Eating from Boston to Cambridge

If you’re a foodie, Boston is definitely a place you want to visit. They are known for their fresh seafood, New England classics and Bostonian dishes, such as Clam Chowder, Scrod, Raw Oysters, Baked Beans, Cannoli and Boston Cream Pie. If your health conscious, vegan or vegetarian there are also plenty of cafes and restaurants that are focused on organic, local and sustainable food.

We only had a couple of days to see Boston and the Harvard, Cambridge, so we tried as much local cuisine as we could. It was really nice to try some of Bostons finest foods, by cooks and chefs that make everything traditionally and in-house with New England ingredients. There was so much we didn’t get to try, so I would definitely go back to eat everything thing else I missed.

Have you been to Boston and Cambridge? What were your favourite foods?

Continue reading “Eating from Boston to Cambridge”

Zucchini Pancakes

Pancakes are one of those meals that you can whip up anytime when you don’t have much on hand. I prefer to eat savoury pancakes unless  I am having them for dessert or second breakfast. My daughter absolutely loves pancakes. It’s one of the few things that she will eat on her own in it’s entirely. Luckily she hasn’t experienced the sweet side of pancakes yet and prefers to eat even plain pancakes with peanut butter.

This recipe is a quick one that is stuffed with fresh zucchini and lightly spiced with cumin. It’s great for picky eaters who won’t even notice the taste of the zucchini (they may notice the flex of green though). But as long as it tastes good there’s no harm right!

I served these pancakes for a quick dinner with sauteed paprika corn, avocado, and cherry tomatoes. They would also be nice with salsa or tomato relish, a side salad and guacamole.

Zucchini Pancakes

(vegetarian, dairy free, nut free, vegan option)

Ingredients:

1 cup grated zucchini

1 cup unbleached plain flour or light spelt lflour

1.5 tsp baking powder

1.5 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt

1 egg or 1 flax egg

1 cup plant milk, preferably unsweetened

freshly cracked black pepper

olive oil to cook

Method: 

1.Grate the zucchini. Squeeze out the moisture from the zucchini. I used a few paper towels to do this.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cumin and sea salt in a mixing bowl and whisk.

3. In a separate bowl beat the egg, add the milk and whisk.

4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and whisk until smooth.

5. Stir in the zucchini and cracked black pepper.

6. Heat a crepe maker, cast iron pan or nonstick pan and add olive oil to coat.

7. Cook each pancake for a couple of minutes on one side and when bubbles start to form, flip over on the other side for another minute or until cooked through.

* Makes 4 big pancakes

 

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Chocolate Berry Overnight Oats

In this hot Australian summer the last thing you want to eat is a hot bowl of oats at the moment. I prefer to soak the oats overnight and enjoy them chilled the next morning. Overnight oats are one of the quickest and easiest breakfast to make. They are great for busy people who don’t have time to make breakfast.

To make overnight oats you only need to combine a few ingredients in a sealed container. Then place in the fridge overnight and enjoy the next day (or at least 4-5 hours later).

To prepare overnight oats you just need these few ingredients:

  • rolled oats, with or without chia seeds mixed in
  • plant-based milk
  • mashed banana/frozen berries/coconut yogurt
  • any spices or other fruit (dried/fresh)
  • sweetener such as maple syrup, agave or honey

There are so many flavour combinations you can make. Chocolate Berry Overnight Oats is one of my recipes. The cacao gives a slight caffeine hit to wake you up and the berries are full of antioxidants. If you find your oats aren’t as sweet as you may like, then hold off adding the sweetener until you just about to eat it them.

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Learning to colour with Inktense in The Magical City

Ever since I watched the Speed Colouring of The Magical City with Derwent Inktense pencils (Hyde Park), by Peta Hewitt, I was intrigued with Derwent Inktense Pencils. I was in awe of the way the dull pencil shades would activate into vibrant hues with the touch of a magical water pen. For a long time, I held back buying more pencils. However, when Peta brought out her step-by-step tutorial series in The Magical City using Derwent Inktense Pencils I knew I had to give it a try.

Recently I have been practising and experimenting with Inktense pencils and I now feel more confident using them. The colouring experience with these pencils are much different to normal colouring pencils. They can be activated using a water brush, water-based blending marker or paint brush with water. The water makes shades more intense and is easily blended and create gradients.

