Weekend Edit – Portarlington

 Weekend Edit – Portarlington

As a fresh sea breeze caresses your face and you wake up to uninterrupted views of beautiful blue water, you know you’re in the beautiful bayside town of Portarlington. Having never been here before I was immediately seduced by the sea as we drove into town and up the rolling hills to our Airbnb accommodation for the weekend. A family weekend getaway was underway with the inlaws, cousins, aunties, Snoopy and new addition to the family Biggie Smalls, the kitten.

Where is Portarlington?
Only 90 mins drive from Melbourne, or just 30mins drive from Geelong, Portarlington is situated on the north east point of the Bellarine Peninsula. We’ve been to Geelong so many times, I have no idea why we’ve never ventured out that extra bit to visit this place. Now that it’s on our radar we’ll definitely be back for more.

Things To Do in Port Arlington

1. Wander along the pier

Down the main area of town is a long wide pier where you could happily spend quite some time wandering up and down with kids. Our 4yo was enthralled by the stingray, starfish, and little fishies swimming in the water and he got super curious after seeing a puffer looking fish stranded on the rocks. There were people fishing and others simply enjoying the sun and sea breeze. A sense of calm and appreciation comes over you as you take in the views. The curvy shape of the You Yangs and Melbourne’s skyline are both visible from here.

2. Eat Mussels, plenty of them!
It was the call of the famous Australian Blue mussels that led us to Portarlington. My mother in law loves mussels and seafood and she picked Portarlington as the go to destination for our family getaway. Good call! We ate our way through bowlfuls of them for both lunch and dinner, at both cafes and at the holiday house where we cooked them simply with ginger, garlic and onion. There’s a mussel truck at the pier and another place along the main road that you drive past as you come into town where you can buy fresh mussels at $5kg but I recommend visiting and enjoying your mussels at The Little Mussel Café.

3. Enjoy lunch at the Little Mussel Café

There was a big sign on the main pier showing the address of this place so the hubby put it into his phone and off we went. We arrived at 11:30am and there was no one there but as soon as we had placed our orders, people started coming just in time for lunch. What a gem of a place! As you drive away from the sea and up into the hills, the open fields welcome you and only a few minutes up Queenscliff road on the right side of the road are some signs inviting you in. A big shed is accompanied by a little shop front selling glorious seafood both fresh and smoked, and scallop and mussel pies – I always look out for pies I can take home because my dad loves a good, well made pie! If this wasn’t enticing enough, as soon as we walked around to the outdoor dining area, we were greeted by a charming little set up. A huge communal table stood at the far end of the little courtyard, shaded by a sale and surrounded by big, sturdy benches. There was a little veggie patch (oh how I love veggie patches!) with bright red roma and cherry tomatoes looking so juicy on the vine. There were interesting  arty garden structures made from old farm tools and bits and bobs and underneath the main marquee area where more tables and chairs were waiting for their customers, long garlands of mussel shells decorated the roof line. To top it off the sun was shining, the kids were smiling and everyone was just happy to be together looking through a menu filled with sensational seafood options. Everything was a hit from the mussels to the super friendly and down to earth staff, to the oh so creamy homemade vanilla slice we had for dessert!

4. Go berry picking at Tuckerberry Hill Berry Farm and Café

After having a squiz at the tourist map, my father in law saw that just around the corner a few minutes away was a place called Tuckerberry Hill farm and cafe where we could pick some blueberries and strawberries. We decided after being so full from lunch, walking around and stretching our legs would be a good idea! Being the end of the berry season, the blueberry bushes weren’t overflowing with berries but we still managed to pick quite a few! – it just required a little bit more effort. It was my first time going blueberry picking – we normally go strawberry and apple picking down in Baccus Marsh. The kids loved it and Daniel and his cousins had plenty of space to run, explore and play. I like taking them to places like this because it’s good for him to know where food comes from and to just spend time running free in the great outdoors. There were a few handfuls of ripe red strawberries for the picking but most of the good ones had all been taken. A lot of half eaten strawberries we left. Those damn slugs! We had some milkshakes and coffee at the café and got straight into our berries – they were so juicy and sweet. Nothing like fresh fruit! They also sell fresh farm produce and we came home with some extra veggies in hand.

