Aprons4Action – get involved!

Aprons4ActionTheir four rules are simple: wear your apron, take a photo, give a little and pass it on.  These are the rules of newly formed fundraising group Aprons4Action and by following these four simple steps, you too can help take action against poverty in Erampatti, in Southern India.

Aprons4Action is a non profit organisation that isn’t trying to change the world, but simply hoping to make a difference in one small community, Shalom Community Development Projects.

Shalom Community Development Projects is a holistic care and community development project situated in Erampatti Village in Madurai, a district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  The village has approximately 1000 families with limited water supply and no medical facilities.

A small sustainable farming community is being established on 5 acres of land on the outskirts of the village to provide a place where widows and orphans can live together and grow food.  Dairy cows, chickens and ducks provide food and income and a well, bore and drip irrigation system have been installed to provide water for fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Orphaned and abandoned boys and girls and several widows live on the property and are given education, training and care.


The project also operates an afterschool tutoring program in the village, medical care program, distributes goats to poor families and provides employment and training opportunities for local villagers on the project’s farming and construction activities.

In October 2013 a bunch of kind-hearted Kenmore ladies, began sewing and collecting aprons with the goal of gathering 200 aprons to send out on individual journeys to raise funds and awareness for the project.  They wanted to see how far their aprons could travel around the world, simply by being passed from friend to friend.

Their idea grew, with many friends, family and complete strangers getting involved.  “We had people sewing aprons in Tasmania, Victoria, NSW and QLD, while others searched through every op-shop they came across looking for vintage ones.  As time passed and word spread, our apron army grew and so did our number of aprons.  We even had one apron sent to us by some one who heard about us online, all the way from the United States.   Within 5 months we’d passed our goal of 200 aprons, giving us 200 aprons to send off on their journeys and plenty more to sell.”

The Aprons4Action website lists lots of ways to get involved, including a launch event on Saturday 10 May (10am – 12 noon) at Bundaleer Rainforest Gardens, Brookfield in Brisbane. Tickets are $35 and includes a glass of bubbles, a delcious morning tea and a chance to hear first hand the story of Shalom,  and how Australian and Indian families are working together, to help women and children living in extreme poverty in Erampatti, a small village in South India.

Attendees will have the opportunity to take home one of ourAprons4Action exchange aprons to start on its journey or purchase a new apron or cut flowers just in time for Mothers Day – yes, Mothers Day in Australia is the next day!

Book your ticket to the launch here and visit the Aprons4Action website, follow Aprons4Action on facebook, pinterest and/or twitter and get involved!


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imagine you baked a cake and it changed a life

This story is a bit longer than what I usually blog on charityspam, so grab a cup of tea, sit down and enjoy this inspiring story beautifully told by my friend Danielle Crismani from #bakedrelief, published with her blessings x

daniellecrismani“You are sitting in your lounge room, watching tv, you can smell the roast cooking, the rain is bucketing down and has been for a while now, you feel totally safe in your home. Your walls are lined with family photos and the kids are playing with their cars down the hall way. You can hear the rain hitting the tin roof and you love that sound. Then, all that you have ever known is ripped from you.

Within hours, you are rescued from the roof of your home, you are cold, wet, it is dark and you and your children are terrified, all you have ever known has been swept away, you don’t have a home, you don’t know where your animals are, you don’t know if your neighbours, friends, family are alive and there is a very real chance they aren’t.

This isn’t make believe. This was the reality for so many families a few years back when the flood hit the Lockyer Valley with such fierce, wide spread and complete destruction.

So today I’m going to share a little of my story and the baked relief story.  I am going to share with you some stories which will show the beauty of Queenlanders. Im going to share with you stories so beautiful at times it has taken my breath away, brought a lump in my throat and tears which have fallen not from sadness but like a warm hug of human kindness.

Now, on a day in Jan 2011 I had dropped my two eldest children at my mum and step dad’s farm in the Lockyer Valley. They were staying there a week during the school holidays. It ended up being more than three weeks before I would see them again.

It rained heavily and driving home in that was horrific and scary. Mum was due to go to the shops the next day to restock her food supply for the week. She never made it. They were stuck as the waters rose suddenly.

The next day the Brisbane CBD was evacuated.. With nothing else to do but watch TV and see what was unfolding in SEQ, I worried. Especially the scenes which were unfolding in the Lockyer Valley where my mum and my children were.

Lots of Brisbane people swung into sandbagging action.

