4 Lies I’ve Told Everyone I’ve Ever Had Sex With

I’m sorry, but men, you make it criminally easy to play you.

November 15, 2017

I Hate You. Now, Take Your Clothes Off.

Why do jerks make such great lovers?

October 29, 2017

I Let A Man Totally Dominate And Degrade Me And The Sex Was Face-Melting

Once you’ve tasted the dark side, you don’t go back.

August 16, 2017

I Seduced The Pizza Guy And Had The Best Sex Of My Life

I was hungry for something, and he delivered. 

February 1, 2017

What I Learnt From Having 7 One-Night-Stands In 7 Days

Sometimes you need to taste all the colors of the rainbow. 

January 9, 2017

What I Regret About My Reaction To My Husband’s Affairs

If I could take it back, I would.

March 23, 2016

Why I Grieved For My Single Life When I Got Married

Is saying ‘I do’ saying ‘goodbye’?

March 7, 2016

The Lie I Tell My Husband Every Day

It’s for his own good.

February 22, 2016

How To Talk To Your Kids About The Syria Crisis

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the horrible scenes in Syria, neighbouring countries and Europe right now. Sometimes children don’t have ways of understanding what they see, and can be particularly vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness. But having an open, supportive discussion with your kids can help them understand, cope and even make a positive contribution.

RELATED: Angelina Jolie Warns: ISIS Dictates Rape As A Weapon

Here are seven important things to keep in mind.

  1. Ask open questions and listen

Start by asking your kids’ permission to talk about the issue. Follow their lead and if they don’t want to discuss it, don’t push the moment. Just make sure they understand that they can talk to you, their teacher and other trusted adults whenever they like.

Encourage your children to talk freely in a safe environment. Drawing, stories and other activities may help to open up a discussion. Don’t minimise or avoid their concerns. Be sure to acknowledge their feelings and assure them it’s natural to feel sad or scared about these things. Demonstrate that you’re listening by making ongoing eye contact.

  1. Be honest: explain the truth in a child-friendly way

Children have a right to truthful information about what’s going on in the world but adults also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress. Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions and be sensitive to their level of anxiety.

This video from ABC’s Behind the News explains the current refugee and migrant crisis using safe images and language that’s easy to understand. If you can’t answer their questions, use it as an opportunity to explore the answers together. Websites of international relief organisations, like UNICEF, are great sources of information.

  1. Emphasise that Australia is a safe place

When we’re seeing lots of confronting images, it can sometimes feel like the crisis is all around us. Kids may not distinguish between images on screen and their own personal reality, and they may believe they’re in imminent danger.

Explain that Syria and other conflicts are very, very far away and there isn’t any fighting like that in Australia – we’re safe, and we’ll be alright.

  1. Show them all the good people trying to help

It’s important for children to know about the acts of bravery, generosity and kindness from ordinary people trying to help in Syria, Europe and right here in Australia. Share stories of aid workers, community leaders and humanitarians who keep children safe and help them continue their education.

Show them the incredibly beautiful scenes of people welcoming refugees and migrants as they arrive in Germany. And tell them how thousands of Australians want to help too.

  1. Help them take positive action

It’s hugely empowering for children to contribute to the relief effort. Get together and brainstorm ideas about how you, your kids and their friends can raise money to help refugee families. Suggest a gold coin donation day at school, a cake stall, concert, fun run or any other creative idea that springs to mind. Check out UNICEF Australia’s fundraising guide for help.

6.Take care of yourself

You’ll be better able to help your kids if you’re coping well too. Children will pick up on your own response to the news, so it helps them to know you’re calm and in control.

If you’re feeling anxious or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to other family, friends and trusted people in your community. If you want some extra help, get in touch with beyondblue. Make time, however small, to do things you enjoy and join your kids in doing something constructive to help the situation.

  1. Close the conversation with care

It’s important to know we’re not leaving children in a state of distress. As your conversation wraps up, try to gauge their level of anxiety by watching their body language, considering whether they’re using their usual tone of voice and watching their breathing.

Remind your kids they can have other difficult conversations with you at any time. You care, you’re listening and you’re available whenever they’re feeling worried.

This article was written by UNICEF. If you’d like to make a donation, please do so by visiting unicef.org.au/donate/donate-once.

Image via UNHCR
September 10, 2015

3 Easy No-Bake Desserts

Invite some friends and family over just as an excuse to try these three delicious desserts that don’t require any baking whatsoever. Treat your guests to a mouth-watering cheesecake, mousse or raw cake which are all made from scratch, and simply require some spare time, and a lot of room in the kitchen (and the refrigerator!).

Nutella Cheesecake

This recipe for a no-bake Nutella cheesecake is so rich and creamy, that you probably won’t have any leftovers, which isn’t exactly a bad thing, is it? Get started on this recipe the day before your special event, since it requires a night of refrigeration to gain it’s texture.

Ingredients

250g digestive biscuits

75g soft unsalted butter

400g jar Nutella (the smallest size available) at room temperature

100g chopped and roasted hazelnuts

500g cream cheese (feel free to choose a light option)

60g icing sugar (sifted)

Method

  1. Break the digestive biscuits into large pieces, then add into a food processor. Add the butter and a tablespoon of Nutella to create the base, then mix until it combines. Measure up 3 tablespoons of the roasted hazelnuts and mix until it’s sandy and damp.
  2. Spray a 23cm round springform pan and then line it in baking paper. Tip the mixture into the bottom of the pan, and press the base in evenly with your hands or the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill.
  3. Combine the cream cheese and icing sugar into a large bowl and use an electric mixer until smooth. Then add the remaining jar of Nutella, and mix well until completely combined.
  4. Take the springform pan out of the fridge, and tip in the Nutella mixture on top of the base. Make sure to take time and smooth it over evenly, then scatter the remaining hazelnut pieces over the mixture. For some added flavour and texture, chop up Ferrero Rocher and sprinkle over the hazelnuts. Then cover the tin and place in the fridge to set overnight.
  5. By the next morning, the mixture will be set and ready to eat. Yum!

