Creamy Avocado Basil Zoodles Recipe

Oh.  My.  Lord.

Never made zoodles before, preeeety sure I’ve never created OR made a whole foods recipe before either.

First time for everything – including using New Hemisphere Hemp Seed Oil –  and let me tell you, I will be making this again, and again and again.  The nutty taste of the Hemp Seed Oil is the perfect complement to the smooth, creamy avocado blend (especially as I forgot to buy pine nuts for the pesto!).

I read a lot about zoodles before I began, it seems the key to making them is not to overcook them, you don’t want a pile of courgette / zucchini mush on your plate.  Use the same principles as cooking regular pasta – firm, al dente noodles are your goal.

Creamy Avocado Basil Zoodle Recipe
Print
For the Zoodles
  1. 2 x zuchinni
  2. 1 x carrot
  3. 1 x garlic glove
  4. 1/4 red onion
  5. 1/4 red capsicum
  6. 1 x tblsp olive oil
For the Sauce
  1. 2 x ripe avocados
  2. 2 x garlic cloves
  3. 18-ish basil leaves
  4. 3 1/2 tblsp Hemp Seed Oil
  5. Squeeze of lemon
  6. Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. - Spiralize your zucchini and carrot (I use the amaze OXO Hand Spiralizer from Stevens).
  2. - Chop garlic, onion and capsicum, saute in olive oil
  3. - Add carrot zoodles to pan about a minute ahead of zucchini
  4. - Cook for approx 5 minutes, stirring constantly
  5. - Remove from heat as soon as zoodles begin to soften, but still firm.
  6. - Add avocado, chopped garlic cloves, basil leaves, lemon and hemp seed oil to blender bowl.
  7. - Whizz it all up and add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Gently stir sauce through zoodles, add olives, chopped tomatoes and grated parmesan to serve.
http://www.thebestnest.co.nz/
New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Zoodles Recipe

If you would like to win an OXO Good Grips Spiralizer (which is what I used to whip up this dish!), just leave a comment below, it’s that easy!

I’ll draw a winner 22/2/17, NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family zoodle zoodles spiraliser spiralizer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to School Lunches: 4 Ways with Wraps

Kids and lunchboxes.

Here we go again for another year!

My kids start off the school year quite enthused about lunches but, as each term draws to a close, we find more and more food coming home uneaten.  Which makes me cringe for two reasons;

  1. Both of the boys are huge, hungry eaters.  If they’re leaving food in the lunchboxes they will be hungry.  Not an ideal situation when they need fuel to stay focused at school and kindy.
  2. The wasted food!!!! Throwing lunchbox rejects away just hurts, plain and simple.

After 12 years of making lunch for Ethan, I’m fairly sure that the secret to an empty lunchbox is variety.  Peanut butter sandwiches day after day doesn’t cut it and ‘lunchbox fatigue’ quickly sets in.

Farrah’s Snack Wraps are a delicious school lunch solution.  I’ve partnered with them to show you how we use their range to give the boys some yummy lunchbox variations that are super easy to make.  Available in White (totally dairy free!) and the new Cheesy variety (made from REAL cheese!), the size is perfect for little hands and as you’ll see in my video, they never crack or split when you roll them!

Look out for Farrah’s wraps and little monsters in a supermarket near you, RRP $5.50.

 Lunchbox Ideas: 4 Ways with Farrah’s Snack Wraps

Pizza Quesadillas

  • Spread open wrap with tomato sauce and mayonnaise.
  • Add yummy pizza fillings; we used salami and cheese.
  • Fold in half and heat in a pan until cheese is melted and both sides are golden brown.

Peanut Butter Banana Roll-Ups

  • Spread open wrap with peanut butter.
  • Peel a banana and lay it down on one side of the wrap.
  • Add raisins or a little honey, then roll everything up.
  • Cut into rounds for little hands or leave as is.

Hot Dog Roll-Ups

  • Pre-cook hot-dogs, sausages or cheerios.
  • Cut straight edges on 2 sides of the wrap.
  • Spread open wrap with tomato sauce and mustard.
  • Place hot-dog along one of the straight edges.
  • Add cheese and any other toppings.
  • Roll up.
  • Spray some oil in a pan
  • Carefully place hot-dog in pan, turning so it’s golden brown all over.
  • Remove from pan and cut into rounds for little hands or leave whole.

