the Million Paws Walk Victoria 2015

Brought to you by Nuffnang and RSPCA

The other evening I reached out to pet Chilli and her ears went back, while her eyes appeared to enlarge to cartoon proportions. This happens nearly every time. When it’s windy outside, Chilli hides herself under the covers in my bed. She furiously licks our faces when the noise level in the house rises. These might all just be quirks of her chihuahua personality or more likely they are left over from the life of abuse and neglect she surely suffered before she found her forever home with us. Abandoned under a house and left for dead, Chilli was a lucky dog because someone cared enough to rescue her. She has found a safe haven in our family and will never know anything but luxury for the rest of her days. 

Kiki is a rescue as well. She was an abandoned leftover from an inexperienced breeder of Ragdoll cats. We took her in when she was far larger than the cute kitten stage. She is the boss of the place now. 

the Million Paws Walk Victoria 2015

These two loved family pets are two of the lucky ones. In 2014, in addition to 25,920 animals passing through their shelters in this one state, RSPCA Victoria handled 17,995 cases of animal cruelty up from 15,568 in 2013.* Think about that for a moment…that is five cases away from EIGHTEEN THOUSAND in Victoria alone. RSPCA is the advocate for these animals when the humans they are trusted with abuse them and break the trust of caring for a creature who can’t care for themselves. I’m not just talking about dogs and cats, but all animals from horses to chickens and all the fur and feathers in-between. 

The RSCPA goes to court for these animals, they remove them from harm, get their medical needs seen to and find them carefully screened new homes. They do it all with 97% of their  funding received through community donations. The RSPCA is not a government agency and receive only 3% in financial aid from there. That is why Chilli and I are walking this year in the Million Paws Walk at the main Victorian location of Albert Park. This annual event is the largest fundraiser for the RSCPA and since we can’t take in any more pets ourselves, we are committed to helping the people who can. Last year, my neighborhood was actually one of the highest represented at this walk! Let’s see if we can do it again this year! You don’t have to be near the city to walk, there are 16 in total throughout Victoria on the 17th of May. You don’t even need to bring a dog. Heck, you don’t even need to be here and walking to support! If you are in Victoria, join us, and head to the Victorian Million Paws Walk event site to register. Want to help from afar? Please consider a small donation in support of Team #ChilliEllis

Follow our #millionpawswalk progress on the 17th of May on social media and cheer Chilli on as she braves all the dogs.

*Statistic freely found on the RSPCA Victoria annual report published on

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Lately I have been on the hunt for things that can bring the three kids together for more fun than fighting and in doing so we have rediscovered geocaching!  If you have not heard about it, basically it is a worldwide treasure hunt. All you really need is the app on your smart phone.  Now, we have only stayed on the basic membership so it does not cost a thing, but if the kids continue to enjoy this, I am planning on springing for the year of premium membership -about $30.00- and the full featured app -an additional $10.00- as that is a meagre amount to pay for hours of cooperation and adventure. Adventure we can take on the road with us as I mentioned before, this is a worldwide activity! Now that the twins are six, they understand the motivation (they are in it for the trinkets and feeling like spies) and with Gemma being ten, she really relishes figuring out the clues. I just love that we can all do something as a family that is interesting and outdoors. It is hard to find things these days that keep all the kids interested and excited!


We don’t even need to plan it anymore as we have put together a geocaching kit for the car. We upcycled an old backpack that was getting a bit too small for Kieran. In that pack, we threw a bunch of small trinkets, some paper and a few pens. When we are out and have some time to kill, we can turn on the app and look for the geocaches around us. As you need to be prepared to trade things, we have cleaned out our stash of little plastic toys, old costume jewellery and stationery items that happen to build up in every drawer around the house. Since there are log books to sign, we have to have a pen and if there is no more room in the log book, we have our own paper to leave our mark. This past weekend we found a cache that was in need of repair and getting a bit ruined in the autumn rains, so I have now added ziplock baggies to the special backpack too. 

If you haven’t already, I totally suggest you join up and get out there looking for treasure as soon as you can. You and the kids will all love it! 

