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Sweet Swap for Santa

http://eepurl.com/cl7V4n

Can you believe Christmas is less than 7 weeks away?

I LOVE this time of the year. I know its crazy busy and life is hectic but Christmastime is definitely my favourite time of the year.

For me, Christmas really is about Love, Joy & Hope. It’s about sharing kindness, love and generosity with each other; it’s about spending quality time with family and friends; it’s about adorning your house with fairy lights and decorations; it’s about delicious home cooking and of course it’s about the hope that comes from Jesus.

This year I wanted create a little community of people who love Christmas, love being generous, love creating new friends and love baking. So I created a Sweep Swap! It runs like a Secret Santa but all of the gifts are home baked sweets. It’s so easy to play… Sign up, bake some sweets, package them, send them away to the person you have been allocated to, and then wait patiently for a parcel of sweetness to pop into your own mail box.  I’m so happy some other gorgeous businesses on Instagram have caught my vision and want to be involved. We’ll also be running a few giveaways throughout the swap, but really, everyone who plays is a winner anyway!

So if you are in Australia and you enjoy baking I would LOVE you to participate. Read more about it and sign up here… http://eepurl.com/c8y_ij

I think a lot of us like to be generous but we are convinced we need to be wealthy to be able to give. You can be generous and make people smile in so many ways; with your finances, time, skills, encouraging words etc.  This swapsie is just a simple little way to give of your time, talents and although there is a small cost financially (ingredients and postage) if you are anything like me you will rush off to the post office (possibly skipping and singing Christmas carols on the way) feeling all warm and fuzzy knowing in a few days you will be making someones day even sweeter. x

Precious Children of Phrae, Thailand

Last month my Mum jumped on a plane and headed to Chiang Mai, Thailand.  The majority of our trip was actually spent visiting a orphanage 4 hours south of Chiang Mai, but we also enjoyed a few days exploring this easy going city of northern Thailand.

This was my second trip to Mercy International – Ban Meata. I was fortunate to visit for a short time 3 years ago and completely fell in love with the children and the work everyone is doing there.

 

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The sweet, little precious children who call this village home are so blessed to live in a healthy, stable, safe, nurturing environment. Obviously it’s not perfect, but it’s SO much more than the places they have come from. Some lived in slums where their parents were so addicted to drugs they couldn’t care for or even recognise their own children; Some children were abandoned or given up; many of their parents are in jail for drug trafficking. Because of these circumstances children were often living with other family members who couldn’t afford to feed them. I learned that prior to moving to the village one precious baby girl was being fed watered down condensed milk simply to survive.  We are so particular about brand names and safety ratings and what is technically and politically right – but children all around the world are being fed anything (ANYTHING!) just to have a slight chance at living. Millions of children around the world die from hunger each year, with poor nutrition being the cause of approximately half the deaths in children under five. It’s estimated that even here in Australia almost a couple of million people live below the international accepted poverty line.  In Thailand there is a huge issue with addition to drugs (and trafficking them), specifically in this region, and of course there is the issue with abuse, prostitution and human trafficking all around the world. Well over a million children are caught up in the business of human trafficking every year, and this heartbreaking figure does not even include adults. The statistics are hard to comprehend and although you and I can’t change the world we should never underestimate the impact of one small act of kindness; a hand written note, a donation to charity or the impact that sponsoring a child has on a family and their whole community.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much – Helen Keller

Thankfully all of the children in this orphanage are healthy and very happy, even though some of their parents are terribly sick and living with HIV. These children are living in a safe and protected environment. Their young lives have been filled with more challenges than I could possibly imagine, and yet here they are – full of smiles, laughter and energy; full of love for each other and appreciation for the simplest things in life. They are all being fed well and are starting to be taught about nutrition which will hopefully break the cycle they have been apart from.
Each child has a warm bed to sleep in, clean clothes to wear, something to love (many siblings and also toys). They are all getting a great education and learning English, which means they will all be completely fluent in it and will very much surpass the level they would learn just at school. This understanding of English will be so advantageous and is bound to open many more doors once they are old enough to study or seek employment. These children have all been given hope of a bright, beautiful future.

