Ten days in Bali with a baby (plus lots of foodie tips, of course!)

Travel was a big part of me and Brendan’s  life before we had Archer, we were always saving up for the next trip overseas. So of course we really want to share our love of travel and adventuring to new places with him but the thought of being trapped on a long haul flight with a toddler who doesn’t like to sit still I honestly think is enough to make the most well-seasoned traveller slightly anxious. After my sister and husband visited Bali last year and couldn’t stop raving about it we decided that seemed like a close enough destination to dip our toes in the water of travelling with kids.

Seminyak

Where we stayed

We stayed at Villa Anguun which was absolute perfection for a toddler and for us of course. We paid extra to have the pool fenced and Archer could roam around the whole villa and we didn’t have to worry about any danger.

 

Places to eat

  • For really scrumptious vegan food visit Kynd, I had the vegan Big Mac which was delicious andof course grabbed one of their ice creams from next door afterwards.
  • Archer in particular was a big fan of the smoothie bowls from Nalu Bowls
  • One of the best meal we had was at Kilo, an asian fusion restaurant, highly recommend the Korean chicken bulgogi, beef tongue tacos, black and white prawn ravioli and the soft shell crab!!
  • It probably does not really need to be mentioned but Sisterfields is a great little taste of home
  • We had a really fun night, with great Mexican food at Laca Laca
  • Seminyak has lots of beach clubs to choose from, we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at Mano Beach House on recommendation of a friend. It was low key and kid friendly which was exactly what we wanted
  • For coffee we enjoyed Revolver and another really cute place on Jalan Drupadi that I have spent half an hour looking for the name of and cannot find it, so annoying haha
  • For the nights we wanted to have takeaway at the villa we downloaded the GoJek app, kind of the Indonesian equivalent of UberEats. We had delicious pizza from La Baracca and Balinese food from Hibiscus

 

Things to do

To be honest we did a whole lot of nothing, which was exactly what we wanted on this holiday. We mainly swam at the villa, ate and went for a few walks when it wasn’t too hot. Oh and got massages of course. The traffic is just insane in Bali and for us wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to get out and about. We tried to go on a day trip to Blue Point and Uluwatu temple but the traffic was so bad that after an hour and a half we had moved 10kms so we ended up just heading home. So unfortunately I am not a lot of help on this one.

Ubud

Where we stayed 

We stayed at Lodtunduh Sari about 2.5kms out of the centre of Ubud. This place appealed to me as it was actually located on the rice fields but when we arrived we soon realised it was a death trap for toddlers. There was a blind drop of about 2 metres at the edge of the property into the rice fields. We couldn’t take our eyes off Archer for a second while we were there. I would recommend this villa for adult guests especially if you want something slightly more authentic then what the larger hotels and villas offer but I really wouldn’t recommend taking young children. I did also get one of the best massages of my life here so there were lots of positives too.

 Places to eat

  • We had absolutely delicious vegetarian food overlooking the rice fields at The Elephant, and they actually had nice wine which was a pleasant surprise.
  • The Melting Wok was one of my absolute favourite meals in Bali, a super simple curry menu that was just absolutely delicious. Wah just writing about it makes me want to eat there again. You need to book though as it is very popular!
  • For a traditional Balinese restaurant we went to Ibu Rai which had nice casual dining.
  • We had really good dim sum from the Golden Monkey.
  • A refreshing coconut ice cream…every day from Tukies.

Things to do

Once again we were very good at doing nothing. We did go to the Monkey Sanctuary which Archer loved and well to be honest I did too. Brendan hired a scooter which he loved and I felt much safer scooting around Ubud then I think I would have felt doing the same thing in Seminyak. I really wish I had have done a cooking class while we were here but I guess I can save that for next time.