My boys were stuck in with my mum I was worried about them but there was nothing I could do. I knew they would be safe in the farm house but for sure there would be destruction to the farm. I needed to keep busy.

I wanted to help but I was fairly unfit and I will only run if it’s a life or death situation, or more recently if my two year old Louie has escaped my grasp and is running through a carpark.  But I know I can bake. So I thought of all those hungry sandbagging tummies and I baked a batch up lemon muffins and took them down to my SES.

Then using social media I told others to do the same.

Little did I know the explosion that would happen.

And as quickly as I am telling you this, the hashtag was born #bakedrelief.

When I arrived at my local SES the next night the table was full and a bewildered elderly SES volunteer looked at me puzzled and said “I don’t know where all this food is coming from but a young girl came in with 200 cupcakes a told us that she got her mum to drive here down here because she saw something on the computer called baked relief. What is this? Where is it coming from?” I did my best at explaining it and she said with tears in her eyes “in all the decades I have been doing this, never have I seen so much support from the community.” I knew then we were onto something.

How easy was it to show people we care, just a little bit?

As I shared these stories on my blog other bloggers caught on and world spread. QUICKLY.

 In January 2011 there were no exact phrase google searches for #BakedRelief, one word. Now there are more than 10,000.

Twitter was going gangbusters too. Trending at #2 in Australia. # 1 was qldfloods

Why was it exploding? It was exploding because this was a real, direct and simple way of providing support. …………with food.

After the flood waters receded and the clean up volunteers hit the streets to clean out the homes, we continued. Supply and demand. Both were there. We worked 20 hours a day coordinating the supply of food around Brisbane.

More than 55,000 volunteers registered to help clean up the streets of Brisbane, with thousands more unregistered volunteers wandering the muddy streets with gumboots and mops, these were called the “mud army” they didnt worry about red tape….”

During the flood clean up I saw a news reporter ask a man who was cleaning a house “Do you know the people who live here?” His response “No, I don’t know them but it doesn’t matter, he’s my mate”  This guy was just getting in and doing the job. Without red tape.

A friend of mine Mark cleaned out an old man’s house and there was nothing more to do after a crew of 10 strippe the house. Mark asked the man if there was anything else he could do for him.

The old man said “Can you have a cup of tea with me?” That touched Mark and he did have a cup of tea and a chat with him. The community had enabled this man to reach out and for strangers to become friends over a cuppa and a chat.

Which brings me to a story of a lady June who had a pose of friends in a retirement village in Brisbane. June became involved with baked relief  and told all of her friends to get baking.  48 hours later we had hundreds of scones and cakes and muffins streaming out of this retirement village. When I went to collect them June told me that she didn’t have a lot of money and couldn’t give as much to the big charities but she could bake. She said she felt helpless but what we were doing enabled her to help, to make a difference when she didn’t think she could.

Baked relief mantra is that they are not stay at home mums, they are chief executive domestic goddesses. They are not the elderly, they are mature aged domestic queens and they are not just teenagers, they are the motivated domestic princess of our time. Baked relief provides a movement motivating people who didn’t think they could contribute.

A couple of months later. And I received an email from Laura. Laura explained that their home in Brisbane had flooded and along with everything else, she lost all her recipes, all her mothers and grandmothers recipes, that she was a cooking teacher and always loved being around food. That her recipes were like a journal of her life. The ones she copied in her teenage years, her twenties, when she was first married. All gone. 

She asked if we had some generational family favourites we could pass onto her. We did that but I also gave her my brand new copy of Nigella Lawson’s current book aptly titled “Kitchen”.

She wrote to me not long after telling me that book had reignited her love of cooking and she had been reading it like a novel.

Bam! Cookbooks for cooks was born.

I would challenge others to donate a book or two from their collection at home that they no longer use.

And this is what happened.

1,000 brand new cookbooks from publishers around Australia.

1,000 books from those around Brisbane

Hundreds from rural, western Qld coordinated by Georgie Somerset and the QRWN.

So we started getting those books out to those who needed them and they were embraced. Give a cook book you don’t use to someone who has nothing. Pretty simple really!

We received a few emails from flood affected people requesting cookbooks. One email stands out. An email from a lady telling me her mother had lost all her cookbooks in the floods.. She told me all her books were from the 1960s and 1970s so it was unlikely they could be replaced but could we send some off to her.

But we did send them off to her. And a week later I received this email.

