Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Little Drummer boys meet Little Drummer Boy

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Wish you were here ~ love Sammy

The Tanker Jetty in Esperance


PS It is the last day to a Win Skylanders Wii Starter pack , then enter for your chance to win Sony PSP-E1000 Prize Packs x 5 !

Giveaway ~ Sony PSP-E1000 Prize Packs x 5 !

Friday, a special delivery arrived at our door.Though my 5 year olds can hardly say the name PSP E1000 they know it means SONY  ~  Imagine an affordable, handheld, portable entertainment console with pocket money priced games (@ $14.95).

It must be every parents kid's dream get the best value gaming on the go with the brilliant new PSP-E1000.

PSP-E1000 valued at $139.95RRP

Sony Computer Entertainment have provided five x  PSP-E1000 prize packs for this amazing giveaway which includes  a parent of the Year award ...

1 x Gran Turismo
-        1 x Motorstorm: Arctic Edge
-        1 x ModNation Racers
-        1 x Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier
1 x Little Big Planet
The new PSP-E1000 is a little bigger and heavier than the PSP-3000. While it plays all PSP games it does not include any Wi-Fi features. A bonus for parents worried about children accessing online gaming. It does target those on the go and it can still be connected to a PC via a USB cable, giving you access to  new content on PlayStation Store via Media Go.

I confess, right form the start I am very much gaming console 'Racing' challenged. I cannot stay on the track or navigate successfully, even going slow.

Ah - Mod Nation Racers, I'd totally win if the ability to crash into walls were awarded a boys were saying "MUM you are not a very good driver" ... while the little man inside the game yelled at me -

"Are you allergic to the road"

" Get back on the track and hit the gas "

So I gave up and the kids yelled Hooray!

I haven't had time to check out the other games apart from Little Big planet which looks very interesting
On this new hand-held adventure, Sackboy will be getting lost in the Australian outback, helping to build a theme park in the desert, and starring in a series of movies in the glittering lights of Tinsel Town - But will he make it to the Carnival on time when he's having so much fun? !
My boys are marginally better than me but they are only just entering the gaming console realm at 5 and the games are still a little beyond them. They haven't had much practice yet.

Questions ? well all your PSP E1000 questions can be answered here. It even saves your favourite music and photos for you to enjoy anywhere.

For your chance to win 1 of 5 Sony PSP-E1000 Prize Packs leave a comment in 25 words or less answering

Why you should win a PSP-E1000 prize pack ?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer : I received a complimentary PSP-E1000 via Hausmann Communications and games for review purposes. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Congratulations to the Winners - 
Dr Bron
Lisa Wood
Wendy Wyatt
Lyndel Rowe

Thank you to everyone it was very hard to choose the winners !

Monday, 19 December 2011

Ok , now ... moving on

The last 5 days have been nerve wracking, to say the least. Last Thursday my husband had another round of followup - CT scans of his head, temporal regions and a chest CT.

I know I live by faith not fear , however it doesn't make us immune to illness, stress, depression and cancer.

We knew the scans were coming and it is only after M has them that the worry sets in like concrete. Hard and heavy.

It has almost been 17 months since M finished his radiation therapy. We planned our road trip around his three monthly appointments. M is well despite troublesome headaches; they attribute mostly to stress.

Today, we were SO relieved that there is no evidence of recurrent disease where his tumour was and no local recurrence in his chest etc. (I love this image a friend posted of fireworks on my Facebook)

As we sat waiting in the newly renamed, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Care Centre - try saying that in one breath , I knew that everyone was there, like us, hoping for good news. A sea of quiet sombre faces.

A young mother was seated nearby bearing tubing, hanging from her clothing about the waist and a dark fluid filled drainage vac/bag. She was there with 2 little boys and her husband.I felt teary.Most of the others were older folks. Lots of bald heads, you try not to look, at as you walk the corridors ... men and women, young and old. No one is immune to the scourge of cancer.

Fortunately we walked out with good news.M queued up to book more appointments for 3 and 6 months time. It is a blessed relief to be moving on and making those appointments in a way.

