Sunday, August 23, 2015

Oz Comic-Con comes to life!

Who doesn't love a little Comic-Con action?

We're huge Cosplay, gaming, anime, and pop culture fans in this household.

So I'm delighted to announce that Oz Comic-Con is back!

Oz Comic-Con produces pop culture events across Australia that celebrate TV shows, movies, comic books, graphic novels, anime and gaming. The events feature multi-genre content from across the spectrum.

After the huge success of the inaugural Oz Comic-Con Brisbane and Sydney in 2014, and a recent sell-out show in Melbourne, Australia’s best-loved pop culture extravaganza is beaming into Brisbane and Sydney this September.

Taking over the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on 19-20 September and the Sydney Exhibition Centre at Glebe Island on 26-27 September, Oz Comic-Con Brisbane and Sydney will feature a huge variety of celebrity guests, comic artists, interactive features, and awesome exhibitors.

There will be appearances by film and television stars, comic book artists and voice actors; gaming demonstrations and cosplay competitions; creative workshops and master classes; and hard-to-find merchandise.

Guests currently include Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver, Stargate SG-1), Tim Rose (Star Wars), Daniel Portman (Game of Thrones), Dante Basco (Hook) and Mike McFarland (Dragon Ball-Z).

Cosplay guest Yaya Han

Mark Sexton
(Mad Max: Fury Road)

Olivia Hack (The Last Airbender)

Mike McFarland (Dragon Ball)

Nicola Scott (Teen Titans)

These are just a few of the guests who will be appearing. Quite frankly, I know a few people who will be at risk of peeing their pants if they get to meet any of these talented creatives, and they are just a few of the guests who are set to appear.

Over the coming weeks, many more names will be added to this stellar line-up.

Guests will be available over the Comic-Con weekends for autograph and photograph opportunities, as well as taking part in exclusive Question and Answer panels.

Cosplay and costume lovers, take note! Oz Comic-Con Brisbane and Sydney are hosting their respective state finals of the Australian Championships of Cosplay, with Sydney the venue to be the venue for the national finals. The lucky winner will score the opportunity to compete in the 2016 Crown Championships of Cosplay at Comic-Con in Chicago.

The events will also host a kids and adult cosplay parade, for cosplayers of all ages and abilities to showcase their fabulous costume creations.

Taking place during the September school holidays, Oz Comic-Con Brisbane and Sydney are also a perfect way to keep the whole family entertained.

From the Family Activity Room, where kids can take a break from the main show floor to play, to the Berocca Boost Gaming Zone where gamers of all ages can showcase their skills, there’s something at Oz Comic-Con for family members of all ages to enjoy.

"It's been a huge year for Oz Comic-Con, and we're looking forward to bringing the final two shows for 2105 to Sydney and Brisbane," said Paul Baker, event director at Reed Exhibitions. "It really is the ultimate all-ages show. No matter how old you are, or what you love, Oz Comic-Con is Australia’s best and brightest pop culture extravaganza."

Oz Comic-Con was created by Sydney-based company DCA Enterprises, which now works in partnership with international event organisers ReedPOP to produce the Oz Comic-Con shows.
The ReedPOP portfolio includes New York Comic Con, PAX (Prime, East and Australia), Star Wars Celebration, Emerald City Comicon and the UFC Fan Expo.

Oz Comic-Con proudly supports local Australian talent and businesses in many areas, providing a platform to showcase Australian creativity and endeavours. Oz Comic-Con will continue in Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne next year.

Thanks to Oz Comic-Con, Maid In Australia has two family passes to give away. The passes are for either the Brisbane or Sydney show. Family passes are for two adults and two kids up to the age of 16 and allow entry for the whole weekend. Each family pass is worth $160. 

To enter, comment below saying who you would love to see at Oz Comic-Con and why. 

The competition is open to Australian residents only (or people who can get to either to the Brisbane or Sydney shows), and closes at 5 pm AEST on August 31, 2015. 

The winners are Lisa McLean and Sarah Potter. Please contact me so I can organise for you to receive your prizes. And congratulations! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dr Lisa To The Rescue - and a giveaway!

