How expats can get their TV fix from anywhere in the world

In general, I’m pretty much in love with my life in Bali. I mean, summer, gorgeous rice field views, yummy food, friendly people – what’s not to love right? However it’s true from time to time that I do wish I could just pop back to the UK for the weekend. It’s the little things I miss the most like crappy junk food and UK TV. Well hallelujah, I have the second one solved. If you know of an Indonesian shop that sells crappy UK junk food, please let me know.

I’ve tried a few different proxy services for accessing UK websites in the past. If you can get sites like the BBC and Netflix to think you’re in the UK then you can freely watch UK TV from the BBC and channel 4 online and you can also get around any pesky site blocking (Indonesian internet service providers like to block sites randomly for no reason). There are quite a few of these proxy services around but they’re not that easy to use (requiring you to fiddle with your internet settings which may or may not break your internet connection) and not always cheap either.

To solve all these problems, let me introduce: TunnelBear!

This is most definitely the easiest service I’ve tried. All you need to do is install a small software program, select your country and turn it on and off as you need. It just works without any fiddling under the hood and it’s cheap too – in fact you can download and use it free for up to 500MB per month and then only $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year for unlimited usage.

PC app - country list

I’ve been using my TunnelBear account for all sorts of things. As well as watching tv, it’s handy for any website where you get that annoying message “this service is not yet available in your country” like Spotify and it’s also useful for online shopping when I want to order something in the UK but the website ‘helpfuly’ redirects me to it’s global or Indonesian site. It also helps to keep your personal details safe when you’re using public wifi networks.

Also it’s a super cute app – I mean it’s all bearified! And it has fake wood panelling and everything! Oh there are also versions for Android and iOS so you can use the Netflix and BBC iplayer apps on your phone or tablet.

Android - connected

I’d really recommend this software to any expat or anyone travelling. As it’s free, you’ve got nothing to lose – just download it, install it and turn it on – super easy!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by TunnelBear but my opinions are my own

Green Scene Giveaway

I have yet another giveaway for you! Great for picnics with the family this summer. US and Canada only sorry :( but if you’re looking for a worldwide giveaway, go check out the Matilda Jane one a couple of posts back :)

Go green this spring with these great eco-friendly products! Take your snacks on the go in an eco-friendly snack bag or reusable food pouch that is also super easy to clean! Ensure your child’s sleeping surface is clean while traveling with a Naturalmat Top Mat, and keep your kitchen tidy with an odor-free counter top compost collector. These wonderful products were contributed by our amazing sponsors and we are excited to offer you the chance to win them all!

Yummi Pouch BrightsYummi Pouches are convenient, refillable and reusable food pouches that hold blended snacks for kids. Yummi Pouch Brights feature four colorful patterns, a resealable top opening and a stand-up bottom. The insulator sleeves keep the pouch cool while traveling and also protects against accidental squeezing. Yummi Pouches make it easy for kids to take healthy smoothies on the go.

spbang snack bags

spbang’s reusable snack bag is big enough to hold a sandwich or sticks of veggies and fruit! Replace your daily lunch throw away bags for your children or spouse by using these unique reusable bags. spbang snack bags are also made in the USA.

naturalmat top map

The Naturalmat Top Mat is an economical way of turning your crib into an organic one. Two layers of organic lambswool are contained within this overlay to your child’s crib. The natural and breathable materials contained within the Top Mat regulate your baby’s temperature and help them to sleep soundly.

silikids cups

silikids big kid cups are made from glass encased in a silicone protective sleeve that is easier to hold and grip than traditional cups. Their Silimap placemats feature fun cool graphic maps in several themes, cities, and countries to teach kids about the world.

kushies original cloth diaper

Kushies Organic Ultra-Lite Diaper is a great performer! Offers the flexibility of use with or without a diaper wrap and features 8 layers of 100% cotton flannel plus an inner waterproof barrier. Its adjustable hook & loop closure system offers a snug fit. Extended tabs provide optimum adjustability. Machine washable & dryable.

Fresh Air compost collector

Say hello to the Fresh Air compost collector. Unlike sealed compost containers, the Fresh Air allows oxygen to easily flow through your organic kitchen waste, allowing for aerobic breakdown. Food decomposes more slowly and stays drier during the composting process resulting in less mess, less odor and no flies.

Wean Green Blueberry Snack Cube

Wean Green’s Snack Cubes tempered glass food containers are the perfect size for every eco-chic family member. The lids are durable and have passed the ‘use’ testing machine over 3 million times per tab. The child friendly design allows easy opening for small hands and the glass is 4-5 times stronger than a drinking glass! Snack Cubes are freezer, microwave, & dishwasher safe.

