across the world, and good things happen!

Back in January when the first Scatter Love postcards were released, I bought some online andonce they arrived, I got thinking.  Who would really benefit from receiving one of these? I sent one to my Sister,  I sent one to my Husband, cos well, I even sent one to Violet, who was only 6 months old at the time.  I sent one out for each of the Grandparents and signed them from Violet because I fondly remembered sending letters to my own grandparents when we were kids.  After that, I sent a couple more to my  girlfriends, but ended up with one postcard left over. It was the one with the polka dots and a big cheery ‘hello’ on the front.

Eventually, I decided to do something a little bit out-there {crazy even?} and send one to our cranky old neighbour that lived over the back.  This lady had lived there long before we moved in 7 or so years ago.  She’d always been kinda rude, constantly sitting out on her back porch smoking. If she glanced our way she just stared at us. No wave, no hello, nothing! Her house was a high-set home, and it overlooked our back yard.  Anytime we were in the yard we kinda felt like we were being watched, so we didn’t spend a whole lotta time out there.  Unlike most sweet ol’ ladies, this lady just seemed a little bitter at the world.  I know that when we’d first moved in that there was another lady who was living there with her, however we hadn’t seen her in the last few years, so I’d assumed she’d either gone into a home or passed away.

Hello! Scatter Love Postcard

This is the Scatter Love postcard from the original series that I sent to Pam. Hello! image: Fat Mum Slim

So despite knowing nothing of our neighbour except what I’ve just told you, I wrote her a postcard.  I told her who we were, where we lived and drew a little stick-figure drawing of myself, Trav Violet and Minty. I told her that we often saw her sitting on her back porch and that if she felt like waving to us, we’d wave right back.  I sent it, and immediately kinda regretted (How awkward if she got it and STILL ignored us?). Too late! It was done, and I’d just have to wait to see what happened.

Imagine my surprise when a few days later I came home to find Pam at my front door! Yep, Scatter Love had worked its magic…

You can read the full story on the original Fat Mum Slim blog post here.

Eventually, I wrote to the lovely Chantelle to thank her for giving me the courage to do such a bold thing, and to show her that the project was really working in our little neighbourhood!  She responded almost immediately and asked if she post my story on her blog, which I of course agreed to (however f I’d know she was going to post my email verbatim  I’d have probably made more effort to fix any spelling and grammar mistakes) Once the story was published I received so many lovely messages and couldn’t believe how a simple post card could cause so much joy amongst so many people!

Pam and Violet up to no good!

Pam and Violet up to no good. As usual!

Chantelle also recounted our Scatter Love story at the recent Pro Blogger conference at the Gold Coast, and reported back that so many people were moved by our story. I was chuffed, but also kind of amazed at how a simple act of kindness could cause such ripples! Keeping in mind that I’m not some Mother Theresa type who set out to become life-long pals with my cranky old neighbour, I was just hoping to make it a little less awkward for us to spend time in our own backyard! Just goes to show how a small act can create big ripples though, huh?

If you guys haven’t bought some of the latest range of Scatter Love postcards, I highly recommend it! Not only are the gorgeous to look at (I’ve kept the Pineapple one to frame) but they are kinda life-changing as well! If you’d like to get your hands on a set you can buy them here.

So there you go! theres still some good in the world and it doesn’t take much to make it happen!

Disclaimer: There are still quite a few rubbish neighbours in the world that will never be your friends! For example one set of our neighbours allow their dog to regularly relieve itself on our front lawn…but let’s not go there and ruin the moment shall we?

Ps – Now that I’ve introduced Pam to you all, you can expect lots more blog posts with her as the topic, I think you guys are going to love her as much as I do!

xo Marns

Online Stalking: It’s a {Christmas} Gift!

FMS Gift Exchange: All wrapped up!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this year I am very excited to be taking part in the annual FMS Gift Exchange!

I absolutely LOVE buying gifts for other people and take it on as my own personal challenge to find my recipients the perfect gift, so for the last few weeks I’ve been stalking my assigned exchangee ‘Mary’ online (not her real name, so don’t get too excited all you Mary’s out there: It ain’t you!)

After many weeks of stalking/research and several fruitless trips to the shops, last week I believe I found her the perfect gift, at least I hope that I have! Here’s the clues that I used as a guide and what I’d deducted from each one:

My Gift Exchangee ‘Mary’…

  • Has 2 kids (probably doesn’t spoil herself that often)
  • Likes the beach, and the forest (a nature fan!)
  • She likes to read, make candles, and go for long walks (No idea what kind of books she likes, clearly can’t buy her a candle, and sweat-bands probably aren’t going to cut it)
  • Her favourite colour is orange (Great! I can work with this!)
  • She prefers savoury over sweet (Can’t relate personally, but this certainly helps narrow things down!)
  • She drinks tea (Ohhh, I think we’re onto something!)
  • The best gift she’s ever received would be a gift that shows that the person giving it knows something about her (Well I know heaps cos I’ve been stalking her like crazy!)