Derwent Inktense Pencils are similar to water colour pencils, except they are made permanent when dried. This makes layering more effective. They can be bought loose or in fixed packs of  6, 12, 24, 36, 48 and 72. I prefer to use the pencils with the Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush. However, I have also experimented with a Tombow Blending Marker, which is also very effective and better for paper that can’t handle water as well. Just note that the water can wrinkle the paper and the colour can bleed through if too much water is used. So always try your materials in the back of a colour book before painting with them. For a complete list of all the materials I used refer to the bottom of this post.

  Continue reading “Learning to colour with Inktense in The Magical City”

Eating through NYC

When I was planning my trip to New York City I was a bit nervous what exactly I was going to eat over there. I try to stick to a lifestyle diet of mostly vegetarian, unprocessed, organic and chemical free food.  I also had my toddler with me, who is preferring more and more to only eat the same food as me, rather than her organic baby food. Friends had told me how it’s nearly impossible to find healthy unprocessed food in America, particularly New York. However, once I did a bit of research I found there were so many of delicious options available that were healthy and less processed. There some more indulgent options that are made by artisans from scratch.  New York is Foodie Mecca! Here are some of the most delicious meals I had while eating through New York City.

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By Chef Chloe

Last year for my 30th birthday present I went on a trip America! I have always dreamed of going to New York and it really was as amazing as I thought. We spent a week there, sight seeing, eating and walking, so much walking. One of the places at the top of my list was to visit Chloe Coscarelli’s restaurant By Chloe. I have been a fan of hers for a long time and own all three of her books that I cook from regularly.

Chloe Coscarelli first shot to fame when she won a culinary competition with her vegan cupcake on the Food Network’s reality series Cupcake Wars, back in 2010. Since then she has published three vegan cookbooks: Chloe’s Kitchen (2012); Chloe’s Vegan Desserts(2013) & Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen (2014). In 2015 she opened her first restaurant, by CHLOE, in New York City. She currently has three locations in New York, one in Los Angeles and is set to roll out more locations in New York and Boston.

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I can’t remember exactly how I came across her first book, but I fell in love with the easy to prepare delicious plant-based recipes. Not long after I purchased her dessert book, which I regularly use when entertaining friends. It was a dream come true when she brought out her vegan Italian cookbook. Coming from an Italian background myself I really loved the veganised versions of classic Italian dishes as well as some more inventive recipes using Italian ingredients.

While in New York we visited By Chloe in the West Village on Bleeker Street. This street has so many amazing restaurants, but one of the busiest by far was By Chloe. We arrived for a late afternoon lunch and there was a line to the door. This line didn’t get shorter the entire duration of our visit. We were lucky enough to grab a table in the limited dining room and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this busy little restaurant. The menu includes a range of burgers, salads, pasta, fries, juices, ice creams, and desserts.

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We ordered the Classic and Guac Burger, Sweet potato fries and the Kale Caesar Salad. They were all really delicious. The Guac was a little better than the Classic, as I think it was put together in a rush. However, with the addition of the free dipping sauces (yes free!) it was saved. I think incredibly delicious dipping sauces were Chipotle Mayo and Beetroot Ketchup. The salad again was perfection. It had smoky shiitake mushrooms, crunchy croutons, a well-balanced dressing and ‘parmesan’ crumbs.

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After that, we went back for desserts. There was a big selection, I wish I could have tried one of each. We got the Chocolate Chip Cookie, Raspberry Cupcake, Cloiser Chloe Cupcake and Kale Cookies & Cream Ice cream. They all tasted as good as they looked. The ice cream was also a nice surprise. I didn’t know what to expect but it didn’t really taste like kale.

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If you get the chance I really recommend you stop in at By Chloe. Like my partner, if you not vegan I still think you will enjoy it. If you are vegan, vegetarian or a health conscious eater you will definitely really love the abundance to healthy delicious food. By Chloe is not only 100% vegan but it is also 100% GMO free and uses organic, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients.

Moana

I am in love with the new Disney movie, Moana. I recently took my daughter to see it in the cinemas and we have been singing the songs ever since. Our favourite is “Your Welcome”, sung by Dwayne Johnson. Octavia favourite word at the moment is ‘welcome’, which isn’t to be polite but rather demand we play it again and again and again.