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  • Michelle Osborne via Facebook - I think we need to get on board! Just the kind of adventures Oz can get into with the kids while I work!!ReplyCancel

  • Laura Burke via Facebook - We want to do it too!ReplyCancel

  • Robin Geer Troxell via Facebook - I have to figure this outReplyCancel

  • Rachel Devine Photography / sesame ellis via Facebook - It really is easy! Download the official app. Start with the free one… Open the app at home and see how many are around you! You will need an account, but that’s free too. You can use the GPS on the phone. I find it to be pretty darn accurate. There are hard core geocaching folks who gear up and know all the tricks. I am not one.ReplyCancel

  • Dawn Klein - Now that I have a smart phone, I can do this. I should download an app. One of my hubby’s friends was visiting a year or so ago and he brought his gps device with him. We found a bunch of geocache sites right around our house. It was fun. My kids are big now, but it would still be fun.ReplyCancel

portrait of twins

My photos, that is. It is a case of the shoemaker’s kids going barefoot around here. Obviously I take a lot of photos, but I am terrible at making prints. Often in a flurry of good intentions, I will pull my favourite of favourites and file a copy in an optimistically named folder, Print These. Then I proceed to forget to order them online and the folder becomes overrun with items like a crowded closet that you just want to lock the door and forget exists. Eventually I move that promising folder to my external hard drive for storage and make a new one. Sound familiar?

I could not even print at home as the printer we had was so old that it actually came with us on the move from the US to Australia. Let’s put that in perspective, the twins didn’t even come with us on that move…

So I reached out to Epson and asked what was new on the home printer horizons since, oh, roughly 2004. The answer is OMG SO MUCH!

Epson gifted me with their XP-950 inkjet printer/scanner model and even though I was not required to share anything, I do want to tell you about this bad boy as when doing my research, I found a lot of other friends were very much like me and without a working printer at home! 

I am amazed at the ability to connect the printer via WiFi and remotely through Google’s Cloud Print service as it means that not only am I able to print what and when I would like, but Alec can send important things home to be printed from his office in the city and Gemma can send her school work directly from her iPad. It is amazing. I printed my first photo (which was taken and edited with the iPhone) directly from my device!

Epson XP-950

The ink cartridges are double if not triple the capacity of our old printer and this one takes up about half the space. I am absolutely loving the ability to update the framed shots around here. I mean, Gemma was adorable as a toddler, but you wouldn’t know we had two other kids after her!

While Epson included their Premium Glossy Photo Paper in the box for me to try, I have since picked up some Matted Super fine paper from Daiso for under $3.00. I love the quality and finish as well as the savings! I will stick with the Epson brand inks though as I have never had luck with the off brand versions or refilling old ones at the kiosks in the mall. 

I appreciate Epson for letting me get up to date with with the year 2015! I am now going to put together a few printing projects for the blog to help inspire others to do more than just share their gorgeous images on the their screens! 

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  • Joe Pennant via Facebook - Boy, don’t I know it. I’ve only printed for requests recently. I feel like I should for myself, but I don’t. The only reason I’m gonna print now is for exhibition.ReplyCancel

  • Elena - Hi, I’ve been looking at high (to very high) quality printers that are still affordable to print out family photos. Had a bad recent experience with an HP printer that printed such low quality I almost never wanted to print a photo again! Returned it and am now looking again, this time for an inkjet. I trust your judgement the most – you’d recommend this Epson inkjet to buy?ReplyCancel

    • sesame - I am so impressed with the Epson! We had a Canon before and I specifically approached Epson because of their reputation in the printer space. I’m not disappointed. Quality is great and the UX was seamless to get it up and running on Mac, PC and iPhone/iPads. ReplyCancel

  • Andrea Sissons via Facebook - So true! Have way too many blank walls in our new house.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Bloom via Facebook - Your son is a mini-Gemma! I used to follow your Flickr when Gemma was a baby! How time flies! Your kids are beautiful, as are your pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Leonie Barton - Hi Sesame. Not only are you a lucky duck, but you must be exceptionally polite and sales talk savvy. Initially when I started working at home, I had an opportunity to buy a A3 fine art Epson printer Photo 1290. It was too good a price to pass up, and came with new ink cartridges. But I was ahead of my time, and not ready to use the printer for it’s intended purpose. It has been packed, safely and dryly in storage, waiting to launch. The time came recently for it to come into it’s own, but it just can’t / won’t shine. When I chased up Epson and a suitable fixer man, all answers essentially came back to……… you would be better off purchasing a new one, rather than pay to have it looked at and possibly fixed. Epson customer service were lovely, but nobody could help…… sniff. Thus, I work and save and one day will again purchase the Epson, but boy wish I’d made the call you did.
    You enjoy your new printer, be sure to get those pics on the wall. I look forward to seeing what you put forward as projects on the wall. I hope this note finds you well.ReplyCancel

