I have never really been a fan of spring. I am not sure why, but it is the one season tinged with sadness for me. It doesn’t make sense. Everyone loves spring. Something that should signal bright days and gentle warmth just makes me think of all that is changing. Change is not my best…

I try to battle that movement through time by constructing routines that we can return to year after year. And for spring and summer, I base it around the sea. I always return to the sea which is forever in motion. It is a stable sort of change. I mean, you find the beach where you left it even if it is a completely new body of water. 

So here we are, the sixth spring that we have spent in Melbourne and the children I bring to the beach are, like the sea itself, the same, but completely transformed.

We can (and do) spend hours here. We bring snacks and water and towels. 

Snackosphere

The kids wander and play. They explore alone and then come together to build castles. Alec naps while I read. 

gemma

kieran

clover

When our hair is tangled with salt and the sun behind us we gather the toys, roll up the rug and head home. We will do it again as a family as many times as we can before the chill keeps us indoors and other routines take over.

beach-toys

I am grateful for kids who are big enough to carry their own stuff, for snacks that come in their own single serve packs so there is no fighting over “the bag” and for dolls with built in bathing suits that can’t come off in the waves.

As a Kidspot Voices of 2014 finalist, I have been given a supply of Healtheries brand snacks to test. I will tell you what we think over three blog posts in the #snackosphere!

 

Thanks to Healtheries for providing us with the snacks for this beach trip. While there were individual bags to hand out, I had to fight the kids to get my fair share of he cheese flavoured Rice Wheels. They are super yummy little mini rice cakes with the perfect amount of flavour. It is so nice to have a savoury treat with no artificial colours or flavours…ZERO orange coated fingers here! And with bathing suit season here, I appreciate that they have 65% less fat than regular potato chips! No matter the season, I love knowing that these haven’t any MSG nor palm oil!

 

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  • Cecilia Ljungberg via Facebook - ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Fi Mims via Facebook - Things I love about spring – the roses in our front yard are in full bloom! Things I don’t love about spring – the wind! :(ReplyCancel

  • Jenna Marcum via Facebook - I can’t believe it’s been six years. I also can’t believe how Gemma’s eyes haven’t changed – I thought I had seen the photo of her before (but I knew I hadn’t). Then I clicked through to Getty Images and realized that I was remembering a baby/toddler version of Gemma’s eyes, the rest of her grew up, but those eyes and the way you capture them are still the same. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures – since I found you on Flickr many, many years ago, I have always been inspired by you and a big fan.ReplyCancel

MR. Devine
Mr. Devine’s first post on getting the best airfare deal was a big hit, so as promised, he is back with a new tip. This time it is for saving money on…
 

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October is Doc-Tober for Disney Junior! Your preschooler can see Doc McStuffins and her toy friends in new episodes on the Disney Junior TV channel and enjoy brand new Doc games and activities on DisneyJunior.com.au.

Having a child with food allergies keeps a parent on their toes. I am thankful that Clover only has to avoid two things (peanuts and honey) as there are some children who have a list as tall as they are. That said, we are in a particular pickle with the honey allergy as even the smallest amount could trigger Clover’s metabolic issue and land her in the hospital again. Unless Doc McStuffins herself is there, Clover is not interested in going. And honey? Well, honey is the new hipster ingredient. I guess because it is natural and from bees and bees are good and endangered and hip, so there is honey in your chia seed muffin! I have to be very careful at every cafe to ask what is in their baked sweets. I bring out my reading glasses and scan every single line of ingredients on every cookie Clover eats. I warn her about birthday party treats, deny her bites of my granola bar and am that mom* double checking with the playdate hosts. I have to be vigilant because honey is a not a common allergen, but the danger is the same. The irony of having a child called Clover who is allergic to honey is not lost on me, by the way.

This morning, as I ate another grocery store granola bar in front of my daughter, I thought, I bet I can make this without honey. Better yet, I bet Clover and I can make it together!

Honey-free-nut-free-granola-bars
Honey-free-nut-free-granola-bars
Honey-free-nut-free-granola-bars

Here is the super easy recipe!

