Love & Lee – caring for families, the earth & its people

I am so excited to introduce you all to Eve from Love & Lee. Eve began her business with love in her heart and you can tell! Love shines through every glorious product. This wonderful collection of baby products is organic, natural, and ethical, in fact, they’re so lovely I’m almost tempted to have another baby just to get my hands on them.


Eve Cammel – Mother and Managing Director of Love and Lee Ltd.

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It’s so good to meet you Eve, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?LOGO WITH TAG LINE 1-01

Originally from The Netherlands, I immigrated to countryside New Zealand at age 9. I learnt English at the local primary school and had a great childhood on the farm where we were often working with mum and dad in the field.

After spending a fantastic early 20’s in Queenstown, NZ, I moved to Australia with my now husband at 25.  I now live in Noosa, Sunshine Coast with my 2 young children aged 8 and 4.

Arctic_ocean_organic_gots_cotton_swaddle_muslin_wraps_2_Love_and_LeeI love spending time with my friends & family, and I also love a glass of wine and a good book.  When I immerse myself in a topic I really like to learn as much as I can about it, whether it be business, astrophysics or good gut health – my interests vary greatly depending on what floats my boat at the time.

What inspired you to create Love & Lee?

I’ve always had big dreams and have always pushed myself in my career.  After having my girls, I wanted to create a beautiful career, something I could be proud of.  I wanted to build a business in order to provide employment opportunities for other women who had children, who would want to work flexible and part time hours whilst also having the opportunity to shine in their own expertise.

The catalyst to starting Love & Lee was after I had my youngest child. I knew it didn’t feel right to go back to my old job, which I loved. I was searching for something I could put 100% brain power into, without limits and something to completely take my focus.

Grey_bamboo_baby_blanket_2_Love_and_LeeDuring that time, I was becoming much more aware of our health and how many chemicals were normalised in our society. Although our family had a great diet and a natural lifestyle we furthered this by concentrating on gut health, plus eliminating as many nasties as possible from our clothing, food, home and environment.  It was from here that I wished there had been a better selection of organic, eco-friendly, certified and plastic free baby products available.

Once the idea was born, it came time to design the packaging. I really wanted to create something which included the older sibling in the gift giving process.  I’d been to so many baby showers and watched on as the older sibling started to feel left out. ‘All the presents are for the baby, what about me?’ Becoming a big sister or big brother should be celebrated, they also deserve to feel special.  As part of my environmental journey, I wanted to create packaging which was not only plastic free but could also be reused, repurposed and recycled.  This is when the idea of turning the packaging into toys came from.

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The first 12 months of business have been a crazy ride, I lost money by trusting manufacturing contacts who didn’t deliver, I won awards including the recent ‘Most Innovative Start Up of the Year Asia Pacific Stevie Award’ and having staff meetings by myself sometimes took its toll. But I love it!! I absolutely love the freedom to think of, design and create beautiful plastic free, organic and eco-friendly products.

How have you found combining business & motherhood?

I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to be able to combine both and dictate my own hours. I work early mornings, late nights and weekends, and can often be found on my phone in the car while waiting at school pick up.Grey_bamboo_baby_blanket_4_Love_and_Lee

It’s not always easy but I can be there when my girls need me. I can juggle for the time being.  When they are sick, we move between watching Frozen 2 on the couch to sitting on my lap whilst I type emails.

I think every working mother has the same challenges but I feel lucky to be working for my own business. Despite never really switching off from work or having a finishing time, I’m able to prioritise my girls when they need it.

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What challenges have you faced if any due to the global pandemic?

Remote learning and work – geez!  That was hectic!

At one point I had my 8 year old doing her school work on my desk and my 4 year old on my lap listening to Cinderella audio books whilst writing emails to stockists & manufacturers whilst packing orders and trying to get to the Post Office before it closed! You know how it is!! Fortunately my business grew quickly during that time because everyone was online shopping. As a new business I was incredibly grateful for this growth and at the same time was feeling very lucky to still be working when so many people around me were losing jobs.

What have I learned?

Never give up!! Believe you can do it and surround yourself with people who also believe in you and support you.  There will always be people who say you can’t, but I’m a firm believer in just going for it and supporting each other.

Women in business are so powerful, insightful, thoughtful and supportive.  Individually we are just a drop in the ocean but together we ARE the ocean.  This is what I love about my job the most. I work with incredible people every day, I’ve gathered a great crew of legends for which I am forever grateful.

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Thank you so much Eve for sharing your story and your business with us xxx 

 

Love & Lee deliver worldwide, so if there’s someone you know who deserves the very best when it comes to baby, make sure you browse this awesome collection of organic, natural & ethical baby products. 

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Follow this link to get a 10% discount added to your cart when you purchase from Love & Lee 

Sharna Southan – Promoting healing after pregnancy loss

Pregnancy loss is never an easy thing to understand or talk about whether it’s your own or a friends. I haven’t been through it myself, however a few of my close friends have, and I’m aware I haven’t been nearly good enough at talking to them about it. I think one of the most precious things you can do for someone after pregnancy loss is recommend they talk to someone like Sharna, from Sharna Southan Coaching. I caught up with Sharna and she kindly shared her story with us and explained how that led to the amazing work she is doing to promote healing.


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Sharna Southan – Pregnancy Loss Life Coach

I am a qualified dental nurse. I always knew I wanted to help people, and I thought being in the medical industry was going to be it.
Although I always felt I was called to do more, I just didn’t know what it was or how that was going to look.

