Cheat’s Guide to Good Family Food (without the stress & supermarket dashes).

If there’s one thing I dread more than school holidays, readers, hair brushing and finding matching socks it’s thinking of something to cook for dinner EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT. I resent meal planning and laugh in the face of shopping lists. I know some people who cook a different meal for each child each night and they don’t even seem mildly insane. This is not me.

By the same token, eating healthily is obviously really important because #scurvy. If this sounds like you then let me tell you about how I have found a perfect mix of convenience cooking without sacrificing health or taste.

Please note that this post was written as part of a collaboration with Marathon. All words and thoughts are my own.

Step one is to find an awesome organic fruit and veg supplier. There are HEAPS of amazing farm gate stores on the Peninsula so you are spoilt for choice if you have the time and inclination to spend some time looking around. I have found one in Frankston South that delivers. Yup. They pack a box full of whatever is in season and like organic food angels, leave it on my door step. Check them out here: The Organic Butler

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Step two is purchasing some packs of delicious food from Marathon’s Chef Direct range. They have a shelf life of 12 months from manufacture (if stored correctly) so I just leave mine in the pantry until I am ready to use them.

Step three is to heat up the Marathon product and team it with fresh, organic produce and there you have it! A beautiful family meal. This week, I have made:

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Lamb Shanks with organic green vegies and Paris mash.

Who doesn’t love Lamb Shanks? I heat the shanks in the microwave while steaming vegetables and making the mash. Even the bubba eats this one herself!

Build-you-own baked potatoes with organic broccoli, carrot, capsicum, onion and cheese with Marathon Con Carne Mexican Mild Chilli.

The chilli is really mild so it was fine for the kids. They can pick and choose what they add to their potato so minimal whinging. Yay!

We also tried the Beef Meatballs from the Chef Direct range but ate them before I could get a snap. Opps.

Check out everything that is available to you from Marathon by checking out their website here: Chef Direct range from Marathon and stay tuned to our Instagram to see more great meals.

Happy cooking people!

 

 

Untamed Flowers

You know how people talk about perks of the job with things like a work car or 10 weeks of holidays or international travel etc? Well my perks as a writer and digital content creator are EVEN BETTER THAN ALL OF THOSE. A few weekends ago I was invited to Villa Floretti – a working flower farm – down in Boneo to participate in a flower workshop with Dawn from Peninsula Wild Flower. I’ve been doing some copywriting for their new website and getting immersed in the natives brings forth sentences from my brain that would otherwise be mixed up in the garbled mess of teething and school pick up.
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Let me set the scene. Villa Floretti is this incredible working flower farm filled with fields of natives. Beyond the fields is the sea and to add to the beauty of the farm itself is a barn, a dog called Olive and an onsite cook and flower picker called Richard Barassi who is on a T.V show. It is nothing short of magical with a side of the absurd as Olive greets each visitor with a little too much enthusiasm and the flower fields serve up impossibly beautiful King Proteas.

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In our intimate group there were a couple of brides-to-be scoping out potential wedding flowers, one or two aspiring flower arrangers, a curious local and myself. We were accompanied by Dawn the head florist forager at Peninsula Wild Flower and the owner of Villa Floretti, Richelle.

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We started the day with a sit down meal cooked by Richard of The Intolerant Cook fame. Chicken, carrots, asparagus and cake. There are only so many words in the English Language for amazing but oh mio dio, it was belissimo. After we’d cried “Salute!” and downed some Italian wine we set off for a guided tour through the flower fields.

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By what felt like chance, we eventually came across a table set up in the middle of a King Protea field equipped with buckets and buckets of freshly cut natives, a pair of shears each and a whisper of magic in the air. As we took our places, Dawn expertly guided us through the process of arranging an abundant bouquet. Okay, an aside: Dawn is amazing. You will never meet anyone more humble and she will certainly not blow her own trumpet so let me. Dawn’s talent is almost other worldly. You can see her clear her mind and make working with flowers almost meditative. This woman worked with the Queen. The actual Queen. And did a royal wedding in Madrid. But she is the least pretentious person I know; she just genuinely adores flowers. I know, I want to be her too.