Danielle, I had to write to express my complete amazement of your help for my elderly mother and to tell you the most astonishing story. My mother had received a cookbook for her 50’th Birthday and it was so badly damaged in the floods, the pages could not be opened and it was full of mould. Mum would not throw it away because she said she would never be able to get it again. Well guess what? One of the books you sent mum was this exact book. The exact edition, the same print run. Can you believe it? Thank you to everyone involved in baked relief for brightening such a dark time for my mother.”

What a small action to change the life of another person! Donate a book you don’t use to someone who has nothing.

More flooding came the following year and people who had been affected earlier were now baking for people suffering . People returning that love they got, knowing what a difference a cake can make.

In Jan this year, three years after ¾ of the state was in flood 65% of the state is in drought which we all know now to be around 90% .

I received an email from Mrs Annabel Tully of Quilpie asking if there was anything baked relief could do for farmers in the drought. The baked relief team who met during the floods in 2011 who I call my Girl Mafia got together and brainstormed.

Together with QRWN we launched a Valentines Campaign to send #lovetothewest to the rural families suffering in the drought. We put out a press release asking city folk to bake goods that would travel well, a fruit cake or some anzac biscuits and attach a note of love and support for a farmer.  This was a chance for the community of south east Qld to send the love to our country cousins.

“This is no substitute for financial help or desperately needed rain. It won’t pay the bills, grow the hay or feed the cows. But it might nourish a farmer just for a minute, because they are important and they are hurting.”

We collected almost 3 tonnes of baked goods beautifully wrapped as gifts with notes of love and support for farmers. Notes which would touch your heart and move you to believe that a stranger loved a farmer enough to make time to bake and send them something.

Now Sally Gardiner was the driving force and in keeping us all sane during this project.

Girl guides, elderly ladies who couldn’t get out of their cars but called for Sally to come and collect their goods from the road, people who had grown up out west or had family in the country, people who had no connection to the bush  at all. But they all shared the one thing, they want to show those in the bush that they cared about the struggle of the drought and wanted to brighten their day.

bakedreliefWe were inundated. Or I should say Sally’s home was Baked Relief HQ and her house was FULL of baked goods. There were cakes and biscuits and notes and people streaming in and out and Sally’s husband was almost having a mental breakdown. I moved in with my kids and we co ordinated all the packing of 2 tones of baked goods that weekend.

We packed up every item all with love notes to a farming family attached. Notes which would move us to tears many times that weekend. Notes which would show us how much the city loved the bush. Notes which told farmer not to give up.

Pictures little grade one children had drawn about what a farm looks like and what a farmer means to them. I love this because it tells a story. The story of a teacher explaining to the kids what farmers do and what they provide. Educating these kids about our farming community.

bakedrelief picFarmers are important because yes… once in your life you need a doctor and lawyer a policeman and a preacher but every day three times a day we need a farmer. And those children know that now.

So many baked. There was Pat who was distraught that he normally soaks his fruit for 12 months for his fruit cakes, but this damn drought meant he had to pull the rum soaking fruit out after only three months. He wrote on his note with the cake “I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I did making it. I hope and pray that the angels’ share of the rum lost in transit comes back to you as rain drops many times over.”

Then we distributed 400 cakes and more than 9,000 biscuits around Western Qld to some of the same people who had donated cookbooks three years earlier. We used all resources on the ground who could help. We got mayors involved in the deliveries and neighbours and schools and on the mail run to remote farms. So how much did this cost? That first weekend we spent $22 on plastic containers. Everything else was donated. The community of people responded with everything we needed. Apart from valium which we really should have given to Sally’s husband. He was in charge of loading all the goods up onto the back of the ute and managed the transport out to St George.

We really were sending the love!

Imagine going to your letterbox and seeing a wrapped gift with an anonymous love note? Sounds a little freaky but that’s what happened.

And feedback started arriving…

Photos of farmers eating cake started appearing on the baked relief facebook page and notes about their mailbox treats.

Pat’s fruit cake made it to a home about 60km south of Mungalalla about 8 hours from Brisbane with the help of another QRWN member Annabel Brayley. at “West Leinster” about 60ks south of Mungalallaat “West Leinster” about 60ks south of Mungalalla

A mate of one of the farmers wrote to me privately to tell me that his mate had phoned him that day to tell him of the smoko kit he found in his mailbox and how thoughtful it was. He said this the was first time this guy had phoned him with good news in months.