What I love most about this movie is that there is no love interest for Moana and that she reflects a realistic body type. Don’t get me wrong, I love the classic princesses and I don’t begrudge the role of the prince and the slim figures of the princess. However, it is refreshing to see a change in the way woman are portrayed. I also love the amazingly, beautiful imagery. So much care was given to each scene to depict a realistic image of the Polynesian culture and gorgeous island landscape.

So many artists have paid homage to Moana in their own style. Here are a few of my favourites:

Kalisami (@karsallam), Yuduki (Yudukichi)Promise Tamang (@promisetamang), Ma xx S t e p h e n °o° (@maxxstephen)Activistic Artist (@activistic.artist)Julianna Maston (@juliannamaston)Elisa G.B. (@asilee_art), Daniel Kordek (@danielkordek)Linnéa (@pastel.ette)David Dias (@daviddias_arts)

I really wanted to also pay homage my new favourite Disney princess. I haven’t drawn anything other than doodles for years. When I was younger I was always drawing and painting. In my youth, I wanted to be an artist. although I was good in comparison to the other student I never felt I was really good enough. But since the adult colouring craze, I feel inspired to be creative again without any pressure.

I usually sketch by sight and never use any technique when I draw. So sometimes my drawings are a bit unsymmetrical. So I decided to get some help from a professional artist to sketch out Moana. There are so many videos tutorials to choose from on how to draw Moana on YouTube. I choose a video by Ellie Holt on her YouTube channel, Spilled the paint.

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Ellie Holt, Spilled the paint

I really enjoyed this tutorial. Ellie gave clear step-by-step instructions and her techniques can be easily replicated again for Moana or another princess. For the drawing  she uses a brown pencil to sketch it out, then went over in it with a black pencil and then again with a thick black marker. Lastly, she roughly coloured her with some coloured pencils and markers.

For my drawing I used pencil to sketch her out, then a black fine tip to go over the outline. After that I coloured her in Prismacolor pencils. For the background and texture of the hair I used this movie still (below). The paper I used was watercolour paper, that’s why it is a bit grainy as well. It took alot more layering to get the colour smooth on the paper.

image_f6e45c87.png So here you are. It’s not an exact replica but I’m happy with it. I feel more confident since doing this drawing and perhaps Moana will pop up again in one of my colouring books or I in a watercolour painting. I think next time I won’t do such harsh black lines as she looks more comic rather than realisitc. It’s was also hard to cover up or alter those lines once they were drawn in.

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If you love art but don’t feel like you can draw, I recommend you try out an online tutorial. You may be surprised what you can produce when you use some artist techniques.

Non-toxic/Eco Toys for under 12 months

Hi there, if you have been following me for a while you would know that I had a beautiful baby girl named Octavia back in April 2015. She is now 21 months and over that time we have already accumulated a lot of toys. I shutter to think about the arrival of more toys when we celebrate her 2nd birthday in April.

Before I even had Octavia I was researching the best non-toxic, eco-friendly toys that I could buy. I know most people think I’m a little obsessed with buying everything non-toxic things for my daughter, but I think it’s really important. I rather buy products that are safe, sustainable and can be passed on. I also like to consider that the less plastic in her playroom and bedroom, the better the air quality and the less likely that she will inject toxic substances. Does this mean she doesn’t own any plastic toys? No, she has a few but I try to keep it to a minimal.

People also think that’s it’s not affordable, which I understand. However, I rather take a more minimalist approach and purchase a few higher quality items. We are also a one income family, but we make it work. I love using gift registry for birthdays so that our friends and family can put money towards things she may need. I also ask family members to put money towards more expensive purchases, so it’s not such a burden on one person or family. Most of these toys were purchased through Biome’s gift registry for our baby shower. Also, I’m always on the look out for sales. I subscribe to many online stores so I know when their sales are, I try to use gift cards for big department stores and take advantage of credit card cash back promotions.

So here are some of my picks of toys we bought or would also have liked to of bought instead. Just keep in mind that this info is based on my own personal research, my budget, and availability in Australia. The information below was provided by the brands themselves or retailers selling these items. I encourage you to do your own research before purchasing.