In 2017 my husband & I were faced with a very different future then the one we had in our minds. 

We found out we were pregnant, something we had been trying for, for a number of years.

Our future in those days & weeks afterwards was already looking so different, we had so many new plans, all with a baby in them.

In February 2017 we went in for our Ultrasound, only to be told “I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat”. I was in shock, this couldn’t be happening!! I wanted the technician to keep trying and to keep looking for it because this wasn’t meant to happen!!

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It was my worst fear, but in saying that, I didn’t even really know what a miscarriage was at this point.

Not much information was given to me at the time. We went to the Drs surgery, where we were filled in a little bit more about what had happened but still left with very little information.

I had experienced a Missed miscarriage, which I diagnosed myself with my own research, because none of this was explained to me. A missed miscarriage means there were no outward signs of anything going wrong with the pregnancy. No cramps, no bleeding, nothing…. not until the ultrasound which was almost 3 weeks after the baby had passed away. 

So I was sent home.

The miscarriage was such a traumatic experience for us. My husband was great on the side lines, although men don’t fully understand what’s going on and the emotions we are feeling. We knew we wanted to try again and he understood I couldn’t if I wasn’t able to recover, or heal, from this experience. Not to say you ever fully heal, it’s an ongoing journey, but I made sure I was in a much better place mentally for the following pregnancy.

So I did a lot of work on myself.

In the days, weeks, months following our loss. I allowed myself to grieve and feel what I needed to feel. I just didn’t stay there. I was gentle on myself and didn’t put pressure on myself to feel any particular way.

I have become the support person that I so desperately needed after our miscarriage.

It was within my healing that I knew I had to draw from my experience and use it.

If I was feeling isolated and as if I was the only woman feeling this way, then many other women would be feeling this same way too. Knowing that the statistic of miscarriage is 1 in 4 I knew I wasn’t alone.

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I started my coaching business.

I started learning, increasing my knowledge on how I can best help other women going through the same circumstances as I had, whilst also learning to recognise every woman’s experience is so different.

I want to break the stigma around miscarriage and allow women to talk freely about it. To grieve for their angel babies. To know that there is support. To know they aren’t alone and that they can get through this tough time.

I want women to know there is someone who understands them on a much deeper level. Someone who knows what it’s like to feel the way they are feeling – Sharna Southan

I have created a support program that I needed when I was going through my healing. This program enables me to support women through what I have created so they don’t have to be guessing their way through the uncertainty and overwhelm after a miscarriage.

I am here to hold space for them, to allow them to honour their story and themselves, to be able to find themselves, find clarity and joy again after their loss.

As I was able to do so much work on myself through the months after our loss, I felt able to try again, from a place where I wanted to try again, from a place of love and understanding, knowing that we could be faced with the same outcome. I didn’t want to try from a place of wanting to ‘fix our situation’ because I knew that if I wasn’t mentally prepared, the following pregnancy would be overshadowed by crippling fear. 

We fell pregnant with our now rainbow baby

The following pregnancy did have fear popping it’s head in, but I was able to process that fear and understand why it was coming. I was able to welcome it and release it and I was able to enjoy absolutely every part of our pregnancy, the good and the uncomfortable. I was so grateful for the whole experience because I had been given another opportunity to experience it.

Sharna xxx


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If you would like to reach out to Sharna please follow the links below.

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Are you overwhelmed with emotion after your pregnancy loss? Download this journaling guide.

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Moxie gifted us a moment to treasure

I completely underestimated how I would feel when the postie handed me the box from Moxie. I have been researching, reading, chatting to other mums, and having the odd chat with my girl about what’s to come, but I still feel like I’ve not done enough to prepare her for the arrival of her monthly friend! *mum guilt. Talking periods has never really been something I’ve done (eek), or had to do *yet, so I have recently made more of an effort to open up and start the conversation in order to make it as ‘normal’ as it should be for a young girl.

I vividly remember being dragged through endless awful chats about periods with Ms King, the most ghastly matron at school. My little 9 year old friends and I were too terror stricken to ask questions, too horrified to touch the bible sized sanitary pad and god forbid we giggled! We sat wide eyed, aghast at the very thought of getting ‘The Curse’. Periods were something not to be spoken about outside of those four walls, and each one of us left class safe in the knowledge that whenever the day came, we would bleed to death! Thanks Matron!

Roll on a few years

I’m now well and truly ensconced in womanhood and motherhood, tuns out you don’t bleed to death after all, and now it’s my turn to teach my daughter about all things woman! **Cue little chubby angels singing… As if by magic, not long ago, I stumbled across ‘Welcome to your Period‘ by Yumi Stynes and Melissa Kang. If you’re a mama of girls and haven’t seen this book, you must grab a copy.

It’s like a bible for mums and daughters when it comes to ‘the curse, the monthly’s, Aunt Flo’s visit, Lady time,’ or what ever you like to affectionately name your period! **You’ll be glad to know Matron had no hand in the writing of this book, it’s simply packed with honest words from real teens and hot advice from the experts. Phew! This ‘monthly’s manual’ has been a fab way to start the conversation, answer the gross questions, and put to bed all the horror stories that come from the playground pow wows. It also encouraged me to buy a Period Pack. *I was hell bent on making my own, but.. life….

A recent study found that us girls would rather say anything other than the P word hence there are over 5,000 slang terms for ‘Period’ across the world

Enter Moxie’s Welcome to Periods Box!