It was most important that these baked treats weren’t feeding their tummies but feeding their hearts. We wanted the farming families to get a gift made with love and know the city cared. Each item had a hand written note, was wrapped with paper or ribbons and carried with them the best wishes from the city to the bush.

And these are all the places we have reports that Baked relief reached.

Who would have thought that baking that batch of muffins could lead to all of this? And what I say to people all the time now is bake a cake it could change a life! It changed mine.

We connected city people with city people during flood. We connected people from the bush to the city with cookbooks. We have connected people from the city to the bush with cakes and gifts of love.

When you give you can not underestimate what you will get in return.

In Proston in the South Burnett, population of 306 baked a car load full to send to the west. And the community spirit ignited in that small town was so profound that they have launched their own Baked Relief franchise where they are coorindating the baking, drop off and distribution within the community out to famers which need it. This isn’t just about sending the love, this became a project of benefiting those baking the love. We have baked relief franchises in Longreach, South Burnett, Townsville, Charleville and Emerald soon to come onboard spreading love to farmers.

Here is where I tell you a little more about me. I was not smart at school. I graduated with the second lowest grade you could get. I was married and became a mum at 19. I now have four children. I have suffered depression since I was 16. Post natal depression, antenatal depression and depression so badly at times I couldn’t work. The darkest time I’ve had was around 2009. I was drinking heavily, over medicating and it all got too much. I was hospitalised for almost a month. During my recovery I discovered a few things which would help me get through. Gratitude, sleep, being kind to myself but most of all the power of giving to others.

I realised that if you want to make a difference to your own life, start by making a difference to someone elses.

In other words I told myself. “Get off your bum, stop wallowing in your own self pity. Look around and see people struggling much worse than you and do something about it. Its going to make you feel better to give.” And guess what happened? I got better. I got off medication and I manage myself through it every day.

Depression doesn’t define me. It inspired me.

What I learned with starting baked relief is that it’s not because I am an amazing person or skilled talent. I was just prepared to try and make a difference and stood up to people who would say it couldn’t be done.. There were people who have said “how is a cake going to help?” But we proved them wrong.

What started as a batch of muffins to the SES grew to much more than what I could have ever imagined.

Since Baked Relief’s organic birth the direct giving network has helped more than 15,000 people during crisis with approximately 1,500 active bakers.

What baked relief provides is a service to those affected by natural disasters. Secondly it provides a previously untapped resource an avenue to help. And the pay it forward movement is in full swing.

If everyone in this room did one small thing for someone else in their community next week imagine the hope and joy you would see and feel.

On the table are recipe cards. This is the recipe for muffins I baked for the SES. It has simple ingredients, its easy. How about you bake a batch of muffins and share half of that batch with someone else?

What if all it took was to bake some muffins to build a better world for those around you?

No matter what your life is full of, surround yourself with people you want to support and the support and nurture you will gain will be your inspiration. Like my Girl Mafia.  Never underestimate the gift you receive when you give to others.

Charity begins at home.  We all know that means “You should take care of family and people close to you before you worry about helping others” But what If we all focus on teaching our kids to have generous hearts and social responsibility.  The world will be a better place – and of course the ONLY way to effectively teach anything is by example.

We can all be that example.

Now about that imaginary bottle I told you about. In my bottle is my day at Stonehenge, about 2 hours from Longreach. Meeting those farmers, spending time with the wonderful women I met on the Wild West trip. The laughs and tears and bonding. I am blessed to have delivered that last round of baked relief and shared the joy of giving.

Bakedrelief doesn’t belong to me, the tools and concept belong to the community.  Anyone can change a life today. Never get tired of doing little things for others. Small things can often mean the most.So I say to you…. Now imagine this…. “You are sitting in your lounge room, watching tv, you can smell the roast cooking, the rain is bucketing down somewhere else in Australia, there are murmers of drought, somewhere in our country. It may not be effecting you this time, directly, but it can.

It can affect you in ways you could never imagine, it could give you more than you will ever be able to articulate. A sense of contribution, purpose and generosity that money just can’t buy……. no-one can ever take that away from you. There is a sense of sharing that enriches the human spirit. Provides love to strangers and rebuilds lives.

Just imagine if you baked a cake and it changed a life.

Follow Baked Relief on facebook here


Posted in Children, Community, Flood relief, GIVING, KINDNESS, Pay it forward, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Queensland charity events 2014

A great way to support a charity is to attend one of their events.  In Queensland there are lots of charities who host fantastic events for you to be part of… so dust off your penguin suit or fabulous frock, grab some friends, book a ticket (or table) to one of the Queensland charity events below and make a difference!