Here are a few tips:

  • Ask for more information about the products
    • If retailers can’t help you then email the company who makes the product
    • If they don’t want to answer your question correctly, then they may be trying to hide something
  • Shop around
    • Sign up to a few websites to receive notification of sales
    • Ask friends and family for donation to your baby fund
    • Use gift cards for bigger retailers that you received as a gift or bought discounted
    • Make use of Credit card promotions e.i. Amex Shop Small cash back
  • Be aware of Green Washing
    • Just because its ‘eco-friendly’ doesn’t me it’s non-toxic and safe for your baby to put in their mouth
  • Window shop in your local eco store, baby boutique store or online stores
    • Look for products that you like
    • Educate yourself on eco options available in the product ranges
  • Educate yourself on the dangers of harmful substances in kids toys
    • You can then make an informed decision on what you will and won’t accept
  • Organise you gift registry with an eco or baby boutique store
    • yes it may be more expensive than finding the best price online but you can splurge a bit when it’s being gifted and you are also supported these smaller retailers
    • try to return unwanted gifts at big department stores and swap for eco alternatives

If you are interested in non-toxic products for babies and children but are very new to this topic I recommend you read this article, The Complete Guide to Non-Toxic Baby Products, by TotScoop. It is a more in depth discussion on why non-toxic is best for babies, chemicals of concern and some recommend safer products. It is an American perspective so you may not be able to find all these products in Australia. Another great article is Chemicals in Common Products: Risky Business for Children’s Health, by the Greenguard Environmental Institute.

If you have any feedback on toys your kids enjoyed let me know, in case there’s a baby no. two. Also just remember kids make their own fun. As I am writing this my daughter is sitting beside me taking my pencils in and out of my pencil case. As long as she’s safe and happy, I am happy.

Activity Gym

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We decided to go with the Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym. Octavia really enjoyed this for a long time and was probably the only thing she really played with every day. It pushed her practice reaching and grasping and was great for tummy time. It can be easily washed and packed away for baby no. 2 or gifted to a friend. This is probably the only toy I think is a must for little babies. I bought mine from David Jones online, but many other retailers sell them and there are a few different styles available now.

1. Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym

BPA-free, PVC-free, Phthalate-free. Safety-tested to meet or exceed ASTM, CPSIA, EN71 and applicable safety standards.

2. Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Activity Gym

BPA-free, PVC-free, Phthalate-free. Safety-tested to meet or exceed ASTM, CPSIA, EN71 and applicable safety standards.

3. Skip Hop Camping Cubs Baby Activity Gym

BPA-free, PVC-free, Phthalate-free. Safety-tested to meet or exceed ASTM, CPSIA, EN71 and applicable safety standards.

4. Wild Indiana Wooden Playgym 

Each piece is custom made, sanded and painted with non-toxic paint.

5. Hess Baby Gym Henry

Beech and maple wood from renewable resources. All paints and stains are water-based and 100% non-toxic and saliva-resistant. All other materials used such as strings, elastics and glues are also non-toxic and child-safe. Any metal parts such as clips and bells are nickel free. Fully comply with European and Australian Safety Standards for Toys.

 

Play Mat

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We have hardwood floors so I wanted to get a soft playmat for Octavia to do tummy time on.We bought the Deuz Organic Cotton Baby Play Mat from Sustainababy. This version is no longer available, but you can find their new version from a few Australian retailers. I use to put the activity gym on top of the play mat so that she wasn’t on such a hard surface. I would also take it with me to my pilates classes and to the park, as it’s easy to wash. I am very happy with this play mat and we are still using it.

1.Deuz Organic Cotton Playmat

Manufactured in India by workshops of solidarity trade, 100% organic cotton poplin . Non-toxic and environmentally safe inks and interior is polyester. Certified GOTS, CE tested and recommended from birth. 

2. Deuz Cozy mattress

Manufactured in India by workshops of solidarity trade, 100% organic cotton canvas, non-toxic inks, polyester interior; Certified GOTS.

3. Nook Lilypad Playmat

Cover materials is made of Eucalyptus and Organic Cotton. Core Materials is made of Good PETE, which is non-toxic and recycled. OEKO-Tex certified Polyester/Organic Cotton blended thread

4. Nature Baby Play Mat

Outer made of 100% organic cotton sweatshirt knit and filling made of organic cotton wadding.

 

Teether Toys

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Teethers are also a must for babies and since it spends so much time in their little mouths you want to get the best quality. They are also inexpensive and you only really need one. I didn’t realise this at the time of our baby shower so I ended up with a few. I received the original Sophie and the Sophie Teething Ring, My Natural Elephant ring and Dog Dingaring through our gift registry. She only really liked to chew on the soft Sophie and hold the dog Dingaring. All babies have different preferences and some like to suck or chew teethers more than others.

