Sharing a magical moment with your little ones every evening

Disclaimer: The following post is brought to you by Nuffnang and Disney Junior The Channel

Story time can bring horror to some parents or, if you are like my husband and I, it’s something you love doing. Reading to children from a young age is such a great way to introduce a love of books and reading and it’s also a wonderful bonding experience.

For both our girls, story time has been an important part of their bedtime ritual. Now Disney Junior is inviting parents and carers to settle down and share a magical moment with their little one every evening on Disney Junior around bedtime with Disney Junior’s The Book of Once Upon A Time.

The Book of Once Upon A Time

Series two of this a locally-produced, interactive story-telling series hosted by Australian actor and playwright Kate Mulvany launched during Book Week (seriously one of my favourite weeks – I mean a WHOLE week. Dedicated to books. What’s not to love?) on Monday 24th August with “Snow White and the Great Jewel Hunt”. Later episodes will include new Disney stories from “Winnie the Pooh”, “Aladdin”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Frozen”. I know the latter will be a popular inclusion in our household, especially for a young Frozen obsessed 5-year-old. The “Land of Once Upon A Time” lullaby follows each episode, encouraging children to prepare for bedtime. Children, Parents or carers can tune in for a story every day at 7:10pm on Disney Junior The Channel, or anytime on the website.

Kate Mulvany hosts The Book of Once Upon A Time

Disney Junior’s The Book of Once Upon A Time brings classic storytelling to life, with traditional elements of story time – turning pages, character voices and re-enactment, and classic touches of animation that ignites the imagination. As a parent I aim to seek TV and online content that stimulates our children’s imagination. Parental expectations around ‘educational’ content have broadened from a focus on academic learning to also include social skills, moral values, motor skills, good basic habits and creative thinking. Disney Junior’s animated and live action programming, blends Disney’s unparalleled storytelling and beloved characters with learning components, including early language and maths skills, as well as healthy lifestyles, with an emphasis on social and emotional development.

So what does our 5 year old think?
“I love it and it’s the best story ever.” Then asked if we could watch more and if we could download the Disney Story Central app so I’ll take that as it’s pretty good.

Disney Junior The Channel is where magical storytelling comes to life! Available in all Foxtel subscribing homes; channel 709. If you don’t have Foxtel, you can access Disney Junior’s The Book of Once Upon A Time online on your laptop, PC, tablet or mobile at any time.
The Book of Once Upon A Time features Disney stories that are available as eBooks from the Disney Story Central app, available to download from iTunes

Sail or Fly? That is the holiday question.

We’re pretty lucky when it comes to the choice of how to travel here in Tasmania when we decide we want to holiday on the mainland (or the big island as it’s often known). We can fly or we can take a leisurely trip across Bass Straight on one of the two Spirit of Tasmania ships.

There are benefits and draw backs to both methods – costs, luggage, comfort.

We often fly when we take a trip to Melbourne, namely due to cost and time benefits. It’s cheap and quick. BUT when you sit down and think about it flying can get expensive and it can end up being a long process that can end up being stressful.

I’ll be honest, last time we flew was a bit stressful – first time flying with a 2yo. Fun times. Maybe if we’d taken the boat it would have been more pleasant. For the record, she flew home fine.
Travel on the Spirit could be much more less stressful, kids can run around or play in one of the many kids areas or play in the arcade or catch a film. And given that kids under 15 travel at a lower price – more spending money for the trip. AND until 11:59pm on 7th June 2014 (unless sold out prior), kids travel for just $10* per child each way with the purchase of any Adult or Pensioner fare. Valid for travel between 1 July 2014 and 28 September 2014.

Now if you’re anything like me when you plan a trip to Melbourne (or Tassie if your coming over from the big island) you know you’ll be doing some shopping, some more than others and if you’re flying that means paying for extra luggage on the way home – not cheap! When you travel on the Spirit the only restriction n luggage is what you can fit in your vehicle (I’ve heard of people hiring vans in Tassie, going on a shopping trip to Ikea then coming home). Oh yeah, there’s another benefit to sailing – taking your own car, no more car hire charges, not being locked into using public transport (as much fun as that is).