Chocolate Mousse

If you have some unexpected guests arriving and don’t have time to leave the mixture in the fridge overnight, try this no-bake recipe to achieve creamy chocolate mousse.

Ingredients

150g mini marshmallows

50g soft butter

250g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)

60ml hot water (from the kettle)

284ml double cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Add the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water into a saucepan. Make sure the saucepan is deep enough to hold all these ingredients beforehand.
  2. Put the saucepan over gentle heat to melt the mixture and make sure to stir it every few minutes so it doesn’t stick. Then remove from the heat.
  3. Whip the cream with the vanilla extract until the mixture is thick, then add into the chocolate mixture which is cooling. Mix with a wooden spoon until it is cohesive and smooth.
  4. Place into glasses or small bowls and eat straight away, or put them into the fridge if you would like them to chill.

Raw Chocolate Cake

A delicious treat if you’re hosting a dinner party with guests who have a real sweet tooth.

Ingredients

300g pecans

150g dates

150g dried figs

2.5 tablespoons raw honey

35g raw cacao powder

1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract

Base

60g cacao butter

150g hazelnuts

2.5 tablespoons raw cacao powder

1.5 tablespoons honey

Icing

200ml coconut oil

100g raw cacao powder

2 teaspoons raw dark agave nectar

Method

  1. Line a 23cm springform pan with baking paper, or alternatively spray the bottom and sides with canola or cooking spray.
  2. For the base, shave the cacao butter finely, then place into a bowl of hot water and allow it to melt. Place the hazelnuts into a food processor and then combine with the melted cacao butter, cacao powder and honey. Then press into the bottom of the springform pan.
  3. Place the pecans into the food processor and remove only until they are very finely chopped. Then add the remaining ingredients and don’t stop until they make a cohesive mixture. Add this into the pan, then place into the fridge to chill for 3 hours.
  4. Now for the icing, combine the coconut oil, raw cacao powder and the dark agave nectar and chill for 20 minutes. This will allow the icing to set perfectly.
  5. Remove the cake from the pan, spread the icing and dusk with confectionary sugar or hazelnuts for added texture and taste.

Recipes via Nigella and Taste; Image via Buzzfeed

By Felicia Sapountzis

September 10, 2015

6 Reasons You Should Listen To Music While Making Love

Marvin Gaye and Chris Isaak exist for a reason: the bedroom. Whether you religiously press play before you jump into bed, or have never reached for a sexy soundtrack, listening to good music before, during, or after sex can be fantastic.

  1. It gets you in the mood

Instead of wondering who’s going to make the first move or whether your partner is in the mood tonight, putting some music on can act as a signal which takes the guesswork out of it. A lovers’ code, if you will. Not only this, but once you know your partner’s keen, the right tunes can help get you a little tingly too.

  1. You can keep the beat

Have you ever been mid-rhythm, completely lost in the moment, only for things to come to a halt because of a frustrating loss of momentum? It could be an awkward slip, a phone call, an unsubtle adjustment, but for whatever reason, you both lost your groove and need quick repositioning/restart. Music isn’t going to stop the interruptions, but it will help you find a beat and get back into it faster than you can say ‘libido.’

  1. It can hide the awkward sounds

Sex sounds are inevitable. There are a lot, from creaky beds and squeaky springs to groans and body fluid squelches. You don’t want to cover up all of them, but you’ll probably feel more comfortable about the involuntary body sounds if there’s music on to help hide them. Plus, you’ll feel more relaxed and less self-conscious about making them in the first place if you’re lost in the moment with Frank Ocean crooning out of a speaker next to you.

  1. It mixes things up

 If you’ve been with the same partner a while, there’s nothing worse than sex feeling like a chore, and for it to be the same every time it does (eventually) happen. Music can be a simple way to change things up a little, with a different sensory experience happening. Maybe you went to a gig for an early date so you put on that album. It doesn’t matter what the music is, as long as it’s different to what you’ve been doing the past 1/4/10/30 years.

  1. It can break the ice

On the opposite end of the ‘mixing things up’ scale is breaking the ice. For a first encounter, self-consciousness can be high and nerves can be running wild. The right music can help you both relax, and if things are looking a bit shaky, can work as a conversation starter. There could be a common interest there, it could bring up an old story, and if you like their choice of tune, could give some assurance they’re normal.

  1. It heightens sensations

A study from McGill University found that when we listen to music, we release dopamine – the “feel good” chemical. So put that together with sex, and there are a lot of pretty “feel goods” out there. Science doesn’t lie.

September 5, 2015

Should Young Girls Be Idolising Taylor Swift?

Love her or hate her, if there’s one person you want your daughters to look up to right now, it’s Taylor Swift. Sure, she’s got a self-admitted “long list of ex-lovers” but any Instagram follower of hers will see she’s strong, funny, and independent. Sure, that might just be a social media persona, but with an estimated worth of $200 million, she’s got to be doing something right.

RELATED: Is Miley Cyrus A Good Role Model For Kids?

She knows her worth

In the week when she sold 1.3 million copies of her album 1989, Swifty famously decided to pull all her songs and back-catalogue from streaming site Spotify.  “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is,” she wrote in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal.

More recently, she wrote an open letter to Apple Music stating her music would not be available on the platform, because it was not going to pay artists during their three-month trial period. “We don’ t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

Apple did an about-face on the same day, announced it would be paying artists for the three-month trial, and 1989 can be listened to on the platform. A woman who values what she does and stands up for what she believes in? Tick. Having the power to trigger a hundred billion dollar global company to change a policy? That’s a feat anyone would be inspired by.

She has female friends

A quick look at her Instagram feed, and Tay Tay is always hanging out with her friends. A network including Haim, Karlie Kloss, Lorde and Dunham makes her #squad look like plenty of fun. Close female friends are crucial for daughters of any age, and seeing Taylor with her inner circle encourages all girls to spend more time with their girlfriends, support each other, and keep that network strong.