In chronological order… (please leave me the details a comment below if I have missed any, and I will happily add it to the list.  I suspect this list will grow over the next couple of months, so please check back throughout the year)

McgrathFdn11am Friday 28th March 2014
McGrath Foundation Signature High Tea
Details: $90 pp (Table of ten $850) at the Victoria Park Golf Complex
Dress: a touch of pink
Cause: breast cancer support and awareness
Buy tickets: call 02 8962 6100 or visit McGrath Foundation

——————————————————————————- wls
6:30pm Friday 28th March 2014

Dancing with the CEOs – supporting Women’s Legal Service Details: $220 pp (Table of ten $2000) at Brisbane City Hall Dress: Black Tie
Cause: all proceeds go to Women’s Legal Service, providing free legal and social work services to Queensland Women
Buy tickets: visit www.dancingwiththeceos.com.au

——————————————————————————- VarietyOldBags
11am Saturday 29th March 2014

Sunshine Coast Old Bags Lunch supporting Variety the children’s charity
Details: $66 pp (corporate tables $1320 for table of ten) at Ramada Hotel Marcoola Cause: helping Queensland kids who are sick, dsiadvantaged or have special needs
Buy tickets: visit www.variety.org.au


AutismQueensland6pm Sunday 6th April 2014
Go Blue Hawaii Caberet Burlesque Fundraiser for Autism Queensland
Details: $60 pp (plus booking free) for 2 course meal and show at Loft West End
Cause: raising funds for specialised education, training and support services for children and adults with ASD, more info
Buy tickets: Tickets available from http://events.ticketbooth.com.au/event/3820431


Mummy's Wish7pm Saturday 3rd May 2014
Mummy’s Wish Mothers Day Ball
Details: $175 pp (Table $1500) at Hilton Brisbane Cause: helping mums with cancer
Buy tickets: visit www.mummyswish.org.au

———————————————————————————————————- ACTforKids6:30pm Saturday 10th May 2014
ACT for Kids 2014 Gala Ball - dancing beneath the stars Details: $185 pp (Table $1850) Sofitel Brisbane Hotel, Turbot Street
Dress: Formal attire with a splash of red
Cause: preventing and treating child abuse and neglect
Buy tickets: call 1300 228 000 or visit www.actforkids.com.au

———————————————————————————————————- JDRF6:30pm Saturday 24 May 2014
2014 JDRF Gala Ball – themed New York, New York
Details: $210 pp (Table of ten $2100) at the Pullman Hotel, Brisbane CBD
Dress: Black tie with New York inspiration
Cause: finding a cure for type 1 diabetes
Buy tickets: visit www.jdrf.org.au.gala


ZigZag7pm Saturday 31st May 2014
The Zig Zag Gala Charity Ball
Details: $240 pp (Table of ten $2250) at Great Hall, Brisbane Convention Centre, South Bank
Dress: Black Tie /Formal
Cause: supports sick, under-privileged and at risk children between the ages of 0-18 throughout Australia with equipment and services
Buy tickets: phone 1800 944 924 or visit www.zigzagfoundation.org/gala-ball


Starlight6pm Thursday 5th June 2014
Starlight Five Chefs Dinner
Details: TBC Sofitel Brisbane Central
Cause: transforming the lives of seriously ill and hospitalised children Buy tickets: call 07 3456 0408 or email caroline.soady@starlight.org.au


varietyQLD6:30pm Saturday 14th June 2014
2014 Variety of Chefs Ball
Details: $275 pp ($2750 table of ten) The Grand Ballroom, Hilton Brisbane
Cause: helping Queensland kids who are sick, dsiadvantaged or have special needs
Buy tickets: Phone 07 3907 9306 or visit www.variety.org.au

—————————————————————————————————— PerryXSaturday 14th June 2014
“Everything is Possible” Gala Dinner – supporting Perry Cross Spinal Injury Research Details: TBC at Jupiters Casino Gold Coast
Cause: finding the cure for
Buy tickets: email events@pcsrf.org.au

—————————————————————————————- BFF
Friday 20th June 2014
6th Annual Bulimba Fashion Festival for Charity
Details: TBC at Oxford 152 Bulimba
Cause: All proceeds to Australian Liver Foundation To provide hope to people living with liver disease whilst working tirelessly in an effort to help develop a World without it.