Classic Filled Wraps

  • Spread open wrap with hummus
  • Add fillings of choice to one side of wrap.  We used chicken, carrots, lettuce, capsicum and cheese
  • Fold the bottom of wrap up towards the middle.
  • Roll the wrap, filled side first.
  • Use toothpicks to hold wrap together as an alternative to plastic wrap.

Win with Farrah’s!

I have 5 prize packs to giveaway, each containing a Farrah’s Lunchbox and packs of Farrah’s Snack Wraps. 

To enter just comment below with your favourite way to use Farrah’s wraps.

Competition closes 5/2/17 NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Back to School Lunches

 

 

Health & Beauty Releases January

Well, Summer, you haven’t quite made it to New Zealand (yet – I’m still hopeful!) but some gorgeous new beauty releases certainly graced our shores this month.  January brought something for everyone and for every budget.  SPF products are, of course, seasonally popular right now, but here in NZ we need to be using these all year long, so consider the ‘sunny’ season a great opportunity to firm-up your faves for the months ahead.


New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Beauty Review

M·A·C wowed this month with the release of their cult classic Strobe Cream in four new shades; Pinklite (the original) plus Peachlite, Silverlite, Redlite and Goldlite RRP $70.  These stunning luminescent moisturizers are tired skin’s bff (read: this mama’s wearing them everyday!).  Also on counter is Extra Dimension Skin Finish in four new shades; Show Gold peach that breaks pink, Double Gleam beige that breaks silver, Beaming Blush pink that breaks gold, Soft Frost white that breaks violet RRP $64.

Available now at all authorized M·A·C locations.
New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Beauty Review
Extra Dimension Skinfinish Double-Gleam beige that breaks silver

BRUSH ON BLOCK is a product I’m freaking in LOVE with.  Here’s the scenario; makeup done, out to an event with family/friends/work whatever, sun is blazing (which would be weird, I know AUCKLAND!), and your only option is to ruin your glam face with oily sunscreen (or melanoma) and sometimes a hat is just not enough, or not appropriate.  

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Beauty Review

BRUSH ON BLOCK is an on-the-go mineral SPF30 sunscreen in a translucent powder form.  It’s a perfect purse-sized compact with built in dispensing brush that lets you apply sunscreen both underneath and on top of makeup as well as those super tricky places that are often left exposed, such as your part or around your hairline.  I love it and I’m never leaving home without it in my bag.

BRUSH ON BLOCK is vegan, not tested on animals and is gentle enough for kids or those with sensitive skin.  RRP $44, visit www.houseofcamille.co.nz to find your nearest stockist.

NZ beauty innovator, Mellow Cosmetics this month released their much-anticipated brow range and it’s predictably freaking awesome.  The combo of great makeup, vegan and cruelty-free goodness and amazing price-points is a winner you guys!

Meet the line-up;

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Beauty Review

Brow Definer Pencil $22, available in 4 shades, Brow Pomade $19.50, available in 4 shades, Brow Powder Duo $22, available in 4 shades, Tinted Brow Gel $19.50, available in Dark Brown and Light Brown.

My pick is the Brow Powder Duo, I love that you’re only paying for two shades as opposed to the four that many palettes come with – and that you’ll never use.  Available in Caramel, Mocha, Chocolate and Taupe.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Beauty ReviewTo be totally honest with you, I’m counting calories and steps right now in an effort to lose the 5kg’s that crept on throughout 2016 and I’m not above taking help where I can get it.  Good Health Synetrim® Slim has hit selected leading pharmacies and health stores RRP $36.90.

Helping to block the absorption of fat, carbs, sugar and manage cravings, Synetrim® is a formula patented for weight loss and metabolic function through 6 key actions;

  1. Triple Absorption Blocker, 2.  Healthy Fat Metabolism, 3.  Mood Balance, 4.  Healthy Cholesterol, 5.  Appetite and Craving Management, 6.  Blood Sugar Balance.

