Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Month In My 30s...

It'a already over a month since I turned 30. I wasn't too scared about it - I don't know what my 'scary age' is - but I was a bit annoyed that I couldn't have a celebratory drink due to being pregnant. Ahh, well, that's why God invented mocktails!

I had the house to myself for the day as my husband works Saturdays. My local pool had a Facebook promotion whereby, if you announced a codeword at the front desk, you got in for only $2. Bargain! So I started my day with a nice swim. After, I met my mum for coffee and then had a nap in the afternoon.

Dinner was out at a place called Richmond Oysters. I hadn't been before, but my sister was keen to go as she and her husband had read good reviews online. Myself, my mum, my husband, my sister, my grandma, and my uncle all came - was especially good for my uncle to come as he drove down for the night from his home in country Victoria - a quick 4 hour drive away!

I asked for a fruity mocktail - it was delicious!
 Most of us went for fried options for dinner. I just wanted to try a bit of everything so I had the fisherman's platter, as did Derek. My mum and uncle had fish and chips, and my sister and grandma had grilled fish and chips with salad and veggies. If I went back I would definitely get a grilled fish as I love grilled fish.
Someone should have told me my hair was stupid. My sister took the photo so wasn't in it. Not sure why my uncle is posing like a weirdo. 
Derek and I at dinner.  
The food was delicious and reasonably priced. Parking was surprisingly simple given the Swan St/Church Street location in Richmond. I was especially impressed that the restaurant didn't put on a set menu or bump up the prices given it was Valentine's Day - one of the 'perks' of having your birthday on Valentine's Day is that you are often the only party in a restaurant of couples, and you have to pay for the privilege of eating off a set menu. I would definitely go back.

What I wore:
Ripe Maternity textured skater dress in black, $84.95 AUD. This dress is a good buy as will work when not pregnant. I am barely wearing any maternity clothes even though I've got less than 4 weeks to go.
NineWest 'Nicetime' wedges, white, $139.95 AUD
Urban Decay Naked2 Basics eyeshadow palette
I also played around with my Urban Decay Naked2 Basics palette which I got for Christmas from my mother in law. I will do a full review on this in the future, but it's an amazing, high quality eyeshadow palette which allows you to create a myriad of wonderful looks. 

Anyway, that was my birthday! Have you got a scary age?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Finding a Car Seat...

For some reason, the whole idea of purchasing a car seat was really daunting to me, more so than a pram (which seems to sell themselves as mini-cars, talking about 'chassis'-this and 'interior'-that. I think it's because I'm totally hopeless with cars (ie. the mechanics) and just don't want to know how they work, that when it was time to look for a car seat, some part of my brain was triggered to tune out and get overwhelmed.

Anyway, I tried to keep the process simple. Car seats are surprisingly cheap (I was expecting them to cost around as much as a pram), but I wanted to knock out anything below about $250 as it seemed too basic and maybe not as safe if it's that cheap, even though I know every seat on the market has to meet safety standards. I read a few blogs and forums and reviews online and narrowed it down to two similar seats - any more than this and I would just tune out again.

We were looking between the Safe N Sound Meridian ($399 AUD at Baby Bunting) and the Maxi Cosi Hera ISOGO ($429 AUD on sale at Baby Bunting). Of course I pronounced it 'cozzie' like a swimming costume, and was told it was pronounced like 'cozy'. All this stupid infant-style spelling everywhere!

In the end we chose the Maxi Cosi Hera ISOGO:
Maxi Cosi Hera ISOGO, 'moonlight', $429 AUD (RRP $529 AUD), Baby Bunting
We chose the Maxi Cosi over the Safe N Sound Meridian for the following reasons:
  • Looked a bit nicer.
  • Fit fine in our small car (Mazda 2), although the front passenger seat will have to come forward a little while this seat is in the rear-facing position.
  • Plenty of neck support, which was more comfortable and felt more padded but firm than the Safe N Sound which felt harder and more plastic.
  • Moisture-wicking fabric - I am trying to get everything in a cooling, moisture wicking fabric, as it gets so hot here in Summer, and since both of us don't do well in the heat, we are assuming we are going to have a sweaty baby too.
  • ISOFIX installation - this is apparently a simple way to correctly install the seat, which was approved in Australia in September 2014 but has been able to be used in the US and Europe for around 10 years now. My car has ISOFIX points, so basically you just clip your ISOFIX clips into the points in the car, tighten the belts from red to green, and when they indicate green you're good to go. Sounded much simpler than the old lap sash and fiddling around in your boot option of past. In Australia, you still have to use a top tether strap by law however it is not required in other countries.
As for Baby Bunting itself? The service was nice, albeit a little slow to arrive (I had to find someone to help me after being told at the door there were plenty of people down by the car seats to help me). The lady was happy for us to ensure the seat fit in our car, and pickup of the seat was ready and waiting when we left the store. My only complaint was they weren't running their air conditioning which was immediately noticeable on a 35 degree morning in Melbourne in a huge shop. The lady serving us was really hot, as were we, and I don't think it's a great idea to not be running air con in a shop full of pregnant women. It was basically suggested to us by our server that the owner was too tight to run the air con!!

