Sponsored video – what tastes remind you of home?

There’s a bit of an obsession in the expat community, wherever you happen to be, about food. People obsess over food from home and are quite often willing to pay ridiculous prices to get it. The small import section at our local supermarket has salt and vinegar  crisps for 70,000rp (about £4 – I don’t miss them that much). If you’re one of those people who like marmite (or more likely vegemite if you’re in Bali because you’re probably Australian), you can expect to pay over 100,000rp for a small jar – that’s around 10 Australian dollars or about £5.

Personally, I’ve managed to get by without missing too much – I did get my family to bring over a few things the first couple of years I was here – mainly junk food. But I’m blaming that on the fact that I was pregnant.

Since then I’ve adjusted by cooking a lot more – I make my own bread now along with hummus and a load of other random things that are impossible to buy here like gravy. The one thing I do really miss every now and again is a proper roast dinner. It’s coming up to Easter now and my mum always used to make a big roast dinner on Easter Sunday and we’d usually invite a few friends over.

So I found this video in which a mother embarks on a journey to the Arctic in order to prepare her daughter a proper roast dinner quite touching. Funnily enough, I considered working in the Arctic at one point (not training Huskies though, how random is that!?)

Research from Knorr has found that 82% of people agree that the taste of some foods will remind them of their childhood so it’s not really surprising that we get so wrapped up in thinking about foods we miss from home. If we ever end up living in the UK, my kids will probably be crying for rice and tempe every day…

p.s. I’d only ever used instant gravy before I was forced to make my own but it’s actually pretty easy to make with stock cubes and flour – there are some good gravy recipes on the Knorr website

This post sponsored by Knorr but all thoughts are my own


Don’t forget the…


Are you a forgetful type of person? I didn’t used to be so bad until I had kids and developed mum brain. I remember once going to the supermarket and completely forgetting to buy any food. Also can clearly remember when Maya was a toddler and I forgot to give her dinner one night :/ I don’t know what it is about motherhood that kills your brain cells but from talking to my other friends who’ve had children, it’s definitely a widespread phenomena.

Of course forgetting you made yourself a coffee or forgetting to put salt in the bread dough (not that I’ve ever done this, ahem…) are not exactly life or death examples. When you’re leaving your home country to go and live abroad for a while, maybe forever, things you forget can have more consequences. Forgetting to give notice to your landlord or telling your bank you’ll be out of the country can cause their fair share of headaches (and I’ve had enough experience of trying to call banks from a pay phone in the mountains of Vietnam because none of my cards are working to know this)

I was actually pretty organised when it came to leaving the UK but I think this was because I’d been planning my escape for a long time. If you only have a short time to organise moving to a new country (as is the case with many expats when they’re sent to a new location for a job assignment) and there are kids involved, things get a lot more confusing.

There’s a handy emigration check list infographic on the HiFX blog that includes most of the tasks you’ll need to complete before you leave the country, listed by timeframe – things like redirecting your mail, checking your passport, cancelling insurance and even organising your leaving party! (I remembered mine as you can see from the photo above!) The list starts from 18 months before you leave, which may sound like a long time, but organising these things can take quite a while especially if you have a house to sell. Vaccinations, saving money, rehoming pets all take a long time. Also a personal tip – always allow double the time you think you need for anything to do with visas or passports.

Honestly I don’t think there’s anything major I forgot about when I left (although I did have my parents back home to sort stuff out for me!). If I were to do it again and knew I wasn’t coming back I would definitely have made better arrangements with my bank as I’ve had my cards blocked more times than I can count and I dread to think how much I’ve paid over the years in fees from drawing money on card that aren’t great for using abroad. I’d also sell more stuff – I got rid of a lot of things before I left but I still had a few boxes of precious possessions. Of course 6 years later and I don’t miss anything in those boxes and some of it is worth quite a bit of money (rare playstation games and limited edition prints). Difficult for me to ebay it from 8,000 miles away!

