PbtlBsKQc7I0sxbpMzyKguLLAVA Caz Filmer Writes - The Truth About Mummy & Ballarat For Families

Social Media Free Saturday

Social media is an interesting beast.  I’ve pretty much lived and breathed it since I started this blog back in 2009 – but if I’m honest I’m only starting to really ‘get it’ now – six years later.    Maybe that’s because these days I make part of my income in the world of digital communications, or perhaps because I’ve had my first experience of feeling a bit burned by social media recently.  (First time in six years – that’s pretty lucky I know.)    Or,  more likely, it’s because I’m starting to see how social media is going impact the world of my girls in the not so distant future. 

This year the powers that be deemed it necessary for my eldest to have an iPad for school.  (Deep breaths.)  To be honest I’m fully supportive of technology becoming part of education.    In fact I think it’s  really important.  Our kids are going grow up in a world filled with technology and school is one of the safest and most productive places for them to learn about it. 

But what I didn’t expect was how the new school iPad was going to opened up our home to an entire new level of social media.   Suddenly my daughter has access to email, face-time and a plethora of other junior social media produced by the Department of Education.  In the past my girls have never been overly obsessive about screen time or games. We’ve never had to worried too much about managing their online time or restricting access – because they didn’t really care that much.    But now that the social aspect of technology has arrived, I can see that this is going to change – quickly.  

Where as I used to have to  beg my mum to let me call my friends on our home phone (admittedly we talked for hours on end)  kids these days can face-time, message and email each other.   The social aspect of school life can keep running way outside of school hours.    You can send each other emails at night to arrange what to play at lunch time tomorrow and organised play dates before your parents even know you’re chatting.  It’s a brave new world of social overload. 

Now all these things are genuinely okay on their own, but what I am starting to see is that social media is luring my girl in and there is a real danger of it beginning to suck up too much of her life.  And that’s before we even start to think about the more  far-reaching implications. I think the time has arrived for some purposeful family planning around the use of  social media in our home. 

So this, along with my own personal revelation that I too need downtime, has led me to Social Media Free Saturdays.  I am beginning to think that as people we don’t actually turn off or enter into downtime when we are continually focused on our social media.    As a self-confessed  introvert, who gets my energy from downtime,  that can be exhausting.    Sounds weird I know – but I honestly don’t fully relax when I’m staying connected.  Forcing myself to spend some planned time away has been a revelation and a relaxation all wrapped up in one – not to mention  good role-modelling.

So my weekends are now pretty much social media free.  (To be honest I occasionally sneak a look on my phone – but it’s happening less and less I promise.)   And it feels good.   It’s almost like closing the door on work (or school or whatever the case may be) and walking away into my own life again.   (Feel that?   See it’s relaxing just thinking about it.)      Do you ever feel the need to unplug from social media?  How do you set limits for yourself and your family. 

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I have been struggling to write much about my mums  journey with alzheimers lately.  It’s hard and emotional and writing about it brings it fully into focus.     (In my own true style I’ve been trying to avoid that.)    But as a good friend told me recently you can’t bury your head in the sand forever – even though sometimes I really want to.   A few weeks back we made to tough decision to move mum out of her home.   We have been trying our damndest to preserve as much of her independence as possible, but in the end you have to balance that with personal safety and she had started to dance a little close to the line. 

Alzheimer sucks I will remember

One of the hardest things for me to deal with at the moment is her house – or more importantly her home.   Mum and I have spent most of the past couple of months slowly sorting through her endless piles of things.  She has always been  collector of stuff and very reluctant to throw things away – so there was quite a bit and we never reached the end. We slowly emptied out boxes and sorted through draws.  Sometimes we did them twice – because she’d forget and wouldn’t believe me that we’d been there before.  She talked about things from her past and sat shaking her head while she read old letters from friends and family she was struggling to recall.    I watched on seeing more and more clearly that she had forgotten her attachments and had begun to live only for the now. 

And then the day came the day she moved.    It feels to me like she left mid-sentence, leaving her world hanging and half completed.    But she didn’t seem to mind that so much was unfinished.    She spent her last few hours in her home doing what she normally did on any other day.   And then she simply got into my brother’s car and drove away. Her days as an independently functioning person of the world ended and there was no fuss or fanfare.    

alzheimers it hurts to know

For the first few weeks after she left I’d walk into her house to see her cardigan still sitting on the kitchen bench and her book resting open on the coffee table – all waiting dutifully for her to return.     For days I couldn’t bring myself to wash the plate and cup she left on the sink or to pack up any of her things – because  once I did those last little moments of her life at home were gone forever.

Mum has gone to live with my brother and his very accepting and giving wife.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the way they have taken this challenge on board and run with it.  (If you are reading this you guys totally rock!)  With three little people, and already having my ageing  father-in-law in our own granny flat, reality dictates that I couldn’t take on care of mum as well – even though deep down I feel like I should have.  Her life from this point is going to be better.  She’ll have companionship, be taken out regularly and get to live in the country.  All things she loves.  But most off all she will be safe and have people who love her to help her through this unexpected and unwanted last stage of her life’s journey.   I know she is lucky and I am grateful for that.     

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Sponsored by Epson

Epson Label Works Label Printer

Hello, it’s review and giveaway time!   It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to dedicate to a proper review so I’m kind of glad it’s for something new and a little bit exciting.   Introducing the Epson LabelWorks 400 P Label Printer . It’s a new label maker (or printer) which comes with  the catch cry that it turns organising into art.   Sounds good already hey. 