1.Les Folies Sophie the Giraffe

Made from 100% natural rubber derived from the sap of the Hevea tree. Painted with non-toxic, food-grade paints. Free from phthalates, vinyl and PVC.

2. OB Designs Dingaring

Plush super soft body; Beechwood timber teething ring; Recycled stock swing tag & backer card. Designed in Byron Bay, Australia. Made responsibly in Indonesia. No plastic packaging.

3. My Natural Eco Teether

100% baby-safe and features a plant-based bio-resin material that is better for baby and the environment. Made safely and free from BPA, Phthalates, PVC and latex

4. Hevea Panda teether

100% natural rubber teether; Free from phthalates, colours, PVC & EVAtane, silicone & BPA. Complies with the EU safety standard EN71, US ASTM, AS/NZ ISO and Cananda Consumer Product Safety.

5. Natursutten  Natural Rubber Teether Toy

100% natural rubber teether; Free of BPA, phthalate, PVC, lead, nitrosamine, chemical softeners, parabens, and other harmful chemicals.

6. Dandelion Organic Squeaker

Made with organic cotton fibers and lightly stuffed with fluffy corn fiber filling.

7. Lifefactory multi-sensory silicone teether

Free of BPA, phthalate, PVC, and latex. Made of medical grade silicone.

 

Comforter/Blankie

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We received the Dandelion Bunny Comforter through our gift registry. Octavia never really took to it. But I have seen other babies that are really attached to them.

1. Dandelion Organic Bunny Comforter

Organic Cotton and filled with Corn Fibre Filling.

2. Natures Purest – Pure Love Comforter Bunny 

Organically Grown Cotton Velour. Naturally Coloured (no dyes).

3. My Natural Sleepytime Lovie Blanket

Hypoallergenic, Organic cotton velour; Low-impact eco dyes.

4. Apple Park Organic Blankie in a Box 

100% organic cotton body, silk nose and naturally hypoallergenic corn fibre filling.

5. Under the Nile Sleeping doll

100% Egyptian organic cotton, GOTS certified, made at fair trade farm in Egypt. Free of  Azo colorants, BPA, flame retardants, formaldehyde, fragrance, PVC or lead.

 

Balls

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We received the rainbow Dingle Ball through our gift registry with Biome. Octavia did like looking at this colourful ball when she was really tiny. I later bought her the Caaocho and Oball. I bought them from the Sleepstore. They were costly, but now you can purchase them cheap from Australian retailers. I’ve seen the Oball at Kids Stuff and BigW. We still play with them now, but I probably didn’t need both.

1. Caaocho Rainbow Sensory Ball

100% pure natural rubber. Certified non-toxic: BPA, PVC, Phthalate, Nitrosamine free, food grade paint.

2. O.B. Designs Sensory Dingle Ball

Deluxe felt ball. Designed in Byron Bay, Australia. Made responsibly in Indonesia.

3. Apple Park Organic Farm Buddies Soft Balls

100% organic cotton fabric hypoallergenic sustainable corn fiber filler packaging.

4. Oball Classic Rattle/Ball

BPA Free, phthalate free and PVC free.

5. B Toys Ball-a-balloos (rubber)

Free of BPA, lead or phthalates.

 

Soft/Plush Toys

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In Octavia’s short lifespan we have received so many soft toys. Out of this list, we received the Barefoot Artisans Thorny Devil Lizard, which she loved when she was tiny. She also received a Maud n Lil Bunny, which she appreciated more when she was older. Both were purchased through our gift registry with Biome. There are plenty of lovely soft toys with non-toxic fill that are great to give or receive for baby showers.

1. Barefoot Artisans Toys

Barefoot Artisans are dedicated weavers and needlewomen who, without time constraints of mass production. Barefoot Sri Lanka opposes exploitive practices. Each Artisan earns a real wage enabling them to support their families with self-respect and dignity. Barefoot toys are now filled with polyfil due to import restrictions on kapok. Each are 100% hand woven fabric and 100% natural fibres and Swiss dyes used are non-toxic and colourfast.

