Saturday, 30 December 2017

Elf on the Shelf Week 3

We've been away on vacation and I've gotten a little behind with my blog posts. Let's just pretend I posted this last week when I planned to...


Christmas is just a few days away - can you believe it?

Another week with Elfie Pokie Nokie in our home (or hotel room) has gone by and he has been up to all sorts of crazy things. Let's take a look...

Day 15
We woke up to find that Elfie was helping some other elves make their escape from our kitchen. He had opened a new pack of elf cookies as well as the cookie jar which had a few in it and led them to safety. Or at least he tried to! We caught him in the process and put all his delicious elf friends right back in the cookie jar. Sorry Elfie!

Day 16
The girls couldn't find Elfie at first - until they looked up. There he was laying on top of the ceiling fan in the living room. I wonder if he took it for a spin overnight. Looks like fun!

Day 17
Another day when the girls couldn't spot Elfie for quite some time, but when they did find him they couldn't stop laughing. Elfie had gotten his hands on a pack of candy eyes and a glue stick and made a little change to our family photo.

Day 18
Snow angels are fun, but Lego angels are even better. Actually, I couldn't think of many things more painful than laying in a pile of pointy Lego, but Elfie seemed pretty happy with himself. It did make for a much more colorful angel than show.

Day 19
Looks like we have an award winning elf on our hands! Wait a minute... those are Ava's triathlon, karate and cheerleading medals and trophies. You almost had us fooled Elfie! You may not have really won any medals or trophies (or at least none that we know of) but you're still the best elf in our home.

Day 20
We woke up early the morning of our road trip to Utah for Christmas break and found that Elfie had packed himself in one of our bags. Whenever we travel over Christmas he always comes along with us. I guess it's easier for him to stow away in our luggage rather than fly to find us.

Day 21
Elfie couldn't resist testing out the make up mirror in our hotel room. We found him perched on the wall bracket checking out his face up nice and close. Ready for you close up Mr Elfie!

I'll be playing catch up over the next week with lots more Christmas posts to come.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the break!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Elf on the Shelf Week 2

How have two weeks of December gone by already?

I have no idea where they've gone, but they have gone and that means it's time to share another installment of Elfie Pokie Nokie's adventures in our home.

Here's a look at what he got up to this past week...

Day 8
Elfie got into the girls' Magnatiles and built himself some sort of crazy house. Or is it a car? It does have wheels. Maybe it's a motor home. Either way, it doesn't look like a particularly comfortable ride. Mathilde was pretty impressed with it, but she couldn't wait for Elfie to get out so she could play with the Magnatiles too.

Day 9
We picked up our Christmas tree from a local tree lot the day before but hadn't had a chance to decorate it. Elfie took it upon himself to decorate it - with Mathilde's dinosaurs! The girls quite liked the dinosaur covered tree but they couldn't wait to decorate it with real Christmas ornaments.

Day 10
It took the girls a little while to spot Elfie this morning. I guess he blends is better than it looks! Or maybe they just didn't think to look up!

Day 11
By now our Christmas tree was nicely decorated with real ornaments rather than dinosaurs. One such "ornament" did look a little out of place though. Wait a minute, that's Elfie pegged to the tree by his foot! Just like when we found Elfie hanging upside down on the fridge, there's a Jelly Belly jelly bean nearby looking just a little suspicious. I'd watch out for that jelly bean if I were you Elfie! 

Day 12
When we shop at Trader Joe's (which is generally several times a day seeing as it's just downstairs) the girls are usually given stickers by the staff. They also get lollipops when they find the Oski Bear hidden in the store. Mathilde and I went on a late night shopping trip and left everything, including her stickers and lollipop in the kicthen. Looks like Elfie wanted in on the Trader Joe's fun too! 

Day 13
Umm... what's going on here? A Fruit Loop bath? Nice eye mask there Elfie! It does look pretty relaxing. Mathilde thought Elfie looked pretty funny and snapped a ton of photos with her iPod - right along side me snapping photos with my camera. I wonder where she gets it from...

Day 14
The girls and I made honey biscuits to give as gifts the day before and it looks like Elfie decided to help himself to one. I don't blame him for sneaking one - they are pretty tasty. Perfect with a cup of tea - or whatever it is that he's got in that mug. You can find the recipe here

Lots more Elfie Pokie Nokie fun to come!

I'd love to hear what your elf has been getting up to.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Meaningful Gift Giving with Cool Effect

We all have that one person on our gift list who is impossible to shop for, right? For me, that person is usually my husband Kim, and with his birthday falling right after Christmas gift shopping for him is often doubly impossible!

It can be so easy to fall back on the good old socks, chocolates and gift cards (all perfectly fine gifts and most likely under our tree this year), but I prefer to give gifts that are a little more meaningful and out of the ordinary. Something that they wouldn't normally buy for themselves. Maybe even something that keeps on giving.

