Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why I love my mothers group

Mothers groups tend to get a pretty bad wrap. I knew all about this reputation before I started going to mine and I have to admit I was extremely nervous before I went to my first "meeting". My child health nurse at the time had been suggesting I join a mothers group and I'd quite successfully dodged that conversation for weeks. The thought of leaving my safe little house and venturing out to an unknown location to meet a group of strangers, who I actually had to talk to, quite frankly scared the crap out of me. I'm normally quite introverted to start with and back then my anxiety was on hyper-drive as I was smack bang in the middle of postnatal depression so the idea of deliberately challenging that anxiety made me physically ill.

But after a few weeks of gentle encouragement from both the child health nurse and my psychologist I decided I had to challenge my anxiety if I ever wanted to overcome it. I was still completely terrified, but I was determined I wasn't going to sit at home and be scared of the world forever. 

Driving to my first meeting I'm pretty sure I was sweating bullets. I'd checked the route about 4000 times the night before but I somehow still convinced myself I didn't know where I was going. The one thing that calmed my nerves a little was that I knew someone in the group I was meeting. One of my friends {who happened to have a baby 6 weeks before me and happens to live not far away} had invited me to join her mothers group so I wasn't going cold turkey to a government run group {although that's where they'd all met about 3 weeks prior}. I'm pretty sure that was the only thing that convinced me to get dressed and spark up the courage to actually leave the house that day. But I'm glad I did because that scary group of strangers are now a bunch of really close friends and I can't imagine what I'd do each Thursday without them.


Why I love my mothers group:


We support each other and treat each other as equals. Even though we're all different ages and have come from various backgrounds with different life experiences we were all new first time mums when we met, so as far as parenting is concerned we're all equals. We've all had similar concerns and questions along our mothering journey and we've all been there to support one another through sleep deprivation, teething, tantrums etc etc. Its nice to have a group of women to turn to for support when you have no idea what you're doing.

There's no judging. Not all of us do everything the same and that's ok. We all have different views on things at times but we don't ever judge each other. The way I see it whatever works, works, and that's all that matters.

It gets me out of the house and in those first few months that was absolutely necessary to overcome my anxiety and help with my depression. Although I was petrified of driving to new places each week, each time I did it I grew more and more confident and my anxiety became less and less. Of course nowadays I spend more time out of the house than at home, but I still look forward to our catch ups every Thursday.

I made new friends. I'm lucky that I had a lot of friends before, but anyone who's had kids will know that at least half of those friends magically fall off the face of the earth and disown you once you have a screaming mini me. Its always nice to make new friends who also have kids and don't mind spending time with you and the mini me together.

Ours kids are all growing up together. Bub now has six cool little dudes who are all within six weeks of her age to grow up with {although I'm sure daddy would like there to be a bit more of a balanced boy/girl ratio}. There are two more new babies to be added to the group this year as well :)

We eat cake. I hear you all thinking wtf, but bear with me. Firstly never underestimate the fabulousness of eating cake. Secondly, in the beginning the fact that we used to meet up for lunch was amazing. I got to eat out every week which not only ensured I ate lunch, but I ate awesome lunch. We still eat lunch when we meet up but its morphed into the bring a plate version as the little people require containment a restaurant can no longer provide {so sometimes I'm forced to eat yucky stuff like tuna or coconut, but its still worth it}.

I wouldn't change my Mothers group at all {except maybe banning tuna from the menu}.

Are/were you part of a great mother's group too?

* For those who' like to join I've started an online mothers group Mummy Matters so that everyone can have a place to share and get advice.

Toni x


SIMPLY RACHEL
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

52 WEEKS OF MEMORIES | 21 - ANIMAL

Bub loves animals, especially the cats. Max {or Maaaaaaa as she calls him} is her best friend. She also loves dogs, birds, butterflies, ducks and sheep. The closest we've come to animals this week though {apart from the cats} was painting in her paint with water books and playing with her Schleich animals. I probably should've planned a trip to the zoo or something, but I'm not that organised, whoops :)

21 | ANIMAL


If you'd like to play along too, join in with 52 Weeks of Memories and get creative. Feel free to share with your friends on Facebook or Instagram, the more who join in the better!

