Recipe | Shortbread Christmas Tree Stacks

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Shortbread Recipe

Baking with kids is awesome at any time of year but the mess is exponentially MORE enjoyable when you get the littlies in the kitchen at Christmas time.

I bake shortbread every Christmas to gift to our neighbours, my Scottish Pop, kindy teachers and anyone else who needs a little sweetening up after putting up with us for the past year.  It’s easy, inexpensive and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a recipe with four ingredients?

Shortbread is my kind of cookie.

Last year I really stepped up my Christmas Shortbread game with the addition of a set of star-shaped cookie cutters I found at a large retailer whose name starts with K – I can’t remember which store it was so good luck with your search ok?

Once baked and cooled, stack your shortbread into the most delicious Christmas tree ever, tie with baker’s twine and wrap with cellophane if necessary.  Stack two or 3 of each size shortbread for an impressively simple centerpiece on your Christmas dessert table (this would also work with a set of square or round cookie cutters if you have those instead).

Aren’t you clever?!  Here’s how to make it happen;

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Shortbread Recipe

Shortbread Recipe

Originally published online at www.chelsea.co.nz

250g butter, softened
3/4 cup Chelsea Icing Sugar
1/2 cup cornflour
1 1/2 cups standard flour
Chelsea Coffee Sugar Crystals for decoration

Preheat oven to 150°C bake (140°C fan forced).  Grease oven tray or line with baking paper.

1.  Beat butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Shortbread Recipe

2.  Mix in cornflour and flour until the mixture comes together and forms a dough.  

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Shortbread Recipe

3.  On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1 cm thick and cut into shapes using biscuit cutters.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Shortbread Recipe

Alternatively, roll dough into a log and slice into rounds, using a floured knife to prevent sticking. Sprinkle with coffee sugar crystals if desired and press down gently.  

4.  Place on prepared tray and bake 25 – 30 minutes, until shortbread is pale but crisp. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

OR

Make a Shortbread Christmas Tree!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Shortbread Recipe

Win with #ChelseaSugar this Christmas!

Whipping up treats to enjoy and share over Christmas is so much fun and something you can easily get the kids on board with.  To help get you and your family in the kitchen over the holidays, I have a $50 Chelsea Sugar Prize Pack to give away to one reader!

To enter, just comment below with your favourite, homemade Christmas treat.  

Competition closes 22/12/16 residents only.

 

 

The Ultimate Under $20 Gift Guide

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Stocking Fillers Christmas

‘IF’ I was an organised shopper and had nearly finished purchasing, wrapping and hiding gifts (I’m not, I’ve barely begun my Christmas Shopping!), then I’d probably be ready for the fun of filling the stockings with those ‘little’ things that often bring some of the biggest smiles on Christmas Day.

I think a really good Christmas stocking is a combo of those things your recipient needs, but always forgets to buy, wants (but may not need) and fun things they just straight up don’t know they want or NEED lol.

Plus scorched almonds of course – don’t forget those.

So, I’ve done the legwork for you here and put together the Ultimate, never to be bested, Guide to Stocking Stuffers under $20.  These items are all in stock at Not Socks (at least until you guys go shopping and clear them out!) and are ready to be hustled over to your place, in time for Santa’s arrival.

Have a browse and look out for how to win yourself a $50 voucher to spend at Not Socks this Christmas!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Stocking Fillers Christmas

Waterproof Phone Bags $19.95, Simple Sucker Phone Mount $14.95, Chocolate Christmas Crackers $19.95, Shower Drink Holder $21.95, Beer-o-Meter Fridge Magnet $17.95, Gasmate Digital Probe $14.95

Omg Dads and husbands are the hardest to shop for right?  I’ve been married 12 years and still have not perfected the art of man-shopping, but I’m pretty certain that you’re good to go with ALL of these ideas.  That shower beer (cocktail/wine?) holder is genius!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Stocking Fillers Christmas

Hello, It’s Tea Travel Mug $17.95, Avo Seedo $19.95, Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad $14.95, 3m Charging Cable $11.95 (Android here), MOR Marshmallow Hand Cream Christmas Cracker $14.95, Diamond Life earrings $14.95, Boho Glass and Copper Trinket Box $19.95

Ahhh, shopping for Mum.  That would be me.  I know you’re probably looking at the image above and thinking wtf is a phone charging cable doing smack-bang in the middle, looking special.  At the end of the day, when I’m exhausted (but will end up spending at least an hour squinting at my phone in bed) I don’t want to have to snuggle up to a powerpoint, just imagine the freedom of a 3 metre long charging cable?  I imagined it……..and I bought it.  Mum will love it I promise x

