Back-to-school labels with Cricut Maker + Premium Vinyl

Here in New Zealand, our kids are heading back to school tomorrow after seven weeks of online schooling during Level 4 & 3 Lockdown. SEVEN WEEKS!

I’m happy for the boys as I know they have missed their friends, but, I’m a little bit (ok, a LOT!) nervous about the whole post-lockdown environment. We haven’t rushed back into pre-covid life at all, and there is much that we will leave back in March, as we are all about that slower, simpler life after so much time at home as a family.

As we prepped school uniforms, books and bags today, I was thinking about sanitiser and general hygiene at the boy’s schools and realised I had not labelled Nixon’s lunchbox or drink bottle at the beginning of the school year. 6-year-olds are going to need all the help they can get to keep safe and maintain appropriate social distancing, not just from each other but also from each other’s belongings. So, I sat down on Sunday afternoon and put my Cricut Maker to work.

I’m still quite a Cricut Newbie so kept this project simple as I didn’t want to spend hours labelling a lunchbox and drink bottle! I browsed the Cricut Design Space app first – beware of falling down the rabbit-hole guys, there are over 3000+ ready-to-make projects on the app so getting distracted by ALL the pretty craft ideas is a def. possibility! I could have used my own design software on the Mac and uploaded it to the app, but Design Space is super easy to learn so I just picked a font and a couple of images from the library and dove right in.

Materials

Step 1

Measure the application areas on the lunchbox and drink bottle so you can create your labels to the correct scale.

Step 2

Click New Project in the Cricut Design Space App, click on Canvas then Text. Type the text for the label, drag the handles on the text box to resize, click Image to search the Cricut library and add cute icons like the lightening bolt and skull I added to Nixie’s labels.

Step 3

Tap the green Cricut Make It icon to send your design to Maker. You will be guided to choose your material – vinyl for this project but you can use over 100 different materials when crafting with your Cricut Maker! Cut vinyl to size according to your design, position on the Light Grip Cutting Mat, load the Maker and hit the GO button!

Step 4

Cricut Maker Vinyl Labels

Once the vinyl has been cut it’s time to weed! Take your time, use a light touch and you should have no problems.

Cricut Maker Vinyl Labels

Step 5

Cut a piece of Vinyl Transfer Tape to the same size as your label. Peel the Transfer Tape liner and apply the tape adhesive side down onto your label. I then used the Scraper tool to adhere the tape to the vinyl. Peel the tape and vinyl away from the liner and apply to lunchbox or drink bottle. Before peeling the transfer tape off the vinyl label I used the Scraper tool again to ensure a good, bubble free application.

I’m so stoked with this wee Sunday afternoon project! The vinyl decals look so great, serve a very important purpose and were super easy, even for a Cricut novice like me! Link me to your vinyl Cricut creations in the comments below, I’d love to check them out.

Cricut Maker Vinyl Labels

Cricut sent me their amazing Maker Machine for review purposes and with full freedom to create my own projects. All opinions expressed are my own.

Common Sense Budgeting – Taking the Power Back

As I’ve gotten older and grown into my role as a Mum and wife I’ve found there are more than a few things that I’ve gone back to or revisited from an earlier time in my life.  Though we ditched the CDs years ago (thank god!), my playlist only gains a few new tracks each year – yes, I still listen to the same bangers that have been pumping me up for over 20 years now!  Likewise, the circular nature of fashion means I’ve dusted off my Levi’s denim jacket that I purchased when I was at Uni, brightly coloured, oversized Tees and sneakers are back (no Jordache though, unfortunately!) and it’s totally ok to wear a rah-rah skirt 30 years after their eighties debut.

Mid-winter this year, Dave and I got serious (for a minute lol) and took a long hard look at our budget.  After purchasing The Barefoot Investor, I realised that there were quite a few areas in which we could tighten up our spending, and with the goal of daily expenses totalling no more than 60% of your income, I turned my thrifty gaze to our household expenses first.

Two areas really stood out for me; the amount we were spending on groceries and power.  We immediately paused our dinner subscription boxes, started meal planning again and began to look into what on earth was going on with our power bills.

Fibre arrived on our street earlier in the year, so when we were shopping for a provider, I was wooed by combo deals which offered ‘great rates’ for new customers who signed up for both fibre and power.  We switched companies and I didn’t think about it again until the winter power bills made their first appearance.

