Saturday, May 31, 2014

Shopping like superheroes

Shopping with the kids is always interesting.
A recent outing included a mission to find pyjamas. Miss 11 was taken with a fetching Supergirl onesie from Best and Less and a Wonder Woman pop art wash cloth for bathtime.  Mr 13 would have grabbed a Batman onesie, but there weren't any in his size.  (We did find some Batman sleeping pants at Big W, which he's teaming with soft tops, so it's cool).
I tried to talk Tech Guy into buying the Superman onesie for himself, but he wasn't having a bar of it! 
What I loved was that not only were the Superhero range 25 per cent off, but when we got to the checkout, we were offered to choose a gift for free because we'd bought from that range.
There were colouring packs and other goodies, but with a little persuasion, Harmonie went for the Batman DVD, because she could watch it with Chase. Bless.


There was also this cute display that we had fun with.

(Harmonie has graduated from crutches to a cane since injuring her Archilles Tendon a few weeks ago)

And, if Miss 11 uploads a photo of her wearing her Superhero onesie, she could be in the draw to win a family trip to Dreamworld on the Gold Coast! (She's too shy to model it here...)

I love something for nothing so I thought I'd share a few other things that we've come across lately that we like.

- The Tigerair infrequent flyers club. A dig at more exclusive frequent flyers clubs, which reward passengers for flying regularly, Tigerair acknowledges that people don't fly very often and promises little.
There are no points, you can choose your own status, and you have to print out your own card! But members are promised early notice of deals and specials, and occasional perks and delights if you show your card on board.
And the first 5000 Infrequent Flyer Club members to join will receive a free flight voucher for $100, with more rewards planned in upcoming promotions.
"Most Australian travellers don’t fly often, or as often as they’d like, because it is just too expensive and therefore the merits of belonging to a frequent flyer program become pretty meaningless,” points out Tigerair head of communications Vanessa Regan.
I admit I'm biased, having flown Tigerair to Darwin and return recently (courtesy of Tigerair). But I have joined the Infrequent Flyer Club on my own because I enjoyed the experience so much. So far, so much nicer and friendlier than any domestic flight experience I've had in Australia in recent times.
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- Burgers. Or more correctly Ribs and Burgers on James Street, Brisbane

The doors opened at 11 am last week, and hundreds of ribs and burger fans trooped through in the hopes of winning on free burger a week for a year. (Restricted to the first 100 customers). 
This joint is loved by celebrities like Benji and Joel Madden,  Jonah Hill, Sonny Bill Williams, Pete Evans, MMA fighter Kimbo Slice, Italian soccer star Alessandria Del Piero, Rikki Lee and more. 
Now I live in country Queensland, I had to quietly sob as I turned down a VIP invitation to attend the opening. But I'm not going to begrudge city-dwellers (or country visitors) the pleasure of dining at this retro-butcher-meets-bistro-diner experience.
The basting brushed on the meat is a 40-year-old secret recipe privy to only a few members of the company. And even celebs can't pry the secret out of them.


Benji Madden doesn't mind a bite at Ribs and Burgers. (There are vegetarian options and salads too).


Look, I haven't tasted any of their burgers, ribs or salads yet, but the next time I'm in Brisbane - and that will be soon - I'll be making a bee-line for Ribs and Burgers. And dragging the kids along for the experience. Yes, I might go for a veggie option or salad, but I'm pretty sure my carnivore kids will be spoiled for choice. And we'll certainly be on the lookout for celebrities. (Actually my mini-masterchefs will be probably more interested in prying out the recipe for the secret Pink Sauce). 

- Blue Light Discos. The kids were attending the regular Blue Light Disco tonight as I wrote this post, and I'm so grateful to the police and volunteers who give their time to organise these events. They give kids the chance to experience a little freedom and independence from their parents and carers, but at the same time, they are fully supervised. In fact, at the Kingaroy Blue Light (I'm not sure if it's the same at all of them), parents can pre-register their children and their mobile phone numbers, so in the unlikely event of any emergency or problem, parents are contacted immediately. And children are only released to parents who must collect them from inside the hall where the disco is held.  There is no chance of a child being released to the wrong person, and any inappropriate activity gets jumped on immediately (and if serious, the offender banned). So while the kids might feel like their stepping out on their own, they're actually quite safe. And it gives the parents a little adult time too. There is a lovely atmosphere too, and it really gives kids the idea that police are approachable and ARE there to help them if there is a problem. And I thank the cops who give their time and energy to make this a safe and fun night out for all.

