Savoury Mince Recipe

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Savoury Mince recipe

You just can’t beat a great savoury mince recipe in winter right?  

This is one of our family’s most favourite and EASY dinner recipes that is a regular on the meal plan – especially in winter.  Dave’s been whipping this mince up for years and I’m stoked I was finally able to get the recipe out of his head so I could make it too – and share it with you of course!  We add heaps of veges to our mince but add or detract as you like, it’s so yummy our kids don’t seem to mind all the healthy bits!  

This mince recipe is super versatile so you can mix it up at mealtime; serve on toast or ciabatta buns. over pasta, in tortillas, cold on a salad, add leftovers to a pizza base or in a toasted sandwich, add to scrambled eggs for a protein packed breakfast………the possibilities are endless!

Why not make a double batch and keep it in the freezer for those can’t-be-bothered nights we all have or add it to your meal plan for Junk Free June?

Savoury Mince Recipe

.6kg mince

1 tbsp oil

1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic

1/2 medium onion

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped

1/4 capsicum, finely chopped

3/4 cup frozen peas, pre-cooked in microwave

3/4 cup frozen corn, pre-cooked in microwave

1 courgette, finely chopped

5 button mushrooms, chopped

2 cups beef stock

1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp tomato sauce

1 1/2 tbsp cornflour approx.

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in pan, brown and drain mince.  Add chopped celery, carrot, capsicum and onions, cook until onions are clear.  

Add pre-cooked peas and corn, followed by beef stock.  Add mushrooms and courgette, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce.

Bring to boil whilst stirring, turn down heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste and cornflour until your sauce is the perfect thickness.

Serve with pasta or on toast with cheese and hot sauce.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip Diary – Day 3 Taupo

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Taupo Hotel
View from our garden at Comfort Inn Cascades, Taupo

We are off on an amazing 4 day tour of the upper North Island  in conjunction with Choice Hotels Asia-Pac, Hamilton Waikato Tourism, Destination Rotorua and Destination Great Lake Taupo!  Catch up on Day 1 here and Day 2 here!

We awoke on Sunday to the most beautiful, blue sky day in Rotorua and decided we had to spend a little more time exploring before we hit the road.  We had, after all, slept in the BEST beds known to man at Econo Lodge Cleveland so we were feeling ready to tackle THREE tourist hotspots in one day.  We have kids remember?  This is the parenting equivalent of climbing Mt Everest – no joke!

First up was a visit to The Redwoods where we smashed out a quick 2km trail through these vast, silent giants.  Well, they were silent until my family arrived!  The kids had a blast hooting and hollering through the trees, it was beautiful!  So different to walking through the dense native bush that we’re used to.  Dave and I can’t wait to make it back to the Redwoods, we both want to run those trails or compete in a race down there.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Redwoods
Redwood Forest, Rotorua

Ethan is wearing Macpac Halo Down Jacket, Nixon wears Macpac Mini Pulsar Hoody

Our awesome hostess at Econo Lodge Cleveland recommended we head to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland to finish off our Rotorua experience and I’m SO glad we did.  Halfway between Rotorua and Taupo, we spent 2 hours wandering the trails here and I can’t get the amazing colours out of my head!  There is so much to learn and see here, from bubbling mud pools to crazy mineral craters and landscapes.  We didn’t have the Mountain buggy with us so Nix walked most of the way, hopping in the umbrella stroller when he needed a rest every now and then.  The paths are great, really smooth so there was only one section where we left the stroller off the path and continued on foot.  This place is gorgeous, this IS the Rotorua experience I wanted to have and to give the kids so it was worth it to splash out a little and add it to our itinerary.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Geothermal
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua

Dave is wearing Macpac Ribbonwood 280 Pullover Hoody , Ethan is wearing Macpac Halo Down Jacket, Nixon wears Macpac Mini Pulsar Hoody

Onwards to Taupo and the final destination on our road trip.  Our lake cruise on board the Ernest Kemp was to depart at 2pm and we made it with enough time to grab a pie for lunch – we are sahhhhh kiwi guys, it’s not even funny lol.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Taupo CruiseThe Ernest Kemp is a beautiful replica steamship that sails a 2 hour course from Taupo Marina out to the ridiculously amazing Maori rock carvings that are only accessible from the water.  Our boys were so excited to get aboard, which to be honest, worried me a little, but they both settled in and really chilled out and enjoyed the experience.  EVEN NIXON!  Wonders will never cease.  We were thoroughly looked after by our Captain and his crew, as were all of the 20+ passengers onboard on Sunday.  It wasn’t the smoothest sailing as the wind had come up on the lake and we could definitely feel it on the way out, but the Captain kept checking on his passengers  and kept us informed throughout the entire journey – it was lovely and smooth on the way back and everyone was smiling!