You can follow me on Instagram and join in on Facebook. When sharing via Instagram or Facebook don't forget to use the hashtag #fmy52weeksofmemories so I can see your lovely photos. I've also started a facebook group for the challenge if you feel more comfortable sharing in a group setting. If you have a blog feel free to link up your photos via the linky below and come back each week to link up each new prompt. 

Reminder - next weeks prompt is yum.


Also linking with Trish, and Raychael


Linky rules

2. Add your post for this weeks prompt
3. Grab the button below and link it to the bottom of your post or sidebar or text link
4. Visit some of the other blogs and share some comment love (because its the nice thing to do)

52 weeks of memories



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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mummy Must Have Review | Bubs & Beans

Bath time is a pretty big deal around here, I'd even go as far as to say its bubs favourite time of the day. When she was first born she didn't really like it {mainly because she didn't like being naked AT ALL} but now she loves it. As soon as she's taken out of her highchair after dinner she runs to the gate at the bottom of the stairs and jumps up and down "barf, barf, yay, yay, yay!" and if daddy doesn't go over there quick enough he gets told off "dad, daaaaaaaad, barf". Its kind of funny how enthusiastic she is about it {mind you I'd probably get that excited if I knew I could have a bath every night - how good would that be?}.

I'm pretty sure her enthusiasm has a lot more to do with playing with bath toys than it does with having an actual bath. She can spend up to half an hour in the bath happily playing away. When it comes to the actual washing part that's over and done with in a few minutes. So needless to say we have a lot of bath toys! We've gone through our fair share of squirtees and squeakers and floaty toys. We've just added a heap more bath toys to our collection now that she's getting older and her play is evolving, its not all about squirtee toys anymore.

BOON BATH APPLIQUES



You have no idea how excited I am that we have these. Yes you read that right, I'm excited, I've wanted old school appliques for ages. Its one of the few things I knew I definitely wanted to buy for bub before we had her. They're so simple and yet so much fun. I remember when I was a kid I was so mesmerised by how they managed to stick to the wall using only water {I seriously thought it was magic}. Its funny how that wonder and excitement has stayed with me so long that I wanted to pass it onto bub.


The boon bath appliques {RRP $16.95} are actually the first ones I've seen that are similar to the old school appliques we had as a child. Although instead of being the traditional alphabet or numbers ones, they come in a set of either bug related appliques or a marine based set. Being the traditional sponge based appliques they're a lot easier for bub to stick on and off as they don't have suction caps. They also float in the water so she pushes them around the water just as much as she puts them on and off the tiles and inside of the bath tub. She also walks them around the edge of the tub having mumbling conversations with them. Who would've thought there's so many different ways to play with little bug shaped sponges!

BATH TUB TWINKLERS



These tub twinklers {RRP $11.90} are really cool, they're like a few different toys incorporated into one. They float like normal floating toys, but they also have a mirror inside and a ball that rolls back and forth. Bub spends ages making them have races down the length of the bath. She's also a tad bit obsessed with looking at herself in the mirror {must get that from daddy}.


She also loves putting the whale and the turtle under the water while the taps still running. Maybe she's trying to set them free to the ocean or something because she doesn't do it with the boat. Or perhaps, and far more likely, she just likes the water splashing off onto her face. Whatever the reason, they keep her entertained for quite a while and that's always a good thing.

SOPHIE THE GIRAFFE BATH PUZZLE


I love this Sophie the giraffe puzzle {RRP $38.95}, its such a cute little set. I never realised there were so many other Sophie products besides the actual Sophie the giraffe teether. The puzzle has 6 different base puzzle pieces which each have a different animal that slots into them including Sophie. In addition to being used in the puzzle, the animals are also squirtees and spray water out of their mouths.


To be honest I thought it'd take a while before bub would be able to use this one properly, given it involves so much problem solving to work it out. Of course she decided to prove me wrong. I gave her a bath the other night when daddy was working night shift and the first thing she pulled out of the toy basket was the puzzle pieces and then she proceeded to put the animals in them all right in front of me. I was sitting there thinking umm ok. so you can do that then... awesome. Of course she doesn't always match the colours up correctly, but I'm so surprised she actually understands what to do with the puzzle that the semantics don't really matter.