- Happy dogs (and a cat) Playing on a beach to Pharrell Williams's Happy. Watch the video and I defy you not to smile. Enough said.

Followers, what do you like about daily life? And do you ever find any extra little (pleasant) surprises when you are out and about or online? 
 





Friday, May 23, 2014

The one with the mole

It was the check-up I'd been meaning to have - the skin care scan.
I usually do this every six months to a year or so, thanks to a family history of melanoma, fair skin, freckles, and a fairly outdoorsy lifestyle.
But I'd been putting it off, as you do, because I've been busy, and I don't particularly like stripping off and exposing practically every inch of my body to someone I don't know very well. (Ahem).
But at a recent family gathering, three members of my family were looking pretty beaten up. One had a large plaster on her forehead after having a cancerous mole removed. My brother had a nasty-looking nose which was being treated too, and another relative had endured the burning off of sunspots on what seemed to be most of his face and head.
It was a wake-up call that regular skin checks are essential in Australia, and I was overdue for mine.
It was great that the lovely doctor had a student joining her for my scan, so two people got to see me in the near nicky-nude.
But they were both female and made me feel comfortable. 
I was worried about a couple of marks on my face and decolletage, but the doctor bypassed them to focus on a mole on my shoulder. It was different to the others on my skin, and she photographed it to show me.
It had an irregular border and a couple of different colours, so she thought it was best to remove it just in case.
I'm a bit of a sook, so it was inconvenient, but I thought nothing of it. I've had a few moles removed in the past, and quite a few suspicious spots burnt off.
I had a pretty sore shoulder for a few days - and later a very itchy one - and was aching to get the stitches out when I got the call to go back in.
The bad news was that the mole was a melanoma. The good news was we had found it early, and it was still small enough to be treated by simply getting rid of it. The doctor just had to go back in and chop away a bit more of my shoulder to be sure she had removed all the nasty stuff.
I have quite a few more stitches in my shoulder now, and I'm pretty sure there will be a bit of a scar, but I'm pleased it's all been dealt with quickly and easily. And unless something unpleasant shows up at the lab, that should be the end of it.
But I wondered what would have happened if I hadn't had my wake-up call a few weeks earlier? As it was it took me a few weeks to get an appointment, so I was lucky I acted promptly. I certainly hadn't noticed any changes (the melanoma was on my shoulder after all), so it was lucky that my relatives' experiences shook me up enough to book an appointment. 
These days there are so many scans, tests, screenings and check-ups we can have to keep healthy, but how often do we put them off because we're busy? Especially mothers, because we tend to look after everyone else's health and put our own last.
And yet, how would our kids cope if we weren't around to be there for them? If Mum falls apart, the whole family tends to struggle.
No one can help getting sick, but we can at least take advantage of every preventative and/or screening technology available to us.
As for my skin, I'll need to go every three months for check-ups from now on, and it will be another reminder to wear sunscreen daily.
If you've got any moles or spots you're concerned, you can go here for more information. (Thanks to the Australasian College of Dermatologists). But if in any doubt, see your doctor! 
We have so much more to lose than just a little skin.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Breakfast in bed and other stories ...



Hot on the heels of Mother’s Day, comes news that Queensland restaurants and café are charging big bucks for breakfast.
I love a breakfast created for me by someone else as much as the next mother
But I must say I’m not up for paying $3.50 for a serve of butter when you’ve already shelled out $4.50 for a plate of dry toast. (Seriously? If you’re not happy about it, vote with your feet.)
Luckily, my Mother’s Day was served up to me in bed. And made at home, by my two mini-Masterchefs.
Yes, both children decided they needed to cook me breakfast, and even Tech Guy couldn’t convince them to work together to make just one. He did, however, do the supervision safety thing whilst making me a good cup of coffee – all while I enjoyed my longed-for sleep in.
I couldn’t fault the chefs, the barista, or the service, which was followed by presents in bed.

 Chase's perfectly cooked bacon and eggs

 Harmonie's cheese and bacon omelette 

I was a bit disappointed when Monday rolled around, and it was every woman for herself.
On normal working/school days, cereal and/or toast and fruit are usually the order of the day.
So I was intrigued when we were asked to trial Kelloggs Australia’s (http://www.kelloggs.com.au)  special ‘eat me crunchy’ bowls, which are designed to keep your cereal dry. And crunchy.