And then, I thought about power A LOT.

We have an old house, build in the ‘50’s, wooden joinery, no fireplace, three bedrooms to heat and a power-loving teenager.   Price per kw is really important to me because energy-proofing our house any further than we have already done just isn’t an option right now.  What I had neglected to factor into the budget when our fibre was installed was the good-ol’ Fixed Daily Charge.

I HATE the Fixed Daily Charge.

Easy, easy solution though.

I went back to an old and trusted provider,  and got them to handle the admin of getting us switched over and back on track.

10 years after we first signed up, we are back with Powershop and it feels good. Look!  Proof >

Choosing a power company NZ

The switchover process was ridiculously easy and fast.  6 simple steps to complete online and then Powershop took care of the rest – I didn’t even have to contact my previous provider to give them the flick!  We chose the Powershop Classic option which is how we purchased power from them previously.  What this means is I get control of when I buy power and at what price – HELLO regular specials and powerpacks.  Did I mention NO fixed daily charge and no fixed unit price?  In our first month, we used 200 units more than the prior month and paid $2 less than our last invoice with our old provider.  More power for less $$ = winning!

Power specials available to purchase in the Powershop app

The Powershop app is where I feel I really begin to take control of our power spend, as well as gaining some invaluable insights into how/when our household consumes power – why do we have big spikes every day at 12 pm????? I’m yet to solve that mystery.  I LOVE saving money, and pre-purchasing power for the months ahead is one way to do it.  As we head into Summer 2020 with a second heat pump unit I know that the AC will be cranking in both ends of the house.  I’ll tuck a couple of Future Packs under my belt and feel quite smug (and cool!) when Summer decides to show up here in New Zealand.

Household utilities are something that as a consumer, I feel quite ‘removed’ from in general.  We have so little control over what we pay for water, internet, phone services and power in general.  The switch back to Powershop has been (once again) quite revelatory in that, everything I need as a purchaser, is right in my hands – consumption, predicted future consumption, spending options (soooo many options), account history and if you’re really keen, the ability to earn credit by referring your mates! Seriously, if you’re watching your pennies, and watching your power, get sorted and switch over to Powershop.  Like I said over on IG, nothing gives you the thrifty-super-budget-conscious thrills like a new Powerpack hitting the Powershop Shop.  It’s 2019, we comparison shop for everything, it’s pretty cool to have the same flexibility from your power company.

Buying Shares 101: This. Is It.

Big news ahead guys.  BIG news.

Before you get too deep in this blog, catch up on how our family has been getting started with Sharesies so far this year; Post 1 > My kids have a share portfolio, Post 2 > Set and Forget – Investing just got easier.

Homework done?  Righto New Zealand families, let’s level up our investing!

When I was at Auckland Uni 20 years ago, I worked for years at a small owner-operated burger bar in Ponsonby you may have heard of, Burger Fuel??? Yeah. It’s quite yum aye?  Anywho, as employees, we were offered preferential purchase of shares when they listed publicly for the first time.  I remember seriously considering the option to buy and then remembering the seriousness of my lack of disposable income as a Master’s student.  I don’t regret many things in my life but taking a chance on a company I knew and loved is something I wish I had prioritised. Hindsight, they say lol.

I didn’t know how to begin investing when I was a student, nor did I know how to begin investing last year when I was a 39-year-old married mother of two.  Oh, how times have changed! Learning the ropes and taking some baby steps through the Sharesies portal during the past few months has been an easy, common sense and seriously accessible way to diversify our family’s ongoing savings.

Our Sharesies portfolios have been growing (helped along by the auto-invest functionality) and just this month, a new investment opportunity has been launched by the Sharesies team.  Everyday Kiwis like you and me can now buy individual shares in publicly listed companies via our Sharesies accounts – just like big-time investors do!

We’ve got some bucket list trips we want to do with the boys (big, expensive trips i.e. South America) so I’m starting to get a savings plan in place.  I’ve got my brand new copy of The Barefoot Investor lined up in the nightstand reading pile, and I am going to kick-start our next trip fund by pulling some money out of our low-interest bank accounts and buying some individual shares – for the first time ever!

