I am a homebody. I love the comfort of familiarity and my own bed. Usually by this point in a trip, I’ve got my suitcase re-packed and am making lists of things to do when I get home. Not this time. I’d like to send for my friends, import my dog and stay put here in paradise. I know I can’t, but it has been so wonderful that I have entertained the fantasy. 


I’m sure staying at the unbelievable Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort might have something to do with my reluctance to leave!


We are not roughing it. There is a tiny pool on each balcony. 

And a nature reserve with orangutans and goats… I expected the orangutans, but the goats were a happy surprise.


That is “baby Lucy” and I am already trying to figure out how to take her home with me.

We do have to wrap up this fairytale on Tuesday with a red eye flight back to winter and reality. Luckily I have friends waiting to remind me why home rocks too.

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Wednesday morning we are heading off on a two week family holiday to Borneo with a brief stop in Kuala Lumpur first. It is around 32 degrees there every day and our plans include a lot of not much but swimming and hanging out with the orangutans. I am pretty good at packing clothes for a trip. (By my age, I should be!) As long as I have clean undies for every day, I know I will be fine.  There are two places that I always fail to pack lightly so I have done my best to focus on including the least amount of stuff we could need in those two areas.

flat lay image of toiletries packed for a trip to malaysia

The first is my toiletries bag. I am not sure why I feel the need to bring makeup everywhere even though I barely wear it. This trip is to tropical Malaysia during the middle of summer and there are no events to attend, so I will not need even half of the little I normally wear.

So all I am taking is what appears in this photo. Of course, my toothbrush and toothpaste. The kids pack their own toothbrushes, but we share the one tube of toothpaste now that they are all big.
Coconut oil from Coconut Revolution. This is the best. I use it as moisturiser at night. I will decant this into a smaller travel container as the glass jar is big and heavy and breakable.

The next four items came in my June Bella Box and are awesome. I have been gifted this month’s Bella Box to try out the service and I really enjoyed getting a surprise package of beauty products in the mail. Gemma immediately claimed the Original Source watermelon & jojoba oil moisturising shower gel and I don’t blame her…it smells delicious! The rest of the box was all mine though and just perfect for my trip! Since we are staying in hotel, I will just use the shampoo and conditioner they supply but am taking this little sample of Aveda damage remedy hair treatment for the end of the trip when my hair is fried from two weeks of solid swimming! Next is my new favourite thing ever, Tint Stick in Nude Pink from Universal Beauty Cosmetics. I had never heard of this brand before and probably would not have found it were it not included in the Bella Box, but my goodness this tint is rich with colour and stays for hours! I am going to try their other colours when I get back. Then the lip balm from Burt’s Bees over the top and that is all I need to feel like I have made an effort. Travel does a number on my lips! The final Bella Box item is the little perfume. I actually ran out of my perfume recently and was waiting for duty free to buy more. This scent, 1000, from Jean Patou is deep and warm and another product I would not have known about! I will try it out on the trip and maybe it will be what I purchase at the airport the way home!

The three little glass vials are essential oil mixes by Solyvia for bug bites, headaches and sleep (respectively) and I tend to bring them on trips just in case someone needs some gentle remedies. As I never leave home without my powder and I love me some Laura Mercier, I will be packing my compact. I am hoping the Sephora in KL has some more for me to bring home!
Can’t leave my Dove antiperspirant at home because TROPICS! I have my Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap as it is magic even if it isn’t covered with all the weird religious text that I remember from my college days when I first started using it. Just a few drops in some water will clean anything from dirty kids to dirty laundry on the road! Ultraceuticals sunscreen because I HATE the feeling of any other kind. Microshield because hand washing when travelling is not always easy and finally, the coconut hand cream from Coconut Revolution because the Microshield rips my hands up! The Microshield also comes in handy to clean out small grazes that the twins somehow constantly get. I do bring a brush, but that is in my handbag along with about 400 bandaids.

