I love food. For me, cooking and baking are times to be productive and creative. I also love eating. It’s probably my favourite past-timeūüôā So here are the favourite sites I visit on a regular basis for recipes, inspiration and also¬†for the pretty pictures…

  1. First of all I have to give kudos to Taste.com.au, NewsLifeMedia’s most popular food website. I’ve been visiting Taste for years, and some of my favourite recipes are from there (banana bread, chicken soup, lasagne, meatball pasta bake to name but a few!). I love the rotating banner they have on the homepage, which will give you some quick dinner inspiration if you need it. All the recipes are rated by users, so if you pick a highly rated recipe I doubt you’ll do wrong. Bookmark it today.taste.com.au
  2. Have you liked the Tasty page on Facebook yet? If not, where have you been?!? I picked up on it in my Facebook newsfeed, because all my friends were liking and sharing the videos. This is their Buzzfeed page. You can seriously while away hours of your life just on the Facebook page. You have been warned.Tasty
  3. The Healthy Chef – A¬†trained chef, nutritionist, author and accredited fitness trainer, Teresa is an amazing woman. Her recipes are delicious AND healthy, which actually isn’t that easy to do sometimes. I found one of my favourite cold-weather¬†recipes,¬†Spicy Red Tomato + Lentil Soup, on Teresa’s website several years ago, and it’s still a family staple (but we add bacon). She also has an online store and health and wellbeing advice. And no, I don’t work for her – I just think her site is awesome.The Healthy Chef
  4. GoodFood is a bit more high-end – a bit fancier, if you will. I like their Top 10 lists (best desserts in Sydney, best pizzas in Brisbane, etc) although some of their recipes are more complicated so better for a weekend cooking session.GoodFood
  5. Not Quite Nigella – This is more a review site, lots of local Sydney eats as well as out-of-town tours. She also posts about local food tours – the best eats in different suburbs. The photos are amazing, worth bookmarking just for them!

Not Quite Nigella

What are your favourite food inspiration sites?

Stay Fit & Well,
Lisa x

Wow, what a dramatic headline, right?! Well it’s true. It saved our lives by saving our sanity.

But let’s start at the beginning. Let’s start with a 20 month-old boy¬†who we love with all our heart. We love him so much that we’ve been patting and rocking him to get him to sleep his whole life. It got so bad that at one point only a few months ago we were patting him for up to, and sometimes over, an hour every single night. One of the worst nights it took me two and a half hours to get him to sleep. That’s right folks – we have a little man who suffers from Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

My husband has written his account of the sleep training we undertook with our son here, so feel free to read it. But here’s my version.

baby sleeping

We decided to start sleep training one night when we were at our wit’s end. Rob’s back had given out from leaning over the cot patting Harrison for over an hour, and I was cranky because dinner had been ruined while we were trying, once again, to encourage our son to go to sleep. We’d both had enough, and knew it had to stop. He couldn’t move into a big boy bed until he learned to settle himself to sleep, and that wasn’t going to happen the way we were going. In hindsight, I wish we’d done the sleep training when he was 6 months old, as it would have been less emotionally gut-wrenching, but we put ourselves into this situation, so now we had to get ourselves out.

So the next night we started. We basically followed the “cry it out” method discussed here.¬†We had tried the “no tears” approach before, and it had never worked, so this was the new regime. We would put Harrison in his cot, sing “Rock A Bye Baby” a couple of times to him, then say “Goodnight my love, sleep well, Mummy/Daddy will come and check on you in 5 minutes”. We would leave the room and the crying would commence. We’d leave it for 5-10 mins and go in, comfort him and resettle him in his cot, then do the same thing. And so on, and so on.

The first night he was absolutely knackered from a fun day out, and there was only 45 minutes of crying/resettling. The next night, it was 1.5hrs. The next night it was 2 hrs. Then slowly the crying time reduced, and by the end of 7 days, we put him in his cot, sang “Rock A Bye Baby” several times, said goodnight, left the room and there was no crying. He proceeded to have a chat to himself about Thomas the Tank Engine or the doggy he’d patted that day, or whatever else came into his mind, then gradually wound down and settled himself to sleep. HOORAY! It worked!