SKIPHOP MOBY BATH SPOUT COVER



I've wanted to get my hands on one of these whale spout covers {RRP $19.95} ever since I saw it in an Instagram photo months ago {I asked where they got it but the lady couldn't remember and she couldn't remember the brand name either}. I finally found one at Bubs and Beans after months of searching on and off for it.

Its actually a bit different than I thought it would be. From the first photo I saw of it on Instagram I thought it'd be some kind of inflatable rubbery thing, but its actually quite a thick plastic. It fits over the bath spout and is held in place via the fins which tighten under the bottom of the spout to hold it in place. We have quite a short bath spout so it just fits on ours lengthwise.


If left alone it works really well, however, apparently bub didn't get that memo. Of course the first thing she does is grab it and try to pull it off. She can pull it off entirely if she really puts effort into it but she normally loses interest and he's just left hanging around on the end of the spout. The good thing is though even when he's hanging around like that the spout is still protected so it'll still stop her from hurting herself on the end. And as soon as she's paying attention to the other toys its easy enough to pop him back on properly. 



BUBS AND BEANS


I got all of these cool bath toys and the spout cover from Bubs and Beans which is an online Australian owned baby boutique stocking a huge range of baby and toddler essentials and play items. Bubs and Beans owner Sarah has a background in early childhood and has raised four children of her own and uses this experience to choose which products to stock in her store. She's also a long time reader of Finding Myself Young {so you know she has great taste obviously}. She stocks pretty much everything you'd need as a parent from feeding essentials, toys, decor, prams and accessories, sleeping bags and or course bath toys, amongst a heap of other products. Sarah has been generous enough to offer all Finding Myself Young readers 20% off storewide until June 30th, simply enter the promo code FINDING at www.bubsandbeans.com.au.


Do/did your kids love bath time?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was sent these products for review purposes, but was not paid for this review. All opinions expressed are based on our experience with the products as per my disclosure policy.
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Toilet training with BabyLove Charlie & Lola training pants + giveaway

For a couple of weeks now I've had a niggling voice in my head telling me I should start {or at least attempt} to toilet train bub. She's become quite interested in the toilet, pointing at it every time T or I go {in addition to following us into the toilet as usual}. She's also started pulling off her pyjama pants and occasionally trying to undo her nappies. Then the other week at mum's house her cousin was on the toilet and bub kept walking in trying to sit on her lap on the toilet with her {much to her cousins disapproval}. So I figured it was time to give this toilet training thing a go...

We've been using nappy pants for a while now as nappy change times have been quite challenging since she realised she could get up and run away {thankfully she doesn't need many changes each day now}. I always intended on moving from nappy pants to training pants when it came time to toilet train, so when BabyLove contacted me to see if I was interested in trialling their new Charlie & Lola training pants I decided it was finally time to jump on the toilet training bandwagon.


Moving from nappy pants to training pants always seemed like a natural progression to me. I'm not one to go cold turkey and move her from nappies straight to undies, partly because I didn't want to deal with the inevitable mess on the floor, but also because I didn't want it to be a huge shock to her. I'm also not prepared to lock myself away at home for days on end while she learns to go to the toilet herself. I always wanted to ease her into toilet training and follow her lead to determine whether we should push on or whether we pull back and wait a bit longer.

The training pants are great because they're a mix between a pair of undies and a nappy {they look like undies at the top with a nappy through the bottom}. They'll hopefully give her a smoother transition from nappies to undies by gradually taking away the nappy feeling instead of going cold turkey. They come in two different sizes, 12-18kg and 16kg+. Bub's been trialling the 12-18kg size {she's 14.5kg}, but I'd be interested to see what the next size is like on her. This size fits but due to her chunky thighs they're a little more difficult to get on and off than I think they should be {although they're a nice snug fit when on}, At the moment she's happy for me to pull them on and off, which probably isn't that bad because otherwise we'd more than likely have a half naked child running around the house most of the day.