5. Sit back and enjoy the view from your cozy abode
My sis in law booked a comfortable place via Airbnb for all 14 of us to stay and with a huge verandah wrapped around the house, a table tennis and fusball table, fireplace (not that we used it), big backyard and a short walk to the main town area, we were in total holiday mode. It was nice to just sit back on the balcony looking out into the distance. So quiet and peaceful.
6. A visit to St Patrick’s church

Just a couple of blocks up from the main town area of Portarlington on Harding street is St Patrick’s Catholic church. Whilst everyone was slowly waking up on the Sunday morning, I couldn’t help but get out into the morning sun to take Hannah for a walk and check out the local parish. As soon as I walked up to the front door I was greeted with a smile and “Welcome!”. This beautiful hospitality continued as I walked inside and sat down on my own with little Hannah – a lady came up to us bearing gifts of a maraca and some books to keep Hannah occupied. She made us feel welcomed and at ease not having to worry if Hannah made too much noise – luckily Hannah sat down quietly for most of the mass and I was able to listen to this week’s readings and homily about money and anxiety – topics that I really think a lot of people today would relate to. A reminder to not worry about yesterday and not stress about tomorrow and just live in the moment. They had pancakes in the hall after mass which everyone was welcome to share but I headed back to the house just in case my 4yo had gotten up from his sleep in. Leaving the church I felt happy and grateful to have shared a beautiful morning with such a nice community.

7. Fun time, beach time

As you look at the shoreline from the pier, you can see a gorgeous stretch of sandy beach with clear blue green waters lapping its shores. Both our kids love the water and blessed with gorgeous sunny weather on the Sunday as well as on Saturday, they went for a quick dip in the ocean before we started heading back home. I could see further out from the town an area on the beach where caravans were stationed. Note to self, book a weekend away at that camp spot!

8. A big fat almond croissant from The Portarlington Bakehouse

Needing some sustenance before the drive home, we took a walk along the little shopping strip and headed to the Portarlington Bakehouse. Again this place was like the Little Mussel Café where there was an absolutely gorgeous outdoor courtyard round the back. A sloping landscape led to dining table areas spread about the place in between trees and plants and garden ornaments. Towards the back end of the courtyard stood some playground equipment complete with a slide, swings, rockclimbing wall and some chalk supplied for kids to draw on the fence walls! Rustic and cozy, we devoured our pastries while the kids played happily. My almond croissant was huge and so scrumptious! The hubby had a cream bun and strong cappuccino. What a gorgeous little spot!

We arrived in Portalington on the Friday night and drove back home on Sunday afternoon and I felt like there was still so much more to do and see!

Take a ride on the Portarlington miniature railway

Stroll through the weekend market along Newcombe street in WG Little Reserve

See, taste and discover the wine region and visit the Bellarine Estate, Jack Rabbit Estate or the Terindah Estate

Attend their annual festivals – the Portarlington Mussel Festival (January) or their National Celtic Festival (June)

Visit the fully restored original steam-powered flour mill which was built in 1857, includes displays of local history

Try taking the ferry from Docklands to Portarlington, it’s about an hour and a half trip! You could even make your way to Queenscliff and take a ferry to Sorrento

Sit back and enjoy the quiet surroundings

With its mouthwatering mussels, calm beaches and rolling hills with fresh local produce, Portarlington has that village charm that will make you feel at home and keep you coming back. Lots of family friendly activities at this destination that is an easy weekend roadtrip away. What do you love about Portarlington?

If you’re after a weekend roadtrip destination why not visit Warburton or some of Melbourne’s exciting parks.

 

Sunday Reflections – Romance and Mystery

The kids are sick. The weather has cooled down. Tomorrow it begins all over again. Packing lunches. School drop offs. Planning, or more like wondering what’s for dinner then remembering that you’re the one that has to cook it! Before the hustle and grind of another week begins I find that more than ever before, I can’t go without my insightful hour of mass in the morning (or Saturday evenings). There always seems to be a richness in life lessons and a sense of community in the parish that fills me with hope and a breath of fresh air. A new day and a new chance to love and forgive.

In the weekly Parish bulletin today I came across the article below. I can totally relate. Seeing young love so spritely flourishing in the new relationships of my friends and some family members, to the more enduring, long lasting love of my parents and grandparents, reading about romance and mystery made sense. So below is an excerpt from the bulletin which can be found in full on the Resurrection website, if you’re interested. Otherwise I have shared the article from Smart Loving below with you in case you’re needing a little reminder like me!

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One of the things that makes a new romance so exciting and attractive is the element of uncertainty: Is this person really interested in me? Will this person really be the one I’ve longed for?

We can all relate to the thrill of the start-up relationship where the other is essentially still a stranger and quite mysterious to us. Where is this all going to lead? The suspense is both thrilling and invigorating!

The initial thrill is the stuff of movies and music and is an intoxicating experience. Yet it is also very limited. It captures nothing of the magnificence of a couple’s devotion which has stayed strong over decades and matured into a love that can be truly relied upon.

