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

How cute are these guys?  Well, I guess I might be a little biased, because these are the adorable  human beings formerly know as the three little pinks.  They have sure grown up hey!    When I think they were five, three and one respectively  when I started writing The Truth About Mummy I have to do a little double take and re-centred myself.  To all those people who told me the baby/preschool years go quickly – you sure knew your stuff.   These days I’m mum to three beautiful and multi-coloured young ladies.   

bookweek2015

Anyhoo, today isn’t really about walking down memory lane.  It’s about Book Week.  Don’t you love Book Week and the celebration of all things bookish?  Well if I’m honest, despite all my pre-mum-life dreams about how much fun it would be getting costumes ready for school parades I really don’t enjoy the pressure of putting together three awesome outfits.  Something seems to get a little lost in the translation from dream to reality.  It’s actually hard work and frustrating.  So this year I got some help.   

 
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And look at the results.  These costumes are brilliant and the girls are all really happy with how they look and feel in in them.  Winning without effort thanks to The Costume Box. 

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For me, this year is all about keeping things simple and not over stressing on the small stuff.   It’s the only way I can find the balance between working, being a mum and having a life!  If I need to order in costumes to make that happen then so be it!  

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So, thank you costumebox.com.au for these beautiful Book Week costumes.    Hocus Pocus, beautiful Blue Butterly and Ariel the Mermaid are all set to go after our impromptu photo session last night.  (Yes our back lawn is in desperate need of a mow – wanna come do that for me?).

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Disclaimer:  The lovely people at Costume Box gifted me these costumes for my girls to wear.    No money was exchanged and all opinions expressed are totally my own.  All photos are copy write to CazFilmerWrites and published with the approval of each child.

 

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This post is brought to you by Finish Quantum Max Tablets Power & Pure

My morning routine usually works something like this.  I get up six in the morning (unless insomnia is sleeping over,  which case it could be anytime from two onwards) and stumble over to the bathroom.  After navigating the obstacle course of pillows piffed on the floor the night before, I quietly close the ensuite door (in an attempt not to wake sleeping beauty from his slumber) and get myself showered, dressed and generally ready for the day ahead.    Then I move on out to the kitchen to unstack the dishwasher and make the girls lunches before waking them up for school. 

funny-dishwasher

Okay, so this is where my dishwasher delima begins.   In general terms, I love dishwashers. (Some love lamp – I love dishwasher.)    I like the fact that they hide away all of the used dishes and I never need to have my kitchen benches stacked with dirty, messy pots, pans and plates.  Well that’s the theory, but in reality I’m still training my family to put their dishes straight in, so let’s just say it’s going to be like that one day in the future.  Then, after tea, it’s a nightly ritual for either me or hubby to do the final stack for the day and set the dishwasher to work – all ready for me to unstack in the morning. 

Ran the dishwahers

But, over the past few months something has gone wrong with this process.  Our dishwasher has dropped her bundle and her work has gotten sloppy. We’re talking leaving a gritty, dirty looking deposit on my dishes.   Some mornings they actually seem to come out in worse condition than they went in.  That is not satisfactory work.   There is nothing that pushes my buttons more than an appliance, the was built with one job in mind, that doesn’t perform.   Seriously.  Why am I standing at the sink at 6.30am, hand washing fifty percent of my dishes when you’ve already taken your turn?  We paid well over a $1,000 for you dishwasher, and we expect better!

I’ve tried all of the convention fixes.  Sometimes they work for a day or two but the problem just keeps coming back. There is obviously something wrong deep within, that dishwasher cleaners just can’t reach.   This all sounds a little sinister to me as in ten years of owning dishwashers the supermarket-cleaners have always done the job before.    Anyway, what I really need is for my morning routine sanity to return.  So, we’ve called in the big guns. Next Friday the dishwasher doctor is coming to visit, and  I am praying he will be able negotiate and get her back to work.  Perhaps she’s looking for a pay increase?  Either way I’ll be sure to let you know how it all goes. 

Has your dishwasher ever dropped it’s bundle?  How did you solve the problem?  

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Image credit.