She’s real

Whether it’s granting the Sydney Belvoir Theatre permission to use her song in a performance, making multiple references to hanging out with her cats, or just generally making fun of herself, T-Swizzle just seems like such a nice, approachable person. Someone I could hang out with. Someone I want to hang out with. From all accounts, she writes her own songs, plays her own instruments and is heavily involved in the production process.

Working hard and being nice seem like a pretty simple combo, but it’s amazing how many people still haven’t nailed it yet. We could all do with a little reminder from Swift every now and then to not take life too seriously.

September 5, 2015

Exclusive Preview: Collette Dinnigan Exhibition

By Alison Voight

Mark it in the diary fashionistas – the first exhibition to celebrate trailblazing fashion designer Collette Dinnigan opens this weekend at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Almost 2 years in the making, Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced is a dynamic display of the designer’s signature styles and creative process. With Collette herself closely involved with the project as creative partner, look forward to a unique insight into her inspirations and evolution as a designer.

RELATED: 5 Minutes With Top Model, Ashley Hart

Dinnigan fans won’t be disappointed with the beautiful collection of garments showcased, from glamorous ready to wear dresses shown at Paris and New York Fashion Week, to dazzling embellished evening wear sought by Hollywood’s A list. Featuring ensembles, accessories and archival material from the Museum’s collection and Dinnigan’s personal archive, the exhibition portrays her romantic, feminine design aesthetic in a series of striking themed sets.

Opening with bridal wear, the designer’s meticulous attention to artistry is evident. Hand embroidered and appliquéd floral motifs impressively adorn the bodice of a rustic French inspired wedding dress, while an art deco inspired gown wows with its elegant beaded detailing.

Voight-4617

Exclusive Preview: Collette Dinnigan Exhibition

Dinnigan’s signature use of lace is referenced, a nod to her early beginnings in lingerie design in the 90s and her use of unique French lace finishings in evening wear.

Voight-4700

A virtual catwalk adds an engaging element to the impressive 100 garments displayed, pulled from retrospective red carpet to resort collections.

Voight-4708

Realised by award winning stage designer and artist Anna Tregloan, the themed sets aim to depict the creative perspective of Dinnigan – from the glitzy opulence of dressing the celebrity set, to a whimsical depiction of her children’s Enfant launch inspired by the birth of her daughter.

Voight-4714

Fashion fans will enjoy reading about Collette’s shifting influences and the origins of iconic designs such as the River Snowflake Dress (After reading her daughter The Snow Queen, Dinnigan designed the dress to appear covered in shimmering snowflakes). In editing over 25 years of archival materials for the exhibition, Collette said she aimed to “show what fashion is about – it’s about change and there’s not necessarily just a chronological order of what I’ve done, it’s much more emotive.”

Voight-4736

All images via Voight Photography and Design

September 3, 2015

4 Ways To Beat Belly Fat

Diet, exercise and most importantly lack of free time are all big time contributors that could keep you from having that flat tummy. Although is it impossible to achieve? Belly fat comes down to eating right and exercise, plus our four tips on how to beat the fat for good. Belly fat can take on one of two forms. Subcutaneous fat which is visibly the external roll of skin that you can grab with your hands. Whereas visceral fat is found within your abdomen, and can often be wrapped around your organs.

Regular workouts

Abdominal workouts are great for toning up any unwanted belly fat. Mostly lunges, sit ups, push ups and especially the plank are great ways to slowly tone your tummy without physically exerting yourself. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can transform your belly before you know it. Looking to burn some extra kilojoules? Try bikram yoga, where not only will the postures help you stretch and tone every muscle in your body, but the heat makes you sweat out those bad toxins in the system.

Change your diet

Eating fatty foods regularly won’t give you a flat tummy. Try to limit these types of meals instead as treats, and give your body some much needed nutrients instead. Foods like almonds, eggs and avocado are just a few suggestions that are packed with protein and essential fatty acids which will keep you full, instead of constantly snacking throughout the day. Drinking green tea is also a great way to end your meal, as it has plenty of antioxidants and works to quicken the metabolism and the way food is digested.

Allergies

If you’re prone to belly bloating, this could possibly be caused by wheat allergies or lactose intolerance. Rather than self diagnosing, your local GP will run some tests that could confirm your suspicions. Dairy is the most common food allergy, and if you suffer from it, try to cut down on cheese and yoghurt and see if you notice a difference in your belly.

Don’t skip breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, since it is the first time in over eight hours that the body receives any vitamins or minerals overnight. By skipping breakfast and going straight into lunch, you’re more likely to snack on fatty foods throughout the remainder of the day. Eating a breakfast packed with protein is a fantastic since they keep you full until the next meal. Eating meals every few hours is sure to keep your body sustained and your metabolism at it’s best.

Image Source via Shutterstock

August 27, 2015

Where To Indulge In An Eco-Luxe Getaway This Winter

Eco-luxe travel is a growing trend across the globe and according to Booking.com, Australian’s are the most eco-conscious travellers in the world.

RELATED: Holiday Like A Celebrity: 5 Top Luxury Locations

More aware of our environmental impact than ever but not prepared to forgo on luxury, modern travellers are being lured by destinations that are offering a balance between high-end comfort and eco-sensitivity, and with winter the perfect time to plan a weekend away and cosy up in luxury accommodation, Booking.com has shared it’s top-rated eco-destinations in our very own backyard, which remain high on luxury but low on impact.

  1. Saffire-Freycinet, Coles Bay, Tasmania

Surrounded by untouched woodland overlooking East Tasmania’s Coles Bay, the Saffire was designed with the environment in mind. Taking its inspiration from the pink granite of the Hazards mountains, the white beaches, sapphire water and grey-green of the native bushland, the lodge is designed to connect with the surrounding environment to create a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.

With the views ever changing from its spacious luxury suites, Saffire’s ethos is to protect and restore the natural ecosystem around it.

Enjoy fresh regional food at the restaurant, a cooking class with the lodge’s award-winning chef, or a wine tasting by the open fireplace for the perfect winter escape.

  1. Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodges, Charlton Gully, South Australia

Nestled into bushland on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, the Tanonga Luxury Eco Lodges are solar-powered, self-contained villas perfect for an exclusive and intimate experience. The ideal destination for a winter weekend away, each secluded villa features a fireplace and private terrace with panoramic views.