Deep Christian love depends on more than the romantic feelings that come from ‘falling in love’; it requires a deliberate willful and intentional loving.

“Over the years I’ve noticed that when pragmatism dominates our relationship, we are less playful and more prone to criticism. Conversely, when we are more romantic with each we are also more gentle and forgiving.” – Bryon

St Valentine Valentine's Day

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p style=”text-align: center;”>Fact File
St Valentine was a Bishop in Rome who was imprisoned for performing marriages for Christian soldiers against the decree of the Roman Emperor, Claudius II. While in jail, Valentine healed the blind daughter of his jailor and they became friends. He was eventually beheaded in Rome on February 14, 269AD, signing a farewell notes to the young girl with “From Your Valentine”.
His feast day became a popular celebration among couples in the eighteenth century, who expressed their devotion with greeting cards which were known as ‘Valentines’.
St Valentine is the patron saint of engaged couples, happy marriages, epileptics, travellers and bee keepers.

Keeping Romance Alive

Romance carries with it a sense of playfulness and delight in one another, and is not only for the young. Mature couples need it too. In fact, couples often ask about how to keep the romance in their marriage, because it is associated with relationship health and good will.

One way is to remember that we can never know all there is to know about the person we love there is always something more to know and love about him or her.

Romance happens because we are mystery to each other, and so an attitude of curiosity and wonder about each other’s differences helps to sustain a couple’s romance over the years. Men and women are different. Our differences can divide us as the years go by, or we can choose to see them working as a complementary force, attracting us deeper into the mystery of the other.

Mystery is foundational in our most intimate relationship because it connects us profoundly to divine love, which will always be a mystery to us.

The mystery of being loved so intimately by our romantic lover is that it reveals to us the urgency and intimacy with which God loves us: Can it really be that I am loved so deeply?

In Good Times…and Bad

It’s easy to feel romantic in the good times when things are easy between us and life is fairly simple. The early years, especially the newlywed period, are often high points in a couple’s love history when maintaining a romantic connection is uncomplicated.

It’s important for couples to be proactive in fostering romance in these good times lest they fall into the trap of thinking that romance is spontaneous and effortless. Too many couples founder because they fail to make the most of the opportunity to set up romance habits that will see them through their life together.

As heart-warming as young romance is, there is something even more amazing about the romance witnessed in couples of advanced years. Like the tender attention given to a spouse who is seriously ill or the patient acceptance of a spouse with dementia.

It is in moments such as these, when one’s devotion to the other surpasses expectations, that the world witnesses the real power of romantic love.

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And on that note, what have you got planned for Valentine’s Day? Are you the mushy type who loves to plan and has everything booked and organized months in advanced? Or are you the type that just goes with the flow and thinks it’s all a load of commercialized blah blah blah? Perhaps this year are you like me where you’ll be spending a nice quiet evening in sharing Valentine’s day with the kids and hoping they’ll go to bed super early so you can get your romance on! However you choose to spend the day, the week, the year, it doesn’t have to cost anything to celebrate your loved one and show them you care. Below are a few free activities that to try out!  Because every marriage matters. Bring that curiosity and romance back into your relationship.

The hubby and I circa 2003!

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p style=”text-align: center;”>The Lover’s Gaze Challenge
Make time to watch each other at work or play. Look into each other’s eyes with love and acceptance. Try holding your gaze for five minutes, using only your eyes to communicate your openness.

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p style=”text-align: center;”>Kinky Twister
This is a twist on the good old Twister Game and can be played at home when you’ve got the kids staying over the grandparents’ house for the night! It might need a little preparation (and stretching!) but we played it on my hen’s night with my girlfriends and it was so much fun! It would be even more fun with your hubby! Print a variety of “positions” from the net (I don’t know where my friend got all of them from but she managed to find heaps!). Then shuffle them, pick a card each, and try to get in that position without telling your partner what the name of the position is. You each have to guess the name of the position that’s written on the card and if you don’t guess right, you need to take a shot or a sip of whatever you’re drinking!

20 Questions
Find out something you don’t know about your loved by playing 20 questions. This activity is a great way to deepen your relationship and can get a little sentimental or could make you pee your pants from laughter! Take the time and listen to each other.

