Summer Fruit: Get smoothie ready…..for an entire year + WIN!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog FoodSaver

It’s warming up here in New Zealand.  Spring’s been doing it’s thing and out in my neck of the woods – North West Auckland – the berry farms are in full swing as they prepare for the picking season to begin.  One of my favourite summer traditions is a throwback from when I was little; I LOVE taking the boys berry picking at one of our local farms.  To me fruit picking is synonymous with summer, but as a Mum, it’s also totally economical.  Last season we picked 5kg of strawberries in 30 minutes one day and paid just $20!  For those of us that whip up smoothies each morning, just one kilogram of frozen berries will cost you around $10, sometimes more.  Picking and preserving what’s in season makes so much sense.

Making the Most of Summer Fruit

This year I plan on stocking the freezer with berries and stonefruit that we have picked ourselves from farms in our local area.  We’ll be cutting down our food miles, cutting down our food costs and also benefitting from actually knowing the origin of at least some of what we consume as a family – all great lessons for the kids.

I’m going to either, free-flow freeze and then vacuum seal, or vacuum seal then freeze (depending upon the fruit) around 90% of the summer fruit we pick this year using the Sunbeam FoodSaver.  

That’s my long-term plan lol – YES, this gadget is that amazing that I’m actually planning out how I’m going to use it in the kitchen for the whole growing season ahead!  There’s a myriad of other, non-food related ways you can use the FoodSaver too but that’s a whole post in itself.

On a day-to-day basis you’ll find the FoodSaver at home on our bench helping us keep our pantry and standard fruit and vege fresher for longer.  Produce previously lasting only days can last weeks and the freezer life of meat can be extended to 1-3 years when sealed with the FoodSaver!

Right now there is an awesome Gift with Purchase running, receive Bonus FoodSaver accessories with any purchase of a FoodSaver machine! Check out the full range here and find the Sunbeam FoodSaver  in all leading appliance stores, including Farmers, JB HiFi, Smiths City, Heathcotes, 100% Your Electric Store, and Harvey Normans.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog FoodSaver

How to Use the Sunbeam FoodSaver

In the video below I’m going to show you two super easy ways to use the Sunbeam FoodSaver.

  1. Extend the fridge life of fresh berries by using a FoodSaver canister.  This is a great every-day solution as we want access to fresh berries daily for breakfast and lunchboxes etc but want to avoid those smooshed, mouldy berries that often go to waste at the bottom of punnets.
  2. Freeze cheap, summer berries and other fruit for freezer storage and use throughout the year – in season prices during the off-season LOVE it!

I love the canisters for use in the pantry for crackers and for storing leftovers, fruit, salad mixes and cheese in the fridge.  You’ll notice in the video we popped a paper towel in the vacuum bag before sealing it.  If the berries had been slightly melted, the vacuum action would have sucked moisture out of the berries and up the sides of the bag, preventing a good seal.  The paper towel absorbs the water and creates an airtight package ready for the freezer.

WIN A SUNBEAM FOODSAVER!

I am SO excited about being able to giveaway one of these amazing machines!  I know you will love the Sunbeam FoodSaver as much as we do so make sure your entry is valid by telling me in the comments below how you would use your new FoodSaver VS5000 Seal + Store RRP $369.99.

Comp closes 18/12/16 NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog FoodSaver

Shop Local – Undercover Sleeping Bags

mummy-blog-new-zealand-blogger-mommy-travelblog-family-kids-sleeping Bags

Coming up with super-stylish, innovative products is something kiwi women do amazingly well so it was no surprise to me to find out that the uber-cute range of Undercover Sleeping Bags for kids are designed, manufactured, and distributed right here in New Zealand by Marlborough resident, Kate Guthrie.

It’s almost our prime camping and glamping Summer season here in New Zealand and I can’t think of anything worse than trying to nod off to sleep in a sticky, hot sleeping bag made from entirely synthetic fabrics.  I actually wouldn’t be able to get Nixon to sleep in this way – the fuss would be unbearable.  And sweaty lol.

mummy-blog-new-zealand-blogger-mommy-travelblog-family-kids-sleeping BagsLittle peeps will LOVE curling up in their Undercover creations due to a few genius features that make these dreamy sleeping bags a kid-must-have that will be used and loved, year round;

  • 100% cotton outer and warm thermal padding – YAY, no more summer stickiness!
  • A pillow compartment!!!!  Soooo many time when camping I’ve been woken up because Ethan had lost his pillow in the night – usually because it’s slid off his slippery sleeping bag lol.  Once unrolled, you can pop a pillow into the all-in-one design.
  • No separate storage bag (to lose).  YAY, again lol.  The sleeping bag rolls up and is stowed into the pillow compartment.