Sounds amaze right?  Everything I need so fingers crossed it helps and you KNOW I’ll give you the scoop if it does xx

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Beauty ReviewSo a new brand I discovered and loved in 2016 was Atzen.  I finished my RENEW™ – Vita C Serum without missing a day, I loved it so much and I’m currently using BALANCE™ – DNA Repair Serum – Age Reverse Safely™ which is equally effective in softening existing textural imbalances (of which I have many due to scarring and sun damage) and providing long lasting hydration.

So, obviously a fan, I was so happy to receive the ATZEN Balance Bio-Active Complex SPF15™ RRP $139.  Sunscreen is my jam and this organic, nano-particle and petrochemical free formulation protects from pollution and ultraviolets whilst hydrating skin and promoting a youthful, glowing complexion.  I’ve only just started using it but am impressed after a couple of days, key point – non-greasy yay!

The BEST smelling body lotion EVER!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Beauty Review

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  There is no respite.  Even if you’re putting back your 2.25l a day (I’m trying I swear!) your skin will still need some external help.  Sukin win The Best Nest Best Body Lotion award with their Moisture Rich Body Crème RRP $20.99.  I just want to eat it.

Seriously.

Smelling like lemon curd and delivering great hydration at a great price and ticking all the vegan, carbon neutral, no animal-testing, no SLS, no SLES, no parabens and no mineral oil boxes, Moisture Rich Body Crème is an absolute GEM.

Love, love love!  

Available at Farmers, pharmacies and health stores nationwide.

See you next month!

 

School Uniform Shopping – Win with Postie+

There are sooo many expenses for families at this time of year; Christmas, school holidays, the plethora of summer ice creams and activities, chased by the Back to School series of shopping expeditions.  January can put a massive strain on the family finances.  Postie+ surveyed kiwi families to get a real feel for how they feel about the Back to School season, and the results speak volumes;

  • 88% of Kiwi families experience financial stress caused by buying uniforms at back to school time (35% experiencing ‘significant’ financial stress)
  • As a result, families are sacrificing basic necessities such as food, electricity, clothing and personal hygiene (22%) alongside entertainment (60%), gifts (22%) and personal luxuries like homewares and fashion clothing (70%)
  • 72% of parents find school uniforms too expensive and 53% of parents believe they are poor quality
  • Parents think they are paying more than double for school uniforms than what they are worth. The average cost of a child’s school uniform is $265, with parents ideally wanting to spend only $131
  • 69% of parents would like the option to purchase a generic uniform alternative

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family School Uniform

Uniforms are one of the most non-negotiable and often expensive items we have to purchase for our kids each year, but this term, there’s some great news from Postie+ who have listened to their customers and come up with some amazing solutions to overpriced uniforms.

The launch of their new School+ range brings great value and a new option for New Zealand parents when shopping for schoolwear.  We’re talking 100% cotton polo shirts available in eight colours for just $3 – that’s crazy!

There’s also a handy 100-day quality guarantee and a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 25 for those hot and sunny playground days. Shorts and skorts sit at an enviable $7 price point, with the skort boasting perfect pleats to significantly reduce parents’ ironing time – more good news!  

The range is available now in store and online here > School+

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family School Uniform

Postie+ and their new range of School+ generic schoolwear are totally awesome and as such, they are going to hook one of you guys up with a $50 Postie+ voucher so you can check out the new uniform range for yourself!

To enter, just leave a comment below and tell me how much you’d normally spend on school uniforms.

Comp closes Friday 27/1/16 10am.  NZ residents only.

Just think of all the other things you’ll be able to spend your money on once you’ve saved heaps on uniforms at Postie+!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family School Uniform

 

Summer Reading List

The past 3 weeks have felt long and luxurious.  Work has slowed after a manic end to 2016 and I’ve been rediscovering (and prioritising the things that make me happy; my family, my health, my home, travel and……..reading.

I’m on my 6th book since December 19th and I’ve no plans to slow down!  I’ve read a sweeping variety of novels covering a historical murder, transitional teen/adult coming of age, a legal thriller, an angsty misunderstood artist, the Italian mafia and some travel research for an upcoming family adventure.  Saaaahhhh good!