This year I've found the perfect gift for that impossible to shop for person on your list, and not only is it meaningful but it will make a difference in the lives of so many. Imagine giving your loved ones the gift of fighting climate change. With a Cool Effect gift bundle, you can!

Cool Effect is a not for profit platform that allows individuals to support carbon emissions reductions through funding carbon reducing projects world wide. Projects include building renewable energy wind turbines in Costa Rica, providing energy efficient cooking stoves in Honduras, educating farmers about rainforest sustainability in Madagascar, and building biogas digesters that turn cow poop into energy in India. The projects are varied but they all share the same outcome: a reduction in carbon pollution.

Just in time for the holidays Cool Effect have released aptly named gift bundles that are perfect for that hard to shop for friend or family member. Each bundle supports a particular cause with funds raised going to various projects. For example, the Big Fan bundle raises funds for renewable energy wind turbines, while the Brew-tiful Gift bundle supports farmers in coffee growing regions by providing energy efficient cooking stoves and working to protect 450,000 acres from deforestation.

My top choice for my gift giving this year? The Poo Package! You just know that one was a hit with my kids, right? The Poo Package helps families in India build their own biogas digesters to turn cow poop into energy. Just one biogas digester can capture enough methane to power several homes at a time. This saves families money and it cuts down on harmful methane emissions. It's a win for everyone!

Bundles are available for $25, $100 or your own chosen amount. Each Cool Effect bundle comes with a personalized certificate with the recipient's name, a personal message from you, and instructions and paper to build an origami creation that fits in with the theme ie. an origami poo with the Poo Package or an origami snowman with the Snowman Gift Pack. Seriously, how cute is that origami poo? My kids would go crazy for that! There is also the option to have the gift delivered via email with print at home PDFs - perfect for last minute gifting!
Head on over to to purchase gift bundles for your loved ones and to learn more about the work that is being done world wide to help combat climate change.

This holiday season, let's gift a gift that truly does keep on giving!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Elf on the Shelf: Week 1

Elfie Pokie Nokie, our Elf on the Shelf, has been back in our home for a whole week now and as usual, he has been getting up to all sorts of fun - and even a little mischief.

Here's a look at what Elfie has been up to this past week...

Day 1
On his first day back in our home Elfie announced his arrival with our letter board sign. Simple and to the point. Welcome back Elfie!

Day 2
Ava and Lola competed in a karate tournament on the second day, and Elfie must have overheard us talking about it as he was ready to cheer the girls on when they woke up. Lola was a little annoyed that Elfie didn't change positions, but as you can see he did put quite the effort into getting dressed for the occasion! Who knew he was a black belt? I certainly didn't, but I know not to mess with him now! By the way, Lola won first place in the sparring competition and Ava came second. They both did such a great job and had a lot of fun competing.

Day 3
Another fun event this past weekend was the Snow in Berkeley festival. Elfie knew we'd be playing in the snow so he had a little snow fun himself. He sure did make a mess with all that flour! Last year Elfie made snow angels out of mini marshmallows the day of the Snow in Berkeley festival. The flour definitely was a little messier than the marshmallows and he was certainly in need of a bath by the end of the day!

Day 4
My girls love taking photos of themselves with Snapchat filters, and it seems that elves quite enjoy it too. We woke up to find Elfie holding my iPhone, which was full of fun sElfies! Doesn't he make a cute puppy dog? There was some pretty hilarious face swap pictures with the girls too.

Day 5
Every year Elfie Pokie Nokie manages to get one of the girls' pumpkin buckets down from the top of the fridge and go through their Halloween candy. Usually it's Lola's bucket and oh boy, does she get annoyed with that elf! This year was no different in that he pulled down a bucket of candy, but luckily for Lola he chose Ava's bucket instead.

Day 6
Looks like Elfie got himself into a little trouble on day 6. We woke to find him attached to the fridge, upside down, by magnets clips. Could the Jelly Belly and Charlie Brown magnets above him be responsible? They do look kind of happy about what's happening. Maybe it's pay back for Elfie getting into a pack of jelly beans the day before. I guess we'll never know.

Day 7
A historical day! While it was night time here in America, history was made back home in Australia when same sex marriage was finally legalized! Elfie must've heard the news and decided to celebrate. Mathilde was so excited when she saw him in the morning. She came running to wake up her sisters to tell them that we must be going to the "rainbows and nudies" parade (Pride) again!

What a week of fun with Elfie Pokie Nokie. We're looking forward to seeing what else he gets up to. Stay tuned for another update in a week's time.

Does the Elf on the Shelf visit your home? I'd love to hear what sort of things he or she has been getting up to. If your elf needs inspiration make sure to check out these posts here and here for lots of great ideas.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A Christmas Activity Advent Calendar

It's almost time for the advent calendar to go up! Can you believe it's almost December already?