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After offering one on one guidance to each participant we tied our bouquets together and headed back to the barn for some handmade chocolates. By this point I was on realestate.com looking up flower farms for sale and dreaming of a live in chef.

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Alas, as I drove home down the sun dappled roads of the Mornington Peninsula the only thing that made returning to real life tolerable was the notion that I would return to the fields for the next workshop.

If you have not already, you MUST check out these classes. Give Dawn a call on 0431 029 345 to find out how you can book yourself in for a day of lusciousness.

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DIY Halloween Unicorn Headband PLUS Our Top Secret Trick or Treating Spots

You know what the 31st is right? Halloweeeeen.

Have you got your costumes sorted? If not, do not despair. Here is your DIY guide to making your very own spooky Halloween Unicorn Headband.

Step one is to go somewhere the kids are not. Seriously, babies plus foam cones do not mix (unless you are going for a half eaten zombie unicorn look.) Once the kids are out of the room, run out the door and never come back. Kidding! Once the kids are out of the room take a nap and then get started.

Step two:

Wrap the trimming around the head band, dotting with glue to adhere it along the way. Then, using the band as a guide, cut out your ear shapes. Using the band in this step ensures you have enough of a fold to glue properly. Once you’ve cut your ears, cut and glue some of the black felt to create the inner ear.

Step three:

Paint the foam cone. I gave mine 3 coats to get into all the little bumps (and bite marks.) While it’s drying, glue the ears onto the band and wind your flowers around the band. Play around with the design to see what looks best. Once the cone is dry wrap trim diagonally from top to bottom adhering with dots of glue along the way. The diagonal angle creates a bit of a spiral look for the horn.  Then push some more flowers into the broad end of the cone.

Step four:

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Glue your horn into the centre, add a few more flowers and then dance around the garden with your little sister! That’s it folks. A simple and fun custom made unicorn horn for your cheeky trick or treater.

Which brings us to our list of great trick or treating spots on the Peninsula and surrounds:

Frankston: Dalpura Circuit for Halloween decorations and spooky front yards

Frankston North: Lots of over the top decorations throughout (keep this one in mind for Christmas lights too!)

Langwarrin: Pindara Boulevard for trick or treating and yard decorations

Sandhurst: Look for the flyer out the front of each house to see who is participating in trick or treating

Hastings: Spruce Drive for trick or treating.

Mount Eliza: Wimbledom Ave (beside the kinder.) Look for the orange balloons! Also Brooklyn Minute in the village is giving every child a free treat bag.

And don’t forget, there are loads of events happening on the Peninsula which you can read all about here: Halloween on the Mornington Peninsula (plus some simple art and craft to help get your spook on!) or you could always spend the night making a customised donut wall like this one: DIY Halloween Donut Wall.

Of course there’s one place which throws the ultimate Halloween party; all aboard the Carnival Cruise Lines! If you’d like to win a cruise and party like there’s no work tomorrow, visit: Carnival Cruise Giveaway

Happy Halloween!

xKatie

Halloween on the Mornington Peninsula (plus some simple art and craft to help get your spook on!)

Before you get out to one of the many Halloween activities on the Peninsula, why not enjoy getting in the spooky mood with some art and craft? Here are a few of our favourites:

Top Left: Creepy Rocks.

Have you discovered rock hunting yet? If not, take a look at this post and all will be explained: Rock On. We used Halloween to inspire some creepy rock designs including bats, cats, spider’s webs and more! Nothing says Halloween like orange and black rocks lurking in a garden….Once your kids have had fun with them it is time to hide them around your neighbourhood. Don’t forget to use the secret code on the back so that people who find them can work out what they are all about!

These rocks are also fun to use as story telling prompts. place them all in a bucket and then by fire light, remove them one by one and tell your friends a spooky Halloween Tale. “Once upon a time, there was a black cat called Midnight…..”

Bottom left: Fingerprint Spookies.

