Family

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    BAY BAC VILLA

    Photography by Jesper McIlroy
    Our family was recently invited to be the first guests to stay at Bay Bac Villa, which is a brand new villa located on the property of The Intercontinental Denang. From the moment we arrived at the airport, we were received with 5 star treatment. It’s those little touches, like snacks and cool aroma towels in the van, that really get me going. Ever since this trip, every time we get into a van or taxi, India asks “where are the smelly towels and snacks.”  Lord help me, what have we created!
    While driving to the location of the hotel/villa we were called by our delightful butler, inquiring to see how we were doing,  or if there was anything special we needed upon your arrival.  I mean, that’s pretty special. The drive to The Intercontinental from the airpot takes about 30 minutes, and is absolutely gorgeous, with views out into the ocean as far as your eyes can see. A 1.5 hours flight from HK and 20 mins to the hotel makes it a super easy destination.
    Once we arrived, we were blown away. The hotel is located in the heart of Son Tra Peninsular Nature Reserve on a pristine cliff facing the ocean, with a vista unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  A hotel buggy took us on a small tour of the magnificent hotel grounds and as we made our approach to our villa we knew we were in for a treat.
    Bay Bac Villa has a strong post modernist look, which makes it very unique. It feels less like a holiday rental and more like an artists fancy home. The villa consists of 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 3 pools, a large living room, and kitchen area. It is extremely private and the ocean views are breathtaking.  You also have a great view of the hotel from the pool deck.
    Although the villa is not situated exactly near the main hotel, its a very short walk, or if your feeling a bit lazy, you can always have your butler drive you where ever you like.  We loved the walk, which takes you through the lush green property and we loved exploring every nook and cranny.
    The hotel’s facilities are undoubtably 5 star, living up to its award winning reputation.
    We started our days watching the sunrise from the very unique Citron restaurant. What makes this restaurant so special is their floating tables that sit above the hillside, 100 meters above sea level, with spectacular views of the entire bay and surrounding mountains. Make sure you go earlier though, as it’s first come first serve, and well worth the early wake up. In our case, We were lucky as Freija basically never sleeps, so we had no problem getting best seat in the house!
    Our days consisted of dropping the kids off to the kids club, which I have to mention, because it is freaking amazing. We literally couldn’t get India to leave. We had to drag her out though as we wanted to spend time with her too.
    After the kids club we would chill in the kids pool, which is lovely and shaded. Then we would head to the gorgeous L_O_N_G bar to relax in their beautiful day beds and have lunch. L_O_N_G also has very special design.  You are taken back in time to a colonial era with these beautiful big fans and high ceilings.  I could stay there all day and read, if I wasn’t travelling with children of course. Most afternoons we enjoyed time as a family in our villa, and watched the cheeky monkeys steal our fruit. There are also other amazing restaurants within the hotel including , La Maison 1888 which is now home to the world-renowned three Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire. It was also crowned as “World’s Leading Fine Dining Hotel Restaurant 2017 and Top 10 in the World’s Best New Restaurants 2016 by CNN.  We didnt have the opportunity to dine there this time as they don’t allow children. That makes a lot of sense to me -God, if I was there with no kids on a romantic getaway, spending that kind of money, and had kids like mine on the table next to me, it would not be cool haha. Just kidding, kinda. We also could have easily hired a nanny, but we decided to make the most of our incredible villa, and spend time together as a family. This trip was to celebrate, my birthday, India’s birthday and Jesper and I’s 5 year wedding anniversary and to be completely honest with you it was the perfect choice. I hope to return soon to this little slice of heaven in Vietnam.
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    OUR SLEEPLESS DUCKLING

    In what seems like a life time of sleepless nights in reality has only been 2 years. That is 2 years too long in my opinion. We have literally tried everything from essential oils, sleep consultants, meditation to melatonin. All these desperate attempts failed and we had practically given up until Sleeping Duck offered us a single mattress. We are currently sleeping on a king size mattress from them in our room and it is literally heaven. I have often thought if I was able to sleep on it more often, rather than on my kids room floor I could possible have super hero powers from such good sleep.