 

Plane tips

  • I highly recommend taking a stroller or small enough pram (we had a mountain buggy and got it through) and checking it in at the gate. Archer already weighs 14 kilos so being able to push him around the airport was a godsend and we could use it to get him to sleep before our red eye flight.  If your baby is happy in a carrier that’s great but Archer has never loved the carrier and I was a bit anxious about checking the pram in at the gate but it was a breeze and I would highly recommend.
  • If your baby is formula fed you can take bottles of boiled water through customs/security. I see people worrying about this on forums a lot. I took four bottles and a drink bottle of water through. I just had it in one of those large resealable Ikea bags so that security could easily see it was for a baby.
  • SNACKS ALL OF THE SNACKS. This was the best way to entertain Archer and I literally got down to the last pack of sultanas despite packing what I thought was ample amounts of snacks. Pack double what you think you need.
  • A grab bag of toys – this worked for a limited amount of time to be honest but I don’t regret packing it, I had two small books, some blocks, a puzzle and two brand new hot wheel cars (these were most popular).
  • The best entertainment to be honest was the other people on the plane – Archer took a real shine to the family sitting behind us and I am so grateful they were kind enough to talk to him and play peek a boo throughout the flight. But in all honesty even when he did cry etc I didn’t feel any negativity from other people on the plane, generally people are kind and know that you aren’t intentionally disrupting their flight so try not to let that worry you.
  • Red eye flights are the bomb! Seriously, I think flying the red eye back was the best thing for us, Archer slept nearly the whole way compared to the hour nap he had on the way there. I think I would consider even longer flights in the future (think Hawaii not Italy haha) in the future if we could take overnight flights.

General tips

  • If you plan to catch taxis, which you most likely will end up doing, you have to accept that you won’t be able to have a car seat, it is just the way things are there. For transfers from the airports and hotels just make sure you request a car seat, it will probably cost a little extra.
  • Baby food pouches are available in Bali but they are expensive, about $3.50-$4 a pouch so if you are relying on them for food pack them from Australia. Archer generally just ate what we were eating over there with no problems so it just depends what your babies eating habits are like.
  • Pamper brand nappies over there are pretty good, make sure you buy them from the bigger Bintang supermarkets as they are expensive at convenient stores. If I had my time again I would have just packed enough Huggies nappies to get us through.
  • A few people told us not to bother taking a stroller but I am soooooo glad we did. We had no problems getting Archer around in the stroller despite the narrow footpaths. I do think it helped that we had a mountain buggy cheaper strollers might struggle on the rocky roads.

If you want any specific tips about travelling to Bali with a baby or just Bali in general feel free to get in touch, I will help as much as I can!

Four ways I saved money in 2018

E2B313B6-9DE5-421E-B798-8D24004333E9

I have never been the most frugal person. To be honest I am still not very frugal but last year being on half-pay maternity leave  and then Centrelink I decided to find some ways to save money.  I thought it would be worth sharing the four most successful changes I made as they are super easy to implement and by the end of the year you could have enough money to do your Christmas shopping or go on a weekend away.

Sign up for Flybuys and Woolworths rewards 

It is super easy to sign up for both of these reward programs and swipe them every time you shop – that will get you a few points here and there but if you put slightly more effort in you can actually get decent rewards.

I started Flybuys in July and I think by December I had $600 in my account. Basically you need to download the Flybuys app and check for offers all the time. The best ones are spend a certain amount every week for four weeks and get a certain amount of points (usually 10,000 which equates to $50). Also you will get “buy a certain product and earn extra points” which is especially good if its a product you usually buy. You also sometimes get offers for Kmart, Target and Liquorland. I have also found that the more you engage with the program the more offers you get.

The important thing to remember is that it is obviously a marketing ploy so never spend more than you plan too just to earn points or you are not really getting ahead. You may also find that the amount they want you to spend increases over the months so thats why I try and swap between Woolworths offers and Flybuys offers to keep my spend down at each place. The Woolworths rewards program has really improved over the last six months and they are starting to run a lot more like Flybuys. Make sure you are signed up for their emails. I also choose to save my Woolworths points to use at the end of the year for Christmas.

I have also got quite committed to meal planning to make sure we aren’t wasting food and which also makes it easier to do the large shops to qualify for the weekly spends.