Since Mini got a pen-pal this year (cutest thing ever) she has been loving writing letters to people. We used an ink pad to make fingerprints then added googly eyes and wriggly legs to turn them into spooktacular critters. Stickers, sweet message and viola! Your very own Halloween letters.

Right: Cheeky Spiders.

We got pom-poms and pipe cleaners from Kmart and used some left over stickers and googly eyes to make these funny guys. Side note: Most spiders have 8 eyes. How did I only just learn this? We used PVA for the eyes and then just wound 4 pipe cleaners around the pompoms to give them wriggly-giggly legs. Easy.

For a bigger project that your kids will LOVE, don’t forget to check out our post about how to make a Donut Wall.

So now that you are feeling suitably spooky, it’s time to hit a local Halloween event.

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Mt Eliza: Village Pumpkin Hunt. On right now. See if you can spot the pumpkin stickers on all 20 shop/business windows and then find the scary item (either a bat,spider, pumpkin, Frankenstein head or a ghost.) Grab your entry forms from TRISH STAMP TRAVEL, 70 Mt Eliza Way opposite the post office. Free and fun and you could win one of 4 Halloween hampers!

Frankston: Halloween Spooky Adventure Path. Trick or treat at various stores in the Frankston CBD from 30th October to the 4th of November. For the list of stores and more info: Check it out on Facebook.

Karingal: Halloween Spectacular at Karingal Hub. Saturday 28th of October 10am to 2pm. Trick or treat hunt (first 300 kids). Register at Centre Court. Silent disco, craft workshop, face painting. More info here: Halloween in Karingal

Dromana: Halloween Festival & Bonfire. Hillview Community Reserve 191 Boundary Road. Tuesday 31st of October from 6pm to 9pm. Entry with gold coin donation. Marshmallow toasting, apple bobbing, jumping castle and face painting. Halloween themed food available. Costume competition.

Moorooduc: Spooky Weekend at The Big Goose. Saturday October 28th and 29th. All kids are $20 each and adults are $18. (family pass is $66) Games, tractor rides, mini golf etc is all included. Facepainting, pony rides and animal feed bags are all extra. More info on the Big Goose Website

Cranbourne: Fright Night Spooktacular at Cranbourne Racecourse. Saturday 28th 5pm-11pm. Kid’s Spooky Pass for kids aged 2 to 15 years is $29.50 and includes access to live performances, trick or treat bag, rides, workshops, face painting and more. Family pass is $109.50 (1 adult and three kids.) More info here

Mornington/Moorooduc: Little Shop Of Horrors Costumery presents Little Train Of Horrors Halloweekend Spooky Trains. 28th and 29th of October. Mornington Railway:
460 Moorooduc Highway, Moorooduc. Facepainting, treat bags, music and more. Family ticket is $55 for a return ticket. More info: http://littleshopofhorrorscostumery.com.au/halloween.html

Enjoy!

x Katie

The Mornington Peninsula does Halloween brilliantly and so does Carnival Cruise Line. They are the family friendly go-to when it comes to fun and fabulous cruises.  Want to win one? Here’s your chance! Escape With Carnival

 

DIY Halloween Donut Wall

Well hello there spooktacular people and welcome to my horrifying Halloween series. During October I’ll be sharing all my Halloween tips and tricks to make your kids scream (with delight.)

First up: The DIY Halloween Donut Wall.

What you’ll need:

1 x peg board (I got mine from Kmart for $29)

Extra length of dowel for additional pegs plus something to cut it with.

Paint colours of your choosing & a drop sheet. We used orange and black.

Painters tape, rollers (one for each colour), paint trays (one for each colour)

Spooky decorations and some donuts!

Step one: Preparation (the boring part.)

Put down your drop sheet and have a play around with the pegs and tape to come up with your design. Wherever the tape is stuck is where white lines will appear. Remember; the amount of pegs equals the amount of donuts that you will be using. On that note…..

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Step two: Cut your dowel (or get someone very attractive to cut it for you) into the same length as the existing pegs.

Look, I am not saying this is the only way to cut a piece of dowel. If you don’t have a wheelbarrow and a death wish then I would suggest using a proper cutting table, vice, hand saw, gloves and some goggles.