 Label making is one of those crazy little extra things they don’t tell you about when you have kids.   As soon as they start venturing out of home you need to start attaching labels to everything they own.  Over the past ten years I can honestly say I have tested out almost every type of labelling device there is available (stickers, stamps, label-makers, pens and inks)  – so I guess I could say I am uniquely qualified for this particular review.  


In my 2015 Back to School post I went so far as to say when it all boils down, it doesn’t really matter how you do  it (label things) – it just matters that you do.   When it comes to kids, things with labels come home (eventually) and things without don’t.  But now that I’ve met the Epson LabelWorks I’ve realised that label making can actually be fun – and fun is good.   


In the weeks I’ve been using this nifty little machine, I have to say I’ve really been enjoying it.  It’s easy to work out (handed it to my ten year old as I was opening the box and she was printing fancy-pants labels before I’d had time to read the instructions) and it does a lot of cool stuff.   Pretty gold print messages on ribbon, glow in the dark labels and iron one fabric labels to mention just a few.   It also has 14 different fonts, over 300 built-in symbols, 75 frames, the ability to print bar-codes and a built-in memory for 50 self created label designs.   That’s a pretty good scope for all my labelling needs. 

Epson LableWorks Review 2
The Epson Label Works LW 400 retails for $79.00 and the cartridges start from $25.99 and are available at OfficeWorks.  (Full prices list here.)      The cartridges are easy to insert and swap over and the backing tape is easy to peel off the printed labels.   After two weeks of use, the adhesive seems good and we’ve had no issues with labels flaking or falling off.    The unit is really quiet – meaning you can use it while people are sleeping right next to you (yes I did try that out actually!)  It also has the ability to make nifty labels for cords, wires and stationery.     It uses six AAA batteries but does  have the capability to use mains power. Strangely the adaptor isn’t included in the box -it’s an optional extra. 
Epson LW400P label printer
What I like most about this product is definitely that it makes labelling fun.  It’s been sitting on my desk in easy reach and I’ve found I’ve grabbed it at least a couple of times a days.  I’ve redone my files, made special labels for the girls school book and stationery, labelled our shiny new stain free school shirts and spent a few too many hours playing around with the cool gold print ribbon cartridge.   Oh and I also love the fact the keyboard is the same as your computer – so it’s easy peasy to find the letters you need.   I think I might be a little hooked on this machine.

giveaway sign

So, anyone interested in having some fun making labels?   I have one Epson LW 400P LabelWorks Label Printer that’s looking for a new home.   The giveaway is valued at $110.99 and includes an extra cartridge – to make sure you can spend some quality time creating and exploring all of the cool functions.   The giveaway is open until the 26th of February (midnight) and the winner will be chosen by me for the skill of their answer and  notified by email as well as announced in the title of this post.  Goodluck ~ follow the instruction below to enter.  (See below for full T&C).

  1. In the comments below tell me one lifehack (tip, idea, strategy or technique) that has helped you manage your life in a better way. (It can be anything you like.)
  2. Be kind enough to share this giveaway on Facebook  and then, if you do, please feel free to leave a second entry comment.
  3. Follow Caz Filmer Writes in any way you like (Facebook, Twitter, Feed, email or Pinterest.)
  4. Please leave an email address  that you check regularly – as all giveaways are redrawn if you don’t respond within 5 days.

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Terms and Conditions: The name of the promotion is: Epson LabelWorks Blog Competition The promoter is Caz Filmer Writes  in conjunction with the Epson.  The conditions of entry are as discussed within this post  and in the T&C page above.   Employees, immediate family members, retailers, suppliers, associated companies and agencies are not eligible to enter. The giveaway will close on 26th of February at midnight.  Comments submitted after this time will not be considered for the giveaway. This is a game of skill. The winner will be awarded based on the strength of their answer to the question stated above.   The prize will be in the form of product which will be sent to the winner once address details have been provided after the competition has closed. The results of the giveaway will be published on this site on or before the 28 february 2015  Prizes are not redeemable for cash and are non-transferable The total prize value $110.99 The competition is open to Australian residents only. If for any reason beyond the Promoter’s control the agreed prize is not available a product of equal or greater value will be provided. The Promoter is not responsible for prizes once they have been dispatched to the winner.


I am always a little bit excited to find a new on-line treasure when it comes to supporting people who design their own goods to sell.   I love the old-fashioned concept of a cottage industry and deeply admire people who follow their passion to start them.   I think it’s something about the thought and care they are able to put into creating and selling their goods.     And  just quietly I absolutely love that I am able to support others to make a living doing something that makes them happy.  (Print Love Drop Cushion.)