I loved this experience for three reasons;

  1.  It was so personal.  Even with a large group on board, I’m fairly certain that every passenger was spoken to, offered refreshments, a chocolate fish, a coloring page and crayons, or even a beer!
  2. Being out on the lake gives you a totally different perspective of how HUGE it actually is.
  3. It was real.  There was rain on our faces, wind in our hair and we all felt alive.

Get out on that big old lake guys!  Preferably with the team at Ernest Kemp cruises ;  )

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Taupo Cruise

A massive day exploring meant we were all ready for our hotel beds and some dinner.  We spent the night at the lovely Comfort Inn Cascades on the lakefront and couldn’t have asked for a better spot to wind down with the kids.  Our unit was perfectly suited to our family – large, airy, mezzanine style accommodation with three singles and a toilet upstairs for the kids.  It was freezing cold in Taupo on Sunday but the kids soon found (separate! yay!) comfy spots to play and relax in our super cozy unit – it was sooo warm!  The layers came off, Dave and I enjoyed a peaceful afternoon cocktail and I set off to explore the property.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Taupo Cruise

Lake Taupo is literally at the bottom of the garden!  Our unit’s patio bordered the walkway so it was steps to the beach and the water.  This is another property we are definitely bringing the kids back to over the summer.  Heated pool, spa, trampoline and of course the lake right THERE – I can see this being a favourite family spot for years to come.  I took a peek inside the unit on the end in the image above – the lake view from the bed through those red patio doors is unbelieveable, you would want to stay there all day!

One more thing – full sized Whirlpool bathtubs.  So RARE in a hotel!  We have two full bathrooms at home but no bath so this was a little luxury enjoyed by all – as was the free wifi, blogger essential right there!  Our hosts were lovely, our breakfast was delivered to our room on time and we were a little sad to leave to be honest!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Taupo Cruise

Dinner at Plateau Bar + Eatery

We finished off our family road trip with dinner at award winning restaurant Plateau Bar + Eatery.  I was slightly nervous about taking my two tired boys out for dinner at 6pm with no visible kid’s menu on the website, but, we were seated, kids menu’s were there (hooray!) and the wonderfully attentive staff did their thing.  My kids eat anything, both boys have adventurous palettes and great taste in food, the kids menu for me isn’t about food selection, it’s merely a cue for me that a restaurant is kid friendly and able to cope with Nixon lol.

Dave, Ethan and I all ordered off the $55 Set Menu and enjoyed three stunning courses.  Our favourites were the Prosciutto Wrapped Poached Pear, the Confit Duck Leg and the Citrus Iced Nougat, though every dish was incredible!  We really enjoyed trying each others choices throughout the evening.  Nixon was well looked after with a delicious chicken and cheese taco dish, perfect for little hands to hold on to.

We had a fabulous night at a very special restaurant, the perfect finish to a trip the kids, Dave and I absolutely loved.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Taupo Restaurant

Dave is wearing Macpac Ribbonwood 280 Pullover Hoody New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Taupo Restaurant

Thanks so much Choice Hotels Asia-Pac, Hamilton Waikato Tourism, Destination Rotorua and Destination Great Lake Taupo for hosting us and showing us your wonderful regions and Macpac for equipping us.

 

 

Road Trip Diary – Day 2 Rotorua

We are off on an amazing 4 day tour of the upper North Island  in conjunction with Choice Hotels Asia-Pac, Hamilton Waikato Tourism, Destination Rotorua and Destination Great Lake Taupo!  