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lost my name

I am known as ‘the gift buyer’ in my family.   I was born with the knack of seeming to know just the right present to suit just the right person.   Well, in reality I don’t consider it a knack at all.    It’s pretty simple really – I just ask myself  what makes the person I am buying for happy before I start shopping.   Once I’ve worked that out all the rest falls into place without much effort.  

When it comes to buying for younger kids and newborns, most of the time these days I’ll head straight on over to Not In Shops.   Because they combine two things I love.   Lovely handcrafted and personalised products that you can’t find in the shops and supporting people who are stepping outside of their comfort zone to make a living from their passions.  That is great stuff and something I want to get behind. 

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Today I thought I’d introduce you to what I think is a perfect gift idea for toddlers or preschool aged little people – especially if you’re looking for something that will live in their hearts and minds for the rest of their lives.   (Any grandma’s out there I am  thinking of you!!)  This book is totally adorable and the reason I know it will live in their hearts forever is because it’s all about their favourite subject – themselves.    

The creators of Lost My Name take your child’s own name and use the letters to weave a story about a little person who wakes up having lost their name.  They then go on a magical journey, meeting fabulous creatures, until they have collected all of the letters that make up their name.    Can you imagine the joy on their faces when they start reading (or being read to) and realise they are the centre of attention in their very own book. Can’t you just see how their eyes will sparkle with surprise and joy?

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A few months back Not In Shops sent me a copy of Lost My Name to review with my littlest pink.  Admittedly she is seven now, so slightly older than the age group I’d recommend this book for, but she is still in love with it.  The constant begging for me to let her take it to school for ‘show and tell’  has been a little wearing – but to be honest there is nothing more I love than kids getting excited about books, so I’ll let that pass.   I think there is just something a little bit magical about having a book written about yourself.  

This book would also make a very special newborn baby gift.    Obviously, there are some complications here if you don’t know ahead of time what the baby is going to be named.  But, if you’re able to wait off for a few days with the gift giving I think this is a perfect idea.  We have a teacher at the girls school who is expecting in coming months and this is exactly what I am wanting to do for her. 

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If you like to find out more about Not In Shops  or  the Lost My Name book please head over to their website.  The book costs $33.95 (including P&H) and the ordering process is  very uncomplicated.  All you have to do is complete the order form on the Not In Shops website with your child’s names and gender and then wait for it to arrive.  I have found them very professional and received several emails updating me on our books printing and arrival times.

**I am an official Not In Shops blogger and love working with them to promote the beautiful and bespoke products to my readers. 

the giveaway

lost my name review and giveaway

Would you like to win a copy of Lost My Name for a little person at your house?  Or maybe for someone else you’d like to inspire to love reading?  Follow these easy-peasy steps to enter:

  1. In the comments below tell me about either a book from your own childhood that still lives on in your heart or the most beautiful or unusual name you have ever heard. 
  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 The Truth About Mummy  and Not In Shops 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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  • Giveaway is open until Midnight  29th of August 2015
  • No entries will be accepted after this time.
  • All decision are final and based on skill not luck (not random draws here.)
  • (Check the T&C tab for full T&C).
  • Disclaimer: This is a review and giveaway.  I received a free copy of the Lost My Name book to enable this review.  

Win Stuff Here.

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Do you know I have not even logged into WordPress for almost two weeks.   Now that’s a sure fire sign that my life is swaying to the hectic side of the pendulum.   As you know, I’m not a big fan of busy.  I much prefer a slow ‘mooching’ approach to life.  But that said it’s generally during the busy phases that things really start to happen. 

A couple of days ago I was offered work with one of Ballarat’s local conference and accommodation centres, as their assistant marketing officer.   Well using the word “offered” might be minimising the process slightly.    I actually endured attended three interviews and used up more than my fair share of ‘sparkle power’ to make that ‘offer’ happen.   Regardless thou I am well  pleased with the outcome.    Starting from mid next week I’ll be spending two six-hour days a week working back in the real world and flexing my marketing and social media muscle.   In my imagination, this is going to be like having best of both worlds.   Three days a week at home focusing on my Caz Filmer Writes projects ( and doing housework, family stuff, and getting back to the renovations) and two days out working in the real world.  Now, if we could all just come together with prayer and fasting in the hope that this  turns out as well in reality as I’m picturing it in my mind. parentint