We then went upstairs to book a different, PET, scan for February. There was a lady in the waiting room who overheard my hub mention his two Drs names to the receptionist booking his appointment. The lady mentioned they were her husband's Drs and he was having his scan right then.

She continued taking , without us really asking much ; He was diagnosed a week ago, on his kidney, the lovely Drs, her nightmares, not sleeping, not eating, starting radiation and then surgery (reverse of what M had because he had surgery first then radiation) and the what if's ... I knew exactly what she meant.

It wasn't a very long chat but at that moment in time, I hope, we communicated HOPE and shared the confidence we had in her husband being in the right hands with same Drs - how amazing was that in a huge hospital like Westmead

I am guessing her situation is compounded by being confined to a wheelchair, with several fused fingers/hand on the ends of both her elbows (She had virtually no forearms...and I didn't ask.) She showed us and told us she was chewing her nails off.

Then she said her husband's first name - and it was the same as my husband. Freaky. We told her  ...She laughed and said " So you are a sh*t.head too then ?" We all laughed but I disputed it !

I still wanted to hug her and say "It will be ok " but it didn't seem right plus she was holding her tapestry (I am in awe of how she managed it with her hands/fingers/forearms disability). 

Who am I to know ? how it all will end ? 

Step by step is all I can manage. I gave her my Cancer Care newsletter instead. I realise now I didn't even tell her my name or ask hers ( Sam, my 5yr old would have asked her in a flash,had he been there.)

Was it a chance meeting or what ?

Anyway , I can also say we are moving on. Today the Real Estate rang to say they have leased our home . We have to be out in 3 weeks + 3days. It is being leased to 4 young doctors in their final year of medicine who need to be close to our local hospital.

It's another huge step for us, moving on, though we rather we had just sold - it gives us a safety net to come back to. True be told, I've been sweating on the results to know we could still move to the farm and not have a reason to stay ... if you know what I mean.

Moving on ...

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Ride em' Cowboys

Everyone wins a Rocking Horse Race !

Jan 2009 - Our Rocking Horse Story

Have you entered my GIVEAWAYS ?

Monday, 12 December 2011

Skylanders Spyro's Adventure { Giveaway & review }

A few months ago my boys & I were invited to a truly innovative experience – Skylanders Spyro's Adventure. When I got the first email I was really unsure about it.

Having had experience with a few different gaming systems, our now 18yr has played , I knew within minutes of seeing it for real- it was a winner. Skylanders Spyro's Adventure’s story line was penned and crafted by the writers of Toy Story... Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, with very cool technology.

A game that meshes the toy and videogame worlds ! Bingo !

It’s also no surprise the inspiration for the game came from some of the developers' observations of their own children. It is recommended for children 6yrs and over ; Sam & Joel can already manage some independent game play and know how to read the visual clues and follow verbal prompts. 
 "For generations, the Skylanders have used their magical powers and weapons to protect Skylands. But now, an evil tyrant has frozen them into toys and banished them to Earth. Only you can put them on the Portal of Power and bring them back to life in their world to save Skylands forever."

This is Spyro the Dragon in a way he hasn't been seen before – in a hand-sized action figure along with 31 other Skylander action figures in all (Each one with a unique powers). Each Skylander falls under one of eight elemental groups: fire, water, life, earth, tech, air, undead, and magic. I love the names Chop , Chop - Trigger Happy with his 2 six shooter that shoot gold coins.

The game starts by placing the Skylander character of your choice on the glowing "portal of Power" the gateway to your Skylander adventure.The figures are teleported ( Yes, with a radical buzz of streaming light) into the game and come to life. The 'portal of power' syncs wirelessly to the game through a USB adaptor plugged into your console or PC. (Beware the Portal is battery operated but it does include 3 Duracell – stock up for Christmas or get rechargeable ones and watch you don't lose the USB adapter)

Skylanders are far from ordinary toys - they have 'brains' that as you progress through the game remember shared experiences and leveled-up abilities (but only on your own console). There are also different game slots to save different family member's games.

