Life’s Little Accidents, Boo Boos, Owies and Ouchies

I’m inherently clumsy, Dave is a skateboarding, rugby playing off-road runner, Ethan is a 12.5-year-old boy who plays rugby, basketball and is allergic to long pants and Nixon is your very typical, hyper-tornado-like almost four-year-old…….who also plays rugby.

My two boys (and their 40-year-old Dad!) are definitively of the scraped hands, scabby knees variety.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As opposite as chalk and cheese, Ethan and Nix take decidedly different approaches to Injury Management.  When he was younger Ethan would refuse (Mum) medical attention at all costs.  Antiseptic cream, disinfectant, plasters……..all have been rejected time and time again in favour of his ‘leave me alone’ au naturel approach.  Nixon, on the other hand, is all about having his minor, invisible, pretend?? injuries well dressed, often multiple times per day.  The attention he receives along with (preferably) colourful bandages to treat his toddler-wounds are very obviously seen by him as his rewards for being a brave boy and surviving another horrendous attack on his knees by the garden path.

Indeed!

To this end, my first-aid supplies are a crucial component in my never-ending quest to nail this mothering gig.  Don’t ever, ever run out of plasters guys, especially if a young man’s heart is set on a zebra print waterproof strip.  Heaven forbid!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Nexcare Bandages

Not all wound-care products are created equal as Nixon can attest.  He reacts horribly to insect bites and after his ankles were eaten alive at his Dad’s rugby game on Saturday he had scratched and scratched until he’d broken the skin. We raided the rugby first aid kit and covered his little sores with the plasters on hand.  Fast forward to his swimming lesson on Monday as he shook his head in disapproval at his sad, white, wrinkled plasters and said, “Miss Irene will NOT be happy if this plaster comes off in the pool!”. Ew!  I definitely wouldn’t want Miss Irene and other pool users to have to endure Nixie’s soggy, scabby old plaster floating around, which is why we whipped it off and replaced it with a Nexcare™ Animal Print Waterproof Bandage (bonus mum points for animal print!).

These bandages are next level.  They remind me of Nixon’s hospital dressings from when he was younger but are way easier to apply, I can even do it with one hand – which is how we mums do most things so we should be good at it by now!  When Nix has had a mozzie or sandfly bite, he often keeps scratching even after applying antihistamine cream and a plaster. Other brands catch under his fingers and end up just getting scratched right off whereas Nexcare Animal Print Waterproof Bandages 360° seal sticks tight, plus, they are so comfy he forgets they’re there until he catches a glimpse of his ‘lizard skin’ and gets stoked all over again!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Nexcare Bandages

We’ve put our Nexcare Animal Print Waterproof Bandages through the full Jack Boy experience; they’ve survived swimming lessons, a basketball game, basketball training, netball trials, rugby training, a rugby game and a 12km trail run on Dave’s hairy legs! That’s about as extreme as any product test I can imagine!  Nix doesn’t care about any of this of course, he just thinks they look rad and I’m totally with him on that one!

I want some other parents to experience just how kick-ass these Nexcare Animal Print Waterproof Bandages are so I have some to giveaway!

Four of you will win a 3-pack prize, each prize valued at over $30!

To enter, just leave a comment below and tell me why you’d like to try the Nexcare Animal Print Waterproof Bandages, (RRP $10.95, 20 bandages pp).  Don’t forget to follow Nexcare on Facebook!

Comp closes 23rd July 2017. NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Nexcare Bandages New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Nexcare Bandages

Crock-Pot Poached Pears Recipe

This could be my most favourite recipe EVER posted on The Best Nest Blog.  I probably need to make it again, over, maybe, seven consecutive nights (I love it THAT much), just to be sure, but we’ve definitely got a hands down stunner here!

And it’s probably the easiest dessert ever.

The very best part is that your Crock-Pot does all the hard work so you can get other things rolling; maybe relax (I jest!), hang out with your dinner guests (or fold the laundry, feed the dogs, cook the fish fingers for the kids)…………whatevs, just chuck the foodie stuff in the Crock-Pot and four hours later you’re a Masterchef.

