Creating a Healthful Morning Routine

I’ve been working hard on improving my morning routine over the summer and I’m happy to share it with you in conjunction with Harraway’s new Oat-activ® range.


As we welcome autumn in New Zealand, we are well past the heady, New Year’s enthusiasm of resolutions, good intentions and well-meaning but (perhaps expensive?) ‘motivational’ purchases of workout gear, gym memberships and fitspo apps. Taking stock of which habits have ‘stuck’ over the summer months and which ones can be filed as a ‘flash-in-the-pan’ exercise is an excellent way to move into the season ahead and clear out mental clutter (and any associated guilt lol).

So how do you introduce positive life changes and healthy habits in a way that will ‘stick’?

I have NO idea.

Literally, I got nothing for ya lol.

What I do know is that I’m a 38 year old work-in-progress, constantly battling age, injury – and my old mates’ white toast bread and wine! Dividing my day into morning, afternoon and evenings has helped tackle the massive ‘overwhelm’ that is often associated with implementing any kind of lifestyle change. Putting some thought into small, positive changes I can make to my routine (or lack thereof) across the day has given me the headspace to realise what’s important at various key times, and how awareness leads to positive, lasting change.

My Healthful Morning Routine

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Starting your day off right and figuring out how to do this is a goal across the board I’m guessing? Though this is going to look vastly different for everyone, I’ve found a couple of key tweaks and behaviour mods that have had a lasting impact on my mood, wellbeing and productivity throughout the day.

  • A great day actually begins the night before. Saying no to another episode on Netflix and spending time on a bed-time routine to actively unwind from the day improves my sleep immeasurably.
    What does this actually look like? For me that means TV off and device down at 9.30pm, 500ml of water + magnesium and vitamins, time spent removing makeup (mentally washing the day off), treating my skin with a night serum or cream, brushing my teeth, reading or a sudoku puzzle.
  • Rising early. Getting out of bed has never come easily to me I’ll admit, but over the past 4 months, I’ve discovered that initiating an earlier wake-up time using my phone and Fitbit alarms is paying dividends. I’ve got some mental space to myself before the boys wake-up, an extra 30 minutes does wonders for my productivity and waking of my own volition as opposed to a body slam to the head via Nixon works wonders on my mood! 
  • Getting breakfast right. Sometimes the wheels fall off throughout the day so starting as you mean to continue is an invaluable mental tool. I’ve long been a fan of oats for breakfast, they are delicious, satisfying, inexpensive and easy to prep. The latest oats to hit shelves, Harraway’s Oat-activ® range, can also add cholesterol reducing to their impressive list of health benefits with the combo of added LDL reducing plant sterol + the beta-glucan found in oats. Cholesterol is important to our cells but too much LDL, low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Harraways Oat-activ® hits bad LDL cholesterol with a plant-based ‘double-action’ attack; beta-glucan forms a gel in the digestive tract, binding to excess LDL, blocking the re-absorption of bile acids and removing the mixture as well, while phytosterols extracted from plants are added to the Oat-activ® range in powder form get to work preventing absorption of LDL in the intestines. Busy brekkie is an understatement, right?
    Why stop at breakfast? We’re all privy to a little afternoon nibble, so I like to keep Harraways  Oat-activ® on hand for a convenient, nourishing snack or smoothie booster. For the best results, it’s recommended that you have two Harraways Oat-activ® sachets per day to lower your cholesterol*, so it’s a win-win in my book.
  • Water before coffee – ALWAYS.  My morning coffee is one part of my morning ritual I really look forward to but two tweaks I adhere to now are; 500ml of water before I even lift my coffee mug! Non-negotiable. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of milk so passing on the flat white and saying yes to a long black is now routine and I feel much better for it. 
  • Get outside in the am.  Natural light is the cornerstone of our daily rhythms and contributes massively to our physical and mental wellbeing. Late last year, after a couple of weeks of walking every morning, I noticed how amazing I felt – physically, mentally and emotionally. I was energised (sunlight triggers cortisol), I was happy, my anxiety had disappeared (serotonin stimulation lifts our moods), productivity was up and I was sleeping like a babe as exposure to sunlight was suppressing melatonin expression until I needed it in the evenings. Winning all round!