Minimal packing for the little kids backpacks

The next thing I tend to stuff full of just-in-case crap is the twins’ backpacks! From toys, books, colouring pages, markers, games as well as an electronic device each to candy and snacks, I over prepare and they end up just complaining they have to carry the darn thing. This time we are bringing two books each, a maths workbook (seriously, they asked for homework!) and a small kit of pencils, crayons and a sharpener that I put together at Daiso. They will be allowed to choose one stuffed animal to join their beloved Nunny on board and then a doll or toy to pack in the suitcase. They are sharing the one iPad with a headphones splitter so they better learn some sharing skills on this trip. We are bringing Uno and travel sizes of Mastermind and Guess Who in the checked luggage for downtime at the hotel.
I have not decided on the snack situation, but I think I might just fill a few ziplock baggies with sunflower seeds, m&m’s and crackers as well as a bag of apples in my own backpack.

What are your best tips for keeping things as light as possible on trips with kids, but still not feeling like you are missing things you need?

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  • Alli - Careful with the apples – you might have to toss them. When we flew to Vanuatu last year via Brisbane all fruit had to be discarded as we landed. And we hadnt even left the country! Great holidayReplyCancel

    • sesame - So true! I thought it was just coming back in, but better safe than sorry! Plus, less to carry! Thanks Alli!ReplyCancel

  • Sharlene - You won’t have any problems with food when flying into KL, they really only check you on the way out if you have boxes amongst your luggage – they xray those. We always go straight through the nothing to declare aisle.
    Also, the airports here are usually really cold so if you have any morning flights maybe carry a light cardigan for the kids, I’ve noticed that when Riley’s tired/sleepy she feels the cold a lot more.
    As for packing tips…we travel so often and I’m still terrible at packing light! It is definitely a lot easier now, that the big one can carry her own backpack.ReplyCancel

  • Naamah - This post is really handy. We are heading off on a family holiday later this year and I am going to need to think about packing light with small children.
    Where did you find that headphone splitter? I have been looking for a double like that (without a cord).ReplyCancel

Every night I disappoint my kids with a little thing I like to call dinner.

Vegetarian stir fry konjac noodles

It isn’t like we have gone all cult food and cut out sugar nor am I making them eat weird stuff, our family is just eating a mostly plant based diet with a little bit of fish thrown in because mama is selfish and loves sushi. So yes, that means my kids eat a heck of a lot of vegetables. They also eat pasta and cheese and even get treats on a regular basis. I don’t understand why dinner is an argument inducing event of groundhog day regularity.
Due to the predictability, I also don’t know why I am surprised. I do however sort of understand why I take it so personally. I try my best to walk the fine line of junk that find delicious and making a meal that is actually good for their bodies without crushing their souls on a nightly basis. In turn, they react as if I am trying to poison them and/or ruin their life.

What is the answer to this age old problem? Is there an answer? I will not let them have cereal for dinner each evening. They have cereal for breakfast and that is bad enough. The contents of their lunch boxes is identical nearly everyday. They like what I give them, it is a balanced and healthy collection of food, they appreciate that there are no surprises and the most important factor is that they eat it.

So why is dinner such a fuss? I am not a skilled chef and I certainly don’t like cooking enough to experiment in the kitchen for fun. We have a rotation of evening meals that I know they will eat yet it never fails that they come into to sit down and let out a collective “yuck” when they see what is on their plates.

I am sticking to my metaphorical guns and serving a meal that is meat-free and healthy. I am giving them portions that are reasonable and leaving it up to them to eat it. I am astonished that the kids react as if they are hearing this information anew each night, then reluctantly agree to my terms and after not finishing, still beg for something else an hour later claiming hunger.

Last night I did play on the theme of our regular stir fry by using these new noodles made from Konjac flour instead of the usual rice noodles, BUT it wasn’t what set them off! In fact, not one of the three noticed that difference, it was that I used a Hoisin sauce instead of making my regular Soy Sauce plus Sesame Oil and Mirin mix. There really is not a recipe other than stir frying together broccoli florets, ribbons of carrot and sweet potato (so they cook in the same amount of time) plus capsicum (red bell peppers for my American friends), tofu and the the noodles with the sauce. We found these new noodles by Slendier at the Good Food and Wine show on the weekend and love them. They make rice and more varieties of pasta from this knojac flour and it is cool alternative to the regular versions. This is something they eat often, but mean mom had to try something new with it. ARGH.

I am such a mean mother that today is Footy Colours Day at school and the fundraising event also included the option to purchase a meat pie or sausage roll lunch (hearty winter footy food for sure) and not only did I say No to the meat option, but I went across the street to the Hampton Corner Cafe and purchased the kids their own vegetarian pie each for their lunch so they would not feel left out of the fun food experience their friends were having. Meanest mother ever, right? You would think so. I am not backing down on the one though.

