A life of health and wellness…with kids!


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Projects in progress

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I have started a few bits and pieces of knitting this past week – mainly because we have had a week of unseasonably cold weather in Canberra and going outdoors is just plain unpleasant. Also I have been feeling like getting on with making some winter woolens now so that when the weather really does turn cold I am well on the way to being ready. The kids have outgrown their hats and gloves and I like to have a new hat and scarf for the winter.

The above pic is a second pair of Wabi mitts that I started while watching season 4 of Downton Abbey last weekend. I am using the Amuiri Possum Merino again but this time the second yarn is King Cole Mirage in the Helsinki colourway. It has created a really pretty effect. These ones will most likely be a gift.
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These are some socks that I have had the yarn sitting there gathering dust for a few years (It is Moda vera Sock yarn from Spotlight) – somehow socks always just seemed to be in the too hard basket – the yarn is so fine and there was always the mysterious talk of ‘turning the heel’. Now I haven’t gotten up to the heel turning part yet but I am quite enjoying the process so far. There was the small problem of the 3 year old pulling out a needle when I was about 3 inches in and I tried to salvage it but just couldn’t. So I pulled it out and started over. I find the sock  just so easy – there is no pattern so it is basically just knit knit knit  – so when I don’t want to think – this is the knitting I pick up.

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This is the beginning of a Yowza Weigh it Shawl 2 – I decided to join the Susan B Anderson shawl knit-a-long and this yarn has been sitting around my house for ever. It is Cleckheaton California 8 Ply in the ocean colourway- although it is a very thick 8 ply. I have to say that i’m not loving it – I think it is mostly the way that the colour development in the yarn is working with this pattern. I’m a bit dissapointed about that because I thought that this would be the project for this particular yarn. This is the second time I have tried to knit it up into something when it hasn’t really worked.- so perhaps I need to give up on this yarn!

What are you working on at the moment?

Andjxx


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Project 333: A long time coming

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I have been thinking a lot the past few months about simplifying my life so that I have more time for me, more time to be with my family and more time to get everything done. One of the things that I would love to simplify is my wardrobe. I have lots and lots of clothes – and most of them seem to live on my bedroom floor – clean or unclean – 90% of the time.

I want to spend less time doing washing.

I find I avoid doing my own washing because I know that it is going to take me about an hour to put all my clothes away and another hour to do the ironing.So because I avoid washing I wear everything I own until I have nothing left to wear – and then I have to spend an entire afternoon and evening putting away and ironing. That is not how I want to spend my time on a weekend!

I want to think less about getting dressed in the morning – know that I have a planned outfit or two in the closet that will look great.

I first discovered project 333 a few years ago and have attempted to get my wardrobe down to 33 items a number of times over the past few years. However every time I have tried I have found a reason not to just get on with it – the biggest reason being that I didn’t seem to have enough things that mixed and matched to get the who  process happening properly – and for me to have enough variety in what I wear.

This Christmas just gone (in an attempt to commence the simplification process) I have done lots of cleaning out and assessment of just what I have in the way of clothes. About two weeks ago I did a major edit and got my wardrobe down to about 60 items that I wear regularly.

Just this morning I have narrowed down the 33 items that will see me thorough the new few months until it starts to get chilly here in Canberra. Surprisingly with this slow process I have found it to be more simple than before – although I have figured out my wardrobe to mix and match a little better I feel also (with thanks to Pinterest and instagram!)

I’m not one for outfit posts but I may take pics of my 33 items and post them here and I might be able to talk my 6 year old into learning how to take a photo or two over the next few months.

Here is my list of 33 items.