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p style=”text-align: center;”>1. What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
2. What’s the best party you’ve ever been to?
3. Which part of your body do you like the most and why?
4. What’s your favourite movie?
5. Have you ever looked in the mirror and winked at yourself?
6. What do you think your best and worst qualities are?
7. What soothes you the most after you’ve had a bad day or bad news?
8. Describe to me what your perfect day would consist of?
9. If you could change anything about the way you were raised what would it be?
10. If you could wake up tomorrow and acquire one new ability or quality, what would you want it to be?
11. What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
12. Who do you look up to the most and why?
13. What is your favourite memory with your mum? And your dad?
14. If you weren’t in the job that you’re in now, what would you be doing?
15. What could I do for you that I don’t do now?
16. When do you feel the most protected and taken care of?
17. If you could go back in time to your teenage self, what would you tell yourself?
18. What would you do in life if money wasn’t an issue?
19. What do you like best about our relationship?
20. What is your favourite chick flick?

2009 The Yuan Wedding

Bellababy Box – Unboxing January 2017

Bellababy Box January unboxing

Bellabox Baby – January 2017 

When the door knocks and it’s not a salesperson but the delivery man with Bellabox Baby package, you know it’s going to be a good day! “You deserve to feel special every month” says Bellababy Box’s website, and with a delivery every month of wonderfully curated products, it sure does feel like that. A flush little box with contents packed neatly inside. One for mum, one for bub. Another one for mum, one for bub. These subscription boxes are such a great present idea because there’s nothing better than getting a little love in your mailbox with awesome little goodies to try out. A present for a friend or even just for yourself if you want a little monthly pamper session.

This month’s Bellababy Box was packed with goodies for both mums and their babies, and inside the box comes a little card explaining all the contents and where you can buy them if they end up being a favourite.

Bellabox Baby is one of those subscription boxes where once a month a box of goodies arrives. Some items are sample sized – handy enough to put in your handbag or babybag, and some items are full size beauties that really give you a taste of what the product is all about. I’ve been enjoying the subscription to this Bellabox as there is always something for both mama and baby. This month’s content are listed below.Munchkin Miracle 360 cup The Urban Ma blog review

Treats for Bub

Munchkin Miracle 360 cup
“Spill-proof and spoutless, now your toddler can drink from their own cup that looks just like yours! Sup naturally from anywere on the 360 rim which reseals automatically”. Our little Hannah already drinks from a cup – she found the sippy cups we originally gave her were too slow with the flow and she was able to drink from a cup early on except she also loved tipping the water out all over her highchair table. What is it with kids and splashing water around everywhere? I was excited to receive the Munchkin Miracle cup in the Bellababy box and Hannah took to it straight away! She drank her water easily from it and was fascinated by all the little holes that made up the surface. With the green lid on top we took it out with us without a spill in my bag. It would be cool if the top part was see-through so Hannah could see where the water level was when she would tip her head back for a drink. Apart from that, this BPA free and easy to hold cup has been a staple in Hannah’s backpack since we got it! I think I’ll need to buy another one for our trip next month.

Cetaphil Baby Daily Lotion
“Designed especially for newborns to provide healthy skin development. Containing the richness of shea butter, this daily use lotion helps nourish and protect fragile skin.” You can’t go past Cetaphil for gentle, hydrating products. I’m currently using a body moisturiser from the Cetaphil range as I’ve recently had a really bad break out of eczema and I find that Cetaphil works a treat. I’m sure their baby range is just as good as we recently got to try the Cetaphil Baby Wash & Shampoo and we loved it. The soft fragrance and fresh lather really got the kids squeaky clean especially after some time at the pools.

Dermaveen Extra Gentle Baby Eczema Cream
“Suitable for infants and toddlers, use on skin prone to dermatitis/eczema, nappy rash, rashes, cradle cap and environmental irritations. Suitable for both face and body.” A large 200g cream was in this month’s box and I haven’t used it yet but reading the description on the Dermaveen website, it sounds like this would really help soothe dry, itchy skin – free of lanolin, parabens, artificial dyes and fragrances, this cream is also combined with oatmeal to effectively calm, hydrate and protect the skin.

Nappy Goo Cream
“With packaging perfect for nappy bags and handbags, Nappy Goo is a soothing and gentle balm with mild antiseptic properties that forms a barrier to prevent and treat nappy rash.” I’ve used a couple of nappy rash creams for the kids, namely Sudocrem and La Clinica’s  Organic Baby Wipe Lotion (I love La Clinica’s organic baby range). Nappy Goo Cream is made by a Melbourne company  and the key ingredients in its nappy cream are zinc oxide (helps to protect the skin from irritants), hamamelis water(also known as witch hazel water which helps to reduce fluid loss from the skin) and melaleuca oil (also known as tea tree oil which has mild antiseptic properties). I received a handy 25g sized tube of the cream which I’ve placed in Hannah’s toiletry bag but you can also buy this cream in a 100g tube. The tea tree oil fragrance is soothing and I’ve used it a couple times with great results.