Some of the the beauty of travelling by sea is having the freedom to step out on deck, enjoy the beautiful sunsets and breathe in the fresh ocean air – there’s nothing quite like it. When it gets dark you can wander inside and have a meal from a choice of freshly cooked options in either the a la carte restaurant, buffet style eatery or café and there a number of bars to relax in with a drink. When it’s time for sleep you have the choice of a range of accommodation options to choose from including a Deluxe Cabin equipped with a queen sized bed and flat screen TV, Twin Berth Cabin, Four Berth Cabin or an Ocean Recliner. From personal experience (before kids – yup that was the last time I went on the Spirit) I wouldn’t go an Ocean Recliner again – I hardly slept. Next time it’s a cabin for sure, the Deluxe cabin looks lovely.

flying-vs-sailing-infographic-spirit-of-tasmania-554_01 flying-vs-sailing-infographic-spirit-of-tasmania-554_02

So when you next plan your trip to Tasmania (& why wouldn’t you visit our lovely state – there is so much to do here!) or to Melbourne, you might want to consider sailing on the Spirit of Tasmania. I know we will.

*Conditions apply

A little Gourmet Garden cooking

What to do with leftover roasts? It’s always a question in our house and there are only so may Shepherd’s Pies or curries one can make.
The other night I decided I’d have a go at making up my own recipe – nothing fancy, just a simple pasta bake using the leftover lamb roast from the night before (which in itself was rather delicious thanks to a little Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic and Gourmet Garden Thyme). So here it is – my Leftover Roast Pasta Bake with mini herby cheesy rolls.

For the pasta bake you will need (this recipe fed 2 adults & a 2yo with leftovers)

1 1/2 cups spiral pasta (you could use any pasta you liked)
frozen veg, as much as you like (I used frozen baby peas)
leftover lamb roast, shredded, as much as you like
Cheese sauce
80g butter
50g plain flour
2 1/2 cups milk
grated cheese
1/2 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic

Preheat oven to 180C.
Boil pasta until cooked. Drain and set aside.
Strip as much meat from your roast as you want. Mix pasta, meat and veggies in a bowl.
To make cheese sauce – melt butter. Add flour, stir until it boils and thickens. Gradually add milk, stir until it boils and thickens. Remove from heat, stir though cheese and garlic.
Pour cheese sauce over pasta and mix.
Pour into ovenproof dish.
(allow toddler to help herself to the mixture before you cook it – she goes back for seconds so this is a win!)

Cook 10 minutes or until cheese melted and golden.

Serve with mini herby cheesy rolls.

To make the mini herby cheesy rolls

70g butter
1 tablespoon grated parmesan (the real stuff not the powdery stuff)
1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic
1 teaspoon minced garlic (just to add the garlic chunks)
1/4 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Basil
1/4 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Coriander (optional)
Mini bake at home rolls

Soften your butter (not melt it like I did) and add herbs. Mix.

Cut rolls in half. Spread each side with butter. Put back together.
Cook 10 minutes in 180C oven.

Disclaimer – I was provided a selection of herbs/spices from Gourmet Garden as part of their Blog Off Cook Off competition. Recipe and photos are my own.

Same-sex marriage in Australia – the debate

It’s one of the biggest political, moral and social debates of our time. But despite the opinions and arguments that are debated in both parliament and across dinner tables country wide, do we really know where same-sex marriage stands in Australia? If you’re having trouble understanding the debate, here’s an outline of the legal recognition of same-sex couples in Australia.

Under current law in Australia, same-sex marriages are not permitted or legally recognised. The Marriage Act defines marriage as “a union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

In 2008 and 2009, however, legislation was passed that gives same-sex couples the same legal rights as those in a heterosexual de facto relationship. And with de facto couples enjoying the same rights as married couples, same-sex couples are also entitled to the same rights when it comes to superannuation, taxation, social security, health, aged care and employment. They are also recognised as a de facto couple in family law, meaning that if a same-sex de facto couple separates, they are able to pursue property settlement before the court in the same way as married and heterosexual de facto couples.

There is still a major push and movement behind legalising same-sex marriage. In 2009, a same-sex marriage bill was introduced by a member of the Australian Greens. The Bill was not passed. Traditionally, both major political parties have opposed same-sex marriage. In 2011, however, following heated debate and a conscience vote by the Labor Party at their National Conference, the Labor Party’s official stance on the project changed to support same-sex marriage.

