Keep Yourself Whole

Thursday, September 22, 2016

When you become a mother (or even as early as when you are expecting) people will talk about the early months and tell you how hard it is; the toll it takes on your body (and body image), the sleepless nights and exhaustion, physically running on empty, the worry, the neediness, feeling suffocated and lonely all at the same time.  Don't get me wrong, it is all that and more. There is nothing that can ever fully prepare you for motherhood and I by no means want to take away from the joys or the struggles that come along with those first few magical but delirious months.
But... what they don't tell you is what happens next. 
As your baby creeps closer to their first Birthday, they gain a little more independence and are hopefully sleeping much more than those first grueling months of constant feeding (although I do appreciate this isn't always the case for some). You may find yourself in a nice little routine and like me, you may have other children who are now off to school or preschool during the day so you are lucky enough to have more time to yourself right? So why doesn't it feel like you are onto a good thing? Why when you have now supposedly found your groove do you feel more out of sync than ever? 

What they don't tell you is that during those selfless months (or years!) of putting your children, husband and everyone else first, you forget to be kind to yourself. 

And now, when everything is suppose to be easier, when you finally have time to think, time to breathe, you exhale and realise that you are only a shadow of your former self. 

You feel socially awkward and unaccomplished, like no one takes you seriously. And as much and you hate comparing yourself to others you look around and see others achieving things that you could only dream of achieving. If only you believed you could. But then of course you understand that the grass isn't always greener and that you are incredibly lucky to have been blessed with what you have and that makes you feel even worse. You feel guilty for your negative thoughts especially because you love your life, your children, your husband. You absolutely, whole heartedly, unquestionably do. It's just you wish you loved yourself even half as much.

We all know how this story goes. It's the basic law of attraction... once you are in that negative headspace it can be hard sometimes to claw your way out. The good ol' snowball effect. Ugh, and throwing yourself a pity party is just so not your style.

You are well aware that you have achieved one of THE most incredible acts on this earth. You have created life. I mean come on, that's monumental. All this other stuff should pale in comparison right? You feel like screaming at yourself 'You've got this Mumma, you've got this'. 

But instead, you beat yourself up. You almost wish you didn't have this new found extra time to yourself because then you wouldn't be putting extra pressure on yourself to try and build Rome in a day.

Whilst in the pursuit of being a good mother, a good wife, a good friend etc. you simply failed yourself. You forgot the golden rule of self preservation: you cannot give what you do not have. So, you begin to fail at the one thing you have worked so hard at. The one thing that means more to you than anything else. Motherhood.

I once read that the best gift a mother could give their family is a whole Mum. A woman that liked herself, knew herself and respected herself enough to experience her own life. By reconnecting with the woman you once were, you are able to share more of who you are (and who you want to be) with your loved ones.
So, take some time out to regroup and refocus and to remember all those things you once enjoyed doing. All those things that make you you. Stop comparing yourself to others, log off social media for a few days (trust me, it will do you the world of good), read a book, exercise, get some fresh air, dance around the lounge room like an idiot, catch up with a girlfriend, soak in the tub. Savor those precious moments of 'you' time, they are fleeting and you deserve them. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Give yourself permission to feel what you do without judging yourself.

Keep yourself whole Mumma, keep yourself whole. The rest will follow. I'll spare you the screaming and instead leave you with a whisper... you've got this.

S xxx

Chicken, Roasted Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Rice Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Whenever I get asked what my favorite food is I am quick to answer... salad and Chocolate! Seriously, I could eat salad every day of the week providing I mix it up a little. And, well, chocolate... that goes without saying ;) Last week I threw together this salad and it was healthy, delicious, filling and super easy. The cauliflower rice was a welcomed change and a clever replacement for the usual carbs such as rice, quinoa or cous cous. I love that most of the elements can be prepped well in advance (even a day or so before) which means you can plate this baby up in no time! 


1 bunch of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 large (or two small) sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
2 skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
150 grams (1 packet) baby spinach leaves
200 grams chickpeas (Garbanzos) drained and rinsed
1 avocado, sliced and diced
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 table spoon extra virgin olive oil
Garlic and herb roast seasoning (optional)

Honey Mustard Dressing

2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil


- Preheat oven to 200°.