Don’t worry , even if you are not in possession of all character types (YET) you can still beat complete the game. Awesome hats provide attribute bonuses and characters wear them in-game, adding some interesting customisation . Finding all the hats is an addictive engaging bonus – if you have the right Skylander figure to get access to them.

The down side is the pester power your kids will be leveling up AT YOU . Even as I played, past a bonus area that could only be unlocked by a certain Skylander element, I could feel I needed that Skylander – now !

Another thing I loved is that is has visual and verbal clues for kids in-play to tell them the best Skylander (element) for each area and what button to press. It still allows for players to develop their own strategies and chose own game tactics.

What does the STARTER PACK come with  ?
- The starter pack comes with everything you need to start your own adventure including:

• Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure software
• Portal of Power
• 3 Skylanders Figures
• 3 Trading Cards
• 1 Sticker Sheet for all three characters
• 3 Skylanders Spyro’s Universe Codes
• Collector Poster (to put your stickers on)

You can, I am told, play the entire game with just the Starter pack. Skylanders is also playable on the web.

The Activision website has cool stats on each Character , information for parents and you play it there too.

Skylanders can be played with friends (or siblings) by simultaneously placing two interaction figures on the Portal of Power ( long as you have 2 controllers). Each Skylander works across all gaming platforms so they can be taken teleported anywhere, jump from console to console or even to the web.

Activision has ingeniously and very functionally, made a completely cross platform multiplayer game. So if your kids own the PS3 version, they can play the Nintendo Wii version at a friends house with their  own figures.

The ability to trade the Skylanders around and because friends can team up in play means there are endless opportunities to extend the gaming experience with extra battles and challenges. You also might not have to buy them all ( The bonus is you can buy individual Skylanders & pieces so makes for easy birthday party gifts.)

The game is so engaging older siblings (or parents) will want to play along too (trust me). The genius of the game is you can start play or drop out of the game instantly , swap characters in play and add characters. NO more – "I need to finish this level Mum"

I know my 9yr nephew and his friends are flippin’ their minds about this game. I saw it on his wish list (on the fridge) and asked my SIL what she knew about Skylanders ? - Just that L really wanted it - She had no idea of the games potential. I told her the website has a great parent's guide. They are getting it on Xbox.

Sure the Skylander characters just explore various levels – castles, mines, forests, pirate ships – beating up enemies as they collect money, unlock gates and solve puzzles but ..... each new figure adds extra challenges and boosts the power of other figures. Extra figures = a life, and as long as you have a free Skylander you continue a level without starting over. The characters don’t die but rest till the next level - I love that we have two Spiros -just saying we needed them !

Skylanders is available for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo 3DS and PC. We have Playstation3 and the graphics and visuals are incredible.

The good news is I have one Skylanders Spyro's Adventure Wii version only to giveaway to one lucky reader. Oh I wish I had more.

In 30 words or less tell me who you would like to be in Skylanders and why ?

If you are the chosen one with the most interesting, creative or original answer - a Skylanders Adventure Wii starter pack will be teleported to you by Australia Post hopefully before Christmas - no promises.

Australian residents only -read full term & conditions.
One entry per person leaving a 30 words or less answer

Have you Liked My Little Drummer Boys

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary PS3 copy for review purposes. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Thank you for the music

If you are my Secret Santa take note

I confess I love Christmas music even if Ill never see snow at Christmas.

and these are just too cute not to share

what's your favourite Christmas carol and by what artist ?

Friday, 9 December 2011

Australian Women’s Weekly

I am often moved to tears by real life inspiring stories of people overcoming challenges... and ...where would we be without the latest heartthrobs {Colin Firth}.

Normally, I quickly skim through the regular features ~ fashion& beauty, family ideas, health updates, quick and easy recipes I can make at home, till I settle down with a cuppa and a special feature.

The Internet will never replace magazines for me. I don’t pick up every issue like I used too. While I have subscribed to various offers over the years I am not currently a subscriber. I’ve often purchased things I’ve seen reviewed or featured in their ads which sometimes are like a featured article.