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What a blessing it was to be able to see these children thriving. It was such a joy to be able to hug, comfort, play with, create with, teach, encourage, pray for them and just love them. Although I left a little disappointed, with the feeling that I could/should have done more or been more productive, I know the time I spent with these children and the other volunteers was special and the experience has enriched all of our lives.

With Christmas coming up, I encourage you to try to think of a way that you and your family can bless others less fortunate than yours.  In the words of Anne Frank…

No one has ever become poor by giving.

Jen x

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A Copper kind of Christmas

You can find splashes of copper in all homewares stores at the moment, but even if you don’t want it around house, I’m pretty sure if we’re being honest we would all admit that a touch of bling is always welcome at Christmastime, right? I’m completely in love with it and so it just made sense to base this years range of Christmas cookies all around these trending colours.

Love Bites Cookies

This little copper tree is in my house this year (thanks Mum!) and to make it even more Christmasy, I just placed some copper and gold baubles on a bunch of berry blooms I got last week.

I love that you can pick up super cheap, beautiful products at places like Kmart & Target at the moment. Hello prettiness!

These packs are now available to order online now! I’m hoping to do the last Post Office run early next week, so make sure you email me if you want some cookies or go straight to Love Bites online store and order some. They make gorgeous little gifts. x

Love Bites Cookies Love Bites Cookies Christmas CookiesP.S. Hope you are enjoying December so far? I know its a crazy busy time of the year and we are all under a lot of pressure.  Remember to take a moment to stop, breathe and soak in some of the hope and joy that this season brings with it. Hopefully this email has added a touch of sparkly prettiness to your day.  Big Kisses,  Jen  x

Daydreaming…

I always daydream of travel much more on Mondays.

I guess it’s really just a version of escapism. The freedom of the weekend is well and truly gone and the reality of work and busy schedule of week ahead makes me want to run to a place far far away.  Even though I enjoy my job and I love working for my little business  my love for travel often takes over. On Mondays I dream about running away to a place where I can eat exotic foods and wander streets and alleyways aimlessly for hours…

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Yes, I’d like to sit, eat and soak in the surroundings of sweet little cafes;

Discover old, pretty, colourful tiled floors and walls covered in bougainvillea;

Spot cats sun-baking on the front steps of beautiful homes with colourful doors;

Pick wild flowers from fields covered in a blanket of colourful blooms;

Dip my toes in all the oceans of the world;

Wander through exotic fabric shops and design outfits in my mind;

Sit and drink cocktails while watching boats sailing in the sunset;

Peruse supermarket aisles and examine the different ingredients;

Hide away in peaceful botanical gardens in the centre of major cities;

Buy local produce from farmers markets and enjoy spontaneous picnics;

Stroll through antique shops and wonder about the stories each piece would tell;

Climb mountains (ok maybe just hills) and admire the view from the top;

Embrace different cultures and attempt to pronounce words in foreign languages;

Go in search of amazing architecture;

Bush walk and discover natural beauties;

Learn how to prepare and cook local, traditional delicacies;

Bike ride aimlessly through new streets lined with lush trees.

(sigh)

These are the things I daydream about each Monday…

But… work is waiting, business is bustling and the week has only just begun!

Hope you have a good one x

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You make my heart melt!

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Since it’s Valentines Day tomorrow I thought I would share my yummy Melting Moments recipe with you. You can easily whip these up to share with the people who make your life sweeter.

 

INGREDIENTS//

Biscuit
270g butter (softened to room temp)
1/2 cup cornflour
2/3 cup icing sugar
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Icing
80g butter (softened to room temp)
2 cups Icing sugar
Flavouring (eg 1 Passionfruit or 10 frozen raspberries or zest & juice of 1/2 lemon).