Obviously the part bub likes most about the training pants {and the part I'm sure most toddlers will like} is that fact they feature Charlie & Lola on the front. Before I even opened the packet bub noticed Charlie & Lola on the packaging and got super excited exclaiming "muuuuuuuum, dere dere!" while pointing at them. It was exactly the same when I got out a pair of pants to put on her. I've literally never seen her so excited to put on pants before.




The training pants have a feel wet liner which lets kids feel like they're wet before the moisture is absorbed so it stays feeling wet on the inside for longer than nappies do. Its designed to help kids realise when they've gone and help them learn bladder control. I can tell that its working just by the feel of the pants, but I'm not sure its making much of a difference for her at the moment. I have a feeling she just isn't 100% fully cognitively ready for toilet training yet, but I'm sure over time she'll get used to it. The wetness indicator shows kids when their pants are wet, but again I don't think she takes much notice of it, its more useful for me than her.

The major difference I've noticed between the nappy pants and the training pants is that they don't hold as much wee, which is obviously deliberate because the child should be at least doing some wee in the toilet. For this reason I only put her in them when we're at home when I can still place her on the potty at certain times. When we're out I leave her in nappy pants because I don't have a potty with me {and I think if I sat her on a normal toilet at this stage she'd freak out}. She also still wears nappies at night, but I imagine she'll be doing that for a while longer, even after she's properly toilet trained {to avoid night time accidents}.

So where are we at with toilet training? Well, its only been just over a week and at the moment she's showing promising signs when it comes to the potty. She happily sits on it when I put her on there and also goes up to it numerous times to sit on it herself {with her pants on though}. She hasn't done an actual wee in there yet, but I figured that'd be a small miracle within a week, so I'm not too worried by it. At the moment I plan on continuing with my softly and slowly approach putting her on the potty throughout the day and asking her if she needs to do wee wee's. We'll continue using the training pants throughout the day and hopefully with time she'll learn to take them on and off herself and realise when she needs to go to the toilet without being prompted. 

Ideally the training pants would be perfect for a toddler who's slightly more ready to toilet train than bub, but they're still working fine for us. If you're embarking on the toilet training train as well then you'll want to enter the special Charlie & Lola giveaway below that BabyLove have put together for Finding Myself Young readers. You can also request a free sample of the new training pants here.

CHARLIE & LOLA BABYLOVE TRAINING PANTS GIVEAWAY

Thanks to BabyLove I have a special Charlie & Lola prize pack for one lucky reader. The prize pack includes a Charlie & Lola quilt set, "My Best dressed" Lola beanie doll, Charlie & Lola wooden dominoes set, Charlie & Lola mini book set and the new Charlie & Lola training pants. The total prize pack is valued at $100.

To enter simply subscribe to my monthly newsletter and leave a comment below letting me know your best tip for toilet training {or the best tip you've been given if you're a newbie toilet trainer like me}.

Good Luck!

Toni x

P.S. If you're having issues leaving a comment choose the anonymous option and then change the name to your name or include your name and email address in your comment.
Terms & Conditions
Competition commences 6:00am May 25th 2015 and ends 12:00pm May 31st 2015. Entry is open to Australian residents only, excluding ACT. One reader will win a Charlie & Lola prize pack from BabyLove valued at $100. Prize is not transferable. Prize will be delivered by BabyLove, Finding Myself Young takes no responsibility for prize delivery. This competition is a game of skill and will be judged as such. All mandatory entry steps must be completed to constitute a valid entry. Incomplete entries will be deemed invalid and excluded from judging. Winner will have 72hrs to respond or prize will be redrawn. This competition is in no way endorsed, promoted or administered by Facebook.
Disclosure - I was sent some BabyLove Charlie & Lola training pants in order to provide a review. All opinions expressed in this review are based on my experience with the product {and toilet training} as per my disclosure policy. I did not receive payment for this review. 
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Easy Sausage Roll Recipe



A couple of years ago I thought sausage rolls were one of the hardest things to make. I wouldn't even attempt to make them because I was petrified I'd completely screw them up. Mind you back then I wasn't much of a baker {not that I am now really} so the thought of cooking most things other than a stirfry or casserole scared me. It wasn't until I actually saw a recipe for sausage rolls that I realised just how easy they are to make.

