Friday, 30 August 2013

Our 10 Favourite Father's Day Gift Wrapping Ideas

Beautiful gift wrapping doesn't need to be expensive - or boring. You can personalize a simple gift with some creative wrapping techniques. Here are a few of our favourites - just in time for Father's Day...

1. Father's Day gift-wrap apron:

This is a clever, cost effective way of combining two gifts into one and also adding a cool card:

 
 
 
We love using craft paper as wrapping paper (it's cheap and environmentally friendly!), especially when it's jazzed up with a bright ribbon or jute twine
 
 


 
This idea is from the Sew Many Ways blog
 
 
2. Gorgeous Father's Day boxes:
 

 
 
3. Chic black and white:
 

The contrast of black and white gift wrapping against natural craft paper is a really striking look.


4. Newspaper, but not as you know it:


Whilst newspaper is a cheap and effective form of wrapping paper, you can make it look less 'tight-arse' with the addition of a beautiful trim such as this black and white ribbon. Image from May Arts.
 
 

Red is also a gorgeous contrast colour against black and white.
 

Image from Design Apothecary
 
 
5. Stamps are back!
 
The good old craft paper has come in handy again when stamped with some old-school rubber stamps. You could also apply this idea to wrapping paper for other occasions (birthday, anniversary - whatever) and stamp the recipient's name on the paper:
 
 
 

 
 
6. Pegs aren't just for clothes...
 
They're also a nifty way of attaching a gift card to a present...
 
 
 

 
 
7. Tied up:
 

If you purchase a beautiful tie for dad, why not make it the hero of your gift wrapping too?
 
 
8. Personalize with family pics:
 
 
 
A touching way of personalizing gift wrapping for your recipient
 


 
 
9. A clever gift-wrap idea up your sleeve:

 
 
What a fun way to present a bottle of wine:)
Image from Etsy seller, WaveSong
 
 
10. Beer, made better:
 

Personalise Dad's favourite beer or soft drink with this sweet gift-wrap idea. Image from www.themodestmomblog.com
 
 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Father's Day Recipes: Apricot Blush Bundt Cake

This is another delicious afternoon-tea-cake idea for dad this weekend...



Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves 8-10


Ingredients:

- 150g unsalted butter, softened
- 80g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup Apricot Blush Syrup
- Zest of 1 lime
- 250g (1⅔ cup) plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Extra butter and flour for greasing and dusting the tin


For the icing:

- ¼ cup icing sugar
- 1 tbsp
Apricot Blush Syrup

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan-forced, 350F, gas mark 4).

2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

3. Add eggs and continue mixing on a lower speed for another minute.

4. Slowly pour in Apricot Blush Nectar and add lime zest, flour and baking powder and mix on a lower setting until the batter is just combined and smooth.

5. Grease a 22cm bundt cake tin (ring shape) with extra butter and dust with extra flour. Shake off excess flour.

6. Pour prepared batter around the tin and smooth out with a spoon or a spatula.

7. Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

8. Remove from oven and turn the cake out onto a serving plate.

9. Mix together the icing sugar and Apricot Blush Nectar to make the icing.

10. Drizzle the icing over the warm cake and serve immediately

Tips and Tricks:

Store leftover cake in an air-tight container. Reheat any unused portions in the microwave for 20 seconds before serving.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Father's Day Recipes: Apricot Jellies

If your dad has a sweet tooth he will absolutely love a little plate of these homemade jellies on Father's Day...



Ingredients:

- 3 tbsp gelatine
- 1/3 cup water 
- 2/3 cup Barker's Crushed NZ Apricot Blush Fruit Syrup

Method:

1. Sprinkle the gelatine over the water and give it a stir.

2. Leave for a minute or two until thickened.

3. Pour 3/4 cup Barker's Apricot Blush into a saucepan and add the gelatine. Keep stirring as it heats until the gelatine has completely dissolved.

4. Pour into a 20cm x 14cm ceramic dish which has been rinsed in cold water. Leave to set approx 3 hours in the fridge until very firm.

5. Use small (cookie) cutters to cut the apricot jelly into shapes.

Tips and Tricks:

Present the jellies on a beautiful plate like this hand-decorated one to personalize your gift:


Image from Business2Community 
 
This recipe was created by Lyn Potter. Check out more of Lyn Potter's recipes on focussedonfood.blogspot.co.nz

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Father's Day Recipes: Sultana Blush Loaf

You can't beat a delicious fruit loaf when it comes to a snack. This recipe would be great for a Sunday arvo Father's Day afternoon tea.