I know many of you love to try and think outside the box when it comes to buying for your kids.  Shopping local, shopping small and supporting New Zealand creatives is an awesome endeavour and can make Christmas Shopping  SO much more fun when you can cut out the trips to the mall – and cut out the plastic fantastic toys that will be old news in a month anyway!  Undercover sleeping bags will be loved and used all year, for years, as they suit ages 2-12 ish – depending upon how quickly your pre-teen is growing of course.

mummy-blog-new-zealand-blogger-mommy-travelblog-family-kids-sleeping Bags

Shop the Undercover Range Now!

Available in 8 super stylish designs at $199 each, there’s an Undercover Sleeping bag to suit every little camper – or every little person having their first sleep-over at Nana’s –  How cute are these fabrics?

mummy-blog-new-zealand-blogger-mommy-travelblog-family-kids-sleeping Bags

 

Family Travel – A getaway that’s #closerthanyouthink

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Rotorua

Location, location, location. It’s everything when you’re deciding where to escape for a little R&R and even more crucial when you’re holidaying with the kids in tow. We’ve travelled with the kids a wee bit internationally and A LOT around New Zealand and after a few less than ideal accommodation choices, Dave and I both agree, that your home-away-from-home whilst travelling can set the tone for the entire trip.

Initially planning only a two night stay, we headed south last weekend and checked into the Novotel Rotorua a day early to make the most of the stunning weather and squeeze as much out of our stay as possible. Rotorua is the perfect destination for an adventure filled, family getaway. Just over three hours from Auckland, my two crazy boys survived the trip with only 1 quick toilet stop for Nix – the worst part was negotiating Auckland traffic on the way out of town!

While still at home, we had completed online check in, so upon arrival at the Novotel we were able to quickly settle our two very excited boys into our adjoining Family Rooms and THIS amazing view!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Rotorua

Even Nixon, who rarely sits still, was completely enamoured with the view over Lake Rotorua – a mere 600m from the hotel lobby to absolute lakefront, a great playground, paddle boats, the Rotorua Walkway and the Soundshell Market (which we visited on Sunday).

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Rotorua

Before we could explore (and then again after we had finished exploring each day), we had to hit the pool.  I’m pretty sure a pool in your hotel (or Holiday House as Nixon called it!) is The Best Thing EVER when you’re a kid, Dave and I get that, so we happily made the twice daily pilgrimage to the indoor pool complex on the ground floor.

It wasn’t exactly a chore mind you! Dave had packed his running gear (oops I totally forgot mine – ha!) so he made good use of the really well appointed gym whilst the kids and I swam in the geothermal mineral pool and hot tubs – totally luxe, plus the perfect routine to get the kids off to sleep peacefully each night. I was able to sneak a couple of saunas in when Dave had finished working out, so I totally got a sweat on too, albeit a more relaxing one.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Rotorua

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Rotorua

5 Things you NEED to do in Rotorua

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Rotorua

If location is everything, then the Novotel Rotorua is smack bang in the middle of where you want to be. Basing your family here allows you to make the most of every, precious, get-away-day by minimising time in the car and maximising family fun.

Check out these Rotorua Must-Do activities before you plan your next trip;