So that’s what’s working for me so far in 2018.  Five little steps that are easily accessible, require zero subscriptions or outside influence and combined, result in an easy, healthful morning routine that sets me up for the days of working and parenting.

Available in selected Pak N Save & New World supermarkets now in oat singles packs, Harraways Oat-activ® is available in Original or Original with Cranberry flavours. Find out more about the healthful benefits of Oat-activ® here.

*As part of your daily intake of 3g beta-glucan or 2g of plant sterols.

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This post was sponsored by Harraways Oat-activ®

Parents, this is how you win at the internet – MindLabKids.com

Summer school holidays are almost upon us here in New Zealand and, as far as I can tell, there are two distinct methodologies parents use to tackle the school holidays;

  1. The Organized Planner: Days, playdates, excursions,  picnics are all planned with military precision – only to be completely at the mercy of the sometimes/usually unpredictable January weather (especially if you live in Auckland!)
  2. The She’ll be Right Parent:  No planning necessary – it’s the holidays after all!

Whether you identify as a #1 or a #2 or a happy mix of both, it’s inevitable that weather, exhaustion or, real-life necessity such as parents having to adult and go to work, will result in days spent at home.  If you find this heralds the ‘I’m bored’ chorus we all dread, well, I’m all for letting kids ride out their boredom (if you can stand it!).  Giving kids the space and independence to be bored allows them the creative freedom to ‘un-bore’ themselves in ways adults may never have imagined.

If that doesn’t work, or has run its course, some intentional time online may be just the ticket.  Screentime for the kids; they’re happy, combined with educational, productive activities; Mum and Dad are happy.

Everyone wins!  (So bookmark this website now before you forget >> www.mindlabkids.com

What is MindLabKids.com?

The Mind Lab by Unitec is an award-winning, specialist learning lab dedicated to increasing knowledge and understanding of modern technology via workshops, school visits, holiday programmes and teacher professional development.  Emerging from this cutting-edge combo of education and fresh ways to deliver it, comes MindLabKids.com.

The website itself is an engaging, exciting online destination where kids can discover science and technology at their own pace, through hands-on experiments, challenges, and safe collabs with other kids.  Three new challenges are released each week around kid-magnet topics such as; robotics, 3D design, animation, and stop-motion, movie making and more.

How we use MindLabKids.com

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First points to note, rego is free, quick and easy.  Ethan was instructed NOT to use his own name as the username, plus, the only contact information requested was a parents email address – which I had to verify before the account was activated.

That was it!  Ethan was off, with Nix observing at elbow height, of course, intrigued by the fact that his big brother was stoked to be using the computer with Mum’s encouragement.

The home feed is a collation of challenges, fun facts, members responses to challenges, surveys, and cute memes – essentially everything kids want or more importantly NEED from an educational site that is kinda a cross-over with an age-appropriate social network.  You can respond to user-created content in a positive way via likes and even ‘favorite’ accounts that are uploading videos you love.

But obviously, the very BEST part, which the boys are loving, is getting their curious neurons firing and getting stuck into the online challenges.

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Nix and E both have a Mind Lab Kids Starter Pack (which got them so pumped to get cracking I gotta say!)  These are definitely not necessary to participate in the challenge responses, but Ethan found after looking at the kit inclusions such as a propeller, 3V motor, battery pack, pager motor, hovercraft plate (stuff we generally don’t have lying about the house), his mind was a little more open to the creative, problem solving process, knowing that he had some extra tools on hand.

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On that note,  seriously great Christmas gift right?!  Create your child’s login, write their username and password on a gift tag, wrap up the Mind Lab Kids Starter Pack and you’ve got the perfect parental gift trifecta; it’s educational, not a toy they don’t need and can be reused over and over again in different ways.

Boom.

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The first challenge the boys tried their hand at was Professor D’s Hovercraft Challenge – obvs Ethan and I helped Nix a lot with his, he was just down to go crazy with the glue gun to be honest, but that’s every 4 year old’s prerogative lol.

Check out our Hovercraft Challenge Response Video here on the MindLabKids.com website.

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Win a MindLabKids.com Starter Kit!

Get your kids excited about science and technology and they could win their own MindLabKids.com starter kit!

To enter;

  1. Join Mind Lab Kids, if your kids are already a member then they are good to go!
  2. Film and upload a challenge-response video to www.mindlabkids.com before 10am 10 December 2017.
  3. That’s it!