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Stocking Fillers Christmas

Glow your Own Paint $12.95, KidLife Tee $19.95, Monkey Emoji Pillow $19.95, Unicorn mood Light $19.95, Quoit Set $19.95, Emoji Lip Gloss $7.95, Emojinal Liquid Pencil Case $15.95

I find shopping for kids over 8 years old almost as difficult as shopping for a Dad that doesn’t drink beer.  There are only so many iPhones you can put in a Christmas stocking before enough is enough – Ha!  I have a 12 year old boy and he would be stoked to get an emoji pillow, apparently his whole life can be summarised using emojis!  Seriously, take my advice – it’s a winner folks.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Stocking Fillers Christmas

Mini Ice Cream & Pear Decorations $9.95, Finding Dory 35 Piece Puzzle $6.95, Superman Bib with Cape $17.95, Play n Store Toy Bag $19.95, Baby’s First Smart Phone $17.95, Inflatable Crab Arm Bands $19.95

Ahhh little people.  The easiest to shop for.  They LOVE everything you give them………except for clothes.  Toddlers hate getting clothes for Christmas.  My top pick out of this bunch is the drawstring toy bag, no more dangerous Lego waiting to maim a bare foot this summer sounds like a Christmas Miracle!

WIN $50 to spend at www.notsocks.co.nz!

Wouldn’t you love to finish (or start, no judgement here!) your Christmas shopping with some relaxed online gifting at Not Socks?

To enter to win an e-voucher, leave me a comment below and tell me which gift from the ‘Ultimate, never to be bested, Guide to Stocking Stuffers under $20’ would you choose for one of your loved ones this Christmas.

Competition closes 16th December 2016 NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Stocking Fillers Christmas

Thanks to Not Socks for teaming up with me on this post.

Auckland’s Christmas Tradition – Farmers Santa Parade 2016

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

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.

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

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! 

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

  • 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!

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 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

Happy, Healthy Halloween Ideas for Kids

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Healthy Halloween Ideas

Love it or loathe it, New Zealanders are slowly adopting a more favorable view of Halloween.  My opinion is simply that dressing up is super-fun for kids so let them have it whilst they’re still young enough to enjoy a special, spooky night out in their neighborhood.

I’m not one to get on the sugar bandwagon either, but there’s no denying it’s definitely the time of year when littles can go crazy on excess amounts of Trick or Treat candy.  Moderation is a wonderful thing but I don’t know anyone under the age of 12 – or 45? – who can resist delving into their Halloween loot a little more often than they should.

We all know that sugar and lollies are bad for kids teeth and oral health so I’ve teamed up with Philips Sonicare and come up with some ideas to help you and the kids focus on getting into the ‘theme’ of Halloween, rather than just dressing up and celebrating for the haul of Trick or Treat lollies at the end of the night!

When I watch my kids brush their teeth I swear I can count each brush stroke with ease as the boys seem to move in slow motion!  They’ve realised that spending the correct amount of time brushing their teeth *might* be halfway to fooling Mum and Dad that they’ve actually done a great job!  Ethan’s new Philips Sonicare toothbrush 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 Ways you can cut the sugar and ramp up the fun this Halloween

  • Host your own Halloween Party instead of Trick or Treating

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Healthy Halloween Ideas

We used to do this all the time when Ethan was little and walking the streets was just too much for him.  This is also a great idea if you live semi-rurally or your neighborhood isn’t conducive to Trick or Treating.  A party can remove the lollie element entirely and allow you to serve healthy, SPOOKY snacks the kids will love!  Remember a kids party doesn’t have to be elaborate, they’ll be having tonnes of fun in dress-ups with their friends, but, if you want some party inspo, you can check out my Pinterest Halloween Party board here

  • Stay at home and offer healthier Trick or Treat snacks  

Your kids will have just as much fun playing host to the neighborhood ghosts and ghouls as they would Trick or Treating themselves!  Pop a orange or black balloon on the mailbox to show your house is Halloween-friendly and serve healthy, fun themed treats to whomever comes knocking!  I’ve pinned loads of Healthy Halloween Treat ideas here

  • Offer non-food alternatives for Trick or Treaters

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Healthy Halloween IdeasWho said Trick or Treating has to be all about food?  Think outside the box and head to your local dollar store for some spooky bargains.  Think pencils, mini spiders or other creepy-crawlies, stamps, stickers, glow-sticks or erasers.  Most of these can be found in multi-packs which makes them really inexpensive and a great surprise for the kids!  Or, make a batch of homemade orange play-doh, divide it up and wrap small balls in clear cellophane and tie with a green ribbon – super cute for littles!