    • sesame - Oh, large format fine art printers are expensive! Have you any idea what the problem might be? Maybe you could post on Gumtree to see if there are any electronic whizzes who might take a look at it for free!
      I paid a pretty penny for the old Canon we had because home printer/scanners were relatively new then. They have come down in price since unlike the big fine art ones! I’d say it’s worth a try! Hope you find a solution! Or consider a consumer one? They don’t print bigger than A4 though.ReplyCancel

  • Leonie Barton - Yes I agree. Did all those. I have ended up going with a fine art printer. They do a truly great job capturing my images and I can guarantee my customers of a certain consistent quality, all of which leaves me more time to make the art, that I am printing in the first place. Thank you for your kind suggestions, look forward to seeing the projects.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Michelle via Facebook - You prefer printing at home as opposed to printing in a lab? Is it mostly because it’s one more barrier in the ‘get them printed’ process? It’s been a long, long time since I owned a printer that had the capability to print photos – by the sounds of it the technology has come a long way.ReplyCancel

  • Dawn Klein - Ugh. We are that family, too. Hubby is a newspaper photographer that has taken plenty of pictures of his kids. They are not on the wall here, either.

    My older daughter, though, is good about making prints out of her photographs, though. She had them up in her dorm room and now has them up in her room.ReplyCancel

This is the first in the series of Ruth Reviews where my Aussie bestie heads out on the town, explores activities and then reports back to Sesame Ellis headquarters. It is just one way I am expanding things around here so that I can offer interesting content and giveaways that I did not have time for before! Ruth and I are two peas in a pod. The story of how we met is one for another time, but let me assure you, she would not be reviewing for me if I did not trust her views to mesh with my site completely! We might not always agree (although we mostly do), but I completely respect her. I can’t be in two places at once, but with Ruth on board, it is pretty close to exactly the same thing! So please, welcome Ruth to the team here and read on about her trip with Ella and Clover (doesn’t hurt that both our daughters -both the big and little ones- are besties as well!) to see the new movie, The Book of Life. Stick around to the end of the review for you chance to win one of FIVE double passes to go and see it in the theatres now!

The Book of Life review and ticket giveaway

“As my kids get older the list of PG movies in my repertoire continues to encompass and overwhelm me. Have I not seen it all? How many more cutesy characters and good triumphs evil plots can a grown woman stand? So when I’m promised something new and unique, I hope for the best, grab my mini critiques and head to the movies to check it out.

These school holidays The Book of Life opens in theatres everywhere promising to impress and captivate audiences of all ages with folklore, mythology and the colours and designs of beautiful Mexico. The animation is in fact unique as promised with he human characters being transformed into puppet forms with block bodies and spindly arms and legs. They each are identifiable by their strong traits and personalities formed by family traditions, values and self-beliefs.  

Simple Manolo, egotistical Joaquin and fearless Maria are the best of childhood friends until circumstances send them off to follow their own paths. Maria sets off to study in Europe, Joaquin to become a famous military agent and Manolo to suspend his dreams of being a musician and learn the ways of a bullfighter like his family history dictates. 

Many years later they are reunited and Maria’s affections become the sole focus for both Manolo and Joaquin. However, if two best friends vying for one girl is not difficult enough, two lords of the underworld become involved and hedge their bets as to who will ultimately win Maria’s heart. It is however not a wager based on honesty or fair play and ultimately the sorcery sends our hero’s from the Land of the Living to lands of colour and celebration as well as darkness and fear.

There are many underlining lessons entwined in this film very relevant to children of today such as respect, honesty and integrity. More difficult undercurrents such as death and betrayal are also touched upon, however with a sprinkling of humour, wit, music and a well-crafted script the movie seamlessly balances the heavier topics with light hearted moments. 

There really is something for everyone to enjoy and a character for all to relate too.  Younger children may find some parts scary and adults may find themselves laughing or singing louder than the children in the cinema.  As for me, I got what was promised, something bold, something unusual and the realisation that maybe I’m not quite ready to give up on kids flicks just yet!” – Ruth

Aussies, win yourself a double pass to see The Book of Life in theatres. Simply comment here (or on the Facebook share of this post) with your top tip for “being in two places at once” or at least getting the most out of one day. No tips, just tell me a time you wished you could have been in two places at once!  

Contest ends on Sunday April 12th, so get in quick!