Dr Lisa Chimes and friends on set ... Who needs The Bachie?

While much of Australia, the female population anyway, are glued to this season's production of The Bachelor, there's a certain program that's tugging at the heartstrings at Chez MIA.

Forget roses; it's bones - the kind dogs chew people! - that win hearts on Dr Lisa To The Rescue.

Regular followers will know that I'm an animal lover from way back, so when I heard that Dr Lisa Chimes, of Bondi Vet fame, had her own TV show, it was already circled in my TV guide.

Bondi Vet, where Dr Lisa Chimes came to our attention, was always a favourite at our home when the kids were younger.

When you have young kids in the house, you need to find a show that has something for everyone.

For us, Bondi Vet had everything: Animals, Dr Lisa, and Dr Chris. Plus, all the other characters - the owners, the other vets, and the animals - who inevitably made wonderful stories, making us laugh and cry. (Okay, I was usually the one crying, but let's not make a big deal of it alright?)

And while we all love Dr Chris, as a bit of a Dr Lisa Fan Girl, I'm loving the fact that she has her own show. 

Dr Lisa juggles her TV role with family life, and is using her celebrity to make a difference: In this case, changing Australia's view of shelter dogs, one pooch at a time.

The show debuted recently at 4.30 pm on channel 9. 

The show challenges Dr Lisa with matching the right dog for the right owner; something she admits is a challenge. It sees her combing the Animal Welfare League to search for the ideal rescue dog for each pet-yearning family.

For each case, several dogs are found and presented, but which lucky pup will be chosen? It's a heart-warming show that has you questioning just whom is rescuing whom?

“Each year over 100,000 homeless dogs find refuge at shelters across Australia,” says Dr. Lisa. “Sadly, many Australians have misconceptions about rescue animals. They may not be aware that shelters regularly retrain and work with the animals to help them become loving lifelong companions.” 

We’re a bit biased as all our pets have been rescue animals.

Our mini-pomeranian-chihuahua cross Lucy has her own Facebook and Twitter page and will soon be on Instagram. Yes, she should have her own blog, but I’ll let you in on a secret: She doesn’t actually write or take photos, okay? Shhh! When am I going to find time to write Lucy’s blog?

But still, we have a vested interest, because we know how these gorgeous animals can take over a person, or a family’s lives.

Over the course of the show, Dr  Lisa finds and fits dogs to lifestyles ranging from a search for a companion to horses and chickens on a farm, to a single career woman in a tiny apartment; from a grieving couple looking to replace a beloved pet, to a large family excited to own a dog for the very first time. It’s a must-match of personalities and places, people and pets. Along the way, there are tips and guidance on pet care and proper set-up to ensure a happy home. 

“All these rescue dogs have stories, but their stories are not over,” adds Dr. Lisa. “My goal is to ensure their stop in the shelter is just the beginning of the next chapter for them, with a very long and happy ending. They have so much love to give, and the reality is, it’s their new owners who are the lucky ones.”

All manner of breeds -  tiny to large, some shy, others boisterous and brimming with personality, the rescue dogs have one thing in common: They are looking for love.

“You won’t get a more grateful, loving pooch than a pound dog,” she says. “These dogs know they’ve been given a second chance at life and they are so happy. They couldn’t love their owners more for giving them a home.”

Amen to that.

Dr Lisa to the Rescue is sponsored by Nestle PURINA Petcare, who has partnered with Animal Welfare League Australia to provide the dogs and cats at AWLA affiliated shelters looking for new homes, with the best nutritional care possible and to promote the adoption of rescue pets in Australia. PURINA have kindly given us three squawk ducks and two tri-balls to giveaway for five lucky dogs.

Squawk duck


To enter, just comment below sharing why you love your dog, or how your dog has become a part of your family. Did you rescue your dog, or did your dog rescue you?

Entry is only open to residents of Australia and closes at 5 pm, August 15, 20105.

Good luck.