To be honest it was a recipe for curried chicken rolls I found in a random cook book I had, then being me I totally adjusted the recipe to convert it to sausage rolls. Its actually surprising that by substituting a lot of the ingredients and eliminating a few of them I managed to create a really tasty sausage roll recipe {so I'm told}. Now they've become a firm favourite for a quick and tasty lunch or dinner. If you're stuck for ideas at your place give them a try, I guarantee you won't be disappointed. 


I made some mini versions of these sausage rolls for bub the other night and she loved them. If you have a veggie dodging child they're also an easy way to smuggle veggies into their food and they won't even notice {just grate the veggies really thin and they'll incorporate into the mince mixture and "disappear"}. They're also a great finger food option for parties or family get togethers.


EASY SAUSAGE ROLLS


INGREDIENTS

* 500g mince {beef or chicken}
* 1 small onion
* 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
* 2 tablespoons parsley {optional}
* 2 teaspoons crushed garlic {or 2 cloves}
* 2 sheets frozen puff pastry

METHOD

1. Remove 2 sheets of puff pastry from the freezer to thaw out.
2. Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees.
3. Fry onion and garlic over low heat until onion is translucent.
4. In a large bowl combine mince with breadcrumbs, parsley, onion & garlic and mix together well with your hands.
5. Once pastry is thawed cut each sheet in half horizontally.
6. Place mince mixture in a horizontal line across the middle of each piece of pastry and roll over & seal.
7. Glaze with milk {optional}.
8. Cut each piece of pastry into 4 individual sausage rolls.
9. Place in oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

52 WEEKS OF MEMORIES | 20 - FROM THE SIDE

This prompt was so much easier last year when she sat still a lot more than she does now. So I kind of cheated and took a photo of me from the side and her from the front :P

20 | FROM THE SIDE
{mummy from the side anyway}


If you'd like to play along too, join in with 52 Weeks of Memories and get creative. Feel free to share with your friends on Facebook or Instagram, the more who join in the better!

You can follow me on Instagram and join in on Facebook. When sharing via Instagram or Facebook don't forget to use the hashtag #fmy52weeksofmemories so I can see your lovely photos. I've also started a facebook group for the challenge if you feel more comfortable sharing in a group setting. If you have a blog feel free to link up your photos via the linky below and come back each week to link up each new prompt. 

Reminder - next weeks prompt is animal.


Also linking with Trish, and Raychael


Linky rules

2. Add your post for this weeks prompt
3. Grab the button below and link it to the bottom of your post or sidebar or text link
4. Visit some of the other blogs and share some comment love (because its the nice thing to do)

52 weeks of memories



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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mummy Must Have Review | Kate Inglish Designs

Bub has most definitely entered the period of pretend play with a vengeance. It started out with her mimicking us doing things, as all kids do, and now she's making up scenarios with her toys. Its so cute to watch. She's started by making her toys walk along the table, tv cabinet and floor {anywhere really} and its quickly progressed. Now I find her making Thomas the tank engine climb up and down her princess castle on a regular basis. The latest thing she loves to do is feed her toy animals. Whenever she has sultanas she has to stop and feed some to all her animals while she's eating. She does this with her tea set too, seems all the animals and dolls around here love tea just as much as I do.

With her showing so much interest in pretend play T and I thought its about time we got some proper pretend play toys. We've already bought her a play kitchen ready for her birthday but that's not until the end of July so we wanted to get some small bits and pieces before then. Mainly to stop us T from putting the kitchen together early, which he's nearly done numerous times! So instead we've got a few smaller toy sets so her imagination can run wild.

Her favourite {apart from her tea set} is the wooden farmhouse play set, which is so cute I want to play with it {with bub of course}. Its a gorgeous farmhouse that opens up and doubles as a case for the farm animals, fence palings, trees and the farmer and his wife. Its perfect because she loves animals and the set gives her ample opportunity to create different scenes to play with. She was so excited she didn't even wait for me to unpack all the pieces from the plastic before she got stuck into playing with them {although she was soon asking me to take the plastic off so she could play with them properly}.


The farm set comes with the barn, two apple trees, two fence palings, a farmer, the farmers wife, a vegetable garden with carrots {which for some reason are listed as a radish on the pack?}, a horse, a cow, a pig, a sheep, a chicken and a duck. It also has a felt pond for the duck and a felt hay stack for the other animals.