  • Head out to a Halloween Event instead of Trick or Treating
New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Healthy Halloween Ideas
Image from original blog post by Frugal Momeh

Many cities host amazing Halloween events where kids and adults can dress up enjoy the entertainment and forget about Trick or Treating altogether!  Check out Halloween in the Village if you are in Auckland.

  •  Host a Halloween Craft Station in your front yard

Give Trick or Treaters something to take away that’s NOT filled with sugar!  A simple craft or activity station can be a welcome respite for littlies (or parents with weary feet!).  Some easy ideas can be found on my Halloween Craft board but I’m loving the Apple Pumpkin Stamps pictured by Frugal Momeh.

Fun ideas right?  I hope you’re feeling excited and looking forward to a Halloween with a little less sugar this year!  Philips have done a great job inspiring me to get this post out of my head and onto the blog as well as inspiring Ethan to be a little more diligent when it comes to brushing his teeth!

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, I’m loving the anti-roll feature of the Philips Sonicare which helps keep the bathroom at least a little bit cleaner!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Healthy Halloween Ideas

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

To enter, comment below with a sugary treat that you’d find hard to give up and I’ll choose a winner at random 17/11/16!  NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Healthy Halloween Ideas

Top Toys for Christmas 2015

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This is the very last gift guide for 2015 which means two things; 

  1. Santa is very, very close
  2. It’s time to wrap gifts!

I know some of you are last minute shoppers, some totally thrive on it.  A good friend of mine is notorious for doing her Christmas shopping for her 3 kids on Christmas Eve!  I get stabby thinking about going anywhere near a mall at this point in December – I hate it!

If you’ve still got some little people to shop for, hopefully this round-up of six of the top toys this Christmas will help make your shopping easy and quick as they are all available at The Warehouse, Farmers or both!

mummy-blog-new-zealand-mummy-blogger-gift-guideThomas & Friends Trackmaster Shipwreck Rails RRP $149.99

I’ve been waiting with baited breath for Thomas fever to hit our household after Ethan’s complete lack of interest when he was a toddler – I freaking LOVE that little blue train!  This playset takes Thomas to a level I’ve never seen before, it’s a BIG motorised railway with epic features including a death drop where Thomas spins 360º.  This is totally going to blow Nixon’s mind (and Ethan’s to be honest!) and I can see the Trackmaster series becoming a collection that we add to over the years.

Psssst, there’s some mega sales on this right now! Check the links!

Available from The Warehouse and Farmers.Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift

Fisher Price Bright Beats Dance And Move BeatBo RRP $120

Gotta say I can’t wait for this guy to join us on Christmas Day!  BeatBo is a 13″ interactive robot-esque toy that is bright, tactile and soo visually attractive you just can’t help but want to press all of his buttons.  He has 3 modes; Dance & Move, Learning & Games and Record and Remix where you can record a word or phrase that’s played back and remixed into a song!  SO rad, Nixon’s going to love yabbering away to BeatBo and making music.  I found BeatBo super intuitive to use, Nix at almost 2.5 years should have no trouble navigating the voice prompts to make the most out of this super fun toy.  This is a tech/toy mashup that works SO well!

Available from The Warehouse and Farmers.

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand GiftMega 123 Learning Train RRP $40 + Mega Blocks RRP $29.99

Ok, blocks.  Crucial element in any kids free-play repertoire.  I love Mega Blocks as they give Nix the freedom to just build whatever he wants – easily.  That’s the major attraction for me.  Usually he’s whipping up big towers to form ‘cranes’ or other building site equipment and the ease with which he can pull pieces apart and dismantle his creations leaves little room for frustrated tantrums – a pervasive storm cloud always on the horizon when you live with a toddler!

The 123 Learning Train does double duty as an educational aid and a super fun toy.  Blocks are printed with numbers which I’m excited to use with Nix to firm-up his number recognition.

Available from The Warehouse and Farmers.Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift

Hot Wheels Monster Jam Dragon Blast RRP $59.99

Nixon is a card carrying member of Hot Wheels Anonymous – child is addicted to little cars!  We were at a friends house recently and her son (who is a little older than Nix) had a Hot Wheels playset which captivated my little guy for the duration of our playdate.  This set ticks all the boxes for us; Dragon?  Yes.  Monster Truck? Yes.  Hours of fun?  Definitely.