2. Maud n Lil Organic Cotton Soft Toy

GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard;  Certified by ICTI, Intertek or equivalent inspecting body. This means that the factories pay their staff fairly, provide healthy & safe conditions for workers and pay proper overtime.European Oeketex Accredited weaving, knitting, dyeing & finishing processors to minimise environmental impact. Our natural filling fibre is derived from NON GMO sweet corn, is machine washable at 40º and eventually biodegrades after the life of the product. It is also backed by Oekotex.

3. Apple Park organic Toys

GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard ; comply with ASTM F963-08; Azo Dye Free; free of mutagenic & carcinogenic dyes; Certified Non-Toxic & Non-Phthalate ; ICTI Certified Factory Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act & International Council of Toy Industries; Organic Trade Association Member; Contains no: harmful chemical dyes, synthetic pesticides, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or Polyester Fillings; Packing is printed on recycled paper with soy ink.

4. Under the Nile Baby Toys

100% organic Egyptian cotton; GOTS certified; Made by our fair trade partner in Egypt; Absolutely NO Azo colorants, BPA, flame retardants, formaldehyde, fragrance, PVC or lead

 

Rattle

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We never bought a rattle for Octavia, since she had the Dingaring, but if we did I would loved one of these.

1.EverEarth Grasping Toy Rattle 

Made from sustainable FSC beech wood and finished with non toxic water based paints and stains; nickel free bell, baby safe mirror and saliva resistant

2. Hess Spielzeug Rattle

Made from European beech and maple woods, all paints are water based and 100% non-toxic and saliva resistant. Strings, elastics and glues are also child safe and non-toxic. Complies with all European and Australian Safety Standards for Toys.

3. Apple Park Organic Soft Rattle

Eyes are non-toxic plastic safety eyes, Ears & Nose are natural silk, Fur is 100% organic cotton and soy fiber, Filling is natural corn fiber.

4. Dandelion baby toy – giraffe with rattle

Organic cotton velour. Natural corn fibre filling.

 

Other toys for under 12 months

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I couldn’t find many brands that sell toys recommend for under 12 months. However, Green Toys and B Toys have a few great toys for this age bracket. Similar toys in other brands are recommended for older babies. If you prefer another brand maybe contact them directly or use your own judgment and supervision. We bought Octavia the Green Toys Elephant on Wheels and the B. Toys Hugs Links. She really enjoyed the Hug Links as she likes sorting things. Unfortunately, her elephant hasn’t seen much play yet. I purchased them of David Jones and Fish pond.

Green Toys:

All toys are made from 100% recycled plastic. No BPA, phthalates or PVC. Meets FDA food contact standardsPackaged with recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks

Green Toys Animals on Wheels

Green Toys Shape Sorter

Green Toys Stacking Cups

Green Toys Stacker

B. Toys:

All the toys go through stringent testing procedures that meet or exceed all U.S., Canadian and the even more stringent European safety standards, all regulations regarding age guidelines, all Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) directives and guidelines, Packaging is recyclable. All toys are BPA-free, lead-free and phthalate-free.

B.Toys Up Up Cups

B. Toys Whirly Pop

B. Toys Hugs Links

B. Toys Skipping Stones

B. Toys Spin, Rattle & Roll

Bath toys

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We bought the Plan Toys Sea Life Bath Set for Octavia. She has lots of fun with it them in the bath and they still in good condition. She now prefers to play with her beach set.

1.Plan Toys Water Play Toys

Made from natural rubber wood trees that no longer produce latex. To keep the wood pure, no fertilizer is added to the soil three years prior to cut the trees down. Chemical-Free Kiln-Dried; Non-Formaldehyde Glue; Organic Color Pigment; Water-based Dyes; Soy Ink and Recycled Paper.Exceed international safety standards including both ASTM (USA) and EN71 (Europe)

2. Hevea Kawan Duck

100% natural rubber, free from phthalates, PVC and BPA; handpainted with natural plant pigments; Meets EU standard EN71, US ASTM, Canada Consumer Product safety Act, & AS/NZ ISO standard.