With the information above, as well as my frequent sneaky peeks at Mary’s Facebook and Instagram feeds (FYI: You didn’t give me a whole lot to go on Mary!) I’m hoping I’ve nailed it and found the perfect gift…what do you guys think?

T2 Spi Chai Tea.  I love T2 because it’s filled with beautiful, fancy teas that make the perfect gifts (I love their stuff but I’d never be extravagant enough to shop there for myself!) I grilled the lady in the store to find the most suitable type of tea, and ended up purchasing the ‘Spi Chai’ loose leaf tea.  Filled with gorgeous ingredients including Star Anise, Cardamom, Licorice Root, Cinnamon, Jasmine, Cloves, Ginger, and Rose Petals, it smelt AH-MAZING! Like Christmas in a cup…Perfect much?! I certainly thought so!  It also fit the ‘savoury’ bill, so I figured I was on to a winner! Throw in the lovely orange box that it came in (Mary’s favourite colour) and I decided it was meant to be.

T2 Spi Chai Tea - Tealicious

Teapot Tea Diffuser. I spotted this little vintage teapot diffuser whilst I was scouring the shelves of T2 and just HAD to have it! I know Mary has an appreciation for all things vintage, and the old-fashioned teapot design seemed the perfect fit to go her style AND with the loose leaf tea!  It was cute and practical, and a nice little keepsake that I hope will make her smile every time she makes herself a cup of tea.

Candy Canes. I know that Mary prefers savoury over sweet, but there’s something quintessentially Christmasy about red and white candy canes, and I know that she has kids so I figured I’d throw in a little goody bag to sweeten the deal!

Teeny Tiny teapot tea diffuser

How do you guys think I went? Do you think I nailed it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

My week sucked. But then I discovered Marcel The Shell (with shoes on).

Marcel the Shell (with shoes on)

Sometimes, we all need a little one-eyed shell (with shoes on) to brighten our day!

You guys, I apologise.

This week has been ridiculous and I’ve not had the time or inclination to write a witty, interesting or even coherent post.

I did try! I really did. I have a couple of posts drafted, but unfortunately they won’t see the light of dayas it’s been a whole lotta sick/crazy/tired/indifference around here this past week.

So as not to disappoint my huge throng of fans (read: 6) I thought I’d share with you all one of the highlights of my week.  I saw this little guy on Ellen and I just can’t stop watching him! He’s a teeny tiny breath of fresh air.  I think I love him and might ask him to move in (and his dog Allan too).

Introducing: Marcel the Shell (with shoes on)

So on that adorable note, have a fabulous weekend and I promise next week will be filled with all kinds of wit and hilarity around these parts!

xo Marns

I’m a Certified Clever Cookie! (and I’m celebrating)

I'm a Clever Cookie

It’s official you guys: I’m a Clever Cookie! And I’m not alone. In fact, there are hundreds of other Clever Cookies that are now hitting the blogwaves like it ain’t nobodies business, actin all fancy with our new-found skills!

For the last few weeks, I’ve been a student of the Clever Cookie School of Blog run by Chantelle Ellem and Rowe Timson. And guess what? It’s been AMAZING! Maybe even life-changing! (Woah Sheila, settle down…it’s just an e-course!) I’ve made so many new friends, learnt so many skills, and got to hang out online with one of my biggest girl crushes ever: Chantelle Ellem (aka Fat Mum Slim). She’s all lovely, and hard-working and inspiring, but at the same time just a regular ol’ Mama who loves her babies and has hard days like the rest of us. Anyways, I’m always down for a bit a good ol’ learning, especially if I can do it in my Jimmy Jams! (Which I did most days).

Now, despite my best attempts to never successfully graduate anything, I’m very proud to say that I’m now a certified graduate from the Clever Cookie School of Blog! Yep! I’ve even got a little badge to prove it! (see menu to your right). Full of pride and giddy school-girl excitement, my fellow Brisbane Clever Cookies and I got together for a little graduation celebration recently…and since these girls will most likely end up my bloggy besties, I thought it worthwhile to introduce them to you all since I’ll be no-doubt chatting about them here from time-to-time!

Brisbane Clever Cookies

Here’s how it went down:

After weeks of anticipation, we all met up at Le Bon Choix patisserie in the CBD (FYI: That’s french people, for ‘The Good Choice’ and a good choice it was!) After a few formal real-life introductions, we all got down to business: Drinking coffee, eating cake, and swapping hilarious Cookie Classmate anecdotes!