This all sounds fairly clinical, but let me tell you we were both emotional wrecks by the end of the 7 days. One more day of it and I would have given up. In fact I would have given up every night had Rob not talked sense into me.

And the irony is that now he can self-settle himself to sleep, when he wakes up during the night he goes straight back to sleep now too, whereas before he would have cried out for us and it would have taken us a while to get him back to sleep. He’s sleeping longer, and he’s sleeping better. So it’s better for him, it’s better for us, and I really can’t think how we put up with such a ridiculous routine for so long, except for the fact that as a parent you do whatever you have to do to get through that particular stage, and that’s what we did.

Now for the next scary but necessary activity: toilet training. Although I think we might give ourselves a break for a few months before we dive into that. Ah, the joys of parentingūüôā

Stay Fit & Well,
Lisa x

 

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of having your first baby. What will it look like, what will you name it, will you ever sleep again? But in all seriousness, there needs to be a bit of discussion going on about the big picture before bub comes along, because let me tell you, there ain’t a whole lot of time to talk when you’re dealing with a new, tiny human 24/7. In my humble opinion, here are the things you need to make sure you’re clear on BEFORE the baby comes, if you’re in a relationship…

holding baby's hand

  1. Discuss how you want to parent – Look at how you were raised, and talk about your thoughts around discipline, displaying¬†affection and gender roles. Are you both going to be on the same page?¬†You may have been raised in a very loving environment, where you were always told that you were loved, whereas your partner may have never heard ‘I love you’ from their parents before in their life. As a woman, were you made to feel that you were equal to the men in your family? How will that impact how you raise your own children, and the messages you send to them?
  2. Discuss practicalities around your living arrangements – Do you need to move to a larger apartment or house? Do you want to stay living in the area you’re currently in, or do you want to move closer to family, friends or a support network? Can you afford to rent where you are, or pay the mortgage on one wage?
  3. Discuss money – Do you have a joint bank account already set up? What will you do when the main stay-at-home parent needs money for groceries, activities and everyday needs (like coffee, you always need coffee)?
  4. Discuss your relationship – When a baby comes along, you will be absorbed in that baby 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. Get in some couple time before you have a baby, and commit to making time for each other before you have the baby. Acknowledge that having a baby is not the sole responsibility of the woman actually having the baby, and that both parents need to be elbow-deep in poo and milk if you are going to get through it sane. Discuss what might happen after the baby is born in regards to the primary caregiver returning to work, but be prepared for plans to change (mine did).
  5. And of course the fun discussion: baby names РThis will take time. You will LOVE one name, while it might remind your partner of  a colleague who annoyed the sh*t out of them, so that one will be ruled out. Compose a shortlist and see what comes up. Most of all, enjoy the quiet time while you still can.

Stay Fit & Well,
Lisa x

This is a fairly personal post, and one which I have been pondering for a while. My situation was fairly unique, in that I was 6 weeks pregnant when I got made redundant, which definitely, erm….’complicated’ matters.

But let’s start from the beginning. Backtrack to 2013. I was going along happily in my role as a marketing manager for a book publisher based in Sydney. Rob and I had just got back from several weeks in London and Thailand, we’d gotten engaged in London and I was already in full throttle wedding planning mode. We’d decided to try to fall pregnant, as we thought it might take a while due to my polycystic ovarian syndrome. We tried for 2 weeks and lo and behold, we shouldn’t have worried, as I feel pregnant immediately! Cue some trepidation, but excitement too.

I had a blood test to confirm the pregnancy, got the positive results on Friday, had the weekend to let it digest, then went into work on the Monday to find out 5 people in sales & marketing were being made redundant, and I was one of them.

redundancy

 

It’s a funny thing, redundancy. You never think it’s going to happen to you. And then it does, as it will at least once in your life unless you work for yourself (statistics show).