Prize Gift Set

Yummi Pouch Brights gift set – $39.98
spbang
Set of 3 reusable snack bags – $30
Naturalmat Top Mat – $135
Silikids Silimap placemat – $14.95 and Siliskin glasses 2 pack – $12.95
Kushies Organic Ultra-Lite Diaper – $17.99
Full Circle Home Fresh Air kitchen counter top compost collector – $29.99
Wean Green Set of 2 Blueberry Snack Cubes – $11.99

Go Green Giveaway - green scene mom

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Matilda Jane Summer Giveaway

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Both Maya and I love Matilda Jane Clothing. The outfits are girly without being all pastel pink and I’m a big fan of the bright colours and the eclectic mix of prints. We already partnered with Matilda Jane back in December to bring you a giveaway and now we’re sharing the love again! Summer is coming for those of you in the Northern hemisphere (it’s always summer here in Bali!) and it’s a great time to get some new pieces for your little girl’s wardrobe.

To enter to win a $50 gift certificate, just leave a comment and tell me which is your favourite item from the Matilda Jane website.

Maya is wearing the Love Bug Knot top, Cloudy Puffer Tee, and Sweetheart Ruffled Leggings.

Disclaimer: Maya is wearing the pink and white outfit backwards because she’s 3 and reserves the right to be weird!

A winner will be selected at random from all comments on 17th May 2014

p.s. sadly Matilda Jane don’t make boy’s clothes yet. I didn’t want Kiran to feel left out so I told maya not to say anything to him about the clothes. Of course directly after I heard her go up to him and say “Maya’s got new clothes and Kiran didn’t get anything!” Doh!

We are reading: Handa’s Surprise

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Handa’s Surprise is a beautifully illustrated story about a little girl in Africa. She takes a basket of fruit to her friend in the next village but one by one each of the different fruits is stolen by an animal in the road. Maya and Kiran both love naming the different fruits and animals and think the whole concept is hilarious. Amazon are also describing this book as a math book which is kind of weird… I guess i need to think out of the box more! Anyway we all love to read it and I highly recommend it :)

Sponsored Video: Asus Fonepad with Intel Inside

asus-fonepad
Tablets have become pretty ubiquitous these days and pretty much everyone I know has one. I remember when the iPad first came out and everyone was talking about how useless it was – no keyboard? too big to carry around in your pocket? Who’s going to buy that? Hahaha… I totally missed the trend about to explode into our world and got a netbook instead.

Now everyone has some kind of tablet. Even my technology-averse step mother who doesn’t like smart phones because they’re too complicated (hi Sue!). I use mine mostly for watching videos, reading books, checking email, instagram and a bit of web browsing. In fact I’m quite lost without it. When my first tablet got stepped on and broken (never buy a cheap chinese tablet!) I felt quite bereft and couldn’t wait to replace it.

My tablet doesn’t have a camera and microphone on it which I didn’t realise when I bought it and was quite gutted about actually. As my family live on the other side of the world, I’m a frequent user of skype and it would be much more convenient to call them from my tablet than it is on my laptop. So the idea of making calls with a tablet – sure, why not? In fact, why aren’t all tablets phones? Why should we have to carry around multiple devices in this day and age when you can put more processing power in your pocket than was used to send man to the moon?

So the Asus Fonepad makes total sense to me. This is a tablet with the functionality of a phone, otherwise known as a phablet – riduculous name, fonepad is much better!

There are already large smart phones available, which are often ridiculed for being too big to use as a phone. But what if you don’t use the phone much anyway like me? I’m much more likely to be doing other stuff on my tablet and making the odd phonecall, rather than the other way around. I carry my tablet everywhere with me anyway and rarely do other stuff on my android phone because the screen is too small.

Watch the video – what do you think?

This post is sponsored by Asus and Intel but all opinions are my own.

A day in the life

Ubud Bali sunriseI’m completely obsessed with day in the life type posts from other bloggers and I’ve been meaning to do one of my own in forever. However I never quite manage to get organised to do the beautiful photo a day type posts that I’ve seen (I would still like to do one of these in the future and already talked about doing a post swap with another blogger so maybe you’ll get one yet).

Anyway as I work from home on random different things and Made sometimes works too, every day is different so there’s no real typical day. Some days I’ll have the kids all day and get no work done. Some days Made takes them both over to his parents and i get loads done (or lately mope around the house missing my children). Some days I have Maya and Made takes Kiran out for a bit, or vice versa. Some days I meet a friend for coffee or we all go out to the beach.