1. Black Cardigan

2.Grey Cardigan

3. Red Cardigan

4. Black Blazer

5. Blue linen t-shirt

6. White linen t-shirt

7. stripe t-shirt

8. Black t-shirt

9. Black pencil skirt

10. Print pencil skirt (colourful)

11. Long floral skirt

12. Denim Skirt

13. Black shorts

14. White Shorts

15. Green canvas Skirt

15. Black work slacks

16. Skinny Jeans

17. Bootleg jeans

18. Black blouse

19. Black and white floral blouse

20. Black and white jersey dress

21. Purple and green jersey dress

22. White and black jersey dress

23. Purple and black jersey dress

24. Yellow handbag

25. Black handbag

26. silver tiffany necklace

27. Silver slides

28. Yellow loafers

29. Black patent ballet flats

30. Black court shoes

31. Neutral flat shoes

32. Red resin necklace

33. Yellow resin necklace

The only caveat I have is that I will also allow myself to wear items that I have made by hand in my wardrobe selections. I have a few items floating around that I have made that I do wear quite often and it would be a shame to have these things hiding away in the closet and it’s not like it is 100 dresses or anything like that. Just a few handmade blouses and dresses and knitted shawls.

If you would like to check out my instagram account to see if I have managed to post any outfits pics please check out @Andjxx on instagram. But I am sure they will get posed here eventually as well🙂


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Wabi Mitts for me

Wabi Mitts

I have been looking for a great fingerless mitts pattern for sometime now and when I found the Wabi Mitts pattern by Karen Templar on Ravelry over the weekend I cast on right away. I have been knitting things lately that take some time on the one project so I was glad to have something to knit that would work up fast – a little bit of instant gratification.

I have had two balls of Naturally Amuri DK Possum Merino blend sitting in my stash, waiting for the perfect project for some time.  While the project notes suggest using a fingering weight yarn, this Amuri is more of a light DK weight so I thought I would give it a go. It wasn’t long into the knitting process that I decided these gloves were quickly going to become my very favourite things. As the fabric was created, the soft, cozyness of the yarn appeared and I fell in love. So much in love that I cast on a second pair almost immediately – these ones as a gift for a friend though. I just can’t tell you how much I love wearing htese mitts – but to give you an idea – I have been wearing them and it is still summer here….

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Knitting has become my most used craft skill over the christmas holiday period as I can knit at the same time as supervising two boisterous boys who are on school holidays…although I have to make sure that I hide the project away from the littlest ones inquiring mind and he can unravel knitting project faster that you could possibly imagine…I know this from experience.

xx Andj


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Art at Home with Kids

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When the kids were little I really struggled with the idea of letting them do art at home. It was one of those things (like playdoh and collage) that these things just create so much mess …and work..for me to clean up after 10 minutes worth of painting. However over the years I have come to find little ways to work with the messy creative arts process that allows them to have the experience of painting at home – to create that mess – and for me to stay relatively sane in the process. However, occasionally I do some painting – and whenever I have my painting things out, the boys also want to join in and create alongside me. My big boy in particular absolutely loves to be doing whatever it is that I am doing that is crafty.

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Smocks are the absolute first essential – especially because i often let the kids paint using high quality acrylic paints – which just don’t come off as easily as other paints might.

My second big essential is a large piece of clear plastic (which I originally bought for a sewing project)  that I drape over the table – you can just see it in the picture above. This way they can be messy with less stress.

Thirdly – Lots of paint brushes, rollers, scrapers and other painting implements.

Four – Good quality painting materials and mediums – Artist paints, Canvas, watercolour paper etc – when the kids paint on good quality mediums, they get a better result, they can put lots of paint down and the canvas or the heavy paper can cope with it. I also let them go back to the paintings and work on them a second and third time – helping them to see the artistic effects that can be created through layering and pulling back colours to reveal those underneath. I often buy a few canvases when they are on sale in Lincraft or Riot and tuck them away. I think that it is important to use high quality paints (though not necessarily expensive paints) when the kids are painting. This allows them to experience the way that colours blend and the speed at which  acrylic paints dry. When using watercolours it allows them to experience the different effects that you can achieve with watercolour paints.