Coming up on the blog, I am going to see what recipes I can lock into rotation for the kids. Have you got suggestions? What are your kids loving? Help!

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  • Bron Curnow - I have a recipe for these great little nacho pots – made with red kidney beans! If my two eat them yours will….well er maybe 😉 xoReplyCancel

  • Lindsay Brice via Facebook - Maybe it’s just kids growing up and nothing you actually did or cooked? I have no children, but I was one once (who never knew complaining about dinner was an option, but them’s the times).
    That looks delicious, by the way…ReplyCancel

  • Alina Golovachenko - This isn’t necessarily dinner food, but in regards to the sausage roll option – everyone always likes these bad boys, and I mean the adults too! They’re vegan sausage rolls with pecans, soy sauce, onion and tofu. Great sauce vehicles! http://herestheveg.blogspot.com.au/2008/12/december-7-2008-vegan-sausage-rolls.htmlReplyCancel

  • Andrea Buschner via Facebook - What would they cook for dinner if you let them decide? I think my daughter would have spaghetti for a long time, spaghetti with snow cheese (parmesan), but I found that she just does not like cooked vegies and a lot of kids don’t, so I let her choose any raw vegetables she likes and that are on hand. No sweet cereal in our house, it’s just a no no, but we do meat here.ReplyCancel

  • Kris - Why are they not allowed to be non-vegetarians if that is what they’d like?

    I get that this is very important for you to be vegetarian but let’s say you were all meat-eaters and suddenly one of your children decided they were vegetarian, would you force them to eat meat?

    I don’t know. There are things that we as parents should try to instill in our children: values and limits being some of them. But to completely take away their autonomy in what is obviously a big deal to them seems, pardon if this is harsh, heavy-handed.

    What is wrong with choosing sustainably grown, organic meat products. Or giving a lesson on why it’s important for you to eat vegetarian, and in the end letting them choose.

    I’m sorry if I am missing some particulars here that would absolutely necessitate them being vegetarians. If this is a philosophical thing, hope you revisit this. It’s better in my opinion if the kids choose this themselves. In any case, good luck. Meal battles are never fun.ReplyCancel

    • sesame - They actually want to be vegetarian. We have only been eating this way for nearly three years now and it all started from Clover. (http://www.racheldevine.com/2012/06/16/conversations-on-life-and-death-with-a-three-year-old-gentle-soul/) When my husband and I had crab one night recently, Clover cried because she could see the animal it once was. We feel very strongly that we as a family (and they are my kids and are living by my rules until they are 18) do not need to kill animals for our food. We have a long way to go to be completely cruelty free in our lives, but not eating meat is a big step. They enjoy a wide variety of foods and as you can see, I make sure they get to also have fun at school when the school does not offer them an alternative. They are kids and they do want to do as their friends do, but I will not allow them to have the meat pies at school just to fit in. Since I made that decision, I made sure I also made it up to them by providing something similar. I brought it up to the school parent association actually and they thought it was a great idea to have a vegetarian option in future fund-raising meals. In the end, the kids absolutely loved the pie they had instead and all three asked if we could get it for them again.
      I think that you might have missed the point of the article. The kids complain no matter what and they do it without even tasting what they are offered. They get their breakfast cereal at breakfast and I refuse to give it to them at dinner as well. I just wish that this was not a battle every night and it is…even if it is their beloved pasta and cheese. Dinner is always a disappointment and I need to figure out what can change that.ReplyCancel

  • Kris - I see. You have kind-hearted kids.I actually tried to search for the term vegetarian on your site to see previous posts about it, but I couldn’t find a search function on the mobile site and the Google results didn’t help.

    Like I said, good luck, as mea battles are tiring for anyone. Parents withReplyCancel

  • Kris - **parents with non-picky eaters are very lucky
    I meant to sayReplyCancel

Brought to you by Visa Checkout

In the first post of this blog series, I shared with you what I got to do with all the time that I got back by using Visa Checkout. In this instalment, I want to show you just how easy it is to use, as well as offer two readers the chance to win your own treat out to see a movie at Hoyts LUX cinemas courtesy of Visa Checkout.