Sign up for Cashrewards and Shopback

This one is sooooo easy. Basically both sites sign up with certain businesses to give you a certain amount cashback if you shop through their sites . You can download widgets on your computer so that anytime you are online shopping it will pop up and say if you can get cashback. It is extremely good when making big purchases, so for example when I bought our flights to Bali I got $80 cashback, which is like 8 meals in Bali so totally worth it! I am saving our money for the end of the year to cashout and use to buy Christmas presents.

If you want to be super savvy do your grocery shopping online so you get your flybuys or woolies reward plus your Cashreward or Shopback money!

Container deposit scheme

Ok this one takes the most effort and honestly 18 months ago I would probably never have been bothered to do this – but hey lots of ten cent coins add up after a while! The ACT container return scheme is actually so easy, you just drop your cans off in a plastic bag, print off a barcode and pop them in a skip, they are then sent to the recycling centre where they count them for you and credit your online account. No having to put single cans through a machine as is the case in some other states.

We put any money we get from this into Archer’s savings account and hopefully one day it will be like a little chore for him to do to earn some money. We have some family and friends collecting for him too so I think since the ACT Scheme started in July he has made about $250. So if you think about it, if he keeps earning at this rate, plus interest it will be over $10,000 by the time he is 18 which is a nice little backpacking around Europe budget!

Compare and change your utility suppliers

I wrote down every single bill we get and jumped on the internet to compare prices with different suppliers. I changed our car insurance, saving about $150 a year. I kept the same electricity and gas supplier but rang up telling them I was moving and immediately got offered a 29% discount on our bills for 12 months. I also got rid of our Stan account and my spotify and Kindle reading subscription because I  rarely used them – even just doing that is a saving of $360 a year. I am now looking forward to our mobile phone plans expiring so we can change them too. I now have a reminder set in my phone to check these every 12 months. It probably took me a few hours to go through it all and ring different places but its definitely made a difference to our bills.

Obviously none of these ideas are going to make you uber rich but hey if its extra money at the end of the year to make Christmas extra special or to treat yourself its worth the little bit of effort, well it definitely has been for us! Also I have become a bit of a nerd about this stuff in the last 12 months so hit me up if you have any questions.

 

A weekend at the Sapphire Coast

This Australia Day long weekend we headed to the coast for the first time as a family of three. Archer is such a water baby so we were pretty convinced it was going to be the best weekend of his young life to date.  The weekend was even more special as we spent it with friends who have a son three weeks younger then Archer so it was great to watch them play and interact. It is crazy to think this time last year we were at the beach were wondering when these babies were going to make an appearance and now a year later they are nearly both little toddlers. I know its overstated but time is going to quickly.

We spent most of the weekend taking the boys and the dogs to the beach and napping. I definitely took the oppurtunity to nap ALOT, napping is much more guilt free on holidays when you don’t have to feel bad about the endless chores that are waiting to be done. Between all the swimming and napping that we did get to do some fun activities and of course ate lots of yummy food. A quick list of things I would recommend is below which only scratches the surface of this beautiful area . Please let me know any recommendations you have for this area as hopefully we will head there again next year!

Image-8

Where to eat…

What to do..

  • Walk from Pambula to Merimbula along the beach (approx 6km) and then reward yourself with breakfast
  • Swim under Nethercote Falls (about 20 mins from Pambula) just don’t get lost like us
  • Play golf at Pambula Merimbula Golf Course, I can’t vouch for this one but the boys seem to like it

Not too naughty green risotto

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Risotto is one of my go to recipes when it comes to having guests over. Firstly, people with a gluten intolerance can eat it and it can easily be made vegetarian. It is also one of Archer’s favourite meals so I will make this in a big batch and freeze it. I call this not too naughty risotto because its full of green veggies and we use greek yoghurt to make it creamy!