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I personally find it hard to just let them paint without interrupting their creative process, especially when I know that if they put two (or four or six)  particular colours together that they will get mud…or when one is intent on using the sponge roller to apply every colour and they just all blend into each other. The appease my own sense of wanting to jump in and ‘help’ them I will generally only offer them a specific colour palette – or if they want a particular colour I try and steer them in the direction of a colour that might work a little better. The two of them have such different personalities when it comes to artistic expression, the little one just puts the paint down and has fun, not worrying what then end outcome will be. The big one has intent and gets very cross if something happens that doesn’t match his intent – but it is all part of the learning process and I think (and I hope) that these things help him in learning that not everything works out the way we plan it too in this life.

So as to not ‘waste’ the canvas, if I am feeling inspired, I will sometimes go in afterwards an alter their painting – probably not the best things to do with the big one’s paintings but with the little one I can get away with it.

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So this is after a few layers of paint put on by the little one, I went in with some moulding paste and a stencil and added some texture, lifted some colours back and used some alcohol inks. It’s still not finished but I have lost the inspiration for it right now, but when it is done we will have a lovely collaborative art piece. Really for them it is all about the process…and memory creation. That’s the most important thing.

Andjxx


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Holiday Hapennings

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Now that the christmas period is over and we are getting back into the swing of the daily happenings of life I thought that I should come back to giving this space more attention. The garden is overflowing with produce, not completely providing us with everything we need but doing a fine job of supplementing our fresh (organic!) vegetable intake. There is art and craft happening on a daily basis and we are enjoying the outdoors during this not too hot high summer.

I haven’t made any formal resolutions for 2015 but over the past few weeks I have definitely had some goals beginning to formulate in my mind about the direction I want 2015 to take for our family. Rhythm and health need to be the main focus as we have one boy heading into grade one and one boy heading into preschool. Healthy living with less (less than we already do) reliance on processed and packaged foods in our diets. Fortifying our mental health with more crafting and time spent doing introspective artistic pursuits. Reading…novels and more intellectual tomes, and Rhythm, instilling that daily ebb and flow that helps us all to be more calm and get everything done that we need to do.

So in light of that the goals that I have set for myself include the following:

  • Read 12 books in 2015 – one per month
  • Sew (or knit) – 12 garments in 2015 – one per month
  • Try one new whole foods based recipe each week – and share it in this space!
  • Take a weekend getaway – or two – this year (We already have one planned for March!!!)
  • Learn form our work in the garden over the past year and implement these learnings so our organic produce is even better in 2015 – I’ll write about this more over the next week or so.
  • Focus on the sentiment that we have everything we need to live this life – we do not need to spend money on unnecessary wants and desires – just the things we need. (This is a hard one for me but something I need to work on!)

And thats it!! If I achieve all of these things then 2015 will have been an awesome year!

These too are the things that I will be focused on writing about this year, I really hope that anyone who does read my blog continues to do so and that I might even see some new readers hop on bard this year!!

Happy 2015!

xxAndj


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How does my Garden Grow November 3 – 16

Garden progress

Ii has been a few weeks since I have posted any garden pictures – I have been absolutely flat out with work and during those times the blog has to take second place. The garden however still gets the normal level of attention. It is my therapy to be able to go outside when I get home from work and check the progress of all my little plants. These photos are actually about  2 – 3 weeks old – the garden looks very different now. I will take some pictures this weekend.

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Tomatos and Capsicum

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Zucchini and Eggplants

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Kipfler potatos at the front and a larger variety at the back

This is the first time in a while that I have grown potato’s. When we first moved in there were lots of potato’s in the garden beds but then we renovated and all those beds had a house built over them. I will be interested to see how they go in this spot. I have buried them about 10 – 15 centimeters deep and then hilled up around the stem of the plant about 20 cm.

I didn’t have good luck with the tomato’s last year so I am hoping that this year they will be a bit better. I have done a few things differently with the tomato’s also. Enriched the holes they were planted into and had them started in pots early in spring.