So this is just a random day – nothing special. This was back when my internet was down for most of the day and Made was taking the kids out most afternoons. Times are estimated up until late afternoon when i got the idea of this post and basically got carried away with cataloguing my every waking minute. Sunrise photo is by my dad because I’m never up that early :p

7am – I wake up thanks to my nature sounds alarm clock app. The only reason i’m able to get up at this time is that I forced myself to go to bed at 11pm last night. Anything less than 8 hours sleep and i find it incredibly difficult to crawl out of bed. I would go to bed earlier but as the kids go to bed so late, that would mean zero grown up time in the evening (update: I’ve been enforcing a fairly strict bedtime routine and this is actually improving with them both being asleep by 8.30-9pm now. hurray! I’m going to try and move this back a little every night until I get to a 7.30 bedtime. Fingers crossed!)

Made is out. he can’t sleep past 6am no matter what time he goes to bed. I wish I had his early riser genes.

7.15 -  I’m attempting to shower when Maya starts howling at the door. This is why I can never get up early and get anything done – the kids sense when i’m awake and wake up too.

7.15 -  I put charlie and lola dvd on, close the door to avoid waking sleeping Kiran  and go back in the shower. 2 minutes later I hear kiran wake up too. Doh.

7.30 -  Kids are already in charlie and lola stupor. i normally avoid tv this early but i need to get showered and dressed somehow. I bribe them outside by bribing them with stickers and glue and glitter. Maya wants me to help so i stay and make silver glitter glue hair on an angel and try to stop Kiran from eating pompoms

8 - I pack the craft stuff away, exchanged for paper and pens. Kiran is busy riding his bike. I down a large glass of water and start cooking breakfast. Up until fairly recently i always started my day with coffee and cake but i’m trying to be healthier. I cook eggs and spinach. Kiran screams at me the entire time i try and cook so i eventually bribe him with a game on the kindle fire.

8.30 -  I eat breakfast with Kiran. Maya already ate a jam sandwich (her favourite food) and is going through a picky phase so refuses anything else.  i make hobby horses for the kids out of broomsticks and hand puppets.

9 - I sneak onto my computer but the internet is still down (has been since 2pm yesterday). still i’m knackered already so ask the kids to make me ‘coffee and fruit salad’ with their play food while i grab a real coffee. it keeps them busy for about 5 minutes. i feel particularly in need of sugar so end up having coffee and cake anyway.

10 - The internet is back up (hurray!) Made appears over the garden wall and hands me some bags of shopping. he’s taken to going to the market every morning which he says makes him feel like a housewife, but did i ask to be a breadwinner? no.

Kids are now fighting over the kindle so i bribe them outside again with crisps. house now looks like a bomb has hit it (see photo). I need another coffee. i don’t even attempt to start work as i know i’ll be interrupted every 5 mintues but as i have internet again, i read a few blog posts while i’m consuming more caffeine

messy-house

11 – Made arrives home with a rooster and asks me for a needle and thread so he can sew up a large gash in its leg. I wish I was joking about this. The kids get an impromptu lesson in vetinary skills.

12 - Kids are busy outside with Made which is my cue to sneak upstairs when they’re not looking. at this time he usually takes them over to the inlaws house for the afternoon and it’s my chance to actually get some work done in peace. they haven’t figured out yet that i’m going upstairs instead of out of the house but as soon as they do, i’m going to have to come up with another plan. they won’t leave if they know i’m still at home.

2pm - been 2 hours and the only ‘work’ i’ve got done is replying to emails and coming up with article ideas. rubbishy stuff that needs to be done but i don’t get paid for it. need to get stuck into writing but i’m starving so will have to break for lunch first. I cook vegetables and tofu (this is making it sound like I eat really healthily but i don’t – I basically eat half vegetables and fruit and half cake and biscuits).

I eat my lunch while replying to messages on airbnb. eat 3 mangosteens for desert.

2.50pm -  I grab a glass of water and head back upstairs to get some work done. I like to move around while i work instead of staying in the same place. plus the chair upstairs is really uncomfortable. but i’m less distracted up there and i can stare out of the window at the rice fields. It’s nearly 3pm and I haven’t written anything yet. Argh. Plus my internet seems to be down again. Probably because it’s raining. Now i can’t decide what to work on first. Desperately resisting the urge to make more coffee

3.12 -  I’ve only been writing 15 minutes and i’m already fed up. 500 words down. I have about a million tabs open on my browser for research and the internet has gone down again. Is it coffee time yet? I get up and stare out of the window a bit while i wait for the internet to work again. It’s stopped raining.