Here are the books I’ve been devouring this summer;

Summer Reads 2017

The Whistler, John Grisham
New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer Reading List Book review The Whistler john GrishamI’ve been reading John Grisham for as long as I can remember and was totally pumped to dive into his latest novel, The Whistler.  The beginning of the novel is complicated by anonymous characters and secrets you won’t understand until the very end of the book.  Which is all good, you warm to it and become massively invested in the characters Grisham does introduce you to.  The plot twist here which turns this whole magnificent legal thriller on its head, is that the main character, young judicial investigator Lacy Stoltz, isn’t investigating a reported ‘crime’ as such, rather, allegations of a corrupt judge potentially enmeshed in years of criminal activity.

The crimes follow.  As a does a complicated web of intrigue that kept me speed reading.

Great book, perfect for downtime over summer.

Breathing Under Water, Sophie HardcastleNew Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer Reading List Book review Breathing Under Water Sophie Hardcastle

This is a beautiful, completely relatable and contemporary account of that treacherous time between the end of high school and one’s first tentative steps into the world as an adult.  A ‘perfect’ family living in an idyllic, close-knit community celebrate the joy of their twin’s imminent graduations.

Unfortunately, life’s never more than a couple of cm’s away from tragedy and when it hits the Walker family, young Grace is left positively floundering.

I loved this novel, seriously.  Hardcastle has successfully navigated what could potentially have been a very cliche subject with beautiful sentiment and prose creating unforgettable imagery that I’m still reminiscing about almost 2 weeks later!

It says on the cover that if you love John Green you’ll love Breathing Under Water and I entirely agree.

Coffin Road, Peter May

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer Reading List Book review Coffin Road Peter May

Seriously, is there anything better than reading a new author, LOVING the book and discovering that there is a pretty massive back-catalogue to get stuck into as WELL as a new novel coming out?  That’s how I feel about Peter May, my new thriller BFF.

Coffin Road is mental.  I loved this book.  It’s got spooky remote Scottish locations, historical mystery combined with sudden suicides, murder and amnesia!  Plus, bees and multinational corporations!  

Whew.  Despite all of that the pace of this book is just perfect, totally uncrowded if that makes sense?  A man (the main character) emerges washed up on a beach with no recollection of who he is or how he almost died.  Say whaaatttt?  Cray cray.  Gradually he puts the pieces together, only to have them fragment even further when a body is discovered, a murder he potentially committed.

I may have power read this novel.  It’s a winner for sure.

The Butcher’s Hook, Janet EllisNew Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer Reading List Book review The Butcher's Hook Janet Ellis

Well, this book is pretty much the polar opposite of Coffin Road, so let’s see which one you think sounds better – I loved them both.

It was another quick read for me, a very compelling story line here.  I never read historical fiction so this was a wee leap of faith and it totally paid off.  Jumping out of my usual fiction genre was so rewarding I’m going to do it more often in 2017!

The Butcher’s Hook is set in London, 1763.  We meet Anne and watch her character develop, on some levels, throughout the first third of the novel.  She is brave, she is over the patriarchal society in which she finds herself, her Dad sucks as does the major creep she’s been ‘promised’ to.

But what about that hawt young thing at the butcher’s shop?  Hmmm.  Major twists involved guys, you will be so surprised!

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, Anna North

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer Reading List Book review The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

There’s a little rule in life you may not be aware of; if Lena Dunham says something is awesome or ‘Unforgettable’ then it probably is.

I had no expectation surrounding this book, I don’t believe I even read the blurb on the back.  TLDSS is a snapshot of someone we can all imagine; gifted (beyond measure) in non-conventional ways, Sophie is a beautifully destructive force whose magnetic pull is impossible to escape.  A film-maker unlike any other, if unable to understand Sophie’s work, audiences could still respect it.  

North traverses Sophie’s life through the perspective of those who loved her and were destined to hurt through her.

It’s poignant and beautiful and an outstanding depiction of one of those people whom we can’t bear not to love.

Currently Reading:

No Mortal Thing, Gerald Seymour – Italian mafia goodness.  Just started, not entirely hooked yet.