With the Labor Party’s position on same-sex marriage having changed, there is pressure for the Coalition to also conduct a conscience vote. A Bill to legalise gay marriage in Australia is expected to be put before parliament later this year.

If you’re in a same-sex relationship and want to understand more about your rights and the law as it stands, contact family lawyers. Sydney and other Australian cities have a number of experience family law specialists to choose from.

The same-sex marriage debate is an interesting one, because it attracts attention from a broad range of Australians. While it remains to be seen whether same-sex marriage becomes legalised in Australia, it is certainly a key political and social issue for 2012!

The above post was done in collaboration with Watts McCray.

FollowMe Sticker

I’ve been a fan of FollowMe Sticker now for some time after winning some freebies thanks to their Twitter account (@FollowMeSticker)


So as you can imagine I was pretty happy when they came onboard as one of my sponsors for Digital Parents Conference. I asked Stuart Lawson, Founder of FollowMe Sticker to share a bit about the company.

‘”FollowMeSticker was started after reading several articles on how small businesses were taking advantage of Social Media to launch or increase their business. One example was a small cupcake shop owner who invested time in Twitter to gain a local audience and introduce coupons and deals to bring new customers into the new store. This success can be seen by many other businesses who decide to invest some time into developing an audience on Social Media platforms. By developing a community on Facebook or Twitter that is local- you increase the amount of people talking about your business and that gets more customers into the doors.

Our stickers let customers know your business is on Facebook, Twitter, or other Social Media profiles. That means customers can go online and look for coupons or interact with others, as well as interact with your brand. FollowMeSticker was started to help individuals and small local businesses increase sales and word-of-mouth with only a small investment.

Although Social Media doesn’t work for every business- some businesses can really take advantage of fostering a small local community of folks who are supportive of your businesses values, and who will openly share their positive experiences about your company online. I hope that gives you a good idea of what it is and what our goals are. We are here to help local businesses increase their buzz and word-of-mouth.”

FollowMe Sticker produces

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Get your own social networking stickers for 25% off in time for Digital Parents Conference by going to and entering TWITTER42

You can follow them on Twitter or Like them on Facebook


Digital Parents

Want to see your business features here? I’m still accepting sponsors. Please email me or check out my Sponsor page.
Join the list of current sponsors including FollowMe Sticker, Belkin Australia & George Town IT

Apps for busy mums

I’m currently taking a bloggy break but the lovely Paige is doing a guest post today looking at iPhone/iPad apps for busy mums.

Everyone know that being a mum is a 24 hour a day job, so when it comes to packing activities and tasks into their busy schedules, mums are the queens of multi-tasking.

Fortunately, they don’t have to go it alone. Thanks to the convenience of modern technology like the iPhone or tablet computers, mums have plenty of help when it comes to keeping track of their busy lives. Certainly the iPhone has become one of the most useful devices for categorising and organising our schedules. Here are some of the apps we would recommend for busy Mums:


Grocery Guru – keep track of your shopping lists with the Grocery Guru. You can organise items by store, occasion (mum’s 70th birthday party) or in any other way you see fit. This free app makes it easy to keep multiple shopping lists on hand. You’ll also have the option to send and receive lists from other App users so you can divvy up lists for multiple shoppers. This is the perfect app to see you through the busy holidays.


iTube List – parents of young children will know how invaluable YouTube clips are to buy a few minutes of sanity in their days. The challenge is that it can be difficult to ensure your children only consume kid-friendly content, especially if your kids know how to navigate your mobile on their own. iTube ensures your child only views age appropriate material on YouTube to give you peace of mind with a bit of peace and quiet.


You Rule Chore List – a fun way to get your kids doing their chores. This handy little app turns chores into a game where kids can “compete” to earn coins to purchase powers for their characters in the game. Parents can control the level of competition and act as referee to assign chores and update kids’ statuses.


Any To Do – for busy mums that hate traditional to-do lists, this app is great for organising tasks based on their urgency and importance. By arranging tasks in to visual quadrants, visual thinkers will be able to better interpret how they should prioritise their days.


Easy Spending Expense Tracker – take the complications out of your household budgeting. This app makes it easy to keep track of your day to day expenses and can help you get a better handle on your finances by understanding where you’re spending the most and what opportunities there are to save some dollars.

Busy mums will love the time they can save with these helpful apps and all of the great technology they can get with computer rentals. Will you spend some time on yourself or will you try to cram more into your busy day?