Zuccini’s usually go alright here but I haven’t grown eggplant in about 5 years. Mainly because we didn’t really eat eggplant but I figure it might be nice to have some variety. I have planted Lebanese eggplants here and have a different variety growing from seed on the windowsill.

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The other thing I have done differently this year is planted some companion flowers and let some of the Coriander and Parsley go to seed – just to invite some more critters into to help with pollination.

It will be interesting to see what the result is of all these variations.

Andjxx


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Why I won’t be buying a Thermomix

THermomix free zone

Thermomix Free Zone

Yes – you heard me correctly – this post is all about why I decided not to buy a Thermomix.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to go along to a Thermomix demonstration – and let me tell you I was hooked. I came away from the demo and I desperately wanted one of those things. It was just amazing…You could do so many things with it and it was so speedy…and such little amounts of washing up…

So off I went an began to plot how on earth I could possibly begin to afford one of these gadgets. But here’s the thing..in my life right now I could simply not justify the near $2000 cost for a machine that did everything I could already do with the gadgets I already had at home.

I still wanted one.

But as the weeks of my obesession wore on I started to do some research into people who had a Thermomix and did not like it or didn’t use it as much as they thought they would. I started reading things that I found myself nodding along to. What kind of cooking did I do? Lots of quick things – stir frys and grilled meats; lots of long slow cooked things – set and forget stews etc; baking baking baking…using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Real cooking with real ingredients that I chop by hand because I enjoy the process of chopping and stirring and cooking.

How would this gadget fit into the way that I cook right now? It just wouldn’t. I had a multi function cooker that is a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer and risotto maker in one. I had a Kitchen Aid food processer and Stand Mixer, I have a Vitamix blender with the dry blending canister for making nut flours and other grain processing. I already made my own yoghurt with the Easiyo. I can make Custard on the stovetop. I can make bread dough by hand. There was nothing  that I needed to spend $2000 on a machine to do for me that I didn’t already have the capacity to do.

I completely understand the value if you do not already have all of these gadgets in your kitchen, or if you have a very small kitchen and need to maximise gadget for space capacity, or you didn’t already cook most things from scratch and you were wanting to learn – but for me – the investment would have simply been one of ‘Keeping up with the Jones’s’. So I came to my senses and decided against it.

I think they are a great gadget for the right person – just not for me.

So that’s why I won’t be buying a Thermomix.

Andjxx

 

 


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What I ate Wednesday

Food Diary 12wbt

 

I must admit that this isn’t exactly “What I ate Wednesday” – but more a selection of things I ate in the past few days….   I decided to sign up for the Michelle Bridges 12wbt again, mainly to get access to the menu plans – because the Exercise plans really haven’t changed all that much since I last did it a few years ago. They are OK (the exercise plans) but I find some of the exercises fussy and using too much equipment – so I switch them out for something that works the same muscle group.

About two months ago I commenced “Operation Get Andjxx fit again” and I was going really well for the first month and lost about 5kg – I was feeling great and really  on top of things. They I had a crash off my bike, shortly followed by another accident at  home that left me with a big gash on my leg (Which is really really ugly), and well I basically lost all momentum and just stopped exercising and eating well for the who second month. I kept telling myself I would get back on top of it and kept feeling like it was all too hard. But it was all in my head – just the simple act of telling myself it was all too hard was enough to stop me from starting. So after starting to read the book “If not dieting then what?” by Dr Rick Kausman, I talked some of my cognitions and am back on top of things again. The book is actually really good because it helps me to tackle some of my “black or white’ thinking behaviors – and also my tendency to become obsessive about every little morsel I eat.

The bottom line is I know that I feel better when I eat healthy foods the majority of the time… and I still need to lose about 7 kg to be at a good healthy weight for my body…and exercising helps with my Anxiety – all excellent reasons to get back on the wagon!