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  • Jane Dando via Facebook - Keep ‘em coming Ruth! I enjoyed your review.ReplyCancel

  • Tamara Bulluss - Hi Ruth & Rachel, I had to miss my sons stage acting debut to go to a family members funeral :( definately wish I could have been in 2 places at once that day. (Great review Ruth, can’t wait to read more from you! ReplyCancel

  • Effie B - You can be in 2 places at the same time via the use of the internet! For example, physically relaxing on the beach in Australia in summer, while live-streaming a video of the skyline of Paris in winter on the iPad! Gotta love technology ;)ReplyCancel

  • Robin - I loved this movie! I had thought it would be scary based on the look of the animation and avoided it in the theatre but got it on DVD and all of my kids liked it too.ReplyCancel

This parenting thing is getting harder by the day. I thought the sleepless nights of newborns would be tough, but no one really warned me about these years. Actually, I am pretty sure I remember my mother mentioning something, but I was intoxicated on new baby scent.

Now I have a tween. I thought Gemma and I would be best friends forever, but hormones or something have robbed me a little of her. At least when any of her friends are around and a lot of other times too. She still wants my affection when she is tired, but often she is pulling away. Hiding behind fake glasses and a bad attitude. 

I am not expecting it to be pure happiness all the time, but I believe that the attitude which starts from deep within our own hearts is a very powerful driving force in our lives. And frankly, Often I find I’d like to adjust her attitude just a little tiny bit. 

Let me start by admitting that I do believe in the power of positive thinking, not necessarily Norman Vincent Peale and even less The Secret, but still looking on the bright side when I can. That out of the way, there was an article going around a while back about being caught in a “Happy Trap” which led me to links for the book by that name and it made me think… I don’t want my kids to be oblivious to the unpleasant feelings, nor to just hop through life high on manufactured joy. I want them to live a real life. I am not a Pollyanna, but I don’t live under my own personal black cloud either. With the hormones starting to kick in around here, I needed a plan for how I was going to raise the best people I could with these three children I have been given. I have had this post brewing for a little while now and have decided it is time to give them A. – M. A. P. 

Not literally a map, but what I call my theory on living their best life. 

So dear children of mine, now that you can all read, here is what I would like you to know.

Answers. Not everything in life has a reason that you can immediately see, but if you seek answers, it means you are questioning. Asking questions and trying to understand the world is the best way to live. Listen. You might not like the answers you get. They might not be the ones you hoped for, but they will be the reality and when you have the answers, you can move on. Also, “Because I said so.” is actually an answer when it comes from either me or your father.

Moderation. Don’t let the sadness and anxiety that will come in life overtake you. Know that the good and the bad in life both come and go. Don’t wish away all sadness. Great art comes from some of the darkest corners of life. It is up to you to use those moments. When you turn your despair into art, you win. Also, too much sugar will make you sick. I did not believe my mom when she told me that either, so I will forgive you when you just have to try for yourself. Gemma, how can I put this in tween-speak? Oh, I know, be confident that you will get over not being able to see Dance Moms live. Probably by next Thursday. Maybe even sooner. I know it hurts right now though. Sorry.

Appreciation. Have appreciation for how good you have it. However, please don’t just sit back and bask in being grateful. Show appreciation for others by respecting them and helping at every opportunity. Appreciate what others do for you. Get off the iPad and appreciate the plates that hold your daily meals as you remove them from the dishwasher. No really, as soon as you are done reading this. That is actually required of you. Say thank you for the opportunities and lessons in life, listen, and when you step in crap, just wipe it off and keep going. It is hard to be grateful for that.

Perspective. It could be worse. It can get better. Your view of the world is different from anyone else and it is the one thing that you can control. You will never be able to change other people or things that happen to you…you can, however, change how you feel about them. That is the power of perspective.

There you go kids, feel sad, feel angry, feel whatever you are feeling, but know that with answers, you can and will move on to other things. Stretch your wings because mom and dad are your safety net when you fall. Please remember to say Thank You when we catch you. Always know we love you even when you are determined that we don’t. In fact, that is when our hearts are bursting with extra love.

I want my children to be content and even happy, but I also want them to be interesting. I feel like that comes with the more unpleasant experiences. I guess I should turn my own words around and see that the unpleasant bits are what makes parenting interesting as well.

I have other guidelines for you kids, but let’s start with these for now.

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  • Megan Flick via Facebook - ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Andrea Sissons via Facebook - Mitch and I just read this togher, perfect timing! Thank you :)ReplyCancel

  • Tracy Meiners via Facebook - Well said Rachel. I too have a tween – a 10 1/2 yr old boy, and bits of “drama” are seeping in… Who knew so soon?!?ReplyCancel

  • Erich Wilhelm Zander via Facebook - Well done.ReplyCancel

  • Robin - THIS.IS.EXCELLENT. I have been struggling with my 10 year old’s attitude lately. I want to explain it away with hormones but the fact is she still has to deal with life (and puberty -eek!!). And I want to raise kind individuals. thank you for the encouragement.ReplyCancel