Step three: Get painting!

This is really fun. I used a roller for each colour and did two coats. I mentioned to Insta-husband that I could totally go on The Block but he sort of laugh/snorted and assumed I was joking. #whatevs.

Paint each peg the opposite colour to the hole it will be going in to make them stand out.

Once you’ve got your colour on, wait for it to dry and then carefully pull off the tape to reveal your design. Stick in your pegs (remembering to use opposing colours for maximum impact)

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Step Four: Decorate

I covered each exposed hole with a spooky decoration. I didn’t want to permanently fill them in because I am sure I will use the board again and need more than 12 donuts. I used flat felt spookies from Kmart and some sparkly spiders from a two dollar shop.

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Step Five: Put your donuts on!

We just grabbed some from Woolworths but you could make something really cool if you were so inclined. Next time I think we’ll do our own icing with orange sprinkles or some teeth lollies and that sort of thing. Fun fact: kids don’t really care what they look like, they just want to eat them! This brings us to the sixth step:

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Step Six: Throw a party and eat donuts!

This is the funnest step but also the step that makes you feel a bit sick if you do it a few times.

X Katie

Do you love Halloween as much as I do? I’ve recently learnt that Carnival is the number one cruise line for family friendly fun-including spooky halloween parties. Want to win a cruise with them and join in on the fun? Enter here: Carnival Cruise Competition

3 Mornington Peninsula Coffee Haunts That Are So Convenient, They’re Practically Drive-Thru.

Caffeine equals life. Am I right?

There’s nothing I love more than chilling in a café with a coffee and watching the world go by. But with two kids and those pesky “Don’t leave your kids in the car alone” laws, that is now a rare occurrence. Enter, drive-thru coffee from fast food joints at 8am on the school run. But fear not! You no longer have to sacrifice quality for convenience (unless you are a bit hung over and need a hash brown) Try one of the three cute cafes listed here instead and get your caffeine fix stat without having to unstrap the kids.

 

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Cutest coffee cart in the business: Little Olive Café

 

Little Olive Café Mt Eliza.

Currently located at Eden Garden Nursery in Mt Eliza.

204 Canadian Bay Rd, Mount Eliza VIC 3930

6.15am -9am

This coffee cart is as cute as a button and being positioned in a car park makes it perfect for a quick coffee dash. The coffee is great and you can grab a baked treat while you are there.

Hot Tip: You can purchase really cool reusable coffee mugs here. Think ceramic, glazed and arty.

 

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Coffee convenience in Baxter

 

Coffee hut outside Tipples Backyards in Baxter

167 Moorooduc Hwy, Baxter VIC 3911

This little spot is literally on the highway so there is no excuse. It sells toasties and is right next door to a petrol station so you can pretty much get all your morning shiz sorted.

Hot Tip: This place has Eftpos. Winning!

 

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Muffin and a latte at Apple Espresso in Mornington

 

Apple Espresso at Tully’s in Mornington

630 Moorooduc Hwy, Mornington VIC 3931

Imagine this scenario: You’ve dropped the kids at school and 5 minutes into your drive home the baby falls asleep in the car. Don’t waste your life away sitting in the driveway scrolling Facebook and fearing the transfer wakeup! Head to Tully’s and grab a coffee underneath a pear tree while bubba snoozes a metre or two away (obvi with the windows down and in full view and all those other legal/ethical/perfect-parent-patrol things.)

Hot Tip: If you have time to eat in, head out the back into the courtyard and grab a coffee and cake. Delicious!

 

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Apple Espresso at Tully’s in Mornington

 

Know of any other convenient little coffee stops? Drop them into the comments!

 

I Just Want To Party

Woah. I tell you what, organising a party for my two kids just about sent me over the edge. I am just not naturally very organised so sorting out the cake, catering, venue, balloons & decorations, games and goodness knows what else I forgot, was stressful to say the least.

Having a party at home is not exactly painless either but I have found a few party businesses that make the organising a breeze.