Let’s get into it;

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe

Crock-Pot Poached Pears Recipe

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe

Ingredients

4-6 pears, I used Beurre Bosc

¾ Bottle of red wine – I used a Merlot and it was beautiful

1 cup of water

1 slice of lemon peel

Juice of one lemon

1 tbsp honey

3 tbsp sugar (approx 50gm), + 2 tsp for syrup

1 Cinnamon quill

3 Cloves

3 Black Peppercorns

1 ½ tsp Vanilla extract

3 tsp cornflour

Blue cheese, walnuts and crackers to serve.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe

  • Combine wine, water, lemon peel, honey, sugar, cinnamon quill, cloves, peppercorns and vanilla in the Crock-Pot.  Cook on high for 30 minutes.  
  • Peel pears and cut a slice off the bottom so they can stand upright.
  • Coat in lemon juice
  • Lay pears down in Crock-Pot so they are covered, or if you’d like a red and white stripe, stand them upright.
  • Cook on high for 4 hours.
  • Remove 1 cup of liquid from Crock-Pot.  Bring to the boil in small saucepan, add 2 tsp of sugar and cornflour dissolved in water.  Simmer until syrup reduces and thickens.
  • Serve with rich, blue cheese, walnuts and water crackers.
  • Pour wine syrup over pears and enjoy!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe

Win a Crock-Pot® Crock-Pot Traditional – CHP200 worth $119.99!

If you want to get inventive in the kitchen with your own amazing Crock-Pot then you’re in luck as I’m giving one away – actually I’ve already given TWO away, so this is your last chance to win!  (Crock-Pot Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe here, Crock-Pot Macaroni Cheese Recipe with Dukkah Chicken)

> To win the Crock-Pot® Traditional – CHP200, leave a comment below and tell me one of the awesome features on this Crock-Pot model (psssttt, have a look here).

Competition closes 6/7/17, NZ residents only.

Thanks to Crock-Pot for making this post possible.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Poached Pear Recipe

Heating your home: 5 things you need to know

In came the rain this week as well as some low temps around the country.  I’ve got a sore throat and am in full hibernation mode so keeping our house toasty and warm is #1 on my list of priorities throughout the day.

I had no idea what temp we should be maintaining our house at – but it’s a pretty important figure in winter, so I thought some of you might be interested in what I found out about heating our homes;

  1. The minimum temperature for occupied areas of homes as recommended by the World Health Organisation is 18°or higher for households with children, the elderly or family members who are ill.  The layout of our house allows us to use one heat pump to keep our playroom and the 3 bedrooms at 20°.  I find maintaining a steady temperature is a more efficient use of energy than trying to heat cold rooms quickly, so I keep the heat pump on throughout the day – both Dave and I work from home, otherwise it would be on a timer!
  2. Become an insulation expert!  Get savvy about what is or isn’t keeping your home warm and if possible address any potential issues first.  Pay attention to floor, ceiling and window insulation.
    Many Kiwi’s won’t have experienced the wonder of double glazing as it’s only become a more mainstream install on new builds in the past 10 years.  It’s incredible what a difference it makes in reducing heat loss through glass, particularly in older homes.  If you can’t afford to retrofit your whole house (me!) or are renting, I honestly can’t recommend DIY double glazing enough.  Dave and I used in all of our old dodgy rentals; it’s cheap and easy to install once you get the hang of it and is available in hardware stores nationwide.  Check out this video to see how it works > DIY Double Glazing.
    Soft furnishings aren’t just for decoration!  A thick rug or thermal curtains will do double duty during winter and help retain heat as well as looking great.
  3. New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family CrockPot Dyson HeaterChoose your heating appliances wisely.  Trying to warm a large space with an under-gunned heater can often cost more than you’d expect.  We utilise different types of heaters in different spaces around the house.  In Nixie’s room, we have a teeny oil column heater on a thermostat.  His room is small so we have this set on low and it stays toasty all night long.  Our lounge and kitchen, on the other hand, is quite a big, open space.  This winter we haven’t used our expensive, barely-heats gas fire at all and are using my new favourite appliance exclusively; our Dyson AM09 Hot + Cool. This fan’s ability to circulate heat evenly around the room, whilst maintaining the set temperature and doing so quietly, without blades (Nixon-proof!) makes it the perfect option.
  4. Plug the draughts.  Get old school if you have to and pick up one of those draught-stopper snakes.  So far this winter I’ve seen them at Kmart, The Warehouse and Mitre 10.  They are cheap and work wonders along the bottoms of our wooden doors and window sills.  I don’t want to be paying for heating if it’s escaping out into the cold!
  5. Like I mentioned last month, rest assured knowing that when you flick that switch, you are getting the most bang for your buck.  Use websites such as www.powerswitch.org  to get informed and take ownership of how much you’re paying.  Our new power company Electric Kiwi is not only awesomely priced but has been awarded the 2017 Most Satisfied Customers Award – Electricity Providers. Whoop whoop!  I can certainly agree with that.