Just some of the farm animals hanging out at the farm with the farmer. 
{the others were in use when I took the photo}

As soon as she opened the farm set she quickly grabbed the duck and asked me to unwrap it. She then found the blue felt pond and put the duck and the chicken on it and said "barf, barf". She doesn't really know what a pond is yet so any water is a bath to her. She sits and plays with the duck and chicken for ages. She's a bit obsessed with ducks at the moment so it doesn't surprise me.


I love the farm set because it has all the animals that she's been learning for ages so she recognises them all. They're also helping her with her speech by learning the names and sounds of each animal. The other night she said pig for the first time while playing with the wooden pig. She just needs to learn horse now, but I dare say that might be a while off.

The other great thing about the farmhouse is that its portable. All of the pieces fit inside the barn which closes with an elastic loop over the door handle and then the string handles on the roof turn it into a carry case. It's great for taking on play dates, to grandma's or even as a distraction when out to dinner {if you're luckier than us and actually go out for dinner post kids that is}.

The wooden pieces are all really good quality and have withstood more than a bit of rough and tumble so far and have come out no worse for wear. Tiled floors and a toddler tends to end in disaster for a lot of toys sooner or later, but the wooden animals seem to be a lot more durable. The farm set is guided as suitable for 3+ years, however at 21 months she already loves it. I can see she's going to get a good few years out of this farm set and by the time she grows tired of it there'll hopefully be a younger sibling waiting in the wings to inherit it.


We got the wooden farm house set from Kate Inglish Designs which is an online children's gift boutique that specialises in personalised baby gifts and timeless gifts {like wooden toys, handmade baby booties and bunnykins items}. They're well known for their personalised newborn suitcase gift packs. KID is owned by Kate {bet you didn't see that coming} who I met in a few different facebook groups over a year ago. She's recently opened her first ever bricks and mortar shop in Nowra NSW that operates alongside the online store. If you live in the south coast region of NSW and want to get a look and feel of the items before purchasing then head down to the store at 1/90 Kinghorne St {at the Kinghorne Traders}. 




If you want to get your hands on the farm {or anything else in the store} but aren't near NSW, Kate has given me a special discount code just for you. Simply use the code farm15 at www.kateinglishdesigns.com to get 15% off storewide.

So tell me, would you play with this farm set too?

Toni x

Disclosure - I was sent a wooden farm play set in order to provide a review. All opinions expressed are my own based on experience with the product as per my disclosure policy. I was not paid for this review.

Linking with Jess
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Friday, May 15, 2015

Closer to Nature Perfect Prep review and giveaway

Before I had bub I was adamant that I wanted to try breastfeeding. So many things hadn't gone our way on the road to conceiving her that I really wanted to give breastfeeding a shot so I could feel like I was doing something naturally. Much to my surprise breastfeeding actually worked for us, but the difficulties soon came after only four weeks of feeding. Due to her allergies we had to give up breastfeeding early at about 5 weeks.

We then started our bottle feeding journey with formula and its remained that way since. We went through a number of different formulas for her until we found a prescription one that she didn't have an allergic reaction to. Because she's allergic to cows milk and soy milk she has to keep drinking formula for the moment even though she's almost 2, and with her allergies being as severe as they are I don't see that changing any time soon.

Anyone who's prepared a baby bottle knows that it requires perfect calculation to get the bottle temperature right {or a lot of luck}. With the added pressure that if its too cold she won't drink it and if its too hot it could burn her {or will need to spend ages cooling down, which isn't ideal when you have a hungry baby on your hands}. There's numerous ways to try and get bottles at the right temperature including using a bottle warmer or using boiling water then submerging the bottle in cold water until it cools to room temperature. We've been preparing her bottles by sterilising them, half filling them then placing them in the fridge to cool until needed. When needed we boil the jug then fill them to the required level so that the cold water + boiling water combine to create the right temperature. All of these methods take time and that's not ideal when you have a hungry baby waiting to be fed, but there's never really been a solution to the problem. Until now.

closer to nature® realise preparing bottles isn't always straightforward, so to help parents everywhere, they've created the perfect prep™ machine. Specially designed to make preparing bottles quicker and more accurate, this clever device makes a fresh bottle at just the right serving temperature in less than 2 minutes, so your baby’s bottle will be perfect every time. The best part is it actually does work and its designed to fit most bottle shapes and sizes so if you have other brands of bottles you can still use them with the machine.