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog MacpacDespite a thunderous night in Hamilton we slept really well at the Quality Hotel Ambassador and started our day with a seriously good breakfast buffet at Retrospect Cafe, Bar & Grill on site.  There were gluten-free options as well as hot oatmeal, fresh muffins, a comprehensive cereal bar, toast and a full cooked menu of bacon, eggs, kransky sausages, potatoes, baked beans and mushrooms.  Awesome spot, no hesitation about staying again – would love to try the brand new Clarion Suites, which have been purpose built using green principles and a firm dedication to use local tradesmen and suppliers to fit out these luxe suites.

 

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Macpac

Nix is wearing LFOH Frost Henley and Macpac Astro Hooded Down Vest (see below), Ethan wears Macpac Pack-It-Jacket

The drive between Hamilton and Rotorua is quick and quite lovely, particularly so at this time of year as the leaves change colour – the Waikato was looking beautiful this morning!  We made it to the New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog MacpacSkyline Rotorua in just over an hour and headed straight up the hill on the gondola.  We seem to be getting really lucky with the weather this weekend despite many parts of the Waikato getting pummelled.  It was a blue sky morning heading up and the view across Rotorua from both the gondola car and the summit of Mt Ngongotaha makes this a must-do activity.

The age gap between the boys sometimes makes activities a little difficult, but Nix was able to tandem ride with Dave and I on the luge so this was another fun family morning  when we were all able to participate, TOGETHER!  Love that.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Macpac

The rain set in after lunch so we took the team down to Kuirau Park for a cruise around the hot pools and a lovely foot soak in the public mineral pool.  Fun, free and a definite taste of local Rotorua.

Despite checking in early (which I really appreciate on a rainy day with two tired kids!) we were greeted with warm smiles, patience and time at Econo Lodge Cleveland.  When doing some background reading about the property, I came across the quote that proprietors Brij and Ronnette are aiming to provide five star service at a 3 star price and I can attest that this is absolutely the case.  Ronette is a wealth of knowledge about what to do and where to go and most importantly what would best suit your travelling party – I really appreciate this when I encounter it, it’s such a value-add to anywhere you’re staying, as is free unlimited wifi which is available in each unit! 

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Macpac

You know when you’re first settle into a hotel/motel room and you’re feeling a little bit dodgy and wondering if you should check the sheets, but maybe it would be better if you didn’t?

Yeah well, that’s not happening at Econo Lodge Cleveland.  This is the cleanest accommodation I have ever stayed in.  The stainless steel bench tops could make a grown woman cry – so shiny!  We settled in quickly and hit the beautiful heated pool for some fun before the sun went down.  This is classic kiwi accommodation done right.  Brij and Ronnette are working hard at property upgrades and it looks great.  The latest addition is Cleveland Cottage, a stunning period villa that has been beautifully restored, boasts a full, modern kitchen stunning bathroom and sleeps 7-9 guests.  I want to stay here!!!!  So gorgeous. 

We didn’t manage to squeeze in a soak in either of the 2 mineral pools on site, with the kids sleeping, we opted to enjoy the  comfy separate lounge, free wifi and Sky TV in our unit.  We are planning to bring the kids back here over summer, the awesome outside facilities plus the close proximity to the lake and amenities tick all the boxes for excellent family accommodation in my book.  

FYI, all units have new beds and they are hands down the BEST beds ever.  Slept like a baby……..until our baby woke at 2.40am groan!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Macpac

Nix is wearing LFOH Frost Henley and Macpac Astro Hooded Down Vest (see bove), Ethan wears Macpac Pack-It-Jacket, Dave wears the Macpac Uber Light Down Jacket and I’m wearing the Macpac Uber light Long Down Jacket

 

 

Road Trip Diary – Day 1 Hamilton Zoo

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Hamilton Zoo TRavel BlogWe are off on an amazing 4 day tour of the upper North Island  in conjunction with Choice Hotels Asia-Pac, Hamilton Waikato Tourism, Destination Rotorua and Destination Great Lake Taupo!  

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Hamilton Zoo TRavel BlogWe have been looking forward to this family getaway for a long time!  There is nothing Dave and I enjoy more than exploring New Zealand and neither of us have spent any time in the Hamilton, Rotorua or Taupo regions which are all easy driving distances from Auckland, and just perfect for a long, family weekend away.

We left our house at 8.20am, had a surprisingly good run along both the North Western and the Southern Motorway and arrived at The Hamilton Zoo at around 10.30 after a stop in Bombay for a really, really good coffee at the BP Wild Bean.