Thanks so much to Electric Kiwi for partnering with us this winter, love your work guys!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Electric Kiwi

Header image originally from Your Best Digs

Home Care Tips for the Cleaning-Impaired Mum

When I was born back in the late ‘70’s, the outlook looked good;  healthy baby, good size, lungs worked and I looked enough like my mum to assume there would be some legacy genetics that had been passed down from mother to daughter.

At around age 18, it became increasingly apparent that all was not well.  There were obvious deficiencies in my character that were becoming more and more prominent the older I got.  My shortcomings were not only detrimental to myself, but also to my future self, my future husband, children and home as well as the immediate and pressing concern of driving my mother up the wall.

I am Cleaning-Impaired.

I was not born with the desire to clean my home.  My impairment creates many debilitating situations; dusting causes massive allergy attacks where my eyes will swell closed and I’ll sneeze for 3 days non-stop (this is actually true!).  Reluctantly (HA!), I’ve learnt to make peace with the dust, if it lies still in an even coating on my surfaces we live together in copacetic harmony.  I occasionally feel brave and pop a soft brush on my Dyson and simply vacuum the dust off the tops of our dressers, TV cabinets etc.  It’s a sacrifice I must make to the Perfect-Mummy gods of the world, but one that over the years has brought me great peace, as I fill the cleaning void with ‘Better things to Do’ and ‘Watching Netflix’.

There are ways to live with my debilitating (according to my Mum) condition; beginning with lowering your domestic-diva standards and expectations…..and then lowering them again.  Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying either, I love a clean, tidy house, and I regularly do housework, but it IS ‘work’, and I believe in working smarter not harder.

So, dear readers, I’m sharing with you some tips and tricks I’ve learnt over the years that allow me to keep our home at what I lovingly call, “Whip-Around Status”, ie surprise visitor will be at your door in 15 minutes?  A quick whip-around will have the house looking a million bucks with minimal stress and effort.

Tips for Maintaining Whip-Around Status in Your Home

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family I am Cleaning Impaired

  1. Make the beds first thing every morning.  This is time-consuming and hard to squeeze into a whip around.  Do it early as you can’t hide an unmade bed!
  2. De-centralize cleaning supplies.  Keeping ALL of your cloths and sprays in one place (ie under the laundry sink!) makes what can be a wee spit ‘n shine take a g e s.  Keep a 3-in-1 Chux scourer and Silver Scourer in each bathroom and grout, tiles, shower glass and sinks can look fresh-as with a couple of wipes.
  3. Invest in a cordless vacuum, Whip-Around status is by definition ‘whipping around QUICKLY’, if you have to pull out the Big Vac every day chances are it just won’t happen.
  4. Big surfaces are eye catching – keep these clean and clear of clutter.  I keep an empty storage basket in our hall cupboard ready to sweep off whatever is hiding our dining room table, so I can wipe it down quickly and move on.
    – I like Chux Original Robuste for surfaces such as tables and benchtops.
  5. If you must dust, consider actually removing settled dust rather than just displacing it with a feather-duster – this is much more sensible for those of us with allergies.  Thick, strong cloths work best for this task; I use a damp All-Purpose Absorbent cloth on suitable surfaces – just rinse and move on!
  6. Hide what you don’t have time to clean.  What visitors can’t see won’t hurt them.  Use that dishwasher, washing machine and cupboards for the purpose they were intended – putting stuff in!
  7. Keep entranceways clean and clear, first impressions can set the tone for the rest of a visit.
  8. Glass matters – dirty windows make everything feel dirty.  Try using Chux Robuste with your glass cleaner, simply wash and reuse!
  9. When you’re in a hurry, spot-clean where it matters ie around the toilets.  I keep some Chux Superwipes and disinfectant in the toilet for an every day, there-when-you-need-them clean-up  ::::::::ew boys!::::::
  10. In a worst case, bomb-site-scenario, throw all the laundry, clutter, mess and toys in one room and shut the door.  It takes a very ballsy visitor to question a shut door in someone else’s home!

The best advice I’ve ever been given around overcoming my horrendous shortfalls in the cleaning department is; if a job will take less than 2 minutes, attend to it right away.

Arm yourself with this can-do mentality and the right Chux product for the job and even those of us that are Cleaning-Impaired can make steps towards that magical wonderland free of dust and window streaks of all the mothers that went before us.