Baby Mum-Mum Rice Rusk
“Free from the top ten allergens, dissolvable and easily digestible, these organic rice rusks are babies’ ideal ‘first snack’. Suitable for little ones as soon as they develop skills to chew and swallow food.” I received the Bluberry and carrot flavoured organic rice rusks in January’s box and Hannah loved it. The hubby and I also loved it as it kept Hannah quiet for half of the mass tonight. The half she was asleep. I had it in my handbag ready to go for times when I needed her to be quiet but also to give her something to eat when she got a little peckish. The rice rusks were easy for her to hold and didn’t leave a crumby mess anywhere! I didn’t get to taste it because Hannah was very protective of her snack and wouldn’t give me a bite…so I’m guessing that she found it quite yummy 🙂

Luvme Bamboo Biodegradable Wet Wipes
“Gently cleanse your little ones’ stick hands, face and nappy area with these biodegradable wipes. Crafted from 100% bamboo, they are soft yet extremely durable.” This little pack of wipes is also in my handbag. Whenever I get something in the monthly subscription box that is a sample size, I either put it in my handbag, in Hannah’s nappy bag or in the bathroom ready to try out. It’s great because it keeps our toiletries stocked with quality items.

Munchkin Miracle cup Bellababy Box review The Urban Ma blog

Treats for Mum

Cattier Cleaning Water or Cleansing Foam
“This month, mums will receive either the Cleansing Water or Cleansing Foam from French skincare brand, Cattier. Combining quality and results, the range is crafted with organic and natural ingredients to care for your skin.”

The Australian Natural Soap Company Original Solid Shampoo Soap
“This refreshing shampoo bar only uses natural plant oils of coconut, olive, sweet almond, metitgrain and mandarin, to naturally give hair extra body. Wet hair and apply the bar directly to your scalp, massage the product through to the ends of your hair and rinse.”

Monomola Long Lasting Lip Colour
“A special treat from Bellabox just for you! This syper long lasting, peel off lip tint by Monomola works by applying a super think top layer onto exfoliated lips, which you leave on for 10 minutes then peel away for a long lasting lip tint.” I wasn’t going to try this lip product because there were no English instructions on the box that it came in. All the text was in Korean, except for the ingredients list. Luckily on the description card that comes with every Bellababy Box monthly delivery it says that this is a peel off lip tint. I squeezed a little bit of the tint out on my finger and it has a super sticky texture with a highly pigmented colour. Still unsure, I searched for some YouTube videos of girls trying the product out. You have to put a thick layer of the lip colour on your clean, exfoliated lips and leave it on for 10-15mins. Then you peel it off and it should leave you with colour tinted lips. It was a little messy taking it off – I mustn’t have left it on long enough because I couldn’t peel it off, I had to rub it off. To my surprise though, the colour tint worked and my lips ended up being a soft red colour like when you suck on a red icy pole. I felt like I had to apply lip balm after a few minutes just to put some moisture back into my lips. Interesting product.

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Oil Free Facial Moisturising Oil Free Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF30
“This daily moisturizer with broad spectrum UV protection has been developed with carefully selected ingredients to provide nourishment and replenish your skin’s barrier.”

So there you have it, January’s BellaBaby box goodies! With Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day coming up this first half of the year, this would make such a great present because your friend, wife, mother or partner would be getting a present every single month of the year! You can find all the info on their website.

Have you tried out any subscription boxes? What did you think of the products?

January favourites 2017

It’s been an interesting start to the new year. Lots of things have happened and rather than dwelling on the not-so-good, I thought I’d share my favorites for the month! The hubby and I started the year off spending less time holding onto our phones and more time holding onto each other and creating memories with the kids and it’s been amazing, so below are something of the things that have brightened up the first few weeks of 2017.

Hot air ballooning with Global Ballooning 

With January being my birthday month it’s always such a hectic end of the year/start of the year period. So this year I absolutely loved that the hubby planned something for just the two of us for breakfast and dinner. I  was surprised with a hot air balloon ride! It was like we were watching a live Google Earth flying high over the houses, golf courses, freeways and parks. It was so peaceful up there that I think it would be the perfect place to get away on your own. No noise and beautiful views of our world. We watched as the sun rose and the beautiful changes of colour in the morning sky. I would highly recommend trying out this experience if you haven’t been already! We flew with Global Ballooning Australia and they were brilliant. So friendly and knowledgeable.