Print Love Drop Cushion Not in Shops

Not In Shops is the brain child of Rachel Moore.  As a young mum Rachel decided she didn’t want to settle for the run of the mill options available for her children through the retail chains and started a dedicated search for places to buy beautifully designed quality kids items.   As her obsession grew, along with the search time,  she realised she had stumbled on the potential for a seriously amazing business based on sourcing thoughtful and distinctive custom-made products and making them easily available to others.    An inspired idea that lead her to not only find some of the most beautiful and individual  things available in  Australia but also to take a hand in supporting our wonderful, rich and diverse work-at home design community.   (Memory game – High Seas edition.)

not in shops memory game high seas

One of the biggest benefits of Not In Shops to the average busy person is that Rachel and her team have already done all of the hard work by firstly finding and secondly approving over 170 homepreneurs businesses.   As most  cottage design industries are born out of their creators desire to meet an unmet need, or sell a set of  skills they are particularly good at, they tend to produce uniqueness, quality and individuality you are unlikely to find in any retail store.  Having the time to seek these amazing home based business operators out or research their ethics isn’t a luxury most of us have.   Not In Shops brings it all to your fingertips in one easily navigated on-line shopping experience.  (Personalised Block Set – Love Birds )

Not in shops personalised block set love birds

Another thing that makes Not In Shops  a little extra special to me is when it comes time to buy presents for friends and family.    I have always been a gift buyer.  In fact I’m one of ‘those’ crazy people who gets excited about finding the perfect, hits a home run, type of present for people.  It’s almost like a little game I play and nothing scores better than when the reaction I get tells me I’ve hit a  person’s gift buying jack-pot.   Not In Shops is such a great tool for this game and I’m looking forward to being able to use it a lot in the future.   (You are So Loved Heat/Cold bags with option to personalise.)

Heat Cold Packs Not in Shops

You can visit the Not In Shops website to explore more of their beautiful products or link up with their facebook and instagram accounts so you can keep up to date with all of the new arrivals.   Not In Shops also has a blog which will soon be offering posts designed to support parents and work-at-homepreneurs  and to help you buy gifts that inspire that ‘you get me’ feeling.

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not in shops logo


Well I have officially called it.  It’s back to school season.  You only need to watch five minutes of TV advertising to know I’m right.    This is my sixth time around the ‘back to school merry-go-round’ and I like to think I’ve learnt a thing or two – or ten.   So below I have written, for your reading pleasure, my top ten tips to make back to school happen right. 

ten top tips for back to school

Be prepared with lunch-box idea. 
Start making decisions now about how you want to fill your kid’s school lunch-boxes.  Around this time of year Pinterest and Facebook feeds are filled with eye-rolling images of perfect, container free, super-healthy school lunches that seem to be designed to make us regular mums fall to our knees with guilt.   My advice – ignore them.    Instead spend time thinking about easy lunch-box foods that will satisfy and provide nutrients and fun.   Look for simple easy recipes and even shop-bought snack foods that you feel good about giving your kids.   Don’t make it too hard for yourself and don’t fail to plan.   The end result of both of these is a worn out mumma throwing whatever pre-packaged, sugar filled junk she can find in the pantry into  lunch boxes five mornings  a week.   (Trust me – I know.)

Develop a system to deal with school notes.
Any seasoned school mum will tell you that school notes can drive you nuts.    Our school has very strict rules about when notes are returned and what happens if you forget.    So I’ve been forced to become a bit of a school-note-nazi.  I fill them in the night they come home and send them back the next day – no questions asked.   I pretty much treat it like my own school homework.   A couple of  ideas that can help ward off the permission form crazies.  Consider getting a stamp made up with the regular details your school asks for.  This will save you writing them out again and again and again.    (For example, your  Medicare number, doctors contact details, emergency contact name/phone number.)     And have a regular place to file notes, newsletters and other important paperwork like blank bus change permission slips and absentee notes.   This saves you from the last-minute scramble to find lost notes and permission forms.

Have a  morning routine.
Cannot stress this one enough.  Don’t be fooled by the first two weeks of term – they will not always be that excited to get organised for school.   We have a routine mapped out and stuck to the fridge.  It goes something like this.  Breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed (always have them brush teeth before they get dressed – coz white spit marks on school  jumpers are not cool at school), pack bags, get shoes and sock ready,  brush out hair, have hair done by mum and then free time until it’s time to leave for school.   I refer the kids back to the fridge again and again over the school year and despite the system not being perfect it really does help. 

Be prepared to deal with lice.
I know nobody really wants to think or talk about this one –  but it’s reality people.  Doesn’t matter how much you pay for your kids education, how careful you are or who your kids play with,  you will eventually have to deal with head lice.   And that seriously is not fun for anyone.   Do some research about treatments and prevention.  For us what works best is nit prevention spray every day.  It’s become part of our morning routine.  Once their hair is done it’s sprayed.  You can  purchase a great spray from Nit  Free For Me or other similar places.  Or you can make your own from essential oils.  Both work – it just depends on how you roll with things like that.  

Be internet wise and ready with your kids.
These days our schools are training  kids to operate in a technological age.  One of their goals is to make sure our kids are able to do their day-to-day school work on a screen and use the internet.   That’s great.  It’s necessary.  But something I learned the hard way is that you have to be equally prepared for internet safety at home as they are at school.   When one of my kidlets wandered onto  You-Tube looking for loom-band tutorials I hadn’t had time  to set my computer up in a child friendly way. (Let’s be honest I hadn’t even started to think about it.)  It was a  near-miss to her coping a eye-full of inappropriateness when she somehow decided to switch to looking up bedroom makeover.   Be aware of things like google safe search and study up on how to set age appropriate restrictions on any devices they will be using at home. 

Get to know your kids teachers and the school.
This can be hard if you’re shy yourself and time poor but it’s honestly worth the effort.   If you have time, volunteering in the classroom or for the Parents and Friends Association is a nice way to really understand what goes on at school.  But let’s be honest a lot of parents simply don’t have the time for that type of thing.   Parent teacher interviews are good – but brief.   You’re lucky if you have 15 minutes twice a year and that’s  not nearly enough.     Don’t be afraid to make an appointment to talk to your kids teachers before or after school and use that time to let them know you’re ready to support your child to thrive at school.  It opens the lines of communication and you’ll find most teachers are happy to call you or catch to you in the yard, even for the small stuff, if you’ve made the effort to let them know you want to be involved. 