Let’s just say, the entrance to the zoo is a bit of an illusion.  The sign says ZOO, the buildings look quite zoo-ish, but Hamilton Zoo is like no other I have ever visited before.

The animal residents are what you’d expect from a zoo, the staff are just as informative and knowledgable as you’d hope them to be, but the environment is what sets the zoo apart from others.  Rather than the purpose built, rather sterile, urban, concrete environment of other zoos we have visited in Auckland, San Diego and Florida, visiting Hamilton Zoo feels like you’re just on a bush walk in any New Zealand national park when you happen to stumble upon a Red Panda or FIVE Sumatran Tigers!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Hamilton Zoo TRavel Blog

The size and scale of the zoo are mind blowing in comparison to Auckland Zoo.  The animals reap the benefit of the 25 hectare facility, as do visitors!  I racked up over 8,000 steps throughout the day as did little Nixie and Ethan!  Legends.

We were treated to a Face2Face encounter with the Ringtail Lemurs and Ruffed Lemurs and it was seriously one of those very special moments that you didn’t see coming and didn’t anticipate how wonderful it would be.  And guys, it costs $15 per person!!!  It’s first come first served on the day but it’s mind-blowingly lovely.  

Zoo Highlights
  • Red pandas, not sleeping in trees but frolicking!  Like a good panda should!
  • Lemurs, cuddly, cuddly lemurs around my neck
  • Most massive aviary you can even imagine, Kaka dive bombing us and witnessing the super stealth HUGE Bittern bird.
  • 5 gorgeous Sumatran Tigers frisking around, not yawning!
  • A baby chimp seen at feeding time
  • Getting to experience the Zoo classroom one-on-one with amazing guide Ken! Thank you!

The latest addition to the zoo’s gorgeous family is a 3 month old female chimp, whose name has been decided via a public competition and was announced today!

Meet beautiful baby Chiku!  Thanks so much Tara for allowing me to use this image, check out her work here
New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Hamilton Zoo Chimp
Photo Credit: Tara Sutherland www.tarasutherland.net

We loved this zoo so much I can see us making the drive to Hamilton every time the kids need a wild animal fix.  No parking problems, no crowds, a bigger zoo with world class facilities – Hamilton Zoo you have won us over.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Hamilton Zoo Travel Blog

When the kids were about to fall over from exhaustion we made the 10 minute drive to our final destination for the day, Quality Hotel Ambassador in Hamilton.  This is a truly unique hotel, offering three varying accommodation options (hotel, motel, corporate suites), with rooms to suit every conceivable need.  We are staying in a 2 room suite in the Quality Hotel which is perfect for our family of four.  We’re on the ground floor which is so considerate when you have kids and a shit-tonne of stuff and there is a king and a single in each room so we are comfy with plenty of space to relax.  Which is totally what we needed after our awesome day.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Hamilton Zoo Travel Blog New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Hamilton Zoo TRavel Blog

Though there is every amenity and restaurant (including Pak ‘n Save across the street!) in walking distance from the hotel, we kept things convenient and ate at the Retrospect Cafe, Bar & Grill  on site.  Def stick with the mains guys as the meals are huge!  And awesome.  We ordered the Kids Cheeseburger meal, the T2 burger, Chicken Carbonara and Aged Scotch Fillet and every bite was amazing.  Served on vintage Crown Lynn serveware, the food and relaxed, friendly atmosphere was a perfect match for our family group.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Hamilton Zoo Travel Blog

We’ve just finished watching the Crusaders smash the Warratahs live on Sky and now it’s time for sleep.  

You can follow our adventures tomorrow as we head to Rotorua!  Check us out on Snapchat @thebestnestnz + @djack456 and on Instagram @thebestnest + @djack.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Hamilton Zoo Travel Blog Macpac

It’s COLD here in the North Island this weekend so we are pretty much living in our Macpac gear!  Dave is wearing the Meteor Jacket which is an amazing hybrid of a jacket and a shirt!  Nix is wearing the Kids Astro Hooded Down Vest and LFOH Pick Pocket Long Sleeve and the Bubbles Merino Fleece Pant, Ethan is wearing a Pack-It-Jacket (don’t think we’ll ever leave home without these again!) and I’m snuggly in the Uber Light Long Down Jacket.