"this is just a few"

It wasn’t a regular feature but it caught my eye, on the front cover – Life Lessons- Happiness is learning to be grateful. I checked the contents and I flicked over to page 79 ~

Titled: A year of living GRATEFULLY.

It focuses on the grateful movement sweeping the country, transforming lives as the grateful project participants take a photo a day of something they are thankful for.

A daily reminder to stop and smell the roses (literally something that is very close to my heart).

Day by day people have been searching for things that bring happiness and thankfulness.

The article mentioned champion rower, Rachael Taylor who started her 365 gratitude project as a disillusioned mother. She soon became a blogger- posting her daily grateful photos - so that captured my immediate attention too.

I was interested to know it started by another mother Hailey Bartholomew who in 2008, who inspired another mother, Felicity. She used her Facebook page to post her daily snapshots of grateful.

My favourite quote is by Felicity
“I think we have a tendency to think about the things we are missing in our lives and the things we haven’t achieved instead of seeing how blessed we really are”

This nails it for me – that by taking a simple photo people can find joy. It also reminds me to not to get stuck on where I am look around and celebrate.

By seeking out and capturing those wonderful mundane things  ; like the washing on the line, fresh baked bread, a flower or children playing , we shift the focus and create something positive.

The images in this article appealed to me and gave me some great ideas of my own.

As much as I want to I doubt I could commit to a full 365 Gratitude project. The article has inspired me to start the New Year seeking out some happy moments of grateful, be it the mundane or that little bit of magic in my own life through 2012.

Reading this article in Women’s Weekly Magazine won’t transform my life but it certainly fires up a bit of passion in me and makes me think about living more gratefully.

Air Wick Aqua Mist { $350 Giveaway } ~ Day 5 Christmas Giveaway

Two weeks ago I shared with you my opinions of the new Aqua Mist from Air Wick.

The results are in and everyone's Aqua Mist favourites are different. Air Wick has nailed it and catered to everyone who tried it. Plus created a fresh and welcoming atmosphere in my testosterone filled home . 

My mum, Sister in Laws, and friends agree it beats other air fresheners thumbs noses up ! Mum & I preferred the Magnolia & Cherry Blossom, My SIL & two friends -Wild Lavender & Mountain Breeze My other friend , Hubby & teen Fresh Waters

I know you all would love to try Aqua essences too but it is expensive  difficult to post them. Aqua Mist is available from all leading supermarkets so why not pick up some Air Wick Aqua Mist for yourself !

The good news that you won't want to miss ~ is from something in the Air Wick to something in your pocket -  because thanks to Soup and Air Wick I have a fabulous giveaway of three Coles / Myer gift cards to celebrate the release of Aqua Mist.

They will hopefully be posted to you just in time for Christmas! or to catch the sales.

  • 1st prize: $200 Coles / Myer gift card
  • 2nd prize: $100 Coles / Myer gift card
  • 3rd prize: $50 Coles / Myer gift card
That's right $350 (in total) - 1 prize per winner = 3 winners .
They are almost as good as cold, hard cash !

The winners will be chosen based on originality, humour and/or creativity.
Please answer in 25 words or less...

Who What would you use Aqua Mist on ? 
What air freshener fragrance would you like to see smell  ? 

(Once we sold my hubby's car privately to a Concreter and he paid us in piles of cold, musty smelling cash. We were very suss but he said he didn't trust banks. We had his address so we knew where he lived if the money wasn't accepted by the bank . Sorry I digress ...Good luck )

Thursday, 8 December 2011

How to find your Christmas spirit ? {+ Baker's Delight Giveaway}

When do you start feeling Christmassy ?
When the stores bring out the decorations or the super TOY sales mention lay-bys for Christmas?
When you see the 100 days to Christmas peeps start pestering encouraging you into action on blogs and social media ?

When the Baker's Delight Lemon Tarts and Mince pies, and Christmas cakes arrive on the shelves ?

OMG Crisco & Castle,  Hamper King ads ? ...  have started the pressure prepare for 2012 Christmas . I've seen everyone of them this morning.