Get prepared to pay for school.
Who knew that public school costs?  With three kids at primary school I’ve worked out I’m paying around $1400 a year for books, excursions, stationery, camps and other miscellaneous school stuff.   (Uniforms not included.)  That’s  a reasonable amount and I’ve found it works out much better if you plan ahead for it.   Talk to your school about payment options.  Our school produces a list of expected costs for each grade for the following year and the end of the current school year.   This helps a lot.  You can then work out a monthly or fortnightly payment plan to help ease the end of term account nightmare.  

Talk to your kids about school.
This one does seem kind of obvious but it’s easy to forget once the busyness of family life kicks back  in.  Kids spend six and half hours a day, or thirty-two and a half hours a week, at school.  That’s a pretty big whack of their life.  I strongly recommend starting early to chat to them about what happens in class and in the playground.  While they are in the lower grades you might find yourself listening to a lot of chatter about playground antics and show-and-tell.    But fingers crossed this will establish some good routines and connections that will be seriously useful when your child hits the higher grades (usually around grade four in  my experience) and the issues of life start to become more intense.

Labelled everything.
Yes everything. Buy a label maker and go mad.  Clothes, shoes, books, bags, hats, lunch-boxes, drink bottles, toys ……. if it goes to school it needs to have your child’s name firmly attached to it.   I’ve tried every type of labelling available on the planet and most of them work pretty well.  Frankly, how you do it doesn’t really matter – what matters is that you do it.   The plain fact is  that things with labels come home – eventually.  Things without tend to get lost in the abyss of no return.  

Having done all – don’t stress. 
Yep.    Relax.  You will never get it all right.  Ever.  So don’t be too hard on yourself.  Prepare and plan as  much as you can and then simply live the school year with your kids.  Learn as you go and know that we all have weeks when the kids lunches aren’t perfect and their readers don’t get read.   They survive and so do we.

 Happy 2015 back to school season everyone!   Have I missed any other good back-to-school tips?  Share your own in the comments.   I’d love to hear them

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I have been trying to write this post for days – but the words keep doing their thing and side tracking me.   You see I had a bit of a ‘light bulb’ moment the other day.  I was sitting here pondering all of those new yearsie  posts you see where you choose ‘One Word’ to describe or inspire you for the year ahead, when it suddenly dawned on me that if I was to choose a word right now that word would be ‘me’.   Now that set me thinking…………


On the surface ‘me’ doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as  superior a word as those others were coming up with.   But, as I gave myself some time to reflect, I realised just how appropriate it was.    Now I don’t want to make this sound all ‘poor me’,  because frankly that would be  nauseating.     But that said,  in all honestly,  right at the moment my life is focused in a million different places and none of them centre around me.     

I am caring  for my mum, who has alzheimers, as she spends her last months in our family home (an amazing but oh so challenging task).   I am also co-caring for my elderly father-in-law (who lives in a unit right here with us).  I have three primary school aged children who deserve as much of me as I’m able to give (they are my number one priority) and to top if off that  bastard black dog called ‘depression’ has moved in with someone very close and important to our family and its bark can add some seriously draining energy to our lives.   

And that my friends is enough.


Right, well if we’re being totally honest here, I have to confess that looking after myself  (or focusing on me) has never been something I’m good at.   In  fact I’m probably closer to crap than good.     I find it much easier, and like myself much more, when I expend my time and energy on others.   It feels comfortable and I’m good at it.   On the other hand taking time out to care for myself seems selfish and deserving of disapproval.

The biggest problem I have with this approach to life is that it leaves me open to expecting others to meet my needs in return, and that my friends is a big fat mistake.   You can’t depend on others to meet your needs – especially if you don’t express them well.   End result.  My needs rarely get met and I spend a lot of my life running on empty.  

So I think you can see that I really need to explore the balance between ‘selfish’ and ‘self-supporting’ and take steps towards being a person who is responsible for meeting my own needs in ways that support  both myself and my family.     I need to make this year about ‘me’.  I need to learn how to meet my own needs.   (How is that for an overuse of the word need?)


How am I going to do this?  Seriously I have no idea!  I have years of martyrdom training to debrief from and very little idea of how to put myself first without feeling ‘selfish’ or ‘disapproved of’.  But 2015 is the year I am going to find out.  I actually feel quite excited thinking about how this will all unfold and plan on exploring and writing about it a bit over the coming months. 

So how about YOU.   Do you do a good job when it comes to  self-care?   Share your thoughts, tips or ideas in the comments below.

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How to plan for a new year.

by Caz on December 30, 2014 · 9 comments

Does this season between Christmas and New Years bring out your introspective side?  It does for me. It seems to inspire thinking and planning by the bucket load.   I want to explore what has been and understand what it’s taught me while simultaneously trying to get a feel for the year ahead and pin-point what’s going to be important.   

The only way to

So, how do you plan for a new year?  Well if you are me you write stuff down and allow the words to clarify your thoughts and feelings.  (Yes I’m such a word nerd.)   I’ve already got myself a list of things I want to focus on in 2015 and a nice collection of goals to work on.   But that’s just how thing work in my head and I strongly suspect we’re all a little different.  But, just in case it helps you to plan your new year, here a couple of the questions I like to ask myself in late December.   Sometimes I find they need deep thought and contemplation, but then others it’s all about the first thing that comes into your mind. 