Dinner dates – Nieuw Amsterdam & The Graham

We spent most of this month feeling like we were in holiday mode and the evenings were filled with either family movie nights and relaxing at the beach, or enjoying dining out with friends. The hubby booked birthday dinner for me at one of our faves – Nieuw Amsterdam. This place has amazing food with vibrant service and there’s just something comfortable about being there. This time round some of the dishes we enjoyed were the zucchini flower poppers, the pork and scallops and the fresh tasting salmon ceviche.

Sharing a meal is always such a great way to bring about conversation and get to know each other better and we did just that with some friends from the parish at a sophisticated yet casual place in Port Melbourne called The Graham. I had the pork belly for entree and it was so delicious and generous in serving, I wondered how I would finish the mushroom risotto I had ordered for mains. I needn’t worry as the risotto was so tasty, I easily cleaned up the plate. The wine and conversation was never-ending which made for another great night out. We didn’t have to worry about parking as there were plenty parking options around and the beach is just a walk away. Great for a no fuss weeknight dinner I say!

 How much clearer are these two pics above compared to the previous ones? These two were taken with the hubby’s Samsung S6 andriod phone. So much sharper than my iPhone 6S.

Kikki K – Wellbeing Diary

A new year means a shiny new diary. I love opening up books to fresh, clean, white pages. A blank canvas to write new stories and capture wandering thoughts. This year the hubby bought me the Wellbeing Diary from Kikki K. So apart from keeping up with appointments, to do’s and generally organising my life, this diary also has weekly prompts that encourage me to reflect and improve on things like health, nutrition, exercise and overall wellbeing. There’s a different focus theme for each month of the year and so far I’m hooked!

January – Dream Then Do (bucketlists, dreams and goals)
February – Exercise
March – Nutrition
April – Sleeping Habits
May – Mindfulness
June – Time for Me
July – Relationships
August – Attitude Audit (Self Esteem)
September – Surroundings (Enhance your sense of wellbeing by surrounding yourself with the things you love. Simplify. Declutter. Creativity)
October – Technology Detox (Technology has the power to improve lives in so many ways but it can also provide endless distraction which can negatively impact your productivity, relationships and sense of wellbeing)
November – De-stress
December – Gratitude

I also love how the diary has a yearly, monthly and weekly view set up. Easy to plan dates and have an overview of what’s coming up.

Skin Naturale’s Me. range – Pink Clay and Jojoba Exfoliant

Spending so much time outdoors in the sun, sand, park, garden etc means slathering on the sunscreen, moisturiser and make up. After a long day out, exfoliating with this pink clay and jojoba medley makes my skin feel oh so squeaky clean and smooth. Gentle enough to be used daily but thorough enough to stimulate blood circulation, even out complexion, reduce pre mature aging and tighten pores. I’m sure I’ve included this in a previous favorites post I’m so obsessed with it!

 

How was your start to 2017? What were some of your favorite places, products or moments that brightened up your January?

Happy Lunar New Year 2017 – Lazat Malaysian Restaurant, Sunshine

Lazat Malaysian Restaurant
495 Ballarat Rd, Sunshine

Happy lunar new year to all those that celebrate the season! Melbourne’s lunar new year festivities seem to get bigger and brighter each year. Coming from a Filipino background I never really celebrated the occassion until I met my hubby. He is half Filipino, half Malaysian Chinese and every year we celebrate with his dad’s side of the family. An abundance of food and a clean house, red pockets for all the kids and greetings and hopes of prosperity in the new year.

This year the in laws were on holiday overseas so with little experience on how to prepare the traditional new year’s dishes, the hubby and I searched for a place that served yee sang. Yee sang or yusheng, also known as the Prosperity Toss, is a salad that consists of raw fish, crunchy noodles, strips of veggies and assorted condiments and sauces. We have fond memories of our first ever taste of the dish in Malaysia. It’s not even so much the flavour but the sharing of the meal that we get excited about. Everyone gathers around the table and tosses the noodles and veggies high into the air as happy new year greetings are shared.

We headed to Lazat Malaysian Restaurant in Sunshine and devoured a few dishes for lunch:

– Steamed fish of the day with ginger and onion
– Seafood fried crispy noodles
– Yee sang salad with crunchy wontonpieces, veggies, sauces and condiments and salmon
– cendol for dessert

I loveeee the cendol dessert! The first time I had it was in a market in KL when we visited the hubby’s family during our honeymoon. Cendol is a popular dessert enjoyed in south east Asia consisting of coconut milk, green rice flour jellies, pandan leaves juice, shaved ice and palm sugar.

When the dessert came out these three smashed it in no time, We should’ve bought another one!Lazat have a little courtyard out the back with outdoor seating and the kids spent quite a while just standing in front of the waterfall fountains and watching the fish swimming around.