———————————————————————————————————- Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.25.28 pm7pm Saturday 21 June 2014
RBWH Foundation 2014 Right Royal Affair
Details: $200 pp (Table $2000) at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
Cause: To fund life saving medical research conducted at RBWH Buy tickets: call 07 3646 7588 or buy online here

——————————————————————————————————— hearandsaySaturday 23rd August 2014
Annual Thiess Ball 2014 supporting Hear and Say
Details: TBC at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Bank
Cause: Helping deaf children to hear, listen and speak
Buy tickets: email fundraising@hearandsay.com.au

———————————————————————————————————- PJFFriday 12th September 2014
The Pyjama Foundation’s 10th Birthday Annual Gala Ball Details: TBC at Hilton Brisbane
Cause: creating positive relationships for every Australian child in care

There are lots of other ways you can help a charity’s event be a huge success:  1. Share your favourite charity’s event on your facebook, twitter, email 2. Donate at prize for the event 3. Volunteer at the event (pre event admin, helping set up the room, selling raffle tickets, helping pack down the event, or you could donate your skills)

Posted in Brisbane Events, Children, Community, CSR, GIVING, KINDNESS, Mummy's Wish, Uncategorized, Variety Queensland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Over the weekend, I received this email from 1 Million Women, a community of daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers inspiring climate action. I urge you to take action: 


Image from Sunshine Coast Daily

Dear Tara,
In a disgraceful decision, the government-appointed authority that is meant to protect our Great Barrier Reef has instead cleared the way for 3 million tonnes of dredge spoil – the equivalent of 150,000 big truck loads – to be be dumped on the seafloor inside the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage waters. This to make way for a giant coal port expansion!  

This is just the latest outrage plunging the future of the Great Barrier Reef into crisis.  In June this year, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will consider listing the reef as ‘World Heritage in Danger’. 

Over recent days thousands of 1 Million Women members have emailed the Prime Minister demanding protection for the Great Barrier Reef. Our Facebook has exploded with anger over the shameful treatment of our natural wonder.

1 Million Women is asking the Prime Minister:  To urgently act and halt developments that are threatening the Reef -  to save it for future generations.

Please join our stand for the REEF by:

  • Emailing the Prime Minister now at this link – EMAIL THE PRIME MINISTER
  • Sharing this email with your networks and urging them to act too.

Thanks a million
Natalie Isaacs
Founder and co CEO

1 Million Women has 90,000 joined and over 52,000 on our Facebook. Our long-term aim is lasting behaviour change. Our goal is to inspire 1 Million Women to take practical action on climate change. It’s easy. We will show you how.


A community of daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers inspiring climate action.

Follow 1 Million women on facebook or twitter.


Posted in Australian Conservation Foundation, Children, Community, KINDNESS | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A great goal for 2014 – Smiling for Smiddy

Last year, I blogged about Smiling for Smiddy, here is guest blog post by my friend, my get-ready-for-tough-mudder personal trainer, and an all-round inspiration, Anna Tate – enjoy!



On the list of things I do and don’t do, triathlon was firmly in the don’t.  Too much lycra, too many good bodies, too many opportunities to make a fool of myself and too many ‘cool’ kids were amongst the many reasons that kept it firmly on that side of the list.

I was, after all, the kid who came last in every race at primary school, the one who was picked last for ballgames and the uncoordinated girl in the body attack class who constantly ran into others.

Fast forward a few years and here I am a lycra wearing, coffee drinking cyclist and now triathlete.   Let’s be clear, I’m not good at either of these sports and I am still waiting for the day when lycra shows off my six pack rather than my lumpy bits, but I am loving it.

Just under two years ago I signed up for my first long distance ride with Smiling for Smiddy, a program of the Mater Foundation that raises funds for cancer research.  In my head I was signing up for a jolly weekend of pedalling serenely through the countryside on bikes with baskets.  In reality I found myself in a peloton of 50 cyclists riding close to 600km in three days.  I have never been so terrified in the lead up and never felt so satisfied in the aftermath.

After falling in love with Smiddy, I began working here in June 2013 where I head up the triathlon program.  At the end of last year we introduced our beginners tri program specifically for newbies like me.   Even with my new found love of cycling I was super nervous starting the program.  But there was something about doing it with other ‘real’ people as we laughed and joked and muddled our way through.