3. Boon Odd Duck

BPA, PVC and Phthalate Free, Ducks do not absorb water

4. Green Toys Bath Time Fun Toys

Made from 100% recycled plastic. No BPA, phthalates or PVC. Meets FDA food contact standardsPackaged with recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks

 

Continue reading “Non-toxic/Eco Toys for under 12 months”

Moo Free Burgers

Finally a completely plant based burger joint has opened up in Brisbane! Moo Free Burgers is the new creation of the people behind Charlies Fruit MarketCharlie’s Raw Squeeze and Veganyumm Bakery. I am lucky enough to live right up the road from these three gems , so whenever we need extra groceries or have a craving for a fresh juice, indulgent smoothie or cheeky brownie we drive five mins and our wishes are answered. One of the perks of moving to the northside of Brisbane. Moo Free Burgers is a little further away in North Lakes. However it will coincides well with our trips up to Costco or Ikea.

Moo Free Burgers is situated in a small complex, shares its space with another Charlie’s Raw Squeeze. So while tucking into a burger and chips you can also have a nice healthy drink and dessert. It also has a great play room for little ones, so its a great family friendly place.

The menu is quite extensive, including breakfast, sides, a kids menu and a crazy monster burger challenge. As for the burgers themselves, there are eight to choose from, 4 different sliders, three different burger buns and and extra ingredients to add. On the side you can order potato and sweet potato chips and dips to dunk them in. The menu is completely vegan, dairy free and also has gluten free options. Its like a vegan version of the popular burger chain, Grill’d and just as tasty.

I ordered the VBD “Vegan Brothers Delight”. It included a Moofree Burger pattie, Rasher’s (faken bakon), Cheeze, Carmelized Onions, Tomato, Lettuce and Mustard Mayo. I paired it with a side of Beer Battered Potato Chips. It was better then I thought it was going to be. Ok, obviously it doesn’t taste the same as a beef burger with bacon but it was a pretty good alternative. Even Marco approved, although he didn’t order his own, since he had already eaten. The chips were just as good as our favourite Grill’d ones. As for the dips I didn’t get one today since I wasn’t really sharing. My only con was that the Mustard Mayo was squeezing out everywhere, so it got a bit messy. It was also a really big meal for a small girl to eat, so it would definitely would satisfy any big bloke.

While I was tucking into my giant meal, Marco and Octavia were sharing a spectacular looking smoothie from Charlie’s Raw Squeeze. It was the Salted Caramel Loaded Smoothie. There were both really enjoying it and after tasting it I could see why they were both eager for me to give it back.

So if you live in the area or going up north for a visit I recommend you try Moo Free Burgers. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy their food, just hungry.

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Imagimorphia

The current object of my colouring obsession at the moment is Imagimorphia: An Extreme Coloring and Search Challenge by Kerby Rosanes. Since I bought this book I haven’t really coloured in anything else. Just flipping through this book I can find inspiration and can’t wait to unlock all the intricate doodles which can be hard to decipher until you start colouring them.

Kerby is a Philippines-based illustrator with a very distinct artistic style of using doodles to create intricate, quirky images. He originally collaborated  with other authors and illustrated Doodle Invasion: Zifflin’s Coloring Book (Volume 1) and Never Quit Drawing: Sketch Your Way to an Everyday Art HabitBut it wasn’t long until he brought out two of his own colouring books,  Animorphia, Imagimorphia and Sketchy Stories: The Sketchbook Art of Kerby Rosanes. He also has a third colouring book coming out in the new year, Mythomorphia

His first two colouring books are very similar in style. Animorphia features animals morphing into doodles, whereas Imagimorphia also features animals morphing or surrounded by buildings, travel devices, and machines. I was more attracted to Imagimorphia, because I liked the variety of images and I was not as keen on adding to the doodling.  Animorphia offers many images to add to, but I am not very confident in doing this.

For a great review of both of these colouring books I recommend La Artistino’s website and Youtube videos. In her videos she includes finished pages and tips on how to colour Kerby’s work. She also did an amazing job completing the wave ponies picture in Animorphia, which has plenty of space to add additional doodles. When looking at the completed work its hard to know where Kerby’s work ends and La Artistino’s begins. I will post some more links below of some videos and info.

Now for my completed pictures. Nearly all have been coloured with my new favourite pencils, Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils. The first two are coloured with Faber Castell Polychromos Artists‘ Colour Pencils. For sparkles and other details I used a White Uniball Signo Broud Gell Pen. For the black background I used a black Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen. For the backgrounds of the last two pictures I used Mungyo Non Toxic Square Chalk Soft Pastel

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Title Page – This was my very first page and I love it. I used Polychomos pencils and stuck to a very limited colour scheme. The colours used in the doodle are the same ones used for the leopard.