 

METHOD//
Biscuit

Set the oven to 160 degrees celsius.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and icing sugar until it’s light and fluffy.
Slowly add the cornflour and flour to the creamy butter mixture and beat at a low speed until combined and a dough has formed.
Use your hands to roll the dough into balls and place them about 4cm apart on a tray lined with baking paper.
Push the balls down slightly with a fork (dipped in flour to prevent it from sticking).
Bake in the oven for approx 16 minutes (depending on the size of your biscuits).
It’s best to take them out before they start to brown as this will make them softer and melt in your mouth.

Icing

While biscuits are cooling you can make the buttercream icing.
Beat butter and 1 cup of the icing sugar together for about 3 minutes until it’s fluffy.
Add in flavoring of choice. The fruit will add more liquid to the icing which will change the consistency. Start adding some of the remaining icing sugar (and perhaps a bit more) to bring the buttercream back to the original fluffy consistency.

Once biscuits are cool you can fill a piping bag and pipe a generous serve of buttercream onto 1/2 of the biscuits. (If you don’t have a piping bag it’s fine to use a spoon or knife to dollop the buttercream on). Gently place a similar sized biscuit on top to sandwich them together, pushing down slightly to secure it. Let biscuits sit for an hour before packaging to allow time for the icing to set. Dust biscuits with icing sugar.

 

These melting moments are oh so yummy and always get gobbled up fast so enjoy one while you can! x

Feb 14… The Day of LOVE?

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What does Valentine’s Day actually mean to you? Is it just an excuse to do something sweet? Is it the freedom to make a big, huge romantic gesture to someone you have admired forever? Is it a day of pressure because the world is telling you to prove that you love someone? Or is it a bit of a depressing day because the whole world seems to be in love and it makes you sick?

All throughout my childhood on 14th February I would open my school lunchbox to find a special surprise my Mum had put in there.  Sometimes it was a handmade little treat, other times it was a small heart shaped chocolate. I remember even from a young age knowing it wasn’t about the gift itself, it was about the thought behind it.  Sometimes simple little gestures can have huge impacts.

This Valentine’s Day I will be sending surprise packages out to a few of my friends, which I will to continue to do around the 14th of each month for the duration of the year. I’ve created a range of Valentine’s Day cookies and although some of them are directed towards couples (ie: The perfect pair), others are just pretty, girlie and oh so lovely – so really they are perfect for anyone.  We should be sharing love, kindness and generosity each and every day; we should regularly be showing people that we care and that we place value on them. So this Valentine’s Day, my challenge to you is to make something sweet, write some cards, buy little gifts or just send a few emails or messages – whatever it is, use this day as an opportunity to remind the people in your life that you love them and appreciate them. x

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The Perfect Pair

Au revoir 2014

We do not remember the days, we remember the moments – Cesare Pavese

Love Bites 2014Love Bites 2014 (click to play video)

2014 was filled with many moments; some were amazing, some shocking, some bad, some exciting and some were simply unexpected, wonderful, beautiful, fleeting moments. Whether they impacted me positively or negatively I have certainly taken something away from each of them.

This year was full of adventure (as each year is!) I experienced so much more than I thought I would.  I find myself if a better place and I am more content than I was 12 months ago.  This doesn’t mean I’m 100% happy with each component of my life, but honestly, I don’t think we are ever really blissfully happy with everything.  If we were, we would stop trying. We would stop pushing ourselves to grow, improve and achieve more.

Life here on earth is short. These are the days that make up your unique life story, so if you don’t like the place you are in, now is the time to make some changes. If you aren’t living a life you are proud of, now is the time to make alterations. If you are searching for more, now is the time to find answers. I’m not saying go out and quit your job, become a gypsy and live carefree for the rest of your days. You may not be able to make dramatic changes and even if you can, it’s possibly an unwise move to make! You probably still have to work to earn money so you can pay mortgages and eat.  And yes, I understand you might still have to cook dinner, clean the house, walk the dog, get children bathed, fed and in bed by 7pm. But even with these commitments you can make small little changes that will improve your life, and I guarantee the other people in your world will adjust- in fact they will probably even benefit from them.

It’s interesting looking back at my 2014 ‘to do’ list and seeing which ones I crossed off. I wrote it on 1st January and didn’t look at it again for over 6 months. I found it so refreshing to see that my life has headed in the direction of my goals and without realising it I was in the process of achieving most of them! So very cool!! Of course there are a few things that I didn’t accomplish, so I will need to carry those over to my 2015 ‘to do’ list.

Are you a goal setter? I never used to be (and I probably wouldn’t say I am a huge one now, as my goals don’t have strict timelines) but do I think it’s good to sit down, think/dream/pray (yes I do all three) and create rough plan for some things.  It’s best to set yourself some small super achievable goals as well as bigger long term goals that you can strive to accomplish… and its super important to remember, whether you are ticking off your to do list at an alarmingly fast pace or you are taking a rest from doing so much, try to enjoy the season you are in.  If it’s good, be thankful for it, enjoy it because it won’t stay exactly as it is forever. If it’s a hard season, be thankful for it (yes I know this is easier said than done), learn what you can and understand that it will not last forever. Each season of life has challenges, but try to look beyond those mountains and enjoy the special moments you are given. There are there, soak them in and smile.

Happy New Year my friends x

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. – Hal Borland

Mud

Confession: I like things to be pretty and styled and perfectly placed… but I’m just as happy with natural, simple and easy.  I don’t mind mess (I actually enjoy making it – It’s the cleaning up process that I find quite draining!). I don’t care about getting dirty. In fact I love mud.

Mud

Love Bites egLove Bites Lifestyle

As a 3 year old my parents would find me most days in the backyard, sitting in the dirt at the bottom of our slippery slide, mixing dirt and water together to make mud. Once it was the perfect consistency I would scoop it into cake tins and deliver it around to my neighbours, gifting them with a delicious (obviously that’s rather questionable!) pie.

In my early twenties I started a business baking and decorating cookies and cakes. I’ve spent thousands of hours standing in the kitchen whipping up sweet treats. I’ve tested and trialled recipes until I think they are just perfect (tough job).  It was and still is very important to me that my edible creations taste as delicious as they look and my chocolate mud cake is a definite crowd pleaser.

And now, in my early thirties, I have just launched an online store (YAY!) which predominantly sells handmade ceramic and clay (or in other words mud) products.  When I started working with clay I was instantly filled with joy and inspiration. Just like baking, this business venture started with love, it started with a passion for creating and a passion for sharing my creations with others. Working with clay is like entering another world – a world where things go slower. It’s quiet there. It’s a world of solitude, where I can do what comes naturally to me – create. It quite possibly takes me back to the place I was when I was 3. Obviously it doesn’t physically take me back to the bottom of the slippery slide, but it transports my mind to a peaceful, creative, limitless place; a place with no fear, worry or judgement; A place of complete creative freedom… A place I love.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with different mediums and I’m so excited that my journey has brought be back to a place where I am once again sharing my creations with you.  Please let me know what you think.  I am so very grateful for your support and I would appreciate any feedback x

Love

Love Bites Sign - ok

Love

Shock

Shock // a sudden upsetting or surprising event or experience

Sometimes shock surprises you, excites you and sends adrenaline rushing through your body… others times it upsets you, breaks you and makes your tear ducts flood open.

Something I didn’t expect to happen occurred recently and it shocked me. My heart broke. All in one little minute. All because of one little sentence.  I shouldn’t really be surprised. Life has thrown some unusual curve balls at me over the last few years; some of them were amazing and some of them were like living through hell. Some of them were consequences of my own choices and some of them had nothing to do with me but still had the ability to impact me greatly.

It got me thinking and I wondered if there is a responsible way to respond to shock? In this situation I cried. I always cry. No, I don’t mean I cry 24/7, I just mean I cry when I’m anxious, frustrated, disappointed, hurt, scared, angry, surprised, overwhelmed, inspired, encouraged and shocked. Crying seems to be my default setting. I take things personally. I’m emotional and I always have been. I have huge highs and lows. However over the last couple of years I have invested a lot of time in myself and my reaction to shock has changed. Investing time into oneself might sound strange, in fact it might even sounds selfish, but when we are trying to develop a successful business we spend time researching, planning, looking at different strategies, speaking to people with experience, setting goals… we seek help. So why should it be different in our personal lives?  Self development is far from selfish. I have tried to learn new techniques of dealing with stress, shock and disappointment. I have learnt new ways of processing my emotions especially those that sometimes make me feel craycray. I have changed things about me physically, mentally and spiritually in order to develop me as a person. I’m stronger now. I’m more capable now. I have better relationships now and I am actually less selfish now.  I have learnt that it’s ok to have a period of pain, cry if I need to, even lie in bed for a couple of hours if I want to… but there is also I time I need to stop, take control of my actions and emotions and move on.

Flowers

Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on.
Let your tears water the seedof your future happiness.
Steve Maraboli
 

I love that quote, although I’d add the word pray in there, as it’s super important… And I’d take the word happiness out of there, as it’s not so important. Life is not about being happy, it’s about being fulfilled. Contentment comes with overcoming challenges, it comes with having a purpose that’s bigger than you. Life is about so much more than being happy. So if things are tough for you, if you are in a bit of a pickle, or if you have been left shocked and disappointed my advise is…

Cry. Pray. Forgive. Learn. Move on and continue to power ahead with purpose.
Let your tears water the seeds of your future. 
Grow. Develop and then scatter those seeds.
 
x
 
 

Pause

The last couple of weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster ride, which I guess could be blamed on a combination of goodbyes, jet lag and also brand new beginnings. First thing though – I said au revoir to France. I’m sad to say my travel adventure has finished. During the last 3+ months I have fallen more in love with France. I have fallen more in love with traveling and seeing new places, eating new foods and experiencing new things. Actually I have fallen more in love with my life.

The saying ‘don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened’ is spinning around and around my head and I wonder if it’s possible to cry and smile at the same time? Surely you can be grateful for experiences that occurred and the memories you have created but also be sad that that particular door has closed and that that season is over. That is exactly how I feel. I had the most incredible trip. I was so fortunate to see and do many things, in fact many more things than I imagined. It’s clear to me that for the last few months I was doing exactly the right thing… I was on the right path and my heart, head-space and health has all been rewarded for it.

provence

Pathways of Provence

Path

I was chatting to one of my very wise and adventurous friends a few days ago (when I was sitting at the airport) about how sad I was that my travels were all coming to an end and she said ‘adventures don’t have to end, there is just a little pause before another one begins‘. It’s such a simple but accurate answer.  So with that in mind I’m embracing the ‘pause’ and being thankful for it because with it comes many great things; the chance to spend time with my family, friends and my beautiful Sari girl.  It also gives me the opportunity to take on new challenges and start a new job, create new friendships and spend time focusing on my business.

So if I keep thinking along the lines that this time is a just a ‘pause in my adventure’, does that mean that my life will now be unadventurous and dull? One of my fears is that my life will all seem a bit mundane now. I don’t want to go back to the same thought patterns, the same discussions or same problems I was having 4 months ago, I want to keep living (like really living!) I want to keep looking at things through new, fresh eyes and with a renewed energy and joy.  I want to continually learn and grow, constantly creating a better version of myself.

I choose to believe that my trip ended because other doors are going to open.  If I had doubts before that God is really in control of my life, over the last few months they seemed to melt away like snowflakes on a warm day.  I trusted and he provided.  I’ve actually already seen a few more doors open for me and I’m incredibly thankful for them and excited about them. I’m looking forward to seeing where my new job will take me; what I will learn and how I will grow.  I want to positively impact the people around me.  I’m also looking forward to showing you some of my new Love Bites Lifestyle ranges, which are so pretty and perfect for Christmas. (Want to see them?)

The opening of new doors and new beginnings are always an adventure, so it seems that even the time while my travel adventures are actually on ‘pause’ will become an wonderful adventure of its own!  Are you living a grateful, enjoyable, adventurous life? Let’s do this together… x

doors

Doors of France

 

 

Lovebites lifestyle