-  In a roasting dish, combine the sweet potato, coconut oil and sea salt along with a sprinkle of garlic and herb seasoning. Mix until potato is evenly coated. Set aside.

- In batches, place the cauliflower florets into a food processor and pulse until it resembles rice. Place in a large bowl along with the oil, cumin, salt and pepper and mix to combine.

- Spread the cauliflower mixture onto a greased and lined oven tray.

- Place both your cauliflower and sweet potato on separate shelves in the oven. The cauliflower will need about 20-25 mins and the sweet potato slightly longer (until golden and tender). Be sure to stir both half way. Once cooked, set aside to cool.

- Whilst the vegetables are roasted, grill your chicken in a pan and season as desired.

- To make the dressing, place mustard, honey, lemon juice and oil in a small bowl and stir to combine.

- Place the baby spinach, chickpeas and avocado in a large bowl and toss with half the dressing. Add the sweet potato and cauliflower rice mixing until combined.

- Divide the salad between plates, top with grilled chicken strips and drizzle with the remaining dressing.

- Enjoy!

Yum yum yum! What's your favorite salad?

Transeasonal styling: Three dresses, six looks!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ahhh, it's been a while between fashion posts so I am excited to bring you this latest piece! Since moving to Chicago, I have had to take a slightly different approach to how I shop and dress given the weather changes from hot to cold with what seems like the flick of a switch. I am learning to be smarter about what I purchase and really try to invest in items that I know I will be able to take from one season to the next. I teamed up with to create six different transeasonal looks by styling three different styles of dresses that I believe every girl must own... the 'Pretty' dress, the 'Plain' dress and the 'Print' dress. All of the items below (minus the lipstick) can all be found under the wonderful Lyst umbrella... 

Zimmerman Belle Web Dot Dress here
Saint Laurent Quilted Shoulder Bag here
Dior gold sunglasses here
Valentino brown sandals here
Christian Louboutin lip colour here 

Zimmerman Belle Web Dot Dress here
Jeffrey Campbell blue boots here
Drea faux fur jacket here
Gucci Blue Cat Lock top handle bag here
Alex and Ani Initial bangle here
MAC Ruby Woo lipstick here

Alex & Olivia Carisi flare dress here
Kate Spade Cobble Hill straw bag here
Rene Caovilla metallic espadrilles here
Charlotte Tilbury 'Bitch Perfect' lipstick here
Transparant sunglasses here

Alex & Olivia Carisi flare dress here
Chloe Pink Nano leather shoulder bag here
Wendi White Iridia corner accent sunglasses here 
THP Baby Blue faux fur coat here
Valentino gold sandals here

Kenzo floral dress here
Roberto Festa black boots here
Package leather jacket here
Maison Michel black fedora here
Chloe black Mini Drew leather bag here

Kenzo floral dress here
Saint Laurent black velour Opium Bag here
Penelope gold ballet flats here
George J Love black hat here
Tom Ford white geometric sunglasses here

Hmmm, now, which pieces should I add to my wardrobe? I have already added one particular item to my shopping cart... can you guess which one?! ;)

I'd love to know which of the six looks is your fave!

Happy shopping...

Let me re-introduce myself...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I sit here with fresh keys under my fingertips itching to type, to share, to motivate (mostly myself but hopefully others too) and eager to practice what I preach. Last week I had a beautiful, loooong, phone call with one of my very best friends and she left me feeling exactly how chatting with a best friend should. Uplifted, happy, loved, excited and so inspired. After two hours of delightful ramblings I tippy-toed off to bed with a spring in my step and my heart full of hope. But the next morning (after the madness of morning school drop offs) I had more time to reflect on what we discussed and I felt disappointed and frustrated (I'll touch on this more in a separate blog post soon) but I also felt determined, more than I had in a long time, to practice what I preach.

