Friday, 22 November 2013

Cure For Life's Christmas campaign

What’s the silliest Christmas present you’ve ever been given?

A kitchen appliance you’ll never use? 

Scented soaps? 

Ties you’ll never wear?

It’s that time of year when we’re all trying to come up with good ideas for Christmas presents. 

It’s not always easy though and many of us end up spending money on silly presents. 

In fact, Australians spent $475 million on unwanted gifts last year.

Brain cancer research is seriously underfunded. Yet brain cancer kills more children than any other cancer. 

This year, the Cure For Life Foundation is asking people to give something meaningful and donate to support brain cancer research. 

Imagine what even a fraction of that $475 million could achieve. 

There are three ways you can give something meaningful this Christmas:

Donate online 

Give a donation as a Christmas gift to someone 

Donate what you’ll get back in refunds when you return your unwanted gifts in January!

Watch the Cure For Life Foundation's video

What's the silliest Christmas presents you’ve received? 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Take Your Top Off For Breast Cancer

 World First Event – BRA NATION!

In a world first event, women - and men - will gather in their masses at The Amphitheatre, Martin Place, Sydney, wearing nothing (on top) but their bra.

The event, run by National Breast Cancer Foundation ambassador and television presenter, Brooke Lowther and actor Conrad Coleby, will be held on October 27 to raise much needed funds for breast cancer research.

Besides drawing hundreds of bra-clad supporters, the inaugural BRA NATION will feature musical performances, celebrity appearances, a lingerie fashion show and the Fashions of the Reveal competition where patrons can design there own bra to wear on the day.

The first of what aims to be an annual event to be held in each capital city, will be televised nationally to raise awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer, a deadly and disfiguring disease that remains a worldwide killer of women, and accounts for 27.4% of all new cancers in Australian women.

To get behind this great cause and have a fabulous day out, grab your favourite bra - or start designing your own - and head to Martin Place at TIME on Sunday, October 27.

For more information visit Bra Nation

About Brooke

Brooke Lowther was born in NSW, although she spent most of her childhood
residing in Queensland. A proud mother of two, currently Brooke is the
television spokesperson for telecommunications giant TELSTRA and a
regular advertorial PRESENTER for fitness and lifestyle brands across

In 2002, Brooke’s versatile career in television began as the face behind
numerous advertising campaigns: Telstra, Natural Instinct, Pepsi Max, Devine
Homes, Wallace Bishop, Johnny Walker, Target, Kmart, JetStar, Suncorp
Bank, Palmolive and many more.

In 2012, Brooke was selected out of thousands of applicants from over
fourteen countries to be one of Samsung’s Global Bloggers for the 2012
LONDON OLYMPIC GAMES as an Australia correspondent on FOXTEL.

This year, Brooke is taking on her new challenge as an ambassador for the
National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) and is excited to launch her
new range of lingerie with U.K designer Melanie Harris, known for her work
with Eva Lilly, entitled ‘Qetesh Couture’.

This lingerie is not only designed for the everyday woman but one collection 'Isis' is specifically designed to give a fashionable choice to the 34% percent of Australian and New Zealand women who have had to endure mastectomies in the treatment of their breast cancer.

About the National Breast Cancer Foundation

The NBCF is Australia's pre-eminent community-funded organization
dedicated to winning the war against breast cancer through research.

With a goal of reducing breast cancer deaths to zero by 2030, since 1994, the NBCF has provided $97 million dollars worth of funding to Australian-based cancer research groups.

NBCF funded research has ranged the gamut from studies aimed to increase
fundamental knowledge of the disease, to those focused on providing quality
of life improvements for patients and survivors.

It is the mission of the NBCF
to provide funding for research on any and all features of breast cancer and its consequences for those it has afflicted.  The NBCF website can be reached at:

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Is ranking family members really necessary?

Last week I spotted an article titled "Do you put your hubby or your child first?"

Thankfully, it wasn't the article I expected. 

The author had noticed the same thing I noticed some time back - that a new trend had emerged. A trend which ranks the order of your love. 

The article reads:

"If you claim you put your children first, you’re Martyr Mummy, running yourself to a ragged standstill  accommodating your children’s whims, then swatting away your husband’s tiresome sexual advances in favour of a bottle of wine (or two – right, girls?) and a resentful flick through your collection of Ryan Gosling memes.

"The racier reply, popular with celebs, is to beam sunnily that you put your relationship before the children. Which is meant to signal to the world that you’re still the frisky little lovebirds you always were prior to little Liam or Madeleine’s arrival."

Celebrities such as Keith Urban and Giuliana Rancic as well as several writers and journalists have been forthcoming in proclaiming the latter. 