When looking back at the year that’s been what am I most and least proud of myself for?

When  this new year ends how would I like things to be different from now?

What is one conflict, issues or problem I would like to have solved by the end of next year?

What is one thing I can do in the year to come to make my soul sing and bring happiness to myself and those around me?

Choose a top priority in each of these areas:

  • Family and relationships.

  • Career, business or work life?

  • Self development?

  • Connection with my community.


Once I’ve asked myself these question the rest seems to flow.  The answers dovetail together and I start to see a clearer picture for the year ahead.   I guess they just set the right mood.   How about you?  Do you enjoy planning for a new year or do you like to take a ‘wait and see’ approach?    Maybe you have a great question we should all be asking ourselves.  Head on down to the comments and share away if you do. 


2015 is only days away.  (Scary but true.)   As they say ‘no man (nor woman) can hold back time’.  I have no doubt we’ll all deal with whatever 2015 holds in awesome style and have my fingers firmly crossed we will be celebrating some grand and gorgeous achievements this time next year.   Happy (almost) New Year!

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I love cake. (No secret there.)   As much as I hate to single out a favourite, because seriously they’re all my favourites, this one is it.   Carrot Cake and I have a long and well established relationship.  We’ve shared secrets,  comforted each other and met up in cafes all around the world.  You just cannot overlook the type of commitment that goes into a relationship like that.    A few year ago I put out a call over facebook looking for the best and easiest carrot cake recipe in all the land.  Luckily for me a friendly chef came up trumps and passed this gem of a recipe onto me.  (Thank-you Kristi).  I have made it a million plus times (I’ve even posted it before) and never, ever been disappointed.  It’s easy.  It tastes amazing and it never fails to impress.   (Hover over any image to pin to Pinterest.)

Best Ever Carrot Cake Recipe cazfilmer.com


4 eggs
1 1/4 cups of vegetable oil
2 cups of white sugar
2 tsp vanilla essences
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups grated  carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or processed trail mix (optional)
1/2 cup of softened butter
250g cream cheese (softened)
4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
Preheat oven to 175 degrees and get out all of the ingredients. 
Best Ever Carrot Cake Ingredients
Grease  and line the cooking tin in your chosen method.  I always trace the bottom of the cake tin onto baking paper, cut it out and put the circle of paper on the bottom of the inside of the pan.  It’s worth the extra effort as this stops you ever having problems with cakes sticking.  Run a knife around the edge, between the cake and the tin, and it guaranteed to slide straight out.
Cake pan
In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla.
Best Ever Carrot Cake Ingredients stage one
Mix in flour, baking soda and baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  
Best Ever Carrot Cake adding flour
Add the carrots and stir in.  I use my Bellini (thermocooker) to pulverize my carrots to save my arms from all the grating. 
Best Ever carrot Cake adding carrots
Fold in the nuts.  I used a trail mix of nuts, seeds and sultanas in this particular cake but you can use whatever makes you smile the most.  Pecans and walnuts are perfect – but don’t be scared to experiment.
Best Ever Carrot Cake adding nuts
Pour mixture into an appropriately sized cake tin. I use a 20cm round and 8cm high Fat-Daddios tin and find the mixture only just squeezes in.  (Always remember you only fill cake tins two-thirds full.)
Best Ever Carrot Cake ready in the cake tin.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  I find the timing depends a lot of the depth of the pan you use.  In my oven it usually takes a little longer – but I begin checking at the 50 minute mark and then in ten minute intervals after that.  
Best Ever Carrot cake just out of the oven
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Doesn’t it look beautiful.
Best Ever carrot Cake out of the tin
Apart from the taste and texture of this cake the other great thing is how kid proof it is. I measure out the ingredients and then let the kids put them into the mixing bowl and mix to their heart’s content. …..and still it turns out beautifully!
cream cheese frosting recipes
Once cool ice with Cream Cheese frosting.   My favourite way to do this is with a 250g tub cream cheese.  Empty the tub into a mixing dish and then add 3 to 4 tubs of icing sugar.  Three for a soft icing and four for a stiff icing. I only used three in the above but I think it presents better with four.   Add vanilla  and half a cup of butter and beat until you reach a beautiful consistency.   This makes a good amount of icing.  Enough for the top, sides and a little extra. 
Best Ever Carrot Cake link to recipe
Ta-dah.  The finished product.  I made this one for Christmas 2014 for the Christmasly challenged in my family who  don’t eat trifle or chocolate mousse. (Yes these unicorns do exist.)     There is a full copy of the recipe below – much easier for printing.  Bake and enjoy or pin for later.   Love to hear how you go and if you enjoy your carrot cake as much as I do.
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Best Ever Carrot Cake
The Best Carrot Cake you will ever make.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
50 min
  1. CAKE
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 1 1/4 cups of vegetable oil
  4. 2 cups of white sugar
  5. 2 tsp Vanilla Essences
  6. 2 cups plain flour
  7. 2 tsp baking soda
  8. 2 tsp baking powder
  9. 1/2 tsp of salt
  10. 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  11. 3 cups grated carrots
  12. 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  13. ICING
  14. 1/2 cup of softened butter
  15. 250g cream cheese (softened)
  16. 4 cups icing sugar
  17. 1 tsp of vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees.
  2. Grease cooking tin.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla.
  4. Mix in flour, baking soda and baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  5. Stir in carrots.
  6. Fold in nuts.
  7. Pour into prepared cake tin
  8. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and turn out onto wire rack to cool.
  10. Frost with cream cheese icing
  1. See text of post for directions for making up the cream cheese icing.
Adapted from Caz Filmer
Adapted from Caz Filmer
Caz Filmer Writes http://www.thetruthaboutmummy.com/