I've seen a lot of disillusionment circulating. People who are wondering where they left their Christmas spirit and just as many celebrating all things wonderful about Christmas me the guilts because I haven't had time to do much at all.  

No tree, no decorations - but I do have the kids presents and Santa photo covered.

I love Puddles & Gumboots Magical Memories linkup with homemade craft decorations, Elf adventures, Christmas printables and Tina Gray's Celebration,

So how do we get into the Christmas Spirit ?

 1. Head over to Pinterest stat if you want to find some Christmas spirit - 1000's + of ideas here for everyone. Focus on simple activities and ideas to keep it low key or really get inspired to go overboard.

2. Get down on the floor and see through the eyes of a young child. Kids bubble over with excitement and wonder about Christmas.Spend a day with a young child reading Christmas stories, watching Christmas DVD's or watching Christmas carols on you tube... maybe a little of their excitement and Christmas magic will rub off on you.

3. Start a new family tradition - see no 1 or Google it. Look for a fun activity that will be low-stress (and easy on the budget) ...not something you'll dread because of the hassle. We are doing the Elf on a Shelf this year. Trade it for a tradition you no longer enjoy.

4. Step away from  the stress. Take a few hours or even a day for yourself. Back away from craziness of the season. Get your hair cut, give yourself a facial , switch off your computer and go for a walk, smell the roses, visit a beach.Say no to new demands and/or delegate or postpone some activities.

5. Remember you have choices about the commercialism of the season . It isn't about having the most decorations and the best gifts under a magnificent tree. We can't even find our artificial Christmas tree but we will go out today and cut one from the paddocks or bunch together some sticks in the shape of star (thanks Gemma).

6. Lastly make someone else happy - playing on my TV now the Salvation Army - I believe in Christmas campaign - donate a new unwrapped toy and place it under any giving or charity tree ...
 Play Santa to a friend in need !

Now it's my turn ... take some of the pressure off your baking list see #4 just pick up some of these indulgent treats from Baker's Delight .

Warning - just don't lose your restraint ...The Lemon tarts and Fruit mince pies are my favourites.

A delicious any time of the day treat ...just be careful not to eat the lot or you'll look like Mrs Claus. They are the perfect gift for Santa or hungry boys.

Crisp buttery pastry and soft moist fillings. Dust them with icing sugar and bliss ! I had no time to snap a photo because no one would wait.

O M G - the Baker's delight's Traditional Christmas Cake has such a delicious blend of dried fruits and spice encased in a light cake. It comes in a lovely storage tin and is more moist then other Christmas Cakes I've sampled. I'm not big on Christmas puddings but when heated and served with a brandy custard or icecream it's divine.

They are perfect to keep hidden on hand for unexpected visitors ~Santa~ , a gift for the person who has it all (they come gift boxed) and especially to dress the Christmas table.

I am giving away a little  Bakers Delight joy with three x $10 vouchers so you can indulge in some of these treats for yourself!

Leave a comment and tell me what your key Christmas moment is ?
The 3 most creative answers will win?

Australian Residents only.
One entry person.
Closes Friday 16th December 4pm Sydney time.

Today I am thankful for Christmas spirit and the people who graciously share their ideas to make life easier for me and Baker's Delight.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

How do you take care?

I don’t plan to return to full time work next year as my twins start kindergarten. While I plan to get actively involved in their classroom as a parent helper I’ll also have some spare time to do some things for myself and others.

I’d really like to get involved in my community to assist isolated women (of any age) and especially older country women facing difficulties related to drought, flood, depression and unemployment.

I know many would like to learn to use the Internet, maybe Facebook and how to email ,to break their isolation and develop social networks. I also know many can’t even afford basic skin, hair and body products we take for granted.

How can I start this up? 

Garnier is a trusted brand that takes inspiration from local people doing extraordinary things. They are looking for 10 Take Care Ambassadors

What is a Take Care Ambassador?

Inspiring Australian’s who are currently engaged with a grassroots project; whether it be fundraising for a local school or sporting group, assisting with community activities or raising awareness of important local issues.