I’m so lucky after I left I never had one of those heart stopping moments when you realise you’ve forgotten something super important – have you?


2014 in review and New Year goals

shineMy 2014 guiding work was “grow” and I’m not sure that the year really lived up to my plans – a lot of things went really well but I also felt stagnant in some areas. We didn’t have any huge events this year – no moving house, babies being born or trips to foreign countries but I do think personally I managed to grow in terms of confidence and making decisions for my personal and professional life. I said last year that I wanted to focus more on myself this year – get my health back on track and get out without the kids and I’ve definitely achieved that.

So lets see how I did with my goals from last year:


  • Make $5,000 a month consistently – Umm, no….
  • Make at least half my income from my own businesses (not client work) – Yes! Hooray! Not making as much as I’d like yet but lets make that this year’s goal.
  • Pay off my “small” debt (which is not that small but separate from my “big” debt of student loans and bank of mum and dad mortgages) – see above. no way this was going to happen but at least it’s no worse!
  • Launch 2 new websites – yes! Not the ones I originally planned but still… I’m hoping for many more this year
  • Write an e-book – not yet.
  • Learn to drive a motorbike – YES!!! This is probably my biggest achievement from 2014 and I squeezed it right in at the end of the year. I also crashed it but I’ll leave that for another post.
  • Create a beautiful learning/playing space in our home – not quite. I did improve our existing space though.
  • Cook 12 new meals (one a month and hopefully more!) – meh. No but I did bake lots of bread and a couple of cakes. Meals coming now that I can drive myself to the supermarket!
  • Have 12  family fun days out (and hopefully more) – hmmm…. not sure?
  • Make 12 videos of the kids and our life (a la documenting delight) – ha! no.
  • Go on 12 date nights with my husband (carrying this one over from last year – we managed a few!) - I’m pretty sure we overachieved on this. We even got in a night away without the kids!
  • Visit family and friends in the UK – not yet :(
  • Fill a sketchbook with drawings – all I drew this year were cars for Kiran
  • Get up early and develop a morning routine – sort of. I did this in the last couple of months but didn’t stick to it.

I think looking back 2014 was a good year for me although it felt pretty quiet and uneventful. I weaned Kiran in June and that allowed the possibility of me leaving him overnight and getting out in the evening more without the kids (previously I would feed him to sleep). Now we leave the kids with their grandparents at least a couple of nights a month and get some alone time. We’re also getting more sleep with both kids finally sleeping through the night.

I knew my health had to be a priority last year after spending the last half of 2013 recovering from dengue and I’m glad to say I felt a lot healthier overall this year. I’ve been trying to eat better (although still some improvements to be done there) and I felt amazing when I was doing yoga every day so definitely have to get back into that.

In April I had a bit of a crisis about my work and trying to figure out what I was doing that I wrote about here. In June I ended up going all in and quitting all my regular freelance jobs to concentrate on my own projects. Things have been going ok but this year I really need to push with that and make some proper money.

My Indonesian has also improved greatly and my confidence along with it. I’m finally driving a motorbike (I’ve been saying I’m going to do this for the last 5 years) and that has also given me so much more confidence and independence.

So my 2015 word is SHINE! I have a feeling this will be a great year for us and I’m excited for this new sparkly shiny new year!

15 things for 2015:

  1. Yoga every day (even if it’s just 5 minutes)
  2. More real food, less crap and sugar
  3. Find a bahasa Indonesia teach and progress from conversational to fluent
  4. Stick to my debt repayment schedule
  5. Hit my income goals for the year (haven’t worked this out yet)
  6. Stop shouting at the kids
  7. Teach Maya to read
  8. Get up at 5am every morning (not got off to a good start with this one, haha!)
  9. Make a craft space in our spare room
  10. Visit the UK
  11. Write a book
  12. Redesign and relaunch my blog
  13. Stop being unproductive when i’m using my computer – 60% + productivity in rescuetime every week
  14. Get out of the house more – go out for coffee or lunch at least once a week
  15. Write a million words.