Banana Cake 3 Ways – Banoffee Trifle, Doughnut Holes & Banana Nutella Cupcakes

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Beauty Banana Cake Recipe

Three of the BEST Banana Cake Treats – ONE pack of cake mix.

Not even joking!

Banana Cake is that culinary staple that every home baker busts out from time to time.  Whenever I’ve got a couple of overripe bananas attracting fruit flies (the shame!) I either pop them in the freezer for a cake-at-a-later-date or get straight into it – the oven is ON!

Beloved kiwi brand Edmonds have made baking one of our national treasures (surely, right?) even easier with their bumper Banana Cake Mix that makes a trifecta of delicious cake goodness.  This is no single serve mix, the pack makes three full size banana cakes or branch out like I did and try something a little bit different……

All of these full size recipes were made using one single bag of Edmonds Banana Cake Mix.  I went on a bit of a baking rampage and busted out all 3 at once but of course you could make one cake and save the remaining two for a rainy day!  (or not lol).

The Basic Banana Cake Recipe

I used the recipe off the packet as the basis for my three creations and it’s a total winner!

Ingredients

2 2/3 Cups Edmonds Banana Cake Mix

1 Egg size 6

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

½ cup cold water

2 mashed ripe bananas

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C, grease a 6cm deep x 20cm round cake tin and line base.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and combine using an electric mixer.  Spoon batter into prepared tin.
  3. Bake for 40-45 mins, until inserted skewer comes out clean.  Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

Banoffee Banana Cake Trifle Recipe

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Beauty Banana Cake Recipe

Everyone loves everything banoffee, but why not ramp up the trifle version a little more by ditching boring old sponge and upping the banana factor?!

That’s where the Edmonds Banana Cake mix comes in.  One full sized cake would yield 4-6 of these luxe desserts depending upon the size of your serving glassware.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 Edmonds Banana Cake as above

125g butter

¾ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp brown sugar to caramelise bananas

1 ½ tbsp cornflour

1 cup water

1 tbsp golden syrup

½ cup cream

½ cup cream for whipping

½ cup chocolate chips

6 bananas

Easy Caramelised Bananas

  1. Slice enough firm bananas in half and then half again lengthways to ensure you have 2 quarters to top each trifle.
  2. Add 2 tbsp brown sugar to a frying pan on low-med heat, add banana quarters and cook until brown on each side.
  3. Pop in fridge to cool.

Caramel Sauce Recipe – From the Edmonds Cookbook

  1. Melt butter and sugar in saucepan, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.  Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  In a bowl combine cornflour, water and golden syrup until smooth.  Add to saucepan.  Bring mixture back to the boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add cream.  
  2. Pop in fridge to cool.

Once the cake, caramelized bananas and caramel sauce have cooled it’s time to assemble your Banoffee Trifles!

  1. Cut your cake pieces to size.  I used round cookie cutters in 3 different sizes.
  2. Begin layering your trifle; cake round, sliced bananas, sprinkle of chocolate chips, drizzle of caramel sauce.  Repeat
  3. When you’re at the top of your trifle glass, add a dollop of whipped cream and two of the caramelized bananas you prepped earlier.  Finish with a liberal swirl of caramel sauce and sprinkle of chocolate chips.
  4. Don’t even think about the calories!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Beauty Banana Cake Recipe

Banana Cake Doughnut Holes Recipe

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Beauty Banana Cake Recipe

Can’t beat a doughnut, right?  Actually you can, with a banana cake doughnut.  It’s a fact guys!

These little crispy balls of YUM are quite the decadent treat – especially if you have some caramel sauce left over from your trifle for dipping!  