  • Tutanekai Streat – Eat Streat Food and the constant search for the next meal is always a massive consideration as the mum of two boys. Deciding what and where to eat when on holiday can literally eat up much of our day. Novotel Rotorua is across the road from Eat Streat, home to quality restaurants, cafés and bars as well as the famous Lady Jane’s Ice Cream Parlour. With it’s covered central walkway and thermally heated footpath, Eat Streat (and surrounds) is an awesome, family friendly place to dine. We loved Indian Star and Fat Dog Cafe (just around the corner).
  • Happy Ewe Cycle Tours Located at the Rotorua I-Site, a mere 6 min walk from the Novotel, owner-operator Roger will have you falling in love with Rotorua as he guides you on an 8km FLAT cycle around the geothermal wonders of  Rotorua. Nix was well catered for with a toddler seat and Dave, Ethan and I were riding in style on the comfiest bikes ever.  DO THIS TOUR GUYS!
  • Skyline Rotorua A nine-minute drive from the Novotel, we had a great time on the Skyline Gondola and Luge. Another perfectly family-friendly activity, Nix simply rides tandem with either Dave or I as we have a race to the bottom with Ethan.
  • Redwoods Treewalk We were already enamored with Rotorua’s breathtaking Redwood Forest after a previous visit, but the 6-12m high treewalk is next-level beauty. A quick 12-minute drive from the Novotel, this is another family must-do. No skill required all you do is walk and take it all in!
  • Polynesian Spa Lakefront Rotorua is where you want to be and spending an afternoon at The Polynesian Spa was exactly what our family needed after a busy couple of days.  This was another activity that catered beautifully to both parents and kids alike. We spent some time relaxing at the Lake Spa and finished up in the Family Spa where the boys could splash, swim and slide to their hearts content! Again, super-close to the Novotel, just a 15 minute walk – keep in mind Rotorua is pretty much completely flat!

 

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Rotorua

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog RotoruaDave’s working on an American project right now which means he has to start work at 2am every day. Our adjoining family rooms (when you stay as a family the second room for children is half price!) made this so much easier as he was able to sneak out and head down to the lobby (where there is a dedicated workspace) without waking the kids –  or me! We were free to laze in our beds and wake at our leisure (6am!) to watch the All Blacks play Ireland on Sunday morning – Sky Sport in our room made me a very happy mama!

An early tip-off that the staff and service were going to be amazing at the Novotel was the personalized welcome we found in our room; a handwritten card, super cute swim towels for the boys, swim diapers for Nixon (I’d forgotten those!), water and mud masks for me! This wasn’t special treatment either, it’s just part of the awesome service you get when you book a Family Room.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Rotorua

On Saturday night we were just too tired to venture out to Eat Streat but were equally wowed by the buffet and a’la carte menus available in house at the Novotel Rotorua’s award winning Atlas Restaurant. Dave went on a seafood bender, I demolished the most amaze salad bar ever whilst Ethan and Nixon just ate pretty much everything, including fresh SUSHI – they were actually in heaven.  As an Accor Plus member I can receive up to 50% when dining in hotel restaurants plus the kids eat breakfast free! Little perks like this and (free wifi) really make these mini getaways that much more accessible, enjoyable and #closerthanyouthink. Likewise, having amazing kid-friendly amenities and services within the hotel itself makes me want to start planning ahead to our next long weekend!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Rotorua

If travelling is your thing, either in our own backyard here in NZ or internationally, then joining Accor Plus (NZD$385 per 12 mths) will not only make you feel like a VIP every time you stay, but also make your getaways #closerthanyouthink. Member benefits include a complimentary nights stay when you join, 10% off best available accommodation, automatic Silver Status which gives you online and priority check in, free internet, a welcome drink and late check out as well as the dining discounts mentioned above.

 

#weloveaccorhotels #accorplus #closerthanyouthink

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Rotorua
AccorHotels graciously made our trip possible and completely exceeded all expectations, thanks guys! All opinions are my own, but to be fair, any hotel that puts THIS much effort into making Christmas magical for their little guests is going to get a BIG thumbs up from me!

 

Pulled Pork Tacos Recipe – In 10 Minutes!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Pulled Pork RecipeImagine, as a Mum, if every time you said – ok SCREAMED – “Dinner is in ONE minute!”, you were actually telling the truth.  What if the ravenous hordes could literally smell dinner cooking within moments of you opening the fridge to begin dinner prep?

Like, really, are you imagining this because it’s a sweet, sweet dream ya’ll.  A dream of mums everywhere and, the best part is, you can BUY this dream for yourself.  Anytime you want.  

Like magic.

From………..the supermarket.

My Main Course has just launched in New Zealand so Dave and I ran the Pulled Pork variety through the Jack Family Dinner Gauntlet with baited breath;

  • If we had left the dinner run too late, and the prep took longer than expected all efforts would be wasted; Nix would be overtired and won’t eat. He would be late getting to bed and make our lives a misery the next day.
  • If it was gross?  See above.

Stressy!  Going rogue at dinner time with our two bottomless pits is a major risk! Luckily our gamble paid off, dinner time was amaze and we all loved the Pulled Pork in Smokey BBQ Sauce from My Main Course – and by loved, I mean inhaled, same same.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Pulled Pork Recipe

10 Minute Pulled Pork Tacos

You will need;

1 pack of My Main Course Pulled Pork

Tortillas

Shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, avocado etc

Sour cream, corn chips and hot sauce or salsa to serve.