Populated by kangaroos, emus and over 100 different bird species, you’ll enjoy magnificent views, walking trails, local wine, fresh, gourmet food and have an endless list of outdoor activities at your fingertips.

  1. Qdos Arts Tree Houses, Lorne, Victoria

Surrounded by the native bushland of the Great Otway National Park, Qdos offers unique Japanese-inspired, tree house accommodation just a 15-minute walk from the beautiful Lorne Beach. Perfect for couples looking to relax and recharge, the retreats offer peaceful bush views from their private balcony, and the sculptural garden is a haven for birds and wildlife.

The property boasts an art gallery with rotating works by local artists, and the restaurant features a constantly changing menu, with all seasonal produce grown organically on site.

  1. Thala Beach Nature Reserve, Oak Beach, Queensland

Set on over 140 acres of native forest and boasting a private beach, Thala Beach Nature Reserve is an eco-friendly wildlife retreat. A secluded sanctuary nestled on a coastal headland, the property offers magnificent views of the sparkling Coral Sea and is conveniently located within 10 minutes drive of Port Douglas or just 45 minutes from Cairns.

With the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest nearby, the boutique timber bungalows offer ocean, mountain or forest views, where you can relax on the private balcony and enjoy the native birds and wildlife, or take a dip in the natural swimming pools formed by granite boulders and waterfalls.

Nature tours at the reserve include tree planting, stargazing at an outdoor observatory, beach discovery, wildlife walks and bird-watching tours.

To book, visit Booking.com or download the Booking Now app

July 12, 2015

Why Women Should Embrace Their Inner Selfishness

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes. I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” – Marilyn Monroe

There’s that word – selfish. It’s every woman’s worst nightmare to be called selfish, right? Well, I’ve decided to beat people to it and label myself as society’s perfect example of ‘a selfish woman.’ So, why am I selfish?

I dream of travel, not kids

Fast-forward five years and I’m not dreaming of walking down the aisle in a big, puffy white dress and sailing off into the sunset with the future father of my children. Instead, when I fantastise, I’m discovering grand castles in Prague and enjoying the amazing street art in Malta.

I’m not content with settling

Given my almost complete lack of responsibility (no partner, no kids, no mortgage), my soul rejoices in knowing that I can leave any situation that doesn’t serve me. Forget about gritting my teeth through that 9am to 5pm job I loathe or playing nice with a boss who respects no one. It’s quite liberating to know you can pull the plug on most situations at any moment.

I have made decisions that impact those around me

I see life as a wonderful cycle of highs and lows. Sometimes, experiences place us in a position that means we have to make difficult decisions that we know will have a negative impact on those around us. You know the kind of choices I’m talking about… the ones that have you tossing and turning at night. The decisions that give you belly rumblings. While I’m not advocating you go out of your way to hurt or impact others, sometimes, we owe it to ourselves to be honest, whatever that honesty entails. Otherwise, we’re doing nothing but lying to ourselves.

I say no to regrets

Anyone who’s lived long enough will be able to pinpoint situations where they could’ve (and probably should’ve) acted differently. However, I promised myself a long time ago that I would make decisions based on how I felt and what I knew at the time: not what surfaces with the benefit of hindsight. I don’t want to look back at my life when I’m 50 and think to myself, ‘I never made anything of myself because I was scared of hurting others’ or, ‘I didn’t believe in myself enough and now, I’m completely empty.’

Sure, these are the kind of things most of us associate with selfishness but here’s my question to you: am I selfish or am I just living my life, my way?

By Sarah Cannata

July 10, 2015

7 Flowers to Boost Your Health and Wellbeing

Did you know that flowers can be beneficial to your health and well-being? Depending on the type of flower, its properties can vary, but these are some of the most beneficial flowers for improving your overall health and treating common ailments:

1. The Viola Flower

The viola flower, sometimes called the purple flower earth herb, has many uses, mostly because of its anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties when used in humans. This means that it can help reduce swelling, lower fevers, help to treat bacterial infections, and encourage the body to rid itself of toxins. These properties make it great for treating things like snake or spider bites. To get these benefits, the Viola Flower can be added to cough syrup, eaten on top of a salad, or added to a drink, like a tea.

2. Safflower

The red safflower is known widely for its uses related to blood, from treating issues related to menstruation to aiding in the disappearance of blood clots. Its properties can help treat cramps, heart disease, joint pain, and flat warts. When eaten, it can help to regulate blood sugar, absorb calcium, and even aid the formation of bone tissue. Often used in cooking, saffron also contains large percentages of manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.

3. The Pagoda Flower

The number one medical use for the pagoda flower is to stop bleeding and treat bleeding disorders. It can be used to slow excessive menstrual bleeding, stop haemorrhoids, and can be useful in healing sores or open wounds. The pagoda flower can also be used to treat back pain due to anti-inflammatory properties, and work as a sleep aid.

4. Lavender

Lavender is a refreshing flower; it can help with the symptoms of insomnia by inducing sleep, it can refresh the body by promoting calmness and rest. Try drinking the blossoms as a tea to help relieve stress, anxiety, or insomnia. Lavender also has numerous antioxidants and other ingredients with properties like digestive and liver stimulation, which can help rid the body of toxins.

5. Chamomile

Chamomile has numerous uses: it can relieve chest irritation during a cold, it can help treat numerous digestive problems, it can help with skin irritations and conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or diaper rash, and it can help with menstrual pain, and help induce sleep.

6. The Magnolia Flower

The magnolia flower bud is most commonly used to treat the symptoms of the common cold, including stuffy and runny noses, sinus pain, headaches, the symptoms of asthma, hay fever, and more.

Usually, to get these benefits, magnolia is applied topically, but it can whiten skin. Like most other flowers, it can also be made into a tea.

7. The Lotus Flower

All parts of the lotus flower have unique properties that can aid with numerous health issues. Brewing tea with the lotus flower and drinking it can help reduce acid reflux, and treat ulcers. Due to the numerous minerals and vitamins in the flower, drinking tea made from the lotus flower can generally improve your overall health.