The competition has closed and the winners are: GA Dawgs, Amy Peterson, Judith Maunders, Buddy8, and Sacha Pech. Please get in touch so we can send out your prizes. Congratulations!  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mens Rings Online - Product Review

Now that my kids live away from me, I've wanted them to have something special to remember me by when I'm not with them.
Now they are teenagers, a gift of jewellery isn't just about remembering me when we're not together. My family has a tradition where they have given jewellery to my siblings and I when they felt we were ready. That has been a tradition I wanted to carry on with my own children.
I have seen the kids develop in leaps and bounds, and I like to mark special occasions with gifts that will last a lifetime, rather than disposable things like games or toys.
As a woman, I've been able to pass on special items of jewellery to Miss 12 as she grows up. It's nice to know she has small items that have been special to me, that she might one day pass down to her own child or children. (For now, she's decided to leave most of those with me. She still has a couple of things that are special, and the others are here waiting for her when she's ready to wear them.)
But I have wanted my son to wear a piece of special jewellery for some time.
As with my daughter, the idea is to represent the link between us, the connection we will always have, and a reminder of how proud I am of how he has taken on the challenges and changes in his life with grace and strength.
I don't own any men's jewellery to pass on, and when I last bought him a ring, using a previous size as a guide and going a size up, it was still too small. (He had grown so fast!)
Plus it's difficult to know exactly what he will like, and I don't want to spend too much if I don't know A. that he will like it, and B. that it will fit.
At 14 1/2. he's already over 6 feet tall, and is developing his own style.
So I was thrilled when I was given the chance to review the service and products available at
It was a perfect chance for Chase to choose a ring that appealed to him, and to take home something that I knew would fit and that he would be happy with.
The site was really easy to navigate and to be honest, there were so many styles on offer, he didn't know what to choose.
When he kids were last home, Chase and I spent hours browsing the MensRingsOnline website together - and in fact, that in itself was a lovely experience. Who would have thought that online shopping with a teenager could be so much fun?
To be fair, we also went shopping in actual stores, but there was nowhere near the range of rings on offer - and the prices were not competitive. Unfortunately, the service wasn't great either. And to be honest, there was nothing that really grabbed my son's interest.
Back online, I only had to send MensRingsOnline an email each time we had a question, and we received a reply back almost instantly.
When Chase was having trouble deciding which finger to choose to wear his ring on, an email came back advising it was a personal choice, but most men would wear the ring on the three centre fingers of their right hand or the middle/index finger of their left.
When Chase was stuck between a few styles, again, we received an email sharing the most popular choice on trend with males of his age right now - the carbon fiber rings. That helped him make up his mind.
The staff member had also taken into account that Chase wanted to be able to wear his ring daily if possible, and for it to stand up to quite heavy wear and tear, advising on the most appropriate material.
When we shared that the size we thought we was right for his finger was a bit tight, the staff member recommended going up a half size for a growing lad. And as it happened, the ring, when it arrived, was the perfect fit.
In fact, the piece was fitting in every way and far surpassed our expectations.

The ring arrived in a cool carry bag, the very day after we placed our order. Unheard of in country Queensland! 

Chase chose a polished tungsten carbide ring with a vibrant green carbon fiber centre line. At 8mm wide - also a trendy look right now for teens and young adults - the ring is weighty, and the tungsten has a scratch proof warranty.
For Chase, what was important was that the ring felt really nice on his finger, without being too heavy, and it looked trendy and different  - without being gaudy or flashy. Importantly, it was tough and very manly as well. Oh, and there were flecks of green in it, my son's current favourite colour.
All rings from the online store come with a ring sizer - so if the fitting isn't right, you can resize it yourself and have it replaced free of charge within 60 days, safe in the knowledge that the fit will be right next time.
The rings also come with a lifetime size guarantee, so if your finger changes size, as it can with age and weight, health etc, you can have the ring changed for a small fee to cover costs.
The ring Chase chose - which was gifted to us for the purposes of this review - cost $179, which included overnight shipping (even to the country!), gift bag, box, ring sizer and guarantee.

Everything that came with our order. Very classy. 

