Mother’s Day 2019: Farmstay

Every year on Mother’s Day, we normally go to a big family get together for lunch or afternoon tea. This year, thanks to hubby, we spontaneously decided to spend Mother’s Day just on our own as a family. We felt like we just needed to spend quality (and quiet) time away from our busy routine… so what’s quieter than being out in the country, in the middle of a farm right?

We found this cosy little barn-style farmstay accommodation in Wattle Bank, Victoria. Located less than 10 mins away from Inverloch, this little place was absolutely perfect. We had the quiet surroundings of staying in a small farm, with farm animals to keep the kids happy, and we were also close enough to the beach, local shops, restaurant and some tourist attractions. The little barn-style house was perfect for our family, with a fireplace to keep us warm at night, and comfortable beds, a fully stocked kitchen with all the appliances and utensils you need, as well as breakfast (the owner very kindly provided bacon, eggs, milk, bread, various spreads and orange juice!). The house also had plenty to keep the kids happy – toys, books, board games, foosball table, puzzles, etc.

We spent most of our time just relaxing, drinkings cups of tea, watching family movies, spending time with the animals, playing board games, napping and reading books. We also spent quite some time at the beach in Inverloch. Kids absolutely love it, and I am in love with Wattle Bank Retreat. Cannot wait to go back!

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It’s Been A While!

It has definitely been quite a while… ๐Ÿ˜ซ๐Ÿ˜œ… in fact, “a while” may even be quite an understatement! I don’t think anyone really comes here and reads my stuff… but I do love my little space and all the memories and content I already have on here, so thought I would take a few minutes just to post a few updates!

What have I been up to?! Oh gosh.. where do I begin? First of all, WORK. Work has been kicking my ass, haha. Super busy all the time. It is crazy, but I love it. I love where I am at and I love having a lot of things to do. One thing I do NOT love, is the work around the house that constantly piles up. I need to work on that, lol. Oh dear, too much usage of the word “work” ๐Ÿ˜‚

Secondly, I did a bit of travel in the past 7 months since my last post!

December 2018 – My sister and her bf came over to Melbourne for 2 and a half weeks from Malaysia. We went on a cruise onboard Princess Cruises to Tasmania and back. It was a short cruise but oh so amazing. Did I mention how much I love cruising? I love waking up in a different city each morning, and I love not having to go anywhere, and I love having food available 24-7 ๐Ÿ˜‹ Simply the most relaxing type of holiday, hands down my favorite!

April 2018 – I very spontaneously decided to book a trip back to my hometown in Kuching, Malaysia over school holidays! Work was stressing me out, and I wasn’t sure how I would get work done over school holidays with my two kids home with me. Plus, my husband was already going to be away. I had no help! So, I packed our bags and took the kids to where help is…. haha. My parents of course!! They were so happy to see the kids. I was so happy to be around my family and all the amazing food and the chill lifestyle in Kuching. My sisters also came back for a bit and we partied like we were 18. It was a truly special time, all decided and booked for at the very last minute, literally days before we flew out of the country! Sometimes the best things in life are the spontaneous, unplanned things.

April 2018 – We just got home from a Houseboat holiday, where we stayed 4 nights on a house boat in Echuca, cruising down the Murray River. It was a fantastic experience. I love being surrounded by nature, and water. We were fishing all day, the kids spent a lot of time in the spa / hot tub on the rooftop deck, and it was just a relaxing holiday with the family and some friends.

Follow me on Instagram as that is where I post most of my stuff. I am back to reality now, working on a Sunday, but so thankful for the past few weeks and months when I get to travel and take a few breaks. Definitely think we should be booking a weekend getaway in July for hubby’s birthday…. and looking forward to booking our next overseas trip. Life is short, right? There is so much more travel I want to do! Now that the kids are older, travelling just seems a lot more doable and easier to handle.

Reasonably short and not even very well thought out post… sorry, haha! I should go and have my morning shower, do more laundry, make some food, do grocery shopping (need to stock up the house with everything… have been away the past 3 weeks!) and get some work done before I start the week! Oh man… God help me.

Tokyo Disneyland & Tokyo DisneySea

Oh.. take me back to Japan! It has been 5 months since our trip to Japan, and I have been wanting to go back ever since we got back home! There is so much to love about Japan. Love the culture, love the people and love the FOOD. I cannot even explain what it is about Japan… I just love it so much it hurts, lol.

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Anyway, enough with me being so emo over a country. One of the highlights of our trip was definitely the 3 days we spent at Tokyo Disney Resort. We opted for the 3-day pass because we didn’t want to rush seeing everything with limited time. Thankful that we did, because by the end of Day Three, I think I was ready to say goodbye. I still said goodbye rather reluctantly though… I mean, it truly was a magical place, and the happiest place on Earth. No marketing gimmick there. As soon as you get there, it is like stepping into a magical world of fairy tales. Everything just makes you HAPPY. Even the crowd did not bother me so much. I was just happy to be surrounded by so many Disney characters and buildings and music. The attention to detail in making sure people get the full experience of Disney is absolutely mindblowing.