While all this has been percolating around in the world of possibilities I also had two interviews for a project management job, which apparently I didn’t get.  But how could I know this as they chose not to notify unsuccessful applicants – even though we dragged our sorry arses in there twice!  Are you hearing my attitude?  Sorry – but I think that’s rude.  After all a phone call doesn’t take long or cost much.  (Hashtag Grrrrr).     And just to keep it interesting I also got offered six days emergency administration work at the girls school.  I’ve never worked in a school before and despite thinking we needed to evacuate the first time I heard the bell go off, I loved it.   It’s been a while (read many many years) since I’ve done pure admin/reception work and I have to admit I kinda felt like I was playing a huge game of pretend.   How could you not love doing that?

Inside

In my own true introverted style thou,  right now I am in desperate need of some time to some time to settle back and reflect, ponder and plan.   (And if I didn’t have a family and home and I’m pretty sure I’d find that time.)   I want to think this through and establish a routine for my working days – both at work and at home.    One thing I have realised is that I need to put some boundaries ar

I want to be more purposeful than that.    

I need to be more purposeful than that.  

I am going to be more purposeful than that.    

How do I become more purposeful than that?

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Chocolate cake.  Need I  say more?  This recipe the simplest, best textured and nicest chocolate cake I’ve made (or eaten) in a long time and it’s so easy to make in the  Cuisine Companion that you probably won’t believe it.  I’ve struggled to find the appropriate person/place to credit for the brilliance of creating this recipe – this link is as close as I’ve come.   Once you’ve made it you’ll probably want to say thanks too. 

As with all of the recipes I post if you just want to print it out and avoid my pretty pictures and explanation, head on down to the bottom of this post.   But for those of you who like some explanation and visuals – read on.    You can find more family friendly Cuisine Companion recipes here.  You might also like to join this facebook group Loving the Tefal Cuisine Companion

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Turn your oven to  180 degrees (160 if fan-forced).  Line the base of a larger sized cake tin with baking paper and lightly grease the sides.  

Insert the ultra blade into your Cuisine Companion.  And then add all of the ingredients into the bowl!  170g butter, 4 eggs, 250g milk, 300g SR flour, 370g brown sugar, 40g cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Work at speed 8 for one minute.  Scrapes down the sides of the bowl and then work at speed 12 for 20 seconds. 

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Pour the batter into your cake tin and cook for one hour 0r until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean (without uncooked cake batter on it.) 

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Remove the ultra blade from your Cuisine Companion bowl and get the little people to clean the bowl for you. This cake mix almost tastes like chocolate pudding – so frankly try stopping them!

Once cooled I iced my cake with a classic mix of butter cream icing.   I reduced my usual recipe by 3/4 to suit the cake size – as I didn’t really think we needed the sides iced as well as the top!    

Butter Cream Icing
1/4 cup of butter
15g cocoa
1 & 1/4 cups if icing sugar
1 tbs of milk.  
Mix this well by hand. 

Yum.    

chocolate cake cuisine companion

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Disclosure.  My Cuisine Companion was gifted to me and I have agreed to post recipes for your enjoyment in return.

Perfect Chocolate Cake for the Cuisine Companion
A simple and beautifully textured chocolate cake to make in your Cuisine Companion
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 170g Butter
  2. 4 Eggs
  3. 250g Milk
  4. 300g Self Raising Flour
  5. 370g Brown Sugar
  6. 40g Cocoa
  7. 1 tpsVanilla essence
Instructions
  1. Turn your oven to 180 degrees (160 if fan forced.)
  2. Line a good sized cake tin base and lightly grease sides
  3. Insert the ultra blade into your Cuisine Companion
  4. Add all ingredients into the bowl
  5. Process at speed 8 for one minute.
  6. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Process at speed 12 for 20 seconds.
  8. Pour batter into the cake tin
  9. Cook for one hour or until skewer inserted comes out clean.
Notes
  1. Ice using butter cream icing. This cake freezes beautifully and can be pre-cut and frozen for school lunches.
Caz Filmer Writes http://www.thetruthaboutmummy.com/

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My consistency as a blogger sucks right about now.  Yeah, I know.  It’s one of the golden rules of blogging BE CONSISTENT, but then again I have never really been one to follow the rules – so I guess I can let that slide.