What baby purchases overwhelm you? What are you most looking forward to shopping for when you have a baby?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Winging Decorating A Cake...

I've decided I want to have a go at cake decorating. I have no idea what I'm doing, as I've never taken classes, but I'm pretty creative so thought I'd try my hand at it. I was just having a play at applying fondant, using some cutter shapes, and making some bows. Here's my results of my first ever cake:

I baked a white chocolate mud cake and covered it in pink buttercream. It was actually really huge so I was able to bake two full size cakes and layer them together. I'm interested to see how the recipe tastes as I've not used this recipe before. All my equipment is ready to go - the silicone rolling mat, the giant rolling pin, colours, fondant smoother, cutters, and the fondant has a lemon yellow tint already applied.
The cake with the fondant covered. It was easier than I thought. I thought I'd have folds and pleats and air bubbles everywhere but it was pretty simple. It did take me a while to roll out the right size fondant.

I then added hearts and stars using a dab of water. The stars were much harder to apply as there were quite fiddly. I also have some other shapes, as well as a kit with the alphabet and a kit with numbers.

 I then added a bow. It looks alright but not too great, but not bad for my first attempt. I let the loops dry a little around some rolled up Glad Wrap before applying them with water.

The finished product! I added little colour balls down the bottom to hide the rough edge. This is why people either use colour balls or ribbon on the bottom of cakes! 
I'm taking my cake to work tomorrow and then making a few more during the week. I'm having a gender reveal BBQ this coming weekend so will make a cake for that - my husband asked if I'd be modelling a baby for the top of the cake! I don't think I'm quite there yet!

Have you ever tried your hand at a new hobby? How has your success been?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Telstra Thanks Presents Katy Perry - This Is How We Do Our School...

This post comes because I'm a little annoyed at the results of this competition. A couple of months ago, Telstra ran a nation-wide competition for schools to make a video showing how their school is creative and unique, with the winning school receiving a $10,000 grant for their arts department along with 20 tickets to their closest Katy Perry concert and a visit at school from Katy Perry herself. Two runner up schools receive $5000 each for their arts departments. I will preface this post by also stating (as some of you probably know) that I am a teacher at a public primary school in suburban Melbourne. One of our amazing teachers put together an entry for this competition, and it was very clever. I haven't watched all the videos so I don't know if it should have won, but I do think it was definitely more creative and entertaining than the winner.

The winning school was Loreto Mandeville Hall in Toorak, probably the most affluent suburb in Melbourne, and one of the most expensive Catholic girls' schools to attend. Fees in 2015 for Prep are $16,317, moving up to $24,585 for Year 12, plus an annual building levy of $2085. At around 1000 students, that is a lot of money they are raking in each year, before even considering their government funding and Catholic church funding.

Sure, a visit from Katy Perry is an amazing prize (although, having attended a pretty strict Catholic girls' secondary college myself, I'm not sure how much Katy Perry's style and music fits in with a traditional Catholic ethos, but that is another post altogether), but is this a school that really needs a $10,000 grant for their arts department? I don't think so.

This is a school that boasts an orchestra in its video entry to the competition, for goodness sake! Their website tells of the 'industry professionals' its visual arts department is comprised of. Music camps are offered to students. The fees the four girls who apparently were the masterminds behind creating the entry video accumulate to almost $72,000 - a $10,000 grant being a pretty small slice of that pie of four students alone, let alone the whole school's fees.

Should a school that is so affluent be eligible for a competition such as this? I think not. Even people from the competition were quoted in newspapers as saying that, upon attending the school for Katy Perry's visit on Thursday and viewing the grounds and facilities, they didn't feel this school needed $10,000. This competition should have only been open to public schools across the country, who receive less funding and charge nominal fees to parents (my school is currently around $200 per child per year, in a school of around 240 students, which is reduced for extra children in the family), in order to better support the lack of private funding they receive. Some people may argue that private schools, both religious and independent, receive less government funding than state schools, which may be true, but this is purely balancing out all the additional sources of revenue that state schools simply can't access. A visit from Katy Perry is an exciting prize, but a $10,000 grant is an opportunity that Loreto simply did not need. Our school's video was filmed on a 5 year old FlipCam, and put together in iMovie on a staff laptop (which staff have to rent from the department of education). Again, I'm not saying our school should have necessarily won, but I am saying that only state schools should have been eligible for entry, given their comparable facilities, budgets, and sources of income.

Take a look at the winning video here  along with some other videos that were entered in the competition. The video alone isn't the most entertaining and creative of all of them out there, and I'll let you be the judge on how much professional technology was used in the creation of the video.

Take a look at Loreto's website and you be the judge on whether or not this school needed $10,000. I'd be very keen to hear exactly how Loreto plans on spending their newly acquired 'loose change', because in a school that affluent, that sum of money is simply just that.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Should a competition that involves such a substantial grant be open to all schools, regardless of affluence, sources of income, and resources? Is the only way to make a competition such as this to open it to all schools in Australia? Should there be some sort of entry criteria, such as my proposal that only state schools should be invited to enter? Is this then disadvantaging our private school student counterparts, excluding them just because their parents have chosen or are able to afford to send them to a private school?
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