DAIRYLEA believes that food is best made with simple, honest ingredients. To support fun-loving mums of the world, we invented MUMMYHACKS – Mummy inspired ideas that take the ‘um’ out of being a mum. ​For more useful tidbits visit


The other week a few mothers were asked by DAIRYLEA to come together for a creative brainstorming session – a HACKADEMY – and come up with some MUMMY HACKS that just might make life a little bit easier for parents of school aged kids. The day was fun, and in the end there were a lot of wonderful and simple ideas compiled. I think the favourite MUMMY HACK was using a glass splash back in the kitchen as a white board notice centre for the family. We are always in the kitchen so it makes perfect sense to leave reminders there. I came up with the idea of just drawing a smiley face on the inside of your child’s wrist before school each day to remind them to smile as friendly faces are great ice breakers for shy children. After I left, I was still thinking, but this time with a specific focus on my kids. There was one particular issue that had been creeping into our lives and I wanted a lasting quick fix. The 40 minute train ride home was the perfect amount of time to brew up a plan. I’m happy to say that it is in practice and helping! Click here to head on over to Mummyhacks.com.au to read my hack on how to get kids to sleep!


This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.

DAIRYLEA believes that food is best made with simple, honest ingredients. To support fun-loving mums of the world, we invented MUMMYHACKS – Mummy inspired ideas that take the ‘um’ out of being a mum. ​For more useful tidbits visit

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mom-friends-reunitedWe have vacationed on a beach before, but it was a time share in Mexico with the big kids before our youngest ones were even on the radar. I am not sure where the photos are from the last time we were together, but that visit was more recent despite me travelling alone to LA. That means that the last time my friend Karin saw Gemma and the twins, was about a year after the black and white photo was taken. 

However I write it, what I am trying to say is that we are way overdue for some beach walking. Luckily, I won us a trip to do just that very thing. Together. Around the Bay of Fires in Tasmania. Right this very moment, my dear friend Karin is on a jet plane just starting her first ever trip to Australia!

I can’t wait to share the stories!

I just can’t wait!

And at the same time, I don’t want the time to rush by. It has been way too long and it will be altogether too short. 

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No matter how long we have been shooting, I am of the opinion that photographers can always stand to learn something new. Over the last few years, I have been fascinated with the water portraits of Deb Schwedhelm Photography​ as well as more recently Alix Martinez Photography​. At Clickin Mom’s conference, Click Away, last year I made sure that after my talk finished I had time to hear Alix speak. I came away with great information (and a wonderful group of new friends) from that one session (and the speakers cocktail party later that evening.) I also confirmed my desire to take a camera in the water and capture our beach life this summer!



I have been playing around with the Olympus Stylus Tough Camera TG-3 for a few months now and am loving it more and more as I learn how I can control the essential bits like focus and exposure compensation values. I even got to see them actually test this very camera model at the super secret R&D department at Olympus headquarters in Japan. More on that trip and the incredible sights I recorded after I get a few more things done. It would be ideal to have something like this shoot in RAW, but for now, jpeg is my only option unless I want to invest in the real underwater housing for my OM-D E-M1 or my new E-M5 Mk2. Maybe this is the year that I can get Deb to come to Melbourne for a workshop… THEN I would have a reason to splash out. 

I have been working on a new eBook for the last little while (We are not quite done with it all, but it should be out soon! That deadline is looming.) with a focus on Life in Natural Light. Helping people learn how to love photographing their life everywhere includes taking the camera to the beach for me, so I’m excited to share my experiences with you all! I have a long way to go in the artistry department, but I have finally got a handle on the exposure and technique. Now it will just take practice and more practice!

Yesterday we had dinner on the beach and ended up running into one of Clover’s friends and her family. They were more than willing to play, model and to let me practice shooting!  Back to the writing I go, as we are trying to get to the beach again tonight while the summer light lingers…

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DIY Tween Lipstick

  • Non-toxic crayons 
  • Organic coconut oil
  • Tiny jars (or even a travel pill box)
  • Glass jar
  • Sauce pan
  • Plastic knife and spoon (& even a wooden skewer)

lipstick-diy-coconut-oil-crayonsThe girls decided on the colour of their individual lipsticks by colouring in on white paper combining different Crayola brand crayons until they found their perfect “blends”.  They discarded the wrappers of those crayons and then cut the coloured sticks up into thirds.

Rummaging through the recycling pile, they found two glass jars that they would use to melt their formula. Into these clean glass jars they put one and a bit teaspoons of coconut oil and the crayons they had chosen. With mom’s help (that’s me) they put these glass jars into a saucepan on the stove that was filled with just about a cup of near boiling water.

Stirring gently at the stove with wooden skewers (their choice of object so they could stay as far from the heat as possible…not necessarily the best tool for the job), they let the coconut oil and crayons melt together. As soon as they were completely blended, they removed the jar from the hot water and poured the coloured mixture into the waiting tiny jar. This also required a bit of help from a grown-up as the jar and mixture were both super hot and it has to be decanted quickly or it will begin to set!


When filled, the tiny jar of mixture went into the freezer to set for ten minutes.

girls love science too tween

In the end, the glass jars used for melting the mixtures were scraped as clean as possible and recycled. As for how long this lipstick will last, who knows. They made it on a whim and are not really regular make-up wearers, so I would say it might be forgotten by next weekend. It was a great Sunday experiment for these science loving tweens and that is all that really matters.