I often voice the importance of us Mumma's taking some time out to do things for ourselves. To set the refresh button. To achieve something (anything) for the day... because we all know how hard that can be sometimes. But in reality, I am not very good at making that valuable time available to myself. And as I chatted to my friend I was reminded of some simple pleasures that I haven't been taking the time to enjoy (the list is long) but one of these outlets is writing. Writing for myself. Writing for my soul. Writing for anyone who cares to read along with me. And it has brought me back here, to my (much neglected) blog.

Some of you have been with me since 'the start' of my blogging journey and have even stuck with me through my travels, three pregnancies and several hiatuses (thank-you!) and whilst this blog has predominantly been about food, fashion and babies, I would really love to throw in a few more personal posts to allow myself to grow some more and overcome some roadblocks that have been up for a while now. So, here I am.

I thought it might be the perfect opportunity to re-introduce myself with some fast and fun facts for those of you who are new here (and for those of you who may not already know). If there is anything else you would like to know just shout... I'm an open book... here goes!

Name: Sonja 'with a 'j' please' (other Sonja's/Sonia's and Sonya's will get this ha!) but I mostly go by Son, Gruetz, Gruetzy (my maiden name was Gruetzner, a good, strong German name), Mrs B and let's not forget Mum, Mumma and Mum Mum :)

Surname: Bouw... as in Rainbow, Bow tie, bow and arrow ;)

Age: 32

Star sign: Gemini

Occupation: Full time stay-at-home Mumma and Domestic Engineer ;) Immediately before becoming a Mum I was a Certified Fitness Trainer and prior to this I worked for a Financial Services company doing several jobs including Executive Assistant and Team Assistant/Events. My first ever job was a paper delivery girl when I was ten years old :)

Married: To my true love, my best friend, Matthew aka Mr B ;)

Children: Three beautiful, amazing daughters (all Sagittarians!)... Allegra Isobel (5.5), Anya Lucille (3.5) and Theodora 'Teddie' Sage (6 months old).

Pets: Two fish... Busy and Milson.

Siblings: Older brother, younger sister. Yep, I'm the middle child.

Nationality: Australian (although my Dad was German and my Mum's side Hungarian).

Travel: Born in Kingaroy QLD, Lived in Melbourne from age 1 to 23. Started my expat adventure when I followed my boyfriend (now husband) to Dubai at the beginning of 2008. We then relocated to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the beginning of 2010 (where Allegra was born), then again to Sydney in mid 2011 where we lived for almost three years (where Anya was born) and then most recently relocated (again) to Chicago in mid 2014 (where Teddie was born last December). Maybe I should add 'Professional Mover' to my resume ;) In the last decade I have been fortnuate enough to visit over 70 cities across 20 different countries.

Fave color: Yellow

Fave food: A big kick ass salad (boring I know) and CHOCOLATE!

Idiosyncrasies/OCD: I can only set my alarm clock and microwave to certain times. If the girls end up in our bed and I wake up for whatever reason, I will go and make their beds (sometimes at 3:00am)... nut job right here ha!

Things that freak me out: Eggplant, moths, cotton balls. Oh and walking over drains (you know those ones sometimes on the sidewalk). Random I know.

Hidden talents: Card tricks. I have an exceptional memory (well I did have before kids haha).

Pet hates: Bad manners (please, thank-you and you're welcome go a long way!), when people walk slowly in front of me (seriously, hurry to f&%k up ha!) and poor grammar when it comes to the use of words like there/their/they're (yep, grammar police right here #sorrynotsorry).

Guilty pleasure: Back (hell, entire body) scratches... I swear I was a dog in a previous life!

15 minutes of fame: I was once on 'Deal or No Deal' and featured heavily in the episode... and may or may not have said 'depends on how he handles my breasts' on national television ha!

Fears: Not reaching my full potential and disappointing my girls. I hope they will always look up to me, respect me and be proud that they have me as their Mumma.

Dreams: To be the best version of myself. To establish a career for myself. To do more travel before eventually settling back in our beloved Melbourne. Learn how to do a cartwheel. Yep, another random hee hee.