Creativity CazFilmerWrites

Life has been all kinds of crazy around here for a few weeks.  The type of crazy where you mix looking after two elderly parents, one with Dementia and one with Alzheimer, with school holidays, job interviews and freezing cold weather. Can you see the picture?  Oh, we’ve been having some moments.   You know those ones where you choose to laugh because the only other alternative is to cry.  Hang on, there was this one time where I actually did both.  And it was surprisingly cathartic. 

This is only momentary madness though. Life will return to our version of normal, which only includes  one elderly parent, fairly soon.  School went back this week as well which means in a couple of days I’ll find time  to indulge my introverted nature and take some breathing space for my soul.  Then life will feel a little more harmonious and a little less crazy.   (It’s relaxing just thinking about it.)

Despite the general neglect going on around here, I am very happy to report that my Kidspot Put Yourself On The Map (#shareaustralia) post has been chosen as one of the top 20 posts in the competition. Meaning I’ve now been commissioned (now that’s a word that makes you feel like a true online creative) to produce and expanded version which will be published on Kidspot.  Thank you Kidspot.   I can’t wait to start work on the 10 best family adventures to be had in around the beautiful town of Ballarat.  So seriously chuffed to have my work recognised in this way.

Ballarat For Families Collage Caz Filmer Writes

Most of my other writing work is falling a little behind.  I have posts that should have been posted and emails that should have been answered.  But that too will happen.  Perhaps not overnight – but it will happen (she says as she shakes out her long flowing hair).   So, if you’ve been waiting on me please know I haven’t  forgotten you and I’ll be back in touch soon.

In the meantime, amidst all the madness a few other little rays of sunshine have been lighting up my life.   I’ve had two fabulous local  job interviews for part-time project management and marketing work, which I’ve strangely enjoyed.  I have a second interview for both; so fingers are crossed I’ll be adding some new endeavours to the Caz Filmer Write’s bow soon.  We’ve also established a PR & Social Good group for Ballarat Bloggers and I’m loving linking our local bloggers up with fun and interesting local attractions and businesses and seeing the social media synergy start to bubble away.   I love social media synergy!  It’s seriously so cool to see the way it develops an individual personality – every single time. 

So there we go little blog.  You no longer need to feel neglected. I have written all over you – much more than I intended to write actually.   And I am once again reminded why I have this space and just how much I love to let words fall out of my fingers.   There  is something so fancy-free and peaceful about letting all of your words go on a blog.   Do you find that?  Is it what keeps you blogging too?

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 CC pinterest

This page is the home for a growing collection of time-saving family recipes either written or converted  for the Tefal Cuisine Companion.  All of the recipes are in plain-speaking English written by local Australian food and family/parenting  bloggers and should be a perfect way to help you get the most out of your Cuisine Companion. 

If  you have a recipe you’d like to add from your own blog please leave a link in the comments below.  If you have a great recipe you have created or converted yourself but don’t have a blog of your own to post it on  please also let me know as I’d  seriously enjoy trying it out myself and posting  it here on Caz Filmer Writes (with full credit to you) so we can keep sharing the Cuisine Companion loving. 

Cuisine Companion Family Recipes Caz Filmer Writes 

Easy Family Cuisine Companion Recipes for Aussie Families

 

Easy Tuna Mornay  (Caz Filmer Writes)

Easy Thai Green Curry (Caz Filmer Writes)

Easy Chocolate Cake (Caz Filmer Writes)

Healthy Chocolate Bliss Balls   (Caz Filmer Writes)

Pumpkin Coconut and Lime Soup (The Gourmet Chick)

Butter Chicken (MoveFuelLove)

Slow Cooked Lamb Korma (MoveFuelLove)

Potato and Leak Soup (Becky & James)

Vegan Orange and Poppy Seed Cake (VegeTARAian)

Beetroot Risotto with Basil (VegeTARAian)

Home Made  Pizza Base (VegeTARAian)

Banana Bread with Choc Chips (VegeTARAian)

Coconut Pikelets  (VegeTARAian)

Fruit and Nut (Nutella) Tarts (Essentially Jess)

Healthy Chocolate Brownies (Where’s My Glow)

Rasberry Vanilla Cheese Cake (Bizzy Lizzy Good Things)

Carrot and Walnut Cupcakes with Lemon (Samelia’s Mum)

Paleo Pancakes (MoveFuelLove)

 

 

Great Australian  Cuisine Companion links you’ll be happy to know about

Official Cuisine Companion Site 

Loving the Tefal Cuisine Companion Facebook Group

Cooking with the Cuisine Companion Facebook Page

Tefal Cuisine Companion on Pinterest  (Caz Filmer Writes)

 

Tips For Getting the Most out of your Cuisine Companion

  1. Work hard at getting between 3-5 recipes your family enjoys eating and you feel comfortable making within the first month of owning your Cuisine Companion.  You’ll fall  back on these all of the time when life gets busy and they will save you so much time and effort that you will fall in love with your CC again and again.   Risotto is always an easy place to start.   (Caz Filmer)

 

 

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Since being gifted my Cuisine Companion a few months back, I’ve been on a mission to convert simple easy family meals into Cuisine Companion recipes.  Because what I really need from this little machine is less time and effort in the kitchen.   Can I hear an amen to that!

Tuna mornay is not the flashest of meals, but it is one that is easy to turn to when  time is limited and the pressure is on to get tea on the table.  I’ve played around with this a few times now and I’m finally happy to add it to my growing collection of easy Cuisine Companion recipes. 

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If you just want to print out the recipe and avoid my pretty pictures and explanation, head on down to the bottom of this post.   But for those of you who like a little more explanation and some visuals – read on. 

What You’ll Need

Tin of tuna (425g)
Flour (50g)
Milk (500mls)
Butter (50g) 
Grated cheese (50g)
Onion 
Garlic (2 cloves)

What you’ll need to do

Insert Ultra blade into the Cuisine Companion (CC).  Add a quartered onion and two quartered cloves of garlic and  process them for 10 seconds on speed 12.  Scrape down sides.  Check to see if you are happy with how small the pieces are and process for a further 20 if you think it’s necessary. 

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Add the oil to the bowl and cook on Slow Cook 1 for 5 minutes. (130 degrees).

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Swap over to the whisking blade and  add the milk and flour into the bowl.   Process this  at speed 6 for 1 minute without any heat.   This will mix the flour and milk and remove even the slightest hint of lumps from the sauce.  Yay for that!

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Add the butter into the bowl and process this at speed 4 for 8 minutes at 90 deg.   When it finishes you will have a perfect white (bechamel) sauce.
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Once the sauce is finished swap to the stirring blade.  Add in your tin of tuna and the grated cheese.  Work on Slow Cook 3 (20 minutes/90deg.)    When there is only 4-5 minute remaining you can peas, corn or other easy cook veggies if you’d like to. 

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Enjoy with rice and veggies or however you like your Mornay.  Lately, I’ve been serving ours up the stir-fried or steamed veggies rather than rice – just to mix things up a bit.   Either way it’s delicious. 

I think you’ll agreed that was a pretty easy way to get a very high-quality Mornay on the table.  I was reminded just how much time CC does actually save me this week when I inadvertently lost (read threw in the rubbish bin)  the rubber ring that seals CC’s stirring shaft.  It was back to standing at the stove and actually cooking for me. While it probably only took ten or fifteen extra minutes to cook in the old-fashioned way, what I really missed was being able to do other things (like write a blog post) while CC does all of the stirring and chopping work.  Thank goodness there is a new rubber ring on its way to our house at this very moment.  

I hope you enjoy this easy tuna mornay recipe.  Please come back and let me know how it works for you. 

Tuna Mornay Cuisine Companion Cooking Caz Filmer Writes

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Disclosure.  My Cuisine Companion was gifted to me and I have agreed to post recipes for your enjoyment in return. 