Author Bio: Paige writes in Sydney about technology, computers and electronic devices for a rental finance company.

Make a stand – say no to violence against women

Violence against women is never ok. As a survivor of domestic violence, I feel it is important to speak about this subject. The following is a collaboration between Nightwolf’s Den & ActionAid Australia

Around the world, up to 70% of women experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives (World Health Organisation, 2005). That’s a shocking figure.

But violence against women extends far beyond the hands of an intimate partner.

There are many forms of violence and sexual violence against women that can affect both women and girls throughout their lives. These include, but are not limited to the traditional practice of female genital mutilation, early marriage, sexual slavery, rape as a weapon of war, forced abortion and forced pregnancy.

What is behind violence against women?

At the root of most violence against women is an entrenched and uneven power relation between men and women. In many countries around the world there is still blatant discrimination in law, policy and decision making that strengthens this power imbalance. There are also more hidden and underground forms of discrimination that are justified under the cloak of tradition and culture.

Violence against women can be deeply entrenched, but it can also be circumstantial such as in areas of conflict where rape and abuse of women are often used as a weapon of war. Up to 500,000 women were raped, for example, during the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

But violence against women can also happen in a more subtle manner. Whether it is verbal, physical, sexual abuse or threatening behaviour, it can have a devastating impact on the life of a woman or a young girl. Women who experience sexual or physical attacks often carry deep and lasting physical and emotional scars and experience feelings of guilt and shame. Even worse, they are often ostracised from their families and communities following the attack.

What can be done?

Safety and protection from violence is a human right. Change needs to come from law and policy makers, but also from grass root level awareness and education programs to challenge entrenched attitudes towards women and the power imbalance between men and women in many countries around the world.

There are a number of initiatives around the world dedicated to empowering women and helping stop violence against them. ActionAid Australia, for example, supports a number of grass roots women’s organisations in central and northern Africa to help women regain their dignity, safety and human rights. Women are powerful forces for change. If you’d like to join the fight to ensure women’s rights, there are a number of things you can do. Whether you help raise awareness or want to donate, charity organisations and women’s rights initiatives around the world will be buoyed by your support. Every voice makes the message stronger – violence against women must stop.

ActionAid Australia is an anti-poverty agency that works towards eradicating poverty and injustice.  ActionAid’s work addresses issues such as poverty, hunger and women’s rights. Violence against women is a gross violation of female human rights, and ActionAid is committed to helping stop all forms of violence against women.

Family Time Activities

Today we’re taking a break from all things Christmas and I’m handing over my blog to guest poster Sophie of Delivery Hero.

family time
image credit

Spending time with the family is one of the most rewarding things in life. It helps build and strengthen family bonds and establishes memories in the making. But what family time activities can you do on a daily basis that both kids and adults would enjoy. Here’s my top 5 things for keeping everyone entertained.

5 Great Family Time Ideas

Gardening. Get the kids involved in growing plants or vegetables in the garden. Take them to the garden centre and help them pick out their own seeds or plants that they can tend to. They’ll love to feel responsible for something and watch the progress of the plants growing. If you don’t have a garden or it’s the wrong season then consider growing some vegetables indoors. Buy some small plant pots and tomato seeds and get the children to water them everyday.

Eating dinner together. Of course eating dinner together is one of the most traditional ways for families to spend time in each other’s company. Even if you have no time to cook, order a takeaway ( and catch up on how each other’s days went.

Watch an old movie together. Films such as Gone with the Wind, Mary Poppins and Oliver are all family classics that everyone will enjoy. Or perhaps opt for the Star Wars trilogy if you’re children are a little older.

Baking. Brownies, cookies and gingerbread men are all relatively foolproof recipes and kids’ favourites. Also, check out Nightwolf’s great recipe for cookies and banana bread here. For something a little different try making fudge or toffee.

Build a Fort! A classic family time activity that the kids will love. Use pillow, sheets, cushions and the children’s imagination to build the best fort in the world!

The Many Benefits of Family Time

These are just some of the many family time activities that are a great way to keep kids entertained and help families interact. It’s been proven that the positive supportive relationships that often come from families spending time together are hugely important in the early years of a child’s life. They help with cognitive development, healthy emotional development and social attachment of children. All the more reason to rent out Star Wars and get building that fort!