Words for Christmas

by Caz on December 23, 2014 · 1 comment

Well the big day is almost here and I have to tell you I’m probably more excited than the kids.  Don’t you love Christmas?   Food, family and fun (all my  favourites) what’s not to love!  But before heading off for some more pre-Christmas nibbles I wanted to take the time to say a huge thank-you to all of you who pops in here to read my word-nerding.  You guys are truly amazing and your support means the world to me.  So Merry Christmas to you.  Have a wonderful time with your families, friends and anyone else who crosses your Christmas path.   Enjoy every minute …..

Christmas greeting

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Sponsored by TAC

Road safety is seriously important stuff – life and death you might say.   I know this firsthand, having lost my sister in a car accident back in my teenage years. It breaks my heart each time I let my mind wander over the fact that there should have been an extra pair of auntie’s arms to wrap around my girls.    That’s something that road trauma stole away from us as a family that we can never get back.    

road safety one

In light of all this I’ve always been determined my kids will grow up road safety smart.  But, as with most things, life gets busy and even the  seriously important things start to get missed.   Then last year I had a huge ‘road safety’ kick up the tooshie  when my five year old  ‘throw caution to the wind’  child  was thrown off her bike by some pretty gnarly speed wobbles. We were off on a family bike ride and no matter how many times we told her that going a million miles an hour down a hill was not going to end well,  she just didn’t listen. A broken leg, a broken thumb, an operation, two nights in hospital  and some serious face laceration later and we’re all perfectly ready to put our Hector The Road Safety Cat hats back on.  (Come on – you must remember Hector – he was legendary back  in the day.) 

road safety two

Let’s face it, our kids are vulnerable on the road.  They are small, inexperienced and often don’t recognise danger when it stands in front of them waving its arms in the air.    Here in Victoria I’m happy to say the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) is putting some extra effort into teaching our kids the skills they need to be safe.   You may have seen ThingleToodle on the TV already?   Little miss  ‘throw caution to the wind’ got to meet him at kinder last year and came home full of excited chatter about what he had to say.  Not that this actually stopped the saga of the speed wobbles and broken bones, but she did know how important helmets are and was thankfully wearing one. 

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Anyhoo these are the  five top tips for teaching pre-school aged kids road safety as recommended by ThingleToodle and the Transport Accident Commission of Victoria.   Read them and apply them to your lives.  Post-it-note them to your forehead if necessary!  And may the force be with you  (and me) as we train our little people to be safe on our roads today and in the future.   

Parental Role Modelling (copy cat)
Children learn by watching the adult in their lives.   What we do is much more important than what we say.  Always wear your own seatbelt, obey road rules, drive courteously and cross roads safely.  Never leave children alone to play near parked or moving vehicles, and separate your children’s play areas away from driveways.  Getting children in and out of cars safely – make it a habit to get your children in and out of the car from the safety doors – away form traffic. As your child becomes more independent, they will then expect to continue this habit.

Wearing a helmet on a bike (Helmet Rap)
Make sure children wear correctly fitted helmets that meet the Australian standard when riding bikes, scooters or wheeled toys, and get your child in the habit of removing their helmet after they have finished riding.  Children under the age of 12 years can ride a bicycle on footpaths, but cyclists must ensure to keep left and give way to any pedestrians. Cyclists must also be very careful when crossing driveways and roads.    It is the law to wear a helmet so parents should always wear one if they are riding as they are role models to their children.   Even if playing in the driveway or footpath outside the house, if children are using a bicycle, skateboard or scooter they should wear a helmet so that it becomes a good habit in these early development years.

Seatbelts in the Car (Buckle Up)
Children are safest when they are in a child car seat that is appropriate for their age and size.  By law, all children under 7 must be secured in a child car seat.  However, most 7 year old children are still too short for a normal seatbelt.  Children should continue using a booster seat until they have outgrown it, or until they fit well in a normal seatbelt.  Many child restraints are not installed correctly. To check that your child is safe, check:  The restraint is the right size for your child, the restraint is correctly fitted to your vehicle, the restraint is properly fasted and adjusted for your child

Hold hands with a parent when crossing the road (holding hands) 
Five things Adults can do to keep kids safe near roads: Supervise children,  hold hands when crossing the road, talk with children about how to safely cross the road and practice the skill together, involve children in crossing the road by asking them to help make decisions about when it is safe to cross, model safe road crossing behaviour – set children a good example.

Stop, look and listen before crossing the road. (Stop, Look, Listen, think.)
Kids need the important adults in their lives to provide them with plenty of supervised practice in the real road environment to help develop their understanding of these ideas.

thingletoodle two

 Oh and if you are in Melbourne and interested in having your little people meet  ThingleToodle in person  he will be appearing  at Village Cinemas in Knox and Sunshine between 10am and 1pm on the 20th of december 2014 and the 10th of January 2015  respectively.   Trust me they will love him.

Do you have a road safety tip for or story to share?  Love to hear them in the comments if you do. 