    I’m not about to tell you that this mattress has miraculously made her sleep though the night. That would be crazy awesome, but no.  However I can happily share with you that it has helped improved her sleep dramatically. We were getting up with her every 1-2 hours and now since we have been using the Sleeping Duck she is only waking 1-2 times a night and is going back to her bed without world war 3 breaking out in our house.  This is huge for us. It is not the end of her sleeping problems that is for sure but it is a huge improvement. When I asked Freija if she likes her big girl mattress she said “yes like Mummies” That is a thumbs up from us.

    For more information on Sleeping Duck

    https://www.sleepingduck.com/hk/

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    LAURA EGLOFF X VELVETEEN

    PHOTOGRAPHY: Jesper McIlroy

    Before becoming a mother of two little girls “Mini Me” styling was quite strange. Very cute, don’t get me wrong but I never thought in a million years I would be the one to embrace mother daughter matching outfits especially in pink. Well how things can change in such a short period of time. Introducing Laura Egloff by the creator of one of my favourite children’s brands Velveteen. Now grown up versions of your favourite Velveteen styles are available for big girls. With looks like these you can’t help but want to match your kids, and I hate to say it, but this won’t be the last time.

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    KIRORO

        

    Photography by Jesper McIlroy

    A magical white Christmas is what dreams are made of. It is what we grow up watching on television and in movies, and I’m sure it is everyone’s dream to at least have one white christmas in their lifetime. For me it came late in my life but for my two little girls their white christmas wishes were answered early. Knee deep snow dreams are made a reality in Kiroro. Not just any old snow either. Fluffy, powdery snow that feels as soft as you imagine all snow to feel. In reality, most of the time snow is just wet, cold, icy sludge.

    Kiroro is an area or resort about an hour drive from Sapporo international airport. The drive is extremely beautiful and petrifying in a snow blizzard. When you are from the beaches in Australia and your husband is practically a living, walking breathing snowman your ideas about what is scary or awesome can be quite a different reality. If you ask Jesper, the drive was the most exciting of his life because it meant the mountains were going to practically be his heaven on earth. Filled with meters of snow. I on the other hand was very happy to see the resort alive.
    Once we made it safely I was able to embrace all of Kiroro’s beauty without holding my breath.
    The view from our room was spectacular. I had never seen anything quite like it in my life. I could happily sit by that window and watch the snow pour down onto the mountains for hours, and I did. The room was massive, and felt very homey -more then comfortable to have a family of 4 in there. To be honest we could have squeezed another 3 and still been totally fine.
    The food that we experienced in the resort was primarily Japanese which is to be expected, I suppose, but if your are travelling with picky little eaters like mine, I suggest you bring lots of snacks and food with you. We were not prepared for this at all, so Freija and India had to learn how to eat raw sushi pretty quick. India managed to develop quite a love for raw shrimp, which is kind of disturbing and awesome, while Freija pretty much went on a solid diet of that sweet Japanese egg stuff and hokihdo milk ice cream. Protein protein.
    Due to our tight schedule, I only managed to fit in a quick skiing lesson, and my only regret is that I did not have my mother or helper with me to babysit so that I could actually learn properly, without my babies freezing their little butts off watching mummy hahah.
    My ski instructor was really amazing, and despite how short my lesson may have been, I still feel like I learned the basics and managed to have a great time. I believe the conditions of the snow in kiroro are perfect for beginners because the snow is forgiving, and the mountain terrain is quite mellow. There are also many other family friendly snow activities such as snow Segway, snow buggy and banana boat ride.
    One particularily great thing about this resort is that within an hour there are some great little towns. Perfect for those that want to see something more cultural or for those that are not only about skiing or snowboarding, like me. I really enjoyed these day trips, exploring the surrounding towns, and because of the cold weather all you do is eat -pretty perfect in my opinion.
    Overall my experience in Kiroro was truly awesome. It is a must see for anyone that loves japan, its food and culture, and especially those of you that love those winter sports and powdery snow as far as your eyes can see.

              www.kiroro.co.jp/

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    BACK TO SCHOOL

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    This is a perfect back to school recipe that the whole family can enjoy. Mornings can be quite daunting for any family. Getting everyone feed and dressed and trying to make it to where you have to be in time. Not to mention the mess you have to clean post breakfast. This recipe is easy, filling, relatively tidy and most off all nutritious .
    I love to use freeze dried superfood powders in my morning smoothies as it reassures me that I have started my day with a powerful blend of fruits, vegetables and superfoods that will insure I have energy throughout the day. In addition to feeling less guilty about eating a huge lunch of Korean fried chicken ha ha. Also, for the kids you canfeel at ease that they have received vital nutrients to fuel their little bodies and brains. No junk just pure raw goodness to propel them into their day.