Honey-free-nut-free-granola-bars
Please note that I am using a fan forced gas oven, temperatures in Celsius and am at sea level. Also, I am a pretty “rough” cook. If you are precise, this recipe might need a teeny bit of adjustments. Also, when your sous chef is six years old, factor in an additional 5-10 minutes of prep time and some wasted tasted ingredients.
Nut-free and HONEY-free Homemade Sweet Treat Bars.
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
For the kids allergic to honey and peanuts, here is a yummy granola bar they can eat! Not low in calories nor fat, this is a real dessert.
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: A bunch of bars depending on the size you cut!
Ingredients
  • Oats
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Dried Apricots
  • Brown Sugar
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
Instructions
  1. Lightly toast 3 and ½ cups of oats and 1 and ½ cup of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds until just golden.
  2. Remove oats and seeds from heat and put in a mixing bowl.
  3. Chop dried apricots into small pieces.
  4. Mix in 1 cup of shredded coconut and ½ cup of dried apricots.
  5. Melt 25g of butter and pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  6. Mix it all up to coat completely with the butter.
  7. Pour 1 395g can of sweetened condensed milk into the bowl as well.
  8. Mix really well until all sticky.
  9. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C
  10. Line a 31 & ½ cm "slice pan" with waxed paper.
  11. Pour mixture into the lined pan and smooth until flat.
  12. Bake for just about 25 minutes.
  13. Turn off oven, open and remove pan.
  14. Sprinkle top with brown sugar and put back in oven.
  15. With oven off, keep warm for about 5 more minutes.
  16. When done, remove from oven, cut to desired size with pizza cutter and place on a cooling rack.
Notes
You can add all sorts of different bits to these bars like dark chocolate chips or raisins depending on your taste! If you want really decadent dessert bars, use chocolate condensed milk instead of the plain sweetened condensed milk. For less fat, use the skim version of the condensed milk. Prep time will vary...it depends on whether your kitchen helper is 6 years old or not! Cook time can be reduced as 30 mins really results in crunchy bars.

 

*Those moms are just protecting their kids. Food allergies can be a life or death situation for some children and while my daughter will not stop breathing from honey, some other child might after touching peanut remnants. Also, it isn’t an intolerance and she isn’t just fussy. My friends and her friends’ parents have all been amazing. Only once have I had someone get snarky with me, but it is a frustrating and isolating medical issue for many.

This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.

October is Doc-Tober for Disney Junior! Your preschooler can see Doc McStuffins and her toy friends in new episodes on the Disney Junior TV channel and enjoy brand new Doc games and activities on DisneyJunior.com.au.

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October is Doc-Tober for Disney Junior! Your preschooler can see Doc McStuffins and her toy friends in new episodes on the Disney Junior TV channel and enjoy brand new Doc games and activities on DisneyJunior.com.au.

 

The other day when I was doing some spring cleaning, I found a bag of tiny newborn clothing that I had been saving to turn into doll clothes or something. I have lot’s of ideas with great intentions, but unfortunately, very poor sewing skills. Hence, the bag of clothes has been sitting in a closet untouched for nearly six years! Looking at the items again with fresh eyes, I had a great idea! I could make hospital gowns to fit our growing family of accident prone 18″dolls (between Clover and Gemma, there are six) from the newborn sized onesies!

Here is what we came up with. So easy with no pattern and very minimal sewing required!

18 inch doll hospital gown from baby onesie

You will need one newborn (size 0-3 months or 000 depending on your country) for each gown that you want to make.* All of the sewing can be done by hand, but I did use a sewing machine (not very neatly) for the hems just to save some time. There is no pattern necessary since you are basically deconstructing the gown from the already made onesie!

Here is the process with photos of the steps!

1) Check the size against the doll you are going to use. Here we have an 18″ doll and a 000 onesie (0-3 months) so the final gown will be the perfect length with 9″ of material to work with.

18 inch doll hospital gown tutorial

2) Cut straight across the bottom of the onesie right at the top of the leg holes. Don’t discard the bottom bit, as you will be using it later.

18 inch doll hospital gown tutorial

3) This was a long sleeved onesie so I decided 2 and 1/2 inches from the shoulder seam was where I would cut the arms. Keep those remnants as well. Short sleeved onesies do not need this alteration.

18 inch doll hospital gown tutorial

4) When you have done those cuts, trim off the leg hem keeping the snaps together. Leave a bit of hem on either side as these will become the gown closure in the back. You can make gown ties from the hems instead, but I just like the ease of snaps for kids. I keep all the material offcuts as well so that in the end we have bandages for the little doctor’s medical kit.

18 inch doll hospital gown tutorial

5) This onesie had a tag, so I removed it with my seam ripper. After you remove the tag (or if there is only a printed label inside), cut the back of the onesie down the middle. While these garments can easily fit over most dolls’ heads, I thought the extra detail of a back opening looked more authentic.

18 inch doll hospital gown tutorial

6) While I did not hem the tiny sleeves, I suggest running the back and bottom edges through a sewing machine or hand hemming to keep the jersey material from fraying.

18 inch doll hospital gown tutorial

No sewing machine? Just fold them over and stitch them up by hand. These gowns are small, so it should not take long.