By Ian Brown, founder and owner of A Touch Of Class Florist in Perth Western Australia. Ian set up his floristry business in 1981 and now runs one of the most successful independent florists in the state. A Touch Of Class thrives on being one of the most innovative businesses in the industry and they are always looking to share their knowledge and educate people on the wonderful world of flowers.

July 5, 2015

Quick Tips to Help Parents Cope When Moving House With Kids

Moving to another location becomes even more complicated when you have kids. When it was just you, it was easy. You just packed up your belongings and shipped out. Sure, it might be hard knowing you’d never be back, but you could cope. But when kids are involved, they are likely to have some adjustment issues. Kids are more attached to “things” than adults, such as certain aspects of their room they liked, play areas they may be leaving behind, as well as friends and familiarity.

To help kids cope and make things easier, follow these 5 practical tips when making your big move:

  1. Talk to them about the move long before it occurs. Kids take some time to adjust to a new idea. Just grabbing them up and moving without warning will shake a kid’s sense of stability. So telling them far ahead of the moving day is one of the best things you can do. When you do talk to them about it, make it exciting, like a journey, rather than something to fear or dread. Kids are insecure and for many, moving to another place can be unsettling. You can calm some of their fears by making it fun and assuring them that everything will be okay.
  2. Give them a list of fun things to do at their new location. By creating more excitement due to the fun things they will get to do in their new town or location, you will diffuse many of the negative thoughts they might have about the move.
  3. Take books along that are about traveling. One particular book that is very helpful in this situation is Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Used in counselling settings around the world for people who are in a variety of transitional situations in their lives, this book can help kids cope with a move or any time they feel unsure of their future. It turns the experience into a fun adventure, rather than a scary ordeal. Another book that is great for kids in Australia is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. In this book, Alex has a long string of events that he is upset about and thinks the world is against him. Over time though, he discovers that some of his ordeal is due to his previous actions, and not to external events that he cannot control. He also finds that no one event is ever as bad as he really feared. He also repeatedly says throughout the book, “I think I’ll move to Australia”. This book might help kids who like a funny repetitive prose with a good lesson, that they’ll get through the moving experience and everything will turn out okay in the end, even in Australia!
  4. Let kids ask questions about the move. The best way to find out what is on someone’s mind is to ask them. And let kids ask questions too regarding the pending move. They may wonder what the new city will be like, what will the schools be like, and what will the kids be like. Every culture, town and neighbourhood is different. Having an open Q/A session lets kids feel free to ask what might be troubling them and helps them feel they are more in control of the situation.
  5. Play games on the way. Find apps on the iOS or Android market that deal with moving or play old-fashioned games while driving such as “I Spy” and others to help them deal with long drives and anxieties about the trip.

There are other things you can do to make things better when moving with kids in Australia. Keep it positive, take the approach that it’s a big opportunity for adventure, enhance it with children’s literature that addresses these issues, and let kids ask questions and have fun. Time to get packing! Let the kids help with this too! Tell them it’s all a part of the big adventure. Oh, the places they’ll go!

By Sheree Jones, who works for the Budget Self Pack Containers team who are Australia’s expert interstate removalists for container removals. The BSPC team is full of parents and they are all happy to help give advice on moving with children or anything to do with your impending move. Connect with BSPC on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or YouTube today.

July 4, 2015

Using Psychology Instead Of Diets To Control Your Weight

Ever been on a diet, lost the weight and then put it back on? This has to do with conditioning; a type of learning that occurs, which dictates how we behave. If you want more control over your weight; learning about conditioning is better than any diet, you will ever try.

What is conditioning?

Conditioning is the basis of how we learn to behave. This includes our habits, which cause us to be the weight we are. Three types of conditioning have been identified; classical, operant and observational. Each plays a vital role in controlling weight gain and loss.

Classical conditioning

Learning via association. For example: have you ever been to movies and headed straight to the snack bar for some popcorn, even though you aren’t hungry? That’s classical conditioning at work. In many people’s minds, they associate a trip to the movies with popcorn or a snack, while they relax and enjoy a movie.

For people wanting more control over their weight, they need to be aware of conditioning which pre-exists for them, about food and exercise. As an example; if you consume your nightly meal on the lounge, in front of the TV (as many people do); each time you sit down to watch TV, there is a greater chance of you associating this activity, with eating. This is why it’s recommended that you find a designated place to eat; like at the dinner table. This reduces the likelihood of eating in front of the TV at night.

Some people also find that they eat when they experience different moods or physical states; such as being tired, anxious, confused or worried. Eating, is therefore, a coping mechanism. From past experience, food made them feel better and it becomes a viable solution, each time they experience this feeling. The only way to cease it, is to identify, acknowledge and change these types of associations.

Operant conditioning

Learning via consequences. For all behaviours, we are either rewarded or punished. Rewards encourage us to increase a behaviour, while punishment reduces it. These can be added or removed. For example; when we diet, we are usually rewarded with removal of weight. However, when we gain weight, we are punished by addition of weight.

Rewards and punishments, encourage which behaviours to choose. Sometimes the punishment of weight gain, isn’t enough to deter, increased weight gain. Perhaps the reward of consuming particular foods, overrides the compulsion to avoid the punishment of excessive weight gain.

Observational conditioning

Learning via observing others. For example; large people usually have large family members. Sure, genetics comes into play, but learning and adapting the habits of parents is much greater. Children are like sponges, absorbing a significant amount of knowledge from their role models. If their role models are healthy and active; they will likely, be so too.

By the time kids reach adulthood, they have learned a great deal from mere exposure. For example; if you take the kids shopping, be aware, they are learning what types of foods to put into the trolley. Even if it appears they aren’t really paying attention; repetition and exposure is teaching them. This is primarily where most habits begin.

Lastly, when you become fully aware of the roll food and exercise plays in your life, long term weight control can be achieved. Ask yourself these 6 vital questions and you will be well on your way.

