Mama OWL Blog: May 2015

Meal Ideas & Inspiration

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

I share our weekly meal plans and have previously shared my favourite healthy recipes and meal ideas since making my positive lifestyle changes, but as I haven't done so for a while I wanted to post with some of my favourite meals to help anyone who may be struggling for inspiration. I have found that preparation and planning ahead have been key factors in my weightloss success and these have been some of my go-to meals and snacks that have helped to keep me on track.

Pure oats made with almond milk, with fresh blueberries, organic unsweetened desiccated coconut and a drizzle of honey  //  Bacon & eggs with Debbie & Andrew's sausages, spinach and tomato  //  A small bowl of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries  //   Mexican spiced chicken with mixed salad  //  Heck sausages with cauliflower mash and minted garlic green beans  //  Homemade carrot & coriander soup  //  Cooked ham with scrambled eggs, spinach and tomato  //  Sunday roast, chicken with leeks, carrot, sweet potato & broccoli  //  Scrambled egg with spinach & black coffee

Eggs fried in coconut oil with mixed peppers & onions, and Debbie & Andrew's sausages  //  Home-made bolognese with 'courgetti'  //  Pure oats with frozen blueberries & almond milk and a black coffee  //  Boiled eggs with cherry tomatoes, Debbie & Andrew's sausages and black coffee  //  Turkey steak with mashed carrot & swede and broccoli  //  Chicken & bacon stir fry with mangetout, baby corn and Tenderstem broccoli  //  Fajita chicken salad  //  Plain chicken salad with strawberry & apple for dessert  //  Cottage pie topped with carrot & swede mash

Ribeye steak with spinach & cherry tomatoes  //  Home-made 'Ice cream' - 0% fat Greek yoghurt with frozen blueberries & fresh lemon juice  //  Indian spiced chicken skewers with peppers, onions and brown rice  //  Blackberries, strawberries & raspberries with 0% fat Greek yoghurt & honey  //  Dairy & gluten free home-made Chicken korma with brown rice  //  Mixed berry smoothie with spinach, kale & 0% fat Greek yoghurt, and a squeeze of lime  //  Home-made beef burgers with spinach, cherry tomatoes and avocado  //  Cashew nuts in 20g snack portions  //  Sunday dinner - Pork loin steaks with sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and roasted sweet potato

Glenelg, Adelaide | #ShepsDownUnder

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Our first taste of Adelaide was the beautiful seaside suburb of Glenelg in Holdfast Bay, which is only 10km from Adelaide city centre but feels like a different world. Leah (the bride-to-be) and I enjoyed a leisurely wander down along the beach front at sunset after dropping off the Mister & her husband-to-be, Adrian, at a local bar for "the stag do".

It was a lovely warm evening and the walk along the beach down to Jetty Road - a long precinct of shops, bars, entertainment facilities and restaurants - was picturesque and refreshing with the cooling sea air, and the stunning backdrop of the setting sun over the water. We walked along to the end of the jetty to appreciate the spectacular sunset (and for a photo, of course) before heading off to choose somewhere to have dinner.

Where to Stay

Glenelg has plenty of accommodation types to suit all pockets and needs, from 1-3 bed private apartments to hotels, motels, B&Bs, caravan parks and a beachfront hostel.

Eating Out

You are spoiled for choice in Glenelg, where you will find a large range of cuisines in its many and award-winning eateries with something to suit all tastes - Mexican, Italian, Greek, Indian, Japanese, as well as traditional steak houses, seafood, and cafe/bistros. Leah & I opted to eat at Salsa's, and I enjoyed a huge bowl of chicken nachos with guacamole, salsa and sour cream with some spicy wedges. Mexican style food is my favourite, so I was completely in my element and struggled to decide what I was having.

For the Kids

We didn't have our children with us during our trip, but everywhere I looked I thought "My kids would love this!", in particular The BeacHouse with its mini golf, waterslides, carousel, play castle and dodgems - I don't think I would be able to get my younger three out of there, that is if I managed to get them off the white sand beach right out front.