Check out my video below and let me know in the comments below which spot in your home needs some Chux love and I’ll hook one of you up with a $50 supermarket voucher to grab some supplies!

Comp closes 6/7/17, NZ residents only.

Beauty Spotlight: June ’17

Need-to-know news / Beauty Reviews from New Zealand’s most loved Health & Beauty Brands


Beat the Microbead

Trilogy put their money where their mouth is this month as they launched limited edition packaging to support the global Beat the Microbead campaign.  Celebrating World Oceans Day which was June 8th, Trilogy is championing the “Look for Zero’ initiative and urging consumers to make informed shopping decisions when purchasing beauty products.  Plastic microbeads commonly found in scrubs and exfoliants are so small that they bypass filtration systems and head straight for our oceans.

Look for Trilogy’s Love the Ocean packaging for the remainder of the month as $2 from the sale of each product worldwide will be donated to the NZ Whale & Dolphin Trust.

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

Schwarzkopf Beology Range Launch

This new range has been all over the internet this month, a big launch for Schwarzkopf and one that’s garnered a lot of attention.

Beology is a therapeutic range, addressing dry, damaged and ageing hair concerns combining science and natural actives across 8 products.  Deep Sea Extract, Sea Algae, fruit juices, seed oils and herb and flower extracts care for the scalp and hair fibres while 3 types of Keratins and Proteins strengthen and repair.

Available in Beology Repair for damaged hair and Beology Aqua for normal to dry hair.

RRP $16.00 in all leading department stores, supermarkets and pharmacies.

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

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

A brand with mass appeal due to it’s ethical, affordable and effective beauty products, Sukin launched it’s Paw Paw Ointment this month, dubbed “The Quintessential All-Rounder”.

I’d have to agree!  I took it with us to Queenstown earlier this month and was so glad I did.  The dry air and constant indoor heating quickly gave us all chapped lips and Paw Paw Ointment was a great remedy to have on-hand.  Ethan suffers from painful peeling around his finger-nails and is quite fussy about what he treats it with so I was happy that Sukin’s new Ointment provides an effective barrier and treatment, without rubbing off instantly and losing efficacy.

Cruelty-free, vegan, paraben free, sulphate free.  RRP $9.99 at Farmers, pharmacies and health stores.

Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Oil

Another product I used religiously in Queenstown and is now always in my pockets and bags is Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Oil in Misted Plum.  This is my first lip oil product and I’m definitely a fan.  Think awesome, moisturising gloss without the stickiness and gorgeous sheer colour.  I have no idea what Meadowfoam Seed is but its oil in combination with Coconut oils is a perfect base for adding subtle shine and colour to your lips.

Just as you’d want in a lip product, Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Oil is 100% natural.  

Available in 6 shades, RRP $20 from selected pharmacies, department stores and health stores.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Beauty Review Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Oil

Good Health Immuno-Biotic Pre+Pro Biotic in OneNew Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Beauty Review

Knowledge of the role the gut plays in our general health is becoming more and more evident and topical, especially as we are smack bang in the middle of winter!  Probiotics increase the number of friendly bacteria in the digestive system, restoring gut flora balance and promoting optimal digestive and immune health.  The super-cool thing about Immuno-Biotic from Good Health is that the addition of a PREbiotic acts as food for the PRObiotic and other beneficial bacteria to feed on!  Yay for increased efficacy!

RRP $29.90 30 capsules, from selected pharmacies and health stores as well as online.

Tangle Teezer Skinny Dip Compact Styler

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

I’ve been using Tangle Teezer’s exclusively on my hair as well as the boys for a couple of years now.  We all have big, tangly hair with a LOT of curl going on and these are the only brushes that cut through our knots without sending E running for the hills and bringing Nix to tears.

An added bonus is that they’re super-cute and the compact styler is the perfect size to slip in your purse, gym bag or toilet bag when travelling.

RRP $34 from selected pharmacies, salons and department stores.

Dermalogica Nightly Lip Treatment

Dermalogica is one of my all time faves so any new release from them has me ripping into the courier package as soon as it arrives.  It’s pretty rare these days to try something completely different and new.  At least for me, Nightly Lip Treatment is the first product of its kind to land on my desk.  

Formulated to address ageing concerns in the perioral (mouth) region such as; vertical lines in the upper lip, sagging around the mouth, skin fragility and wrinkles and folds, Nightly Lip Treatment is my new bed-side bff.