Ingredients

  • 1 Edmonds Banana Cake mix as above, BUT, the doughnut mix needs to be denser than the cake mix so omit the water when combining ingredients.
  • 1.5L of canola oil for frying
  • 4 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a container with a sturdy lid to shake-coat the doughnuts after frying.  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan on low heat on a small element until bubbles begin to rise.
  3. When the oil has preheated, dip the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick into the oil. If the oil starts steadily bubbling, then the oil is hot enough for frying. If the oil bubbles very very vigorously, then the oil is too hot and needs to cool off a touch. If no or very few bubbles pop up, then it’s not hot enough.
  4. Using a round measuring teaspoon, drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil.  It’s really, really hard to get them round, I found using two spoons to scrape the batter off quickly helped!  It doesn’t matter what shape they end up they all taste amaze!
  5. Keep turning the doughnuts in the oil, you don’t want to overcrowd the fryer.  I had 5-6 doughnuts in the oil at one time.
  6. When they are evenly brown all over, remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.  Mine took approx 5 minutes, make sure you cut your first couple open to check that they are cooked through.
  7. After each batch has drained for a couple of minutes, pop them in your sugar/cinnamon mix, close the lid and shake gently to coat.
  8. Enjoy!

Nutella Banana Cake Cupcakes Recipe

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Beauty Banana Cake Recipe

We all need an amaze cupcake recipe up our sleeves, so I’m going to share this little winner with you because, to be honest, I can’t actually believe it came out of my kitchen, it’s THAT good!  Look, I’m a giver guys, but just remember you owe me one, okay? ; )

Ingredients

  • 1 Edmonds Banana Cake mixed as above
  • ½ cup Nutella for combining with the cake mix
  • 2 heaped tbsp Nutella for icing
  • 60g butter softened
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 cups icing sugar

Ok, the Edmonds Banana Cake mix makes a massive batch of cupcakes so be prepared!  One cake mix gave me 16 large cupcakes and 12 minis!

  1. Preheat oven to 170?
  2. Place paper cupcake cases inside muffin tins
  3. Halfway fill each with the Edmonds Banana Cake batter
  4. Drop approx ½ tsp Nutella onto the top of the cupcake mix and using a wooden skewer or a slim knife, swirl the Nutella into the mix.
  5. Bake at 170? for approx 12 minutes, until inserted skewer comes out clean.  Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

It’s time to make buttercream icing!

  1. Mix butter and milk until creamy
  2. Add icing sugar, then Nutella to taste.
  3. Pipe onto fully cooled cupcakes.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Beauty Banana Cake Recipe

How cool is that?  Three amazing feats of baking from one bag of cake mix!  

Pick up a bag of Edmonds Banana Cake mix next time you head in store (or click here for more info) and don’t forget to enter our Edmonds Giveaway (CLOSED) via the widget below which will see one lucky winner taking home $50 worth of Edmonds products.

Congratulations Fiona Henwood!

Thanks so much to Edmonds for making this post possible!

Beauty Review | Remington i-LIGHT Pro+

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Beauty Review Home IPL

In many parts of the western world, hair removal to some degree is simply a part of life for most women and has been for their entire adult lives.  Daily hair removal ::::::sigh:::::: 

If hair grows back that fast it obviously serves some purpose, but at age 37 I am no more savvy as to what benefit my underarm hair provides than I was approximately 25 years ago when I began removing it – on a daily basis! (Of course the obvious exception to this is legs in winter right?  Ain’t nobody got time for that!)

I’m not a waxer, preferring the at-home familiarity of shaving but my underarms in particular really do not cope well with the frequent rasp of the razor.  This summer in particular I was quite conscious of how unsightly they looked whenever I bore my shoulders in a tank top.  Ugly, inflamed bumps and often ingrown hairs would ruin the visage of the ‘Well Groomed Woman” I try and project.  Ha!  I joke, I doubt I ever come across that way but I would like to be rid of those unsightly prickles once and for all.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Beauty Review Home IPLRemington offered me a trial of their I-light Pro over the past month so I’ve been hard at work zapping away at those spots we all work diligently on in the shower each day, namely my underarms, bikini line, legs and that rogue chin hair that just KILLS me! 

Sucks getting older – men lose their hair and women grow it in some very unsightly places!

To be honest, I found the setup instructions pretty confusing but once I got my head around the text, I found the device itself super easy to use.

There’s no delay, no warm-up period, simply switch the base on, check the skin colour of the area to be treated using the sensor, select the power level and you’re ready to roll.

The procedure itself is quick and despite my trepidation, barely painful.  When depressing the button on the handheld unit an intense pulse of light is emitted with the aim of stunning the hair follicle and preventing future growth.  This doesn’t happen after just one procedure so treatment is recommended every 2 weeks.