Full terms and conditions can be found here, otherwise, the main point to note is that you must be a NZ resident.

This post was made possible by www.MindLabKids.com.

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Raising Kiwi boys – the good, the bad and the muddy

Karicare Toddler is about as Kiwi as the kids that are we are raising here in New Zealand. As a Mum to a couple of Kiwi boys, Karicare Toddler asked me to have a think about what it means to me to be a Kiwi mum.  Made right here in New Zealand, Karicare Toddler have been committed to using the goodness of New Zealand cows’ milk from Kiwi cows on Kiwi farms. How awesome is it that our kids can enjoy the benefits of amazing NZ dairy from their earliest years?!

13 years ago when I thought kids were (maybe?) a distant possibility in my future, I could only imagine parenting boys. The thought of raising a mini-Melissa terrified me – and rightly so if you ask my mother!

So imagine my ‘surprise’ when Dave and I fell pregnant whilst in the very early stages of planning our wedding. “Boys it is!” I assured Dave, only to be told at every single scan that we were expecting a girl.

The pink presents began rolling in. Despite living in Southern California at the time, baby girl had more pink blankets then she would ever be able to use and Mum had Pumpkin Patch on speed dial ready to snap up every cute girls outfit released that season.

Luckily most shops these days have a fantastic return policy.  Baby girl was indeed, an Ethan. And then 8.5 years later, another bouncing, 10.4lb bundle of joy – Nixon – arrived.

Those are my qualifications for writing about Kiwi boys. I know nothing I can assure you, and what I and other mothers of boys do know is learned (or earned) through the school of hard knocks, lost socks and empty pantries.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Kiwi KidsTwo children deep, hindsight has proven what an absolute angel our first child was. It’s almost unfair that we didn’t realise how easy those first 8.5 years of parenting actually were. Because the bomb sure dropped when Nixon arrived.

The large age gap seemed like a dream initially. Ethan was completely smitten with his little brother, he’d waited for him a long time after being present at the sonographers appointment where we found out I’d miscarried during my previous pregnancy.  He was/is a proud and protective (exasperated, tormented) big brother.

Nixon is ::: dramatic pause:::, the exception to every rule I thought I knew about parenting.  He is, without doubt, the loudest person in the universe, the most full-on, stubborn, energizer bunny, tackle everything in his path then poke his finger in your eye just for kicks kid I have ever encountered.  He is also, unerringly cuddly, affectionate, verbose and crazy smart.  

We completely redecorated the house in 2011/12 and post-toddler-Nixon we will have to completely redecorate again.  Rimu windowsills, painstakingly stripped and refinished are now scarred, scratched, chipped and dented.  Walls, all re-plastered and painted have met the same fate.  Cushions vs marker pens, couch vs ballpoint, carpet vs play dough/dirt/dinner, brand new kitchen flooring vs laundry basket zoomed across it at top speed.  If you scoff and say “well, that’s just life with kids”, well perhaps.  Toddler destruction totally caught me by surprise as Ethan in his 13 years on this earth, has never, ever damaged our home or furnishings.

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Nix must have known I needed a great shot of him for the blog today so he obliged by mixing dirt for his vege planters………in his bedroom!

So, despite looking very, very similar our boys are as different as chalk and cheese and are also probably as different as night and day to the other million or so little boys that are growing up around New Zealand at the same time.  That’s really the beauty of our little country in these modern times, differences are (for the most part) tolerated and celebrated.  We are all raising our children in different family configurations, different housing arrangements, with different cultural influences and religious beliefs, more diets than you can shake a stick at but we are at peace amongst an alarming and ever-increasing rate of intolerance in the world around us.

The joy of both being a Kiwi kid and having the immense privilege to raise one – or 2 or 10 or however many you want – is an awesome journey to be on.  Of course, it’s made infinitely easier when there are fab products such as Karicare Toddler that are made in New Zealand and help us give our kids a great start in life.

This post is brought to you by Karicare Toddler.

Win with The Best Nest!

I’ve got three $50 Gift Cards to the Warehouse to give away.  To enter, just comment below with one thing you love about raising kiwi kids or one thing you love about living in New Zealand!  