We were seriously thrilled with the range of rings on offer and the service we received.
It took Chase a couple of days to decide from the range on offer, and when he eventually chose the tungsten carbide ring, we loved the helpful tip:

Buy This Ring If:
  • You like sports cars!
  • You like a unique design
  • You like a bit of weight to your ring
  • You want a hint of colour
Shopping could not have been easier.
And each time I sent off an email (and we had a few questions), my son would say: 'Mum have they replied yet?'
And most of the time I'd say: 'I didn't email them that long ago, I'm sure they haven't yet ...'
But sure enough, I'd sit down to my computer, and a reply was in my inbox!
MensRingsOnline also design wedding rings, and a really cool range of rings you might not have seen elsewhere including rings made from koa wood, Nebula rings, and a hammered-look collection.
I just wish they did a women's range as well.

The moment of truth - let's see what's inside the bag ... 

The perfect fit 

An on-trend accessory for patting small dogs ...

A close-up (Apologies for my photography skills ...)

The ring comes in an all-important classy box for safe-keeping 

Have your bought your child a special item of jewellery? How old do you thing is appropriate?

As stated in the post, we were gifted the described ring, valued at $179, for the purposes of this review. All opinions are honest and reflect the service and product we received. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Snakes, rats, and crocs - oh my!

My kids have been visiting, so I haven't been online much.
I'll probably post about what we've been up to later, as we've really been 'in the moment', just enjoying the time together.
While they've been home, we've been reliving old times, including looking at photos and remembering happy times and funny moments.
So we kind of did this post together, reminiscing about the time I took them to what is now the city where they spend most of their time, Darwin.
On that occasion, I was invited by Tigerair Australia to experience the airline's inaugural Brisbane-Darwin flight, and as the children's father was living in Darwin, I asked if the kids could come too.
I posted about the flight here, and a little more here.
While the kids spent most of the time with their Dad and I did my thing with Tigerair and NT Tourism, I did get an afternoon off, which I was lucky enough to spend with the kids.
We spent some time exploring my hotel, the Novotel Darwin Atrium, before heading off to Crocosaurus Cove.

At Brisbane Airport, before leaving on Tigerair's first flight from Brisbane to Darwin. I have to say a huge thank you to Tigerair for starting this service, because it has reduced the cost of flights between Brisbane and Darwin considerably. A huge bonus now the kids live there.

The kids' first time being first to board a plane! As guests of Tigerair on that occasion, we were treated as VIPs. It was very special! 

And the flight landed on time. Of all the times we have flown Tigerair - and that is often, and at our own expense -we have only ever been delayed once. In fact, occasionally, there is a tailwind, and the flight lands early. 

My king-sized bed at the Novotel Darwin Atrium. I love my pets, but it was such a treat to get a huge bed to myself. (Yep, usually I sleep with animals). The mattress and pillows were so comfy and the room temperature was perfect. And unlike many hotels, the Novotel Darwin Atrium always provides loads of pillows. With my arthritis, I need loads of cuddle pillows, and they have never been stingy about their pillows there. 

There was plenty of room to spread out, with a small lounge and another TV, and all the important workstation for laptop and internet access. (So important when you are on a work trip, and especially when you are required to write blog posts and update on social media.)

A welcome gift. I've stayed as a non-VIP, at my own expense, and didn't receive this little extra (nor such a spacious room) so I guess this isn't standard ... 


My favourite feature of the room was the window seat. I actually spent a lot of time there, watching the world go by

Every moment of every day, the scene was different. It was a great spot to practise my Mindfulness. 

Just another day in paradise 

Fitting in some work before duty called on the first morning ...

The kids loved the window seat too. Novotel and Accor hotels are very kid-friendly and usually feature a movie theme. During that stay it was a Muppet theme, and one of the other girls on the trip was lucky enough to score a Kermit toy in her room, which gave her loads of bonuses. She loaned him to us for the afternoon. 

Kermit enjoyed the view too

Chilling out

Checking out the hotel

It was tough deciding what to order for lunch ...