Once I started looking at which companies were listed on the NZX, I began to get a little excited.  Some immediately grabbed my attention as they are companies I’ve either worked for or am a customer of – and putting my money with a brand I have an existing relationship with feels right to me.  Other options just make me excited because of their growth potential, ergo, my savings growth potential lol.  Lucky for us novice investors, the historical info provided on Sharesies is presented in an easy to understand, very visual way on my dashboard. 

Ethan (year 10) is saving hard right now for a new computer and wants to time his purchase around his birthday at the end of the year. The ‘upward trending’ graphs of certain investments are proving attractive to him, as well as the fact that he can sell shares, or fractions of shares, whenever he decides is right for him i.e. when he finds the best deal on his computer!

Buying shares feels like one of those ‘grown-up’ situations that mark certain, weird little moments in my life.  I felt this way when we purchased our first brand new king size bed, a new oven to replace the existing one (like, WTH, did our family just ‘wear out’ an oven???), and oddly when we lost our much-loved family dog last week to old age and illness. 

But,  investing is a very positive, grown-up thing to do.  I think the reason buying individual shares via Sharesies feels so different from purchasing managed funds or ETFs as I’ve previously done on the platform, comes down to one word – control.  I can invest exactly where I want, in amounts that are exactly right for me and our goals as a family.

Love it!

Our initial  Sharesies investments in ETFs and managed funds were an awesome way to dip our toes in and get our heads around putting our money somewhere other than a savings account. But now that Sharesies is an NZX participant, I’m totally inspired to diversify our savings even further and I’m so stoked that the boys and I can do it via the easy platform we are already used to.

Buying Shares

I’m legit excited about what this means for other Kiwi Mums, Dads and kids. Access to investment opportunities like this has not been available in NZ before, which is why Sharesies (and I) are so excited about this.  My first official trade was a ‘green’ one which was cool!  I purchased just over 140 shares in NZ Windfarms and the Sharesies transaction fee was only $0.10 – other providers could have charged up to $30 per trade!

Sharesies is removing many of the barriers to investing with their unique platform, letting everyday Kiwis like me invest whatever they can afford.  Over time I’m convinced this will usher in a fresh perspective on how we all think about ‘money in the bank.’

Set & Forget – Investing just got easier

Check out Part 1 of my investment series in collaboration with Sharesies here

Just like anything, instilling responsible financial habits in both ourselves and our kids takes both time, patience and practice. As I mentioned last month, we began contributing to the boys’ savings accounts as soon as they were born, setting up automatic payments of $10 per week and then essentially ignoring the accounts over the past 14 years. Obviously a very passive approach to saving but one that has easily become a fixture in the family budget.

Now that we are actively teaching the boys about investment diversity with the help of their Sharesies accounts, it’s time to level-up and get them thinking about their money, and where it’s going, on a more regular basis. If kids are earning pocket money, or if they receive money as a gift from friends and family, an easy way to foster a very intentional mindset towards saving is to introduce a spend/save/donate ratio which is in line with your family’s financial strategy. This is easy to implement from a super young age using low denomination coins and different envelopes, boxes or containers for spending, saving and donating.

Applying this practice of regular contributions to existing investments is also worthwhile implementing with our kids’ accounts. Many of us probably pay into our KiwiSaver accounts with uniform deposits via our pay schedules or, manually instigated automatic payments. As of last week, we can now do the same with our Sharesies investments – auto-invest is now live on the platform and it’s so easy to set up!

I’m all about automating as much of our family’s ‘Life Admin’ as possible – especially those voluntary tasks which can be easy to overlook like, savings and investment. I’ve had Christmas Club savings in place for over 10 years now at both a supermarket and The Warehouse and let me tell you, the value-add of decision free, locked-in saving each week results in a massive high five to yourself come Christmas time. Hooking up your Sharesies account with auto-invest is another one of those adult life hacks that you spend 5 minutes on now and end up patting yourself on the back for years to come.

Why use Auto-Invest

  • Sharesies auto-invest helps you stick to an investment strategy that’s right for you. For Dave and I, this means contributing small amounts regularly to each of the boys Sharesies portfolios.
  • Auto-invest helps you build on an investment when you don’t have a large, lump sum to begin with – which is what Sharesies is all about to be honest!
  • With Sharesies auto-invest you can choose between 3 pre-made orders (one of which is specifically for kids accounts) or you can build your own DIY Order.
  • Auto-invest is faster than setting up an AP via internet banking – I’m not exaggerating. I set up auto-invest on both boys Sharesies accounts in under 4 minutes total. The platform is so intuitive and easy I feel safe and confident with what I’m doing every time I log on.