Wait until you try the metal applicator!

RRP $95, available from authorised Dermalogica skin centres and counters nationwide and online at www.dermalogica.co.nz.

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

Atzen Renew Eye Lift Serum

Another brand fave right here.  Eyes are kinda my obsession right now, I’ve realised how much I unconsciously pull that fragile (read: thinning, more-papery-every-day) looking skin around as I rub my eyes and try and squeeze in another hour of work in front of my computer zzzzzzz.

Ok, I’m awake.

There’s some major science in Atzen’s range including bio-available DNA from a natural marine origin that holds 10,000 times its weight in water = mega hydration for your skin, a lifting film that remains at ultimate levels for over four hours and peptides that mimic the neuromuscular action of viper venom, acting as a safe alternative to Botulin Toxin.

Too good right?

RRP $145, available online at www.atzen.nz, or at selected beauty therapists and health stores.

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

Pumpkin Soup and the Story it Tells

Thanks for making this post possible Naked Locals, your soups are incredible!  Check out their full range of 13 flavours here.

I spent a lot of time with both of my grandmothers when I was young and for this, I feel so grateful.  There were week-long school holiday sleep-overs, quick overnights and just simply days when pick-up time came all too soon.  Though both sets of Grandy’s lived in Auckland as we always have, their respective homes were poles apart from The Suburban North Shore Life my brother and I found ourselves navigating.

One Nana lived on a farm in what was then rural Auckland while the other had raised her kids the Westie Way – before there was a ‘Peninsula’ to bring the million dollar price tags to Te Atatu.

I spent those childhood years convinced that both of my Nana’s freaking LOVED to cook, they were always in the kitchen and I just couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen with them ie always underfoot, making another mess for them to clean up, insisting on cooking every single day I was with them, hiding Nan’s ciggies because the smoke irritated my eyes………..poor Nan.  She didn’t even have her stress-relief to deal with my exuberant self lol.

30 years on and a mother myself, perspective and hindsight have made me realise my childhood view may have been a little skewed.  My Grandmother’s had seven and five children respectively – they weren’t in the kitchen perfecting their choux pastry for the next ‘Ladies, a Plate’ function at the Golf Club,  they were just trying to feed their large families – over and over again, day in and day out.

One of my late-Nan’s go-to recipes in winter and one that has been loved by all for years is her pumpkin soup.  Hot, nourishing, seasonal, cheap, quick and easy…………….soup of any kind is a family mainstay but Nan’s Pumpkin Soup has a special place in our hearts.

Reminiscing made me think about culinary traditions and the memories that can be invoked by a mere taste or smell.  Food is important to family’s and to society as a whole, but what happens in our time-poor modern lives when we just can’t make a pot of soup to save ourselves?  Or, you just hate cutting pumpkin? (#GuiltyasCharged #PumpkinsSuck)

What happens is, we look for alternatives and fingers crossed, those alternatives provide nutrition and emotional sustenance in much the same way our heritage recipes do.

Case in point; we’ve been travelling a lot, I’ve been very stressed and overworking.  Our family returned from a magical trip to the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers last week and I was firmly under the weather with a non-sinister, but still formidable head cold.  There was no food in the house yet all I wanted was my own bed and some of Nan’s pumpkin soup.

Dave was dispatched to the grocery store and returned with the next best option; with my NEW favourite soup.  Not ‘a’ pumpkin to make soup, but a sick-wife-needs-comfort-food-asap version that is much more convenient.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Dave had not purchased packet soup, but rather fresh East Coast Sunshine Pumpkin Soup from Naked Locals.  This was the 2017 version of my Nan’s famed Pumpkin soup.  The curry powder has been switched for the good-for-you aromatics and flavour combos of ginger, turmeric, paprika and cumin as well as coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and cayenne.  Basically, all the good stuff beginning with C except for chocolate! 

And that was it.  Veges, sunflower oil, coconut cream, salt, yeast and herbs and spices.

Nothing else but NZ made goodness.  Preservatives and artificial stuff – not there.  Soup made the same way my Nan made it, and the same way we make it (when Dave is home to cut the freaking pumpkin!).

Naked Locals soup is what happens we are time poor when we just don’t have it in us to cook from scratch.  As parents and partners, we search out brands and products that can deliver on that hearty, home-made promise of our grandparent’s cooking, without delivering the guilt that consuming ‘fast-food’ so often renders.  Perhaps this is a ‘new’ tradition?  A new way of enjoying a meal with minimal prep, harking back to those legacies that helped build my love of cooking meals for my family.