Optional – try rice and black/refried beans on the side!

How to:

  1. Heat pork via pack instructions (stovetop or microwave)
  2. Chop fresh veges
  3. Gently warm tortillas to prevent splitting when you roll them, 15-20 seconds in the microwave or splash some water on each side and warm in a pan.
  4. Layer the pork, veges, sour cream and salsa or hot sauce on your tortillas (don’t overfill!), add some corn chips on the side (and rice and beans if you made them)
  5. Enjoy!

You just smashed out an amazingly delicious dinner, using quality ingredients that (I’m sure!) your family loved!  You just won parenting today, take a bow!

The My Main Course range (Thai Green Curry, Mexican Chicken, Pulled Pork, Savoury Mince, Baked Beans, Green Lentil Dahl) is perfect for helping busy families whip up great tasting meals with minimal prep time.  Your meal base is all done, you just choose your sides and get creative – or not lol, totally up to you.

WIN > I have a $50 supermarket voucher to give away thanks to My Main Course!  Just comment below and let me know which variety you and your family would love to try first.  Check out another awesome recipe using My Main Course and enter to win ANOTHER $50 voucher here > Thai Chicken Pies

Competition closes 9/12/16, NZ residents only.  This post was sponsored by My Main Course – thanks guys!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Pulled Pork Recipe

Summer Style – Easy, Chic Mum Fashion

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer mum Fashion

Shop the Look > Busy Chic

Maya Spliced Stripe Skirt RRP $25 (available instore), Maya Chambray Shirt Dress RRP $39 (selling fast!), Garage Anglaise Bardot Top RRP $39, Garage Chambray Shirt RRP$30, Amco Knit Boyfriend Jeans RRP $49 (low stock, 2 sizes left online!), Debut Farae Casual Shoe RRP $20, Debut Cut Out Tote Handbag RRP $29, H&H Essentials Leaf Necklace RRP $15, Beach Works Women’s Round Fashion Sunglasses RRP $20, Fitbit Alta Blue Small RRP $229

You guys went crazy over my summer mood boards (here) so I had to show just how well these separates actually fit, and how awesome they look on…….ME! – I think lol.  I LOVE each of these pieces and can’t wait to mix them into my existing wardrobe.  I’m still totally gobsmacked that I was able to source 4 outfits in one 20 minute shop + fitting room session!  New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer mum FashionThat’s the beauty of shopping at The Warehouse, everything you need is in one place.

So, I’ve recreated the four Busy Chic looks as they will all serve me really well as I move between blogger events, Mum activities and the occasional date night.  This look is comfy but put-together and works well with a wedge or heel but can also be dressed down with a flat sandal.

I subbed out the Debut Farae Casual Shoe for the video as I saw the Rilla Sandals while I was shopping and instantly knew how essential an espadrille wedge is for the summer ahead, especially a pair as comfortable and versatile as these are.

I’d love you to check out the video below, I promise you’ll be surprised with how well these clothes translate off the hanger and onto the body of a very normal mum-bod.  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

These styles have been super popular so head in store quickly to see the full range and the new styles that are arriving all the time!

 WIN > I have a $50 gift card from The Warehouse to giveaway so you can update your Summer Style!  To enter, tell me in the comments below what your favourite piece is from the Busy Chic lookbook.  Don’t forget, there’s another chance to enter on the first Summer Fashion blog post here x

Competition closes 30/11/16, NZ residents only.

 

Science and Skincare for your baby – Start Fresh with the Facts

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog FamilyJohnson's Baby

This post is sponsored by Johnson’s Baby, all copy and opinions expressed within are my own.

For an expectant parent, the 9 months prior to the arrival of a new baby is one filled with choices. To find out the gender of your most awaited delivery…….or not, to paint the nursery this colour………or that, this name, that name, hospital or home birth, breast or bottle, cloth or disposable……an endless keep-you-up-at-night intro to the never-ending decisions that mean you’ve made it – your choices will affect the welfare of your small-person for the next 18 years or so. Congratulations!