Available from The Warehouse and Farmers

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand GiftHot Wheels Stack A Track RRP $59.99

Stack A Track is next level Hot Wheels for sure.  With this set you can design and build your own track (and then tear it down with reckless abandon which is what Nixon will do with it lol).  I love the freedom sets like this give little engineers, it becomes a two-pronged toy encouraging creativity and imagination as well as the base fun of simply playing with little cars!

Available from The Warehouse and Farmers

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift

We were so fortunate to have been gifted these wonderful toys by Mattel for review purposes.  The amazing thing is, they have donated an equal number of toys to my charity of choice, The Auckland City Mission!  We are so grateful in both instances xx

 

A New Christmas Tradition to Share

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To be honest, my Christmas mojo totally needed a big fat injection of Festive Spirit this year.  December has arrived in all of it’s red-velveted glory but my head was still back in September.  Where oh where did spring go?

One thing that never fails to get me in the Christmas mood is seasonal baking – whipping up shortbread, gingerbread and other pretty treats for friends, family and the kid’s coaches and teachers is a sure-fire way to shake off seasonal doldrums and get pumped about giving and gifting.  Usually this requires some prep, some checking of recipes, purchasing ingredients and packaging cellophane, angst in the kitchen, much mess, kids underfoot hustling for scraps………

……..actually that’s every day lol.

This Christmas one of New Zealand’s most iconic brands has created a gorgeous gift that’s guaranteed to inspire every lucky recipient to bust out the José Feliciano and get down with Santa. Not actually with Santa but …….. you know what I mean!

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift

Meet the new Superstar of the Christmas gift aisle at your local supermarket – The Tasti Tin of Tremendousness.  A kiwiana style collectible tin (the PERFECT size for your Christmas Cake!) complete with everything you need to whip up your own Tasti Choc Almond Christmas Tree.  So easy I let the kids do it, and I mean, I really did let the kids do it.  Together even!  

That wasn’t such a good idea in hindsight.Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift

When we realised that Nixon was entirely focused upon eating all of the ingredients himself he was removed from the equation and Ethan did a wonderful job of finishing what was our first Christmas cooking activity for 2015.  

Ethan had no trouble following the directions, melting the chocolate, combining the ingredients and moulding the mixture to the star stencil.  I may have taste tested at this point and ah-maze-ing!!!!
Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift

We were a tad skeptical about how these ‘piles’ of deliciousness would transform into a Christmas Tree, but after an hour or so in the fridge, the chocolate had hardened and some beautiful stars emerged which then took 5 minutes to assemble in tree form.

I love this project!  It’s super quick, very kid friendly, all of the ingredients are in the tin and it literally screams ‘Christmas!  Christmas!  I’m ready for you!’.  Purchasing the annual Tin of Tremendousness will become a new Christmas Tradition for our family for years to come I hope!

Obviously the Choc Almond Christmas Tree will be a lovely addition to the dessert table on The Big Day, but in the meantime, this is a seriously stunning gift for anyone who loves baking or creating their own Christmas treats, plus, I think this would make an awesome gift for kids who love spending time in the kitchen!  

Pick up your on Tasti Tin of Tremendousness from supermarkets nationwide RRP$15.99 or, try your luck at winning one here!  Comment on this post or enter via the widget below – don’t worry if it says closed – competition will be drawn Sunday 20th @10pm.

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift

Christmas Gift Guide – For Her (which is probably you right?)

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Christmas Gift Guide

How ironic that the final Christmas Gift Guide I put together is for women like myself, maybe Mum’s, often the member of the family that is overlooked until the last minute, partner/husband frantically rushing to the mall on one of the final shopping days before Christmas to grab something, anything to pop under the tree.  Let’s not be martyrs ladies because, honestly, no-one likes those types.  If someone asks you what you want for Christmas, for god’s sake TELL THEM!

Or send them the link to this blog post for some hints ;  )

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift GuideBonds Underwear

I’m a simple creature (HA!), 99% of the time I’m rocking super fun, cotton Bonds boy leg underwear.  I love this underwear.  I’ve been wearing it for years and years and swear by the fit, quality and comfort.  This season’s Glow range from Bonds has some very cute prints and pieces available – perfect stocking stuffers for the whole family – but mostly you Mama!