Though research suggests that - when asked - most people identify with the former. That is to say they put their children first, but does that mean they love them more? Or just differently? 

Or more to the point, why are they being asked in the first place? 

Do we really need to start ranking our loved ones? 

The question offends me almost as much as the ever-popular, "do you have a favourite child?"

Most of us have a lot of love to give. And some of us are blessed enough to have many loved ones to whom we can offer that love. 

Proclaiming who you love the most - and even having a personal ranking system - is, to me, an absurd concept. 

But what about you? Do you have a favourite child or purposefully order the love for your children and partner? Or do you find such questions as off-putting as I do? 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Hands Up For Miracle Babies

When I was asked to be an ambassador for the Miracle Babies Foundation a few years ago I was both honoured and proud. 

Miracle Babies Foundation is Australia’s leading organisation supporting premature and sick newborns, their families and the hospitals that care for them.

Miracle Month of May is the organisation's national awareness campaign that highlights the struggles faced by over 45,000 Australian babies and their families each year.

Prematurity is the number one single cause of death in children.
Those who survive can face lifelong issues, challenges and disabilities including cerebral palsy, health issues, behavioural disorders, failure to thrive and difficulties at school and long term stress for the family.
Miracle Babies cares for these families from pregnancy till the children are 6 years of age and then beyond.
It is the only provider of care and support specific to these families and the only organisation working with neonatal health professionals on education, training and research which has international recognition.
Miracle May includes the following initiatives. Your support can make such a huge impact. 
Hands Up for Miracles - Become a regular giver for just $5 a week
Donations accepted - or by phoning 1300 622 243
Miracle Babies Merchandise - For sale at Best & Less stores Nationally
1-16 May              Champions of Kangaroo Care Photo Comp 
3 May                   WA Charity Golf Day, Perth

12 May                 Mother’s Day gift for all families in an Australian Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
14 May                 Volunteer Meeting, Melbourne and Perth
14-18 May            National Volunteers Week
16 May                 Volunteer Meeting, Adelaide
15 May                 International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day
16 May                 Winner of Champions of Kangaroo Care Photo Competition Announced
18 May                 Annual Ball, Sydney
19 May                 Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, Sydney
 24 May                Pregnancy, Babies and Children Expo, Sydney
 26 May                HBF Run for a Reason, Perth

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Visual Inspiration

Having recently commenced studying again I decided my work life needed a little reorganising. 

As a work-from-home freelance writer and full-time mum, life is chaotic enough, without adding a whole bunch of disorganised text books and study notes to the mix. 

So after a spot of online shopping at Kikki-K to stock up on stationary, I've finally created myself a little workspace - more like a study nook - which fits snuggly in a corner of my home, with easy access and a continuous view of my two boys (though most of my work is done once they're safely tucked in bed!).

I've adorned it with things that are special to me, including photos, my kids' drawings, a poem from my mum, a card from my husband etc. 

While madly clicking away during my stationary shopping spree, I spontaneously bought a so-called "visual diary". 

My husband is a huge advocate of visual inspiration, so I thought - "why not?" - I'll create my own little book of inspiration. 

I imaged myself cutting out pictures of beautiful home decor, fit and healthy families, yummy recipes and my favourite quotes. 

So far, though, the book remains empty, though placed front and centre of my desk waiting patiently to be filled. 

It's not for lack of interest, more a time issue  - as in I don't have any after spending time with/feeding/cleaning the kids, managing the house, writing, studying, practising piano/guitar, life in general... 

I want to though. 

So, I'm wondering - is it worth the time? Do you have a visual diary or any other type of visual inspiration and if so, do you value it? 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sneaky Pumpkin Muffins

One of my biggest parenting challenges has been getting my eldest to eat his vegetables.  In fact healthy snacks in general hasn't been all that easy. 

I admit to being fairly naive when he was first beginning solids and snacks and relied far too heavily on the "babies and toddlers" isle in the supermarket. 

And with my own penchant for packaged goods, I considered the little fruit bars and rice cakes to be healthy snack options for him. 

Fast forward a couple of years and while he loves his fruit, he's also developed his own little taste for packaged fruit bars and other not-so-healthy snacks. 

I took a different approach the second time around and my youngest has much healthier taste buds. 

But with my recent decision to reduce packaged foods and increase my fresh food intake (which I wrote about here), I've began thinking outside the square when it comes to cooking - both for myself and my children. 

So, for anyone else with fussy little eaters, I've decided to share my most successful recipes here. They'll have been tested on the toughest critic! 

This one has been a huge hit. It's a snack - or treat - and has the tick of approval from Beau's kindergarten, whose healthy eating policy is fairly strict. 