Ingredients

  • 50 grams of butter
  • 1 x onion finely chopped
  • 1x teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1 x cup risotto
  • 1 x tablespoon of thyme (can be left out if you don’t have on hand)
  • 1 x lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 x zucchini diced
  • 1 x cup of frozen peas
  • 1 x cup of spinach roughly chopped
  • 1.5 tablespoons of greek yoghurt (Naughty option use creme fraiche instead)

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Method

  1. Melt butter on a low heat and the add onion and cook until soft (5-8 minutes). It is important not to burn the onion as this can discolour the risotto.
  2. Once the onion is soft, add garlic and cook for one minute.
  3. Add the risotto and mix well with the onion and garlic.
  4. Add one ladle of vegetable stock, the lemon juice and thyme.
  5. When nearly all the stock is dissolved add another ladle of stock and continue to do so until the rice is tender. When you add the third ladle of stock also add the zucchini.
  6. While the risotto continues to cook put the peas in a bowl with two cups of boiling water for five minutes and then remove the water.
  7. When the risotto is tender season with salt and pepper and add the lemon zest, peas, cup of spinach and greek yoghurt.
  8. Top with parmesan to serve.

Thoughts on starting daycare and the end of maternity leave

daycare

I am sitting here writing this in the daycare foyer. We are on day four of orientation. Each day has ended in me collecting Archer in tears. It absolutely breaks my heart. On the third day of picking him up in this state I fought to hold back my own tears. The only thing that stopped me was knowing I had to show Archer that there was absolutely no need to be scared or sad, that this is a safe, fun place. It worked until we got to the car and once he was buckled in a few small tears ran down my cheek.

I am so grateful for the year that I had at home with Archer.  I can remember the first six weeks thinking to myself my god what have I done? I had such a good life and now I haven’t got out of my pyjamas in three days, the house looks like a small bomb has exploded and despite being in my pyjamas I have barely slept. I had a baby who refused to sleep anywhere but on me during the day and boobs that weren’t doing what they were meant too. Despite an abundance of love for this little boy my life felt like it had been turned upside down.

Luckily though I found that every week things got a little easier. I spoke to a sleep consultant who suggested Archer may be cold in the bassinet we added an extra blanket and like magic he would sleep in the bassinet. My mum was amazing and took time off work to help me, I moved to fully formula feeding, giving up the hour and a half cycle of breast feeding, formula top ups and then pumping and sleep started to return to our home. I also joined a wonderful mother’s group that filled my week with activities.

After this initial period I really began to enjoy this motherhood gig and being at home. As someone who never ever thought they could be a SAHM the idea suddenly became more and more appealing. I loved pottering around the house at nap times, playing with Archer in between and meeting up with other mums for the occasional (ok honestly LOTS) of coffee. Look I don’t want to make it seem like it was all sunshine, unicorns and rainbows there were hard times (teething especially and a few very frustrated weeks of learning to crawl) and some very long days where bedtime seemed a million light years away but all in all I really loved it. But the mortgage needs to be paid and the travel plans I have for this little family funded so next week it is back to work I go.

Eleven months old is such a fun stage, he can play and loves to read books, we can go places and he can play and enjoy it. His little personality is shining through. And now I feel like it is coming to an end, our 11 month adventure is drawing to a close. Ok, I know this is completely irrational, I am only going back three days a week but I think spending nearly every waking moment with someone for nearly a year makes the idea of not being there daunting. How can anyone else know all of his little mannerisms and what each different cry/noise means? In saying that all his carers are lovely and I know he is getting many reassuring cuddles when he needs them.

I know in my heart of hearts he will love daycare when he settles in, he is so busy and loves other kids but these first few weeks of adjustment are daunting. I also know I will love being back at work and challenging myself and being around adults and drinking a coffee without little hands reaching for it and look the occasional lunch date wont hurt. So all in all I know just like those first few weeks of newborn life this new phase will get easier and easier until it is second nature.

P.s I have just been updated that he had morning tea, his bottle and is now fast asleep. The weight is already starting to lift.