BONDS Boyfriend Triangle Crop, BB Holo, RRP $25

BONDS Boyfriend Hot Shortie, BB Holo, RRP $18

2016 OTi Organiser RRP$34.99Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift Guide

I’ve tried pretty much every app based diary/organiser/planner there is and I’ve not been able to make a habit out of any of them.  I need a visual, tactile point of reference, one that works with an actual pen.  How old school I know!  

It also needs to look gorgeous and inspire me to organise my ridiculous life.

The OTi (On To It) organiser comes in three super stylish cover designs, you will want to take this everywhere with you I promise.  The main consideration however is function and the OTI delivers; the range focuses on wellbeing with a week-to-a-spread layout and value-add inclusions such as;

  • Removable Contacts and Info booklet.  A single place to store important numbers – both phone and account numbers, plus usernames and passwords for websites and important annual dates.
  • Refillable shopping list post-it notes
  • Pen loop and pen included
  • Elastic enclosure
  • Bookmark ribbon
  • Pocket for loose papers
  • Durable and wipeable cover

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift GuideEssence Marble Collection Soy Candles RRP$49

I love candles, I really, really do.  I just need to remember to burn them more often lol.  If you want to support a local business this Christmas then look no further!  Candle-maker Megan Harris has put her artist husband Paul to work for the latest Essence soy candle collection. Each of the gorgeous marble-finished candles in the range have been hand-painted by Paul at their Auckland, studio. 

Totally on-trend with their marbled finish and striking brushed gold lid, my Peony candle was super easy to style and looks beautiful on our mantle. Megan prides herself on loading them heavily with fragrance, and the scent totally fills your home when lit. These candles are 100% soy wax, have a 70 hour burn time, cotton wicks and their fragrance is phthalate free.  Gorgeous!Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift Guide

George Foreman Mix & Go with Chill Sticks RRP$89.99 

The big blenders are getting a lot of coverage this Christmas, and they’re totally amazing.  I love my Nutri Bullet dearly but if you’re not whipping up smoothies for a family of four daily you may consider the price prohibitive.  The slimline design and fab price point of the George Foreman Mix & Go sets it apart from it’s competitors.  You’re definitely not losing much of that valuable bench-top real estate with this gadget!  Plus, now you can guarantee that your smoothie will always be chilled to perfection with the NEW George Foreman Chill Sticks, included with your purchase of a George Foreman Mix & Go or available separately for your existing collection. 

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift GuideThe Great New Zealand Colouring Book RRP$24.99

I’m not sure a Christmas Gift Guide is complete this year without the addition of an adult colouring book, but this one is a little different.  Available exclusively at Warehouse Stationery stores, this is a high quality coffee table art book created by kiwis for kiwis.  Who doesn’t need to de-stress over the Christmas period?  I personally can’t think of a prettier way to do it.

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift GuideRemington Girls on the Go Bikini Trimmer RRP$49

I’m not going to dwell on this one too much because, well, TMI.  There are only 2 regular beauty appointments I can handle, and neither of them are for waxing.  I have to wear togs year round at the moment because I’m still in the pool with Nixie during swimming lessons so ‘things’ have to be maintained.  This bright little gadget is perfect for us gals who take care of bikini trimming at home.  It does what it needs to, is simple to use, battery operated and compact enough to take away in your toilet bag over the summer holidays.  Super good price point too. 

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift GuideRemington Silk Ceramic Straightener RRP$199

I haven’t used anything but GHD’s on my hair in over 8 years so I was super keen to try out the latest straightener from Remington.  It delivers, I’m super impressed with this guy, it’s a top of the range, feature packed straightener that still comes in $160 cheaper than the GHD Platinum.  A little more lightweight in the hand but the plates are seriously silk smooth and glide right over your hair.

  • High heat to 240°C
  • Turbo boost function
  • Heats up in 10 seconds
  • Informative digital temperature display indicates the best temperature for your hair type
  • 5 variable heat settings 150°C to 240°C
  • Memory function remembers the last temperature used
  • Floating plates for constant contact and fast styling
  • Temperature lock function
  • Automatic safety shut off and worldwide voltage
  • Heat resistant storage pouch
  • Hinge lock
  • Salon swivel cord

MAC Irresistibly Charming Lip Gloss Mini-Kits RRP$95Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Gift Guide

Oh swoon!  I pretty much want to take this little briefcase of epic glosses with me every where I go.  They are amazing, but you already know that.  The Pink Palette is perfection for me, containing;

  • JUST SUPERB neutral pink (cremesheen glass)
  • CRÈME ANGLAISE rosey mid-tone pink (cremesheen glass)
  • COLOUR SATURATION deep wine (cremesheen glass)
  • SUGARRIMMED milky pale pink w/multi-pearlized pigments (dazzleglass)

These are Limited Edition M.A.C Holiday releases so don’t dilly-dally, head in-store to your nearest counter now!