On many occasions I find myself shopping online, making my selections and then getting to the checkout page to pay, only to realise that I have no idea where my handbag is with my wallet. I am notorious for misplacing things like my entire purse – complete with wallet, keys and phone inside. The way that I like to look at it is that I store them securely, but really I just put them down and immediately forget where they are as the kids or dog or something else redirects my attention.

Since I don’t know my credit card details by heart, I must go searching. With in-demand items like tickets or sales, there is often a timer on the checkout process, so if I am not quick in finding that bag, I have to start all over again and risk losing the items in my cart. Visa Checkout is a service that remedies this for me by securely storing all of my cards online in one handy account. When a retailer offers Visa Checkout as a payment option, I only have to remember the email address and password for that account! Shopping online just got even more convenient because using Visa Checkout means that you don’t have to enter all the billing address details, reducing the time it takes to complete your purchase.

Shopping online australia


Registering for an account is fast, secure and easy. I sat down at my laptop (found my wallet first) and in just about five minutes I had created a Visa Checkout account and logged my cards into it.

visa checkout australia account creation

Visa Checkout is new to Australia, but they have made it simple to find retailers who offer their service. Just check their website to view the wide selection! For example, Hoyts is one retailer who has embraced Visa Checkout and I easily booked tickets for a LUX showing of Pitch Perfect 2 online ahead of my “me day” in
the city using the service. I just found the cinema I wanted, the date and time of the movie, picked my seat and in the checkout window it was one click of the Visa Checkout button to purchase my ticket!

select visa checkout

Not only does this service make online shopping simple and quick, but you can even do things like top up your Starbucks drink card on the go with just your smart phone and your Visa Checkout account. Topping up the Starbucks card with Visa Checkout from my mobile phone on-the-go means I will never be in the city and without my favourite coffee hit!

Now for the most awesome part of all! Thanks to Visa Checkout, I have two $150 HOYTS LUX vouchers to give away! Aussie residents only. Please find the full T&C here.

To be in the running, just tell me in a comment:


Coordinated by Nuffnang

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  • Carling - I have both hands in splints at the moment, I need some time back because it takes me 5 x longer than anyone else to do anything!ReplyCancel

  • Ruth Henwood - I need some time back! For the last few weeks my kids have seen nothing but the top of my head peering into a laptop with a pen sticking out of my bun! Actually at last count it was 3 pens! Report writing time at our house!ReplyCancel

  • Bron Curnow - I need some time back because I have being running on a very fast treadmill of life the last three years and need some time to recoup and regroup!ReplyCancel

  • Kim m - I got cranky with my daughter thismorning because she wouldn’t eat breakfast, and I had to get her to school and I couldn’t be late for work. If Visa Checkout could give me some time back to sit and relax and enjoy mornings with my daughter instead of getting stresses, then it would be worth its wait in gold!ReplyCancel

Family day at the theatre

Today we went downtown to see The Lion King. It was a brilliant treat (thank you Auntie Karen!) to dress up and go to the theatre. Kieran even relented and wore something other than his beloved soft tracksuit pants! He looked ever so handsome. Clover is rich with hand-me-down dresses at the moment and doesn’t mind an excuse to put on a pair of clippy-cloppy sparkle shoes, so it was not hard to get her ready. Gem has suddenly shot up and grown out of her entire wardrobe. She has also entered the world of grown-up lady sized shoes. We were able to select a new fancy dress and blazer, both half price, from H&M yesterday and found some flats on sale at Payless shoes. She danced her way through the streets of Melbourne this afternoon.

I am starting to clean out my wardrobe. I have been reading that book about de-cluttering that is taking over my social media feeds and while I just can’t devote the time to make it work as advised, I have cobbled together my own method. More on what works for me in another blog post, the point is, I am inspired to weed out what I have that no longer fits so that I can easily pull together more outfits with less. I am starting to enjoy getting ready in the mornings now and I am not just wearing my running pants everyday.

I don’t get to go to live musicals often, so I was really excited. What an amazing production The Lion King is! I was smiling the entire time and despite a few moments where Clover grabbed my hand, the kids absolutely loved it. Now I have put tickets to Cats on my christmas wish list. That was my first ever musical and I even got to see it on Broadway for my 15th birthday, so I am excited to share that one with my kids.

It is a long weekend here (Happy birthday, Queen) so the weekend fun goes on with the Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show AND the football. I love this city!

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