    BACK TO SCHOOL SUPER SMOOTHIE

    1 frozen banana
    1 tablespoon of organic chia seeds
    A small bunch of organic spinach
    1 teaspoon of honey
    1 tablespoon of almond butter
    1 serving a chocolate superfood powder
    1 tablespoon of gluten free oats
    1 – 1 1/2 cups of chocolate hazelnut milk

    Place all ingredients into a powerful blender and blend until well combined.

    Enjoy,

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    IN THE SPOTLIGHT- SABRINA SIKORA

    October 28th 2015, by Cara G Mcilroy in Family

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    1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you grew up. Was it work or pleasure that brought you to Hong Kong?

    I grew up in Macon, Georgia in the USA. As a teen I was a cheerleader and competed in pageants… a typical Southern upbringing. But I was oddly tall and cheerleading uniforms and evening gowns were too short on me so I set my sights on the wonderful world of fashion. I started modelling at the age of 14 (I was 5’10” and a size 0/2) and travelling to New York where I later moved when I was 19. It was then that I met a boy, as you do, and followed him to Asia for his career. I could work anywhere after all and Hong Kong sounded like a fun new adventure and a place to build my book. I had been shooting on the side since 2004 as a photographer but mostly just for fun and for a little extra pocket money. After several months of exploring in Hong Kong I decided not to return to modelling but instead to focus entirely on my photography. And that was that!

     

    1. Has photography always been a passion of yours?

    Yes, making beautiful images has always been a passion of mine! Growing up I was able to do that as a model thanks to the visions of the incredible teams around me. I loved it when I would see a photo and not recognize myself. I knew how to move and how to style to get a great image but I didn’t know how to capture it with the camera once I found myself on the other side. After literally hundreds of shoots and dress up sessions with new models I felt I knew a thing or two about how to shoot and felt comfortable putting a price on it. Now I shoot a mix of fashion, portrait, and family. When people ask what I shoot I typically respond “ Anything with people.” I particularly love working with new models and people who aren’t often shot as they are amazed by how I see them. The point when they look at the back of the camera and see just how beautiful they truly are is the best part of the day!

    1. How did you transition from photography being a hobby to a career?

    It was the move to Hong Kong that helped me make that leap. I had been modelling full time in New York and shooting in my spare time. I had planned to do the same in Hong Kong as well. Typically when I moved to a new city I was there for work so on day one I’d hit the ground doing castings and end up getting lost and upset and yelled at by my agency for being late. I didn’t want that in Hong Kong so I decided to take the first three months and just get to know the city. I planned to sign with an agency in January after I was all settled in and knew my way around. Well, three months turned into eight years and counting! Instead I decided to turn my attention to the other side of the lens and spend more time working on my photography. There is just so much to shoot here in HK! I set up meetings with a few magazines in town and was added to their roster then I linked up with Sassy Hong Kong (I also contribute fashion and beauty articles as well) and began shooting their That Girls and That Mamas. Slowly by word of mouth my schedule got busier and busier and now I typically shoot about three to four times a week and am booked a month in advance. I also shoot for my own blog, The First Wife.com.

    1. Do you believe you have a distinct style as a photographer?

    Most of my photos are full of light and color. If I am shooting with natural light I love flooding the image with it. If it is studio work then I love bold colors and lots of expressions and movement. An image should draw you in and speak to you. Beyond the images, I think I’m best known for how I interact with the subjects helping them to emote and move on film. That comes from my years in front of the camera. Most of my clients are women and I love shooting women. I can guide then on how to move to help them feel powerful and confident all while still holding a ladylike aspect to it. Plus, I know a few tricks on how to move to contour the shape where you won’t need to be retouched!