Trilogy Rosapene Beauty Collection RRP$46.90

Ahhh Trilogy.  I recently stated that their Age Proof range was my favourite release of 2015 and I totally stand by that.  This is a brand that knows women’s skin.  A gift set like those offered this season is the perfect introduction to some wonderful new products that I’m sure you will fall in love with. 

With a full-size, award-winning Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ and deluxe minis of Vital Moisturising Cream and Rosapene™ Night Cream, this premium pack will have your skin glowing around the clock. Harnessing the power of Trilogy’s potent antioxidant complex, Rosapene™, which repairs and protects for optimum skin health and radiance, this is the perfect gift for someone you love. 

Christmas | Hosting a Gingerbread House Decorating Party

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Hosting a Gingerbread House Decorating Party was not part of my Christmas Agenda this year (I don’t actually have one, BELIEVE ME!).  But, Someone shared a Pinterest Perfect Pin of such a party on Pop Roc Parties super special Facebook Group and many of us oohed and ahhhed …………………. and I ended up saying “I’ll host it!  No worries, leave it in my capable hands”.

Now that statement is hilarious and couldn’t actually be any further from the truth.  I’m a really, really bad hostess, honestly, there was plenty of wine at the party but the only food served was what the guests brought themselves!

But, I was pretty pumped on the whole Gingerbread House concept so called in the big guns to help make the morning a success.

Penny from Little Housewife took one for the team and made the most beautiful Gingerbread House pieces for us to assemble and Gingerbread men for Ethan to decorate (both my kids were there as Dave was out of town on business), as well as whipping up her fail-safe icing to stick everything together on the day.  You can find the recipe for her Gingerbread here.

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Top Mummy Blog new Zealand

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand

Spotlight was my natural go-to for baking supplies and Christmas decor for this event.  I previewed their gorgeous Christmas range earlier in the year and haven’t stopped thinking about it since!  When I first hit the Albany store for supplies I was completely overwhelmed but found that once I had decided on a colour scheme – white and silver with red accents –  everything seemed to fall into place – or into my basket lol.

Party Decor

Considering I only had a few rudimentary ideas floating around at the outset, I’m so happy with how the table turned out.

Key pieces were definitely the foil balloons spelling XMAS.  I has purchased the huge helium numbers before but wasn’t aware that they also came in a 30cm size that you can air fill.  The best part?  They have tabs with holes pre-punched ready to hang!  Seven days later and our gorgeous foil garland is still looking amaze.  RRP $3.99 ea.

Each place setting comprised;

 

Centrepiece 

  • Joy Marquee Light RRP$34.99
  • Ceramic Tree RRP$19.99
  • Paper Mache Reindeer RRP$7.99
  • Snowy Invite Glitter Reindeer – Check in store
  • Snowy Invite Nutcracker 35cm  – Check in store
  • Red Copenhagen Cement Candle -Check in Store

 

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Decorating 101

It’s a fact that you can’t decorate Gingerbread Houses without pretty, pretty candy.  Sweet Scoop are our family’s favourite; a range of delicious, traditional lollies that are available to Pick ‘N Mix at selected PAK ‘n SAVE and New World stores nationwide.  To decorate our houses we used; Fairy Mushrooms, Licorice Mix, Sour Fruit Dots, Rosie Apples, Tutti Fruitti Belts, Love Hearts, Blue Mouth Painters, Raspberry Sours, Fizzy Bricks, Tangy Sticks, Spin Tops and Cupid Hearts.  

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Those gorgeous serving trays can be found for hire here at Pop Roc Parties.

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand

Because I have no idea what I’m doing, I was planning on buying an icing bag and attachments for each guest.  Thankfully I called Penny whilst I was in Spotlight and she directed me to the Party department which is where you find all of the icing equipment.  One box of Wilton Disposable Piping Bags and we were all set!  Cutting off the end on an angle is perfect for decorating these little houses.  I picked up quite a range of sparkles, sprinkles, Frozen-coloured snowflakes, and gel pens from Spotlight and Julie from Pop Roc supplied the Christmas Pearl Sprinkles (red, white & green) plus the cutest little reindeer and tree topper figurines.