Ingredients:

- 1/2 cup Barker's Crushed NZ Apricot Blush
- 400g sultanas
- 125g butter
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- A few drops of almond essence
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of cold water
- 2 beaten eggs
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 tsp baking powder


Method:

1. Soak sultanas in Barker's Apricot Blush overnight or for as long as possible.

2. Place sultanas, butter, mixed spice, baking soda, sugar, water and almond essence in a saucepan and bring to the boil

3. Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes - remove from heat and leave to cool.

4. When cool add eggs, flour and baking powder.

5. Lightly grease 2 15cm x 8cm loaf tins with cooking oil and line with baking paper and divide loaf mixture evenly between them.

6. Bake the loaves for 40 minutes at 180 deg C. (To test whether the loaves are cooked insert a skewer into the centre - if the skewer comes away clean, the loaves are ready. If not leave to bake for a few minutes longer and test again).

7. When the loaves have cooled, turn out onto a rack and leave them to become cold before slicing.

Tips and tricks:

If the tops of the loaves start to brown too much during cooking, cover them with tinfoil to  prevent burning.
The loaf is best sliced cold - leave overnight before slicing if you can resist.

This recipe was created by Lyn Potter. Check out more of Lyn Potter's recipes on focussedonfood.blogspot.co.nz

See more at: http://www.barkers.co.nz/recipes/fruit-syrups/sultana-and-blush-loaf/#sthash.XhFwMxrU.dpuf

Monday, 26 August 2013

Father's Day Recipes: Peanut Blush Muesli

Amongst the items in my Dad's birthday parcel last year was a jar of homemade muesli. Muesli is really easy to make at home (and often cheaper than buying from the supermarket), and you can customize it to suit your personal taste.



Ingredients:
  • 400 grams of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup wheatgerm (optional)
  • few drops of vanilla essence
  • 1/4 cup Barker's Crushed NZ Apricot Blush Fruit Syrup
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter 1/4 cup trim milk/water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 200 grams sultanas
Method:

1. Mix the rolled oats, coconut, sunflower seeds and wheatgerm in a large bowl.
2. Whisk Barker's Apricot Blush, peanut butter, milk/water, brown sugar and vanilla essence together
3. Mix through the rolled oats.
4. Spread the mixture onto a large baking dish and bake at 170 degrees C for 20-30 minutes.
5. Stir from time to time and check to ensure the mixture doen't burn.
6. Leave the mixture to cool
7. Add the sultanas.
8. Place in a lidded jar and store in the pantry.
 
Tips and tricks:
  • Muesli can burn pretty easily, so keep a close eye on it - especially toward the end of cooking. It should be slightly golden when it's done.
  • The longer you bake it the crisper it will be.
  • Serve with milk, yoghurt and/or fresh fruit. I also enjoy it with warm milk in winter:)
  • Chopped apricots and/or chocolate chips could also be added.


This recipe is from our friends at Barkers of Geraldine, New Zealand. See more at: www.barkers.co.nz 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Last Minute Father's Day Gifts

Need a quick gift?

Last-minute gifts + last chance to use your $20 discount 

What's your plan for Father's Day next Sunday? This time next week we'll be getting ready to head off to Japan for the Tokyo International Gift Fair, where we're hoping to source lots of exciting new products for Mr Gift. There's still a few things to organize between now and then, so I can see the week ahead slipping away pretty quickly. If you've got a busy week ahead, jump in quick and finish off any last minute Father's Day shopping this weekend.

This week is your last chance to take advantage of your $20 Discount Voucher for Father's Day.To redeem your $20 voucher simply enter Coupon Code DAD in the Coupon Code field when you place your order. This offer is valid until 5pm Sunday 1/9/2013 and can't be used in conjunction with other offers, or redeemed for cash. But please feel free to forward this offer onto your family and friends:)

Plus, check out these delicious man-inspired recipes - perfect for whipping up for dad on Father's Day...


 

1. LED USB Fan Clock $34.95 

This clever little gadget is a fan and a clock all-in-one!The soft blades of the fan are embedded with LEDs, which form a clock face when the fan is turned on.