3.18 -  I stop staring out of the window because there’s a guy peeing in the rice field and I don’t want to watch him. i also realised that I left the kids craft projects from this morning drying on the wall and they’re now soaked from the rain. Internet still down. at this point i would normally go do some reading on my kindle so i can still be vaguely productive without internet but i realise the kids have stolen it.

3.21 -  Internet back up – hurray!

3.34 -  It’s blowing a gale out there and i’m freezing – just like being back in the uk!

3.37 Internet down again. Sigh. Too windy? Time for a break I think. Back downstairs.I play some music (I miss music as I can’t concentrate while it’s on when i’m writing) while i tidy up the kids toys. There’s a huge thunderstorm going on outside and it’s so dark i have to put all the lights on.

4pm - I make coffee number 4 (obviously trying to drink less coffee isn’t going quite to plan today) and cross my fingers that internet is up again – it is! Back to work…

4.40 - First draft of article pretty much done (but will need another hour or so of editing before it’s ready to submit). a good thing too as the internet has gone down again :( Read a couple of blog posts I already had open in the browser.

5pm – I need a proper computer break and some fresh air so I walk over to our other house to have a shower (it has hot water!!)

5.50 I’m back, done the dishes from earlier, grabbed an apple and it’s editing time. Internet is still broken but i don’t need it for editing (luckily). all the same i call made to ask him to complain to our internet provider (again)

6.50 - Kids back, work is over!

I didn’t keep track after this but it’s basically kids playing/watching TV/reading to them until they pass out. Then I pass out. I guess I eat dinner at some point. Then wake up and do it all again tomorrow!

Travelling with kids – the world through a child’s eyes

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows that I’m really into travel. In fact it’s quite uncharacteristic of me to stay in one place for so long (even if it is true what my husband says that living in Bali is like being on holiday every day). Of course I’ve had the whole being pregnant and having kids excuse for a while but now they’re getting bigger, I’m starting to daydream about another travelling life – this time with kids in tow.

I’m pretty sure these dreams will stay dreams for the next few years at least (the Balinese frown on travelling far from home, especially not young children) but I’m hoping I might be able to twist Made’s arm into agreeing to a little family holiday in the next couple of years. My brother and I travelled a lot as kids – mostly camping holidays in France, road tripping around Europe and Thomas Cook holidays to somewhere random and sunny – my mother would have the bags packed for weeks not knowing where we were going, just waiting for the right deal to come along. I want the same for my kids.

I think it’s so important to show kids the world outside their front doorstep, no matter where they live. Everyone says how lucky my two are to grow up here and I agree but I’d still like them to see more of the world.

So here is my little wishlist of kid-friendly travel ideas. Maybe we’ll get to some of them one day

Tokyo, Japan

kiddyland

I’ve visited Tokyo several times and I love it so much. I think it would be a million times better with kids – there’s so much for them to do here and I could blame my excessive shopping on buying stuff for the kids when actually it’s for me.

Kerala, India

kerala

I never wanted to go to India before I went there. In fact I was kind of dreading it and wondering why on earth I’d put it on my itinerary. I guess it was fate or kismet or the universe telling me I needed to go there because of course I loved it. I only visited the north of India but I’ve heard such amazing things about the south – Kerala in particular. I want my kids to see it too.

Lapland

lapland

Santa lives there. Need I say more?

New Zealand

nz

I had a ticket and a work visa all ready for NZ but I never quite made it there. I still want to go and my dad returned from a month stay there a couple of weeks ago and raved about it. I’d love to hire a camper van and travel along the length of the country with the kids.

Sweden

sweden

Despite my love of  Nordic countries, I somehow never quite made it out to Sweden (and had a disproportionate number of visits to Norway) so maybe I can make it up by going back with my kids. It’s always struck me as a particularly child-friendly country and I love Scandinavian design – the kids clothes in particular are amazing. Yes ok I want to go there to shop.

I don’t know when (if ever) I’ll get on the road with my kids as the idea of travelling with 2 little people sounds kind of daunting. But I’m inspired by my friend Erica’s travels across Indonesia with her daughter (and now son too!). She’s so intrepid – like she just went to Bandung with a newborn and a pre-schooler. Insane! and inspiring. The furthest I’ve ever been with both kids is Candidasa, which is like 40km away….