  1. Pamper party with Relax and Unwind Massage
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Photo by Bron at www,smithsholidayroad.com

This is perfect for a mummy and daughter day or for preteens/teens. The therapist comes to you and brings everything they’ll need for your party guests to relax and feel pampered. Pedicures, massages, foot soaks and more-this is a gorgeous way to bliss out and spend time together.

Relax and Unwind Massage website

2. Sleep overs with Twilight Teepees.

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The prettiest sleepover I ever did see came courtesy of the duo at Twilight Teepees. They set up, pack up and supply all the little touches like dinner trays and cushions. This Boho Lace theme is next level sweet but you can also go with basketball, camouflage and a whole host of other themes. Check them out for a fuss free party. Here’s their Facebook Page

3. Faery Emma

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Faery Emma is an actual real fairy. I can tell.

She does shows and markets and, luckily for us, parties! Dancing, face painting and fun, you cannot go past her for a children’s entertainer.

Check out her fairy fabulousness on her Facebook Page

So, next party, I am thinking about organising all three of these businesses to come over and then leaving Insta-Bae here while I go away for the weekend. Perfect!

x Katie

Rock On

Have you caught the rock hunting bug?

We discovered this cool outdoor activity through the Moongala Community House. The concept is simple:

  • paint a rock
  • hide the rock
  • find some painted rocks that others have hidden.

The handy Facebook page (VIC ROCKS) is a great help in seeing where the rocks have been hidden (rock drops) and for the finders to share their discoveries in the hopes that the original hider will see the post. The VIC ROCKS Facebook page has almost 10000 members so you will be sure to find someone painting and hiding rocks somewhere near you.

Here are our favourite spots to hide and seek:

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Beauty Park: Spring Street, Frankston.

This park has a playground, lake, plenty of trees and even a little bridge. Heaps of places to search for hidden treasure. In the Summer, the park transforms into Little Beauty Market. Interested? You can read all about that here.

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Beauty Park, Frankston. The perfect spot for a rock drop.

We found one of our very first rocks here (pictured above.) Mini re-hid it and was thrilled when it reappeared the next day on the Facebook page having been found again by another little person.

 

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Mornington Beach Park: Bottom of Main St, Mornington.

This park has an awesome wooden playground and plenty of space for the kids to move around. We absolutely love the big trees (perfect for hiding under in the rain) and the best part is that it’s just a short stroll from one of our favourite cafes; Soul Press.

 

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So many spots to hide your painted rocks.

We found a few rocks here on a rainy day and loved spotting the painted tree stumps too.

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McClelland Gallery: 390 McClelland Dr, Langwarrin VIC 3910

This is just hands down one of our favourite places to visit. It has all the factors that make it a great day out with the kids; free of charge, space to run around and not boring for parents. Winning! We came across this beauty after an afternoon of searching. Mini fell in love with is and has kept it on her bed side table ever since. If she ever finds a new favourite, we will swap it out.

rockdrop8.jpg The sculpture park is huge so it would be a good idea to leave a clue for the finder when hiding your rocks. Even a bit of faux grass or a monkey’s face in the background will give them a hint!

We are really spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor play spaces for kids. Check out our fave park here.

Where are your best rock drop spots? Have your found a painted rock on your travels?

Happy hunting! x

 

 

 

Oxygen Facial at The Beauty Emporium.

Okay, I admit it. I am now addicted to The Beauty Emporium in Mount Eliza.

Last week I was in need of some serious pampering – the kind where you can bliss out and pretend like the two tiny soul suckers that call you ‘Mama’ are not your responsibility for an hour. That’s where beautiful Caroline, one half of The Beauty Emporium Boss Lady team, came in with the oxygen facial. Side note: the salon is owned and run by two friends-how gorgeous is that?!

FYI: The Beauty Emporium hosted me for this treatment. All words and thoughts are my own. 

Let’s splice in a ‘before’, ‘immediately after’ and ‘a few days later’ pics here because the results are probably more important than the experience itself in this case:

While I am still obviously uncomfortable with the concept of selfies (and a hair brush it would seem), I can see a huge difference in skin tone in the far left and far right pictures. And today, 10 days later, my skin still feels much softer than usual. Immediately afterwards my skin felt plumper. I daresay I felt like I looked a bit younger too.