2. Toothpick Bird $14.95

This gorgeous black and red bird is the most unique toothpick dispenser we've ever seen - the perfect gift for the person with everything!


 

3. Cyber Clean High-Tech Cleaning Compound $7.95
Cyber Clean is a  very clever high-tech cleaning compound that is designed to effectively remove dirt and germs from delicate, hard-to-reach places.

4. Slate Plant Labels, set of 4 - $19.95

These gorgeous slate plant labels come in a set of 4 with a chinagraph (wax pencil) marker. They are reusable and durable - designed to last a lifetime. They're also made in Australia.

5. MAN LAW BBQ Grill Light $34.95

Spring is nearly here, which means BBQ days are drawing near! Forget about grilling in the dark or trying to balance a torch between your teeth (how are you supposed to drink your beer???). The MAN LAW BBQ Grill Light is an essential BBQ tool and features: 12 Super-Bright LED Bulbs, adjustable screw clamp, 2 magnet base, flexible arm up to distance 23" (58cm), weather resistant finish and aluminium construction.
6. Sneeboer Great Dixter Trowel $59.95 
This high quality trowel is made in the Netherlands by Sneeboer. Christopher Lloyd, British gardener and garden writer designed this stylish, functional tool. This high-quality, durable tool is designed to last a lifetime.
A beautiful, sculptural salad bowl with a stylish set of integrated salad servers.

8. Labwork Desk Accessories $29.95

A fun, quirky gift for any desk-dwelling dad.

9. Bedol H2O Clock (water clock) $39.95

If you're tired of replacing the batteries in your clocks and alarm clock then check out the H2O clock, an alarm clock that is powered by water.

10. Hubpad USB Calculator and Mousepad $29.95

Can't ever find a calculator when you need one? Look no further than your mousepad! The Hubpad USB Calculator and Mousepad is a versatile gadget that combines two essential products into

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Father's Day Recipes: Banana Pancakes

Pancakes of any kind are the perfect weekend breakfast treat. Whip up a batch of these Banana Pancakes this weekend, or treat dad to a special Father's Day breakfast-in-bed next Sunday.



Ingredients:

- 2 cups of self-raising flour
- 1/2 cup of plain flour
- 2 tbs raw sugar
- 2 1/3 cups of milk
- 80g of melted butter, cooled
- 1 egg, lightly wisked
- Canola spray oil
- 3 banana’s chopped
- Honey to serve


Method:


1. Sift flours into a bowl, add sugar and stir to combine.

2. Add milk, melted butter and egg; and whisk to combine.

3. Heat a large pan over medium heat and spray with canola spray oil.

4. Add as many of a 1/3 cup of mixture to the pan as will fit. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface on the pancake, around 2 minutes. Turn over and cook for another minute. You can vary the sizes of the pancakes, which is great for presentation but be mindful that the cooking time will also vary.

5. Transfer pancakes to a plate and top with either another plate or a clean tea towel. I don’t recommend putting them in to oven to keep warm as they can dry out and become rubbery.

6. Wipe out the pan, spray with a little more oil and repeat until the mixture is finished. If you find the pan is getting too hot, which it probably will, turn the pan onto a low heat. This should be enough heat to cook the pancakes as you get to the end of the mixture.

7. Serve the pancakes stacked on a plate, topped with fresh banana slices and drizzled with honey - delicious!

Thanks to Jessica from Daily Gluttony for this delicious recipe: http://dailygluttony.wordpress.com/

Friday, 23 August 2013

Father's Day Recipes: Tuna Nori Maki Sushi – Tuna Seaweed Rolled Sushi

We're pretty excited about our upcoming trip to Japan for the Tokyo International Gift Fair. Along with sourcing lots of new products for Mr Gift, we're also pretty excited about eating lots of yummy Japanese food. Japan is renowned for fresh, healthy food and one of the first Japanese dishes that comes to mind is Sushi. We love this Tuna Sushi recipe, especially for a light lunch. We reckon this one would also be a hit with dad for Father's Day lunch next week...