If you know me you’ll know that I love a bit of research. Google is my bestie for pointing me in the right direction, I can often be found knee deep in magazines, and Instagram is my go to when I want the perfect gift! I want to see it from all angles, in all kinds of places, worn, thrown on the floor, lying on the kitchen bench, chucked in a pool! I’m all over it! I’m a massive sucker for a pretty parcel! Let it be known, I’m a packaging whore! I will always go for the prettiest box! Whether it’s cereal or makeup, a book or a t-shirt, wrap it up nicely (always with a sticker) and I’m all in! Hey, we all have our ‘things’!

Thankfully the gift I have just researched & purchased for my girl ticked all of my ‘boxes’ and many, many more. Moxie have not only carefully curated their ‘Welcome to Periods‘ box, but they have smashed goals in making it so much more than a box of ‘period paraphernalia’. From the wrapping paper, to the Freckleberry chocolate bar, to the tampons and hot water bottle, it was a gift I wished I’d bought my 11 year old self. *Luckily Moxie do heaps of boxes for those of us who have been in the game a while too. Winning!!

So, how did she take it?

I had no idea how my daughter would feel to receive a ‘gift’ like this. Before it arrived I wasn’t even sure if it could be classed as a gift or more of a ‘tasteful toolbox!’ Honestly I was a little nervous. Would she look at me as if I had gone mad? Would she cringe, grunt and then hide it under her bed? I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Watching her unwrap the gorgeous wrapping covered in hilarious little ‘tampon angels’, cooing over each and every treat she pulled out was a real tearjerker. “Oh I love this mum!” “Look at this!” “Did you see this one mum?” She was thrilled, and I was teary. My girl has everything she needs for the journey ahead, and it couldn’t have been gifted in a more glorious way.

Moxie have not only created a gorgeous gift for girls of a certain age, but they’ve created a moment in time for us Mamas. They have turned what was once a ‘cringefest’ filled with embarrassment and fear, into a beautiful, gentle and exciting pathway to womanhood for our girls.

Most importantly, Moxie have gifted a treasured date in time where Mama and daughter got to pause, chat, giggle and grow together. Moxie gifted us a moment we will treasure forever.

Here’s to raising good women, and here’s to Moxie for the helping hand!

*This is not a paid post, this is a genuine appreciation for a fab product, in amongst a whole lot of spectacular products for women of all ages. Check out Moxie now!

5 years in the making!

Friendship 5 years into expat life

It’s the final week of the school holidays, and I’m pondering while the kids are busy with their friends. Whilst they have fun and enjoy the diverse friendship groups they have built, I am sitting here wondering how on earth they have easily constructed a group of so many friends, each and every one so different in many ways! Children seem to have a talent for making friends regardless. I love that about them. I love the attitude they have toward making friends, and hearing the shouts of “sure, come and join in.” I can’t help but wish adults were more like that!

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I often chat to the children about how different our lives are to what we left behind in the UK, and it always comes back to ‘friendships’, mine and theirs. We all still pine for our ‘mates from home’ and talk fondly of the friends we miss.

Recently I’ve been aware of the importance of true friendship to them. I can see the kind things they do for their buddies, and I hear the way they talk about them too. I can see how, over time, they have carefully filtered their friendship group and worked really hard to nurture particular friendships, which I’m certain they’ve done without really thinking. How amazing is that!

I love that they have embraced every minute since we arrived down under, and although I never imagined that we’d still be here 5 years on, and I hadn’t considered we’d be building a future in Melbourne, watching us all with our newest friends, makes it seem so worthwhile.

Being 11,000 miles away from family and friends can make or break you!

The past 5 years have made us rely on each other for things that maybe in the UK we would have leant on someone else for. It has made us raise resilient kids who shine through new beginnings and it has taught us we’re pretty good at making new friends after all. For me, it has reinforced how much more important my friends, new and old, have become to me.

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It’s no secret I’ve always been precious about my friends back in the UK. It has been the constant pull for me to up sticks, go back and slot into that old life we had before. The friendship thing has been hard for me, and still is today.

This summer however, I feel like I have turned a corner. I have realised for the first time since arriving in Australia, I can stop searching. I don’t need to keep looking, because I am completely content with the awesome men and women I call my friends here, and I am determined to make an even bigger effort to let them know just how much I appreciate them.

For a long time, friendship here was about making sure I have someone to help me, and if they come with a sense of humour that’s a bonus! I was looking for the friends I could text: “can you grab him from school, I’m running late” or “are your kids free to play today” because let’s face it, I took my two away from their friends and I’m feeling the guilts.

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As an ‘expat’ the hunt for real friends can feel overwhelming.

Friend hunting is like online dating only with a much more critical audience, and ‘mums’ are far less willing to give you a go!!!

“Should I be funny Liv?”

“Should I be serious Liv?

“She’s English, she’ll be a laugh” ***Not always the case BTW

“I have to like her because her kids are in my kids class..”

“She has lots of friends so I should try and join her crew”

“Oh god I don’t even like Taylor Swift but now I am broke, and at her concert because I needed to fit in.”

**Yes, I’ve tried most things when it comes to sussing out potential friends.

I remember laughing with my girlfriends in the UK about getting a T-shirt printed with “I love gin, be my friend” and just wearing it to the park to see if I could ‘pull’ a mama.

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5 years down the road, I’ve got friends who I can really call friends.

Now I have friendships that have grown, and mean so much more than the random play date because our kids like each other, or the “can you grab her for me please” text messages.

I have made sure that I’m not swapping numbers with someone just because I feel pressured into it. I’m not hanging with people just because our kids get on.. although that helps massively. I am happy to have created a group of ‘gal pals’ who are amazing, not just because they offer me support, but because they are interesting, talented, kind, generous, creative, funny, smart, brave…. and will drink wine with me at the drop of a hat!

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The thing is, I was basing everything on first impressions and of course, “what do my kids get out of this?” However, friendships aren’t about first impressions, and my friendships shouldn’t be about what the kids can gain from it, it should be about me too!!

New friendships shouldn’t be one bit like online dating, they are about far more than that. They are built over time, between people who don’t feel any pressure at all to be anything other than themselves.

So, if you are new to a country, the new mum at a school gate, or you’re looking to switch it up a bit, my advice is, give it time.

No great thing is created suddenly, and all great achievements take time. You’ll know when you’ve found your crew! 

Liv xx

Have you found your crew? Tell me how you found the whole “friendship” thing!

 

The Expat ‘Mumcation’!

Are you dreaming of a childfree vacay with your gal pals?

Are you desperate to say goodbye to the laundry and school run, and lay by a pool, sipping Manhattan’s like an extra out of Sex in the City with your long lost mates from back home? Isn’t it about time you took a break and spent some quality time with your friends, minus the hubster and the kids? A relaxing break, being all classy and beautiful? This could be the chance to really be you again, to rekindle old friendships long left behind.

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Well, it turns out when the media were telling us ‘Mums’ that we all deserved.. no… needed a ‘Mumcation’ they were thinking of classy trips to the local winery, or Yummy Mummies sipping Chardonnay in hot tubs chatting about Florence’s ballet lessons. They weren’t thinking about the millions of Expat mums who would be rushing to the airport, gagging for a bag of pickled onion monster munch, clutching their passports, heading home for a week in the pub with the girls.. I’m here to fill you in on the reality of  The ‘Expat Mumcation’…

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The reality of an Expat ‘Mumcation’

I’m currently ‘drying out’ in Hong Kong airport after my very own Expat ‘Mumcation’, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. I’m sweating, my stomach is churning, I’ve got the shakes and the bags under my eyes are way more impressive than even the best Louis Vuitton cases.. My fake tan has almost completely disappeared, my perfectly shaped eyebrows have started sprouting, and I have just broken a nail. My hair is greasy, my jeans are way too tight and I have a broken tooth. I feel (and look) like the guys out of ‘The Hangover’

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Just over two weeks ago I gleefully waved farewell to my two little darlings in Melbourne and headed off on a ‘Mumcation’ to the UK to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend. I had just under three weeks of freedom ahead of me and was pumped, preened, waxed, and feeling tip top. Having planned this trip for months, I’d had time to give myself a good talking to about my behaviour on my upcoming trip.

“You’re an adult Olivia, there’s no need to go crazy”

“It’s important that you’re sensible Olivia, you have two small children who need you”…. 

Well. It turns out that when you go on a ‘Mumcation’, whether it’s in Barbados, Benidorm or Bognor, you just can’t help yourself. I joked about behaving like a 14 year old, but totally lived up to it. I was child free, I had a wad of cash in my pocket and the barman was gonna get it… “double G&T’s all round”…. oh dear god…. Even typing that is making me queasy.

I had landed at Heathrow after a 26hr trek from Melbourne, squeezed my ‘bestie’ and headed to Windsor for a “quiet night” before Saturdays Hen Do… After a very civilised dinner, lots of giggles and catching up, we decided to have a walk before bed. Turns out the local pub did 2-4-1 cocktails, so we had 18.  At 3:45am we found ourselves down some back alley with a bunch of 17 year olds, smoking and begging the bouncers to let us in an already closed nightclub. It wasn’t pretty. I was free as a bird, for the first time in ages and my behaviour was, quite frankly, unacceptable.

The outcome

 

19 days later and it turns out my liver isn’t thanking me for the 2 whole bottles of gin, 27 tonics, 4 bottles of prosecco, 6 bottles of Sav, 102 Sambucca shots, 34 tequila shots, an entire tube of Mango flavoured Berocca and one whole box of Alka Seltzer. My heart is barely pumping due to the 29 pork pies, 18,000 Cadbury chocolate buttons, 22 Menthol cigarettes (I don’t even smoke) and about 72 packets of Salt & Vinegar Squares.

I lost count of the cans of coke I guzzled (wtf) just to get over the hangovers.. My dentist is going to poke me in the eye. I ate scampi and chips about 8 times.. because my daughter misses it?? Do you see what I’m getting at? Most mums will get together with their local friends, pop to a hotel in the city, have a few too many, totter back to their room, and get up for a leisurely brekkie, before making their way home to their little darlings. When your best friends are 10,000 miles away, there is no “weekend break”; it has to be at least two weeks, involve binge drinking and excessive calorie consumption. You basically have to make up for the 3 and a half years you’ve missed out on, when it comes to food, drink and shopping. *whoops.

The truth

The truth is, we all need to see our friends, spend time with them, and make the bloody most of it while we’re there, because it doesn’t happen very often. If that means almost dying in the process, well, hey, it is what it is… You know what though.. No matter how useless my body is, lying here in my tiny bed at the airport, no matter how many wrinkles I have added to my forehead, no matter how wrecked my organs are, I would do it all over again… No matter how much my heart ached for my babies, no matter how much I missed my husband, no matter what I may have missed out on, I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

We laughed, really, really laughed. We laughed so hard it hurt. We sat round the table and shared meals together after years apart. We talked for hours about our children, our lives, about everything. And, we laughed a bit more. We had time to be us. We spent time doing things we wanted to do, without time restrictions, play dates or bedtime routines. I watched my friend marry her love, and we all ugly cried to Oasis’ Wonderwall at the disco…

I guess what I am trying to tell you is that when you take your ‘Expat Mumcation’, do it in style, because it’s over in the blink of an eye, and you’ll be back on the other side of the world, reading “The Tiger Who Came To Tea” thanking your lucky stars you did it…. and survived… 

“Tesco is ‘Smashing’ back to school!”

Smash Enterprises have only gone and created EVEN MORE bloomin’ awesome stuff for on the go eating in the UK!!!  We have been so thrilled with the products we’ve had from Smash so we were absolutely going to jump at the chance to tell all our UK friends about their newest range! Smash Enterprises are about to launch some super new products in Tesco, which you may like to check out.. ASAP…… Like NOW! Grab your bag, keys, water bottle (make it a Smash one), and hit Tesco’s please…

Wait till you see this…… **The caaaaat!!!! OMG!

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The end of the school year is a massive deal in the life of a kid and in the life of a parent too. That summer term is a killer! The most exhausting (and hot) term of the year, then they throw sports day in to the mix! Hellooooo! The children are tired, ready for a huge break, and in my case, I’m absolutely ready to throw all evidence of the school year in the bin, including the grumpy kids. The smelly lunch boxes and the disgusting pencil case *usually graffitied and full of pencil sharpening’s mixed with blu tac or slime. The little bits of rubbish, the scrunched up homework from week 7 and the reminder that for three weeks of the summer term your child lived on marmite sandwiches alone as the fruit is rotting in the bottom of the backpack. I have been known to open the bin and kiss goodbye to a whole heap of school paraphernalia only to regret not simply washing it come the new school year!

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This one comes with the lot!!

In all honestly, when it comes to my ‘back to school prep” I tend to leave it to the VERY last minute. Mostly because the summer holidays run away with me and I forget when term begins, but also because we all relax way too much and that relaxation turns our brains to jelly!

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Summer adventures…

However,  when I saw this new collection making it’s way into Tesco, I knew that it would definitely give me, and other UK Mums, the kick up the behind to get in early and sort out the lunch boxes for the new school year. If you’re the person in charge of school supplies in your home, this is where you can gain brownie points from your little darlings and take away the stress of “back to school”. Let’s be honest we all have a love/hate relationship with Back2School.

 

Not only have the clever Smash designers come up with some great new “only available in Tesco” designs, but they have kept those awesome features that us mums love about Smash products. The germ resistant liners, the nude food tubs to save us from the single use plastic and for those of us with older kids, the more funky styles that are so hard to come by. Anyone else have a fussy 10 yr old…? What a bizarre age that is! “I love glitter… I hate it, it’s so cool… it’s so uncool… oooh flowers…..!!”

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Holiday snacks

Tesco will be stocking a brand new range of awesome Smash products from Wednesday 25th July.. Yes, that was yesterday!!!! That means you need to grab your diary, NOW, cross out this afternoon’s play date, save swimming for another day, push the movies to tonight, and get to Tesco before they sell out. There truly is limited stock, it’s not a joke!

This Aussie style ‘lunch luggage’ is going to bounce out of the supermarket like a kangaroo chasing a wallaby, and you don’t want to be the only parent who forgot about the most ‘Smashing’ lunch boxes in town do you?

Show your kids your “Smash Attitude” and be one of the first parents in line for this new range.

National Lamington Day – How many can you eat?

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You don’t think your tastes would change that much when you move abroad. I honestly never thought my kids would be taking Vegemite sarnies to school, or eating meat pies like they’re going out of fashion. I also never thought we’d ever get used to Lamingtons after trying my first one three years ago! Hey, the Brits are renowned cake bakers, we know our shizzle when it comes to baking, and the Lamington was like no cake I’d ever tasted before….. However…..

Tomorrow, July 21st, Australians and a few of us expats too,  will be taking time to savour and celebrate the coming of age of an Australian classic, the humble Lamington.

It’s National Lamington Day and I know what I’ll be tucking into frequently tomorrow! 

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Adriano Zumbo’s Tiramisu Lamington

The sweet treat has been tantalising Aussie tastebuds for more than 100 years, and the list of flavours is endless. The Wilson’s are ready and willing to try as many as we can before the visa runs out!! 

Lamington Lowdown

The first ever Lamington cake was made in 1900, most likely for the wife of Queensland’s eighth governor, Lady May Lamington. Made by either the Lamingtons’ French patisserie chef, Armand Galland, or well-known Brisbane cookery teacher Amy Schauer, regarded as ‘the Nigella Lawson of her time’.  We all love a Nigella!! The sponge cake was dipped in chocolate and liberally sprinkled with shredded coconut. Lord and Lady Lamington were said to be so impressed by the cake, that it was regularly requested at Lamington House. If only we all had our own baker… 