  • Why are you eating?
  • When are you eating?
  • Where are you eating?
  • What are you eating?
  • Who’s watching you eat?
  • Exercise… pleasure, pain, chore or choice?

By Kim Chartres

June 25, 2015

5 Ways To Manage Anxiety

Many people experience periods of anxiety when they are under stress, or going through major changes, such as moving home or jobs. For the majority of us, anxiety plays out by worrying about what may or may not happen, feeling tense, irritable and reactive. It can cause you to feel tired and have difficulty relaxing and/or sleeping as you struggle to deal with challenging life experiences.

Many people find that these symptoms of anxiety are transient and disappear after a few days or weeks as worries subside, and life gets back to relative normality. The old adage applies here: ‘A problem solved is a problem halved’.

However, for others these symptoms of anxiety do not disappear after the stressful event has passed. They may continue to feel anxious and worried, sometimes without any specific event triggering the feelings.

If these worries, fears about the future, and physical symptoms, such as fast heart rate and sweating, become severe enough to interfere with your ability to cope with daily life, you may be suffering from anxiety. For whatever level of anxiety you may suffer, it is possible to manage the symptoms. Here are some techniques that can help:

Understand the nature of anxiety

We all experience anxiety; it is a natural human state and a vital part of our lives. Anxiety helps us to identify and respond to danger in either ‘fight or flight’ mode. It can also motivate us to deal with difficult challenges.

However, there is another side to anxiety, a side which, if not addressed, can cause significant emotional distress and unmanageability. An anxiety disorder can lead to a number of health risks and it’s important to understand its nature in terms of severity, triggers and behaviour. Anxiety can be exhibited through a variety of behaviours including panic attacks, phobias and obsessional behaviours. Anxiety at this level can have a truly debilitating impact.

Gain awareness of underlying factors of anxiety

Some life experiences that are stressful or traumatic, such as family break-ups, ongoing bullying or conflict at home, school or work, abuse, or traumatic events, such as car accidents, can make people more susceptible to anxiety. These extra stress factors may be more than a person’s normal coping mechanisms can deal with comfortably, and may leave them vulnerable to experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety disorders, such as panic, phobias and obsessive behaviours, may be triggered by a range of specific external or internal stimuli. These could include traumatic memories, specific objects, particular situations, physical locations, or a persistent general worry that something bad will happen in the future.

If the anxiety is triggering to the point of a panic attack, part of the process of understanding our anxiety involves being curious about our developmental history, and also learning to regulate our physical state.

Set healthy limits for communicating and developing relationships

The lives of those with the most severe forms of anxiety can become completely dominated by their condition, and often their anxiety can impair their ability to sustain healthy personal relationships. People with anxiety may start withdrawing, they may stop attending social functions, they may become snappy, irritable and irrational, or they may worry unnecessarily that something negative is going to happen.

The first step is to start to identify our ‘reality’, in particular some of our thoughts and feelings. This can be very difficult when anxiety has been present for a while as we generally feel overwhelmed by our emotions. Identifying them can be hard. However, being able to share in our relationship that we are dealing with anxiety and having an ally you trust can be very helpful.

Learn relaxation techniques to calm your stressed nervous system

Anxiety and depression are among the most common conditions cited by those seeking treatment with complementary and alternative therapies, such as exercise, meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga. Several studies have demonstrated therapeutic effectiveness superior to no-activity controls and comparable with established depression and anxiety treatments.

Use distress tolerance and mindfulness skills

Mindfulness focuses on changing the relationship between the anxious person and their thoughts, rather than changing the thoughts themselves. We become a witness to our process, we become aware.

Meditation can help people break out of the ‘automatic pilot mode’ that leads to negative ways of thinking and responding. Carl Jung stated that unless we make “the unconscious, conscious, it will direct our life, and we call it fate.” With the help of therapy, we can interrupt this unconsciousness, truly becoming aware of the way our environment triggers our physiology, and thoughts and the emotional states it then triggers.

Anxiety can be debilitating condition and can impact many facets of your life. Whether it’s brought on by stressful situations or you have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, the effects of anxiety can be managed. The first step of acknowledging there may be a problem is often the darkness before the dawn.

By Steve Stokes, Program Manager at South Pacific Private, Australia’s leading mental health and addiction treatment facility offering inpatient and day programs to treat anxiety disorders, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioural addictions, alcohol addiction and substance abuse. 

June 25, 2015

Birthday Gift Ideas When ‘Home’ Is Far Away

Do you remember when you were younger and present giving was so easy? You could pretty much impress your friends and family with anything – a Popsicle frame barely glued together with your favourite picture of you and your best friend or a creative bookmark covered in fun snaps of everyone. No matter what, it always pulled those heartstrings.

Now that you’re older though, birthday present giving requires a little more thought. And it definitely draws a challenge when you don’t even live in the same country. These days, everyone is everywhere and almost everyone is a juggling a long distance relationship of some sort – whether it’s a good friend, a sibling, a parent or your partner. So how do you find the perfect gift that conveys the right message but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? Here’s a few creative ideas to spoil your best friend with their next birthday!

1. Book in a virtual date

No doubt if your best friend lives away you have Skyped a million times before. Setting up a special birthday virtual date though will make the day extra fun for her. Obviously different time zones need to be taken into consideration, and you may find yourself having to wake up at a terrible time to make it work – but hey, it’s their birthday!

Start by ‘booking’ the time in with your best friend via an email so it’s officially locked in. If there’s a close group of you, it can be a good idea to have everyone over and create a virtual date together. Set the scene by dressing up nice, eating dinner “together” with a glass of bubbles in your hand. For whatever reason if your best friend cannot Skype on the day, put together a video message and record it on a CD and post it in time for him/her to watch. You can also get your whole group of friends involved in this one too, if relevant.

2. The perfect delivery

Surprising your friend with a gift basket delivery on their special birthday will definitely bring a smile to her face – and you can tie it into your virtual birthday date as well to make it extra special. Hampers range in price, size and included goodies so it’s super easy to find one to impress your friend this year.

To find the perfect delivery, get a hamper that encourages your friend’s favourite hobbies or offers the perfect excuse to relax with. Some gift basket delivery sites also offer mini gift hampers which are fantastic for places with a higher delivery cost.