I have been pretty happy with the 12wbt food choices this week – I just changed up a couple of things to match more with things that we already had in the house. One of the things I dislike about the 12wbt food plan is that it often requires you to buy things that expensive just for one or two meals – so I will often substitute – because frankly I just can’t afford $200 a week on shopping!

This week I have been eating Banana Porridge and eggs (on separate days) for breakfasts; chicken and salad pita pockets for lunch and a variety of things for dinner – Lamb kebabs with Cous cous salad; Lemon and garlic marinate chicken and salad, Roast chicken with Asian vegetables and my favourite – Asian BBQ  cooker chicken with chinese broccoli. For snacks I have been alternating Chobani yoghurt (Coconut or banana) with Hummus and vegetable cruidites or an APple and about 10 almonds.

I will say up front that the food on the 1200 calorie MB plan does not keep me full…in fact I would wake up starving at 3am most nights (and it’s not head hunger – it is real stomach grumbling, anger causing hunger) – so I do actually consume around 1300 – 1400 calories per day on a typical day. I lost weight on this amount of calories and it basically means I have a snack after dinner – I know that if I don’t do this it is a sure fire way to a binge – so I see it as better to eat slightly more than what she recommends and reduce the risks of a binge session.

The other thing that I do to make it fit into our family lifestyle is I often will cook something different for my children – or provide them with an alternative side dish. I have fussy eaters and I would much rather they eat dinner than have the fight with them about eating at all. I will do a post about this next week actually!

Is anyone else who reads my blog following the MB program at the moment?

Andjxx


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How does my garden grow? October 20th – 26th

Posie from my garden

For the love of an abundance of flowers! I am truly grateful for spring bulbs and their reliability to provide a beautiful, uplifting display well into the spring and summer. Bulbs are something that I knew noting at all about prior to moving to a cooler climate, growing up in Brisbane – they just weren’t all that popular – and possibly not all that easy to grow.

It took me a few years before I noticed that everyone in Canberra had bulbs in their garden – but not us. When we bought our house, the front garden was planted with an easy care garden which we quickly allowed to become overgrown with a jungle of grassy weeds as we fell headfirst into the blur of being parents of small children. Somethings just get let go …you know😉

But over the next few years I slowly persisted with the weed eradication program and started putting in just a few more bulbs each autumn, and then watching how they grew. Adding a few strategically place plants here and there, and slowly growing the variety of plants that grace our front yard. It is very much a work in progress.

This year I planted some Ranaculus bulbs and I absolutely adore them. The colour and life that they add to the garden is such a delight to come home to each evening. As with any garden that is ‘in progress’ there is still much to do and many plants to be added.

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In the meantime, I enjoy the unfolding of the buds to see what colour that new plant (Columbines, Foxgloves, Hollyhocks) will bring – and hope – oh how I hope – that I get a variety of colours rather than all the same colour.

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Often my little helpers (or hinderers) are out there with me. Demanding that I take their pictures.

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I am thoroughly enjoying exploring the world of seasonal flowers and slowly trying them out in the garden to see if they grow at all in some cases, but more often that not to see the shape that the plant takes as it grows. I have planted a few varieties amidst the veggies and other plants this year to act as both  beneficial insect attraction and to use as cut flowers in the house – Cosmos, Carnations and poppies and hopefully some zinnias in summer. I planted some Dahlia tubers but I am not sure if they will grow – we can only wait and see. That’s half the joy.

Andjxx


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School Canteens and the Food Giants

evil food giants

Many of you may recall the recent *ahem* disagreement between certain high profile chefs and nutrition experts over the marketing of ‘liquid breakfast supplements’ as a healthy alternative for kids who don’t like eating breakfast.

It could certainly be easy to think that these food products have been created with the best interests of those who consume them in mind – especially considering that  Kelloggs is marketing their products in particular, directly at parents who are short on time and need a fast solution. Kelloggs marketing director John Broom is quoted in FoodMagazine saying “The new breakfast drinks are made with 90 percent low fat milk are low GI and contain around 10 percent sugar. They also score green on the Schools Canteens approval rating system, which indicates the drinks are among the best commercial products available for young children”. Sounds good right?