The idea is that you put the milk in the bottom of the bowl and let the cereal sit up top. Then you simply dip your cereal into the milk and eat. Perfect for someone who prefers the cereal to stay crunchy, not soft!
We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, breaking the overnight fast and kick-starting the metabolism, mind and body for the rest of the day.
Kids who eat have breakfast perform better at school (as do adults at work, study and play)), and we all tend to eat less when we’ve had a decent start to the day. You don’t need me to tell you.
Plus eating cereal is also way cheaper (and usually healthier) than eating out, and quicker as well during the morning rush. In fact a bowl of Kelloggs cereal would cost around 27 cents, depending on the size of the serving.
So even a serial cereal eater won’t break the bank, right?
But did you know that the way you eat your cereal reveals a lot about your personality.
Apparently so!

Food for thought? 

Even Buzzfeed has weighed in on the cereal debate!  
The good news is that Kelloggs is giving one lucky Maid In Australia follower a Breakfast Pack, delivered straight to your door.

The prize pack is valued at around $40 and includes:
-          4 x ‘eat me crunchy bowls’
-          4 x spoons
-          1 x Sultana Bran
-          1 x Corn Flakes
-          1 x Rice Bubbles
-          1 x Special K

So do you like your cereal crunchy, soft, or a mixture of both? Or even dry? Leave a comment below sharing your answer, to be in with a chance to win. Competition ends on Wednesday May 28 at 9 am AEST. Winner must live in Australia.

The competition has closed and the winner is sayanything. Please contact me so we can send out your prize.

Since I have not been contacted by sayanything, and all attempts to contact him/her, the competition has been redrawn. This time, the prize has gone to gauntstephen. PLEASE contact me, so Kelloggs can send out your prize. Thanks! 


Thursday, May 15, 2014

The party's over - but there is chocolate!


 A Max Brenner tutti frutti waffle

Do you have Mother's Day withdrawals? 
They are kind of like those after-birthday-let-down, post-holiday-downer, real-life-begins-after-the-wedding feelings. Where, after all the excitement leading up to the big day, and the event itself, life gets back to normal. And quite frankly, reality sucks.
No more sleep-ins or breakfasts in bed.
No new fluffy robes or bubble baths.
Who has time for all that?
It's back to leaping awake to the sound of the alarm. (Why does it always scare the crap out of me?). Herding the kids out of bed and into showers and uniforms.
Trying to get some food into everyone and dashing off to school.
No presents or chocolates.
Unless you're in Brisbane today.
Because if you're in Brisbane, and anywhere near Carindale, Max Brenner is opening his newest cafe.
And if you go to the Carindale store between 6-7 pm today (May 15, 2014), you'll be treated to a free Milk Hot Chocolat on Max.


Yes, much to the delight of Brisbane's chocoholics,  Max Brenner Chocolate by the Bald Man, is spreading its addictive chocolate culture even further with the opening of Max’s eighth chocolate bar in Queensland! 
The latest version of Australia's original chocolate bar is at Westfield Carindale, and houses a decadent selection of sweet treats, drinks and desserts.
With a playful, fun atmosphere, and a menu where every mouthful is more memorable than the last, Max Brenner is the perfect destination for every occasion, whether it’s a naughty catch up with friends, an after-school treat or a romantic date. Or a post Mother's Day pick-me-up! 
Max Brenner General Manager, Yael Kaminski, says it's no secret that Brisbane has a love affair with chocolate.
"More than a delicious hit for chocoholics, a visit to Max Brenner is a full sensory experience so we’re looking forward to meeting our new customers as we continue to spread our unique chocolate culture in Carindale.”
Favourites include sweet icons like the  Chocolate Soufflé ($10.00), indulgent Choctails ($7.60-$8.60) or warm your fingers around the iconic Max Brenner Hug Mug and sip on their original Hot Chocolate ($5.50-6).
And don't forget, if you go to the Carindale store during Max's Power Hour (6-7pm) tonight, you can enjoy a free Milk Hot Chocolat. 

Max Brenner Carindale is located in Westfield, 1151 Creek Road, Carindale, QLD. Follow them on facebook at www.facebook.com/MBAustralia

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day - are you game?