What makes me tick: Communicating with others and the powers that be. I love meeting people from all walks of life and feel so blessed to have made many special friends on my journey so far (many of whom I have never met in person). I love this crazy big but often small world of ours.

When I grow up I want to be: I'm still trying to figure that part out!

Much love...

In the Bouw Kitchen: Frozen Yoghurt Treats!I

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hello friends! Firstly, can I just start by saying a very big thank-you to all of you for your words of encouragement and thanks on my first video tutorial! Over the last few weeks I have received a bunch of messages and Instagram tags with many of you super thrilled to now be able to create your own gorgeous two toned cupcakes... and that makes me so happy :) For those of you who missed my icing tutorial, here is the link and please do be sure to tag me if you share on Instagram as I would love to see your creations :)

Now for my second video, well this is just a twist on an old favorite, frozen yoghurt! I discuss a few tips on how to make the process easier and also how you can let your little ones get involved without freaking out about them leaving a trail of destruction ;) These super fun, healthy treats will surely jazz up a plain old fruit salad and the best part is all you will need is yoghurt and some silicone molds (food coloring is optional). You can purchase the same molds I used from Amazon here and here and the gel food coloring can be purchased here.

In the video I forgot to mention that you are not limited to using only yoghurt... you can also whizz up fruit such as watermelon or pineapple in your food processor/ninja/bullet and then simply pour into your molds. I also mention the option of yoghurt drops (that may be more suitable for younger children) which I posted here a while back.

To view the video tutorial simply click here and enjoy! Again, all feedback, suggestions and requests are always welcome :) xxx

Baking with Mrs Bouw: Icing Tutorial

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hello! After a verrrrry long break from blogging I'm baaaack! And today, by popular demand, I am excited (and crapping my pants just a little) to bring you my very first video post! Let me just start out by saying I am by no means an expert and am very much just a home cook/baker BUT I can promise you that everything I share with you is tried and tested, delicious and easy for you to achieve in the comfort of your own home. It was quite the step for me to work up the courage to put myself in front of a rolling camera but after months of requests and some encouragement along the way, I have done it! So, grab yourself a cuppa, click on this link sit back and enjoy... I hope you all find it helpful! Xxx

Tutorial: DIY Perfect Paper 'Bouws' Part Two!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Most of you probably know that I get a real kick out of wrapping pressies! From choosing the paper and cards (usually some fabulous, colourful pattern clashing with some sparkle thrown in for good measure) to the actual wrapping process... I just love dressing up a gift :) And many of you might be familiar with the classic bows I have been making since my girls' party back in 2013 (link and tutorial here)... well, today I am sharing another simple tutorial for how to make the above beauties I whipped up for Allegra and Anya's Birthday this year!

These type of bows have been around for years but can often be costly when buying from stores and it can also be difficult finding the colour/pattern you are after to suit your wrapping paper! With Christmas upon us it's the perfect time to get a heads start with your wrapping... so, grab a pair of scissors, some glue and some pretty paper and away you go... :)

Step 1: To create a medium sized bow (as pictured above), you will need x13 strips of patterned (or plain) paper. My strips usually measure 4" x 0.75 (or approximately 10cms x 2cms). To adjust the size of your bow, simply adjust the size of your paper strips.

Step 2: Fold and glue the ends together on 12 of the strips (you can use any craft glue but I find my trusty hot glue gun is the most effective and efficient). You can fold to leave the tips slightly rounded (like I have above) or more pointed if you prefer. On the last strip, adhere the ends together creating a circle/loop.

  Step 3: Taking two folded strips at a time, glue them together as pictured above until you have have 6 pairs.

Step 4: Taking two pairs at a time, layer and adhere again until you have three pieces each resembling a cross.

Step 5: Finally, layer and adhere the three pieces together, turning each piece slightly so that the points fit in-between the layer below. Finish off by adhering your loop in the centre on the top layer.

Voila! There you have it, simple, pretty, paper bows! Once you've got the hang of it you won't even really have to measure precisely and you can also play around with how many loops you add per layer! Happy 'Bouw' making my friends :)


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