 

Easy Tuna Mornay for the Cuisine Companion Recipes
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. Tin of tuna (425g)
  2. Flour (50g)
  3. Milk (500mls)
  4. butter (50g)
  5. Grated cheese (50g)
  6. Oil (20g)
  7. Onion
  8. Garlic (2 cloves)
Instructions
  1. Insert Ultra blade into the machine. Add quartered onion and quartered garlic cloves. Process for 10 seconds on speed 12. Scrape down sides.
  2. Add oil and cook on Slow Cook 1 for 5 minutes. (130 degrees)
  3. Swap to the whisking blade. Add milk and flour. Work at speed 6 for 1 minute.
  4. Add butter and work at speed 4 for 8 minutes at 90 deg.
  5. Once finished swap to the stirring blade. Add the tin of tuna and grated cheese. Work on Slow Cook 3 (20 minutes/90deg.)
  6. Enjoy with rice and veggies or however you like your mornay
Notes
  1. This recipe can easily be doubled - which I do regularly.
Adapted from Caz Filmer
Adapted from Caz Filmer
Caz Filmer Writes http://www.thetruthaboutmummy.com/

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smaller ballarat

I don’t know about you but I consider myself very lucky to have been born in Australia.  There are probably more than a million reasons why I’m grateful for the quirk of fate that saw me delivered to parents from down under.  But right now the one I’m really thinking about is how much it has to offer to those who enjoy the thrill of exploring new and fun places and spaces with their family.  

Today, I’m taking part in a challenge, as part of Kidspots Voices of 2015,  to share with you my own personal pocket of Australia in the hope that I can temp you to come and do some exploring here in Ballarat. Ballarat is a beautiful town.  It has clear crisp air, fabulous distinctive seasons and a part in  history that any living museum would be proud of.    But why would you want to bring your family here to visit?  Oh my friend the list of reasons is endless but today my job is to bring you three good ones and then let you discover the rest. 

spend sometime

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The lake (as the locals call it) is a pretty big deal in Ballarat and an easy place to lose a good few hours of exploration time.  If you’re feeling energetic you could walk the six kms of pathway that winds around the lake itself.  (If you’re here on a Wednesday morning you might even see me slowly jogging my way around – so wave and please offer me a drink if I look ready to pass out.)   There are playgrounds dotted regularly around the lake but make sure you stop at both the Adventure Playground (a massive wooden construction so huge you’ll be lucky not to lose your kids) and the Indigenous Playground (a beautiful area filled with lovely art and rhythmical playthings inspired by our indigenous history) as they are particularly beautiful and a real experience for the kids. 

Lake Wendouree In Winter Ballarat For Families.

Once you’ve walked the lake and had a play you can head over the road to the Botanical Gardens.  My own personal favorite things to do here are play spot the goldfish in the fishponds and walk down Prime Minister’s Avenue taking selfies with our  Ex-Prime Minsters.  But you might prefer to do some of the more traditional activities like checking out the begonias, enjoying the plant life or visiting Adam Lindsay Gordon’s Cottage. Each to their own as they say.  

PM Selfies Ballarat Botanical Gardens Ballart for Families

The lake also has an impressive wetlands areas open for exploration, the stirring Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial and a fabulous vintage tram you can ride on with the kids.    Once little tummies start to rumble there are more perfect picnic spots than you can poke a proverbial stick at, along with electric  barbecues, cafes and a regular ice-cream van. Lake Wendouree is a seriously great place to have a family adventure and you could easily spend the best part of a day exploring all it has to offer.   (PS: I had just finished my run around the lake before taking these selfies – so I think both me, Bob, Jules and Kev are looking mighty fine!)

Visit Nimmons

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The next Ballarat based adventure I’ve chosen for you is a quick trip out to visit Nimmons Bridge.   The bridge is part of the Ballarat Skipton Rail Trail and was built back in the 1850s as part of the local railway net work.   The Rail-Trail winds its way from the Ballarat Station, meandering out through a host of local community towns, for 63 kilometers until it reaches Skipton.      As you can see from the photos, Nimmons Bridge is a stunning old railway bridge that has been restored to provide a breathtaking glimpse into life in yesteryear. 

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The bridge is about a twenty minute drive from Ballarat by road or, if the family is up to it, a 30 kilometer bike ride from the Ballarat Station.   (It’s on my  own personal bucket list to do the bike ride – but I must confess it hasn’t happened yet!)  The bridge’s under-structure is made from the most impressively huge logs, the sight of which leaves you wondering where they found trees big enough to make them from.   The surrounding views of gorgeous local farmland are lovely and all of the locals will tell you to make sure you leave some time to simply stand on the bridge and gaze out – allowing the view to restore your soul.    My trick is to let the kids go running ahead, following the pathway, while I wait on the bridge to watch them and enjoy my moments tranquility on my own.   