3. Get creative

Long distance relationships of any kind force you to get a little creative when it comes to present giving. And just because you’re not a kid any more that can get away with a Popsicle frame, it doesn’t mean you can’t still be creative and tug on those heartstrings.

For close friends and family that do live in a different state or country, keeping up to date with the latest photos and family stories is even a bigger priority. Sure, technology has made it much easier to do this with Facebook being a go-to-source for photos and catch ups but it’s just not the same.

Instead get those creative juices flowing by putting together a scrapbook or journal filled with memories your friend or family member will absolutely adore. Again, it’s a good one for all your friends to get involved in by including a message from them, pictures and anything memorable you might want to add. To really add a personal touch, top it off by doing the old fashioned pen to paper and write a note wishing them a huge happy birthday.

4. Tickets, vouchers and subscriptions

Just because you and your best friend live in a different city or country, it doesn’t mean you can’t source tickets or vouchers they can use. Purchase tickets for his or her favourite concert or event or hunt down a nice day spa near their location you can buy a voucher for online. Post it off in time for their special day complete with a card (go for a handmade card if you’re feeling creative) or a letter with a few of the latest snapshots they can enjoy.

For those friends that love a little quite time with a cup of tea and their favourite magazine, arrange a yearly subscription so they don’t have to worry about heading out to buy it herself. You can always pick a subscription based on her hobbies. For example; if she loves gardening, music or baking look for subscriptions she can pull ideas from all year round.

5. A personal message

You can take almost any gift and customise it with a personal message to give it a unique touch. This is a great idea for long distance friendships as it’ll serve as a constant reminder she’s on her loved ones’ minds. Consider purchasing a jewellery box or a nice ornament for her home you can have engraved with a super special birthday message on it.

Lockets are a beautiful way to keep loved ones close too and can be made even more personal with a nice photo of the two of you inside complete with an engraving on the back. Engraving tends to be a really cost effective way to give a gift a personal touch, just make sure the gift you choose is fine to be customised.

The phase “it’s the thought that counts” really reigns true when it comes to present giving and long distance relationships. Sometimes the smallest gifts can go the longest way. What gift will you send your long distance friend or family member this year?

By Jayde Ferguson, an online blogger and copywriter, who recommends the birthday gift hampers at Boxt.com.au for the perfect long distance gift this year. Boxt are a leading online provider of hampers and other gift ideas and do delivery throughout Australia.

June 24, 2015

How To Create A Stylish Party For You And Your Friends

Do you prefer the finer things in life? If you and your friends love nothing more than a nice sophisticated evening, there are ways you can create a perfect stylish party atmosphere. Whether you’re planning a Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas themed party, it doesn’t have to be tacky. You can invest in sophisticated costumes from top companies such as Morph Costumes. There are also plenty of stylish décor ideas you can make use of. Below you’ll find some of the best tips to get you started.

Focus on the lighting

The lighting is one of the main things that set the scene for your party. There are a wide variety of lighting available from novelty to luxury. When you’re looking to create a stylish, elegant theme, you ideally want to focus on soft lighting. Think candles, light dimmers and beautiful chandeliers. Wall mounted candle lamps are a fantastic addition to any sophisticated party. They are also perfect for Halloween style parties where dim lighting is essential.

Prime Location has an excellent guide on your modern, stylish lighting options.

Creating a stylish Halloween party atmosphere

You may think it’s difficult to plan a stylish Halloween party, but there’s one simple tip that will change that. Instead of focusing on the bright neon pumpkins, opt for a dark gothic theme. Gothic style tableware is an absolute must. Intricate detailed goblets and long white candle centrepieces work particularly well.

Creating a stylish Thanksgiving party atmosphere

Thanksgiving is a time to get together with friends and family. If you’re looking for a more elegant, stylish atmosphere then aim to make it cosy. As featured on Family Holiday, real pumpkins filled with lighting and fall leaves can make an excellent decoration. Candles in fall style vases are also a great idea. Focus on burnt orange colours and warm browns for the best effect. Fake fruit and twigs are also great to use as decorations.

Creating a stylish Christmas party atmosphere

Forget novelty Christmas songs, mistletoe and singing Santa’s if you want to create a stylish party atmosphere! Christmas is one of the easiest occasions to create a stylish party ambience. Focus on deep red and green décor. If you look online you’ll be able to find stylish, elegant garlands. The ones with pine cones, red bows and attached white lights are particularly elegant and would look great above an open fireplace. This is another occasion where candles will also work well.

General tips

A stylish atmosphere can be achieved by following just a few simple tips. These include:

  • Don’t clutter up the room with too much décor
  • Provide comfortable seating
  • Avoid anything that has a novelty theme
  • Focus on dim lighting

You can find all kinds of ideas online if you’re struggling for information. Of course, once you’ve got your home kitted out, you then need to focus on your outfit. It is possible to have a stylish costume party. Providing you avoid everything to do with tacky, novelty decorations you should easily be able to create a more sophisticated ambience.

Image via ravensfete.blogspot.com

By Sophie Davidson

June 21, 2015

Treadmill vs Cross Trainer vs Exercise Bike – Which is Right for Me?

Facing your fitness goals comes complete with a huge variety of exercise options. From different workout plans for different needs and a piece of exercise equipment for almost everything imaginable, it can definitely be a challenge to find what’s right for you. Whilst some training methods work wonders for shredding those extra kilos, they may be harsh on other parts of the body or simply not be working the right muscles for your fitness needs.

When you’re in the market for a new piece of equipment or you’re looking to change your workout up at the gym, it’s important you do your research first. What may work for the person next to you may not be right for you. To help you kick those fitness goals – regardless of what they may be – we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to find out what will work best for you; a treadmill, cross trainer or an exercise bike?

1. I want to burn calories

If you’re maintaining the same heart rate across all three machines, there’s not going to be a lot of difference in the number of calories you burn. The intensity required to maintain this heart rate however, can vary between each piece of equipment and this is why you’ll get better results from some over others.