I’m pretty excited about this new offering from Sharesies for a number of reasons, but probably top of the list is that from now on, the boys will be able to see the benefit and growth in their portfolios as a result of regular investing. Getting our ‘foot-in-the-door’ and being able to purchase shares in a way that is accessible and easy to understand is a game changer for families and individuals alike. Now with auto-invest, diversification of our savings investments is just as simple to automate and as free of fees as our Christmas Club at the supermarket (but maybe not quite so boring so I should be able to get the kids to pay attention at least once a month lol).

My kids have a share portfolio – why and, HOW?!

I’m partnering with Sharesies over the next couple of months to share our family’s experiences as we dip our toes into investing on the share market for the very first time.

I’ve long lamented how painful it is trying to discuss financial ‘anything’ as a Kiwi. If you’re talking money with anyone but your partner, cue the involuntary squirm and averted eyes in 5, 4, 3, 2………1.
But, it’s 2019 and we’ve come a long way baby.

As middle-class consumer spending and debt seem at peak levels here in New Zealand (“just chuck it on the house, she’ll be right”), there is a growing undercurrent of people and families that have said ‘ENOUGH’. The Declutterers, the No-Brand-New, the Mortgage-Free Masters – alternative spending lifestyles and habits are gaining traction and attention. To balance the equation, there is a complementary curiosity developing around alternative ways to save and invest the money previously spent on a more-is-more lifestyle. I can only imagine that by the time my kids are in the workforce, our views on the growth and protection of our financial futures will be even further removed from those grounded in the brick and mortar, quarter-acre dream of yesteryear.

To be totally cliché, the boy’s financial future starts now. Well, it actually started 14 years ago, which is when I opened Ethan’s savings account. Dave and I have been contributing $10 per week to each of the kids’ savings accounts, and that’s starting to add up to a couple of decent chunks of money. I’m also that parent, who has always banked any birthday/Christmas cheques and foreign currency from Dave’s family overseas into their accounts rather than let them blow it on more plastic toys. Instilling a pattern and expectation of saving from a young age is something I strongly believe in.

But, there’s definitely more than one way to skin the proverbial cat, and I’m all about NOT putting all of my eggs in one basket (and using as many colloquial phrases in one sentence as possible!).

As such, I’ve broadened my horizons and created an investment portfolio as of late last year with online investment platform Sharesies. Frustrated by low-interest rates being offered by traditional financial institutions i.e. banks, dabbling in the share market had been on my radar for years. But, like many Kiwis I’m sure, the problem was I had zero idea about how to begin. The launch of Sharesies Kids Accounts was the impetus I needed to register and create investment accounts for myself and both of the boys.

I’m a child of ¼ acre boomers who certainly never dabbled in shares and investments, so the financial acumen of risk and return is something I was never taught. Only around 20% of Kiwis own shares so, educating myself by using the Sharesies platform and passing on that confidence to diversify to Ethan and Nixon, will expand financial literacy in our family for years to come.

How Sharesies Kids Accounts Work

  • Anyone can open an account for kids under the age of 16, you don’t have to be a parent, but the account does need to be linked to an adult’s Sharesies account.
  • Kids subscriptions are half the price of adult subscriptions (adults range from FREE for a portfolio of $50 or less to $3 per month if the investment value exceeds $3000, or a $30 annual subscription).
  • Adding to anyone’s Sharesies wallet with GIFTS from $5 is easy – perfect for those astute friends and family who get the fact that there is a finite number of Hot Wheels that any small boy actually needs.

Working with the boys on setting up their Sharesies investments has been a really interesting process, creating an ongoing, real-world curiosity around some of their funds. One of Ethan’s chosen investments is Pathfinder Global Water, a managed fund (up 6.58% since 13/2/19) which invests in socially responsible companies around the world involved in the water industry. This is such an important social issue right now, the gravity of which is not lost on a young teen, so a vested monetary interest has seen him prick his ears up more often and take note of what’s happening around the world within the industry.