Our second son Nixon arrived in 2013, we were in NZ this time, and I realised once again that I knew absolutely nothing about being a parent – the only familiar thing was the feeling of knowing absolutely nothing lol. What was vastly different from 2004 when Ethan was born, was, the digital landscape had become a very real, almost tangible part of our daily lives, especially mine as a blogger and a mother. As parents, we now head online to research, discuss and vet our social audiences of their opinions on every aspect of our lives. We have intimate access to the lives of people that we barely know, we ‘friend’ people that are perhaps just a passing acquaintance and are then subject to their own views, lifestyle choices and social media ‘highlight reel’.

The influence of our own parents, close family and trusted friends has waned, taking a back seat to the ever accessible opinions and choices of those on the other end of a Twitter or Instagram handle. As a result, the choices we make as parents, both for ourselves and our kids can become based upon strong, reactive emotions, such as guilt, fear, inadequacy and envy.

I’ve had the ‘Mummy-guilt’ discussion with every single one of my female friends at some point over the past 11.5 years and though it manifests differently for each of us, it’s a massive driver when it comes to making purchasing decisions for our families. As new parents, we have literally 100’s of things more pressing requiring our attention than allowing ourselves to feel guilty for not purchasing the latest celeb endorsed green/vegan/organic/quinoa based/activated/squeezed-through-hemp-filters-held-by-yogis bubble bath for our precious bundles of joy.

Am I right?

In an effort to help shift this feeling of guilt from at least one aspect of daily life, I went straight to the company with the most research published, & the most peer reviewed baby skincare brand, Johnson’s Baby, and got the answers I need to make buying baby care products a choice that doesn’t require a referendum on Facebook – or a science degree!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog FamilyJohnson's Baby

4 things you need to know about Baby Products

  1. Are they safe? Pretty much a key concern I’d say and rightly so! Johnson’s baby products meet or exceed government standard in the countries they are sold. In New Zealand, baby personal care products are classified as cosmetics and Johnson’s Baby adhere to the New Zealand Cosmetic Product Group Standard.
    Prior to that, a robust internal safety mandate should be in place. Johnson’s Baby use a 5 step safety process that begins by sourcing raw materials from their trusted suppliers who comply with J&J’s strict safety standards, these materials are then tested, and are rejected if a full safety profile is not met. Next, different experts such as dermatologists, ophthalmologists & paediatricians clinically test the products for safety, suitability for use on s The products are also tested for environmental impact.  The next step is in-use testing of products by volunteers around the world, in their homes, the ‘uncontrolled’ environments of the real world. They also tested their products in the lab under several conditions such as extreme heat, cold, and humidity to make sure the products are safe and consistent. Only after this scrutiny are Johnson’s Baby products ready to hit the shelves. The 5th step is ongoing evaluation and consumer feedback as well as continued research into new and better ingredients to further improve products.
  2. If a product is marked as ‘natural’ what does that mean? I have a big issue with this one as it seems like certain terms such as ‘natural’ are bandied about in both product labelling and marketing without too much explanation of what actually constitutes a completely ‘natural’ product. I would argue that a natural product is one that contains no synthetic ingredients at all. This can seem like an attractive option for those concerned about synthetic products in skincare. It’s worth noting that some natural products and ingredients can be harsh on baby’s skin. For example, plant extracts will vary in quality and performance depending on how they are sourced and this can lead to irritation. In fact, some synthetic ingredients offer high performance, consistent quality, low impurities and excellent safety, that is why sometimes synthetic ingredients are added into Johnson’s baby products.
  3. How to understand ingredient labels? Much like reading food labels, reading product ingredient labels has become de rigueur for the modern parent. There is no simple how-to here, only reassurance in that there IS a global system for labelling personal care products called the INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) labelling system. What this means is that ingredients are required to be identified using standard scientific names so it’s easy to compare products across different languages. This system is in place on all Johnson’s Baby products so you can compare apples with apples right there in the supermarket aisle!
  4. Are there ingredients I should be concerned about? This is the million dollar question isn’t it and probably one of the main reasons why there is now so much choice in the baby care category. Remove an ingredient from a product or switch it out with an alternative and you’ve immediately got a point of difference. Most of us have probably heard of parabens, phthalates, SLS and maybe formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (I had never heard of this last one!), but, what you may not know, these ingredients are not added into Johnson’s baby products . Ah-maze!

I’m what I’d describe as a very ‘moderate’ parent. Until just 2 weeks ago we’ve never had to implement exclusion diets in our house but, moderation, exercise and family fitness is non-negotiable. Likewise, I don’t purchase products based upon their ingredients list, I simply purchase products that I like from brands that I trust. I’m sure this sounds more than a bit familiar to some of you right?! In between the housework, chauffeuring, grocery shopping, household admin, working, cooking, management of sports teams and breathing, if my mind happened to drift to the phthalate content of Nixon’s Johnson’s baby shampoo, I can now rest assured, safe in the knowledge that there isn’t any in there!

