Valentines Day Movies – Staying In is the new Going Out

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Blog Valentine's Day Movie

Look, I’m turning 36 37 this year.  I haven’t measured my own self-worth or the status of a relationship by how red, pink and chocolatey a Valentine’s Day is for a very long, long time.

That’s not to say I’m completely opposed to celebrating it however.  For me the appeal of Valentine’s Day is that you can make it as ostentatious or as subtle an occasion as you choose.  Ham it up or go balls to the wall class act, the choice is yours and your plan of attack probably varies from year to year.

One of the pleasures of being an old married couple is that expectations are out the window at this point and Dave and I totally appreciate small gestures and time spent together.  As the Big Day is on a Sunday this year, we will be celebrating the way that 66% of those surveyed agreed was the perfect casual date night – staying in and watching Netflix together.

Let’s emphasise the together ok.  Because that’s the really important bit.  Dave and I are totally invested in a growing number of series – shows we totally love so we only watch them together.  That means no (ok, minimal) devices and uninterrupted watching.  This is not as easy as one would think, um, kids, life, vacuuming………………SLEEP!

So, to make your Valentine’s Day a massive Staying In hit this year, I’ve got some surefire rom-coms and enough sappy love scenes to get all systems firing.  Stay in and snuggle down with Netflix and the one you love this Valentine’s Day.

10 Valentine’s Day Movie Ideas

  • Crazy Stupid Love
  • 50 First Dates
  • New York, I Love You
  • Ted Talks: Sex, Secrets and Love
  • Love and Other Disasters
  • Manhattan Romance
  • Mr and Mrs Smith
  • The Notebook
  • Words and Pictures
  • Love – Netflix Original, launching globally 19th Feb!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Blog Valentine's Day Movie

The Christmas List > Toys for Big-ish Boys + Giveaway

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift Guide

Ethan turned 11 just last week and present-wise it was a total non-event.

He had been saving for a big ticket item (Xbox One) for ages, and after tucking his pennies away and pretty much everyone gifting him cash for his birthday he was able to buy himself his fancy new nerd box.  Phew!  Those things are expensive guys!

So I’m looking forward to popping some wrapped pressies under the tree for my big boy this Christmas, even 11 year olds have toys on their wish lists and these 5 picks are total winners (I know because I’ve checked them out in person and they’re ALL hidden away for Santa to deliver!).

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift GuideMinions Talking Bob with Teddy Bear $100

Minions are making the kids go cray cray this year and I totally get it.  I fell in love with some weird plastic stuff when I was a youngun – Snuggle Bums anyone?  The pinnacle of Minion fandom would have to be the interactive series.  Ethan’s favourite Minion is Bob and I’ve got to admit, Talking Bob is very awesome.  He’s pretty down with his teddy, he vocalises 20 Minions sayings, songs and sounds in the original movie voice, his arms move and his soft skin upper body sort of detracts from the feeling that you’re hugging a giant capsule.  Kids don’t care though!  Bob and his pals are the business this Christmas.Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift Guide

Chill Factor Tutti Frutti Slushie Maker $25

I didn’t quite get the attraction of these slushie makers last summer until I tried one at a friends place.  Instant awesome!  No wonder they are back for summer 2015 with a colourful new look.  There’s really no limits here, you can make slushie’s from your favourite milk based-smoothie combos, natural fruit flavoured water, sodas…..I’m pretty sure if it will freeze, you can slushify it!  The best part is these require little to no adult supervision, keep them in the freezer, pour in the liquid of choice, squeeze and go!  It’s really that easy.

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift GuideBananagrams Game $29.99

I’ve Ethan’s wanted this game for years.  Literally years, it’s just been one of those things that I always forget to add to the gifting list and then I see it in Farmers after Christmas and slap my head Homer Simpson style, DOH!  It’s played like Scrabble but without the board, each player simultaneously forms their own words, totally perfect for those long summer nights we’ve got to look forward to – without a device in hand YAY!