How will you be supported?
You will receive a $1000 gift from Garnier to support your community project as well as gain exposure for your initiative through the Garnier website and Facebook page. You will also meet the Garnier team during a special Induction Day in Melbourne where you will be treated to a professional photo shoot and receive Garnier products to trial and review.
After I heard about Garnier, The Circle, I entered ...

It was so hard to describe it in 100 words or less (REALLY)
My project is to assist socially isolated and older country women (Central western NSW) navigate the Internet and social media. Teaching them to use Internet, Facebook and email to develop support networks, help overcome depression and keep in touch with families and friends. Country families face difficult times amidst unemployment, drought and flood disasters. Take Care Ambassador would help set this up. Further, I’d provide Garnier take care packages for women in families facing hard times that cannot afford basic hair, skin and beauty care products. Luxuries we take for granted, to make them felt good about themselves.
Whether I become an ambassador or not I’d still like to give this a go on some scale.

Are you passionate about something – or already involved in a community initiative? 

Then I’d encourage you to enter your own project to become a Take Care Ambassador for Garnier
Read more about it here.

Then go to their FB page and click on 'Enter Now'

PS Entries are open now and close January 4th

Wordless Wednesday ~ Cheeky Elf on the Shelf - early edition

haha - we cracked the password to publish early but we are still working on the linky !

Monday, 5 December 2011

Donna Hay ~ don an apron - Fast, fresh, Simple DVD {giveaway}

I love cooking and Donna Hay is high on my favourites list. The recipes in her magazines and books are stylish but mostly fuss free and great to eat.

We don't have the LIFESTYLE Food channel so I was very excited to get my hooks into her 13 part series (from Madman)

Donna's passion for fast, fresh, simple food has me drooling in my seat.
Her creative genius is partly in the presentation and plating up. Couple that with her creativity for showing us how to whip up easy weeknight meals at home that look amazing - you too can look like a professional.

I love the fact I can use store bought ingredients and save precious time. Each episode is 30 mins too.

Donna reveals her favourite short cuts for a no chop vegetable soup, delicious roast chicken in half the time and pavlova. Little secret twists on traditional fare , not to mention her pavlova ...and the chocolate eclairs . Oh my , Donna has nailed it for those of us who want top results fast and simply.

Focusing on recipes that people can cook at home, this first television series is connected to her book of the same name. Produced by Fremantle Media Australia.
I can't wait for more of what she dishes up.

So what are you waiting for ...This is the perfect Christmas gift for every cook in your family , unless you want to keep her secrets to yourself.

The boring bits aka the terms and conditions.
Australian residents only.
One entry per person.

Please enter your personal details in the document form , then answer the question as a blog comment below.

What is your fast, no fuss , signature Christmas dish ? or {if you don't celebrate Christmas any signature dish} you can leave a link if you like too. I need some inspiration.

You can also LIKE

When I get back to my laptop I will give you the links ;-)

I'll pick the winners based on creativity and originality ..don't worry I won't be posting any results of trialling your recipe ideas unless they are sensational ( my cooking that is )

Ps I read on her facebook page today - The beautiful Celebrate issue is on sale - Today !
If you have an iPad, you can also download the stunning Celebrate magazine app for free, with thanks to Royal Doulton!

Take a look inside the mag here:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad , now it refuses to let me edit.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sony Playstation 3 Ratchet & Clank ~ Winners !

Drum Roll ...

Congratulations to the winners

in no particular order 

 Jasmine White

K Blinston
J McDonald

 C Hicks

The Bad news is - I am sorry I couldn't give more of you a Sony PS3 Ratchet & Clank Prize Pack.
You still have another 3 chances over at Emma's blog till midnight tonight.

The other Good news - I have a new Sony PSP-E1000 giveaway starting new week. 

I am giving away 4 PSP-E1000  packs which include 5 games
1 x Gran Turismo
-        1 x Motorstorm: Arctic Edge
-        1 x ModNation Racers
-        1 x Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier
-        1 x LittleBigPlanet

Stay tuned for my review !