Hope everyone celebrated the New Year in the way they wanted (I fell asleep with the kids at about 10pm and missed everything, haha!) and I wish you all a fantastic 2015 x



Our Christmas


For some reason I was just not really feeling Christmas this year – I think maybe because my family weren’t over this time but I just couldn’t get into the spirit. It never feels very Christmassy here anyway but I didn’t even put the tree up until xmas eve. Anyway we had some old friends visiting over Christmas, which was lovely and we ended up having a nice and relaxing day at the beach club (even if I spent most of the day supervising the kids in the pool rather than talking to my friends!). I really cut down on the presents this year but the kids were thrilled with what they got. We also got 2 new kittens and I got a motorbike (!!!) (more on that later!)

Unfortunately we’ve all been so busy this year (xmas and new year coinciding with galungan and kuningan) that I failed to get our annual family xmas photo :( will have to get a new year one instead.

Hope everyone had a peaceful and happy Christmas and has a wonderful New Year x

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Tinkerlab – A hands-on guide for little inventors

2014-12-10 10.50.09Firstly I have to apologise for this post being so late as I’ve been meaning to review this book since oh… June… anyway all is not lost because if you’re in need of a last minute Christmas present for a child, parent or teacher, this is in stock at Amazon (get it in the UK here and the US here) and can be on your doorstep by xmas eve.

Now onto the book – it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that made me so excited about spending time with my children, ha! In fact the last one that I enjoyed so much was probably this one. This is not just a book of art and craft projects – I have a few of those already and they’re all wonderful but the Tinkerlab book is something special. I’ve been a fan of the Tinkerlab website for many years so I was very excited when I saw that Rachelle was publishing a book and signed up to get it straight away – I wasn’t dissapointed!

The Tinkelab book is full of art and craft projects, science experiments, parenting manual, tips for setting up and organising a creative space and some useful insights into educational theory. The projects range from the very simple (sticking stickers on paper) to complex (making a robotic drawing machine) but every one of them has potential for hours of fun and can be adapted to work for younger or older children.

Some of the other projects and ideas include:

  • Plexiglass painting
  • Foam plate prints
  • Making potions
  • Ice cream in a jar
  • Pounding nails
  • Gumdrop structures
  • Natural dyes
  • Cloud dough
  • DIY light box

Maya had a fun time flicking through and picking out which projects she wanted to do first and she has as much fun looking at the pictures as she does doing the actual activities.

2014-12-10 19.15.01 2014-12-10 10.52.35 2014-12-10 10.52.35 2014-12-10 10.53.03 2014-12-10 10.52.10 2014-12-10 10.51.34You can buy the Tinkerlab book from Amazon UK and Amazon USA

Life Without Facebook


Can you remember back to a time when we didn’t have social media? or god forbid, we didn’t have the internet at all?! I remember well, back in my teens when internet was on a dialup connection that we paid for by the hour (plus the price of the phone call) and was strictly rationed. Now we’re checking Instagram before we even get out of bed in the morning (or is that just me?)

I’ve never been one of those people who spend all day on Facebook – I found it useful for uploading my photos when I was travelling and updating my friends and family of my whereabouts (because I totally failed at travel blogging) and then of course after I had the kids it was the natural place to upload their photos so everyone so far away could watch them grow up.

In recent years I’ve been using Facebook less and less for these purposes and more as a mindless way of filling in time. I’d get distracted by random Buzzfeed articles (I actually had to temporarily block someone who was posting them constantly as it was ruining my productivity) and I’d use Facebook as a way of procrastinating when i should be working or doing something else.

I’d randomly click onto it without even noticing what I was doing and just keep scrolling and clicking mindlessly. Still I didn’t feel like Facebook was a huge problem until I installed RescueTime and realised just how much time every week I was wasting there.