Every year we use the same advent calendar and rather than filling it with chocolate, candies or toys I fill it with vouchers for Christmas themed activities. Ok, I do add chocolates every now and then for an extra treat too.

Activity filled advent calendars are becoming a popular choice for a lot of families, but I often hear from people asking just what kind of activities to include.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

36 Fun & Easy Elf on the Shelf Ideas

It's that time of year!

Elfie Pokie Nokie, our Elf on the Shelf, is due to arrive back in our home in less than a week. It seriously feels like he was just here yesterday, but here we are again approaching December and his much anticipated arrival. 

I know that for a lot of families the Elf on the Shelf arrives right after Thanksgiving (or maybe even before) and I also know that for a lot of parents coming up with fun ideas for the elf can be a little daunting. So today I'm sharing some more of my favorite situations that we've found Elfie Pokie Nokie in over the past few years. I shared thirty of my favorite ideas a few years back, which you can see here, but it's time for an update with some new ideas. 

Let's take a look at what Elfie Pokie Nokie has been up to in the past...

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Blueberry & Cream Cheese Muffins

With the cooler days coming, or already here depending on where you live, fun indoor activities for the kids are on my mind. As Mathilde is getting older and becoming more independent, one fun activity she really has taken a liking to is baking. She loves pouring the ingredients, stirring it all together, cracking the eggs (always her favorite), and at the end of all that fun there's a delicious treat. What could be better?

So while the big kids are at school Mathilde and I have been doing quite a bit of baking together. It really is such a great activity to do together and I love seeing how much joy it brings. Now, I know that this is the season for baking everything pumpkin spice or gingerbread flavored, but I like to mix things up a little so our baking lately hasn't been particularly seasonal. In fact, it's been almost Summery. Blame it on me being Australian and my seasonal body clock (if that's a thing) being all mixed up!   

Our latest baking fun resulted in delicious blueberry and cream cheese muffins. They're so good that I just had to share the recipe with you all. The cream cheese centers of these muffins are my favorite and they taste especially good warmed up. It's kind of like they've been buttered for you to give that extra special treat.

Today I've teamed up with Real California Milk, not only to bring you this tasty recipe, but to share the Seals for Good campaign. You may remember that I shared the Seals For Good campaign and how it is helping communities affected by the hurricanes in Texas and Florida a little while back. The campaign has been extended to send some love and support to those affected by the devastating wildfires right here in California.

To take part in the Seals For Good campaign, simply snap a photo of the Real California Milk logo (which you can see below) on any dairy product and share it on your social media using #SealsForGood. For each share, Real California Milk will donate $5 to the Great American Milk Drive, up to $10k in California and $20k in Texas and Florida. Post your pictures any time between now and December 31st 2017 and don't forget to use that hashtag. No purchase is necessary.

Now here's a look at how we made those tasty muffins...

What you'll need

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on the top
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 3/4 cups frozen blueberries
8 oz block of cream cheese (cut into cubes)

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Pour the sugar and butter into a large bowl. Cream together either using a mixer or with a wooden spoon. I used a mixer for this part which was one of the only steps that Mathilde didn't help with, although she did give it a good mix with her wooden spoon afterwards - while pulling a super cheesy grin in an attempt to look like the cartoon cow on the butter pack! 

Once the butter and sugar mix is fluffy add in the egg, egg yolks and vanilla.

Give it a good mix until it's well combined.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mix to the butter mix a little at a time, alternating with the milk. Stir well in between.

Once all of the flour and milk is mixed in, slowly fold in the blueberries. We used wild blueberries which are much bluer than regular blueberries and made for a purple/blue muffin mix. They also made for purple/blue toddler hands!

After cleaning those little blue hands, line a 12 hole muffin tray (or two 6 hole muffin trays) with cupcake liners. Fill each one about 2/3 full with muffin mix. The mixture made 18 muffins for me, but the original recipe I based this on suggested that it would make 12. If you would like the muffins larger, fill the liners closer to the top.

Place a cube of cream cheese into the center of each muffin and push it down.

Sprinkle generously with sugar - although maybe not quite as generously as Mathilde did!

Bake the muffins at 375F (190C) for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a rack then enjoy while warm for a soft cream cheese center.

While these muffins taste best warm, they're pretty tasty at room temperature too making them perfect for lunchboxes or picnics.

Don't these muffins look so good? I must admit I've eaten way too many of them in the past few days. But all those blueberries make them healthy, right? Right?!

When you go buy your dairy products to make these tasty muffins (and for all your other baking needs) make sure to look for the Real California Milk seal on the pack. And don't forget to share a pic on your social media to help support the Great American Milk Drive.

For more information about the Seals For Good campaign click here.

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