Ingredients:

- 2 cups of rice – sushi, arborio or medium grain rice will do
- 2 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 and a 1/2 tbs caster sugar
- 1 tin of tuna chunks in springwater
- 2 tbs whole egg mayonnaise
- 2 shallots – only the white part, cut down the centre and finely sliced
- 1 large carrot finely grated
- 1 cucumber, seeds removed, sliced
- 1 avocado sliced
- 1 packet of dried nori
- small bowl of water


Method:
 

1. Add rice and water to rice cooker and switch to cook. If you don’t own a rice cooker you should seriously consider buying one. You can pick them up pretty cheaply and they are amazing and always produce light, fluffy, well cooked rice.
Once the rice has cooked, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

2. Add rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt to a small pan on low heat and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Many people add the ingredients directly to the rice without allowing them to dissolve, however this will result in a gritty rice and uneven flavour distribution.

3. Add the mixture to the rice, stir and allow to come to room temperature.

4. Drain the tuna to remove as much excess liquid as possible, add to a medium sized bowl with mayonnaise, carrot and shallots and mix until well combined.

5. Carefully remove the nori sheet from the packet and place shiny side down on a dried surface. Cover 3/4 of the sheet in a thin layer of the rice mixture, try for no more than 3-4 grains high. The rice should extent from side to side on the nori and finish 3/4 from the top.

6. Form a line of the tuna mix down the centre of the nori extending from side to side. Place a slice of the cucumber and avocado alongside the tuna mix.

7. Dip your fingers in the small bowl of water and run along the exposed end of the nori sheet.

8. Take hold of the front of the nori sheet and lift slightly, using a very quick motion roll the nori into a circle, speed is key here if you hesitate it WILL all fall apart. Repeat.

9. Allow to rest until the nori has softened. Slice the nori maki into 1-2cm pieces.

10. Serve with chopped chilli in soy sauce and wasabi. You can also serve it with kewpie if you wish.

Thanks to Jessica from Daily Gluttony for this delicious recipe: http://dailygluttony.wordpress.com/

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Father's Day Recipes: Cob Loaf Dip

It's always tricky to know what to bring to a BBQ or party when you're asked to 'bring a plate of something'. This Cob Loaf Dip is a gorgeous dish that's guaranteed to be a hit at your next party, or a tasty weekend snack. In fact, this would be a great 'man snack' for dad to enjoy whilst putting his feet up and watching the telly on Father's Day...



Ingredients:

- 1 cob loaf
- 1 tub of lite sour cream
- 1 tub of cream cheese
- 1 can of pink salmon
- 1 packet of spring vegetable dried soup mix


Method:

1. Drain the salmon and add to a medium sized bowl. Remove the bones and mash.Add the sour cream, cream cheese and spring vegetable soup mix and stir until well combined.

2. Cut the top off the cob loaf and carefully pull out the bread from inside making a bowl of sorts. Make sure you don’t get too over excited with this step and damage the crust so your mixture leaks out.

3. Some people like to toast the bread bowl and bread but this is a personal preference and depends on if you like hard or soft bread.

4. Transfer your bread bowl to a nice plate, scatter the bread pieces around the outside, spoon in your mixture and place the bread lid askew. I also sprinkled some paprika on the top of the dip so it didn’t look too plain, but that is optional.

Thanks to Jessica from Daily Gluttony for this delicious recipe: http://dailygluttony.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Father's Day Recipes: Tomato, Basil and Salami Pizza

There are two secrets to a great pizza: a really hot oven, and a simple 'less is more' approach to the toppings. 

Check out this delicious recipe for tomato, basil and salami pizza - you'll be surprised at how easy (and tasty) it is to make that you'll think twice before reaching for the phone to order takeaway again. We reckon this one will also get dad's seal of approval for an easy Father's Day lunch or dinner. 




Ingredients:

Makes 2 large pizzas
• 500g flour
• 2 x 7g packet of dried yeast
• 250ml luke warm water
• 1 tbs salt
• Pizza sauce – you can make your own or use a store-bought one (Leggos is pretty tasty). 
• 300g hot salami
• 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes halved
• 3 handfuls of torn basil leaves
• 2 handfuls of fresh rockets leaves
• Mozzarella or pizza cheese

Method:

1. Tip the yeast into a large mixing bowl, add a little of the water, a sprinkle of flour and mix until combined into a sticky ball.

2. Cover with a dry tea towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
3. Remove the yeast ball from the bowl, add the flour making a well in the middle, return the yeast ball to the centre of the well, add salt and top with water.

4. Combine the mixture until it pulls away from the edges of the bowl and forms a ball.
5. Tip the mixture onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius  Pop your pizza stones or trays into the oven as it heats, this will ensure you get a crispy base on the pizza as it cooks.