Fuelling up ahead of our visit to Crocosaurus Cove, which is just around the corner from the Novotel Atrium 

I started to overcome my fear of reptiles at Crocosaurus Cove

And even willingly climbed into the Cage Of Death with Chopper 

Face to face with the wildlife. Apologies for the photo quality, but it gives you an idea of how awesome the experience is

Feeding time at the zoo - kind of. A snake eating a rat! You can imagine what a hit that was with the kids. 

And seconds after I took this photo, a crocodile did a poo. Another highlight of our visit! You can't buy experiences like these ...

A glorious Darwin sunset. Taken during a walk in the park opposite my hotel.

And if you want to see it in action, here's a little video of the snake enjoying some lunch. Apologies if you are eating yours ...

Have you been to Darwin? What's your favourite feature in a hotel? And did you know that crocodiles poo?

***Tigerair flew the kids and I on their inaugural Brisbane-Darwin flight in April 2014 for social media purposes. I was put up at the Novotel Darwin Atrium on that occasion. Crocosaurus Cove gave us free entry, although it was a whistlestop tour. I am revisiting the experience for purely nostalgic reasons here and have received no compensation for this post.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Closing Time

Despite much fighting and frantic effort, our only private hospital, The South Burnett Private Hospital, closed yesterday.
One of the enrolled nurses, Racheal Collier, a local woman and mum, was one of many dedicated health employees to work her last shift. The hospital has been her second home for nearly seven years.
She put together this slideshow as a tribute to the tireless workers who are now without jobs. The people and faces behind The South Burnett Private Hospital.
This is a decision that has not only made life harder for thousands of South Burnett residents, who now have to travel for the treatment they need, but has put caring people like Racheal and the people in this video, out of work.
I defy you to watch it and not give a damn.
These are the faces of rural health in Australia.
These people deserve jobs. And we deserve this hospital.
(Almost Wordless Wednesday. I couldn't help myself...)
You can watch the video here

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nuts about Kingaroy

It's been a weird week in the town where I live.
For those who aren't playing at home, I live in a country town called Kingaroy, in the South Burnett.
We moved here originally as a bit of a tree change. Life is generally cheaper, quieter and slower paced than in the city, and it's easy to fall in love with the rolling farmland, quaint towns and constantly-changing scenery and seasons.
But as anyone who has lived on the land or in small country towns knows, life can be tough. In fact, it can be brutal.
It's a time when many businesses are for sale or closing down, and some of our most talented people have to travel to the cities and coast for work opportunities. Nothing new there. But it doesn't make it hurt any less.
It's well-known that farmers regularly struggle to make ends meet as they provide food, produce and drink for Australia and overseas. But what's lesser known is that business people battle to make a living as well. Even when their products and service are very, very good, and deserve to succeed very, very much.
This week, our local Target and Foodworks shut their doors. Our region's only private hospital is still slated to close at the end of the month, although the South Burnett Regional Council mayor Wayne Kratzmann is moving heaven and earth to stop that from happening.
It's heartbreaking to see people losing their jobs and homes. Having to move away from the area they love. Away from friends, family, schools.
The people here are incredibly innovative and are always finding ways to make an income. From the dairy farmers turned winemakers. Those who take in paying guests at romantic cottages and family-oriented farmstays. Those who have turned to making organic cheese, olive oil, or growing macadamia nuts or avocados instead of traditional crops.

Dusty Hill Vineyard (above) and (below) an example of the delicious food on offer: Seafood Bisque

There are restaurateurs doing innovative things with food, and thinking up extra ways to get bottoms on seats and tummies filled. All conscious that their customers are often struggling themselves and can only pay a certain amount to dine out.

A vegetable fritatta from Magpies takeaway, Kingaroy. Made from scratch and with love. They also make the best pies - Barkers Creek pork belly and apple sauce; Corned beef and white sauce; Chicken, Camembert and Asparagus anyone? 

And of course, the town is rightfully known for peanuts.
In fact, when I was a kid, the newsagent in the main street sold postcards that said things like "Kingaroy: The Peanut Capital Of Australia", and 'Home of Australia's best nuts'. Oh how we laughed.
But I'd like to wish that these days, Kingaroy is known for much more than nuts. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!)