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THE LOWDOWN ON LAMINGTONS

  • National Lamington Day is celebrated on July 21.
  • The Lamington cake was first made in 1900.
  • The exact story of the invention of the Lamington is disputed. Some people think it may have been an accidental recipe after being dropped in a chocolate mixture.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade lists the lamington as an Australian icon (along with the meat pie and Vegemite HURRAH), and former Queensland premier Anna Bligh has declared this special cake a Queensland icon.
  • Toowoomba in Queensland is the home of the 2011 Guinness World Record for the Largest Lamington, weighing over 2,361 kilos.
  • A Lamington recipe first appeared in the Queensland Country Life publication in 1900. A recipe then appeared in a Sydney newspaper in 1901, and a New Zealand newspaper in 1902.
  • The world record for the longest line of Lamingtons was set in Adelaide in 2015, with 20,000 (yes that says 20 thousand) pieces of Lamington snaking over 1,073 metres long. The former record was held in England with a Lamington line that measured 885 metres. Who knew the Brits loved Lamington so much?
  • Susan Day makes so many Lamingtons each year that if you laid them end to end, you’d make it from Melbourne to Sydney – hands up who’s coming on that road trip? 

If you’re a Lamington lover, then tomorrow is your lucky day!

If you’re in Australia you can cheat and head to Coles to get yours, however if you’re enjoying the sunshine in the UK, get your BAKE on and enjoy Lamington Day with this recipe for homemade Lamingtons!!

Let me know what you’re doing to celebrate!

Olivia xx

Donna Hay
Donna Hay’s Lamington’s (Recipe link above)

Asda are”Smashing” packed lunches for the UK!!

ASDA_BTS-UK18Since Smash Enterprises smashed their way into the UK, they are making shopping for lucnch gear a whole lot easier for frazzled parents to cope with.  The Wilson’s are huge fans of the collections, and every year we crush on them a little more than the last! *How do they do that??

UK friends, hold your breath!

You are about to get their newest range, hitting ASDA stores from today!!!

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This skate look is pretty cool for all ages!!

Asda are stocking brand new Smash products right now…..

…which your kids are not only going to love, they are going to be begging you for! Every base is covered, from unicorn lovers to dinosaur fans, to your more grown up “style conscious” kids. I know first hand how hard it can be “it has to be a BLUE DINOSAUR WITH GREEN LEGS MUMMMM” Yes, more awesome stuff for on the go eating, for even the fussiest kids around!

Stop the press…… **The sequins!!!!!

Smash boxes

Smash are experts in Back to School! We know what kids need at different stages of their school life, and we know what parents expect from the products they buy. Parents love the reliability of Smash.’  – Smash Enterprises

Summer is well and truly here for the UK (how hot has it been??) and it’s the perfect time to get some of that Back2School stuff done before the kids are on holidays and whinging in your ears. Buying all the ‘lunch gear’ as soon as it hits Asda means that not only have you ticked one chore off the list of many, the kids can spend the summer holidays outside exploring nature, and eating on the go with one of the funkiest lunch collections on the market! Come on, we all love the kids going outside to play…..all day!

Monty Door
Have a lovely day son!!! *locks door behind him

When the kids and I saw this new Asda collection from Smash, we knew that it would be a hit. There’s a design for every child, the drinks bottles have great new matt colours which are really funky, and Smash have come up with even better ways to keep your kids food fresher than ever before. We love the gel packs for keeping food at the right temperature, and the magic lining that makes sure the germs are kept at bay! Happy mum right here!

If your job title this summer is ‘person in charge of lunches’ this is where you can get ahead of the game, and nail a Back2School job too. Let’s be honest we all have a love/hate relationship with the constant holiday food consumption, so why not grab an awesome new lunch box and serve up ‘packed lunches’ every day this summer. *Lunch that they make THEMSELVES!!! What’s in the box is what they get, FULL STOP!

 

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Asda will be stocking this brand new range of awesome Smash products from 10th July.. That’s today!! Like… NOW!! There’s no excuse to miss out!

Throw the kids at Granny and head to Asda before they sell out. Stock is limited so don’t wait until tomorrow! This Aussie born lunch style is not going to be around long enough for you to leave purchasing until the last minute.

Show your kids your “Smash Attitude” and be one of the first parents in line for this new range.

Olivia xx

Expat parenting when anxiety joins the party!

So the big questions on this expat mum’s mind today are: Do our children suffer from being moved around? Can mental health issues become exaggerated with life abroad? How do we, as expats deal with our emotions when we’re far from home?

Initially I thought we were giving the children a great opportunity to be immersed in a different culture; a different way of life, to experience another country; however, the longer we are away, the more I think we may have done the wrong thing. Not just because of the upheaval, or because of the country we’re in, but because parenting in difficult, emotional situations when you are far from help and home, is almost too much to bear! (Yes, it’s been a big week in the Wilson household). Sometimes you just need the familiarity of home to help you in times of need.

Frustration

You all know we love Australia, we are head over heels in love with Melbourne and we have beautiful friends here. No matter what though, expat life is not easy, and adding an anxious child into the mix means I worry that we’ve made a mistake taking her away from a stable, familiar life.

I love the Aussie competitive nature, the ballsy personalities, the ‘no holds barred’ attitude, the “if you don’t like it…TOUGH” way of dealing with things, but not when it comes to people’s emotions and especially those of my children. I can’t help but think that the personality traits that I love, become ones that I find loathsome when dealing with children struggling with anxiety.

Would I have moved abroad knowing that my child would be made to feel like a baby for being nervous or anxious?  Would I have left home only to feel alone and overly sensitive when dealing with such a fragile child? The answer is, I’m not sure I would have taken the risk.