Competition closes Dec 10 2018. NZ residents only.

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Health – 5 Easy Ways to Improve your Sleep

This post was made possible by the world’s number #1 selling mattress protector, Protect-A-Bed, who know a thing or two about helping us get a good night’s sleep!


How many times have you caught yourself complaining about how tired you are, how you could sleep for days, how you need to go to bed earlier………only to repeat your unhealthy nocturnal habits over and over again?  Every.  Single.  Day.   Right?

Of all the health-related science that is becoming increasingly more available to consumers, info around the importance and wide-ranging benefits of adequate sleep is one field of research that provides equal benefit to all of us.  A good nights sleep is crucial to both our mental and physical well-being, often identified as the third pillar of health along with exercise and nutrition. 

If you’re wondering how much sleep is enough;  adults need 7-9 hours of sleep, school-age kids require 9-11 and pre-schoolers need 10-13 hours.  Nix heads to bed at 7 pm and wakes up at 6 am so he’s tracking well, Ethan (13) heads off at between 8.30 and 9 pm to wake at 6 am so he’s falling a bit short, but, it’s Dave and I who really need to hit the hay earlier.  We wake up at 6 am every day so our late night Netflix bingeing has got to stop!  In bed with the lights off by 10 pm at the latest should be what we are aiming for each evening.

Re-training our body clocks and resetting our natural circadian rhythms will no doubt take some time, but there are some tried and true tips for enhancing and encouraging sleep.  I’m working on introducing the 5 ideas below into our night-time wind-down.

Sleep, COME AT ME!

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5 Easy Ways to Improve your Sleep

  1. Routine – The human body LOVES routine.  Giving ourselves the same cues every day that it’s time to wind down and head to bed will set the scene for a great nights sleep.  Here’s my new sleep-prep plan; drink 500mls of water, take my vitamins – including magnesium, wash-up, relax on my Shakti mat and read for 20 minutes, then lights out – by 10pm!  Sounds so virtuous!
  2. Turn off the Tech – Just.  Do.  It.  Ethan is turning 13 next week and Dave and I had been allowing him to use his iPhone as an alarm clock.  Before we made a rod for our own backs later on when we are deep in the teenage years, we purchased him an actual clock and implemented a no-screen policy in his room – much to his disgust.  It’s well documented that the short wavelength blue light emitted by our digital devices disrupts sleep-inducing melatonin production.  Dave and I will be walking the walk and removing our chargers from the bedroom, this should also help with late night Candy Crush zone outs when we should be snoozing!
  3. Invest in your nest – Create a cozy, bedtime space that you crave at the end of a long day.  Think linens you love, a clutter-free environment that promotes a sense of calm as well as the New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Kiwi Kids Mattress Protector Reviewopportunity for healthful sleep and don’t forget to start at the bottom with your mattress protector.  Look for one that is compatible with your needs; for eczema or allergy sufferers or those with sensitive skin, do your research.  The entire range of Protect-A-Bed® products have been approved by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand’s Sensitive Choice Program plus, the TENCEL® range gets the tick with approval from the Eczema Association.  I’m switching all of our beds over to  Protect-A-Bed mattress protectors as the fitted sheet style is an absolute game-changer.  I can’t believe I’ve been struggling to make the beds with those super-annoying, corner-loop style protectors for so many years, it makes me shudder just thinking about them to be honest!
  4. Watch your temperature – I’m one of those annoying people who is cold all the time, so I LOVE being warm and snuggly in bed.  But, our body naturally cools down as bedtime approaches, helping us both to fall and stay asleep.  Evidence also suggests that allowing the body’s temp to drop naturally whilst sleeping has a beneficial effect on metabolism. So, if you haven’t ditched the heavy, winter weight duvet yet this spring, here’s your reminder!
  5. Cut the consumption – Whether it’s nicotine, alcohol, caffeine or eating a large meal before bedtime, what you put in your mouth affects your quality of sleep.  Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, no surprises there and though alcohol may have the perceived effect of helping you drop off to sleep, hours later, after alcohol levels drop, you may find yourself awake, restless and struggling to nod off again.

I popped the Protect-A-Bed® king-size Traditional Cotton mattress protector on our bed last weekend and we have slept like babes this week.  No more crinkly, crunchy, plasticky feel which is awesome, but somehow the genius fabric is still waterproof and breathable – perfect for those nights (4/7 I’d say) when Nix sneaks into our bed.