There have been a lot of secret going-ons at Chez MIA this week.
Whispers here and there, secret conferences behind closed doors, and mystery shopping trips.
That can only mean one thing – Mother’s Day is almost here.
Usually the kids don’t have anyone to help them with Mother’s Day gear. They’ll do their home made cards, and if there’s a MD stall at school, I’ll give them money to buy something for me there.
Yes it's weird to pay for your own Mother's Day present, but that’s life, when you’re a single parent sometimes!
I’m lucky if MD involves a sleep-in. That’s if the kids can wait long enough to give me my well thought-out gifts, which are always interesting in themselves. One year, Chase gave me tea and biscuits (he ate the biscuits and drank the tea himself), whilst Harmonie gave me a beach towel. Because I clearly spend so much time on the beach! Just quietly, I think it was a hint...
There has been the World’s Best Mum fridge magnet, and Best Mum mug. And of course, all manner of trinkets and bling. Especially the handmade varieties, made with so much love, and which must be worn on special occasions.
My favourites have always been the home-made cards and drawings that used to come home from kindy, and later, prep and school.
There was the tea bag pinned to a card in the shape of a tea pot, so I could have a cup of tea and a break. The first time I got that one, I wept. True story. (Also? Tea, it seems, is something that Mums love.)
And the hand prints, to treasure when they are no longer leaving them smeared all over the walls and cupboards. (The first time I got those, they made a little water come into my eye also).
Not to mention the heartwarming surveys, carried out by well-meaning teachers and carers. (Some of those just made me cringe!)
One year, Harmonie’s question and answer session on me included the remarkable information that I:
Loved eating vegetables
Cleaning (Snort!)
Watching my 'shows'
And
Job: Making money with my computer (I hope the authorities don’t find out about that one!)
An early Chase survey proudly proclaimed that, in my spare time, Mummy liked to “watch adult movies”.
In any case, this year will be unusual, in that the kids have a partner in crime to help them plan a special Mother’s Day.
Tech Guy has taken them on top-secret shopping expeditions, and there have been a lot of meaningful looks and suspicious behaviour going on.
I suspect that this year, I will definitely be getting my sleep in!
I see, hear, and know nothing.
Meanwhile, as Mother’s Day approaches, it’s fitting that it’s been another busy week.
Harmonie performed in her first Eisteddfod (singing with her school choir). That brought back memories. I spent many a terrifying and cold day in that very same hall, performing piano with frozen hands, and later, speech and drama (not so scary).
That afternoon, she fell awkwardly after tripping on a display at Kingaroy Big W. It turned out, Harmonie has hurt her Archilles Tendon and ankle. The doctor doesn’t think it’s torn, but it needs strapping, anti-inflammatories, and crutches. (Sparking many jokes of the: 'Leave my crutch alone' variety.)
The same day, we found out that Chase’s headaches and dizziness are most likely to be migraines.Thankfully, these are probably not inherited by me, but are common in those of his age thanks to hormones and stress, and sleep deprivation (and he does suffer from insomnia, but thankfully that's improved a lot in the past few months). Who knew? Hopefully they won't be permanant.
We did have some light relief this week, at the Kingaroy EB Games Great Game Off for Starlight Week.
The kids' love for games is a double-edged sword for me. I love that there is something they are into, that they get to talk to other kids about, but it's hard to keep track on what's suitable and what's not. 
EB Games staff at all stores are always lovely to the kids, but particularly so, here. (And no, I'm not being paid to say that). They take care to give advice, chat about games, do special deals, or save them pocket money by recommending similar games that might be cheaper.  They'll also honestly tell me if something isn't suitable for the kids, and why, and suggest alternatives.
And, because we're dinosaurs, and have only one working TV in our house, I keep track of what they're playing but also get tired of hearing incessant gaming talk and noises. Hey, sometimes a mother just wants to watch her shows!


This event raised money for the Starlight Foundation, and contestants competed against each other in various games to win prizes.
At first, Tech Guy suggested it as a thing that Chase might like to do with him, but to our surprise, Harmonie announced, very firmly, that she would like to join in as well.
“Women can be good gamers too,” she said. (That’s my girl!) 


They all played excitedly, injured Miss 11 being provided with a chair, while I wished I was anywhere else cheered them on. 


Seriously, it was a fun night out, even for me, shocked at I was at being at a gamers' event. But after all, it was for a good cause! 


As Chase, and then Tech Guy were eliminated (the latter taken out by Miss 11 herself), Harmonie became the only female to make it through to the quarter and then semi-finals. 


Nearly the entire store of people (mainly grown men) were right behind her and cheering her on. It was a really warm atmosphere, with players encouraging each other rather than being excessively competitive. And it was really cool how the older gamers welcomed the younger ones, even giving them tips and advice.
Harmonie was finally defeated playing Driver San Francisco with an X-Box controller behind her back (one of the rules in that game) 
Afterwards, she was congratulated by all. She didn’t win, but was clearly the sentimental favourite of the night, and was quite happy with her efforts.