So, what’s it all about? Do they just spray you in the face with the tyre pump from a petrol station as my babysitter A.K.A my dad suggested? No. They do not.

First of all I settled down on the cosy treatment bed which was warm and electric-blanket-toasty. Then Caroline had a quick look at my skin and we talked about how I often break out on my jaw line #hormonalbiatch and then it was lamp off & chill. When Caroline mentioned that she would talk me through the treatment but that there was no need for me to respond I knew that not only was she completely in tune with the client experience but that she knew exactly what women/mums/people in general need.

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Over the course of an hour, vitamins and minerals were massaged into my face and neck aswell as something that seemed to painlessly eat all the dead skin cells. Then 100% medical grade oxygen was applied all over my face which felt almost like water. In fact, maybe there WAS water involved. I was so half asleep by this point that anything is possible.

We finished off with a cup of peppermint tea. I stayed in their sun drenched sitting area for as long as possible before returning home relaxed and rejuvenated. Perfect. The treatment is designed to be undertaken several times although I really do notice a difference after just one.

You can find The Beauty Emporium at Level 1/12 Ranelagh Drive, Mount Eliza, 3930.

Visit their website here: Beauty Emporium

Oxygen Facial is $160. Book 5 and receive your 6th of free.

Before I go, I just need to urge you to check out their Fabulous Friday treatments because TODAY IS FRIDAY. Book in for a glass of bubbles for you and a friend plus a 30 minute treatment each (choose from Becca Makeup, Brow Make Over or a mini pedicure) for just $30 each. Seriously. Do it. I wish I could but it’s date night and Insta-Bae is weird about people touching his feet.

Check out their latest Instagram post for more details here. And if you want to learn more about The Beauty Emporium in general, check out the first post I wrote about them here

 

Where Art Thou?

On a chilly, wintery morning a couple of weeks ago, my friend Kate and I found our way down onto Kookaburra Street in Frankston and discovered Kindred Art Space.

We’d been invited down by the lovely Kez and with my background in Art Therapy and a keen interest in getting away from my kids, I jumped at the opportunity to dip my toe in the water (colours) again. Kez is a Transpersonal Art Therapist who has masterminded the Self Care Sundays workshops.

Want to skip the rest of this post and book yo’self in for a workshop? Visit Kindred Art Space here.

FYI: My friend and I were given complementary places in this workshop. All thoughts and terrible paintings are mine. 

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Kindrid Art Space. 22 Kookaburra Street, Frankston.

Some questions we pondered beforehand which you may be asking yourself too:

Is it weird?

No. It wasn’t weird at all. The meditation portion of the workshop was conducted in front of a beautiful fireplace and I felt very comfortable in the small group of participants.

Is Art Therapy in the Woo-Woo space or the psychotherapy space?

Definitely the latter. Yes, we did create art in a silent room for two hours but no one burnt incense or tried to show me an angel card.

What if I don’t paint a masterpiece?

Then you are a normal person. Art as therapy is all about the process and not the product. While creating, you can ask yourself a series of questions which will shape your creation. It has something to tell you!

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“I have something to tell you, Katie. Throw me in the bin.”

The workshop itself was made up of an introductory activity, a meditation, 2 hours of painting, some reflection and then a sharing/debrief at the end. We also all participated in a short labyrinth mediation.

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Kindred Art Space is warm and inviting with coffee and tea making facilities as well as a bathroom. There’s an open fire, plenty of art supplies to choose from and lots of on-site inspiration to get the creativity flowing. You don’t need an art experience to engage in these workshops; just turn up with yourself and an open mind.

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I walked away from the workshop feeling like that fire of indwelling had been ignited again. It has been so long since I spent time reflecting on….well, anything really. For me, it really cemented the fact that I need to commit to doing something for my own development and health every single day. And that I need to be responsible for giving myself that (because sure as shit, my kids are not going to serve me up some me-time any time soon.)

The next Self Care Sunday session is on September the 24th. Contact Kez on 0450 253 990 for more details.

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