Have you tried the Naked Locals range yet? Which is your favourite soup?

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Pumpkin Soup Recipe

“You are NEVER ready” – Get Financially Dialled in for Baby

Thanks to BNZ for partnering to help make this post possible.

It’s true, “you are never ready” is more often than not my response when friends and I discuss the age-old question of now, or, later, especially when it comes to having a baby.

My feeling is that you can plan the heck out of the process – make all the lists, read all the books, take all the classes, listen to all the experts (actually, this is probably unrealistic as every person you meet is an expert on raising other people’s children!) but nothing will ever, ever prepare you for the life-changing, maniacal experience of welcoming a baby into the world.

That being said, prospective parents DO have nine months to at least attempt to get their ducks in a row.  I feel like I’ve said this 1000 times but, when Dave and I found out we were expecting Ethan, we had NOTHING.  Like actually, nothing.  I’d been drifting around America for 3 years, surfing and having fun, and Dave had been drifting around for 28 years in a similar state.

We didn’t even have a car and no family in the state of California to lean on.  Shit got real, really fast. So, we simply knuckled down and implemented our own simplistic but totally doable envelope based budgeting plan.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Kid's Ready for Baby
Baby Ethan, California

As Dave and I were both being paid in cash, it made sense to save in ‘cash’ too.  I fully credit the tactile tangibility of the simple envelope system with keeping us on the path to financial responsibility and helping us save for our imminent life on a single income.  How does it work?  Easy.  Work out your monthly budget and create an envelope for each outgoing expense; rent, power, food, petrol, insurance, internet, phone etc. as well as one for saving and one for FUN.  On the front of each envelope, make a note of the total monthly amount due, as well as the amount you need to save per week for that expense.  Divide your income up weekly between envelopes and voila – complete financial control is yours.

Of course, digital technology and the way we use the internet has changed a lot in the past decade.  You can probably ditch the envelopes and use online tools to get your finances whipped into a family-friendly state.  

Check out the Baby Calculator, an awesome collab between BNZ, Plunket and Massey University that’s based upon the spending of NZ parents.  Since 2010, BNZ has been Plunket’s principal sponsor. As this special relationship builds each year, so does BNZ’s understanding about what families will experience with newborn and young children. If you want an idea of the expenses that will be coming at you – along with sleepless nights, stinky diapers, adoring baby gazes and the best snuggles you’ve ever had in your life – then spend some time online with this invaluable tool.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Kid's Ready for Baby
(GIANT) Baby Nixon, Auckland

12.5 years later, Dave and I have two wonderful boys and to be honest, the way we view our finances hasn’t changed a whole lot. We are very debt adverse, we have savings plans in place, we watch our spending and we make a lot of cool stuff happen for our family on the cheap. When we began discussing baby #2 we were in a completely different place both physically (New Zealand vs USA) and financially. We had just purchased our first home and had (somehow) managed to negotiate the crazy-speak of fixed/variable/table/reducing/blah blah mortgage speak. Negotiating buying a house and its subsequent reno was the third-most grown-up thing I’ve ever done (the first was birthing a baby and the second was purchasing a BRAND NEW BED! That’s some adulting right there).
We didn’t use our envelope system to pay for our house, though it definitely helped us on our way. Make sure you take advantage of every helping hand that’s available to you, starting with your bank. Buying a house is a really big deal. Historical loyalties to a bank you’ve been with since you were 5 should go out the window if they’re not prepared to take care of you when the time comes to borrow a LOT of money from them.

Pro-Tip: Look for deals and packages specially designed for people like YOU. A comprehensive option is the Baby Bundle from BNZ which offers a range of advantages;
• Fixed home loans – 0.25% discount on the advertised fixed home loan interest rate for the length of your fixed term.
• Variable home loans – 0.25% discount off standard home loan variate rate, including Rapid Repay
• Legal / valuation costs – Receive up to $1,000 towards legal/valuation costs when buying a new home or refinancing with BNZ.
• Credit cards – $0 account fee for the first 12 months on new credit cards.
• Transaction account – $0 account fee for the first 12 months when you open a YouMoney transaction account.
• Personal loan – $0 loan facility fee and discounted rate on a personal loan.

I started this piece by saying that you can never be truly ready for the impact a baby is going to have on your life. This is fact.
But, you can be smart, you can be prepared and you can be informed.