    1. What is the most memorable moment or moments in your career so far? 

    Shooting with Coco Rocha last year was certainly a highlight! She was pregnant at the time so we chatted babies as we worked. As fun and natural as it is for me to guide my subjects sometimes it is nice to just sit back and watch them work their magic! She moved like the wind changing effortlessly from laughing to angry and made the most beautiful “ugly” faces! I couldn’t wait to get back and unload the card!

     

    1. How do you find time in your busy schedule to balance work and family?

    Balance is a word that I haven’t yet found the meaning of and I don’t think any mama who works every truly does. When you are at work you wonder about what is going on at home and when you are at home you feel guilty that you aren’t working. For me, I am lucky to have my son hang with me at the studio on off days so I can do the editing and retouching while he plays. Then I take play breaks and we color together or build towers and…BOOM… knock them over. Right now as I answer these questions he is playing by my desk. I am very lucky in that I am mostly in control of my schedule so I don’t schedule more than I can handle. I used to shoot four times a week and then do events in the afternoons and at night. Now I shoot quite a lot but I have toned down the events and I make sure I am home at 5:30 for bedtime. Saturday is date night with my better half and Sunday is usually family pool day. When one week gets manic then I try to tone down the events for the week following so we can have our time together.

    1. Can you tell us about your career before and after you had a child/ children? Was it difficult getting back into your regular working routine after having a child/ children?

    I certainly was on the go before kids but in a different way. The day consisted of shooting most mornings then I’d come home get fixed up and head out to fashion events for the blog then come home and write an article then back out for evening fashion events. I wore loads more colors and heels and drank a good bit more champagne. I started slowing down while pregnant as I was wildly sick the whole time (glamorous, I know). I was actually hospitalized a week before he was born because I couldn’t stop getting sick! Ugh! I shot regularly up until about eight weeks before he was born but then the ups and down of shooting resulted in horrible Braxton Hicks so I had to stop earlier than planned. I then focused on waddling to events and writing as many articles as possible so that while I was away on maternity leave there was loads of scheduled content to go up.

    After Adam was born I needed time to heal and wasn’t keen to leave him or haul gear. I did my first shoot as a blogger where I modelled for Shanghai Tang five weeks after he was born. I had done the traditional Chinese confinement with him so I was excited to get out of the house for one day and have a little breath of the old me. It was also the day he was starting a bottle and apparently it is best for the mom to leave as the kiddo can smell her up to 20 feet away. He took to it like a champ. My first job as a photographer was about two months after he was born and it was a six-hour shoot which turned out to be a bit more than I could handle so I toned it down for a while after that. He fed every two and a half hours for five and half months so I would only accept one to two hour shoots at first to make sure I was home to feed/pump as often as possible. Slowly but surely we found our way. I felt like to took about five to six months to feel like myself again and from there I felt more confident to add to the work schedule.

    1. Has having a child changed your outlook on your career?

    Yes and no. I have always followed my heart with my career working towards goals but staying true to what inspires me and brings me joy. I have never really been driven by money so if I missed a shoot or two it didn’t bother me. I don’t have goals to be the biggest or the best so those never needed to change. Luckily, what brought me joy also paid the bills. What did change was the management of it all. I would say yes to any and every job before because I like to stay busy and it was exciting. Now I have to say no more and pick and choose what gets my time. For instance, I block out Monday and Friday mornings so I can take my son to school then I plan shoots in the afternoons. My son and my family will always be more important than any career or job.

    1. What are some of your favourite places to hang out with your family during the days you don’t have to work?

    We live in Chai Wan and so we spend a good chunk of the spare time going to Chai Wan Park where we feed the fish and the turtles, watch the remote control boats in the pond, or slide at the playgrounds. Adam loves to swing and play ball in the playground behind the studio so we go there loads too. On the weekends we typically head to either the Chai Wan pool or the American Club where he can run in the grass, drink smoothies, and swim. My little Pisces is indeed quite a fish!