One less choice to make and one less thing to feel guilty about ; )

For more information on Johnson’s Baby products please click here.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog FamilyJohnson's Baby

Your People

On Friday afternoon I was asked to fill in for a touch team that night at 6.30pm.

I’d never played for this team before.  

Didn’t really know who was in it.  

Playing meant delaying Friday drinks.  I say that like it’s an ‘occasion’ but it’s really Dave and I avoiding the children’s bedtime with a can in hand and pretending we’re loving life at the minute until we can’t stand the kids fighting a moment longer!  So yes, playing meant delaying drinks for an hour or so as my mediocre skill level doesn’t really need alcohol impeding my performance anymore than natural selection already has.

However, playing meant leaving the house at 6pm and avoiding bedtime altogether.

Naturally I said yes.

So our touch rugby team plays at the club on Thursdays, it’s a busy night, lots of teams and lots of our friends.  Friday touch is still at our local club, literally a stones throw from our house, but has a smaller league of teams and I had no idea who would be there.

I left the house in a usual ‘Mum-dithery-rush’ carrying nothing which was entirely refreshing as I’ve had to lower myself to using an Iphone 4s whilst my beautiful Samsung is getting a new screen installed.  LIFE IS SO HARD RIGHT NOW, DAMN YOU TINY PHONE!

Needless to say the phone stayed at home and Dave ended up chasing after me with $20 in case I wanted to stay for a drink.  Some people won $44 million in Lotto this week, we won $109!!!  Cash rich yo.

The point to this schpiel is thus;  you might have daughters, in which case, a place you might find yourself often could be a ballet studio, or slumped in the stands watching hours on end of gymnastics, or freezing your tits off alongside a netball court all winter.  I have two boys and live one street over from a rugby club, ergo, we are there ALL the damn time.  Wherever you find yourself because of your kids or your job or your husband, or your parents, make friends, make those people your people.  Take the opportunity to get out of the house on a Friday night when the last thing you want to do is run around wondering if your muffin top is escaping the compression tights yet and throw a freaking ball!

Because the person catching it just might want to sit down afterwards and have a beer and talk about Donald Fucking Trump or tattoos, or kids – subjects you could go on about for hours.  

Find your people wherever life has landed you.  They are there, I guarantee it.  They might not look like you or your preconceived notion of what your tribe should look like but they are there and they are quite possibly awesome.

Let me know when you find them xx

PS love you Old Spice, On Target and all you other westie randoms that make our club so rad x

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer mum Santa Parade

 

That Retail Life – What’s Hot This Week + Win!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Retail New products Smirnoff Pure
I’m seeing a lot of awesome new products each week so thought it was about time I curated these new releases into a weekly ‘Hot List’ that’s short and snappy, giving you guys the lowdown on the latest and greatest from brands we love.

What’s New  – November #1

Marcel’s Happy Pancakes – Gluten Free RRP $4.99

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Retail New productsMarcel’s have rebranded and launched Happy Pancakes – Gluten Free this month, perfect timing for our family as Nixon and I are gluten free right now as we try a diet modification to get our asthma under control.  The entire freezer range, Happy Pancakes, Ooh La La Crepes and Fancy Blinis, are sporting the cute new packaging so make sure you keep an eye out for the fun imagery in good supermarkets and specialty food stores nationwide.

Mac’s Brewhouse Non-Alcoholic Soda 4 Pack RRP $6.99

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Retail New products

I attended the launch for these new, low sugar, zero alcohol adult sodas this week and they are sooooo good!  This is brewed soda with a malt base combined with juices, spices and natural flavours and the result is freaking delicious!  My faves are the Citrus & Vanilla and the Lime and Coconut and these two are joined by Ginger Root and Lemon & Barley, perfect summer flavours for the season ahead.  I’m already dreaming up cocktail recipes using these as mixers, yum!

Available in a four-pack in supermarkets and single bottles at Z and BP stations.