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift GuideDreamworks Action Dragons $20  approx.

So How to Train your Dragon came out years ago, but I’ve got to say, I have never enjoyed an animated film as much as I did when watching those Dragons in 3d!  Apparently Ethan feels the same way as his appetite for the books and toys hasn’t waned at all.  This year we are liking action figures (still) so the Action Dragons are a great option, and a great price!  E’s hoping for a Hideous Zippleback to add to his Toothless and Stormfly duo, we’ll have to see what Santa thinks won’t we!

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Boy Gift GuideAir Hogs Shadow Launcher $119 approx

Remote controlled vehicles never go out of favour, the technology in them just gets better and better and Air Hogs are leading the way this Christmas.

I can’t wait to play with the Shadow Launcher, it’s a 2-in-1 super toy!  A serious ground vehicle carrying a secret cargo – a push of a button opens the bay doors to reveal a gyro-stabilised helicopter, both controlled by the same remote!  A little boy’s dream toy!  Though, I’m fairly certain there will be a certain Dad in our house clamouring for his turn at the remote!

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.

Who wants to win a Minions Talking Bob 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

Grown Ups Go Free | Our Top 5 School Holiday Activities

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Halloween Decor   I LOVE making lists and planning activities for the school holidays.  Even better when I begin early!   Now that we are a family of four, I’m really feeling the pinch when I see those expensive, special occasion attractions creep onto the kids Holiday Wish Lists.  I would love to smash out trips to Kelly Tarlton’s, Snowplanet, Clip ‘n Climb………..(plus everything else lol) every school holidays, but that’s just not doable for us.   Instead we brainstorm, get as creative as we can, set a schedule to avoid cases of ‘I’m BORED’ and carefully and collectively decide on our ‘spendy’ excursions.  Check out my blog post from a year ago for 20 School Holiday Boredom Busting Ideas to get you started on your summer holiday planning and check out what Kellogg’s are doing to help make your dollars go further! This summer, we’re all set to shake things up a little and take advantage of the amazing Kellogg’s Grown Ups Go Free offers that are available on packs of specially marked Kellogg’s cereals.  What this means is that when we buy one full priced child or adult admission to some of our favourite attractions, we get one adult pass free!  I’m all over this, so am adding these Auckland (and surrounding areas) attractions to our summer holiday to-do list; Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Halloween Decor

Fun for Families in and around Auckland

        1. Kelly Tarlton’s – Grown Ups Go Free Savings $39!  We’ve only made it to the amazing aquarium that is Auckland’s Kelly Carlton’s once this year, but Nix, Ethan and I had the BEST time!  
        2. Snow Planet – Grown Ups Go Free Savings $45!  None of us have ever been to Snow Planet, despite Dave and I both loving snowboarding.  I can see us heading here over summer with the kids when we are all a little hot and beach weary and needing a change of scenery.
        3. Waitomo Glow Worm Caves – Grown Ups Go Free Savings $49!  Road trips are a summer staple and  heading to the Glow Worm caves is one of the most iconic kiwi childhood experiences I can think of! I’m so looking forward to taking Nixon there for the first time these school holidays!
        4. New Zealand Maritime Museum and Harbour Cruise – Grown Ups Go Free Savings $15!  Silly Aucklanders, we’ve never visited the Maritime Museum lol.  We will pack a lunch to enjoy on the waterfront and make a day of it with the kids.
        5. MOTAT – Grown Ups Go Free Savings $16!.  A visit to MOTAT will be another first for little Nixon and more ammo to feed his obsession with trains and vehicles lol.

 

  The best part is that we don’t have to purchase any ‘odd’ cereals that will sit in the pantry to take advantage of these offers.  Grown Ups Go Free vouchers are on boxes across ALL brands of Kellogg’s cereal, even our favourites, Special K and Nutrigrain!  Simply clip the coupon and head off for some fun with the kids at 90 attractions around Aus and NZ – that’s 20 super fun attractions in NZ!