If you have any location ideas for travelling with kids, please send them my way so I can add to my wishlist :)

Oh also I had photocredits for all of these but then my browser crashed and I lost all my open tabs (with the credit links) so sorry if I’ve stolen your photo – please let me know so I can give you credit!

The Solution to Bali’s Traffic Problem?

idrive

Traffic is a huge problem in Bali. In fact, we try to avoid going into Ubud in the car at all during the busiest months of June, July and August because it can take an hour or more to get across town (a couple of kilometres). There have been numerous ideas for a solution to the problem in Ubud such as pedestrianizing roads and creating an out of town car park for the tourist buses, but like most ideas here, they go nowhere.

I have my own transport issues. I’d love to be able to have more independence and get out and about with the kids. I’ve talked before about how I really want to get over my fears of driving a motorbike and just get on with it because it would open up so many opportunities for me. However there’s no getting away from the element of danger when you’re on a motorbike, especially when the kids are involved.

My friend recently moved to Bali and immediately started taking driving lessons. Good on her but I don’t see myself doing the same any time soon. The idea of driving a car terrifies me even more than driving a motorbike. There’s so much more to be aware of plus cars are harder to manouver because of their size and the roads here aren’t exactly built for large vehicles.

So I was actually pretty fascinated to read about this new i-ROAD technology from Toyota, that’s being tested in Japan (of course Japan! everything cool starts there!). It’s basically a kind of eco-friendly cross between a motorbike and a car – it’s easy to handle and takes up less space like a motorbike but offers more protection than a motorbike (and would be much more pleasant to drive in the rain!). I’d feel totally happy about putting Maya or Kiran in the back of one of these without worrying about getting in an accident or them falling asleep and falling off – i’m never quite at ease about them being on the motorbike.

The iROAD is designed for short trips in cities as a kind of alternative to public transport. The idea being that you can drive your car as normal to an out of town car park and then use one of these vehicles for the last part of your journey (some cities have bicycles you can borrow, this is the same concept just with a cute electric futuristic car!)

I think this would work great for Ubud and i could totally see myself driving one, unlike our big car/minivan thing, which i dont’ see myself EVER driving!

Plus the fact that it’s electric means that it’s greener,  so less pollution, less breathing in petrol fumes and no stressing about petrol running out (which it does here, frequently).

What do you think?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Toyota. The opinions and text are all mine.

London Fashion Week (or my secret life as a fashion blogger)

london-fashion-week

I think most of you would be surprised, based on what you see on this blog, that I am actually a professional fashion blogger. After all, my uniform of jeans, cotton print skirts, t-shirt and flip flops and the fact that I rarely brush my hair don’t exactly scream fashion. I hardly ever buy new clothes (I rely mostly on my dad’s wife aka personal stylist who brings over a huge haul of charity shop finds every time she visits) and i wore my last pair of flip flops for so long that even Made was embarrassed to go out with me (he said they were worse than rice farmer flip flops).

However, I promise it’s true! I do indeed receive payment for blogging at a well-known British fashion site (I can’t say which one as that would ruin my secret identity). While I may not be so into fashion when it comes to myself, I do find blogging about it quite fascinating. I could tell you some interesting facts about Anna Wintour and I know all about the history of London Fashion week.

Actually the more I think about it, I’m more interested in the idea of fashion than actually practicing it. Project runway is one of my favourite programmes and I did actually used to design and sew clothes and screen print t-shirts and sell them on ebay (I remember a skirt i sewed out of a My Little Pony duvet cover being particularly popular).

So London Fashion week is one of those crazy things about fashion that I find really intriguing. I’m not so interested in Topshop’s new collection, more about the crazy and totally impractical outfits that make their way down the catwalk every year. I’m talking about the crazy green monster suits, the collapsible coffee table skirts, and hybrid alien cat head cone things.

Fashion week is twice a year in London and the next one is coming up soon. It’s the sort of thing that makes me wish I’d spent a bit of time living in London, as many of my friends did, before I left the UK. It’s easy to see how you can get swept up in the excitement of such things. Made never got to see London when we went to the UK and now he thinks England is really boring. I’d like to take him to London next time and prove him wrong :p It would be a nice little weekend trip I think – there are plenty of places to stay so we could leave the kids with grandma and grandad and have a child-free couple of days. Ah, wishful thinking….

For now I will continue to entertain myself by being a part-time fashion blogger, watching project runway and reminiscing about my ebay glory days. I’m so cool it hurts…

Photo credit: Swamibu

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