 More tween posts to come! Look for the “Judy Devine” feature to follow all the things that she is cooking up for Sesame Ellis! Check out the hashtag #thetweensagem to follow her tween life tips on social media!


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  • Mariana - But who is judy? Is your sister, Rachel? Also, the cute girl with Gemma is her cousin or what?
    Its great to see the girls having fun, I already saw many tutorials about this crayon lipstick, but I also saw some people who messed it up and it doesnt really worked, so I’m always with a foot behind trying to decide if the mess is worth c.c
    The last picture looks so precious, I’m sure they will treasure this memory!ReplyCancel

    • sesame - Judy Devine is the name that Gemma blogs under. The vote girl with Gemma is her BFF! The girls were able to make great lipstick with these simple instructions and the mess was minimal! It totally worked for them, so I wanted to share the fun project!ReplyCancel

  • Breanne - How great is this!! Love that she has a bestie that is just as creative and their lipsticks look awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Robin - what cool girls. Totally impressed w/their creativity!ReplyCancel

I am very clear about not being able to multi task. I am also very familiar with my body clock and corresponding productive hours. My afternoon is not my creative time. I am very good at staring into space from about 3 to 7 pm each day. After 7 it is time for the kids to all wind down and start the long journey to bed. When they are all tucked in bed, I am ready to go to sleep as well. Or at least read in bed. I am not going to get anything useful written after 3pm on any day, so when the kids were home for school holidays, I only had my good intentions. There are no more than 24 hours in each day, I have checked.
The kids all went back to school today which means I get my office hours of 9:30 to 3 back. I have been trying to make up today for the last three weeks -since getting this project- of no time and less energy to write. I didn’t get it all done, but I got back into a sort of groove and I feel a bit less anxious than I did yesterday. I am sure that will turn back into terror when I have to share my progress with my editor tomorrow. But really, it is much more under control now. 
But how to manage that project, a work trip to Japan, a heart filling trip to Tasmania and the rest of stuff that life will be throwing at me in between and beyond? 
I have finally discovered the real benefit of using Evernote. I have always been the type of person to have many different notebooks and scraps of paper floating around collecting dust and ideas. Despite sharing my life online now for a decade, I have never had a great system for actually generating the content on my blog. And with so many different projects going at once, I am often required to pull information and write at a moments notice. In the past I had composed blog posts directly on WordPress and after losing a draft to internet crash, I decided I needed another way to collect the words. I have been using Google docs for a while as it is so easy to type in from the web or the app on any operating system. Then the other day when the universe and the grandparents aligned for me to have free time and inspiration, the inevitable happened…Google Docs decided to not load. After I fought with it for a while I could feel my inspiration for the actual writing bit start to fade. I quickly jotted down everything I could with my pen and trusty notebook as they never go offline. Then I took the initiative to finally decide on a system. 
Over the years, I have used online productivity programs, but I was burned when the one I had decided I loved closed up shop. Since that happened, I was afraid to really explore Evernote in case I fell in love and it too decided to leave me, well, leave the internet.
But after much research, I feel it is the way to go.
I spent a precious hour organising the mess of notebooks I had created in Evernote over the years and really getting to know the many features that will now make my life easier.
Here is what it can do for you just as a blogger…
1. Compose blog post drafts on the go. It auto saves as you type and you can tag the posts as well as saving them to notebooks. Micro organise too your desired level! 
2. Add voice notes for the times you can’t type as fast as the ideas are coming. Or you are driving. Wait, maybe not.
3. Take a snapshot with the camera on your device! Right there as you are composing whatever it is you are taking note of.
4. Send yourself photos proper photos for your posts from wherever you have them stored. (The photo in this post I shared through Evernote from my iPad to Evernote on the web where I finished everything up.)
5. Add reminders.
6. Add notes to your notes.
7. Attach anything you can digitally attach.
8. Multi format in one :: Make lists and spreadsheets without having to go out to any other app.
9. Co-work :: Share your note for collaboration or just to show off. 
10. Replace your bookmarks :: Clip webpages or snippets of an online article.
11. Work on the app or the web as they all just sync up from the latest version of whatever you were working on.
I am also using it for sharing with my husband, the list of movies I’d like to see and the recipes we should try out. I can send links to Gemma for stuff she will be blogging about. She will also use it on her iPad for keeping her schoolwork in order.
I have been researching and collecting all the latest information on Sensory Processing Disorder and the tips to help Kieran deal with his difficulties. I save blogs that inspire me, and keep them all in different notebooks according to what is special about them.
Seriously, I have been on this thing since 2008 and am just getting into the swing of it now with a whole lot of “should have done that sooner…”
Trust me, get Evernote now
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  • judy - I am with you on the hate of falling in love with a system or an app and it disappearing:( I too love Evernote, although Evernote failed me when I had the most extreme difficult situation in my life! The situation lasted nearly a year! I journaled about it in Evernote nearly everyday. After journaling about it for nine or ten months, one day when I opened the note to continue I about lost it when I could only see one day of journaling there!!! I was and still am completely devistated about it!! I called them immediately and they said it is still there, but yet no one can help me find it. I was looking for it for nearly two years, and finally gave up. Since it was so tramatic most of it is still in my head, but I sure wish I had my journal. I LOVE EVERNOTE, but I am still bummed by the missing “note” from my life in 2011 :(ReplyCancel

    • sesame - Oh Judy, how devastating. I am sorry for whatever you had to go through and for losing it all. I do worry about data loss with Evernote… With any program.ReplyCancel