Most of us found something that we love and can do, albeit at very different levels.   Completing our first triathlon together was pretty cool.   We raised close to $20,000 for cancer research which we hope will change lives and in doing so managed to change our own lives as well.

Our next beginner tri program begins here in Brisbane on 4th March – 6 weeks before the Gold Coast Triathlon.  For the time poor sessions are short, sharp and early.  If you want to join our us then check out Smiling for Smiddy Tri Team

Fast Facts:
Dates – Training begins 4th March – 3 mornings per week for 6 weeks.
Gold Coast Triathlon – 13th April
Fundraising goal – $1250 – includes coaching and entry fees
Registration Fee – $75
Benefactors – Mater Foundation – funding four cancer research projects – melanoma, breast, ovarian and prostate.

Follow Smiling for Smiddy on facebook or contact them via email info@smiddy.org.au

Posted in Brisbane Events, Community, GIVING, KINDNESS, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TC’s Do It In A Dress – Tough Mudder Sunshine Coast 2014

I know, I know, you thought I was crazy doing it once, but alas – I have decided to do it all over again.  I have signed up to do Tough Mudder Sunshine Coast on Saturday 16th August 2014, but this time, I am going to do it in a dress.

But the dress isn’t just any old frock: it’s a school dress to be precise (on a side note, I am secretly hoping that the guy from TV show Arrow can help me with some upper-body strength training*sigh*).


When I did Tough Mudder last year, I didn’t really know what I was signing up for.  I didn’t know what 10,000 volts of electricity would feel like. I knew the ice bath would be cold (and it was!) and I didn’t mind the thought of the mud, but signing the death waiver was a bit of a worry. The obstacles were insane and we got very, very dirty, but we had a lot of fun.  The highlight was (of course) the finish line, but a close second was when the soles of a team mate’s shoes were literally sucked off by the mud!


2013 Team Ripple Massage for Mummy’s Wish

Thankfully, my team had many supporters including Ripple Massage (thanks so much Ali) and we proudly raised well over $6000 for local charity Mummy’s Wish.

In 2014 I have chosen a different cause to get muddy for. The organisation is called Do It In a Dress and it raises funds for One Girl, which helps educate girls in West Africa.

Here is why I chose this charity.  Last year, I read a horrific news article that still makes my heart heavy. It was about an eight-year-old girl named Raman from Yemen who died of internal injuries on her wedding night. Let me repeat that: on her WEDDING NIGHT. The thought of this happening in the year 2013 incensed and enraged me. My mind raced as to what I could possibly do, from my privileged existence on the other side of the world, to stop girls so young from being married. I decided to turn my rage into action. I thought that, even if I can help just one girl, by increasing awareness of this issue and raising some funds, I feel I will have helped in some small way.

I took to the internet to find charities that help young girls in developing countries.  Here are the facts and some of the standout charities doing amazing work in this area:

Many of these websites come back to the same point: education. Watch this excellent clip The Girl Effect: The clock is ticking.

Girls in many parts of West Africa are never given the opportunity to go to school. Did you know that it is more common for a girl in Sierra Leone to be sexually assaulted than go to school?  This statistic horrifies me.

I hope that by completing Tough Mudder, you can help me raise enough money to send at least 20 West African girls to school. One Girl claims to be able to do this for around $300. I know that, with your help, we can do that!


I want you to join me in donning a school dress and complete Tough Mudder 2014. If you need some motivation to sign up, check out all the very cool things people from all over Australia have done the Do It In A Dress cause here.

So what do you need to do to join me?  There are four easy steps:

1.  Sign up to Tough Mudder and join my team here:
Simply register for the 8am start time on Saturday 16th August 2014. The sooner you sign up, the cheaper it is. Also, last year’s Sunshine Coast Tough Mudder sold out, so get in quick!

2.  Sign up to the Terms & Conditions for the Do It In A Dress fundraising team: here 

3. Start fundraising…!
Ask you friends, colleagues and family to support you in doing Tough Mudder in a dress!

4. Get a dress: Find a dorky school girl’s outfit to wear on the day. You could wear your old one, pick one up at an op shop, or you can buy one from Do It In A Dress for $20. Men and women sizes available.

Absolutely ANYONE is welcome to join our team (men and women), as long as you are committed to raising some money for the cause, Do It In A Dress. And please pass this post onto anyone you think might be interested.

If you really, REALLY don’t want to do this, but want to support this very worthy cause, an easy option is to sponsor me by clicking here.