Before we moved I hadn’t given our emotional well being much thought. I had assumed (naively) that the way emotions were treated would be fairly similar everywhere. I assumed that whatever happened we could deal with it together as a family. I guess I hadn’t recognised just how much my family and friends did for us; emotionally…

What I really have trouble with is the lack of compassion in everyday life. Is compassion disappearing across the world? Will our children slowly lose the ability to be compassionate if they are not receiving compassion at the time when they most need it?

My main bugbear with the lack of compassion today, is how anxiety is dealt with, and how as an expat family we are struggling to deal with it; mostly alone. Anxiety is very, very real. A lot of people assume the kid hiding in the back of the classroom is just being a baby, not pulling their weight and should be trying harder. They’re making the mornings awkward by crying at the door; not getting involved in classroom discussions because they’re lazy; they’re being difficult by not grasping what they’re being taught straight away. I’m not sure that the severity of how anxiety affects a child’s whole being, and how it can damage their health as well as their education is fully understood. It seems impossible for some to comprehend that the confident, popular child in the playground finds the thought of separating from their mother, so distressing it makes them physically sick! Like I say, it’s very, very real.

I vividly remember the headmaster at Poppy’s first primary school, coming out of the door as soon as he saw her in the morning, grabbing her tightly by the hand, a kind, warm smile on his face, leading her in to school. The tears and upset leaving me, turned into happy waves as Mr Miller took her straight to her friends. He took a small step to take a huge weight off her shoulders and eased her happily into her day, which from then on started with a smile. A small gesture with a huge impact.

All it takes is a pat on the back to say “I understand and I’m here”, a smile, a wink, or a little note in their book asking if they need more help with something, rather than a scribbled message saying their work is just not good enough. Small changes, gentle persuasion and a warm hand would make the most incredible difference to an anxious child, far from home, and it’s so easy to do.

No matter the age of an anxious person, they should never be told they are “too old” to be behaving the way they are, or to “get on with it” like everyone else. The daily struggle, battling with their demons and their insecurities would be enough to stop a grown man go to work let alone a small child face school. The fact that some children even get to school is a huge achievement. If only we could create more compassion and a deeper understanding of what so many children and adults are going through, we could go a long way to helping sufferers of anxiety realise their potential, and believe in what they can achieve.

So for us, as an expat family, maybe the experience of mixing raised emotions with expatriate life will turn out to be a great big learning curve for us all, but one thing is for sure, we will be approaching every day with compassion, together, one step at a time, wherever we are in the world.

“Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point where it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear”- Unknown

Anxiety


 

The truth about anxiety (taken from Kids Helpline)

High levels of chronic anxiety can reduce your child’s capacity to respond appropriately or effectively to stressful situations, or even normal routine activities. A highly anxious person for example may experience constant physical feelings of panic and may seek to avoid anything that might trigger their anxiety such as:

  • being alone
  • going to school
  • talking in front of a group

Anxiety symptoms may be overlooked especially if a child is quiet and compliant. As a result, they may not receive the help and support they need, which may lead to problems with anxiety in adolescence and adulthood. Anxiety commonly co-occurs with other disorders such as depression, eating disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


The Statistics (Taken from Youth Beyond Blue)

  • Around one in 35 young Australians aged 4-17 experience a depressive disorder.
    Breakdown: 2.8% of Australians aged 4-17 have experienced an affective disorder.  This is equivalent to 112,000 young people.
  • One in 20 (5%) of young people aged 12-17 years had experienced a major depressive disorder between 2013-14.  
  • One in fourteen young Australians (6.9%) aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to approximately 278,000 young people.
    Breakdown: 6.9% of Australians aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to 278,000 young people.
  • One in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition.
    Breakdown: 26.4% of Australians aged 16 to 24 currently have experienced a mental health disorder in the last 12 months.5This figure includes young people with a substance use disorder. This is equivalent to 750,000 young people today.
  • Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents.
    Breakdown: 324 Australians (10.5 per 100,000) aged 15-24 dying by suicide in 2012. This compares to 198 (6.4 per 100,000) who died in car accidents (the second highest killer).
  • Evidence suggests three in four adult mental health conditions emerge by age 24 and half by age 14
    Breakdown: Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders start by age 14 years and three fourths by age 24 years.

Where to go for help 

**Your GP should always be your first point of call…

UK

No Panic: 0844 9674848 Youth Helpline 0330 606 1174 (for 13 to 20 year olds open Mon to Thurs 4pm-6pm)
Helpline for anxiety disorders, panic attacks etc. Provides advice, counselling, listening, befriending and can make referrals. Local self help groups and produces leaflets, audio and video cassettes.

OCD Action: 0845 390 6232.  Information and support for Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCDs) and related disorders including Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD), Skin Picking (CSP), Trichotillomania (TTM) – compulsive hair pulling.

TOP UK (Triumph Over Phobia)The OCD and Phobia Charity: 01225 571740
UK registered charity which aims to help sufferers of phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and other related anxiety to overcome their fears and become ex sufferers, run a network of self help therapy groups.

Australia

Headspace : 1800 650 890

Free online and telephone service that supports young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families going through a tough time.

Kids Helpline :1800 55 1800

A free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.