Slow cooker basil and strawberry jam

49418287_10155722942916831_4917045265321426944_o49472113_10155722979356831_7146569158111526912_o49148386_10155722943056831_1998745636299603968_o49234254_10155722947421831_7112147795552763904_o49172998_10155722951386831_9079712686542946304_o

49343394_10155722957161831_3223633866321297408_o.jpg

In a moment of absolute madness I offered to make my sister 90 bottles of jam to use as bombonieres for her wedding in December. Archer’s naps had just started getting better and longer and I thought that learning to make jam would be a good way to fill some time. As I know now, you can never ever rely on a baby to nap consistently haha. Anyway I was determined to make these bloody jams and as quickly as possible.

Firstly, I tried to make jam in the traditional way on the stove top, this took way too much time and also we had an incident with some overspill and burnt jam being stuck all over my stove top.  Next I decided to try and make jam in the microwave. This was actually not to bad, but I couldn’t make it in large enough quantities using the recipe.

Finally, I started to trial slow cooker jam recipes. BINGO!! While it tool a while to perfect by the end I could make decent sized batches and it wasn’t overly intensive. I used this as my base recipe but below is the final recipe I used that I personally think ended up making a pretty damn good jam.

Ingredients

  • 500g of strawberries, hulled and chopped in half
  • Juice of half a lemon or juice of a whole lime
  • 1 cup of sugar (caster sugar is best)
  • 1/4 cup of basil roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of whiskey or bourbon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds

Method

  1. Place all of the ingredients except the chia seeds in the slow cooker on low for two hours
  2. After two hours remove lid. Jizz with a stick beater. And add chia seeds.
  3. Cook for an additional three hours. DO NOT replace the lid.
  4. When jam is ready place jars in 160 degree oven for 10 minutes to sterilise. Pour jam into jars while both are still hot, the jam will continue to thicken in jars.

Note – I doubled the recipe on occasion to get more done but if you do this you need to cook for longer at step 3, 4-6 hours.  The recipe works best if you do not double it.

I used these jam jars from Kmart – 3 for $3.

Photos by Mark Quade 

 

Four excellent Canberra organisations for new parents

I have never been good at being at home all day, I am probably on the more extreme end of extrovert when it comes to personality types and I know I derive energy from being around people. This meant getting out and about with Archer was a priority for me. The hard thing especially at the start though was finding places I felt comfortable going with a baby I was still getting to know, where I wouldn’t freak out if he cried and I could leave if I needed to without feeling rude. Anyway all the groups below ticked those boxes for me and I hope other new parents in Canberra might find them helpful.

Playgroups ACT

This one might seem obvious but I nearly didn’t join but I am so glad I did. There are two playgroups within 500m of my house. I would pay for casual visits amd just go when we had nothing on. The facilitators put in so much effort and organise activities that frankly I wouldn’t be bothered to do. Last week we went to a nature based one and Archer played in mud and dirt for ages and had a ball.

Find all about Playgroups ACT here.

New Parents Group

I know some people think Mother’s Groups (and yes I know they are meant to be referred to as parents group but my whole group was mums so I tend to refer to it as that) are naff but honestly I cant imagine the last year without mine. It tends to be luck of the draw who you get in your group but I honestly think that you will find at least a couple of people you connect with on some level. I was lucky and now have two friends from my group who I honestly believe will be friends for life.  Anyway the great thing about mothers group is you can do activities that the babies will like but you also get social interaction with other adults, oh and lots of coffee dates and no one cares if your baby cries or your late etc because you are all in the same boat. Anyway all I am saying is please sign up and try it, if its not for you nothing lost.

You can find out more about the ACT New Parents Groups here.

 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Mums Exercise Group Australia 

I got into this one late and am kicking myself that I didn’t try it earlier. Basically mums run different exercise events (walks, bootcamps, aqua aerobics) for other mums. Most events are free (a yearly membership is $40) and if not they are really affordable, generally $5-$10. A lot of the events are kid friendly so you can take your bub.

Find out more here.

Libraries ACT

Libraries ACT has soooo many free events for kids. We have been to Giggle and Wiggle I would say nearly every week. But more then that I got back into borrowing books.

You can find all the Library ACT events here.