8 Drive-In Movie tips for families – Backlot Rooftop, Docklands Melbourne


The Urban Ma at Docklands drive ins Backlot Rooftop open air cinema

The Backlot Rooftop Drive-in
Harbour Town, Docklands

Once upon a rooftop four kids and their families watched the stunning sun set behind a giant ferris wheel. It was like the sun and the stars tagged team to transform the romantic lingering hues of the dusk sky to a glamorous glittering city skyline.

What: An open air cinema with a difference – a rooftop drive-in with 360 degree views of beautiful Melbourne city. Perfect for date nights and movie nights with the fam bam!
When: every night (check the Backlot Rooftop website for times)
Where: 90 Waterfront Way, Docklands (the multi-level carpark in Harbour Town)

On Boxing Day, we headed outside and upwards away from the hoards of people frantically stealing car spaces and shopping the Boxing Day sales to watch a movie. Not any old movie. We wanted to be outdoors. We wanted to try something new. We wanted do something that the whole family would love. The newly opened Backlot Rooftop Drive-in ticked everything off our list and more.

Entry is per car and prices vary depending on what day you go so check the website for the latest show times and information. I borrowed my grandad’s 7-seater and brought my parents along with me, while my brother and his family had their car and we parked next to each other. For those that might be in the city or are Uber-ing it in, there’s also a deck area with chairs set up if you don’t have a car to bring but still want to enjoy the rooftop drive in experience.

Melbourne bucketlist drive-ins Backlot rooftop drive in Docklands

With a huge movie screen set up on the top floor of a multi-level carpark, the Backlot Rooftop Drive-in makes such perfect use of a space with a view that I wonder why no one’s every thought of it before ! I haven’t been to the drive-ins since I was twelve and that wasn’t even in Melbourne. It was on a family holiday to the Gold Coast. I remember watching a double feature – Speed with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves and The Good Son with Macualay Culkin and Elijah Wood – and we were crammed in a little car watching through the foggy windows.

This time around, we backed up our cars and watched the upbeat musical comedy, Trolls from the comfort of the boot. It was such a fun night out and the ultimate way to relax after the excitement of Christmas that I think we’ve found a new Boxing night tradition! We had such a great time that I’m already checking out the showtimes to see what else we can watch.


8 Drive-in movie tips for families

1. Get comfy! – Park the car backwards and set up the boots space into your own little mini gold class cinema experience. Bring along some blankets, pillows, soft toys for the kids, fold out chairs, whatever makes you feel most comfy when watching a movie

2. Arrive early – We came half an hour early to our 8:30pm session and were actually a little too early! Being drive-in newbies I didn’t take into account that the sun was still up at this time and so the movie didn’t actually start until around 9.15pm. So we were waiting for a while. But it’s still a good idea to arrive early to give you time to; find a spot (we were directed by helpful parking attendants), park the car and get set up without having to rush. Check out the little food stall with snacks and refreshments and familiarise yourself with where the toilets are in case the little ones need to go in a hurry.

3. Enjoy the view – With 360 degree views of Melbourne and Docklands, watching a movie is almost a backdrop to Melbourne’s gorgeous buildings and the mesmerising lights of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. While waiting for your movie to start, sit back and take it all in. Nothing prettier than spending a night under the stars

4. Bring snacks – Unlike the traditional movies, you can bring any snacks you like into a drive-in and even if we’ve just eaten a meal at home, by the time we get out of the house, everyone in my family, including me, always seems to get hungry again! It’s either that or we just want to buy food to taste! There’s a little food stall that sells popcorn, coffee, drinks etc however we hadn’t had dinner yet so we picked up three large pizzas on the way to the drive-ins and these were a hit! No fuss, easy, and always delicious. You can’t go wrong with pepperoni, Aussie with mushrooms and BBQ chicken pizzas. Pack some fruit and dips for a healthier option or if it’s a romantic date night, set up a pretty little antipasto platter with some wine. I read on their website that they’ll have foodtrucks on some nights too so that would be another cool option.

5. Bring cash – just in case you want to buy something and on the odd occassion that the EFTPOS isn’t working.

6. Bring a flashlight…or glow bracelets – In case you need to go to the loo in the middle of the movie or make your way to get a popcorn or coffee, bring a flashlight to help light the way. Glow sticks or bracelets would add to the fun!

7. Did I mention get comfy? -Bring a jacket and beanie in case it’s a cool night or even just wear your pyjamas! I think we’ll totally do that next time – have a pyjama themed family movie night. The kids would love it! Bringing along some insect repellent might also come in handy!