And as Friday arrived, the cat delivered a freshly killed mouse to our back door, Lucy dog had several close misses with the vet due to a penchant for escaping through tiny holes under the fence and leaping from peoples’ arms (she thinks she’s a Big Dog).
Finally, minutes before leaving to pick Harmonie up from school early to save her from an afternoon on watching sport on the sidelines, I was called to pick up Chase, who had taken ill.
No wonder I never get any work done.
The outlook is looking interesting for this mother’s day. How is it looking at your house?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mother's Day Magic


You know Mother's Day is approaching when a string of press releases disguised as helpful ideas for presents flood your email inbox.
(And when you come across what looks to be a half-made card in your daughter's school bag, and she quickly tells you there is no need to check it for notes today thank you! Shhh, don’t tell!)
In the last week or so, I've been told Mums love flowers, slippers, PJs, and breakfasts in bed on their special day of the year.
It's not that I don't like burnt toast and milky tea, pyjamas that are way too big or small, Grandma-style slippers, and flowering weeds from the garden that have been tied up in a bunch and tossed casually on the bed. After all, it's the thought that counts.
But there are a few other gift ideas that I know most Mums will be eyeing off enviously if they see photos and happy posts on Faceboast on May 11.
Here are a few present ideas that are sure to please: 

WHAT: Emporium Hotel Mother’s Day High Tea, Brisbane
Held on Sunday 11 May, 2014, with sittings at 9.30 am, 12 noon, and 2.30 pm, this indulgent High Tea includes petit fours, mini quiches, cucumber finger sandwiches, smoked salmon and crème fraiche mini bagels, home-baked scone with jam and creen, and bottomless T2 Teas and Vittoria Coffee. Not to mention a glass of Mumm Champagne on arrival.
Costs $49 per person.
Phone 07 3153 6914 or email events@emporiumhotels.com.au

 

WHAT: French bubbly
Order before 4/5/2014, and First Choice will deliver a bottle of Henri Laurent Champagne in a gift bag for just $40.95. The includes delivery. Order online or call First Choice on 1300 308 833 and quote offer code 1929847.




WHAT: Trapeze lessons
What girl hasn’t dreamed of running away and joining the circus? Adrenalin is currently offering 50 per cent off flying trapeze classes in Melbourne ($39). Mum will be taken through a series of moves based on her skills and strength. She’ll then get to try her hand (and body) as a performer, and even fly through the air and be caught by a trained instructor. Classes are also offered in Brisbane, Sydney and on the Gold Coast but the special is only available for Melbourne. However, there is $10 off all deals when you spend $39 or more. 


WHAT: Uberkate personalised jewellery
Every woman loves bling, and Uberkate’s handcrafted designs are as coveted as a sleep-in on Mother’s Day. Uberkate has beautiful Forever Hearts necklaces for $165 (large single heart on a 45cm chain), $155 for a medium heart, and a small, medium and large set on a 45 cm chain for $450. Order here, while stocks last. 

 An example of Uberkate's lovingly-made jewellery. 

 This is an example of the hearts bling. Isn't it gorgeous?

WHAT: iPad Air or iPad Mini
(Drool). Goes without saying really. Order online for free delivery. 


But if these pressies are all beyond your budget, never fear. You can still give Mum an experience she won’t forget. And it’s on us!

This year, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra has made Mother’s Day easy with the HappyMother’s Day Concert, part of the incredibly loved Music on Sundays Program, being staged on Sunday 11 May at 11.30am in the Concert Hall at QPAC. So give Mum music and a touch of magic!


Concert highlights include Dvořák’s nostalgic Songs My Mother Taught Me and Brisbane husband-and-wife legends Pamela Page and Max Olding performing Czerny’s Piano Concerto for Four Hands.

The Happy Mother’s Day concert is part of the QSO’s popular Music on Sundays series, hosted by one of Australia’s most versatile musical entertainers, Guy Noble.  

With themed music, renowned soloists, world-class musicians and an entertaining host, the QSO offers the perfect reason to get out of bed on a Sunday morning!

Thanks to the Queensland Symphony Orchestra I have a pass for four people to attend the Happy Mother’s Day concernt on May 11. Winners must be able to get themselves to the Concert Hall at QPAC, in time for the concert at 11.30am. 

To enter, just comment below and share your best (or worst) Mother’s Day experience ever. Competitions close on Thursday May 8, 2014, and AEST 9 am. 

Music on Sundays Series is presented by Bacchus Bar, Restaurant & Pool. Official Radio Partner - Brisbane’s News Talk 4BC. The next concerts are on 27 July at 11.30am, QPAC Concert Hall | Passion and Madness – Operatic Wonders; and 19 October at 11.30am, QPAC Concert Hall | World Inspiration – Armchair Traveller. Go to www.qso.com.au for details.