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The Ballarat Bucket List is for locals needing new ideas to get the best from living in our beautiful township and for those looking at visiting –  because some inside knowledge is always a good thing.   If it’s family friendly,  fun and within 25kms of Ballarat then we want it on the list.   Let’s try to build this to 100 ideas  and share the best we have to offer with our friends in Ballarat and those beyond.   If you have a suggestion leave it in the comments below  – would love to add them. 

the ballarat bucket list

  1. Walk, bike ride or run Lake Wendouree (6kms)
  2. Have a picnic in the Botanical Gardens.  Take ‘selfies’ with some of the  Prime Ministers in the Avenue and see the beautiful begonias.
  3. Visit the Black Hill lookout at dusk and enjoy the lights of the city.
  4. Walk around Lake Esmond 
  5. Sit in the rotunda on lower Sturt St and watch the traffic.  (Enjoy and ice-cream or something from the bakery.)
  6. Visit Sovereign Hill. Don’t forget to check out the Gold Museum and Blood on the Southern Cross too. 
  7. Play in  the Tangled Maze (Creswick ) and enjoy a game of mini-golf.  (Soon to have ice-skating too!)
  8. Take a picnic out the Bungal Dam (Lal Lal). See the old blast-furness, the reservoir and take a bush walk.
  9. Go gold panning at Slatey Creek picnic and camping ground.  Take your own pan (old fry-pan works well) and some snags for the BBQ.   And yes you can still find gold!
  10. Visit Kryal Castle  (Ballarat For Families Review here.)
  11. Visit the Ballarat Wildlife Park.
  12. Drive up Mt Buninyong and check out the stunning views. 
  13. Visit the Peppercorn Cafe (Stieglitz) and buy the kids pink lemonade served in crazy tea pots. (It’s been reported that this is closed until feb 2015 – but still very worth a visit after then.)
  14. Have a play at the Midlands Reserve Water Park on Doveton  Street.
  15. Take a trip to the Ballarat Art Gallery.
  16. Take a ride on the tram at Lake Wendouree.  Check to see if the Ballarat Tramways Museum is open too.
  17. Go for a bike ride on the Ballarat-Skipton rail trail.
  18. Spend a few hours out at Donegans Farm (Gordon) and see how a real farm works.  (Ballarat For Families Review here.)
  19. Take the kids for a play on the Adventure Play ground (Lake Wendouree) or one of our other  200 playgrounds.  You might like to take a photo of something special at each and make an album or photobook to celebrate your day out. 
  20. Visit the Ballarat Railway Station and watch the trains from the platform (or up on the bridge). Catch a train to Ballan and back just for fun – or maybe take a picnic.   (Check out the timetable first – just to make sure it stops at Ballan for both trips.)
  21. Visit the Eureka Stockade and the Museum of Australian Democracy
  22. Check out the local Markets.
  23. Check out the local Festivals.
  24. Take trip to Ballarat Bird World (Mt Helen)
  25. Try some star-gazing at the Ballarat Observatory.
  26. Take in a show at the beautiful Her Majesty’s Theatre
  27. Go for a walk (11 walking track ideas provided by Ballarat Community Health.)
  28. Go Geochaching.  (Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.)  Follow the link to find out more.  
  29. Take a bat and ball up to Victoria (Vic) Park and play some games or climb the Mullock Heap.
  30. Go for some more walks (Blossom Connects Easy and Hard Ballarat Walking Tracks.)
  31. Take a trip to Clunes (33kms) and explore old shops of the main street.   Lunch at the bakery or cafe.
  32. Take the kids for a play in the beautiful Kirks Reservoir gardens (Brown Hill).
  33. Visit the Lal Lal falls.  There is a playground and BBQs and heaps of room to run and play.
  34. Head out on a fishing trip to Lake  Burrumbeet
  35. Visit the Devil’s Kitchen at Scarsdale.  An interesting collection of rock formations and creeks well worth an explore. 
  36. Say hello to the cats at the Alley Cat Cafe.   Ballarat first cat cafe. 
  37. Check out Central Highlands Library.  Lend a book or dvd, go to story-time or sit and read stories to the kid yourself. 
  38. Take the kids to Plaster Fun House so they can create a mini-masterpiece. 
  39. Take a break at the Specialist School ‘Special Treats Cafe’ on Gillies Street.
  40. Catch a movie at the Regent Cinemas.
  41. Walk the middle ‘grassed’ area of Sturt street and take time out to appreciate the statues and sculptures. 
  42. Head on out to the Creswick Woollen Mills  and take a tour or just feed their alpacas – which is free. 
  43. Take a dip in one of our outdoor pools
  44. Have some ten-pin bowling fun as a family at Oz Ten Pin Bowling.  See who is the family champion.
  45. Take a dip in the heated Ballarat Aquatic Centre pool.
  46. Explore Mt Beckworth – it’s a beautiful place for walks and picnics. 
  47. Head on out and have a Ballarat family adventures and share it on Instagram.  #ballaratbucketlist #ballaratforfamilies so we can all be inspired. 
  48. Go out and visit the Jubilee Company Quartz Mine ruins. (Smythesdale).   Once one of the most important gold mines in the area. 
  49. Take the kids to the 1950’s inspired  Krooze in Cafe is Mt Helen for a milkshake and fries. 
  50. Spend a few hours at one of the local indoor play centres.  Fun Bugs  or Happy Jacks.
  51. Visit the RSPCA Pet Shop or Pails for Scales and let the children explore the world of pets. 
  52. Take the kids fishing out at Tuki Trout Farm.
  53. Feed the swans at Lake Wendouree. (They love bread and cold chips in particular.)
  54. Check out the boat hire and other activities at Lake Wendouree held by Lukey’s Boat Hire.
  55. Head up to Ballarat Indoor Go Karts for go-karting and laser force fun. 
  56. Take the kids on a toy, book or dress-up themed Op-Shop crawl through our local Ballarat Op-Shops.
  57. Visit the Mill Markets on the Western Highway.  Market style shopping, cafes and Gold Rush Mini-Golf all in the one area.  Pop into Aussie Creations for one of their famous Hungarian Chimney Cakes.
  58. Drive out to Nimmons Bridge for a picnic with a view or to take some beautiful photos.   Map here
  59. Bunnings offer kids workshops,  a playground, cafe and the weekend sausage sizzles. (Check at the bottom of the linked page for what workshops are coming up and to make bookings.)
  60. Pick your own blueberries at Buninyong Blueberry Farm.  Open from late January to late February – follow the link for more information.
  61. Visit Yuulong Lavender Farm at Mount Egerton. Open weekends and public holidays – follow the link for more information. 
  62. Explore some, or all, of the Yarrowee Trail Network.  Many kilometers of trails perfect for bike rides or longer family walks.
  63. Spend some reflective time with your family at the Buninyong  Labyrinth, a quiet planned walk that takes about 15 minutes and is aimed at clearing the mind.   
  64. Anybody game for a ghost tour of Ballarat?  Eerie Tours Ballarat have a number on offer if you’re looking for night time fun. (Recommended for those 6 years and above only.)
  65. Visit the Ex Prisoner of War Memorial.  While not your average family outing it’s bound to inspire some hearty conversation. 
  66. Make a special trip up to the Botanical Gardens to visit Adam Lindsay Gordon’s Craft Cottage.  (You’ll find it on the other side of the fernery.)  Explore the beautiful crafts and artistry inside produced by the Craft Council of Ballarat. 
  67. How about trying out some sailing on the lake.  The Ballarat Yatch Club holds learn to sail session using their equipment.  Check the link for contact details and times. 
  68. If you like the idea of a secret garden you might like to find out more about, and explore the remains of, the SMB Botanical Gardens designed back in 1879 by Baron Von Mueller.   The kids will love playing on the original terraced steps and the family history buff will love learning some of our town’s early history. 
  69. Take the family out to Buninyong for some physical fun at the  Parkour Park.  (Buningong Parkour Park on YouTube).
  70. Visit the Ballarat Toy Library and check out their toy collection.  If the kids like what they see you can sign up for a  memberhsip for $30 for 12 months.  (Open Tuesdays and Sundays from 10-12pm).
  71. Only 30 more to find ….