Fodor’s Vietnam – Planning……….!!!!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Summer Reading List Book review No Mortal Thing

The Best One Pan Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Best Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Forget everything you thought you knew about Macaroni Cheese.  This is the easiest, quickest, most delicious Macaroni recipe you will ever make.  One pan.  One step.  Forget about boiling pasta, making a sauce, draining the pasta, combining the ingredients, baking……………this is too easy! Dave and I whipped this up in 20 minutes, seriously.
Press play to watch the 1 min video and check out the recipe below.

Enjoy!

The Best One Pan Macaroni Cheese Recipe
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 x 500gm bag macaroni elbows
  2. 4 cups chicken stock
  3. 1/2 cup warm water (if needed)
  4. 1 medium onion, chopped
  5. 1 clove garlic, chopped
  6. 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  7. 1.5 cups grated cheddar or mild cheese
  8. 2-3 slices of cooked bacon
  9. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in the pan you intend to use for the macaroni. Remove bacon from pan, add chopped onions and garlic. Sautee in bacon grease until soft.
  2. Return chopped bacon to pan.
  3. Add macaroni elbows. Stir to combine.
  4. Add chicken stock. Stir to combine.
  5. Place lid on pan. Simmer on low heat for 10-12 minutes until stock has reduced (not completely) and pasta is cooked but still firm.
  6. Add cheeses, stir to combine. Add additional water at this time if you need more liquid to form the cheese sauce.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Garnish with chives and serve.
http://www.thebestnest.co.nz/

Explore Queenstown Like a Local

AdvertisementDespite my sensibilities saying otherwise, packing up the kids and heading to Queenstown the Monday before Christmas was a genius idea – a trip I’m keen to repeat each December as a respite from the madness that is Auckland during peak retail season.  Trading the domestic duties of home for hotel life at the Crowne Plaza for a couple of nights was definitely NOT a difficult decision lol.  On a previous stay in Queenstown, we had coveted its lakeside location and as guests, we were not disappointed.  The views from our balcony were Instagram perfection!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Queenstown

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Queenstown Lake Wakatipu

We’ve got our family hotel-routine down to a fine art now.  As we spend an absolute minimal amount of time in our room, we bunk together, leaving more money in the holiday fund for our adventures.  The twin balcony room with views over Lake Wakatipu and out to The Remarkables was a perfect choice for Dave, the two boys and I – great, comfy beds, a workspace for me and a well-appointed bathroom for those holidays baths at the end of each busy day.  We’ve always found that IHG hotels do family stays really well.  The kids are always made to feel welcomed and catered for which is massively important when you travel a lot as a family.  Little touches like the activity packs gifted to the kids upon arrival were well thought out appreciated by both the boys and Dave and I.

Find out more about the deals available at Queenstown Crowne Plaza here

As one of New Zealand’s most visited tourist destinations, traffic in Queenstown can be a chaotic, gridlocked mess.  The first thing we did upon checking in was hand over the car keys to the hotel valet.  When you’re staying right in the centre of town, exploring on foot is a much better option than jostling for a car park.  Aside from day trips that may take you further afield, you have no need for a car when basing yourself at Crowne Plaza.  Foodies are spoilt for choice here, from Josh Emett’s renowned Rata (make a booking, it will not disappoint), to the iconic Fergburger (prepare for an epic wait for your epic burger), there are options for all budgets and tastes within a 2-minute radius of the hotel.
With 2 young boys in tow, breakfast sets the tone for the day.  Nix and E need to be loaded up and they need it early!  It was awesome being able to cruise downstairs as we woke and enjoy a full buffet that offered everything from a juice fountain to an egg chef plus cafe quality barista coffee for Mum and Dad!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Queenstown Crowne Plaza

Queenstown in summer is just as spectacular as the winter vistas the region is famed for.  The many lakes and surrounding mountainous terrain make it pretty easy to lose yourself in nature and ‘go bush’ if that’s your jam (it’s totally how we like to enjoy Queenstown!) or, you can go ‘Full Tourist’ and invest in the multitude of action adventures and guided tours on offer within the region.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Queenstown Crown Range

The sheer amount of options available in Queenstown can be overwhelming, so we chatted to a few locals whilst we were in town, gathered their opinions and formulated a wee list of faves to help kick off your own Queenstown adventure.