It’s true – they are BUT – and there is a big but – does this mean they are healthy and that it is perfectly OK for your child to consume these on a daily basis?

My question is How does a highly refined product such as this, without a skerrik of whole food (other than sugar) as an ingredient – even get onto the Green rating in the school canteens approval rating system?

Lets take a look at the ingredients?

cocopops ingredients

The reason it is allowed under the green category is because it is a low fat milk product – and low fat milk products under 375ml are considered to be in the green category. See below:

Canteen guidelines

However, what is alarming is that plain old full fat milk – the type that was forced upon our parents and grandparents at primary school on a daily basis – falls into the Amber category – Why is this so? Because of the FAT content.

Yes I understand that our current Australian Dietary Guidelines place an emphasis on the consumption of low fat food but in doing this, the green light has been given to food companies to change the composition (read increase the amount of added sugar) of their foods to ensure that the flavours, taste and textures remain unchanged. What alarms me most is that the same serving of full fat milk contains less calories than the example given above.  Remembering that it is consuming more calories than our bodies expend that causes excess weight gain – when food companies are telling us that it is OK too feed this manufactured ‘food’ to our children on a daily basis – it is not surprising that we have an obesity epidemic.  I haven’t even mentioned how the conversion of unnecessary (added) sugar in our diet actually contributes to fat gain metabolically – because others have done it far more eloquently than I. While I am not generally an advocate of Sarah Wilson and her I Quit Sugar tirade I do agree with her on the topic of ‘quitting  added sugar. If you are feeling scientific and would like to watch a video on the topic go and have a look at this talk by Dr Kieron Rooney from the University of Sydney speaking on the topic – it is truly fascinating.

Back to the milk.

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You will see that a 250ml serving of Full Cream milk contains 703kj, 12.3g Carbohydrate (which is all Lactose – no added sugar) and 9.5g Fat. In comparison, the product above contains 740kj, 24.3g of Sugar (of which 13.8g is Lactose) and 3.3g of Fat. Yes the full cream milk has more fat, however it also has approximately half the sugar – and none of it is added sugar – assuming you are not lactose intolerant – our bodies can metabolise Lactose very well. So in the flavoured liquid breakfast you get extra sugar  AND extra calories – not to mention extra chemicals in all those stabiliser and enhancer numbers.

I know that I would much rather my children to have plain old full cream milk with half the sugar (and I don’t know about your children but mine go a bit cray cray when they have extra sugar) and a little bit extra fat than the chemical laden liquid breakfast substitute.

We as parent have to wise up to the evil marketing that the big food giants use to appeal to parents and children if we are to win the battle against childhood obesity. If you think – who am I to be able to do something about this? Actually, you can!

Sarah Wilson has teamed up with Kieron Rooney to lobby the NSW government to make changes to the NSW School Canteen guidelines – and they need 10 000 in person signatures to make it happen. If you live in NSW and the food your children have access to in school is something that you feel passionate about then do your best to try and sign this petition. Every little bit of effort from an individual helps.

What else could you do? If you see a food item in your school canteen that you are unhappy with – let your P&C know, have a look at the healthy school canteen strategy (Other states have similar guidelines/strategies) – to back up your lobbying efforts. Many small efforts add up to results and your opinion can make a difference!

As a disclaimer to this post – I am not in any way affiliated with Sarah Wilson or her petition – it is simply a topic that I feel passionate about. Real food is more important than processed food and it is only though people power that we will get any government to take on multinational corporations. Additionally, I attended the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society 2014 conference last week and saw Dr Kieron Rooney’s key note presentation on this very topic – but it is the type on information that all parents should know – so if it enrages you too – please share!!

Andjxx

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