The Perfect Prep comes with a 150ml bottle, a lid to seal and mix the formula and one filter for the machine. The filter should last approximately 3 months and additional filters can be purchased for $20 from Babies R Us or Baby Bunting. The box is quite large but the machine itself doesn't take up too much bench space which is good because I leave ours on the kitchen bench at all times.

The instructions may look overwhelming to some at first because they're 2 pages long, but that's because they're broken down into step by step photo instructions. The most time consuming part is setting the machine up because you have to run hot and then cold water through the machine to ensure its all cleaned out and set up properly. Once that's done using the machine is really easy though, so easy in fact I made a video to show you {please ignore my sinus voice}.


As you can see from the video, using the machine is quite easy and it produces a perfectly measured bottle at the right temperature in under two minutes. Even though we had our bottle preperation down to a {somewhat} perfect science, using the perfect prep is still quicker then boiling the jug and filling the remainder of our chilled bottles. The perfect prep negates the need for a jug and a bottle warmer when preparing bottles. The only thing that would make it better would be if there was some way to incorporate the formula being measured and dispensed by the machine as well {but that's probably pushing my luck and would probably create cleaning dramas over time with powder residue building up in the machine, hence why they probably didn't do that}. I really love that the machine works well with other brands of bottles because a lot of people receive bottles at baby showers or buy them early on before bub is born and this way if they're not Closer to Nature bottles you don't need to go out and buy a whole new set of bottles just to use the machine.
TIP: Measure out your formula for night feeds into a formula dispenser to make overnight feeds even quicker.
I wish I had the Perfect Prep sooner, it would've saved so much time. Especially during the middle of the night feeds in winter when she was really young and all I wanted to do was feed her as quickly as possible so we could both get rugged up and back into bed. I imagine it'd be a life saver for parents of newborns and younger babies who have more regular bottles throughout the day and I'm really glad we've got it to use with any future babies we may have. It'd be a perfect baby shower present or must have item for first time parents.

The perfect prep™ machine is available at Babies R Us and Baby Bunting, RRP: $250. For more information visit:  closertonaturebaby.com.au | facebook.com.au/closertonaturebaby | @closertonaturebaby1 

PERFECT PREP GIVEAWAY

The team at closer to nature have been generous enough to give me a Perfect PrepTM to giveaway to one of you guys too! To be in the running simply fill out the rafflecopter prompts below and then leave a comment telling me in 25 words or less why you need the Perfect Prep in your life. Its that simple!

Good luck everyone

Toni x 

P.S. If you're having issues leaving a comment choose the anonymous option and then change the name to your name or include your name and email address in your comment so I can reconcile the entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Competition commences 12:00am May 15th 2015 and ends 12:00am May 30th 2015. Entry is open to Australian residents only, excluding ACT. One reader will win a Perfect Prep machine from Closer to Nature valued at $250. Prize is not transferable. Prize will be delivered by Closer to Nature, Finding Myself Young takes no responsibility for prize delivery. This competition is a game of skill and will be judged as such. All mandatory entry steps must be completed to constitute a valid entry. Incomplete entries will be deemed invalid and excluded from judging. Winner will have 72hrs to respond or prize will be redrawn. This competition is in no way endorsed, promoted or administered by Facebook.
Disclosure - I was sent a Perfect Prep machine in order to provide a review. All opinions expressed in this review are based on my experience with the product as per my disclosure policy. I did not receive payment for this review. 

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

KMART HACK - How to transform shadow boxes into Sonny Angel houses

So you've started collecting Sonny Angels and now you need somewhere super cute to display them, but don't know where to start. Don't worry those of us who are thoroughly obsessed with Sonny's have worked it out for you. Kmart currently stock a heap of different shadow boxes which all provide the perfect storage solution for Sonny Angels. They're a bit plain to start with, but below are a number of ways to jazz them up to provide a cute and stylish storage option to fit any decor.