What else?  Add your ideas in the comments so we can build up 100 ideas of things to do with your family in Ballarat. 

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Is there anything more Australian than playing in your own backyard?   (Well maybe Vegemite on toast or cricket on the beach, but apart from that it would have to be close,  right? )      It’s that little patch of space that every Aussie gets to call their own.   It’s safe and predictable but also has the potential to become anything you decide it could be.   

backyard kids playground

As you can see our backyard is on the large side.   (Okay, let’s be honest it’s bigger than most city folk’s entire house block.)     This is an awesome thing for playing hide-n-seek or doing fifteen cartwheels in a row,  but seriously not so much fun when it comes to mowing.   I’m not a  fan.   But sadly the kids don’t seem as interested in outdoor play when they have to wade through waist-high grass.  (My kids are just not that hard-core.)

Backyard work

But I am a fan of having space.  Space for the girls to do gymnastics, set up camps  and run races. Space for me to grow flowers.  Space for the  resident nature boy to plant trees and encourage wildlife.   And even space for our crazy boarder collies to pelt around full speed and come to screaming stop at our feet.  

backyard veggie patch

There is also space for veggies.   I love the idea of a veggie patch brimming with vitamin rich goodness to feed my family. Unfortunately I like  nightly watering  a little less so.    My patience runs thin by the end of December and I usually only end up growing   a couple of zucchini and tomato plants – because they can basically take care of themselves.  My ideas are good – but my follow through leaves room for improvement. 

backyard flowers

As a rule  I’m much better with flowers.   I love flowers.    They make me happy.   I like nothing more than sitting on my decking  (in my deliciously cozy egg-chair) looking out over my garden beds of gorgeous flowers. They almost seem to sing peace and harmony to me. Bizarre I know, but none the less true. 

Craz backyard

While where on the subject of crazy singing flowers daisies are my favourite.    I think it might be because they just seem so ridiculously happy all of the time.   Or maybe because they too are really low-maintenance.   I have  been known to walk by people’s gardens and casually reach in a pull a cutting out to bring home.  I guess it’s a little on the naughty side but it’s also a really cheap and interesting way to make sure your garden is full of colour. 

Backyard chooks

And then we have the chooks.   Our three ladies are aptly named Lara, Hannah and Bok Bok.  I’ve gotta tell you chooks really make a backyard come to life.  When we first got them they used to roam all over the place – which was all kinds of awesome.   But eventually I got sick of them pecking on our glass back door and pooping on the decking.  So now they’re confined to their pen where they spend their time happily scratching in the dirt and laying amazingly fresh eggs for us.  

How’s your backyard?  Anything stand out as making it special?   If  you are a backyard  aficionado like me you might be interested in BLOOM over on facebook.  It is all about bringing back the backyard and reconnecting the family with the outdoors. After all, when you think about it,  that’s where so many  of our fondest childhood memories are made. 

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