Visit www.bnz.co.nz/plunket for more information

Save your money and love those babies people!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Kid's Ready for Baby
Bali 2017

Recipe: Thai Chicken Meatballs in Coconut Curry

There’s something about adding a little bit of heat to winter meals that works so well.  Thai dishes can be exactly what you need to warm the family’s bellies on these dreary, dark nights.In saying that, I’ve always been a little intimidated by Thai, I think that the inherent layering of aromatic flavours has always seemed a bit too complicated for me.  Cooking a curry from scratch is the best way to get over any feelings of Thai-inadequacy.  The ingredients are minimal, straightforward and they just make sense once combined, plus, there’s no fancy techniques or timings to master.  Using authentic ingredients in any recipe is a must, hence my inclusion of Trident products here.  Their Sweet Chilli Sauce (freaking amazing!) is made in Thailand but is also the top selling Sweet Chilli Sauce in New Zealand!  Yum.

Give this recipe a go, I promise you’ll love it and make it more than once!

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Thai Chicken Meatballs in Coconut Curry
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For the meatballs
  1. 500g chicken mince
  2. 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  3. 1 tbsp Trident Sweet Chili Sauce
  4. 2 tsp crushed garlic
  5. 2cm piece of grated, fresh ginger
  6. 1 tbsp chopped, fresh mint
  7. 1 tbsp chopped, fresh coriander
For the curry
  1. 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 2 tsp crushed garlic
  3. 1/2 red chili, finely chopped (I deseeded the chili)
  4. 2cm piece of grated, fresh ginger
  5. 1 tbsp curry powder
  6. 1 tbsp soy sauce
  7. 1 tbsp Trident Hot Chili Sauce
  8. 400g can Trident Coconut Milk
For the vegetables
  1. 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  2. 3 heads baby pak choi cut in half
  3. 250g green beans, trimmed
  4. 1 large carrot, in ribbons
  5. 2 x packs of Trident Udon Noodles
  6. Chopped coriander to serve
  7. Lime wedges to serve
For the meatballs
  1. Combine chicken mince, panko crumbs, Trident Sweet Chili Sauce, garlic, ginger, mint and coriander in a bowl.
  2. Roll tablespoons of mix into balls, pop in fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in a large, non-stick pan. Cook meatballs until golden brown and cooked through, approx. 10 minutes.
For the curry
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add garlic, chili and ginger, stir until soft.
  2. While stirring add the curry powder.
  3. Add the soy sauce and Trident Hot Chili Sauce.
  4. Stirring until combined, add the Trident Coconut Milk then simmer covered for 15 minutes.
For the vegetables
  1. Heat sesame oil in a large pan, add the veges and stir for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the Trident Udon Noodles, sprinkle with water and gently separate with chop sticks.
  3. Add the curry sauce, gently stir to combine.
  4. Serve in bowls, adding meatballs, a sprinkle of chopped coriander and lime wedges on the side.
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Win with Trident!

Guys, listen!!!!  If you make your own creation using Trident Sweet Chilli Sauce and post it to Trident’s Facebook page (click here)  with the hashtag #authenticasiancreations you could win a year’s supply of Trident Authentic Chilli Sauces, Noodles & Coconut Milk & Creams!

What are you waiting for?!  Maybe you could even recreate my recipe! xx

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How to: Meal Planning for the Modern Family

Dave and I love cooking.  We are constantly looking for meal inspo, experimenting with different techniques or twists on old faves and frequently testing and re-testing our own recipes to share with you guys here or on FB or IG.  But let’s be clear, this ‘fun in the kitchen’ does NOT happen Mon-Fri at 5pm.  At that time of day, as in most households with children present, dinner time (or the ‘Witching Hour’ as it’s more commonly known), is when we parents enter survival mode.  Kids are tired after busy days, hungry, often ‘hangry’, being rushed around to sports practices or after-school activities and with zero patience.  “FEED THE KIDS” becomes priority Number 1 but often at the expense of our lofty (or even just basic!) aims in the nutritional department!

We’ve all seen the proliferation of food delivery services over the past few years; magical meal kits that arrive with recipes, ready to cook and assemble, or simply reheat if you’re really time poor.  Our family has tried and enjoyed most of these offerings and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a massive fan, but………there is obviously a significant cost involved, a lack of choice around products, brands and ingredients used and an inability to cater for multiple, different dietary requirements in each meal.

Until now that is.