Explore like a local in Queenstown

Best place to Treat Yourself: Caci Clinic – trust me, you will fall in LOVE with microdermabrasion after just one session here!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Queenstown Facial Caci Clinic

Best Breakfast: Joe’s Garage, good coffee, open early.  Also try Bob’s Weigh.

Best Sweet Treat: Patagonia for chocolates, coffee, ice cream and frozen yoghurt.

Best spot for Drinks with the Girls: The Sundeck

Best Family Hike: Moke Lake circumference

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Queenstown Moke Lake hike

Best Quick Trip: Lake Wanaka

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Queenstown Lake Wanaka

Best Fish and Chip Shop: Fernhill

Best Burger: The World Bar

Best Pint with Kids in tow: Cowboys

Best wine Tasting: Gibbston Valley

Best Pub Lunch: Cardona Hotel

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Queenstown Cardrona Pub New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Queenstown Cardrona Pub

Best Lake Cruise: Million Dollar Cruise

Best Date Night Dinner Tips: Use www.firsttable.co.nz and www.bookme.co.nz to save some $$

Best Lunch on the Run: Pita Pit picnic boxes.  $15 pp incl. drink, pita + side

Best Sharing Plate Dinner: Blue Canoe

Best Sushi: Hikari Japanese Restaurant

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Queenstown Sushi

InterContinental Hotel Group are all about helping their guests make the most of local destinations and their precious holiday time.  I was chatting with the front desk staff at Crowne Plaza and they got so pumped discussing the seemingly endless options for family fun in Queenstown.  One thing they love to do is putting together packages and guides for guests whose interests might run the gamut from wine tasting to extreme adventures.

If you’re planning a trip in the near future then I’ve got a deal for you!  With my Refer-a-Friend code, when you make a booking over $80, you’ll receive a $40 charge-back from Booking.com on any completed stay when you make your booking using this link > Booking.com.  It couldn’t be easier; book your stay, have an awesome time, come home, check out your holiday snaps and look forward to $40 hitting your credit card account!

Disclaimer: Booking.com uses third party cookies to help provide personalised ads and analyse their traffic. This information may be shared with our advertisers, where it may be combined with other information you’ve given their website.

The Age of Uninspiring

January and all of the new beginnings a fresh, unsullied year brings leads to much self-reflection – sometimes.  It  can also lead to complete and utter flagellation of self as we go nuts on the bubbles, the bbq’s, the ‘amazing sales’, the realisation that the season we wait for all year is finally here and what better way to ring it in than with a third degree sunburn and a belly full of beer and pre-cooks!

Either way or a little bit of both right?

2017 is the year The Best Nest blog turns 10.  I have spent a quarter of my life forming these words, creating these images, making mistakes (many!) and also making friends though the opportunities presented around this little community.  The digital landscape today is so vastly different from that which existed in 2007 it’s almost unrecognisable.

Back then, we blogged for the sheer joy/relief/catharsis of discovering an outlet or creative medium that was just ‘ours’.  As a stay-at-home mum, The Best Nest became a place where I could explore and grow whatever mediocre talent I thought I had in the realm of online journalling.   Blogs were virtual destinations, bloggers the friends we wished lived next door.  There was no shortage of visual eye candy, crafty DIY marvels, projects to try and fail at. 

We were ALL inspired.

In the hey-day of ‘Less LOOK, more DO’ I learnt to crochet (and completed a huge blanket project with my Mum), I got out the sewing machine and made Ethan a wrestling dummy which the kids still use today, a beautiful advent calendar and Christmas bunting, participated in a sewing blog swap and made E some pillowcases when I couldn’t find ones I loved enough to purchase from a store.  I was creating in the kitchen all the time and my vegetable garden was amazing and as productive as I was with all of my ‘projects’ on the go!  I was constantly faffing about in the house, redecorating, refinishing, keeping both the inside and outside of wherever we lived spic and span.

I was happy.  I did things that made me happy.