HOUSE DISPLAY SHELF $9

The house display shelf is the original shadow box that was available at Kmart and the one that really started the whole shadow box craze. It comes in a light wood with a fabric covered backing. It's not ideal for hacking as the fabric makes it harder to paint, but being the first one released it was the only choice at one stage. I've spray painted two of them gloss white. They do take a whole can of spray paint because the fabric soaks up a lot of the paint. The newer house shelf is easier to hack, but I prefer the shape of the original one as it has higher top shelves which are better for the taller sonny angels {rabbit, fawn, reindeer etc}.


Ruby Two Shoes {@RUBYTWOSHOES_} painted her shadow box white and added some extra flair with different coloured paper in each box. Its perfect for storing Sonny Angels and LaLaLoopsy dolls.

HOUSE SHADOW BOX $9

This is the newer version of the house shadow box and comes with different printed backing paper. You can keep this house as is, however the sonny angels show up better with plain backgrounds. Most of the hacks of these ones are simply spray painting the create a plain background, although some people have also removed the top t-bar to allow for more room at the top. 
TIP: If you're spray painting the backing board knock it off and spray the white back instead of spraying over the paper.

Jules {@tas_and_ellie} has transformed her shadow box with a coat of gold on the backing board. It looks super cute styled with the felt garland.

Mandy {My Lovely Little Nest} painted her entire shadow box yellow.

Junessa painted the back of her shadow box pale pink and also cut out the top t-bar section to make more room.

HEXAGON SHADOW BOX $12

One of the newer shadow boxes is the hexagon shadow box which is white with a neon pink background. The space between the shelves is a lot higher than in the house shadow boxes so it allows for taller sonny angels or can be used for other bigger toys. I have a hexagon shadow box but at the moment I've kept it as is and am storing other toys in it {mind you if my collection keeps growing I may have to convert it to a Sonny house too}.

Krystle has changed the backing to a lighter pink and styled her Sonny's with cute little ice creams and cakes.

Mandy {My Lovely Little Nest} has painted the inside edges of her hexagon shelf yellow and retouched the backing board to make it a lighter pale pink then finished it off with polka dot pink washi tape. As a washi tape addict myself I'm loving the edging.

Laura has gone all out with her shadow box hack transforming it into a vertical garden for her Sonny Angels. She's spray painted the whole box gold and added fake grass and gorgeous little heart pins. She took inspiration from all the vertical gardens being featured on The Block lately and it looks AMAZING.

KIDS HOUSE STORAGE BOXES {SET OF 2} $12

The newest addition to the Kmart shadow box range is the kids house storage boxes which come in a set of two with one large house box in aqua and a smaller house box with a shelf in bright yellow. I've just bought this set which I'm going to spray paint gold to store Sonny Angels in one and Schleich animals in the other. Of course I haven't finished mine in time for this post so here's some inspiration from others.

Amy {The Wild Collective} spray painted her smaller house shadow box copper and removed the backing board.

Aimee {@aimeejt22} spray painted her smaller box white.

HOUSE STORAGE BOXES {SET OF 2} $12

The original 2 pack of house storage boxes aren't as ideal as Sonny Angel houses because they're so tall, but they can still be used for them. They also make good storage for bigger toys and can be altered to match any decor.

Fee_loves_  painted her shadow boxes white on the inside and teal and lavender to match her daughters room. There's a few pictures of them on her instagram feed styled in different ways.

Megan {@indieandsloan} has kept the shadow boxes as is and styled one in her sons room and one in her daughters room with their respective Sonny Angels.

That's a wrap for all the Kmart shadow boxes, however if you still want some more Sonny Angel house inspiration these are two examples of a shadow box from New Zealand store The Warehouse for you to lust over. I would love to get my hands on one of these!

Anna {@shoeless_kiwi} is the lucky owner of this gorgeous shadow box and Sonny Angel collection.

Nicky {@mamma_loves_2babes} also owns one of these gorgeous shadow boxes and I love how she's used the wooden block to display her Sonny Angels.

Which one is your favourite shadow box?

Toni x

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