The first of the Cookies to arrive was Lauren from Create Bake Make.  Lauren was not only punctual which was impressive in itself (she has small children), but also lovely! At first she seemed a little on the quiet side, but once we got chatting we soon learned of Lauren’s many talents! Not only is Lauren a ridiculously talented baker, she’s quite the little entrepreneur! She’s modest about all of her achievements, which is probably why she failed to mention that she also holds a degree in Behavioural Science (i.e. She’s a smart cookie that can also bake cookies).  She’s also super thoughtful, which became evident when she produced bag upon bag of freshly baked cookies for us all. What can I say, the girl can COOK! It was at that moment that I knew we’d be great friends. She’d be the enabler, and I’d be the chubby one.

Next up was pint-sized Karin from Calm to Conniption (potentially the best blog name ever. I literally have a conniption every time I say it). My first impression of Karin was that she was cute. She was all blonde and petite and sporting a nice little baby bump which I resisted the urge to pat. Karin was warm and friendly from the get go.  Turns out though, under Karin’s cute little facade is a whole lotta cheeky! This pocket rocket was full o’ sass! and I loved it. Karin has a quick wit and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is! Let me give you an example. On Karin’s ‘About Me’ page she explains how she suffers from “FOMO” or ‘Fear Of Missing Out’. In Karin’s words: My ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ makes her as indecisive as fuck.  With classic lines like that, who wouldn’t love her?  She also mentions that a delicate flower she is not. Thanks Karin, but I think your blatant use of the f-bomb on your About Me page pretty much covers that! Her blog is funny and random and I think if nothing else, you should at least read her ‘About Me‘ page cos it’s a cracker!

Next up was Susan of My Style to a Tea. Susan and I immediately bonded over our shared love (read: obsession) for all things Mimco.  Susan was wearing the cutest aqua leather bracelet that I’m now obsessed with. Thanks for encouraging my obsession Susan!  Another thing that we have in common is that she’s a newbie blogger too.  My first impression of Susan was that she was well put together (You know those people who roll out of bed and look all chic without even trying?!) She’s also a multi-talented Mama, as she casually threw into conversation that she you know ‘makes quilts’. Cos you know, everyone could make a quilt if they really wanted to, right? (Well no, Susan, they can’t!).

Susan is definitely one to watch.  I chuckled my way through her first post where she introduced her reason for starting a blog as part of her New Years resolution. I love that she admitted this despite her first post being more than 6 months into the year! It is because of her tardiness that I know we will get along famously. (This post should of gone up a week ago, but I know at least Susan won’t be judging me!).

Citron Tart.

The delicious Citron tart that Emma watched me eat.

The next unsuspecting Clever Cookie at our table was Emma from 93 Frocks. Emma made a strong first impression on me: Pretty, blonde, and rocking a kick-ass pink lippie that if I attempted to wear would just look 80’s tragic. Emma was very personable and polished with the tiniest English accent that made her sound a little bit fancy.  I wondered if her polished persona was due to her background in Communications, but to be fair she was probably just born that way! I wasn’t familiar with Emma’s blog at the time so I was absolutely appalled when we all sat down to ridiculously lavish sweets and Emma just ordered a coffee (Ummmm Pardon?).

My brain couldn’t really compute this girl sitting at a table full of french desserts, none of which she was eating.  I tried to assess the situation before me. Do I hate her? Is she some kind of evil sorceress? Perhaps both. I decided that because I liked her pink lipstick so much, I should give her a chance.  Turns out she’s a weight-loss queen, and her whole blog is about her amazing transformation through weight loss, good eating, and exercise. And I’d dragged her to a patisserie. *Awkward*.

I’ll be honest…I thought that would be the end of the friendship (not eating cake in a patisserie is usually enough for me to discount a person) but Emma is so open and honest about her choices, and she has the resolve and discipline of a buddhist monk! What can I say, I was impressed! Her story is incredible and you should definitely check out her blog, it’s inspiring! Check out her fun frock posts here.

Last to arrive was Sasha of From the Left Field.  Sasha was a little late but she soon established herself as a bit of a fire-cracker from early on! Sasha is a bit of a walking contradiction.  She’s all edgy and tattoo’d, and looks like she might be a Yoga instructor or the lead singer of a female rock group. Instead, she’s Dr Sasha, a fancy, serious psychologist who reads people’s minds for a living!  She insisted we all address her as ‘Dr Sasha’, which seemed excessive, but if we didn’t I was scared she’d hypnotise us all to act like chickens or something! (Ok, I may have made that whole sentence up. Perhaps I’m a pathological liar? Must remember to ask Dr Sasha…)

In all seriousness, Sasha was super lovely and down to earth, and she’s got a great sense of humour! She writes like she talks so her blog is not only interesting, it’s a lot of fun to read. I enjoyer her recent post on imaginary friends, which you can read here.

Do you have a favourite blog? Share it in the comments below!