Obviously, a sea-change in blogging can’t be held responsible for my own personal motivational rut.  There is definitely a LOT more at play there.  I worked my ass off in 2016 and prioritised that above all else.  I think a lot of us did.  For the first time in 10 years, there was an abundance of blogging work and I unapologetically ‘made hay whilst the sun shone’.

Meanwhile, the trend of ‘keeping it real’ in all aspects of blogging became the genre de jour – a complete juxtaposition to the social media darling-of-the-moment that is Instagram.  Where Mummy Blogging used to be a shambles of bunting headers and pastel cupcakes – annoyingly upbeat and positive, but in a real Holly Homemaker kind of way, you could always learn a thing or two, or at the very least, wake up in the morning inspired by something other than mastering the art of using Boomerang on Instagram.   What 2016  brought to the blogging table was a cold, dark wasteland of ‘truth’, where parenting became more difficult than joyous and our kids became little mess-makers that you had to share your Netflix account with.

Truth in every aspect of our lives is absolutely necessary, including in our writing, but there is always a choice about which truth we choose to share.  A wise mama whose blog I’ve been reading for years, Dee Rolston from Needle & Nail once wrote that she would no longer be writing about her children in a disparaging way.  That they too should be afforded the respect we extend to adults when choosing what to share online.  I remember thinking at the time that this was a pretty hardcore stance to take and what on earth would I write about if I chose not to bitch about my kids?

Dee’s sentiment has stuck with me for years and I’ve returned to it again and again, like a sweater that didn’t fit, just to try it on again for size.  And now I think it fits – at least as well as it’s ever going to.

Look, I get the whole ‘sisterhood’ thing that comes with the sharing and lamenting of our collective parenting hardships and that this is an immensely valuable connection in what’s becoming an increasingly fragmented society. Kids are nutters, this is a fact, and I will never dispute this,  but kids are also freaking awesome and surely there’s some epic shit to write about their good days right?  RIGHT?

One thing that really grates me right now is the ‘acceptance of average’ that has evolved in every forum that discusses modern mothering.  We are all ‘enough’, this is true, and this realisation is a wonderful place to arrive at as a mother and a thirty-something-year-old woman.  The problem is that the pendulum has swung a full 180° and mummy-shaming is now directed at those that like to pack a fully-styled bento lunchbox for their toddler each day, or those who are perceived as a bit more ‘yummy’ than mummy.  God forbid you cook, bake, keep a sparkling house, enjoy crafting and take pride in your home.  This is now considered way too positive and mundane for the general collective.

I want to be inspired again.  By whom, I’m not sure, but I hope they’re out there.

Just yesterday Stuff ran an article titled “In 2017, I’m aiming to be a worse mum“.  Yawn.  What in the actual fuck?  As one commenter wrote, “Oh dear…….another one of these”.

I have no idea really, but I feel like this article and the freaking bajillions of others out there that are written in a similar vein, are all based on the same basic premise; that we as women and mothers are infinitely influenced, pressured and judged by other women.  

What if this notion (that is reinforced every day by both bloggers and traditional media alike) was false?  Where is this perceived ‘pressure’ coming from?  What if the mum who chooses to spend some time each day styling Bento Lunchboxes actually gives zero fucks if you chuck some chips, a muesli bar, apple and peanut butter sandwich into a plain old Sistema storage box and call it lunch?  I don’t think she has time to worry about it aye?  I don’t have time to judge other mothers on their lunch-making skills, shit, I don’t even make the lunches in our house, my husband does!  I don’t feel bad for it nor do I feel like shaming the mamas who make beautiful lunches for their kids – that’s a hobby/interest/passion of theirs that actually produces something positive.  Power to them!

I wake up every morning and hope to be a better wife and mother than I was the day before.  I refuse to accept that average is the final destination and that taking pride in everything I hold dear (my kids, family, house) is something to be ashamed of or to explain away. I plan on celebrating the good in my life this year, dwelling on my bad days serves no purpose, sucks my motivation and impedes my ability to better myself in all aspects of my life.

I’m certainly not an inspirational person so I’m keen to discover blogs you love that celebrate life and family, are creative/inspirational/aspirational or those that motivate you in some way.  I’d love you to leave a comment with some links below xx

Happy New Year everyone!