I also grabbed these very cute 3d Christmas Cookie Cutters which were perfect for cutting out fondant shapes to add a little extra dimension to our decorating.

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The Finishing Touches

This is where I let Julie from Pop roc Parties go crazy!  Decorating the table for an event like this is totally her forte and she had no end of amazing party products to flesh out my concept and make it look ‘finished’.  I’ll include a full ‘Shop the Look’ links section at the end for you.

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You can’t host a Christmas party without crackers and these Jolly & Joy Poinsettia Bon Bons were a gorgeous addition to the table.  I’d never considered gold serving-ware before but how amazing do the berries look on that gold hexagon plate????  I love it, the subtle pop of metallic adds a little luxe feeling to the nibbles table.

With SO much that needed to be on the table Julie was keen to create some height.  I had the decorating sprinkles on a cakestand some upended wooden crates worked well to get the decorations out of the way when it was time to get down to the ‘hard work’ of decorating our beautiful little houses.  Mason jars were used to keep our icing bags upright and ready to go and tying the bags off with festive ribbon from Spotlight just added to the cohesive theme.

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand
Top Mummy Blog new Zealand

Not going to lie.  It was a crazy, hectic morning due to the fact that everyone pitched in and pulled the party together in situ!  But it was so much fun and the finished Gingerbread Houses looked amazing!  I cannot believe I had the foresight to pick up a large roll of cellophane from Spotlight (so not like me to think ahead!), but I did and it was perfect for wrapping up the finished products to ensure they made it home safely to the little people who were eagerly awaiting them!

Thank you so much to the beautiful ladies who came and enjoyed the First Annual Best Nest Gingerbread House Decorating Party!  Aimee from My Beloved Style, Penny from Little Housewife, Megan from Thread and Julie from Pop Roc Parties.

Also a huge thank you to Spotlight, Sweet Scoop and Pop Roc Parties for your generous contributions to this event xx

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Megan Robinson from www.thread.co.nz with her beautiful Gingerbread House

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Shop the Look from Pop Roc Parties

 

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The Christmas List > Toys for Little Boys + Giveaway

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift Guide

So shopping for my little guy is so much easier than for #1, the possibilities are pretty much endless and I find before I even think about hitting the toy aisles I have to write a list, check the budget and be FIRM in my resolutions.  It’s way too easy to keep purchasing ‘little bits’ here and there because toddler gifts are relatively inexpensive (compared to a freaking Xbox lol), so it can be easy to over-spend.  Here are some of my faves for the little guys this season, let me know what you’re adding to Santa’s list in the comments below xxTop Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift Guide

Little Tikes Farm Memory Matchup $29.99

I have a freaky weird memory when it comes to my childhood and I can remember desperately wanting a toy just like this when I was little!  So, it was a total no-brainer when I spotted Memory Matchup on the Planet Fun website.  

The super-cute farm animals split in two, you hide the halves under the haystack cups, mix them up and play matching pairs!  

Nixie is going to love it – and cheat like a demon lol.

Pssssttt > Keep reading to win one for your Little Tike!

Leapfrog Number Lovin Oven $54.99Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift Guide

Oooh Nix is ALL about cooking at the moment so I couldn’t go past this wicked, educational toy from Leapfrog.  Aside from the obvious fun that is playing kitchen, there are so many other elements to explore here; number skills, parts of a whole, sharing, songs and phrases.  This is exactly the kind of toy I love to have in our house as it draws others in to play with our lovely little people.
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Ty Beanie Peppa Pig Soft Toys 

Dave and I have been married for 11 years this month and one tradition he has brought to our wee family is gifting a soft toy to the kids each Christmas.  I’m not a cuddly toy kinda girl so the boys are blessed that their daddy likes to buy teddies!

Nix is mad over Peppa and George Pig and Ty Beanies are classics that kids instantly fall in love with.  I’m going to squish 3 of the small size into his stocking this year and watch him absolutely squeal with delight when he cuddles them to death!

Kurio 7″ Kids Tablet $199Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift Guide

I’m a tech geek and my kids will be tech geeks too.  This is a fact and something I make no bones about.  Truthfully, Nix is responsible for the death of one iPad – so far!  It was during his in-and-out-of-hospital period where he was confined to a cot for long periods while connected to various tubes, catheters, epidurals etc.  He didn’t do it on purpose but I’m not that keen on him destroying another one.  