7. Ensuring your work surface is well floured, cut the dough into two and stretch or roll the dough to the rough size of your trays/stones.

8. Top the first pizza with a good amount of pizza sauce making sure you spread it evenly and right to the edges, half the salami, half the cherry tomatoes, one handful of torn basil leaves and top with cheese. Repeat with the remaining pizza base.

9. Carefully transfer the pizza bases from the work surface to the trays/stones. If you have made the bases too big don’t worry. Simply fold the excess dough up on itself, you will see I have done this on the edge of the pizza. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has turned golden and the base it firm to touch.

10. Place onto a serving board, I like to use a big cutting board, top each pizza with one handful of rocket leaves and half a handful or the remaining basil. 

Enjoy with dad for Father's Day!

Thanks to Jessica from Daily Gluttony for this delicious recipe: http://dailygluttony.wordpress.com/

Monday, 19 August 2013

Top Ten Books for Dad

Beautiful books for Father's Day 

We all have a favourite book that we've read. It might be a book from our childhood, or one we were forced to read at school (and secretly enjoyed), or even a book that we've encountered later in life that's introduced us to a new hobby or way of thinking. Books are great on so many levels, and we'd love to share 10 of our favourite books that make great gifts for dad this Father's Day.

We also caught up with a few friends who shared their favourite books with us in our latest blog post, Great winter reads: the best book I've ever read.

Don't forget to take advantage of your $20 Discount Voucher for Father's Day.To redeem your $20 voucher simply enter Coupon Code DAD in the Coupon Code field when you place your order. This offer is valid until 5pm Sunday 1/9/2013 and can't be used in conjunction with other offers, or redeemed for cash. But please feel free to forward this offer onto your family and friends:)

1. Tall Ships by John L. Coombes $34.95 

This is an exquisite hardcover book that features spectacular images of some of Australia and New Zealand’s best sailing ships. This is the perfect present for any man who loves sailing and appreciates the craftsmanship of traditional ships.




2. Aviation in Australia by Jill Blee $14.95

When the first hot-air balloons took to the air, the quest to build machines that could carry people safely across the skies captured the imagination of the world. It triggered a surge of daring and ingenuity that saw technological barriers tumble, and by World War I, man was using aeroplanes in combat. This book offers an informative yet succinct summary of Australia’s proud aviation history in a very consumable 96 pages.

3. The Case for Creativity by James Hurman
This is an essential read for anyone in business. By understanding the relationship between creativity and marketing you’re a few steps closer to cracking the elusive secret of marketing effectively to your audience.

4. Square Metre Gardening by Mel Bartholomew $25.95

Apartment or townhouse living is not always conducive to an extensive garden. Square Metre Gardening demonstrates that you don’t need a lot of space to create and grow a productive garden. Learn how to:
  • Grow more in less space
  • Stagger your harvest to suit your needs
  • Garden regularly with the ’10 minutes-a-day’ proven method

5. Australia’s Great Explorers by Denis Gregory $14.95

Australia's Great Explorers looks at the tragedies and triumphs of men such as Wentworth and Lawson, Hume and Hovell, Burke and Wills, Leichhardt and Strzelecki as they battled to conquer the Great Diving Range, find an elusive inland sea, and traverse the length and breadth of this great country.
6. Mindfulness at Work by Dr Stephen McKenzie $19.95
Mindfulness at Work reveals how the practice of mindfulness can be a powerful antidote to the distractions and stresses of our modern lives, especially our working lives. This book will help you to:
• reduce your stress
• become more productive
• improve your decision-making skills
• enjoy better relationships with your colleagues
• work more creatively
• develop your leadership skills, and
• generally enjoy your job more …
I don’t know many men who don’t appreciate a good piece of meat. Ribs, Chops, Steaks and Wings is a mouth-watering culmination of delicious recipes for just about any cut of meat.

8. Australia's Writers and Poets by John Miller $14.95

Australia's Writers and Poets is a beautiful tribute to the men and women who have created our rich literary tradition and celebrates the incredible diversity of their writing.

9. The Great Meat Cookbook $39.95

Bruce Aidells, America’s foremost meat expert and the founder of Aidells Sausage Company helps you choose the best steaks, chops, roasts, and ribs and match them to the right preparation method.