Still, I tried to limit my time there halfheartedly but didn’t really see it was a huge problem. Facebook fulfils its entertainment and social purposes and there’s nothing wrong with that right?

Then at some point 2 or 3 months ago, I realised that Facebook had become poison for me. There were about 3 separate instances in one day or people saying stupid things that wound me up and sucked me in and made me stressed. I spent 10 minutes crafting a response to one of these people, telling them how wrong they were and then i just thought “what am I doing? why am I bothering wasting my time on this?” So I quit – cold turkey.

This was much easier than I thought – quitting is much easier than trying to limit your time. The first month I was terrified to go on at all and when I accidentally followed a link that ended up on Facebook, I’d click off again quickly. Now I’m a little more relaxed – I’ve checked in occasionally to update my blog page and check a couple of things and it’s clear that the hold on me it once had has gone – I don’t sit there for hours but even after reading for a couple of minutes I can see how easy it would be to get sucked in.

I still don’t feel like this is the ideal solution as I know I’m missing out on news and events – birthdays, babies being born etc. but I still have no wish to even load up the site… I’m thinking I might do a huge cull and block the majority of status updates and then maybe check once a week?

I’m also not eschewing social media entirely – Instagram is my network of choice at the moment, though I browse more than I post. Twitter is too frantic and I don’t really use the others.

How many hours do you use Facebook a week? Try a Facebook fast – the results may surprise you!

Shopping haul! What £100 will buy you in Bali

I’m always fascinated with the contents of other people’s fridges and shopping trolleys. I love this book that has photographs of a month’s worth of food in different countries around the world. So when International Currency Exchange asked if I’d be interested participating in their expat challenge, to see how far the British pound will stretch across the world and how much I could buy for £100, I jumped at the chance (you don’t have to ask me twice to go shopping)!

Disclaimer – I bought all this stuff at different times and in different places. I’d never spend £100 in one go unless I was buying furniture or something. We also don’t have much space in our kitchen and tend to buy stuff as we need it rather than doing one big shop once every couple of weeks.

Fruit & veg from 2 different supermarkets (one in Ubud, one in Kuta):


  • Bananas – 17,671rp (£0.90)
  • Red pepper – 9,672rp (£0.49)
  • 1kg Local oranges -12,000rp (£0.61)
  • Broccoli – 10,000rp (£0.51)
  • Granny Smith apples 28,535rp (£1.45)
  • 1.4kg Mangoes 29,635rp (£1.51)
  • Grapes – 25,155rp (£1.28)
  • White cabbage – 12,540rp (£0.64)
  • 500g Tomatoes – 9,000rp (£0.46)
  • Avocado – 8,424rp (£0.43)
  • 500g Aubergines – 5,200rp (£0.26)
  • 1 kg Carrots – 14,000rp (£0.71)
  • Sweet potatoes – 13,000 (£0.66)
  • Dodol (a kind of candy made with coconut cream, rice flour and dried fruit) – 6,194rp (£0.32)

total = £14.19

Store cupboard groceries:


  • 4 cartons of milk @ 16,000 64,000 (£3.25)
  • yogurt – 41,500 (£2.11)
  • honey -63,400 (£3.22)
  • Jam – 51,350 (£2.61)
  • coconut cream – 8,820 (£0.45)
  • flour – 10, 230 (£0.52)
  • 10 Eggs – 15,500 (£0.79)
  • 250g coffee (not pictured) 16,650 (£0.85)
  • bread (I normally make bread because the local stuff is so awful and not terribly cheap but I was feeling lazy) 8,500 (£0.43)

total = £14.23

From market (We don’t shop in the market often – I can’t be bothered with the hassle. But I always get coconut oil there):


  • coconut oil 15,000 (£0.76)
  • cakes 5,000 (£0.25)
  • Mangoes (yes more mangoes! It’s mango season – have to make the most of it!) 15,000 (£0.76)

total £1.77

Random bits and pieces:


  • 20 nappies (Only Maya still wears nappies at nights – she doesn’t even stir if she wets in her sleep and will just sleep on, soaked from head to toe – advice if you have any?!!) – 95,000rp (£4.84)
  • 10 microfibre clothes – 96,000rp (£4.89)
  • Jacket for Kiran – 100,000rp (£5.09)
  • Dress for Maya – 95,000rp (£4.84)
  • Garden trowel – 44,100rp (£2.25)
  • Hair dye – 108,000rp (£5.50)
  • Contact lens solution – 59,000rp (£3.01)

total = £30.42


Dinner for two (Fish with rice and water spinach, 1 glass ice tea, 1 glass wine) – 195,500rp (£9.96)

3 x 5GB internet sim cards @ 60,000rp each (£9.17)

My biggest monthly expenditure (after rent and health insurance) is on internet. I actually have no idea what I’m spending – I usually buy ones with more data on which work out a bit cheaper and I think I’m using over 60GB a month at the moment. Yikes :( I miss cheap fast unlimited internet. Also these ones I get sent over directly from Jakarta because in Bali it costs me 100,000rp for 3GB. No picture because… they’re sim cards – you know what they look like.

Bali Budda splurge! I normally avoid shopping here because everything is so expensive and I spend a fortune (and it’s full of hippies) but it’s one of the few places to get decent baked goods and western/healthy ingredients …


  • butter 45,000rp (£2.32)
  • Balsamic vinegar 46,00rp (£2.37)
  • Local mozerella 46,000rp (£2.37)
  • wholewheat flour (finally!!! been looking for this everywhere although i didn’t check the price before I bought it and I definitely won’t be buying it again. As you can see from my previous shopping, this is 10x the cost of normal flour. Bah.) 96,000 (£4.95)
  • dried apricots 19,000 (£0.98)
  • honey oat cookies 25,000 (£1.29)
  • peanut butter 35,000 (£1.80)
  • raisins 15,000 (£0.77)
  • Granola 25,000 (£1.29)
  • Rabbit not included

total including tax 387,200 (£19.97)

Final total = £99.71

So there you go – how to blow £100 in Bali. Money goes suprisingly fast – I’ve been away for so long that I don’t have any concept of prices in the UK any more but I feel like Bali is not as cheap as everyone thinks it is. Yes maybe if you do all your shopping in the market and live off rice and vegetables and tempe, but that gets boring fast, trust me. Western and imported food is expensive here I think, plus there can be a big difference between shops. Ubud, where I live is now the most expensive place to live in Bali. My sister in law won’t even shop in the local market here anymore – she does all her food shopping at a supermaket in Denpasar where the food is fresher and prices are more reasonable. I try to get down to do a big shop at one of the big supermarkets down south but it takes up the best part of a day and is a real hassle. It’s probably worth it though looking at some of the things I bought there – those grapes would have been double the price in Ubud.

I’d be interested in how these prices stack up against other places around the world (and Indonesia – anyone from Jakarta want to chip in? Erica? Eric? Ha, just realised you both have the same name….

Thanks again to International Currency Exchange for letting me go shopping! Want to see what I can get for £1,000 next? :p


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Can’t believe my little girl is so grown up! Last week Maya turned 4, which she’d been looking forward to practically since the day after her third birthday (she’s obsessed with birthdays!) She got a play kitchen from Grandma,  I got her a play tent/bus (which turned out to be the best present EVER!) and we had a little party complete with my first ever attempt at home made birthday cake! Happy days :)

See Maya’s third birthday / second birthday / first birthday - I love looking at how much they’ve all grown!


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Kiran sulking because I wouldn’t give him an ice lolly because he wouldn’t go in the bath and Maya making letters out of play doh


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I’m just going to stop pretending that I’m even trying to publish these on time any more.

Kiran photobombing in the second shot just cracked me up!

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