Cardio workouts are one of the best ways for burning unwanted calories but it’s still important to find the right workout and equipment for your fitness needs. If your goal is to burn calories, stick to cardiovascular exercises over weight training activities and workouts that are of a high intensity.

Both treadmills and cross trainers (also known as an elliptical trainer) can help you shred calories and fat but they do so at different rates. To burn calories using a treadmill you’ll want to be running (20-40 min workout is good) as this is a faster calorie burner. Alternatively, you can do a 30 minute elliptical machine workout which will generally burn about 400 calories in a 85kg person.

Burning calories effectively though isn’t just about the machine you’re on. How many calories you burn depends also on your body weight and workout intensity and consistency – so keep these factors in mind too. Whilst both pieces of equipment are great for burning calories, an elliptical trainer requires more coordination leaving the treadmill to be the easiest option for many.

2. I want to gain muscle and increase bone density

Cross trainers offer all the benefits of a treadmill but with an extra kick to it. Because they work every muscle of your body instead of just the legs, they’re an ideal piece of equipment for overall muscle strengthening and building. If you’re looking to only target the legs and buttocks area, both treadmills and exercise bikes can give a good workout without a whole body muscle gain.

The advantage a cross trainer or elliptical trainer has over these two though is it trains both your legs and arms at the same time. As your legs power away, your arms are moving back and forth targeting all the major upper body muscles including your chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps. If you want to target different leg muscles to that of a treadmill or bike, you can change the direction of your feet on the cross trainer by pedalling backwards and this will work other leg muscles and buttocks. If muscle gain is your fitness goal, the elliptical trainer will offer a full weight-bearing workout that’s super effective in building bone density.

3. I want something that’s easy on my body and joints

Despite the benefits of exercising, your body can take a huge beating – especially in your joints. If you suffer from pre-existing injuries or knee and joint issues, it’s vital you take a close look into what equipment you’re using and how this is impacting on your body.

As far as low impact goes, cross trainers are renowned for offering a full body workout without the stress and strain on your joints. Exercise bikes too provide a calorie burn workout that’s low on impact and can be a better option if you’re just after something basic. For knee pain sufferers, it’s best to steer clear of treadmills and opt for an exercise bike as the impact of body weight and stress on joints is not a concern. But, like with any piece of equipment if it’s not adjusted to your body properly, it can do more harm than good so get a professional to demonstrate the best way to use it first if joint stress is an issue for you. Here’s a great read on how to set up your exercise bike for a better workout to start you off.

4. I want to use my upper and lower body

Whilst treadmills are fantastic for burning calories and customising a workout to suit your own needs and fitness level, it doesn’t give you a full body workout. For fitness goals consisting of a workout that utilises both the upper and body workout, it’s hard to go past a cross trainer or elliptical machine.

These units are a treadmill, stair master and exercise bike combined and thus, offers maximum potential with a unique combination of fitness benefits. Helping to not only burn calories and boost bone and muscle density, many people steer towards them because it does give you the full body workout. If you are a beginner though, it’s definitely best to speak to a professional before using one to get the full benefits.

5. I want to reduce stress and boost endurance

Exercising isn’t just about calorie counting and muscle gain, sometimes your goal is to simply reduce stress and feel better. Exercising to gain energy is a fitness goal you don’t read too much about anymore with all the calorie and weight loss talk around – but it’s just as important.

The best part about this goal is all three machines are great for a daily stress reduction and healthy boost of endurance. Combined with other factors – like the space in your home, budget and whether there’s any other goals to tick off too, it’s super easy to find a machine that works great for you.

Exercise bikes will boost stamina and endurance naturally and are fantastic for those after a basic workout or if you’re just starting out on the fitness bandwagon. If you’re after more of a challenge or a variety of workout options, treadmills and cross trainers will definitely tick these boxes too.

What fitness goals will you be tackling this week?

By Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Orbit Fitness – the largest supplier of fitness equipment in Perth. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.

June 6, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Hidden Treasures To Add To Your Bucket List

There will always be amazing places to add on to that never-ending travel bucket list, but here are 3 that have to be seen to be believed

Paro, Bhutan

This historic town is a peaceful getaway for those wanting to relax and get in touch with nature. Paro is home to many sacred sites including that of the unofficial symbol of Bhutan: Taktsang Monastery located right on the edge of a 1,200 meter cliff. The Monastery was first established as a place of meditation in 747 CE by Guru Taktsang, and now restored as an impressive site of glory. The trek is strenuous and long, it can take up to 3 hours completely uphill, though all worth it in the end. If that doesn’t sound achievable, there is a horse ride for a small price of USD $10 for a one-way trip up the mountain.

Switzerland, Bhutan, Iceland, travel, adventure, bucket list, destination, holiday

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

This wonder was formed in 1976 as a power plant when employees began to notice the amazing effects on their skin from bathing in the lagoon, it was then in 1987 the facility was opened to the public as a bath and sold skin care products for psoriasis patients.  Now Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited spots in Southwestern Iceland, the geothermal spa is situated in a lava field in Grindavík on top of the Mid Atlantic Ridge, meaning technically you are also swimming over two continents. The mineral-rich waters of the lagoon have an average temperature of fourty degrees Celsius and are still rumoured to have remedial powers.

Switzerland, Bhutan, Iceland, travel, adventure, bucket list, destination, holiday

 

Interlaken, Switzerland

This town is located in the Interlaken-Oberhalsi administrative district in the Swiss canton of Bern, the mountain getaway is a well-known beauty full of adventure. The popular resort destination is the perfect winter sport holiday, you will find yourself constantly entertained with the many activities including skydiving, and toboggan rides, sledding, and of course snowboarding or skiing down the amazing snow covered mountains. There is also things to do when you are in need of some down time, a leisurely hike or boutique shopping will keep you occupied until you are refreshed and ready to head back out to explore and get the adrenalin pumping.

Switzerland, Bhutan, Iceland, travel, adventure, bucket list, destination, holiday

Images via geminitourtravels.com, airpano.com and krebshotel.ch

 

May 7, 2015
Load More