We do macadamia nuts as well 

So it was fitting, that this week Triple J's Breakfast With Matt and Alex producers chose Kingaroy as the subject for their Bonus Weather town.
Matt and Alex and the team choose an Aussie town to appear in the weather update. It's called a bonus town, because it's a town that usually doesn't get a lot of coverage in the mainstream media.
I tried for a chat with Matt and Alex - but have been told maybe next week - and I tried for a chat with indie artist Lupa J, but I've so far had no luck.
Lupa J, who is only 17 and studying year 12, did an awesome job by researching Kingaroy, a town she'd never heard of, on the internet, before writing her song.
She based her song on tourism websites, and although she is obviously an awesome talent and did an amazing job, I'm wondering why the tourism websites she found were so out of date.
Because Lupa J, discovered that Kingaroy was the peanut capital of Australia and latched on to that as her theme song.
She sings Kingaroy's 'twin peanut silos grace the sky'. (There are actually three.) Of our Peanut Festival. (Sadly, there has not been a peanut festival since 2009.) She gets the number of people who live here wrong, and of course, sings that we're famous for our peanuts.
Well I guess that's true.
And I'm not dissing Lupa J. She did her research. She based it on the facts available online. She wrote a cool song and treated our town with respect. (And our nuts!)
Triple J accompaned their social media and the soundwave upload with a photo taken at one of the last peanut festivals. I love that photo and I'm pretty sure the KingaRoyals who heard the song or who looked it up online enjoyed it too.
It's had lots of positive feedback on social media and given our town a little extra attention.
You can listen to the song and see the photo here. 
I think Lupa J rocks. And I think locals would be happy to take on KingaRoyals (the name of the song) as their anthem. If only it was a little more accurate. And again - not her fault.
But I think it's an interesting social media experiment into the efficacy of the knowledge of our brand and the user-friendly, up to date (or lack of), information that's available.
The fact that many travellers these days research a destination via the internet means this is disturbing. The lack of businesses with instagram or twitter accounts, or their own websites, or who fail to update and respond to questions on their facebook accounts, is astonishing. Would-be visitors need to know that there is so much to do in this region - from hiking in the Bunya Mountains, to enjoying lunch at an Irish Tavern in a vineyard, to learning how to make vegan cheese.
I guess my questions are: Why aren't we known for more than our nuts? (Ahem) Why are so many tourism and official pages so out of date? Is it time to bring the peanut festival back? (And I know the arguments about cost, public liability and insurance, but if other regional areas do it, why can't we?)

We do have Australia's best nuts - and the nicest peanut paste. This range is from Taste South Burnett 

And the tastiest nuts and widest range of flavours you will ever taste come from The Peanut Van

I interviewed celebrity chef Miguel Maestre when South Burnett producers took over Brisbane's Eat Street Markets recently, and he pointed out that tourists, foodies, and the media, love quirky festivals
We have great wine, history, olive oil, cheese, farmstays and markets. We are on the doorstep of the beautiful Bunya Mountains.
Let's get all that out there, and let's make our town proud.
Our attractions shouldn't be secret. Our websites should not be out of date. There should be current information, readily available online.
Because while some businesses are sadly closing, others are doing their best to hang in there, be innovative and put this town on the map.
And they deserve all the support they can get.
In the meantime? Go the KingaRoyals.

We also should be known for our fudge. Taste South Burnett's own handmade fudge, made with love 

And sausages ... Well the country does love a carnivore. But these days there are plenty of veggie products too

And don't forget the wine ... the South Burnett produces some amazing wine 

Whipbird Chapel, one of the many unique venues for breakfast, lunch, fresh juice, and more

A nearby hotel, The Wondai. Not your typical country pub

We really do have a Peanut Man, and sometimes he does the rounds of the local shopping mall handing out sweets with his peanut helpers. Only in Kingaroy ... 

Have you been to Kingaroy or the South Burnett? Did you hear the KingaRoyals song? Would you visit if there was a peanut festival here? And how do you like your nuts?