There are thousands of resources online about the resort, so I will not bore you with such details. Rather, I will let these pictures do most of the talking. These were all from my Instagram, I just figured I should post them on here as a “backup” in case IG ever ceases to exist one day… please, I hope that never happens. I have so much of my life captured on Instagram… I cannot bear the thought of it all gone. I don’t even know where the original photos are, haha. Actually, I am sure they are somewhere but IG has helped me keep things in a systematic order by date and by Highlight etc. Oh I am such a Social Media addict… don’t hate.

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Our entire Japan trip is on my Instagram, more photos and videos on 3x groups of Highlights on my profile. Feel free to stalk me and check them out!

Kryal Castle, Land of Adventure near Ballarat, VIC.

Kryal Castle is Australia’s Only Legendary Land of Myth and Adventure. Located just outside Ballarat, the theme park is normally only open on weekends. However, now that it’s School Holidays, it is open every day!

We had the chance to visit Kryal Castle and stay the night quite a while back, it was during the end of summer Easter holidays. I was just a slack blogger back then so I didn’t around to writing about it.

It is probably best to visit their website or their Facebook Page for the latest information and details of what’s on this school holidays, but thought I should share some of the photos we took during our trip anyway.

Overall, we had a really great time. The Family Suite we stayed in was very comfortable. We loved the fact that we could roam around the castle grounds after hours because we were staying there, it felt like we had the whole castle to ourselves. Very limited food options within the castle grounds though, so best to either pack your own food, or organize to have food elsewhere before/after your visit.

There were some very entertaining activities throughout the day. Some of the activities costs extra money e.g. pony rides, archery, face painting, etc. The shows were all included in your entry price, so enjoy the skits and jousting and pantomines, etc. You should be able to get more detailed pricing information from their website.

Kryal Castle is also available for Private Events and Functions, and they have quite a few Special Events organised periodically that you can book yourself in for. A quick example is their Murder Mystery night coming up on January 26th 2019 next year, for $99 per person you can get a 3 course meal and a glass of mead on arrival, and participate in the event. Sounds like great value and fun! Something different to your typical night out at the movies.

My only observation is probably the fact that this theme park has so much potential to be a lot more. It seems like a smaller scale, seemingly family run theme park at the moment and while that is appealing to some, on a far bigger and commercial scale this place could be absolutely amazing. Understandably, it would require a lot of investment into the property to renovate and build bigger attractions, and to hire more people to run the activities, etc.. so I do hope that someday Kryal Castle would get there.

 

Funtastic Bunchems – you literally bunch em little bunchems!

Disclaimer: This is a Sponsored Post review brought to you by Nuffnang and Funtastic.

As a stay at home parent, I am always looking out for fun things to do with my kids and hopefully keep them entertained long enough to stay away from the screens! My kids love crafting, but whenever there is paint or crayons or playdoh involved, things just always get so messy! Also, chances are the little one will go running off, away from the craft table, and start scribbling or tracking mess everywhere else around the house. It gets pretty frustrating dealing with the mess!

Then came along these Bunchems. They are literally what they are called – furry “burr” like plastic spheres that you can bunch together and they would just amazingly stick to each other. No glue, no mess. That already gets my tick of approval.. so let’s test them on the kids and see what they think.

Silver quietly observes the instructions and sample creations like she is so grown up, lol.

The Bunchems Mega Pack comes with over 400+ pieces of furry spheres with accessories – and a little booklet with examples of what you can create. The beauty of it though is the freedom to create anything you like. I love that this encourages my kids to be creative and use their imaginations to make anything they can think of, even if it appears to be a normal bunch of bunchems with random colours (to them it looks like a dinosaur and they play with it) – after all my kids are only 4 and 2 hehe. Either way, the pack has everything we need to get started and keep busy for hours.

Bunchems is recommended for kids ages 4+ but I find with supervision, even my little one can have fun with it. The texture of the product itself is great for sensory play – and surprisingly quite solid and not easily “destroyed”. They do tend toย stick to hair, so keep them away from their heads!

The accessories are securely fastened onto the furballs so they won’t fall off easily.

Accessories have a 4-point nail which attaches securely to the holes in the plastic furballs.

Once securely connected to a bunchem, use them on your creations to sparkle and dazzle em!