8. Relax and have fun! – One of the reasons why we haven’t been to a movie in a while is because we’ve got an active four year old and a curious one year old. Being at a drive-in gives you space if the kids need to stretch their legs and explore a little without having to feel bad that you’re getting up out of your seat and blocking the screen.


Pizza time! 
Melbourne foodtrucks backlot rooftop drive in Docklands kid friendlyAll the staff were so friendly, it was like everyone was on an opening night high.


A new generation of Melbournians experiencing the magic of the drive-ins

Melbourne city skyline best view Drive in movies Docklands
Seriously, can Melbourne get any prettier? The purple pink haze was just beautiful

signage Melbourne to do kid friendly family drive ins Backlot rooftop Docklands The Urban MA
Clear signage is everywhere as soon as you enter the carpark so it’s really easy to find. The car park fee is included in the entry price.Backlot rooftop drive in movies MelbourneWe watched Trolls and the other big screen was showing Red Dog. In between the two screens was the food truck.
Backlot Rofftop Melbourne drive-ins Docklands
Even my parents got in on the drive-in experience all snuggled up under a blanket!

Have you got any more drive-in tips for us? It was our first time going to a drive-in in Melbourne, the first of many. We’re totally coming back for more.

Reflections – An endearing little read about Christmas

With all the buzzing of Christmas preparations around, non stop emails of sale offers and ongoing Facebook notifications, I sat down the other day making myself comfy in one of my favourite places in our home, the Snuggle chair. Surrounded by things to read and with a cup of hot chamomile tea in hand I came across this lovely little passage.
I hope you all had a very merry Christmas this year and spent quality time with loved ones.
Nativity scene Christmas The Urban Ma blog
THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
One week before Christmas, a well-known visitor made a surprise appearance…
I had just finished the household chores and was preparing for bed when a noise startled me. I
cautiously opened the door to the front room. To my amazement, Santa Claus stepped from
behind the Christmas tree! He placed one finger over his mouth so I would not cry out.
“What are you doing here?” I exclaimed. Then I realized that Santa had tears in his eyes. His
usual jolly manner was gone. The eager, boisterous soul we all know was very sad. Santa
offered one, simple statement,
“TEACH THE CHILDREN!”
I was puzzled—what did he mean?
Anticipating my question, with one quick movement he brought forth a great bag from behind the tree.
I stood there bewildered. Santa explained, “Teach the Children! Teach them the old meaning of
Christmas. So many people today have forgotten what Christmas is really about!”
Santa then reached into his bag, pulled out a tiny FIR TREE, and placed it on the mantle.
“Teach the Children that the stately fir tree remains green all year round, showing the
everlasting hope of mankind. The needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of ourprayers that always reach God.”
Santa again reached into his sack and pulled out a brilliant STAR.
 “Teach the Children thatthe Bethlehem star was the sign of promises long ago. God promised to send a Savior to deliverthe world. The bright star pointed to the fulfillment of that promise—God’s only Son had been born!”
Next, Santa pulled a CANDLEfrom his bag.
“Teach the Children that the candle symbolizes that Jesus, God’s Son, is the light of the world.
When we see this light remember the One who overcomes the darkness.”
Once again Santa reached into his sack. This time he removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree.
“Teach the Children that the wreath reveals the endless nature of God’s love. Real love never
ceases. Nothing can stop God’s amazing love.”
Santa then pulled from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF.
“Teach the Children that Santa Claus symbolizes the generosity and good will we show to others because God has given us His
very special Son. Don’t forget to tell the Children that Saint Nicolas was not part of the first Christmas in Bethlehem.”
Santa then reached into his sack and carefully placed a CANDY CANE on the tree.
“Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd’s staff. The crook on the staff rescues
sheep who have strayed from the flock. God never gives up on people who wander from Him.”
Next, He removed a delicate ANGEL and lifted it to the very top of the tree.
“Teach the Children that angels shouted the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. These heavenly messengers sang
‘Glory to God in the highest! Peace and good will to everyone on earth!’”
Finally, Santa pulled out a beautifully wrapped GIFT.
He said, “Teach the Children that God deeply loves people, so He gave them His most precious gift—Jesus, His only Son. When the
wise men arrived in Bethlehem, they bowed before the Child and presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
This is why we give gifts to others each Christmas.”
Then Santa paused. He stared at the tree and seemed to be pleased. I saw that the twinkle had
returned to his eyes. He turned, looked at me, and smiled. Santa offered these final words,
“Remember to teach the Children the true meaning of Christmas. Please don’t put me in the
center, for I am but a humble servant. Jesus Christ is the real reason for the Christmas season. I
am glad to join all others who bow down and worship Him, our Lord and God.”
— Author Unknown.