In hindsight, I should have taken a few weeks to relax, sleep in, think about my options and enjoy the payout and the time off. But I was conscious that I had a deadline – I had to find a job before it was obvious that I was pregnant, as let’s face it: who would hire someone when they knew they would be leaving 8-9 months down the track? It turned out that I found a job 3 weeks after I was made redundant, and I was honest with my employer and asked if they would consider the role as a contract role for 8 months, to which they agreed. They said they appreciated the honesty, as I wasn’t obliged to tell them I was up the duff, but I couldn’t have consciously lived with myself if I had lied to them. So, there was a happy ending to the story, however it was still tough going.

You battle with feelings of not being good enough when you’re made redundant. Even if circumstances dictate that people had to go, and it wasn’t a personal reflection on you, it still FEELS personal.

So if you’re going through this right now, know that I know how you feel. That¬†it’s a constant battle between motivating yourself to check out jobs on Seek, or lie on the couch watching bad daytime TV.

Here¬†are some things I did after I was made redundant, which helped me. I thought I’d share them, as they could help some of you out there too.

  • Get some regular exercise – I started¬†swimming, because I had the time and I also needed someplace to go every day, a sort of schedule if you like.
  • Do nice things for yourself – Treat yourself to a pedicure, have a long lunch with a friend, go away for an extended weekend or just buy yourself something beautiful. It helps to indulge yourself (just don’t go overboard once the redundancy payout comes through!)
  • Use the time to really think about what you want to do next – Don’t just switch into auto-pilot and start looking for the same job you had. Take the time to think if you want to continue down your career path, or try something new. Maybe you might want to study? Maybe travel? For me, I took the 8 month contract role in marketing, had my baby, and then chose to study counselling and set up my own social media management business. Which I would probably never have done, had I not had the wake up call to get off the work treadmill and really think about my future.
  • Revise your CV and make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to scratch – I may be the first to tell you this, but LinkedIn has been an amazing avenue for me in terms of finding work. Quite apart from being contacted by recruitment agents via LinkedIn, three of my current clients reached out to me on LinkedIn because we had connections in common. And let’s face it – if your CV isn’t up-to-date, well-formatted and spell-checked, you aren’t even getting a foot in the door when it comes to interviews.
  • Think about starting a creative project – Start a blog, write the first draft of the book you’ve got in you, paint or draw. Start cooking all those long and complicated recipes that you’ve never had time to make before. Or declutter your house. All productive uses of your time, and you’ll feel a sense of achievement as you’re doing them and afterwards.

And remember, this too shall pass.

Stay Fit & Well,
Lisa x

So it’s Summer in Australia and I know now why I loved living in London so much. Summer in London is generally pretty nice. People lay around in parks and swan about wearing flippy dresses and their hair stays basically like it was when they left the house. Sure, the Tube is about 100 degrees celsius but you can’t have everything. ¬†Here in Oz, however, people don’t lay around in parks because between 11am and 3pm the UV rays will basically burn your skin to smithereens and give you skin cancer, and that flippy dress you’re wearing clings to you in all the wrong places because you’re so sweaty. And don’t even mention the constant hair frizz due to humidity.

Yes, you could say I am not a fan of the extreme heat of the Southern Hemisphere. And this year, I’ve confronted something that I’ve been avoiding since I was probably about 18 years old: I hate exercising in hot weather. Absolutely detest is. Every year since I arrived back in Oz at the end of 2010, I have attempted to force, cajole, and even bargain with myself (“Go to the gym, Lisa. You can have an ice cream afterwards”) but this year, I have become reconciled to the fact that actually, if it’s above 32 degrees, the gym just ain’t happening. And instead of beating myself up with the guilts, I just go with it.too hot You know how most people put on weight in Winter, what with the heavier food, and moving less, etc? Well I am entirely the opposite – I lose weight in the cooler months because I exercise more and eat less ice cream, and in Summer I pack it on. So this year I will be sitting on the couch watching¬†Making A Murderer (a documentary series which is my current Netflix obsession – DO NOT click on the link if you want to watch it, it contains spoilers), Cornetto in hand, not giving a damn about my abs.

 

What season do you find yourself more motivated to exercise? Is anyone with me in hating to exercise in Summer?

Stay fit & well,
Lisa x