Overall, I love it. These things are great! They tick all the boxes when it comes to having fun, engaging with my kids and encouraging creativity. Like most things that are little, it is best to supervise their play when little kids are involved to avoid any swallowing incidents. Thankfully, my Silver Grace has grown out of that phase of putting things in her mouth, but still.. you can never be too careful! Besides, the kids love it when I sit down and partipate in activities such as this with them. I love watching them create things and then having pretend play. I must say I enjoy creating cute little Bunchem monsters myself! (If I can get my kids to spare me a few of em bunchem balls… lol)

My Day Without Kids

Melbourne Airport at 6am
Yesterday, I flew up to Brisbane for the day to attend Visual Impact 2016 – a printing industry expo – to do research for our business as well as to establish some connections and talk to experienced people and just do some networking in general. Enoch took the day off so he could look after the kids.
My day started ridiculously early. My alarm was set to go off at 4.15am and I found myself awake at 2am (checked the time) and again at 3.15am and finally up at 4.10am and decided to just lie in bed awake until my alarm went off, lol.
By the time I was showered and dressed, I was out the door by 4.50am.
I arrived at the airport at 5.45am and was waiting around at the terminal by 6am because I have already check-in online and had no baggage to drop off.
My flight was at 7am, so I had a coffee and some breakfast before going to the boarding gate.
The flight was on time and I arrived in Brisbane at 9.10am, hopped into a taxi and arrived at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre by 9.45am.
The expo featured the latest technology in printing equipment, material and media, and other printing solutions – exhibitors include manufacturers (Australian as well as from overseas), distributors and some specialized family businesses.ย 
The expo was scheduled to open at 10am but there were already a lot of visitors waiting outside the exhibition hall. I had a very productive day at the expo. I spoke to a lot of people – mostly salesmen who were trying to convince me their printer is the best… but also some suppliers and distributors of materials and media, and a handful of business advisors who were so kind to spare their time and pass on some wisdom for little ol’ me who is very new to the industry and just starting this journey into owning her own business.
I had lunch at a local cafe across the road. I figured I was only by myself for the day and wanted to have a decent meal someplace nice and not just grab a quickie sandwich at the exhibition hall cafeteria. The cafe had great coffee and my burger was absolutely delicious!
After a wonderfully peaceful lunch on my own, I went back to the expo and talked to more people and gathered more info and attended an advertising workshop.
After a few more hours I decided I have had enough and collected all the information I needed and physically cannot talk to another human being anymore lol. So I ventured further down the road and took some photos around Southbank and enjoyed the beautiful views of Brisbane for half an hour before hailing another taxi back to Brisbane airport.ย 
Beautiful Brisbane city ๐Ÿ™‚

The market was just finishing up and Southbank beach was gorgeous!
I am glad I managed to do a mini tourist walk, Queensland is absolutely beautiful. I loved Cairns while I was there last year, and now I love Brisbane too.
I was back at the airport by 5pm and my flight wasn’t until 6.30pm so I sat down at Roll’d and enjoyed a quiet, peaceful dinner. Actually, maybe it wasn’t so quiet and peaceful, because I ended up talking to the person sitting right next to me! Too much adult conversation in one day, not sure what to do with myself!
Crispy Chicken Ribs from Roll’d.. after I have already devoured two rice paper rolls, I was SO hungry!
I was still pumped, my brain was too busy thinking and planning and strategising, I gained so much in one day, and my mind was full of ideas I had to write them all down before I forgot them! I did not even sleep on the flight back home (I scribbled on my notepad.. so many notes) even though I was clearly physically tired from being awake since 4am. The physical tiredness is different compared to caring for children, it wasn’t as physically demanding.. I did not have to do anything for anyone else for the day and only had to look after myself. It was a really good day, the kind of day I need every once in a while to inspire me to do something for myself.
I missed my kids though.
They were in good hands though!
Enoch apparently took parenting to the next level for the day. He did the kinder drop off and pick up, he went grocery shopping, he took Silver to a music class, AND he entertained some guests for dinner! What. the. heck?! Is my husband better than me at this staying home with the kids thing??
Well, I am glad he was good at it – because I am hoping this business we are building together will take off and be successful and then we will not only share the business load but also the parenting duties a lot more!
So much to do this week, all the follow ups and purchasing decisions we need to make. We need to buy the equipment, stock up some material and media, create a working space at home, build our website, create / outsource designs, keep working on our business planning and strategy, etc. All this while trying our best not to neglect our kids, lol. It is difficult to neglect them though, they are very convincing when it comes to wanting attention… they will not stop hassling until you stop what you’re doing and give them the attention.
I think I have figured out a schedule that works, I hope. I have set aside times during the day which works best to be able to work peacefully for a solid block of an hour or two, as well as set aside times that are specifically for blogging, chores and kid related duties like preparing meals, laundry, cleaning, entertaining them with an activity, playdates, etc. Trust me, my daily schedule is FULL. I have even scheduled set times to rest and do nothing, that necessary 30-minute break just to recharge and have a cuppa and refocus.

In other news, my Facebook Photo Book arrived yesterday while I was away – so excited and so happy with it! Thank you, Pastbook!