Things to See & Do

Glenelg is the site of South Australia's original mainland settlement in 1836. You can learn all about its history by visiting its museums, the Bay Discovery Centre, and of course the Visitor Information Centre who can help you with local tourist information as well as booking excursions, tours, car hire and even accommodation. Glenelg is also home to many shops, sport & leisure activities including dolphin watching and watersports as well as walks & trails, or visit the beautiful marina and enjoy a drink or meal as you sit overlooking the beach.

Getting Around

Most attractions are within walking distance, but if you want to travel in and around Adelaide then you can hop on the tram that runs from Moseley Square at the end of Jetty Road to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Hindmarsh. There are also a range of bus services that go as far as the airport and Adelaide city centre, or you can take a taxi.

Glenelg is the perfect base for your trip to Adelaide with its stunning views and welcoming atmosphere and so much to see, do and enjoy for the whole family, and I know that the next time we visit South Australia it will be the first place that we go.

Meal Plan Monday 250515

Monday, 25 May 2015

Meal Plan 250515
Monday 25th
Home-made Chicken Korma with rice (brown for me, pilau for Mister and kids) and sundries
Tuesday 26th
Spaghetti (Courgetti) Bolognese
Wednesday 27th May Home-made burgers, chips & salad (steak & salad for me)
Thursday 28th May
Chicken Fajitas
Friday 29th
Saturday 30th
Ham, egg & chips (sweet potato chips for me)
Sunday 31st
Roast beef

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
{*Brinner = breakfast for dinner}

Seaside Days

Saturday, 23 May 2015

I have fond memories of impromptu visits to the seaside as a child. I remember my mum & dad closing up the plant nursery on a Sunday afternoon, and then bundling the four of us girls in the car and heading off to the nearest beach where we would eat chips on the sand and stay & play until it started to get dark. We'd be changed in to our PJs back at the car and the next thing we knew, it would be morning - after the two of them had carefully transferred our sleeping selves from car to bed when we reached home.

I would love to take the kids to the seaside more often than I do, but sadly life & money tends to get in the way. A few weeks ago we organised a family trip to Weymouth on the train with the children, so myself, my siblings & mum all headed off for the day - buckets & spades in hand, picnics made to share stashed under buggies & in cool bags.

Despite it being a bit windy and foggy, we set up camp on the beach with our towels and bit & pieces and the kids got stuck in to having fun - digging holes, building sandcastles, playing with their ball & frisbee and generally racing around like lunatics, it was wonderful. The kids had ice creams & ate chips out of buckets, and shared their picnics and sweets. It's the kind of day out that I hope will always stay in their memory, like it does mine - simple fun at the seaside with their cousins, enjoying quality time together.

This makes me even more excited for our upcoming Mark Warner holiday to Lakitira in the October half term as an official #MarkWarnerMum. We have never been on a plane all together and have never had a beach holiday abroad (though we did enjoy a wonderful family holiday to Paris & the South of France in a beautiful villa last Summer), we are all very much looking forward to this amazing opportunity and much needed break from the daily routine of work, school, clubs, A-levels & GCSEs.

Packing for a Primary School Residential Trip

Thursday, 21 May 2015

It's that time of year again and school kids up and down the country are preparing to set off for their end of year residential trips. My children have visited lots of wonderful places and had some amazing experiences with their schools including skiing in the French Alps, exploring in Pencelli, and a sombre tour of Auschwitz and Birkenau amongst others. School trips are - in my opinion - a vital aspect of school life, and while sometimes they can be expensive particularly if you've had to buy a lot of kit, I do truly think that they are worth every penny in terms of experience & adventure for the kids.

H, my 9 year old, is heading off on his very first sleep-away trip next month with his teachers & Y4 classmates, and he is very excited about it. His older siblings have all been to the same activity centre during their time at school & all had a wonderful time.

With the school trip comes the trip kit list so we have been busy planning what we will need for him to take on his little adventure. It's an outdoor activity based trip and he will be doing lots of exploring and team-building exercises outside in our famously unpredictable British weather, so we have to be prepared because as the saying goes, "there is no such thing as bad weather - just unsuitable clothing". On H's kit list there is:

- Waterproof Coat/Jacket
- Comfortable Walking Shoes/Wellies
- Warm Jumpers/Hats/Gloves
- Changes of Clothing (no jeans)
- Socks & Undies, and Nightwear
- Slippers/Indoor trainers
- Towel, and toiletries
- Sun Hat/Sun Cream (optimistic...)
- Rucksack & Torch
- Plastic Lunch Box with refillable Water Bottle
- Bedtime Book
- Plastic Bag for bringing home laundry

Trespass is a UK company who specialise in outdoor clothing and equipment, and kindly sent a navy Skydive 3-in-1 Waterproof Jacket for H to wear during his trip. The jacket has a very simple but versatile design and enables you to wear it either with the snug fleece lining, or as two separate jackets. It has taped seams for added protection against the elements, and a concealed fold-away hood and pockets for handy storage.

Currently priced at £30.99 and available in four different colours (navy, black, purple, and pink), the Skydive jacket will be a great school coat even after H has been on his residential, we chose it in navy so that it would match his school uniform & look smart. Now we are just waiting for our Stamptastic kit to arrive so we can get all of his belongings labelled quickly & easily so with any luck it should all make it home, too!

H received a complimentary Trespass Jacket for review purposes.
The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Have a Fling with the Highlands in Glencoe | #ParentPanel

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

North of the border lies some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen. In 2011 I got to stand at the highest point of the United Kingdom, 1344m feet up on the summit of Ben Nevis, and bask in the beauty of the Scottish Highlands. The trek up the mountain wasn't as straightforward as I'd have liked (nor was the trip down, unfortunately made by Sea King helicopter after an injury sustained on the climb) but I'll always remember the experience for the stunning mountain views - not just the excitement that followed!

Standing alone and being able to hear literally nothing, not even the wind or birdsong, was surreal. It was a clear, sunny day, and you could see for miles. It was incredible.

Aside from the aesthetics, the Scottish Highlands have much more to offer. Staying at the Isles of Glencoe Hotel, you have the perfect base for your Highland break with its stunning location on the banks of Loch Leven, and magnificent mountain views.

There's no shortage of things to do in Glencoe, and you & your family will be spoiled for choice with the extensive range of outdoor activities, boat trips, watersports, walking & cycle paths, and castles to explore. There are plenty of family friendly attractions in the area including the Sea Life Centre in nearby seaside town Oban, legendary Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, the Natural History Museum on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, & the Jacobite steam train which runs from Fort William to Mallaig and back - more famously known as the Hogwarts Express route featuring the famous Glenfinnan viaduct from the Harry Potter films (a must-see for any Potter fans like us!), which overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and the waters of Loch Shiel.

Image from

The hotel itself boasts a vast array of attractive amenities, which appeal to us as a large family with a wide age range of children (16 > 5) to keep happy and entertained. There is a swimming pool (great for the little one & tweens) and a sauna (for mum) and all rooms have complimentary Wi-Fi - an absolute must with teenagers (heaven forbid), and of course the all important tea & coffee making facilities, perfect for enjoying a morning cuppa overlooking the loch or mountains from The Isles of Glencoe's fabulous feature rooms with their picture windows or French doors.

Feature rooms are available in twin, double and family combinations, sleeping up to 2 adults and 2 children, and some rooms can sleep up to 3 children when extra beds are used. It is worth noting that the rooms are spread across three floors and there is unfortunately no lift, so do be sure to mention if you need a room on a lower floor when making your booking. Standard rooms all have double beds and an en-suite with bath & shower, and two of these rooms have French doors leading out on to the grounds of the hotel - perfect for those who have brought their dogs along on holiday with them as The Isles of Glencoe also welcomes pets for a small charge of £10 per pet, per night.

Image from

Scotland offers so much for all to see and do, steeped in culture and history with outstanding natural beauty it is truly the ideal family holiday destination.


Hints & Tips for Weight Loss Results

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

It's been four and a half months since I started taking better care of myself. I don't want to say "started my diet" because it isn't a diet, it's a lifestyle change. It isn't about losing weight, it's about improving my health and fitness and with that, I have lost weight as well as inches. I have worked really, really hard to change my habits & make better choices for myself and because of the work that I have put in, and heeding the advice & support from my PTs at Project 6 Pack & all the ladies who are in the classes with me, I have achieved some amazing results which motivates me to keep going.

Changing your lifestyle is a big step and it can be hard going to retrain your mind and body as you learn to make better choices. I have had particular struggles with sugar cravings, cutting out fizzy drinks, and learning to snack sensibly. I don't have all the answers and this is not a definitive list, but these are the things that have made this change easier for me and perhaps they will help you, too. If you have your own tips and tricks, I would love for you to share them with me in a comment at the end of this post.


I had a big addiction to fizzy drinks and could easily drink 2l of diet coke or pepsi in a day. Now, I don't drink any save for one during a meal out, but even that is very rare, I usually just order sparkling water now. I found that having cold sparkling water on hand in the fridge kept the craving at bay, as it was often the 'fizz' that I wanted rather than the drink itself. I don't crave them any more, and I don't miss them either.


I keep several bottles of water in the fridge at home, because it's easier to monitor my intake as well as nice to have a cold bottle to hand when I need it. I just fill up plastic bottles if I have happened to buy one when out and about & keep them for that purpose. I've noticed that the children are drinking more water instead of asking for squash or juice because of this, too. I just wish they'd learn to refill them and put them back!


Honey has been my absolute lifesaver for getting through sugar cravings. A good handful of strawberries, blueberries or raspberries along with a tablespoon of 0% fat Greek yoghurt has helped me absolutely no end. I'm not going to lie, I miss dipping a Mars Bar in my coffee at lunchtime but frankly I prefer feeling the way I do now all the time to the five minutes (seconds) of enjoyment I got from a bar of chocolate.


Either write it down in a notebook or use an app like myfitnesspal (I'm 'jooleroo', feel free to add me) to keep track as you get used to your new lifestyle changes. If you're trying to lose weight, then snacking on cashew nuts - for example - is obviously better for you than a chocolate bar, but a calorie is still a calorie so keeping a record of it will help you monitor exactly how much you are eating and drinking.


It ties in with having water in the fridge at all times, but planning your meals and prepping them as well as your snacks as much as possible really does help. If you're hungry and roaming the kitchen wanting food, it's easy to grab something quick that isn't good for you and won't fill you up, but if you have things ready, it will help keep your snacking under control. Also, try not to let yourself get hungry by snacking regularly, eating little and often. I bought some little pots (from the £1 shop which come in a pack of 8), and measured out 20g from a large bag of cashew nuts in each so I always have something I can pop in my bag or grab from the cupboard. I also like to make a big batch of soup so I have something I can heat up for a quick lunch, & I keep a small tub of boiled eggs in the fridge ready to go with a salad, or some sliced ham & tomato.

Sadly there are no short cuts, and no easy route to reaching and maintaining your goal weight and fitness level. This has taken me time, hard work and commitment but it is honestly the best I have ever felt. I'm attending between 8-10 P6P classes a week and exercising at home just for 30/45 minutes at a time. I am in the best shape of my life at 32 years old and after 5 babies thanks to a lot of effort and determination, it has been worth every single bead of sweat, every burning muscle in my legs and arms, every extra rep I am encouraged to do when I think I can't do any more.

Being able to walk in to a store and pick up a size 10/12 pair of exercise leggings & top and feel awesome in them is worth it, and I hope that these few hints that I have shared can help you reach your goals, even in some small way. I'm not at my goal yet, but I know it isn't far off and I am going to keep working hard to reach it.

Meal Plan Monday 180515

Monday, 18 May 2015

Meal Plan 180515
Monday 18th
Sausages & (cauliflower) mash with vegetables
Tuesday 19th
Chicken enchiladas (Spicy chicken salad for me)
Wednesday 20th May Cottage pie topped with root vegetable mash
Thursday 21st
Bacon wrapped chicken, with (sweet potato) fries and mixed vegetables
Friday 22nd
Spaghetti (Courgetti) Bolognese, with garlic bread for
the Mister & kids
Saturday 23rd
Home-made chicken curry
Sunday 24th
Roast pork

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
{*Brinner = breakfast for dinner}

#LoudnProud | Achievement - School & Sport

Thursday, 14 May 2015

It's the end of the rugby season, and so we look forward to a couple of months without early Sunday morning starts and chilly, muddy fields before they head back to summer training in July/August to prepare for the U10s 2015/16 season. H loves playing rugby and his team are a really great bunch of lads, they all get on so well - bar the occasional ding-dong over nothing as is the way with kids - and H has made some really good friends. They still have lots to learn but that's all part of the fun at this age, learning the rules and how to play the game, and finding their places within the team.

Unfortunately I had to miss his end of season presentation because it clashed with E's 5th birthday party, but the Mister took him along to collect his team trophy. He wore his prized Bath rugby shirt, and proudly picked up his award before leaving early to attend his sister's party. I'm disappointed that I didn't get to see him collect his trophy, but so proud of the effort he puts in, how hard he always tries, and his commitment to playing.

Along with his achievement in the swimming gala, he has shown what a great little sportsman he is and I'm looking forward to seeing where next season takes him, and last week he brought home a glowing school report saying how delightful, thoughtful and considerate he is as well as having a great sense of humour. He is growing up to be a wonderful young man - I honestly could just burst with pride. He is a star.

E was a part of her very first class assembly last month. She and her class showed us their daily routine at school, as well as singing a song with actions. E gets a little emotional and anxious during this sort of thing, and I was so proud of her for being brave and doing her part during the assembly - she showed us what they do in PE as well as a picture she had painted - and even doing all the actions to the song and singing along. At the end as I was getting ready to leave she had a few tears (as you can probably tell from the photo!), but she took a deep breath and went back off to her classroom. The whole class did a beautiful job and it was a really lovely assembly.

She's doing so well at school, aside from her initial anxiety first thing she has settled in and made lots of friends, as well as excellent progress - she's now been moved up to level 15 in reading. I'm looking forward to these last few weeks of her first year at school, including her first school sports day next month! Her very first school report was brilliant and she is trying so hard, gaining lots of confidence and making great strides in her learning. It is bittersweet to see my youngest growing up, but I love being there to watch and enjoy every minute of it, and realise that I am so lucky to be able to do so.

Mama Owl

VonShef Multifunctional Soup Maker | Review & Giveaway

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

I'm a big fan of the kitchen gadget. Anything that can make my life easier when preparing meals for me & my family gets the thumbs up from me, particularly when it is something as clever as the VonShef Multifunctional Soup Maker from Domu. With a large 1.7L capacity & easy-clean jug, it can blend and cook your soup in under 30 minutes and can also be used as a Blender, Cooker, Soya Maker, Sauce Maker, Steamer, Boiler, Smoothie Maker, Reheater, and even an Egg Boiler.

Since giving my diet an overhaul at the beginning of the new year, I've been trying plenty of new recipes and eating a lot more fruit and vegetables. I've discovered a new love of smoothies and soups, which I generally avoided previously as I didn't like the texture, and so the opportunity to try out the soup maker came at the perfect time. One of my favourite smoothie recipes at the moment is spinach, kale, a tbsp 0% fat Greek yoghurt, and frozen berries (blueberries & raspberries are my favourite) with water.

In addition, my eldest has just had her new braces fitted and is currently having difficulty eating anything that isn't smooth or soft. I used the soup maker to whip up a batch of healthy & tasty home-made leek & potato soup which is in the fridge for her for when she needs it. I have also used the soup maker as an egg boiler and prepared her a tub of egg mayo to have on its own or with some small pasta shapes.

The soup maker comes with full instructions but is foolproof to use, including an alarm that sounds until the machine is set up correctly for the chosen program. The machine blends, pulses, boils/steams (up to four eggs at a time), & reheats as well as having the capacity to make chunky or smooth soup with preset timed programs. You can even use its cooking program to clean it! It's easy to care for, simply rinsing after use or wiping down with a damp cloth where needed and taking care not to immerse the jug in water.

The instruction manual includes full care, usage and troubleshooting details as well as several easy to follow recipes for you to try, and the soup maker comes with an egg holder for steaming/boiling, and a special cleaning brush and pad. The VonShef soup maker can be purchased from the Domu website for the bargain price of £39.99, and it is also available to buy from their Amazon store.

Domu would like to offer readers of MamaOwl the chance to win one of these must-have kitchen gadgets for themselves - simply enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

You do not need to have a blog to enter or leave a comment on this blog, simply use the name/URL or 'anonymous' option from the drop-down list, and please make sure that your name is in your comment if you use these options.
  • Competitions are open to UK residents aged 18 years and over.
  • The prize is one VonShef Multifunctional Soup Maker from
  • The giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday 31st May 2015.
  • All entries will be verified before the winner is announced.
  • The winner will be notified via email.
  • If the prize is not claimed within 28 days a new winner will be drawn.
  • The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.
  • Invalid and incomplete entries will be removed.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Family Fever
I received a complimentary VonShef Multifunctional Soup Maker for review purposes.
The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Meal Plan Monday 110515

Monday, 11 May 2015

Meal Plan 110515
Monday 11th
Macaroni cheese with broccoli for the Mister & kids, chicken salad & quinoa for me
Tuesday 12th
Cottage pie topped with root vegetable mash
Wednesday 13th
Korma chicken with sundries for the Mister & kids, and rice
Thursday 14th
Homemade fish pie and sweet potato chips
Friday 15th
Saturday 16th May
Spaghetti/Courgetti & homemade meatballs
Sunday 17th

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
{*Brinner = breakfast for dinner}

Weight & Inch Loss | Week 18 Update

Saturday, 9 May 2015

It's the end of round three of Project 6 Pack, and I'll be completely honest and say that I have come further than I ever imagined. Someone like me who wouldn't even consider running (unless it was literally for my life, because... running...) or exercising beyond the odd swim or long walk is actually regularly exercising and enjoying it. It feels amazing, I feel amazing and I am really proud of myself.

I haven't been as strict during this round, and have perhaps made one or two (or three) poor choices but I intend to have a 'reset' for my fourth round and to put my all into it again. I have struggled with sugar cravings more this round, which I have found really difficult and something I need to work on the management of.

P6P has a new timetable this time and I am looking forward to trying some different classes at different times and seeing how they work out for me. I might end up just going back to my 'usual' classes as I am somewhat a creature of habit, but we will see how they go, and how I manage to fit them into my usual daily routine. Up until this point I have been attending 6/7 classes a week, sometimes 2 in a day (Mondays/Fridays) so I'm excited at the possibility of being able to do more. Exercise can truly be addictive but hey - there are worse things to be addicted to, so I'm happy with that.

I took part in the 'Monster Run' organised by my PTs, which was an early Sunday morning start and a 2k blitz around a country park. It was exhausting but so much fun even though the weather wasn't great. I was carrying a bit of a tender knee from the week before so I had to amend some of my workout, but Laura & Amirah kept a close eye & made sure that I didn't injure it any further, and was still getting a challenging workout. We made good use of a bin bag as a make shift yoga mat for ab work!

My new measurements bring me to a total loss since January 4th of 18kg & 25 inches.

I have signed up for the Bath 5K Race For Life this year to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I would be so grateful for your support, if you'd like to sponsor me please visit and/or share my fundraising page which is

Thank you! I look forward to sharing my next update with you, and letting you know how I got on at my very first 5K.

You can find Project 6 Pack on Facebook, Twitter
and Instagram.

Cleland Conservation Park, Adelaide | #ShepsDownUnder

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Cleland Conservation Park conserves a vital area of bushland in the Adelaide Hills, SA. The park features Cleland Wildlife Park, Mount Lofty Summit, and Waterfall Gully. The Mister and I were keen to see Australia's iconic wildlife during our visit & Cleland offers a really authentic, interactive experience in a beautiful & natural environment.

The wildlife park is a beautiful wide open space with room for the animals to roam. I'm not going to lie, I was a little bit terrified of being completely exposed to animals wandering freely, the Kangaroos are large and powerful and I was fully aware that a pissed off 'roo would not be fun to be around. We bought some food from the shop for a small fee as we entered the park and very slowly, carefully and quietly approached a small group of Kangaroos who were lazing in the sunshine. Sitting still with food in our hands, they eventually made their way over to us and fed from our hands. Some were not at all shy about coming over to say hello, others were a little more cautious.

I was completely in awe of just how beautiful the Kangaroos were. I could have sat and watched them all day. I left the Mister to it when it came to feeding the Emus. I am petrified of birds (and winged things in general really) and so a bird that is basically the same size as me was just not happening. I kept a safe distance back and let him carry on with feeding them himself - however after it pecked his hand and made him jump out of his skin, the Mister wasn't quite so keen to feed them either.

There was so much to see, we could easily have spent the entire day there with a picnic. As well as the Kangaroos (several species of) and Emus we got to see an Echidna, Dingo, Rock Wallaby, Pelicans and Koalas as well as a Tasmanian Devil. It was amazing to see them all up close and to be able to touch them after having only ever seen them on TV before, it was such an awesome experience for me and all I could think while I was there was how much my children would love it & how I want to take them to see it all, too.

You are free to wander around the park at your leisure, but Cleland also offers guided day tours of the park in addition to Koala and Reptile petting and holding experiences, wild shows, and night walks. There is a cafe and gift shop on site, and plenty of space for a picnic. The gift shop offers an extensive range of Australian souvenirs, and all manner of books, toys and trinkets - we came home with a toy Kangaroo, Emu & Koala!

Admission was $22 per adult, with child tickets (4-15) priced at $11. You can purchase family tickets for 2 adults & 2 children or 1 adult & 3 children for $50, with additional children then charged at 50% of the child rate. Concessionary tickets are also available.

I braved touching the snake and lizard that were out in the reptile house, but declined the invitation to hold them as I wasn't feeling quite that brave, neither was the Mister who took these photos from a safe distance. Handling experiences for both the reptiles ($15) and the Koalas ($30) are available at an additional cost to the park admission fees.

The Mister and I both shared lots of photos of our visit to Cleland Wildlife Park on Instagram, feel free to check out our holiday hashtag #ShepsDownUnder to see more pictures of our day out, as well as snaps from the rest of our adventures 'Down Under'.

You can find Cleland Wildlife Park on Instagram and Facebook.


A Frozen Fifth Birthday Party

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

E's big day has been and gone, she is now five years old! We celebrated her birthday on April 27th with balloons, and cake with family and a special shopping trip to Toys R Us (as she requested) so that she could choose her own birthday presents. She had a lovely day at school and all of her classmates sang happy birthday, and she gave out little packets of sweets to everyone at the end of the day.

The main event was reserved for the following weekend, when she would have her very first proper birthday party with all of her friends. I had waited until she started school for this as otherwise in my opinion and experience (having had four before her) it's a lot of expense and effort for something that she wouldn't remember or appreciate, but at the age she is now she was fully able to enjoy her special day with her new reception class friends and cousins, and it was a really lovely party. She of course chose a Frozen themed birthday party, and so I dutifully did my best to make sure that that was exactly what she got.

The fabulous people at Party Delights sent us some wonderful Frozen partyware to help make sure E's party was everything she dreamed of, and I purchased the most brilliant party favours to put in the party bags from a company I found on Facebook, called Memories Gro. The lady (who is lovely, outstanding customer service) managed to get them to me in just a couple of days after I put her on the spot with next to no notice, and they were just perfect. Containing wildflower seeds and a beautiful snowflake clip, the stitched paper pouches read "Let it Grow!" on one side, and were personalised with "Thank you snow much for coming to Erica's party" on the other - such a clever idea, and really different to the usual pots of bubbles or plastic whistles!

I hired a nearby village hall for the afternoon, and local company Bounce-a-roo who offer a range of bouncy castles for hire as well as Princess experiences, Superhero parties, and face painting. We opted for the Frozen inspired Snow Queen Princess experience, with princess bouncy castle. The bouncy castle was delivered at 2pm from the start of our hall hire and set up for us with instructions for use and safety. The party began at 2:45pm so the children had a good 45 minutes of bouncing and playing before the special guest arrived at 3:30pm.

E was very excited when she found out that Queen Elsa had arrived, although she did go very shy during the Queen's visit. E's friends gathered around on the mat, and all learned how to do snow magic and act like princesses, before E walked down the pink carpet (holding Mummy's hand) and twirled for her friends. She was given her very own princess tiara and certificate, and got to wear the special birthday princess sash, there was even a rack of dresses & outfits brought in for any children who wanted to dress up for the visit.

The Snow Queen read the children a story ('The Little Mermaid', while themed music played in the background) & then they all sang 'Let it Go' together. At the end of the visit, Queen Elsa brought out the birthday cake and everyone sang happy birthday to E. It was a truly magical, very professional, experience and E absolutely loved every minute of it.

I chose all the food to fit in the Frozen theme as best I could, on the menu was:

Hans' Frozen Hearts (strawberries dipped in white chocolate)
Sven's Antlers (sour cream & chive pretzels)
Troll Rocks (red & green grapes)
Olaf's Arms (mini breadsticks)
Snowballs (marshmallows, and popcorn)
Hans & Anna's Sandwiches (ham rolls & cheese wraps)
Elsa's Melted Hearts (strawberries)
Olaf's Noses (carrots)
Olaf's Buttons (raisins)
Anna & Elsa's Chocolate (maltesers)
Kristoff's Ice Cubes (rice krispie squares)

I also made some marshmallow pops, which were big white marshmallows stuck on a lollipop stick, dipped in icing and then in 'blue glimmer' sugar sprinkles, and I included a couple of bowls of Walkers baked star ready salted crisps, too.

I made my own food labels for the buffet table using images of characters from the movie which I printed out and laminated. I also found some free melted snow water bottle labels which I printed out at home, check out my pinterest board for lots of free Frozen themed food ideas and printables. You could even print out colouring pages for a quiet activity for the children to do if it all gets a bit overwhelming, or perhaps to add to party bags with a little box of crayons.

Follow Mama Owl's board Frozen Party on Pinterest.

This year's cake was an Olaf cake, I made him out of rice krispie treats and covered him in fondant, before adding him to the top of a single tier vanilla cake (one layer blue, one layer purple), filled with vanilla buttercream. The cake was then airbrushed a graduated blue, and adorned with lots of sparkly fondant snowflakes, all made by me.

The party was a huge success and despite three of E's friends from class sadly being poorly on the day and missing the party, E had a 5th birthday party to remember.

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