To get your summer school holidays off to a great start I have 3 General Admission passes to Kelly Tarlton’s up for grabs.  Just enter via the widget below to get in the draw.

  a Rafflecopter giveawayTop Mummy Blog new Zealand Top  

Halloween 2015 | #thescarehouse

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Halloween DecorIt’s about this time every year that Ye Ole debate starts, you know, the one that starts with this gem; “ugh, I HATE Halloween, it’s so American humpfff”.

Yeah well, I pooh-pooh those haters and say BRING ON HALLOWEEN! 

Here are my Top 5 reasons for getting down with Halloween;

  1. Wearing costumes is fun and kids LOVE it!  Dressing up in a pumpkin suit never hurt anyone right?
  2. I’m all for a fun/one-off day each year that breaks up the monotony of the daily grind – be realistic, Halloween impacts at most, 6 hours of your year – why not enjoy it?
  3. Halloween is great for meeting your neighbours!  Many communities now plan amazing (and easy to organise) events that respect everyone’s decision to either be involved or abstain.
  4. Lollies are awesome!
  5. Decorating (see below) is super fun, inexpensive if you’re a savvy shopper and use what you have already, plus, Halloween is a great excuse for a party!

Halloween Decorating

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Halloween Decor

I love decorating my mantlepiece every opportunity I get so I decided to up the anti and take #thescarehouse to a whole new level this year!  Before I began I went room-to-room collecting anything that fit my ‘brief’ – basically black, black and creepy.  I grabbed a print and coat hanger from Nixie’s room, some swallows off the wall (the orange paint was perfect!) some black and white pottery, a framed owl print, a calendar (turned to the 31st – All Hallows Eve :::::::whoooooo::::::) and a black clock.  Random and easy.

I then mixed these up with some inexpensive Halloween decor essentials from The Warehouse;

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Halloween Decor

Skull Goblet Bone Colour $10, Hanging Small Skeleton $10, Skull Mug Bone Colour $10, Spooky Spiders $3, Spider Web with Spider $1, Skull with Moving Jaw $10, Skull Bone Bowl $10Dummy Gauze Cloth $10, Rubber Spiders – Check the toy department, Rubber Snakes – Check Toy Department.
Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Halloween Decor

If you don’t have a mantlepiece, get creative with a themed centrepiece and get ghoulishly ready for a creepy dinner party – Halloween is on a Saturday this year!  FYI, one of the $1 bags of cobwebs covered all four dining chairs! Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Halloween DecorTop Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Halloween DecorTop Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Halloween Decor Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Top Halloween Decor

And, it wouldn’t be Halloween without costumes would it?  Finding age appropriate costumes for littles is a bit tricky here in New Zealand, definitely easier if you have a little girl I think? Yes?  Princesses and fairy wings and all that?
Needless to say I was beyond excited to find this super-cute Pumpkin Costume for Nix also at The Warehouse, it’s comfy, not too hot and he can move easily in it – winning………….so far!  We’ll see how our Neighbourhood Fright Night works out lol.

wpid-diptic-1130685049.jpg

So, I’ve got my decorations, costumes and Halloween treats all sorted, early too I might add!  If you’re keen to get spooky with The Warehouse this Halloween, you can shop the range online or visit your local store, and I’ve got a little helping hand to make Halloween even more fun!

(CLOSED)  Congratulations Rhiannon Young!

If you would like to win a $50 gift card from The Warehouse just let me know in the comments below; Halloween: YAY or NAY?

Contest closes 26/10/15 at 10pm.

Daily Look | Our Easter Mantlepiece

I haven’t put up any Easter decorations for years, usually because they are in the Christmas storage boxes and who can be bothered digging through those in March!  However this year I remembered to pull the Easter stuff out as I was packing away the Christmas Tree, voila!  How cute is that bunting? $2.50 from Kmart!