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There are two picnic tables ready and waiting at each end the bridge and a walking track which lets you see the bridge from underneath – which is honestly the best and most impressive way to see it.  You’ll also find an information alcove in the parking area which provides all of the history and backstory that you need give your Nimmons Bridge adventure some historical perspective. 

 

Tourist park thingI’m sure you’ve all heard about the epic-ness of Sovereign Hill, undoubtedly Ballarat’s most famous attraction and something every family should do at least once.  It is seriously worth it.  We’re not talking about whiz-bang rides and fast food styled amusement parks here.   Sovereign Hill is a living museum of life back in the 1850s where you’ll find yourself panning for gold (which you get to keep by the way – watch the kids eyes light up when you tell them that), conversing with beautifully dressed ladies and cheeky old fashioned policemen and taking  rides in  horse drawn vehicles.  You can also create your own candle, watch old fashioned lollies being made and see the blacksmith at work – among other things.    It’s a fabulous day (or two) out and has much much more to offer than I can express in this one paragraph.   It’s literally a Ballarat must do – maybe even an Australian must do. 

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But Sovereign Hill is not the only tourist park Ballarat has to offer.  You should also consider spending some time at Kryal Castle.  It is an enchanting and magical place with its story woven around a mythic King, his lovely Queen and an un-seen She-Dragon who lives curled up in the Mountain behind the castle.    Recently re-developed, the castle has been well thought out to appeal to everyone in the family and will keep you entertained and on the go for hours.   There are puppet plays and the Tooth Fairies very own lolly shop, jousting knights and magical wizards blending mythical potions, playgrounds, magical mazes and even (if you are game and over 12) the gruesome Torture & Dungeon Museum.    Yet another great adventure waiting to be had in Ballarat. 

Have I impressed you with our tourist parks yet?  Best wait to answer that one because there are still more.   Ballarat is also home to a beautifully set out Wildlife Park  which specialises in crocodiles  (The Ballarat Wildlife Park) and a very cute and clever Tangled Maze – both of which you could easily lose two or three more hours to.     Did I tell you we are spoiled for choice?

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Are you tempted to come and explore Ballarat with your family?   I have no doubt there are enough exciting escapades waiting for you here that you’ll need more than a day.  If exploring really is your thing you might be interested in the Ballarat Bucket List which has another seventy-two family friendly things you can do in and around Ballarat.  So, if you’re up for it I think we could probably keep you here for a week.   Maybe I’ll see you out exploring my home town some day soon. 

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finalise voice15

I’m sitting here in the wee small hours of the morning (4.23 am to be precise) shaking my fist at the gods of the internet for their meanness. Fancy cutting off my supply when I’m up, awake and hoping to whip out a few hours of online work before the daily routine starts and I’m too tired to think straight.     Unfair I say.  (Very softly so I don’t wake up the family.)  

  This blog has been around for while and has received the odd nomination for a few things here and there (most of which I’ve minimised away in my own special and unique style) but for some reason this one feels a little different.  Perhaps because these days there are SO MANY awesome online creatives.  Compared to back when I began here, when you could literally comment on every other blog in the land, the blogosphere is massive and filled with a wonderful mix of creative, clever and well-studied influencers. 

Anyway I am chuffed.  Tickled pink in fact.  (What the hell does that saying actually mean?  Do people turn a particular shade of pink when they are both happy and being tickled?  Sorry – did I say it was really early?)   I have no idea who made the original nomination, but secretly I think I might love you.  Thank-you with all my heart.   It means a lot to know that the effort that goes into this patch of cyber-space is worthwhile.  To be honest it also means a lot to be recognised for my skills as an online creative because this is something I LOVE to do.  And, like most bloggers, I’ve worked very hard to develop them. 