10. Fishing Season by Philip Weigall $29.95 

Philip Weigall has effortlessly captured the thoughts, triumphs, and hurdles that many people experience when flyfishing. Fishing Season is an essential read for anyone with an interest in flyfishing – from beginners to seasoned experts

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Great winter reads: The best books I’ve ever read

One of my personal goals when we moved to Canberra last year was to join a book club. The two reasons I wanted to join a book club were: to meet new people in this charming city we had relocated to, and to foster my passion for reading, which usually came last after everything else in life.

For me, reading had become a luxury only afforded on a beach holiday (which I haven’t been on for a while). I really wanted to make reading a daily habit, because it improves my writing skills (an important part of my everyday job) and broadens my mind.

The big question that remained was: What to read?

I’m a big fan of a real-life story. I love autobiographies/biographies that recall the story of a struggle, followed by a triumph. I feel content if I finish a book feeling inspired, motivated, or more informed. Whilst we all have our favourite genres, being part of a book club is advantageous because it gives you exposure to books you wouldn’t usually read.
This winter we thought we would start our own book club and caught up with a few friends who share some of their favourite reads.


We hope some of these great books will help you while away the cold winter days…

Mental Toughness Training for Sports: Achieving Athletic Excellence by Jim Loehr

“I suffered with being really nervous every time I played matches with tennis. For years I would get so nervous that my best shot (which is forehand) would be the worst shot because I was so stiff and stressed.

After reading this book, I realised that a lot of mental attitude was so important to calm my nerves and get me into a positive, energised and relaxed frame of mind. Now I am winning my matches almost every time and I am enjoying my tennis more than ever. This strategy can be used with any sport and life in general. It is not a big book and really easy to read. I have given this book to many people and they "love it". It’s an old book so you can find it at the
www.bookfinder.com or Thrift Books.” - Jodie Smith, Director of www.bodecare.com, the largest non-toxic range of dry body brushes in Australia.



The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

“This was a book that took me a few goes to get into but once I did, I was really drawn to the clarity of the structure that Stephen Covey provides for the Seven Habits. Each habit is so important, yet four really stood out for me: Habit 2 - Begin with the End in Mind as it put a clear focus on knowing the purpose toward which all our activity is heading, Habit 3 - Put First Things First where Covey outlines his time management matrix and the importance of planning and recreation, Habit 5 - Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood - what a game changer this is in producing more effective communication, and Habit 7 - Sharpen the Saw as this puts into perspective the ineffective habits we can unwittingly slip into and the importance to stop, reflect, learn, and consolidate. Covey had a great way to weave in good stories to illustrate each of the habits. As a result of this book, I am now more mindful in how I manage what I do with my time, more mindful of what I choose to place my focus on, more mindful to tune into understanding others (basically, listening first) and where possible aim to slow down in order to speed up! I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to be more effective in all areas of their life - it is an interesting and practical book to read.” - Patrea O'Donoghue, MAPS, www.positivepsychologystrategies.com.au




Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E. P. Seligman

“After hearing the author, Prof Martin Seligman speak in 2006, I began my immersion into the world of Positive Psychology. This book was the first of Seligman's books that I read - and boy, was I compelled by what I read, especially the chapter on health. It changed how I began to think because it put forth such a strong rationale for the importance of healthy patterns of thinking. Not wishful positive affirmations, but coming from a place of genuine understanding of what is helpful and what is not. Especially when it comes to the habits of thinking that we develop and our ability to change unhelpful habits once we know how. Not only has it helped me cope far better with life's general ups and downs, it helped enormously when a family member was diagnosed with a 'terminal cancer' (given six months to live). The information in the chapter on health was so impactful for me at the time I first read Learned Optimism. It really helped me know that this person had a good chance to get through the ordeal; if he held onto his natural state of optimism (he has defied the medical odds and is going stronger than ever two years on). This book formed the spring board for me learning about the applications of Positive Psychology and has strongly shaped how I work with clients bringing about their desired positive changes. I would recommend this as compulsory reading for everyone! In particular for people who want to understand the importance of developing healthy, more considered patterns of thinking - and that is a skill that we all would benefit from learning.” - Patrea O'Donoghue, MAPS, www.positivepsychologystrategies.com.au