Continue reading “Imagimorphia”

Animal Kingdom

Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom was my first colouring book that began my obsession with adult colouring. I received it as a gift from my uncle and it was exactly what I needed to relax and be creative. At the time my baby was only a few months, so this was the only outlet I had when she was sleeping.

Millie is a Welsh artist and who published her first colouring book Animal Kingdom in 2014. Her book was extremely successful. It was translated in 31 languages and reached the Amazon Top Ten list. She has since bought out three more adult colouring books, including Tropical Wonderland, Wild Savannah and Curious Creatures. Her popularity in the colouring realm has gone on to birth a product family with her distinctive style. Millie Marotta themed calendar, diary, journals, stationary, postcards, wall decals and tablewear can be found on her website or from online retailers, book stores and art stores.

After receiving this book I purchased a tin of 36 Derwent Studio pencils. I didn’t realise that these pencils were meant for sketching and I found them rather hard. They were also less vibrant than other brands, harder to blend and very scratchy. However, at the time I was ignorant and was just enjoying the process. You will probably notice the indents in the paper from pressing so hard. I found it really difficult to get much pigment out of them and it was almost impossible to layer.

The turtle was my very first picture that I coloured. It took me a while to colour all the individual sections. At the time I was really happy how it turned out and really enjoyed colouring it. Now I look back and realise how far I’ve come.

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I began craving more vibrant colours, so I bought myself a 12 set of Jasart Premium Colour Pencil. These pencils are inexpensive, quite smooth and the colour is more concentrated.

This first picture was coloured with only Jasart pencils. You can probably already see a difference compared to my earlier work. The following pictures use both Jasart and Derwent Studio pencils. Although the results are still scratching, there are more pops of colour.

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Continue reading “Animal Kingdom”

Summer Bean Dips

If you in Australia in the moment your either sweating it out or chilling in the air-con. This summer has been pretty brutal. I just got back from Melbourne, which was surprisingly some what worse than Brisbane. In this heat its difficult to think of something quick to cook that won’t heat up your insides. I prefer to make bean dips, which are quick and easy to put together and are a filling meat-free alternative. I like to have them on top of a veggie bowl, a salad, in a wrap or with tortilla chips. These are a few of my go-to bean dips.

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Sprouted Chickpea Peanut Butter Hummus

(vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup sprouted chickpeas

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

3-4 tablespoons peanut butter

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons filtered water

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Place chickpeas into the processor. Blend until they break down a little.

2. Add the remaining ingredients. Continue to blend until smooth and creamy.

*Makes 1 cup

 

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Red Capsicum & Green Lentil Hummus

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 capsicums

4 cloves garlic

1 cup green lentils (3 cups cooked)

2 tablespoons unhulled tahini

2/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Place the lentils in a pot of water, bring to the boil then cook on a simmer till ready. Should take less then 30mins if presoaked.

2. Roast 2 capsicums and garlic in the oven until the skin of capsicum has blackened.

3, Peel skin from the capsicum and roughly chop.

4. In the processor add green lentils, roasted capsicum and garlic.

5. While the processor is on add the rest of the ingredients.

*Makes about 3.5 cups.

 

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Cheesy Brown Lentil Hummus 

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked small brown lentils

2 small cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tahini

1/2 cup italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

black sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Place brown lentils and garlic in the processor and blend.

2. While its processing add olive oil and tahini.

3. Then add italian parsley and continue to blend.

4. While its still processing add garlic powder, curry powder, nutritional yeast and sea salt.

5. Once  all the ingredients have broken down in a dip, serve and top with black sesame seeds.

*Makes 2 cups

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Lime spiked Black bean and Beetroot Dip 

(vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked black beans

1 large clove of garlic

1 cup grated beetroot

juice from 1.5 limes

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon onion flakes (or onion powder)

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

ground cayenne pepper to taste

sea salt to taste

1 cup loosely packed coriander leaves

Method:

1. Place black beans, garlic, beetroot and lime juice in a high speed blender or processor. Blend until smooth.

2. Add the spices and sea salt to taste and blend through.

3. Lastly add the coriander and pulse till it has broken down a little, but so you can still see specs of green through the dip.

*Makes 2 cups