Let me know what you think and please do share your own healthy recipes - I need all the help I can get!

Choc-chip Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups wholemeal (or regular) flour 
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 pumpkin
1 egg (beaten)
1/4 cup olive (grape seed, canola) oil

Chop up pumpkin and steam until soft. Mash in a bowl and put aside to cool. 
Combine flour and sugar;
Add milk, egg and oil and stir until combined;
Fold in mashed pumpkin;
Add chocolate chips;
Grease or spray small muffin tin or line with cupcake papers and spoon in mixture;
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on your oven!)

Monday, 8 April 2013

Women talk about "women's issues"... again

I watched last night's episode of Q and A with both interest and disappointment.

The panel consisted of an interesting and diverse group of women, all intelligent and articulate and all of whom possess different and sometimes opposing opinions on, no doubt, a variety of different topics.

One such topic, of course, is feminism.

Unsurprisingly, it was the first subject discussed.  Sadly, it was the only one.

While feminism is unquestionably an important issue, and a conversation I was looking forward to hearing (enough to keep me from my Monday night guilty pleasure, Revenge), I couldn't help but be disappointed that the first time an all female panel presents itself, the only topic covered is... feminism.

There were a few loose diversions, such as sex work (which was extraordinarily glamorised by most of the panel with the exception of Mia Freedman), politics and Islam - all were directly linked to feminism.

Deborah Cheetham tried to swing the conversation a couple of times, and both she and Janet Albrechtsen attempted to add some much-needed depth to the feminist discussion, but to little avail.

While it was undoubtedly an interesting episode (surprisingly I found myself nodding most enthusiastically to both Germain Greer and Janet Albrechtsen), it really was an episode about feminism as opposed to simply an "all women panel".

Even if they wanted to limit the discussion to issues effecting women, some broader questions could have been put to the panel, relating to, say, parenting, politics (non-gender), careers, the environment - anything really!

Alternatively, to legitimise the importance of the feminism issue - should this be the focus of the episode - perhaps a male panelist should have been included?

For me, despite consisting of remarkable women discussing a very important topic, although it was an interesting show, there was a hint of "novelty" about it.

Monday, 25 March 2013

It's never too late to make a change

So it's already April (almost) and I'm only now writing my first blog post.

It's been a busy year so far. But in a good way.

Last year (and the year prior) weren't so good.  They were tough.  Real tough.

A blurry haze of tiredness, anxiety, sadness and frustration, peppered, of course, with lashings of joy brought by my children, family and friends.

So when 2013 reared its head...  I decided this was the year to dedicate some time and energy to myself.

I made a decision to refocus on my health and wellbeing, both of which had suffered the effects of neglect.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I've always been a lazy eater (hello packaged goods) and a lazy exerciser (as in not doing any).

So I decided to begin with the food, starting with an increase in vegetables (I've eaten more fresh vegetables in the past two months than I have in the past year).  I also started cooking.  As opposed to, say, opening jars of pre-made sauce or popping frozen food on an oven tray.

The extra time required to cook and clean dishes was well worth it as I noticed increased energy within a month.

Despite being up multiple times a night with the kids I felt significantly less lethargic and tired, meaning I was more willing to play the sorts of games that little boys enjoy during the day.

But the difference wasn't just physical, I felt better mentally also - cheerful and happy and bouncy - like the old me, the real me.

With all the extra energy I decided to give exercise a go.  After always claiming I didn't have the time or energy, I now did have the energy - so decided to make the time too.  I began by doing it in the bathroom while the kids had their bath.

I'm proud to say I've stuck with it.  In fact, I've come to enjoy it.  I even bought a treadmill!

I feel so great that I've been desperate to share my newfound health and wellbeing equilibrium - and not wanting to be that person who updates their Facebook status with life-changing epiphanies, I thought here was the place to do just that.

The other decision I made this year was that finally, at 31 years of age, I would begin piano lessons.

With the encouragement of my parents, I stopped using my children or my husband's business travel or being too old as an excuse and found a teacher who could come to my home after 7.30pm to teach me on an old keyboard we bought for the kids.

I've told myself if I stick with it until my birthday in June, I'll reward myself with an actual piano.

And finally, there's books. Precious, precious books... I've returned to my favourite habit of reading before bed, inhaling so many books since Christmas the story lines began morphing into each other.

And the best bit for me is that none of this has interfered with time spent with my children, or my writing - in fact I'd say it's improved both.

I still have a ways to go in terms of improving unhealthy habits and learning new skills, but the most important lesson I've learnt is it's never too late to make a change!

Have you changed your lifestyle or habits in later life? Or taken on a new hobby as an adult?