So, an alternative device with similar capabilities as it’s more expensive peers is a VERY welcome addition to our household.  Meet the awesome Kurio!  A fully functional Android tablet with stacks of value-adds which I’m loving such as;

  • Internet filtering
  • Time controls
  • Piggy bank system
  • Proprietary Kurio Motion games to get kids up and moving while enjoying their device – so awesome and fun!

Look, tech is not going anywhere and our family’s philosophy is to embrace the positives and try to minimise the negatives with careful time management and parental involvement in what our kids are using devices for.  I can’t wait to use the Kurio with Nix in some of his routine quiet times after Santa arrives this year!  (the kid-safe bumper is included in the box too, hopefully it’s Nixon proof!).

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift GuidePaw Patrol Lookout Playset $99.50

Might as well just come out and say it, I’m a huge Paw Patrol fan.  It’s the catchy jingle, the cute dogs, their awesome vehicles…….I think Chase and his pals are totally cool.  Combine this with Nix’s LOVE of cars and trucks and what I call ‘contained’ play ie play centred around one main object (like a garage or more often a windowsill!) and I knew we needed this playset!

With a real working elevator, lights, sounds and a wraparound slide, we are all going to be spending some serious time on the carpet these holidays!  We’ve been collecting the small vehicles since the beginning of the year when we first discovered the TV show so adding this interactive playset to our games will be amaze – I’m a little curious as to what else Nix is going to fire down that slide lol!

Fireman Sam Vehicles $29.99Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Toddler Gift Guide

Fireman Sam is one of those sentimental shows for me.  E loved to watch it and so does Nixon.  I could totally do with a few less cameos from ‘NORMAN’ (you must say that with a very high, exasperated British accent please!) but hi-ho.

The assorted Fireman Sam vehicles are so great, they are chunky and substantial feeling in your hand and have opening and closing doors – which is a very important consideration when you’re two fyi!  These and the matching figures are sold separately so take that into consideration when purchasing.

The cool thing about all of these toys is that you won’t have to search high and low for them – available from The Warehouse, Farmers, Mighty Ape,Toyworld, Whitcoulls, Toyco and Kmart.

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift GuideJR Wooden Balance Bike $89.99

I’ve already given this guy the thumbs up over here, so make sure you click through and get the full rundown.  So sad to be saying goodbye to our trusty plastic motorbike but he’s been thrashed and Nix has split the front wheel, fingers crossed it even lasts the next 3 weeks before Christmas!

Who wants to win a Little Tikes Farm Memory Matchup of their own!!!!  Thanks to the wonderful team at Planet Fun we have one to put under someone’s Christmas Tree this year!  Enter via the widget below and cross your fingers and toes xx

 

The Christmas List | JR Wooden Balance Bike

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Christmas Toys

As much as it pains me to admit it, jumbo Nix is just TOO big to ride his classic plastic motorbike anymore!  Every time I run behind him as he careens at full speed down a hill I can see the little axel at the back shuddering and groaning under strain.

Time for an upgrade Santa!

Balance bikes are the obvious choice for toddlers in that transition period between a trike and a bike.  On a balance bike, kids learn balance first, pedalling last compared to a  traditional bike where the opposite is true.  Makes so much sense to get your balance down first right?

The bike we’re putting under the tree for Nixon this year is a super-cute lime green racer from online baby specialty store www.babies.co.nz.

I love this bike!  It’s perfect for Nix who will be 2yrs 5mths come Christmas.  It was pretty hard to hide this away from little eyes for another month but Dave whisked it off to the garage after he put it together so out-of-sight-out-of-mind for me at least!

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Christmas Toys

5 things I particularly love about the JR Wooden Balance Bike;

  1. It’s super easy to put together.  It arrived in two pieces and took Dave approx 5 stressless minutes to complete. Yay! We’ve had WAY too many Christmas Eve meltdowns from assembling toys so pretty keen to avoid this at all costs this year!
  2. It’s made from natural birch plywood which is FSC Certified (FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests).  Anything that’s working towards sustainability gets a big tick from me!
  3. This is a solid wee bike that feels super safe and sturdy but is also light enough for a typically coordination-challenged toddler to manage.
  4. They are available in an awesome range of colours; Blue, Pink, Red, Green, Black and Frozen (pastel) Blue.
  5. They are on sale now! 30% off, time to go shopping > JR Wooden Balance Bike RRP $89.99 now $62.99!

I can’t wait for Christmas Day!

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Christmas Toys

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Christmas Toys

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Christmas Toys