Monday | Crash & Burn. Rest & Revive

A lovely, but hectic weekend of dinner dates, bbq’s, skateboarding, eeling, family workouts, playdates, cycling, swimming and the endless minutiae of weekend chores came to a head last night when Dave and Ethan finally returned home for the ER at 10pm!  Nothing major thank goodness, a suspected fracture in one of the small bones in E’s wrist sees him in a splint for 2 weeks with more x-rays to follow.  Dave and I were getting Nix in his bike seat after a lovely swim in the school pool; E was practising riding his bike with no hands……..

With one week left before he returns to school, I caught a glimpse of how tired Ethan had become over summer.  Slightly later nights and jam packed days have left him with little in the tank so a slow, quiet Anniversary Day is pretty much perfection for us right now.  

Dave left for Wellington at 5.30 this morning so I needed to get the week off to a relaxed and easy start for both the kids and myself.  I may not have had a shower yet but I have pottered, and tidied, gardened and played with the boys.  I have tackled some easy {but mundane & dreaded} tasks like the fly spots and cleaning the high chair – pretty much my most despised tasks around the house.  The whites are flapping on the line, the baby is asleep, the frog is chomping all the flies I’m catching to prevent any more fly poo on my ceilings {I wish!} and big is lying on the couch, reading and relishing a bit more screen time than normal.  

So by most accounts, a totally lame Auckland Anniversary day, but life is allowed to move a little slower in the SAHM lane right?  Knowing I’m not rushing off to work tomorrow allows a little chance to breathe and remember that the beaches and the parks, the pools and the ice-creams will all still be there on Tuesday and may just taste a little sweeter after our absence today.

Laundry Mummy Blogger NZ

Dahlias New Zealand Mummy Blog

Water Play Summer Mum Blog NZ

Homegrown Veges Mummy Blog NZ
 

This is what I think about that.

  • I think that the first recycling pickup after the holiday period is just the best feeling ever – all of that paper and wrapping and cardboard gone! I love it.
  • I think that getting rid of my Christmas manicure which looked so cute pre-santa and looked so Fran Drescher post-santa was $30 very, very well spent.  Also no new manicure as per previous ‘saving money’ post – sad face.
  • I think that having a 2.4 metre Great White Shark, the apex predator of the entire ocean, cruising in the Auckland Harbour is seriously amazing. I wish I could see it for myself.
  • I think that Spotify is just about the best thing ever!  I switched my Spark plan to one that comes with a free Spotify premium membership and my running playlist has never sounded so good, I can see how a little tweaking and playing on the app will create {eventually} The Greatest Melissa Playlist of ALL Time.  Excite.
  • I think that American Horror Story is just about the most freaky show/movie I’ve ever seen and Dave and I have only watched Episode 1!  Holy shit-balls.  Not sure how far we will get into that series.
  • I think that I’m finally getting my reading mojo back, I’ve got The Kiterunner on my Kindle at the moment and I’m hooked.
  • I think that forgetting to buy a school pool key this summer is just about the most stupid thing I’ve done in a while.  Melting.
  • I think that some people need to get off their asses/couches and get outside/take their kids outside and enjoy themselves. Man the moaning gets tiresome <did i just say that?  Look, it’s amazingly beautiful when you leave your driveway!  This is as good as it gets weather-wise in New Zealand right now and wow, it’s a stunner of a summer!

Muriwai Beach Auckland Mummy Blog NZ

 

Oi Oi! Ahoy there 2015!

Happy New Year friends! :::she said, 4 days late:::

Oh well, a holiday is not a holiday if I don’t give my brain a bit of blogging respite now and then, so clink-clink to my first post of 2015!

We spent 10 wicked days in Waipu thoroughly enjoying a laid-back, family Christmas and New Year – we didn’t actually see in the New Year, Dave and I were tucked up in bed at 10pm, determined not to start 2015 hungover and tired!

We have returned home to begin January a little more tanned {or blackened in my case, first sign of sun and my skin pays no heed to my Irish/Scottish heritage despite regular sunscreen application} and with some awesome new habits and goals firmly in place before the clock even struck 12 on New Years day.