Donovan’s Seasonal Collection RRP $8.99

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Retail New products

I lOVE Donovan’s Seasonal Collection for Christmas gifts!  These beautiful, limited edition treats are perfect presents for teachers, tutors, neighbours or are lovely to add to the dessert table on Christmas Day.  The kiwi flavours are what makes this range totally special; Fruit and Nut Chocolate Bark, Chocolate Gingerbread Clusters, Coconut Ice Squares, Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels, Double Chocolate Fudge and Almond and Cranberry Clusters will leave you wanting to try every variety in the range.

Available in leading supermarkets and specialty stores nationwide.

How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan RRP 19.99

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Retail New products

A new Christmas story each year has always been a tradition in our house and this Christmas Eve How-To guide is soooo cute!  How to Catch Santa is a super fun story but it’s also choc full of great ideas for ramping up the magic for your littles this Christmas!  This is a story your family will love and pretty much use as a roadmap to a festive Christmas Eve, this year and well into the future.

Manuka Doctor Cashmere Touch Cream RRP $49.95New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Retail New products

The third product to complete the Drops of Crystal range from Manuka Doctor has just launched and Cashmere Touch Cream is just as luxe and gorgeous as you would expect.  Tested over 10 minute and 28 day periods, the combination of Purified Bee Venom and Manuka Honey with crystal tears – oil extracted from the Pistacia Lentiscus tree is delivering 97% of respondents wrinkle reduction and increased firmness with 90% reporting increased skin elasticity after 28 days.

The sensation of applying this cream will have you converted after a single use, it’s absolutely gorgeous!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Retail New products Smirnoff PureSmirnoff Pure Pre-Mixed Vodkas RRP $12.99 for a four-pack

YAY.  I’m a BIG fan of vodka cocktails but can’t stomach the sugary sweet overload of many pre-mixed offerings.  Smirnoff have nailed these four flavours, I found it very hard trying to decide my fave but they’re are all delish.  Choose between my pick, Ginger, Lime & Soda and Classic Lime & Soda, Cranberry Apple & Soda and Passionfruit, Lime & Soda,

Available from all good stockists this month.

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Ernest Adams Slices, loaves, Cakes and Cookies RRP $4.99

One of NZ’s fave brands has been baking up sweet treats for over 80 years and now the good bakers at Ernest Adams have revamped their slices, loaves and cookies adding better quality ingredients, new recipes and bigger slices and cookies.  New additions like Rocky Road Slice and Salted Caramel and Pecan Slice are sure to make a big impression this kiwi summer.

I have two amazing Ernest Adams prize packs to giveaway, to enter just leave a comment below!

Competition closes Sunday 20th 10pm.  NZ residents only.
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Easy Oral Health Tips for Kids + Win a Philips Sonicare Toothbrush!

 

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My two boys are complete opposites when it comes to brushing their teeth and sticking to a good oral health routine.  One will want to brush his teeth every single time he hears someone in the bathroom, whilst the other will ‘forget’ and actually leave the house – my worst nightmare! – without brushing his teeth.

We are not sharks (good discussion starter with your kids perhaps? lol), with only two sets of teeth over our lifetime we need to take super good care of them and teach our kids to do the same.  Like anything, establishing great oral health habits isn’t complicated, it’s just about consistency and routine.  Combining these two things with the right tools and your kids should be well on their way to a lifetime of great oral hygiene… fingers crossed!

Easy Oral health Tips for Kids

    1. Fluoride Toothpaste
      A tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste is recommended to clean children’s teeth as soon they pop up.  Fluoride helps to strengthen teeth and prevent decay.
    2. Don’t fear the Dentist!  
      In New Zealand kids receive free basic dental care until they’re 18!  Yay!  This means, regular checkups, cleaning, X-rays, preventative treatments like fluoride or fissure, sealants, fillings and extractions.  Your child should be automatically enrolled at birth and be seen for their first check-up before they turn two.  Nix has just been for his 2nd visit and it’s totally no big deal, it honestly takes 10 minutes max and he enjoyed the whole process.  Call 0800 Talk Teeth (0800 825 583) for more info.
    3. Start early
      Good oral hygiene begins even before bubs has his/her first teeth.  Using a soft cloth to clean gums and their tongue helps remove bacteria in the mouth.  Keep up the good work with gentle brushing with fluoride toothpaste once teeth develop and continue to monitor toothbrushing habits until kids are at least 8 years old.
    4. Do it right
      Technique is everything!  Kids can struggle with the amount of pressure to use, the right angles to hit those hard to reach spots and remembering which segment they’ve brushed etc.  Having the right tools helps. Ethan’s been using the Philips Sonicare for Kids Toothbrush which uses a dynamic side-to-side cleaning action, rather than a rotating action and has over 31,000 brush strokes per minute which helps remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush, and (I’m sure!) is hugely more effective than the snail’s pace with which he was brushing his teeth before!
    5. Floss
      I didn’t know this!!!  Kids should be flossing as soon as teeth are touching the adjacent tooth.  Flossing removes bits of food and plaque that get stuck between teeth, as brushing alone simply can’t reach these tricky spots.  It’s about time that our boys step things up in this department.