The sensation is that of a slightly stinging , small electric shock on the surface of your skin, something you get used to very quickly.

Larger areas do take a wee while, which probably resulted in the somewhat patchy job I did on my legs lol, but on smaller areas such as my underarms it was very easy to set the unit up and quickly do a very thorough job.

And the results?

Well I just completed a whirlwind trip to Sydney and didn’t pack my razor.  I didn’t need to!  The growth on my underarms has slowed so much it’s totally negligible, according to the advice included with the machine this will slow further over the next few weeks and hopefully cease all together!

The added side effect of not using my razor so much is that the condition of my skin is so much better!  I’ve never admired my underarms before but they look positively smooth and, well, white, without the unsightly stubble that always came back the very next day.

Another area that I’ve noticed responded particularly well to the IPL treatment was my upper lip.  A separate attachment is used on facial areas and this was another ‘small job’ that I was consistent in repeating to maximise the benefits of the unit whilst I had it.

Retailing at $479, the i-Light Pro+ is an investment, but when you consider how much time, and perhaps money  you commit to hair removal over your adult life, it’s definitely a wise investment and one I feel you can easily appreciate the benefits of when the condition of your skin improves over the course of treatments.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Beauty Review Home IPLRemington i-Light Pro+ Face & Body IPL6500AU RRP$899

This Intense Pulse Light (IPL) system offers a long term* and completely comfortable solution to remove unwanted hair in the comfort and privacy of your own home. The i-Light Pro+ Face & Body features advanced technology that sets it apart from other at-home IPL devices. High energy output (7-8J/cm squared) effectively disables the hair follicle with ProPulse wavelengths (>600nm) which deeply penetrate the skin to reach right down to the hair root. The light energy is delivered in long pulse durations (110ms) # faster than a blink of the eye – that are gentle to the skin. These three factors combined are the perfect recipe for safe and effective long term hair removal in as little as 4 weeks*.
*Individual results vary. In clinical trials on the body, treatment sites showed up to 94.3% fewer hairs twelve months after just 4 weeks of treatment (3 treatments each 2 weeks apart). Similar results observed from professional hair removal devices.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Beauty Review Home IPL

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Book Review Grisham

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Book Review GrishamAs many of you probably have, I’ve read numerous John Grisham novels over the years, always safe in the knowledge that I was almost ‘guaranteed’ a good read.  The best seller, Rogue Lawyer is no different, though the main character, Sebastian Rudd and the disjointed construct of the first third of the book took me a while to warm to.

Rudd is not typical lawyer material in any sense of the word.  His character translates as rough, unrefined, unpolished and definitely a far cry from the slick, courtroom efficienados usually portrayed in legal novels.  For me, Rudd is the point of difference in this book.  I’m not sure if I like him, but as a reader you can’t help but admire the way he handles his shit.

It’s a convoluted plot.  Initially there were so many separate scenarios that I thought Rogue Lawyer was simply a series of short accounts of Rudd’s cases and very colourful clientele.  This is not the case but sets the scene for a twisted tale of kidnapping and corruption, intertwined with Rudd’s own failings and conflicts as an estranged parent.

The crimes and criminals painted by Grisham in Rogue Lawyer are dirty, thug-level evil.  This is a novel far removed from corporate, white-collar, hands-clean crime.  It’s not pretty and I think that’s what caught me by surprise.  To be honest I’m not sure I would go back for another date with Sebastian Rudd, the writing is fundamentally Grisham, but the voice was so different in this novel that I was stretched a little.

Action?  Yes.  

Lawyering level 6/10 – the drama in this book is mostly played out outside the realms of the courtroom.

Evil villains?  So many I lost track.

Die-hard Grisham fans will be happy, Rogue Lawyer is a great read, a novel I looked forward to picking up each evening but not my favourite offering from the undisputed master of legal thrillers.

 

The Toddler Trimester

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Toddler Trimester

The 4th trimester is becoming a more common talking point and something that new mums are increasingly being made aware of.  Newborns and their mothers do not pop out of the birthing suite ready for lattes, playgroups and power walks with the Mountain Buggy – shock horror!

However, there is a more sinister/dangerous/sleep depriving menace out there, one that catches Mum’s and Dad’s by surprise as they are high-fiving themselves on making it out of the ‘Baby Phase’ intact.