Over the past 10 days, we’ve been in the kitchen, getting to know How2Food – an online platform dedicated to providing completely customisable meal plans that work with your family’s nutritional needs and give you back the power to shop when and how you want.

The beauty of How2Food is in it’s simplicity;

  • Create a How2Food account, takes 25 seconds max!
  • Fill out your profile including how many people you need to feed, the number of meal recipes you need per week, & which day you’d like to receive them
  • Select which kitchen appliances you have available for meal prep
  • Specify any allergies, foods you don’t eat and dietary requirements

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That’s it!  Done.  Your weekly recipes and shopping list will be generated on your chosen delivery day and then making magic in the kitchen is all up to you and your family.  

We generally shop at Pak ‘n Save but as we’ve been away in Queenstown all week, having our weekly meal plan completed by How2Food meant we were able to shop online at Countdown and have a food delivery set-up for Saturday afternoon – organisational convenience at its finest right?!

So what’s on our menu for next week?  Two Mexican dishes (our family fave!) and shrimp pasta.  The recipes sound amazing and perfectly suited to our family’s tastes and time available to spend in the kitchen on meal prep.

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So what do you guys think?  I’m in love with this concept; it’s completely different to anything on the market right now, provides the benefits of meal delivery services with the freedom to shop how and when you choose, ultimately saving you money.

To celebrate their launch, How2Food are offering a one-month free trial as well as a referral incentive which could see your monthly subscription reduced from $19.95 to just .50c if you refer up to 5 friends!

Let’s get cooking guys and get our families back in the kitchen and back to our dining room tables in 2017.

 

 

Winter

Image credit Gábor Sidó

It’s here.  

It’s foggy, it’s damp, it’s not particularly cold this week – but that’s on the cards for next week YAY lol.  Muddy sports are in full swing, the washing is piling up and our daylight hours are dwindling (making any kind of photography super difficult for this social-media mama!).  We just can’t deny Winter any longer.

It’s HERE.

Our daily routine changes heaps as the seasons do, probably because we, like many New Zealand families, live in an old house.  Our home is quite the silver-fox, most people don’t immediately realise how old she is.  Fully concrete block, sitting on what we assume to be a damaged concrete slab (damp).  Our early 1950’s 1/4 acre dream still has original plate glass windows in breezy wooden joinery, a really inefficient gas fire, a slightly leaky roof and one heat pump when we really need two.  We love the old girl though and are just so grateful we were able to purchase a house in Auckland just before this crazy market went into it’s upward swing.

As we’re not moving, our household habits need to adjust for the cooler, damper weather.  Here’s what we do to survive winter in an old house without having to sell our first-born to pay our power company!

Surviving Winter in an Old House

  1. #Dehumidifiers4life – I’m sure that hashtag is sooooo on-rend right now lol but it’s true.  I can’t live without our 2 dehumidifiers.  I keep the big one running in the playroom 24 hours a day as this area of the house is subject to shower moisture and leads to the bedrooms.  I also rotate our little one around the other rooms in the house.  Dry air is cheaper to heat than moist air, plus, removing excess moisture that creeps in through our slab, roof and dodgy windows is essential in maintaining all-around family health and preventing mould ::::::shudder:::::
  2. Before I even begin to think about heating in the late afternoons, I shut up shop in rooms that have already lost the light by closing windows and blinds and I shut doors in rooms we are no longer using.
  3. We identified that we were losing a lot of heat through two old-school glass panelled doors so replaced them over summer with composite fibreglass doors which are much more efficient at retaining heat.
  4. I’m always checking to make sure that we are spending as little as possible on electricity.  Shopping around regularly can make a BIG difference.  We switched last month to Electric Kiwi.  
    Pro-tip:  We now get one hour of off-peak power FREE every day!  This is when I run the dishwasher, pop things in the dryer to air, put another load of washing on etc.  For many families, hot water can be a huge part of the monthly power bill, if you’ve got older kids or teens that go to bed after 9 pm (off-peak), switch from morning to before-bed showers and get that water heated during your free hour!
  5. We have a clothesline under a porch roof so even in winter I still use this to get our clothes 80% dry saving money on the amount of time clothes need to be in the dryer or on the drying rack – TAKING OVER MY LOUNGE!

This is by no means a comprehensive list or guide, rather, just some easy to implement ideas that we use in our home on a daily basis.  I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got some awesome ways to survive winter in an old house so get in touch by leaving a comment below!

Thanks so much to Electric Kiwi for partnering with us this winter, love your work guys!