I am not about to start preparing my winning acceptance speech or anything like that.   But I am going to celebrate this  achievement and enjoy the process of being part of Kidspot’s #VoicesOf2015.  If I am lucky (or clever) this might even  draw some attention to my digital communications and social media management work – because picking up an extra client to two is never a bad thing.  But in the end I am just going to ride this journey through and suck out every little ounce of joy and fun it offers me.   Being a finalist is fabulous ~thanks Kidspot.   And cheers to the other 102 awesome online creative finalists too. 

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Victorian Gold Fields Railway Caz Filmer Writes leaning out the windowVictorian Goldfields Railways is a beautiful stretch of old-fashioned and steam-powered ‘rail adventure’ between Maldon and Castlemaine in Central Victoria.  At just over an hour away from Ballarat it doesn’t make it onto our Ballarat Bucket List (100 things for families to do in Ballarat) but it is a seriously good family day out and well worth the extra half hour drive.

The impressively restored steam trains travel between Maldon and Castlemaine, taking about 45 minutes to complete their journey.  You can buy a one way or return ticket.  If you choose the return journey, and get your timing right, you can spend a few hours exploring the opposite township.    Or you can simply wait for twenty minutes at the station while the steam engine refuels and turns around before climbing on board again and heading straight back.  (If you’re patient and willing to wait, the drivers might even let the kids climb up in the engine and see how it works before they head back.)   Check out the Victorian Goldfields Railway’s website for more information about running times and prices. 

The trains are beautifully restored and give you a first class idea of what steam travel would have been like back in the early 1900s.  There are first class and  economy tickets. As you will see in the photos below the first class carriages are seriously beautiful – but for my money economy is the way to go.  In economy you get a cabin that seats about eight and  the kids (read parents) can open the windows and feel the wind on their faces, hear the rhythmic sound of the wheels on track and see the train pushing on through the bush-land.  It’s really just a bit magical. 

The Victorian Goldfields Railway is volunteer run and you will find helpful and friendly volunteers on hand to collect tickets and share information about the trains.    Be warned though, these guys seriously like talking about their trains, once you get them started there is no stopping them.  We actually really enjoyed their knowledge and conversation so I would actually chalk that up as a good thing.    

The pictures below will give you a great idea of how our little adventure unfolded. 

Victorian Gold Fields Railway Caz Filmer Writers Muckleford (15)

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Victorian Gold Fields Railway Caz Filmer Writers Carriage)

 

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Victorian Gold Fields Railway Caz Filmer Writer Ladies carriage

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Victorian Gold Fields Railway Caz Filmer Writes First class carriage

Victorian Gold Fields Railway Caz Filmer Writes steam train wheels

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Victorian Gold Fields Railway Caz Filmer Writes cabbose

It really is a beautiful day out and just as much fun as it looks.   Well worth the drive to get there.  Both Maldon and Castlemaine are also lovely, historic and well-appointed towns to explore with kids.   There are loads of cafes, crafts stall, antique shops  and gardens in both.   If you get your timing right they both also run numerous markets and festivals.  A small shout of for the Fish-n-Chips at Maldon Fresh Takeaway and the fudge at The Maldon Lolly Shop  (both on Main street.)  Our lunch was close to perfection. 

Remember to check out the Victorian Goldfields Railway website for prices and train running times.  

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The team at Colorific recently sent us a box of bloom pops for the girls to create and explore with.  As the weather is cold, windy and all around unpleasant in these parts at the moment, it was a perfect little afternoon activity for everyone.  (Me included because I got to have fun ordering the kids to hold things the correct way to get the most light on my photos.)

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They came up with some eye-poppingly good designs and clearly enjoyed every minute of the making process.  Of course there was the obligatory sister-fights involved in three girls having to share in the making of five bloom pops  – but hey let’s put that one down to a little learning exercise about the fact that life is not always fair and sometimes that’s okay.  (I have an entire blog post circulating about in my brain about ‘fair’ and our societies expectations of that particular word when it comes to kids – but let’s save that for another day.)

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As far as a blustery winter’s day activity goes, this was a good one.  It’s indoors for a start, but it also used the kids manual dexterity, creativity and crafting skills.  (And that’s before we even begin to talk about the sharing thing.)   The Glitter Purse Pack we were sent to play with retails for $24.99 and is part of a collection of glitterised bloom pops which is recommended for children from 5-12.   You can check out Colorific for more information  if you want to. 

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