Took some photos of the kids today – just thought they were cute and wanted to post them on here, hehe.
Thank you for reading!

Casey Central – that new shopping centre ;)

 

Photo Credit: Daniel Boyle

Ladies and perhaps some gents, there are many reasons why I love living in Australia. I love the weather, the people, the schools and medical facilities, the beautiful walking tracks and family friendly parks… just to name a few reasons. Quite possibly most of all, I love being a suburban mum and having access to some pretty amazing everyday shops. I am not even talking about a grand shopping mall or anything… just the normal local supermarket and mini shopping centres. I love that I only need to drive a few minutes down the road from my house and have everything I will ever need in one location. I love my suburb, and I love my suburban shops hehe.

Living in Berwick, my main shopping centre for weekly groceries have always been Eden Rise shopping centre. I shop at Coles and kids sometimes play at the playground. Sometimes, we have lunch at Nando’s or check out what’s on Special at ALDI.

For more variety, I would go to Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. This is when I have to not only do my grocery shopping at Coles, but also seafood shopping at the fish shop, fruit and vegetable shopping at Fountain Gate Fruit & Veg shop, get some fresh meat from the butcher, maybe grab a few things e.g. presents, homeware etc from Kmart or Target, and general browsing. Kids would sometimes play at one of the few play areas within the mall or just the little play corner in the Parents Rooms after a nappy change or toilet break.

Now, there is nothing wrong with any of the two above mentioned shopping centres… except, Eden Rise lacks the variety and Fountain Gate is too big and hectic and rather exhausting to walk around because everything is so far away from each other.

Photo Credit: http://www.the-chamber.com.au

Last month, the newly renovated all improved Casey Central shopping centre officially re-opened and many friends have told me how amazing it was. Casey Central is about the same distance from my house as Eden Rise (in the opposite direction), or possibly just a minute further away.

I haven’t been able to check it out earlier because life has been hectic – and the thought just hasn’t crossed my mind to go anywhere else but my usual shops. However, I decided to check it out today because school holidays are over (so it should be less busy) and now that it has been open for a few weeks I was hoping there would be smaller crowds.

So after I dropped Micah off at kinder this morning, myself and Silver went for a bit of a shopping expedition. Here’s a quick rundown of what I thought:

  • Parking – at 9.30am, it was super easy to find parking. I was parked at a Parents with Pram spot within seconds of arriving. No hassle at all.
  • Walking distance – very much tolerable. Unlike Fountain Gate, everything I need and like are close to each other and we didn’t have to walk very far to get to where we want to be.
Photo Credit: Daniel Boyle
  • Fruit and Veg shop – amazing! Unlike Fountain Gate fruit and veg shop which is super cramped and small and I barely manage to walk around with kids in my trolley as space is so limited, the fruit and veg shop at Casey Central has wide open space and makes it so easy for me to move around even with a trolley. Selection-wise, pretty much the same as any other good Fruit and Veg shop. I had some special things on my list – eg. okra and silken tofu and they had them! No complaints here.
Silver happily sits on the trolley as I do my grocery shopping at Coles Casey Central
  • Coles – beautifully laid out, super high ceilings, wide open space, great shopping experience. The only thing missing is the Mix clothing range and homeware stuff and toys etc that Coles Eden Rise have. So, it is a smaller Coles selling less variety but who needs the clothes and toys and homeware etc when Target is just a few shops away!
  • Fish & Meat – The Fish Pier has decent selection of seafood, however they do NOT have my usual pack of Salmon Belly & Bones that FG sells for $5 a pack… so that’s a small disappointment. Butcher is decent, but Fountain Gate still has a bigger selection and possibly better prices.
Photo Credit: Casey Central Facebook Page
  • Playground – great playground! Highly secure as you can only access the playground through a door from inside the shopping centre and kids cannot escape. However, this may be a small inconvenience as there isn’t a gate allowing access to the playground from outside the shopping centre. Either way, I am happy with the playground. It is new, it is clean and it has great activities for kids to play happily for a decent amount of time. Plenty of seats for parents to sit down and rest in between shopping errands.
I have not yet checked out Target or Aldi or any of the other shops at Casey Central, but my first impression has been quite a positive one. I think I can easily be persuaded to switch my weekly shopping centre to Casey Central – provided I come on a weekday and early enough during the day to avoid big crowds. I can see how easily it could get busy on weekends. Parking might even be an issue on weekends.
Overall, very impressive. So many shops and restaurants and takeaway options – some of my favorites ChinaBar. Wok’d, Grill’d, everything from fish n chips to charcoal chicken to pizza to Indian.. you name it, Casey Central probably has got it! Lots of cafes for your caffeine fix because obviously Australia is so huge on the coffee drinking culture, boutique shops, and so many more.. check out the full list of stores here.