Useful Websites

  • www.calmclinic.com – information relating to anxiety, panic disorder, stress and depression
  • www.dailystrength.org – Online community support for anxiety, mental health, and health related conditions.
  • www.haveigotaproblem.com – free resource for mental health and addiction issues created and run by the Tasha Foundation.
  • www.healthyplace.com – Information and support for those suffering from anxiety (American site).
  • www.menheal.org.uk
    A website for all men who suffer from depression or anxiety from all round the world.
  • www.nomorepanic.co.uk – Information for sufferers of panic, anxiety, phobias and ocds. Includes chat room and message boards. Also information relating to insomnia.
  • www.patient.info – Self help guides under Mental Health leaflets on panic attacks, phobias,anxiety,stress, obsessional compulsive disorders, relaxation exercises.
  • www.stressbubbles.com – struggling with depression, anxiety, mental health, some great healing tips from someone who has suffered with these issues herself.

My own home chef revolution!

Out of curiosity this afternoon after the children had yet another ‘fish finger sandwich’ lunch, I looked into childhood obesity. I was stunned to read that 1 in 4 Australian children (25%) are overweight or obese (aihw.gov.au), and in the UK today nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese (gov.uk). Yes, I double checked, and looked again! It’s remarkable that in a world so set on slamming parents for feeding their children something that wasn’t sugar free, or god forbid non organic, that we have come to this. Our children are getting fatter by the minute, and their teeth are rotting faster than a corpse in the Sahara desert.

Excuse me for thinking that this is possibly down to the plethora of “advice” coming at us from every which way. As soon as you pop out your first born, you are bombarded with horrifying stories of allergies, and incidents. Tales of someone’s uncle’s, cousins, wife who weaned her baby too early and now has an elephant for a kid who has thirty-seven allergies and an epi pen sticky taped to his forehead.

You can’t eat this if you’re breast feeding, you shouldn’t buy that when you’re weaning, you must NEVER EVER let your toddler drink apple juice! It goes on and on and on. Even when your children start school and you’re miserably making packed lunches, you pray that Justin’s mum isn’t on lunch duty; what if she sees that your carrots aren’t organic and you’ve not made your own hummus, (shop bought is a no no these days), oh and you’ve slipped in a KitKat because you’d run out of bread.
We’re bombarded with messages that ring in our heads like Big Ben at midnight; ‘a healthy outside starts on the inside’; ‘Be smart, Eat smart.’ We’re forced to watch grown men, dressed like broccoli shouting slogans at us from the TV, like “I’m always in the mood to eat healthy food”. Oh get lost Broccoli Ben and pass me granny’s homemade death by chocolate. 

Why oh why are we constantly ambushed with all these highly patronising bits of ‘advice’ from companies who are blatantly poisoning us from behind their “eat healthy” message?

As an easily persuaded mum of two, I have become a dab hand at creating so called ‘healthy’ meals that the dustbin enjoys, whilst the children gorge on three-day old banana custard and toast with lashings of butter. After a twenty-minute battle with my 4-year-old to finish his rainbow chard with smashed chickpeas, I promised myself I would stop insisting on following the trends, do my best and that’s it.

I watched on as Monty urged and gagged over the loo, and thought, that’s it, I’m not going to give in to the demands of “super mum” or “green granny” or even the yummy mummy’s at the school gate. I’m making a stand. I’m not prepared to spend endless hours blending, chopping and mashing a daily rainbow of vegetables, making animal faces out of grains or turning meals into murals, so as they can be thrown in the bin or regurgitated down the loo. I’m going back to the old me, pre kids, where I cooked and ate what I really enjoyed, the meals I remember from my childhood. I was healthy and had a varied diet, full of the nutrients I needed. Unlike now, 8 years’ post-partum where I am seriously lacking vitamin D, my iron levels are beyond a joke, I’ve got acne and my stress levels are through the roof. I blame all of this on one thing. The ‘Critical Crew’, the “Quinoa Queens” and the “Soya Sisters”.  The mums who positively shudder when you say the kids had egg on toast for dinner. “What? Gluten? Excuse me? No greens?’

I’m not sorry that my children don’t like parsnip and harissa fritters with a sprout and avocado dressing. They don’t like spaghetti hoops from a tin for goodness sake. There is no way I could get either of my children to gobble up a salmon fillet with a smile on their face, even if it had been submerged in Nutella first.  I’m fed up of creating names for meals that omit the “yukky” ingredient; I’m not calling Calamari ‘Spanish chips’ anymore!

This year I will be making lasagne as I love it, with pasta (full of gluten), rich red wine infused beef, and a mountain of crispy cheese of the dairy variety on top! I’ll be making stir-fry’s, bangers and mash with veggies and lashings of gravy,  chicken pies, homemade curry with rice, cakes, stews, Sunday roasts, cooked breakfasts, bubble and squeak!! I won’t be cutting out this, substituting that, or limiting anything. I won’t need to.  I’ll be cooking like my mum and dad did, and their parents did before that. I’ll be cooking healthy family meals, with no one sitting on my shoulder ‘advising’ me on how to add lentils to my already brilliant shepherd’s pie or make my morning porridge using Quinoa because oats are from the devil. The statistics speak for themselves; parents just don’t need so much input when it comes to feeding their children. It’s overwhelming, confusing, and mostly downright unhelpful; resulting in our bins getting full and our kids get fat.


Family chefs, be true to yourself, you know what’s right, you know what’s good, you know your children. Don’t let our little ones become confused about food and health and therefore miss out on the enchantment of sitting at the table with loved ones. If we don’t teach them that wherever we are in our lives, the family dinner table is the most wonderful place to share time, no one else will.

Don’t let anyone tell you anything different. Here’s to the true home cook’s revolution.

Join me in using the #homecooksrevolution