Shop the full Protect-A-Bed® range here, or find a New Zealand retailer here.

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Win yourself a Stay New Cotton Terry Mattress Protector!

Leave me a comment below with your preferred size and I’ll pick a winner to receive 1 x Protect-a-Bed Stay New Cotton Terry Mattress Protector!

Competition closes 24th Nov 2017.

 

Parenting – Bright Ideas for Young Minds

A couple of weeks ago I attended an event that was a little bit different from those I normally go to each week.  It wasn’t a cosmetic/foodie/makeup event, it wasn’t a glamorous, heels and frock, dress-to-the-nines occasion (thank god!).  It was a book launch.  A beautiful thought-provoking, inspiring book launch that gave me all the feels and left me with an innate desire to be a better mother.

Cripes that’s pretty heavy!

Bright Ideas for Young Minds is a book that screams for your attention as soon as you lay eyes on it.  It’s big, robust and beautifully designed, printed and bound, with fun and exciting content to match.  But what is it?  It’s an activity book brought to life by New Zealand’s largest early learning provider, BestStart and written by kiwi educators with contributions from Plunket, Heart Foundation NZ and Jumping Beans.

In short, it’s amazing.

As well as providing parents and caregivers with a resource chocka-block full of 70 step-by-step activities that cost little or nothing, what Bright Ideas for Young Minds does so well (for me at least!) is remind me how easy it is to bring great joy to my kids.  Showing love through mindful, yet incredibly simple play is the very best education every child deserves.  The great part is, creating positive interactions such as those included in the book, are play options accessible to every New Zealand caregiver.  Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration, a gentle reminder that the currency most cherished by children is our time.

Bright Ideas for Young Minds (Mary Egan Publishers $39.95) is an amazing resource for anyone caring for kiwi kids age 0-6 years and is available now from all leading bookstores.

Win a copy of Bright Ideas for Young Minds!

Tell me how you’d benefit from this beautiful book, or, who you’d gift it to in the comments below.  I’ll draw the winner drawn 11/12/17, NZ residents only.

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9 Things NZ Mums Should Forget when raising Kiwi Kids

Sometimes when you’re a parent (actually quite often – like, daily), you have to make a decision, one that will determine which of two paths your day is likely to take.

You have to decide whether you are going to laugh or cry at whatever lunatic situation you find yourself in as the mother or father of a Kiwi child.  Laugh and you’ll more than likely pick yourself up, clean the poo off the walls and soldier on with the extremely positive outlook of ‘well, it couldn’t get any worse right?’.  Cry and you’ll limp through the rest of the day, somewhat comforted by the knowledge that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that light goes by the name of COFFEE & CHOCOLATE – two of my very best friends btw, great peeps.

So in conjunction with Karicare Toddler (a heritage NZ brand who’ve been helping mums care for Kiwi kids for over 90 years now!),  I’ve been writing about what it means to me to be a Kiwi mum.  In this post, I’ve done some brainstorming and come up with a list of 9 things that I think we can all file away in that box that lives in the garage that you never, ever open.

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Things New Zealand Mums should forget about when raising Kiwi Kids

  1. Sleep. Look, set your sleep expectation level low and then subtract another hour off that and you won’t become disillusioned. It’s all about managing expectations with reality.  Find a caffeinated beverage that you like and work on establishing a long and meaningful relationship. Your days of pillow time will come back……..eventually. In the meantime, buy a great under-eye concealer.
  2. Shoes and long pants.  Forget about them, particularly if your kids are of the boy variety.  I could be generalising here as I do suspect that my boy’s aversion to footwear is in direct correlation with the distance we live from the CBD, the further away we get, the longer a pair of shoes will last. Which is not necessarily a bad thing!
  3. Being Perfect. Despite what Instagram will have you believe, none of us knows what the hell we’re doing, pretty pictures are just modern day smokescreens.  Let it go, do your thing and leave the vacuuming for another day.
  4. Bikinis < this needs no explanation right?
  5. Trying to fix everything. So your kid doesn’t like broccoli or quinoa, he’s not toilet trained yet, he’s scared of flowers…………. kids are weird. Trying to ‘fix’ or train them out of every little quirk or rushing them to meet every milestone before Little Johnny next door will only demoralize both of you and remove joy from your parenting.  Let your kids be weird in their own kind of ‘different’, they’ll grow up to be big weirdos soon enough so just embrace their cute while you can.
  6. Leaving the house in Spring/Summer without a selection of hats and 12 types of sunscreen. Hello living in New Zealand!
  7. Anything you had decided you would or absolutely ‘Would Not Do!’ before you had kids.  Seriously, you need to let go of those ideals right now. Life with kids is about survival, not berating yourself for failing to live up to your pregnancy Stepford Wife mandates!
  8. Sand-free towels at the beach.  Next time you’re at the beach do this;  sit on the sand, lay down and just roll over – YOU WILL NOT DIE!  Make friends with the sand and this will become one less thing to be anal about each summer.
  9. Not getting to know the other kindy/school/sports club mums and dads.  These fellow soldiers are your Brothers-in-Arms, ignore them at your peril!  I wish I’d realised this 5 years ago but thankfully I’m building my tribe, one Mum at a time. Being a parent can be lonely and isolating, forget looking for friends that seem to fit the same cookie-cutter mould you fancy you came from.  Just talk to anyone who makes eye contact with the pleading, desperate look you’ve seen in your own eyes at 4.41 am in the morning – “Help me!!!  I’m a parent, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing but I need a coffee and a tropical holiday, which one can you help me with?!”.

Take heart, it’s all worth it.  Wipe your little darling’s snotty noses, send them off to school and kindy today and count your blessings as you are one of us. A parent of an amazing Kiwi kid.

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This post is brought to you by Karicare Toddler.

Win with The Best Nest!

The joy of both being a Kiwi kid and having the immense privilege to raise one – or 2 or 10 or however many you want – is an awesome journey to be on. Of course, it’s made infinitely easier when there are fab products such as Karicare Toddler that are made in New Zealand.

I’ve got three $50 Gift Cards to the Warehouse to give away.  To enter, just comment below with one thing you love about raising kiwi kids or one thing you love about living in New Zealand!  

Competition closes 10/12/17, NZ residents only.

Midwinter Mexican – Sizzling Shrimp Fajitas Recipe

Faa-heaters.

Fajitas.

Yay!

Now that you can pronounce fajitas, let’s figure out exactly what we’re talking about before we dive in and get cooking.

My first fajita experience was in a popular Tex-Mex chain restaurant in the US.  Piles of sizzling sliced meats, sliced, sauteed capsicums and onions served to the table in a HOT cast iron skillet with warm flour taco tortillas (tor-tea-aas), salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and sour cream served on the side.  It’s a sight to see and the fun of assembling your fajitas makes eating a really tactile experience.  Fajitas are also great for a family meal as the platter presentation works perfectly for sharing and keeping picky eaters happy.

The difference between tacos and fajitas?  Assembly and toppings.

The term fajitas actually refers to the filling and means ‘little strip’, referencing how the meat and vegetables are cut and cooked.  Tacos are served pre-filled, whereas fajitas are a DIY experience at the table, tacos generally have fresh, raw toppings whereas fajitas are served with sizzling veggies in the pan.

I love them both, like, I LOVE THEM BOTH, but let’s cook some Farrah’s fajitas!

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Sizzling Shrimp Fajitas Recipe

Sound a bit tricky??  Fajitas are super easy, check out the 1 min video below if you need some convincing : )

Ingredients

500gm raw shrimp cutlets

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp crushed garlic

Salt and pepper to season

2 capsicums, different colours, cut into strips

1 red onion cut into strips

1 x Farrah’s Fajita Spice Mix (available in the Mexican aisle at your supermarket)

1 x pack of Farrah’s Taco Tortillas (available in the Mexican aisle at your supermarket)

To Serve

Prep shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese on a platter

Lime wedges to serve

Cilantro, sour cream, salsa and hot sauce to serve.

Method

Heat oil in cast iron skillet or pan.

Add garlic and shrimp.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir through half the pack of Farrah’s Fajita Spice Mix.

Cook until shrimp exterior is pink with red tails and the flesh is slightly opaque and a little “white” in color.

Remove shrimp from skillet and de-tail if you haven’t already.

Add capsicum and onion to skillet with the remainder of the Farrah’s Fajita Spice Mix.  Cook, stirring until veggies are just softening.

Return shrimp to pan, bring back up to temp.

Serve straight to the table, taking care with the hot pan.

Enjoy fajitas with warm Farrah’s Taco Tortillas, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, lime wedges, cilantro, sour cream, salsa and hot sauce to serve.

I guarantee your family will love this meal and it’s SO quick and easy to whip up, get the kids in the kitchen to prep the cold toppings while you take care of those delicious shrimp!

I actually could eat this meal every day.  The fajita mix from Farrah’s is an amazing, smoky blend of spices that pairs perfectly with many different proteins.  Don’t forget the squeeze of fresh lime on these, you’ll be thanking me!

Enjoy!


Mexican dishes are on the menu in our house every week and I’m so keen to get you guys excited about trying some new dinner ideas that I have 5 amazing prize packs to give away thanks to Farrah’s!

  • 2 x Main prize winners: Farrah’s Mexican Range; including Farrah’s taco tortillas + spice mixes across the range. Enough to share!
  • 3 x Runners up: Fajita Mexican Pack; including new Fajita Spice Mix + Farrah;s Taco Tortillas.

To enter, leave me a comment below sharing your favourite way to enjoy the Farrah’s Mexican range.

Comp closes 27th July 2017, NZ residents only.

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Crock-Pot Macaroni Cheese Recipe With Dukkah Chicken

Is Macaroni Cheese the unofficial king of comfort food? The champion of family-friendly, fill-you-up deliciousness?  

Absolutely. There are few challengers who would take on the magical combination of cheese and pasta, plus, throw in some bacon and there’s just no contest.

Made in the traditional way, Macaroni Cheese can be a multi-pot explosion of dishwashing.  One pot to make the cheese sauce, one to boil your pasta, the colander to drain it and the baking dish to throw it all together in (from which you can expect to still be scrubbing burnt cheese off 3 days later).

Move on from the sink and get creative with this easy-peasy Crock-Pot recipe for Macaroni Cheese.  It’s a total 1-pot winner in which you add the ingredients and get on with your day……..for 2.5 hours at least!

This recipe makes a pretty jumbo sized batch, so get ready for a cook-once-eat-twice meal – I love it when this happens!

Crock-Pot Macaroni Cheese Recipe With Dukkah Chicken

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Ingredients

For the Macaroni Cheese;

1 x 500g bag of macaroni elbows

50gm butter

3 ½ cups hot milk

1 small onion finely chopped

300gm chopped bacon

½ tsp paprika

1 ½ cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup shredded mozzarella

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 pack of Tatua cheese sauce

For the Dukkah Chicken;

Diced chicken thighs/breast as much as needed for your family

1tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 ½ tsp olive oil

Pepper & Me The Mother Dukkah to coat the chicken

Method

Combine all ingredients for Macaroni Cheese in your Crock-Pot.

Stir well.

Cook on high for 2.5 hours.

Dice chicken.

Toss in Worcestershire/soy sauce.  Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Add oil and chicken to pan, shake over The Mother Dukkah to coat and cook until chicken is ready.

Serve with some fresh chopped red capsicum and enjoy!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog crock-pot crockpot slowcooker Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Win a Crock-Pot® Lift & Serve – CHP450 worth $159.99!

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’m giving THREE away, so keep you eyes peeled for two more posts in my Crock-Pot series and two more chances to win!  (First post here)

Thanks to Crock-Pot for making this post possible.

> To win the Crock-Pot® Lift & Serve – CHP450, leave a comment below and tell me one of the awesome features on this innovative Crock-Pot model (psssttt, have a look here).

Competition closes 11/6/17, NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog crock-pot crockpot slowcooker Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Little Moments Matter + Fruit Tea Gummies Recipe

It’s Mother’s Day season again and like (I’m guessing!) 99% of you, I’m staring at the calendar and my multiple to-do lists wondering how it can be that we now find ourselves in MAY, on the cusp of winter and racing through 2017 at such a rate that I’m struggling to remember the big moments in our year so far, let alone the small moments that can make such a difference to our day-to-day lives.

That’s the quintessential paradox of modern parenting though, isn’t it?  Celebrate everything, be and do ALL the things, say yes with reckless abandon only to overcommit yourself and fill your days with all the trappings of BUSY.

This is my life.

My name is Melissa and I am a BUSY addict.

I don’t know how to stop being busy (I’d desperately like to, to be honest), but, I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeve to help me slow it down each day, even for just a few of minutes here and there.  Little moments do matter and can make a big difference in your day.

Do something special just for you

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Natural Gelatine Gummy recipe

We sneak little treats into the kids’ lunchboxes now and then, surprise our partners with a favourite meal or a date night but it’s not so often we go that extra mile for ourselves is it?  Certainly not on a daily basis.

I just can’t seem to drink enough water, which in turn affects everything from my mood to my overall health.  Taking the time to address this water deficit, is a tiny bit of self-investment that will pay off in the long run.  

What you can do:  Spend 5 minutes prepping a delicious, hydrating drink that you’ll want to sip on throughout the day!

  • Find a caffeine-free fruit tea that you love and whip up a cold brew to add to your flask or drink bottle.  I love Red Seal Lemon & Lime Hot or Cold Brew.
  • Add ice 
  • Add lemon and/or lime slices
  • Pat yourself on the back and drink up!

Create a Daily Ritual

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Natural Gelatine Gummy recipe

When my boys are at school or kindy, they eat morning tea and lunch at the same time every day.  My days, however, are random and blurry in which I’m flying by the seat of my pants 99% of the time.

What we can do: Identify a time of day during which you can sit, undisturbed, in a relatively peaceful environment and just BE.  It could mean leaving your desk at work to take a break instead of just working right through, it could be taking a moment for a cup of tea at 2.30 before school pick-up, or setting aside 10 minutes of reading time before bed instead of mindlessly scrolling social media.

Ritual and routine are important to help everyone feel grounded and they needn’t take up large chunks of time which we just don’t have.

Try Something New

When it comes to food trends, I am definitely NOT an early adopter, tech – yes, bone broth – no!

Nix does have congenital gut issues, however, so I’m always on the lookout for some great, natural food ideas that both he and his brother will love (HA!) and that may have some therapeutic benefits for his little digestive system.

Homemade, natural gummies have been popping up here and there on my social feeds lately.  They’re made with the protein-packed, collagen goodness of grass-fed gelatin (great for Nixie’s tummy and great for my skin!), so whipping up some delish, fruity gummy treats has been on my to-do list for ages.

What you can do: Getting creative and allowing yourself permission to fail can be quite liberating!  Take baby steps, stop putting off something you’ve wanted to try, enrol in that yoga class and make today awesome!

These gummies took me two attempts to perfect, but were not a massive time commitment as start to finish they take 45 minutes max and have only 5 ingredients!

Fruit Tea Gummies Recipe

Ingredients

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Natural Gelatine Gummy recipe

3/4 cup of diced fruit (I used pre-frozen then defrosted sliced peaches from our tree this summer)

1/2 cup of water with two Red Seal Hot or Cold Brew fruit tea bags (I used Raspberry & Strawberry)

1 1/2 tbsp of natural, grass-fed gelatin

1 tsp Red Seal Manuka Honey UMF5+

Coconut oil to grease moulds if you are using them.

Method

Puree your fruit.  I use my Nutribullet with a touch of water.

Add gelatin, brewed Red Seal tea and fruit to a small saucepan, stir to dissolve gelatin.

Add honey and whisk constantly over a low heat until fully combined, thickening a little and just simmering at the edges.

Grease silicone moulds (or use a glass dish lined with baking paper), pour mixture in and pop in the freezer.  They should set in about 20 minutes.

Pop gummies out of the moulds or lift out the baking paper and cut into pieces.

Enjoy!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Natural Gelatine Gummy recipe

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Natural Gelatine Gummy recipe

WIN >  Make your own Red Seal Fruit Tea Gummies!

Want to try this easy-peasy recipe out at home for yourself?  Tell me which Red Seal tea flavour you’d most like to try (take a look here) by leaving me a comment below and you’re in the draw to win a 3-Pack of delicious fruit teas and two silicone moulds so you can whip up some yummy gummies at home.

Comp closes Sunday 21 May @10pm.  NZ residents only.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Travelblog Natural Gelatine Gummy recipe