18 inch doll hospital gown tutorial

7) Now make the closure. Just sew the snaps you kept at the top of the back opening. Since kids tend to pull hard on snaps, I went over and over again, binding the edges.

18 inch doll hospital gown tutorial

8) Done! Put it on the doll. The back opening is just too cute! And see, the extra bits of fabric from the sleeves and bottom are perfect bandages! 

18 inch doll hospital gown tutorial

Here is Doc McClover in her clinic checking on little patients… Luckily Alice-Rosie only broke one leg in her gymnastics accident.

Doc-McStuffins-and-her-mobile-clinic-homemade-18-inch-doll-hospital-gown

Hanging onto some of the old baby blankets and muslins has come in handy as well. They are living new lives as doll bedding!

Doc-McStuffins-and-her-mobile-clinic-homemade-18-inch-doll-hospital-gown

*While we made three different ones, the process shown here is for the long sleeved white onesie. The only difference is that we ended up using the extra bits of cloth from the arms that we did not have from the already short sleeved onesies.

This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.

October is Doc-Tober for Disney Junior! Your preschooler can see Doc McStuffins and her toy friends in new episodes on the Disney Junior TV channel and enjoy brand new Doc games and activities on DisneyJunior.com.au.

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  • Lisa Bentley via Facebook - Very cute idea!ReplyCancel

An important message brought to you by TAC and Nuffnang.

Even as someone with an affinity for red wine and hot sake, my “work lunches” can’t ever be boozy. I must admit that on occasion working from home as a photoblogger, I have day dreamed about the idea of Madmen era brainstorming sessions with like-minded creatives and a nice bottle of something hard in gorgeous cut crystal glasses. I mean some of my best ideas have come to life around a sushi bar with other photographers, bloggers and a few tiny cups of rice wine. The issue is that at 3PM, my “day” job is over and my important role of mother is back on. I would not risk being even a little bit over when I get in the car to drive.

Why do I tell you all this? Because I was absolutely floored by some statistics shared with me by the TAC. 

There are approximately 13,000 drink drivers detected each year in Victoria with an illegal BAC. 

Thirteen thousand.

IN ONE STATE. 

Detected.

What about the ones who get away with it? That is a lot of drink drivers on the road in my state each year. And of those, 20% are repeat offenders. Clearly the laws were not tough enough a deterrent. So October 1st, new legislation went into effect in Victoria to help crack down on people who take that risk. A risk of not only their lives, but the lives of everyone else on the road at the same time. It is legislation that I am happy to get out there in the hopes that even one person who might have taken a chance will stop and reconsider. (Other Australian states have different laws. Please check out your State Government website for details on what applies to you.) 

Now, in Victoria, alcohol interlocks will be extended to become mandatory for: 

•All repeat offenders with a BAC under 0.07 

•First-time offenders with a BAC of 0.07 to 0.15 

•First-time offenders with a BAC under 0.07 whose licenses are cancelled 

•All probationary and learner first-time offenders at all BAC levels 

•All first-time serious offences involving alcohol under the Sentencing Act 1991 (e.g. culpable driving under the influence of alcohol. 

An alcohol interlock is a device that when attached to your car, requires the driver to confirm their sobriety by blowing into it before starting (and at random intervals during driving, meaning you have to pull over) the ignition. If the driver fails the blood alcohol test, the car will be disabled and the violation recorded on the machine. There are cameras activated each time the alcohol interlock is activated so that drivers can’t cheat the system. On top of the embarrassment and inconvenience, there is the cost, as the offender is responsible for footing the bill of installation. That can be up to $1410.00 on top of the fines. 

If you think that having an alcohol interlock on your car would be no big deal, I encourage you to watch the video and share the message. Let’s keep our roads safe.

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  • Louisa Claire via Facebook - Agree, so important! Did they say how long offenders would have to have the device installed for. Would, say a 19year old who was caught, have to have it in their car for the rest of their lives or is there a time limit on it? Also, did they say why they wanted to target Mums with the message – are they part of the high risk group because if so then that is also fascinating!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Devine Photography / sesame ellis via Facebook - I did not read anything specific to mums being a large portion of the offenders, but there is such a range of ways alcohol intake affects one’s system and body mass is one factor. Maybe they are seeing more mums driving with a BAC higher than they thought because of lower body mass?
    As for the device, it is a minimum of 6 months. I do not know what the reconsideration policy is after that, but I would assume it is one a case by case basis?ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Devine Photography / sesame ellis via Facebook - As for me personally, it hit home as I know that I have had wine and gotten behind the wheel to drive. I honestly do not know if two glasses of wine puts me over the legal limit, but it certainly feels like it would.ReplyCancel