There are no public service announcements circulating around the threat of the Toddler Trimester and it’s time to ramp up public awareness of this devastating phenomena.

The hard truth is; I’m more tired, scratch that, EXHAUSTED, than I was at any point during the aforementioned 4th trimester.  Nixon doesn’t nap during the day anymore, Nixon likes to wake during the night (when he previously slept through), Nixon likes to wake up early – sometimes as early as 4.30am, never later than 6 though.  6 is a luxurious sleep in Dave and I cross our fingers for each night.

 Compounding this, is my own hectic work schedule which relies on me burning the midnight oil pretty much 7 days a week.

I look like hell.

I’m writing this on a flight to Sydney for a quick work trip and instead of hitting the shops, the eateries and sights as I would normally do, all I can think of is check in time when I can smash out a massive nana nap.

What in the fuck has happened to me?

It’s a little nightmare I like to call The Toddler Trimester.  The frenetic pace of life with Nixon and it’s accompanying sleep deprivation has seen me knock back a V, large flat white and a shitty airplane coffee all before 10.37am.

The caffeine comedown is going to be rough today but I’d rather not fall in front of a train because I’ve nodded off upon arrival at my station in Sydney.

Thanking god for my Nespresso machine at home, Spotify to keep me awake with extra-loud Nirvana and Millencollin so I can work on the plane and my MacBook so I can knock out Dave’s GST whilst flying as lord knows there are no other hours in the day to get it done.  I’m struggling at the moment guys.  I’ve never been so tired in my life!


Fast forward 36 hours and I’m back in the airport soon to board my plane home.  I soldiered on yesterday (I love Sydney and there was shopping to do in the few hours I had to do it!).  I desperately wanted to take a nap but figured an early night would have to do.  So, despite staying in the most amazing Sydney location – The Rocks – I didn’t sip wine on the waterfront and dine at one of the fab restaurants I saw.  I got take-out noodles, used my 2-for-1 drink vouchers at the hotel and went to bed watching The Voice.

Turns out that’s pretty much what the other bloggers attending the Netflix event did too!  Mum-life right?

So, I’d love any tips you guys have for curtailing the increasing exhaustion that working and Mumming often result in.  Obviously MORE sleep and prioritising rest but that’s soooo hard, why??

 

Mother’s Day Gift Inspo – Win The Dressmaker on DVD

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Dressmaker review

Ok guys, here’s a Mother’s Day idea all done and dusted for you;

  1. 1 x copy of The Dressmaker
  2. 1 x pretty gift bag or gift box
  3. A couple of treats for Mum to enjoy and pamper herself with while she watches this fabulous movie; think lush handcream, scrummy tea, her fave lipstick and something sweet.

Dave and I sat down and watched The Dressmaker on Friday night and fell in love with the film within the first 20 minutes.  Australian films done well deliver comedy gold and this is no exception.  Bone dry humor, stunning costumes, set and landscapes you have to see to believe and one of the most intimate, heartfelt characterisations and storylines 
I’ve enjoyed in a while.

Kate Winslet owns this movie.  Ran out of her tiny, rural town as a young girl and wrongly vilified, her character Tilly returns home with enough moxie to silence her critics once and for all – not without heady doses of romance, tragedy and drama of course!  Tilly has learned her trade as a Parisian Dressmaker and brings her talent, and her sewing machine, back home to breathe some life, style and va-va-va-voom into a very dull, 1950’s Australian community.  She eventually wins over her hard-as-nails Mum, who has remained in the town alone and ostracized in the years following Tilly’s departure. The Dressmaker is quirky and engaging, delivering scene after scene of inimtiable storytelling with an effortless, Aussie charisma.  

I struggle with movies, my micro-attention span and mega to-do-lists often conspire against me when I try to sit down and enjoy a film from start to finish.  I had no trouble settling in to watch The Dressmaker – the captivating cast and brilliant story make this film a guaranteed hit.  I’m adding the original novel by Rosalie Ham to my reading list so I can enjoy it all over again.

The Dressmaker is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray, plus, I have 3 copies on DVD to give away!

To enter, just leave me a comment below!  Competition closes 8th May 2016 @ 10pm, NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Dressmaker review