Taking Control by Jillian Kingsford Smith
 
“The best book I've read in a while is Taking Control by Jillian Kingsford Smith. It is a collection of stories of people around Australia who are living with Multiple Sclerosis. While I don't have MS, my sister was diagnosed last year and this book helped me understand what she was going through when she first found out. I found the stories quite inspirational and it also made me look at the way I live my own life and things that I could change to ensure I live healthily and happily. I think this book would be a 'must-have' for anyone who has been diagnosed with MS, so that they know that they are not alone and that they can get on with their lives.” - Rachel Sherman, www.rachelsherman.com.au



The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The best book ever was F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. I've always been intrigued with the roaring 20s and F. Scott Fitzgerald writing style. It was such an American Classic, and it was my favourite book I ever read! It took to me to a time and place I wish I had experienced and lived. It was such a time piece, and a wonderfully written story!” - Kelly Barrett, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4677866/




How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“Various people I respect mentioned over and over a book they love called "How to Win Friends and Influence People". I had to pick it up. The book shaped how I interact with people every day. It then lead me to create a business teaching people in over 120 countries how to build friends at towerofpower.com.au! People skills are one of the most important skills you can ever learn so never hesitate to invest in this skill.” - Joshua Uebergang, Tower of Power, www.towerofpower.com.au
 
You can read more about this book here in Joshua’s book review on How to Win Friends and Influence People.



 
Aesop's Fables, by Aesop (a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE)

“I won it aged six in an essay writing competition. It taught me about morals; about seeking the real truth in the written word and in always really thinking about the true motivations that lie behind actions.” - Stephanie Vilner



A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

“Dad is a journalist and interviewer and taught my brother to read before he was two. I was a relatively late starter at four, I think! We were, as you can imagine, voracious readers and my Dad had around 5000 books. When I was ten, he presented me with a copy of A Passage to India. I read it and then a few weeks later, he was interviewing Sir David Lean (director of the A Passage to India film) and let me wag school to attend the interview. When I had a scholarship interview for a very good school in London, the English teacher asked me about what books I had enjoyed and why. I mentioned the impact of Aesop's Fables and also A Passage to India. I feel sure that was instrumental to my getting that interview.



For business, Malcolm Gladwell's books have been instrumental. I highly recommend Tipping Point and that you reflect if you’re a maven, Connector or Salesman as a primary trait; Outliers for its fascinating, thought-provoking examples I quote in a business context at least weekly.



For children, never dumb it down and I say do not buy copies with updated language because kids might not understand it. Let them read Famous Five, Secret Seven, etc. all as originally written. When they don't understand a word, take the time to explain it. We will dumb down our common language most significantly if we think our children too dumb to understand things. Gift them Ladybird books, but with original art. I am lucky enough to still have all of mine, around fifty or so. The picture quality is beautiful, and the methods still work! We taught both our kids to read using the same books we had! My favourites are Cinderella, Things to Make and Do, The Nurse and The Party. In fact, this early love of parties, crafting and looking after others etc. has totally inspired me all my life. None more so than now as I get set to launch www.partyforacause.org, my social enterprise startup that shall fundraise as we all have fun partying.” - Stephanie Vilner www.partyforacause.org, www.facebook.com/partyforacause



The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“The most life-changing and inspirational book - best book I ever read - was The Lord of the Rings from J.R.R. Tolkien. Now the reason for that is simply that I was around 12 when I first discovered audio cassettes of the said story and devoured them with a passion. Soon I discovered there was an actual book detailing the story, not just tapes. I read the books, and discovered my passion for reading! I found The Lord of the Rings to be very inspirational - Good triumphing over Evil, stories of success and victory, brave heroes and fair maidens. One man (or hobbit) who rises up to a task which he never thought he would be able to face and bare, but he perseveres, achieves and succeeds.

I found this book to be a key mile-stone in my life. It changed my views, embedded in me the desire for great, fantastic stories of heroes and wonderful creatures, woke in me a passion for reading, taught me that if you just set your mind to it - you can achieve anything!” – Alex Andrasch, Contact Point IT Serivces,
www.contactpoint.com.au
 
 

Some other favourite books mentioned by our Facebook fans include:

  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • April Fool’s Day, The Potato Factory, The Power of One all by Bryce Courtenay
  • Baby Steps: A Bloke's-Eye View of IVF by Jason Davis
  • “Michael Robotham's books. He has 9 - The Suspect is his first, and Watching You is the new one released this week. Aussie author and the best psychological thrillers I've ever read - brilliant.”

What’s on your reading wish-list this winter? What are some of the best books you’ve ever read?