    1. When you are not working where are some of your favourite family restaurants to eat with your family in Hong Kong ?

    Family restaurants are tricky in Hong Kong. Most of my favourite restaurants are little holes in the wall that serve messy spicy food so I try to hit those up on date night instead. We eat a lot at home and cook loads but when we do go out we typically hit up the American Club as Adam can run in the yard while we eat outside and watch him. I also love going to either The Diner or Burger Circus and getting a massive burger, shake and fries to share. Oolaa is always a good spot with kids but it gets really crowded on the weekends.

    1. There are many people who aspire to be a photographer, as a professional. What would you recommend people do to transition from photography as a hobby to a career?

    I think it depends on what style of photography they want to do. For fashion, a good tip is to start by reaching out to local modelling agencies and seeing if they have any new talent that is in need of testing. This way you get practice and the new model gets images to build her book. Once you feel confident shooting this then send samples of your work to magazines in your area and set meetings with the Photo Editor where you can be added to their roster and called for jobs that you fit the bill for. Magazines typically don’t pay much but getting your work published builds credibility.

    For family/maternity/kids shoots you can start by shooting friends and family and their kids. Then make sure they give photo credits when they post the images. After you have a few shoots that you are happy with then send your work to parenting magazines and blogs and ask to shoot for photo credits at first. That can lead to lots of word of mouth jobs as friends ask friends who took the images!

    The hard part is deciding when to step away from your full-time job, if you have one, and make the leap. That is a personal choice but basically you should have several months savings built up to cover you if things don’t take off right away. That is the thing with working for yourself… you have to keep plugging away to secure a steady paycheck and even then there are busy months and dry spells. But if you love it and you keep getting your work and your name out there then hopefully the work will pour in!

    If you love Sabrina as much as we do follow her on Instagram @sabrinasikora and check out her blog www.TheFirstWife.com

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    Sassy Mama’s “Top HK Moms to Follow on Instagram”

    October 21th 2015, by Cara G Mcilroy in Family

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    Thank you so much Sassy Mama HK for choosing me as one of the “Top HK Mom to Follow on Instagram” :

    Cara was featured on a That Girl post a while ago, but she’s a mama of a cute little girl now. She’s a model, TV presenter, businesswoman and most importantly a wife and a mama. Her new blogCatwalks to Cradles features anything that catches the fancy of this Aussie country girl. Fashion, beauty, family, travel, and food posts aside, we’re crazy about her DIY ideas. She’s also the owner of Genie Juicery if you’re thinking of doing a juice cleanse. From the looks of her insta, this mama is expecting another little bundle of joy. Find out more about her pregnancy journey and life as a mama in this The Bump post!” – Sassy Mama HK

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    IN THE SPOT LIGHT- KEIKO FROM MILKMONSTER LAUGHS PHOTOGRAPHY

    October 14th 2015, by Cara G Mcilroy in Family

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    1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you grew up. Was it work or pleasure that brought you to Hong Kong?

    I am ½ Japanese, ½ Shanghainese born and raised in Toronto, Canada and moved to Hong Kong after 4 years of long distance with my now husband, Jason. I guess I kind of followed him here. I was 24 at the time and it seemed like the right thing to do.

     

    1. Has photography always been a passion of yours?

    I absolutely love taking photos, but it’s not what I’ve always done for work. I used to be in shoe design and manufacturing, but it feels like a lifetime ago. I’ve been a photographer now for 7 years and it’s really a huge part of my life and something I am extremely passionate about. Capturing that special moment, whether it’s my own kids or for clients really brings me a lot of joy and satisfaction.

     

    1. How did you transition from photography being a hobby to a career?

    I started out just photographing my own child and of my son’s friends at playgroup. From there, people started asking me to do family sessions. I remember starting out and being super excited that people were liking my work! It’s a great feeling to be able to do what you love and make others happy at the same time!

     

    1. Do you believe you have a distinct style as a photographer?

    I think style, be it fashion, design, or photography, is ever evolving. You’re constantly changing as a person, learning new things, having new experiences, growing and finding new inspiration so it’s only natural to have this reflected in your style. I hope I continue to grow and improve. I think once you stop learning something it’s time to move onto something new.

     

    1. What is the most memorable moment or moments in your career so far?

    I remember when I first started photographing newborns, I had a session where the baby was having a hard time feeding and settling and cried on and off for quite a while. The parents were flustered and for me, being able to help calm the baby and offer emotional support to the parents while capturing the special moments made me walk out of there feeling really confident that this is exactly where I am supposed to be right now. Working with babies requires a lot of patience and confidence so that was THE moment for me.

     

    1. How do you find time in your busy schedule to balance work and family?

    I haven’t quite worked this one out yet…I feel rather than having a balance, there are just some crazy busy and overwhelming periods that I just need to get through and I take slow work periods to relax and recharge. Balance implies there is a happy medium but as a working mom of 3 kids I just don’t feel it’s possible all the time. I wish I had a better answer!

     

    1. Can you tell us about your career before and after you had a child/ children? Was it difficult getting back into your regular working routine after having a child/ children?

    So, before kids, I ran my own company and was very rarely in HK. I travelled 80% of the time and worked insanely long hours. I had some health issues at the time so had to really consider and make some big decisions about what I wanted for my life. When we became pregnant with our first son, I decided to take a break from my career. At the time I was so worried and sad and unsure of the decision but looking back it was the best decision I could have made for our family. Our first 2 boys were both born quite premature with my 2nd son requiring a lot of hospitalization and therapy. Being able to focus all my time and attention on my family was paramount to his recovery so I have no regrets about my decision. Photography came after I became a parent and it was and has been a welcomed career change. It’s taken some time to build up a client base and portfolio while being a WFHM but I’m working on that happily, one step at a time.

     

    1. Has having a child changed your outlook on your career?

    It most definitely has. I think becoming a parent completely alters your perspective on life. It’s no longer all about what you want for your life and with 3 kids I now have so many lives to take into consideration. Having had 2 premature babies, each faced moments where we could have lost them, especially with my 2nd son, he was just such a poor breather along with some other health issues. It’s in those awful and dark moments that you really get to see what is the true light in life. The gratitude my husband and I have experienced in being able to bring our children home has really changed our outlook on life, including our careers.

     

    1. What are some of your favourite places to hang out with your family during the days you don’t have to work?

    We love all of Hong Kong’s beautiful beaches, Stanley and the Pulse are our go to on sunny days. We regularly playground hop too!

     

    1. When you are not working where are some of your favourite family restaurants to eat with your family in Hong Kong?

    My kids love the pasta at Te, Pizza from Pizza Express, Pancakes at Aberdeen Street, and Caesar Salad from Oola. Crystal Jade at IFC and Wang Jia Sha at Taikoo Shing are the Chinese cuisine favourites!

     

    1. There are many people who aspire to be a photographer, as a professional what would you recommend people do to transition from photography as a hobby to a career?

    Just get out there and take photos of what you love! Practice and perfect your skill. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to learn from others! You can always offer discounted or free sessions while you’re starting out until you get to a level you are satisfied with. The most important thing is to photograph regularly and figure out what makes you unique, what your style is and go from there!

    To see more of Keiko’s beautiful work visit:

    http://www.portraitsbykeiko.com/

    Love,

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    THE JOURNEY INTO PARENTHOOD-PART 2

    October 7th 2015, by Cara G Mcilroy in Family

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    The day India Wilde was born time stood still and I was transported to another planet. This is what parenthood feels like. Out of this world.
    Everything you hear people say is true and you finally understand it. Comments like “I’m so tired, but it’s all worth it”. You have never experienced exhaustion, real exhaustion until you become a parent. I am constantly complaining. Followed by saying “oh I can’t wait to have another one” or “I miss being pregnant”. Reality check I just gave birth 8 weeks ago and now I have two babies under the age of one and a half! Does your life change? Yes, yes it does and like people say it’s for the better.

    Pregnancy for me, second time round was hard. Really hard. Those lovey dovey moments I spoke so fondly of in my first pregnancy were almost non-existent second time round. Don’t get me wrong, Jesper and I were just as excited and in love with this new child as we were with India. But we were exhausted this time round and totally wrapped up in an India love bubble.
    While pregnant with India I was full of energy and kept exercising and working until the day I popped. I embraced my big beautiful pregnant body and self and loved it. I gained 26kg by the end and honestly have never felt sexier.

    This time was completely different. I suffered terrible morning sickness for 4 months which was amplified as I had to take care of a baby. My immune system seemed to be so weak, I caught every virus going around. It was so bad that I was hospitalized twice. I was lethargic and suffered from horrible varicose veins. I was also told that my beautiful baby Freija Rain had a small chance of being born with abnormalities. Possibly due to the viruses I had contracted early in my pregnancy. I was so stressed, sick, and even a little depressed some days.

    My third trimester is when I stopped worrying about the things I had no control over. I enjoyed the last few precious weeks being pregnant and being a mother of one. I took time off work and spent every waking second with India. We painted, went to the beach, the pool. Snuggled on the sofa and rubbed and talked to my belly. It was truly wonderful watching India cuddle and kiss little Freija through my tummy. I felt she knew she was becoming a big sister. And that there, inside me was the greatest gift Mummy and Daddy could ever give her. A best friend for life. It was magical.

    Love,

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    NATURALLY BETTER BOX

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    As you all know I’m a huge fan of all things natural. So naturally (no pun intended) I have fallen in love with this new hong Kong based start up, the Naturally Better Box.

    The idea is that you sign up to a month subscription and each month you receive a beautiful box filled with cruelty free, toxic free, and environmentally friendly products are sent directly to your doorstep.

    The girls at the NBB search the globe for the best products available and only share with us the ones the believe in, trust and love. The beauty of this is that all the goodies have been tried and tested by two women who are passionate about all things natural.

    Unlike other subscriptions you receive full sized products. In my opinion this is much better than samples as you get the full experience and can better judge if you really love the products. If you do fall for  certain lip balm, cleaning product or yummy tea, just jump online to their e-shop and purchase more. It’s that easy…. Then all you need to do is sit back and wait until the next month to be introduced to more delectable NBB goodies.

    Each box is filled with six full sized items.  These are my top six picks.

    The Pure Candle and Coal & Canary Candle

    Candles are a must in our house hold.  They are perfect for a romantic evening or simply to make the house smell amazing. They also look super cool.  These candles smell divine and burn clear of soot, chemicals and smoke so you can breath easy, sit back, and enjoy the ambience.

    Matcha Maiden-100% pure organic green tea powder and Pranayum-masala chai tea

    As you can see I clearly have a love for candles and tea. Chai always reminds me of home (Australia).  Relaxing and sipping a chai latte is one of my favorite things to do right off the plane. It’s so yummy and Hong Kong has yet to master the art of making Chai like Australia. This is why I love to have it on hand at home so I can make it myself.  Green tea is for sure one of my favorite flavors. So much that I created a super yummy smoothie for you guys to try using Matcha Maiden tea.

    Wotnot-facial wipes

    Perfect to have in your bag for many reasons. For me I hate to wear make-up but unfortunately it is unavoidable in my line of work. These wipes are the perfect natural solution for me to clean my face of make-up right after a shoot or on the go. They are great to clean the kids faces and sticky fingers after a messy brunch date. And you can rest assured your not rubbing nasty chemicals on their delicate little faces. They are also biodegradable.

    Resparkel kit

    Cleaning products are so scary to me. Specially since having first a dog, then children.  I’ll be honest allot of meals are eaten off the floor these days so cleaning products thats have no nasty chemicals, but work are so important.

    The NBB has so many other fantastic products in their online store.  If your at all thinking of how to add more natural and organic products to your home and life they are worth checking out.

    www.naturallybetterbox.com

    Lets make our lives more green,

    love,

    signature-web

    Coconut Matcha Smoothie

    INGREDIENTS

    -1 cup of organic almond milk

     -1 teaspoon of Matcha Maiden-100% organic green tea powder

    -1 frozen banana

    -1 tablespoon of raw honey

    -2 1/2 tablespoons dehydrated coconut (1/2 tablespoon set aside for topping)

    -5 cubes of ices

    -1/2 tablespoon of chia seeds for topping

    Blend banana, almond milk, honey, coconut, ice, matcha and pour into a glass jar. Top with chia seeds, coconut and drizzle with honey.

    Perfect afternoon pick me up that is delicious and packed full of antioxidants!

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