The toothbrush E’s using below is the new Philips Sonicare for Kids.  It’s totally removed my urge to monitor how long he spends brushing his teeth as it has a built-in KidTimer that lets him know when it’s time to switch to a new spot and (crucially!) when he has finished brushing his teeth.  He’s also been able to customise it with fun, interchangeable stickers that have got little Nixon seething about his big brother’s new fancy toothbrush!  Suitable for ages 4+, Nix will have his own soon enough.  A bathroom used by two young boys can get super messy, so I’m loving the anti-roll feature of the Philips Sonicare which helps keep the bathroom at least a little bit cleaner!

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You can win a Philips Sonicare for Kids toothbrush RRP $99.95 right here!

To enter, comment below with any tips you have for getting the kids to brush and I’ll choose a winner at random 17/11/16!  NZ residents only.  You can gain a second entry here > Happy, Healthy Halloween Ideas for Kids.New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Healthy Halloween Ideas

 

Auckland’s Christmas Tradition – Farmers Santa Parade 2016

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Kiwi’s are a funny old bunch when it comes to traditions aren’t we?  Here in New Zealand we don’t have too many hard and fast holiday routines when compared to other countries but we sure love those traditions that have stood the test of time – none more so than the spectacular Farmers Santa Parade which is set to kick off the Christmas season on Sunday 27 November (rain date 4 December) for the 83rd year!

My childhood can pretty easily be delineated by the annual pelting of one’s small body with a barrage of Mackintosh’s toffees, Milkshakes and Minties during the parade, the awe inspiring thrum of the bagpipes as they moved up Queen St and the frantic last minute dash to claim Dad’s shoulders and get a good wave in before Santa passed by for another year.

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I loved it in the eighties and I love it even more now that I get to share this special event with my own kids!

Making the Farmers Santa Parade Easy

Don’t put the parade in the too hard basket guys!  This is definitely a day that’s a childhood rite of passage and the kids need YOUR help to get there!  We took four kids last year, had no trouble finding a carpark, found a perfect, uncrowded, front row spot and didn’t get stuck in traffic on the way home – it can be done and the kids (and you) will have a blast! 

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  • Leave early – rushing = stress.  The Farmers Santa Parade 2016 is on Sunday 27 November (rain date 4 December) at the earlier time of 1pm.
  • Plan ahead – Know where you’re going ahead of time.  Plan your public transport here or figure out where you’re going to park before you get to the city.  Enjoy free parking at both Downtown and Victoria St carparks for all vehicles exiting between 1pm and 6pm on parade day!
  • Know the new route – The Parade Route starts at the corner of Cook Street and Mayoral Drive, turns left into Queen Street, travels down Queen Street and right into Customs Street East, ending at the corner of Britomart Place.  More info here
  • Get ready and get in the Christmas spirit!  Think backpacks full of water,  a picnic blanket and a packed lunch or treat yourself to some yummy eats whilst in town.  Either way, you’re going to have a great afternoon!

This year a new charity partner has been announced with funds collected at the 2016 parade going to The Salvation Army to provide much needed support for families during the challenging Christmas period.  Last year we had Elmo (Nixon’s favourite!), this year parade highlights include three Angry Birds helium inflatables from Canada, Disney’s Mickey and Minnie inflatables, an Olympics float, LEGO character Clay from Nexo Knights, Austin Powers and a Cinderella float – it’s going to be amazing!

The party doesn’t stop there, if you’re keen for more festive fun, swing by Aotea Square for Santa’s after party starting at 2:30 pm and featuring a continuous stage show as well as rides, celebrities, face painting and a spectacular LEGO Christmas Tree. Santa will be on hand too for those that just need more of the Jolly old Soul!

We’ll be there with bells on – probably literally!

Merry Christmas!

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New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer mum Santa Parade New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer mum Santa ParadeNew Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer mum Santa Parade