I’m not sure what is was about being away, but those long, straight, flat roads up north were just so appealing to me that I got out there and ran every.damn.day we were away.  

Shut the hell up you say.

Tell me about it.  I haven’t been that motivated to exercise since, well, ever.

I left my sneakers in Auckland though, so a quick trip into Whangarei to pick up some new kicks from Rebel kind-of ushered in a new way of thinking for the year ahead.  In a situation such as this I would have just picked out whatever sneakers I wanted regardless of price, but as I was purchasing a pair of shoes that were not technically essential {I had left my runners in Auckland, not on Mars}, Dave insisted I make my choice from the range that was 50% off.  This included a grand total in my size of two pairs of ugly, u g l y shoes I wouldn’t normally look twice at.  I caved.  It was like voting in a New Zealand election really, picking the least bad out of two hideous options.  My new Avias cost $60 and are actually one of the most comfy pairs of shoes I’ve ever owned.  Dave is polishing his halo right about now.

Basically, I need to be a little more aware of how and what I spend my money on this year.  We have redone our budget this morning, put some financial goals {and boundaries} in place and are looking forward to appreciating and enjoying what we have and being a bit more mindful of what we spend our money on.  Sound familiar?  Yeah same old broken record I know.

So the quote below is my motto for 2015, no list of resolutions, just a general feeling that I want to coax along and see where it takes me xx

Start where you are.

Use what you have.

Do what you can.

Get outside people, we wait all year for this glorious weather!

Happy New Year Kiwi Mummy Blog

Kmart’s Wishing Tree Appeal | Give the gift of generosity this Christmas

Many of us try and add a little charitable cheer to the Christmas season, making a point to teach our kids the value and importance of giving, not just receiving, especially to those to those less fortunate.

In-store initiatives such as Kmart’s Wishing Tree Appeal are taking charitable donations to the storefront and making it super easy for you and your family spread some Christmas joy a little further afield these holidays.

Supporting families throughout New Zealand, the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal teaches Kiwi kids the importance of giving rather than receiving this festive season.

This year the Appeal is now in its 20th year and aims to collect more than 45,000 gifts that will be distributed by The Salvation Army to families that might otherwise go without. Simply purchase a gift of your choice*, collect a gift tag from any Kmart store and place it under the tree, then let the feel-good factor sink in.

Without the generosity of the public, many financially disadvantaged families will experience a bleak Christmas Day. However, the thoughtful contributions of New Zealanders will put a smile on a child’s face when they wake on 25 December.

This year’s Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal will be collecting gifts in stores around the country from November 13 until 24 December.

Visit http://wishingtree.kmart.co.nz to learn more about Kmart’s commitment to giving back to the community.

If you need some ‘alone’ time to spend with a coffee (or the sticky tape & wrapping paper!)  this season, download these handy printables for some festive fun for the little peeps.

5625_Kmart Wishing Tree 2014_Colour In Gift Tag 5625_Kmart Wishing Tree 2014_Colour In Sleigh kmartwt_kids_wordsearch-2013 

 

Halloween 2014…….was a week ago, I realize this!

For the first time in like, ever {or maybe 3 or 4 years} Dave was home from work on time to go Trick or Treating with us last Friday.  I think this is possibly due to the cute factor being multiplied considerably this year by #2 being able to wear his big brothers FIRST EVER HALLOWEEN COSTUME!  Some families pass down christening gowns and the like, creating heirlooms out of all that vintage stuff; we’re all class and save Halloween costumes for the future generations!  Wait until our future daughter-in-laws get a glimpse of their baby’s first Halloween monkey suit, worn by their daddy’s, I will be endeared to them forever.  Bless.

Halloween Costumes 2014What a couple of babes!  E gave his book week costume a second showing and was a hobbit, this boy makes my life infinitely easier on a daily basis.  Here’s a little flashback for you, Ethan in The Monkey Suit, Encinitas, California 2006!

Halloween Monkey Costume