Thanks in advance for your kind heart and generous support!

Posted in Brisbane Events, Children, Community, GIVING, KINDNESS, Mummy's Wish, Pay it forward, Uncategorized, YWCA | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top ten Christmas kindness gift ideas 2013

This is the third year in a row that I have compiled my top ten christmas kindness gift ideas – check out the 2012 Christmas kindness gift list here, many of these Christmas kindness gifts are still available.  There are so many amazing brands doing great things for good causes, check out the 2013 list, there is a bit of everything, fashion, beer, wine, chocolate, beach towels, christmas hampers, and one of my favourite gag gifts supporting Bowel Cancer Australia: Bum Shorts – yes! Read on, I hope you find something socially kind to buy this Christmas!

Bachhara1. A Bachhara Kaftan or dress (from $110)
Bachhara was born in the slums of Bangladesh where founder and designer, Amanda Ryan, was helping to run a free of cost school for slum children. With charitable donations running low, Amanda decided to take the future of her student’s families into her own hands. She started a sewing centre to create jobs for the children’s mothers, which would also generate a sustainable income for the school and its educational programs. What started as a two month volunteer trip to help the children of Bangladesh turned into a lifelong passion to empower the voice of women.

bumshorts2. Bum Shorts – proudly supporting Bowel Cancer Australia ($10 AUD)
$10 buys you your very own bum shorts – yes you read this correctly, red and white striped bum shorts will make you stand out from the crowd at any event! One size fits all!

heifer3. Your share in a goat, cow, camel, pig, water buffalo – Heifter.org (from $10 USD)
Yes so you have already heard about gifting an animal, but Heifer do things a bit differently: at Heifer.org you are actually gifting a pay-it-forward animal, you see the families who receive your gift actually become donor’s themselves, passing on offspring to other families in their community, and so on. Heifer claims that their model has 9x the impact of the first animal, as offspring are given away almost in perpetuity – the core of their charity’s model is passing on the gift – learn more here.

chocolate4. Chocolate from The Trading Circle (from $6.90 AUD)
Yes you read correctly, you can buy chocolate and tick a box for Christmas kindness!  The Trading Circle is a not-for-profit ethical fair trade retailer established in Australia in 1995 specifically to support income generating projects, micro enterprises and community cooperatives to help women in dire need. Goods they produce are imported directly from these projects and sold via their stores (Brisbane, Sydney, Toowoomba, Perth), markets, fairs, conferences, website, direct marketing and corporate partnerships.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 9.17.27 PM5. A Platinum Class Lottery ticket in the ACT for Kids draw ($50 AUD)
Win a Mercedes-Benz E 200 Cabriolet valued at $111,890.  $50 gives you one in 9000 chances to win this amazing car in Lottery No.46 drawn on 15th December, all funds go directly ACT for Kids an Australian charity working tirelessly to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect. With your support, they can continue providing specialised treatment and care for vulnerable kids and families who need it most.

SeaSheppard6. Sea Shepherd beach towel ($35 AUD)
Perfect for the summer, established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Their mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

There are also tshirts, hoodies, hats and more, check it out and help protect our oceans!

ozEhampersLogoAllProfits7. Dick Smith OzeHamper – all profits go to charity (from $49.95)
Dick Smith Foods supports products which are produced by Australian owned businesses, which are Australian grown and made, and support Australian owned companies which operate in a  ethical manner – they encourage you do this by making the most powerful statement you can as a consumer, with your buying choices. Since the beginning, Dick Smith Foods has donated over $5 million amongst a large number of charitable organisations.

Sseko8. Sseko Designs tote/clutch/handbag (from $50)
Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that employs  women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money through dignified employment that will go directly towards their college educations and ensure they will continue pursuing their dreams. To date, Sseko have enabled 30 women to continue on to university. Sseko currently employ 45 women in Uganda from all walks of life.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 9.37.04 PM9. Peter Alexander 2014 Charity Calendar ($10 AUD)
Buy your copy of the 5th annual Peter Alexander 2014 Charity Calendar, all profits go to the RSPCA

CavalierBeer10. Cavalier Courage Craft Beer supporting research into motor neurone disease
Charity beer?  Too easy – buy as a gift or to consume. The beer to raise funding and awareness for motor neurone disease, find a stockist near you here.

If you are a wine lover, check out Good Will Wine too!

Let me know if I have missed any great charity christmas gifts off the list, I would love to hear about more!


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments