FRESH FREEBIES

Hi guys! As you can see, the blog (which is now 5 years old!) has had a bit of a freshen up - hope you like it. Today I also managed to attend to a task I've been putting off for ages - transferring the 2000+ photos from my iPhone to my laptop, and cleaning up all my files and folders. I still have roughly nine million seven hundred and thirty four photos to sort through, but that's a task for another day. It felt sooo good to finally cross semi-cross this task off my to-do-list. Funny story... yesterday I found an old old thumbnail of my original blog headers - and some test blog names. I am so very glad this blog isn't called "Head, Heart and Hands"!

After the tidy up I went in search of some pretty new wallpapers (I can't get enough of watercolour at the moment) - while I'm still fixing things up around here, I thought I'd share my finds with you so you can do the same. Here are my favourites. Just click the image to bring up the full size, save the image and then resave as your desktop theme. Enjoy, and be sure to check out the designers who gifted these beauties, listed at the bottom of the post. Love a good freebie!







OMBRE PINK & BLUE | DESIGN LOVE FEST
WATERCOLOURS  PAPER SQUID
VAN GOGH  | EMPLOYMENT INSIGHT

MUM'S GARDEN | GRATITUDE | THINGS I KNOW FOR SURE


mama's tulips



underneath the arbour. my uncle built it, I painted it, M & D planted the wisteria, and the sun grew its flowers.


the lavender was all abuzz [spot the bee]

I've spent most of this week at Mum and Dad's place; it's my HQ for jam making [my "jam factory"] because of the kitchen facilities. Yesterday afternoon while I was sitting tying bows I turned on the TV to see Entertainment Tonight interviewing Oprah on her new book, 'What I Know For Sure'. I had to pause and whip out my phone to note down a few "Uh Huh" moments.

"Everything that happens to you, happens for you".

"Nothing that ever happens to you is wasted."

"This, too, shall pass".

"The easiest way to change your vibration when you're down is to be grateful."

"Say thank you."

I've started this sentence about ten times and am really struggling to articulate, but without overthinking for a minute, the point is that when life throws you difficult circumstances, even though it can be hard to see or want to accept at the time, often there's a reason, a lesson, a purpose. I do often feel this way looking back, and even in my current stressful time, where even very recently I was struggling to identify a reason for my unhinged year, I'm beginning to see a purpose [stay tuned]. And it is tough to trust that "this, too, shall pass" and you'll come out the other side, but... maybe that's the miraculous thing. You don't have to trust it. It just is. It will pass.

While you're feeling a bit down and out, be grateful, and say thanks for all the wonderful things in your life. Spin positive. Well Lindsay messaged me before to comment on what a nice day it was, and hoped I could get outside to enjoy it. I said I was inside doing job things, but the view from the window was pretty and peaceful [which it very much is - grateful]. Then I read an excerpt from Oprah's new book [below] and that led me straight outside to set my bare feet on the ground. I noticed what a beautiful garden my Mum has created and I snapped away. Grateful for the blue sky, the miraculous flowers, the cool earth beneath my feet, the sweet birds and the smell of the sun.

Here is my excerpt from the excerpt:

Pay attention. Every choice gives you a chance to pave your own road. Keep moving. Full speed ahead.

Being grateful all the time isn’t easy. But  it’s when you feel least thankful that you are  most in need of what gratitude can give you: perspective. Gratitude can transform any situation. It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive. It’s the quickest, easiest, most powerful way to effect change in your life – this I know for sure.


Whatever you’re going through, you will do just that: go through it. It will pass. So say thank you now. Because you know the rainbow is coming.

I’m often confronted by things about which I have no certainty at all. But I sure believe in miracles. For me, a miracle is seeing the world with light in your eyes. It’s knowing there’s always hope and possibility where none seems to exist. Many people are so closed to miracles that even when one is boldly staring them in the face, they label it coincidence. I call it like I see it. To me, miracles are confirmation that something larger than us is at work. I believe they happen not just sometimes but every single day, if we are open to seeing them.

In my own life, miracles often involve the simplest things... a miracle is watching a sunset the colour of strained peaches and seeing it turn to raspberries by the end of my evening walk. It’s having pomegranate, kiwi and mango on a pretty tray for breakfast. It’s admiring the pink peonies I cut from my own garden and placed in my bedroom. It’s when a green van pauses on the road and a young woman leans out the window to yell, ‘You’re the best teacher on TV!’ and she is a kindergarten teacher. It’s the sound of the birds and their individual songs and the moment when I wonder, are they singing to each other, to themselves, or just to be heard?

Excerpt from What I Know For Sure, Oprah Winfrey.

What are your little miracles... what are you grateful for?

SALLY SPATHIPHYLLUM


Image from Anita Byrne at Employment Insight #employmentinsight

Whether its been my desk at work, or now, at home, I'm all about pimping my work space. Lately, it's also been about creating a space of positivity, calm, creativity, zen - all those crazy things. I almost always have a tealight and essential oil burning; also present are your more kookster items like my lumps of rose quartz and amethyst crystals - but that's a story for another day.

Last Thursday morning I decided to do something I never do and walked around the corner to treat myself with a coffee to get in the mood for job applications. Well, I have been known to be sensitive to coffee but this cup made me high as a kite from 10 til 5. Not pleasant. I couldn't sit still so I went for a drive and literally chased a rainbow all the way to Bunnings, and bought myself a plant for the "office".


Possibly the most amazing rainbow I have ever seen - it was a full arc, and a double, against a stormy steel-grey sky. And, errr, the Maccas/Bunnings carpark.

Actually, the plant wasn't an impromptu purchase. I'd received the aforementioned  'Zen Your Desk' guide and it got me thinking about the benefits of having indoor plants, including clearing the air and filling it with freshness, removing indoor pollutants and chemical toxins, softening the surrounding space, and of course, having that connection to nature. At one of my past office jobs I went so far as to bring a plant to work from home. People may think you're cray, but who cares? I think it's cray to be stuck inside all day.

According to this handy chart from the NASA Clean Air Study (yeah, bitches: NASA) the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) ticks all the boxes when it comes to air purification. I cross-referenced with this pictorial guide to air purifying indoor plants and discovered that the Peace Lily is also extremely easy to care for, requiring very little light or water. Perfect for the office, and perfect for not having to ask your boyfriend to keep the greenery alive while you're out of town.



Sally Spathiphyllum now has pride of place in the corner of the room. Air quality aside, she really is a mood lifter! If you're in the market for some indoor plant therapy, I picked up Sally for $15 at Bunnings and she had plenty of luscious sisters. Peace out. x

HAMBURGER CUPCAKES



Last night we went to an at-home trivia night (such fun!) and this presented as the perfect opportunity to make these little bad boys. We had hamburgers for dinner, and hamburgers for dessert. These could be a great treat for any Father's Day luncheons you may be attending tomorrow!

This was my first attempt at hamburger cupcakes. They were a lot of fun to make - much Heston. There's definitely room for improvement so I'll be making them again but with a few tips and tricks up my sleeve. Here are my tips for you and me both:

- I used packet cake mixes to save time and sanity

- Use a few drops of yellow food colouring in the buttercake

- Tip for next time: make the icing much firmer, and put the cheese on the bottom layer to prevent seepage

- Amazing tip: use plastic zip lock bags with the corners snipped off for the icing (I can't believe I have never done this!)

- Tip for next time: bake the cupcakes without patty cases, so they don't have the crinkles from the wrappers


This is my kind of burger flipping!


Mustard and Ketchup <3

I'll just shoot myself in the foot now and leave you with a picture from the Glorious Treats, so you can see what they're supposed to look like. Next time, Gadget!



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LITTLE BOW THIEF: SEPTEMBER UPDATE


With the spring weddings rolling up I have four October receptions to make favours for next month, with some bright new designs to try. Yay! Some brides are super organised - my furthest away booking at present is December 2015, but every now and then I'll get a rush request, which I'm more than happy to accommodate. The arrival of spring made me SO happy that I decided to put on a September special to assist with those last-minute spring wedding details...


Orders & Enquiries: www.jotform.co/littlebowthief/orderform

My customers have sent me some lovely shots of my jams in situ at their receptions...




And here are some recently made jams with newly-designed labels...





Little Bow Thief is all over the social medias - you can find me here:

Instagram | #littlebowthief www.intagme.com/littlebowthief

Pinterestwww.pinterest.com/alexkates/

Etsywww.etsy.com/au/shop/LittleBowThief

Facebookwww.facebook.com/littlebowthief

And lastly, some very kind reviews left by my customers. x

Thank you so much for making our wedding bonbonniere. They were perfect!! Not only did they taste good but the looked amazing. Your attention to detail and professionalism was exceptional and you delivered exactly what I had envisioned but only better. My guests also loved them. I would happily recommend you to all my friends and family. Thanks again :)
Josephine


Thank you Little Bow Thief for the amazing jams for our wedding! Our guests loved them and it was a cute thing to take home from the wedding! Also very quick turnaround and excellent service!
Elena

Little bow Thief were great to deal with and their jams not only looked great at our wedding but tasted amazing as well! I would definitely recommend little bow thief to anyone looking for a favour for their wedding!!
Michelle

Little Bow Thief was a great choice for our corporate event. We were able to customise our jams to suit our theme. Tasted and looked fantastic and were well received by our guests. A great gift idea with a home style touch.
Carissa

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IT HAS SPRUNG

I will never get tired of the phrase "spring has sprung". It has - it's really sprung! That delicious whisper of warmth is in the air and I must say, things are feeling positive in my neck of the woods. Don't ask me why - they just are.

Anyway, I thought I'd kick off proceedings by pretending I'm someone famous whose beauty cupboard you actually have an interest in emulating! Just kidding, but in all seriousness, these four items below have wafted into my vanity and I think they're so great, I'm going to share!


1. Natio Spa Heavenly Hand Cream
I borrowed my Mum's cream and immediately requested my own tube (nicely). This one smells great and doesn't leave your hands with that yucky greasy feeling.

2. Bee Bar Lotion Honey House Naturals
Through work, a retailer gave me this product to go into a visual merchandising display. AMAZING find. I have the 'natural' scented bee bar and use it as a foot/heal moisturiser - rub it on before slipping on a pair of cozy socks. Tricky to find in Australia but for just a tin or two, ask me for the suppliers email details. #worthit.

3. Natio Meditate Shower Gel
This was a present from my boyfriend's Mum and it is DIVINE. Zen in the shower, I tell you. When I first read the label description 'Yoga Scent' I thought the marketers had gone off the 'woowoo' scale, but it totally makes sense.

4. Eco Store Lemongrass Soap
I'll be honest, I just needed a fourth image to fill the space, but this soap is still the goods. You've probably seen this brand in the supermarket. Every now and then I like to mix things up with the soap - variety is the spice of life and all that. Lindsay and I stayed at the Evason Ana Mandara resort in Nha Trang last year and everything from the cocktails to the shower gel were lemongrass'd - there's nothing like scent to bring back memories!

What is your FAVOURITE must-have cosmetic item? Please share with me - I showed you mine!


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HELLO CACAO | NICE TO SEE YOU



Today I had to come and share one of my recent and marvelous new discoveries: cacao powder (yes, I discovered it, it was me).

Cacao powder is not the same as cocoa - it's not that tin of Nestle in your pantry that you use to make choccy cakes. Sorry.

Let's just get one thing sorted before we continue: how to pronounce cacao. *Leaves page to find out how to pronounce cacao.*

Okay everyone, it's KA COW. I was saying it wrong. *How embarrassment*

Alright, so lately I've been adding a friendly spoon of cacao to my morning smoothies. As a lover of chocolate, I feel like I'm having a treat, and my body agrees! Lately I've been thinking about redefining the word 'treat'. As far as food goes, when we traditionally think of having a treat we think: piece of cake, chocolate, dessert, take-away. But whom are you treating? It's a treat to your taste buds, fair enough, but not a treat to your internal organs or your bootay (depending on your preferences). When you eat nutritious food, your body, your internal organs (just imagine them as cartoons with big smiley faces) are screaming "THANKS FOR THE TREATS!".

Just another way to think of it.

Anyway, ka-cow powder adds an extra taste element to my smoothie and is a treat to both my taste buds AND my body (UH-HUH MOMENT ALERT!)

I'm going to borrow a couple of paragraphs from this Body + Soul article about the benefits of cacao (it basically says that raw cacao power is crazy high in antioxidants and is great for your hair, nails, healthy organs, bloodstream and mood).

Naturopath Aimee Robbins says raw, powdered cacao is full of flavonoids, which act as natural antioxidants. "Antioxidants protect the body from ageing and disease caused by free radicals. Raw cacao contains up to four times the antioxidants of traditional cacao powder, and has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world." Scientists from Cornell University in the US recently discovered that raw cacao contains nearly twice the antioxidant content of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidant content of green tea.
The cacao bean is also rich in magnesium, an energy mineral and vital electrolyte. This super-food is also a good source of sulfur. Sulfur is associated with strong nails, shiny hair and a healthy liver and pancreas. Medical herbalist Dominique Finney says the flavonoids in cacao prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidising and clogging the arteries. "Cacao has also been found to help regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol while building the immune system."
...Raw cocoa is an aphrodisiac because it contains anandamide, a substance that induces euphoria. It also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is a mood enhancer. While this super-molecule exists naturally in the brain, the only other food that contains PEA is blue-green algae. 
Shiny hair AND happy organs? I can tell you're sold, now where do you get it?

I bought a 125g  pouch of Nature's Way Cacao Powder (100% certified organic raw - all of the things) from Chemist Warehouse on special for $8.95 and that will last me a few weeks. Some sources say that mixing raw cacao with dairy inhibits the absorption of nutrients. Admittedly I need to find some alternative ways to mix it as I've been having it in a dairy smoothie. Do you have a cacao powder concoction you can share with me? I'm not a fan of store-bought soy, coconut, rice or almond milks because they contain a lot of additives/sugars/seed oils/gums (whatever they are). Maybe I should try my hand at home-made almond milk... that's a story for another day!

Happy cacao!

Edit: Went to Coles this morning and read the ingredients list on the back of at least 10 different varieties of almond milk and coconut milk. Yep, that person. Most of them are rubbish - way too many ingredients and sugar high up on the list, but I think I found a winner:

Pure Harvest Activated Almond Milk. 4 ingredients only - water, almonds, sea salt and rice syrup as a sweetener, but in negligible quantities (2.4g per 100g). 

This concoction: 1 cup almond milk, half a banana, 2 heaped teaspoons cacao powder. Good thanks!