Nixon is pretty keen on the Australian Resources Fund (up 7.08% since 13/2/19), he’s always been obsessed with precious metals, mining, and gems so the pit mine in the thumbnail really spoke to him lol.

Anywho, I feel like I’m ticking something off my Life List so-to-speak by monitoring and growing these investments with the kids. The share market has always been a dark mysterious cosmos, even as an upwardly mobile, uni-educated woman with all the white-privilege one might expect growing up on Auckland’s North Shore (ha!). Using Sharesies has removed that inaccessible stigma and opened the door for some really great learning and increased financial literacy for both the boys and Dave and me.

I’ll be following up next month with another insight into how we are tracking with our Sharesies experience.

Say Goodbye to Dinner Dilemmas – HelloFresh 2 Month Review

I’m a firm believer that meal kits are one of the greatest, most convenient marvels of modern living – at least for parents lol – we are hooked! However, choosing between the various subscription box options we now have in New Zealand can be a bit daunting. Our family has tried 90% of them but after purchasing HelloFresh since September it’s time to dish!

Before I get into it, HelloFresh have hooked you guys up with a discount code so you too can experience the convenience, variety and peace of mind that this awesome service had brought to our dinner table! For $35 off your first HelloFresh order, CLICK HERE – I can’t recommend it ENOUGH guys so give it a whirl!

Dinner doesn’t get any more convenient than this

I really can’t emphasise this enough. Our delivery arrives on a Monday, ready for the week ahead. Because we are not meal planning each week and shopping for dinner is excluded from our weekly shop, we are saving time (and stress) in other areas of our life – not just at 5pm every day when the “what’s for dinner/I forgot to get the meat out!” panic kicks in.

One point of difference between HelloFresh and its competitors that Dave and I LOVE is the colour coded paper bag system. Everything you need for each meal (except the chilled ingredients) is in ONE recyclable paper bag, saving time 2 ways;
I don’t have to unpack 5 meals worth of ingredients when our delivery arrives, I just pop the bags straight in the fridge.
Secondly, when it’s time to cook, I don’t have to refer to the recipe card and collect all the ingredients needed for the meal – everything is in the bag! Love it.Variety is the key to happy mealtimes in our house

Variety is the key to happy mealtimes in our house

Those of us who are responsible for preparing dinner for either ourselves or others have our go-to meals that pop up again and again, week after week – inspo is hard to come by at 5pm when everything is happening at once right? Guys, there is no need to exaggerate how amazing it is to flick through the HelloFresh recipes each week and literally be so stoked at the variety that you can’t decide which meal to make first. Not even joking.

The kids LOVE it!

I’m loving saying goodbye to second-guessing whether the meals arriving each week via a subscription service will be liked by the kids. If you’re a Classic or Family Box customer, it’s super easy to jump onto the HelloFresh site or the app and switch out recipes if they’re not quite right for you. The boys are also loving HelloFresh as the recipes are perfectly suited to family meals. In Mum-Speak, I’m not having to recreate every dinner to suit the tastes of our finicky five-year-old and stubborn teenager.

Rediscover the joy of cooking!

Our HelloFresh subscription has incidentally removed any barriers (real or perceived lol) that had been preventing Ethan (our 14yo) from getting more involved at mealtimes. He loves to cook, but stress levels in our kitchen around dinner time often mean that Dave and I don’t have the capacity to guide him through dinner prep or cooking. The HelloFresh recipe cards provide step by step instructions complete with photographs, that allow E to get started on dinner prep when he can and jump in and assist us on those busy days when another hand in the kitchen is always welcomed.  

My Recommendation…..

All in all, we are loving HelloFresh – can you tell?! Cooking, eating and sharing meals together as a family has chilled out so much over the past couple of months since HelloFresh arrived in NZ and in our kitchen – I can’t imagine life without it anymore. The service and quality of ingredients are outstanding considering how well priced the deliveries are and don’t forget, I’ve got a code to share which makes it even better value!

Try HelloFresh for yourself and you’ll definitely see what I’m talking about. Don’t forget to use the code BESTNEST for $35 off your first order and find a little more time in your day and out of your kitchen!

Our Modern Family and a Life Lived Online……….some of the time!

The Best Nest Blog turned 11 years old in October (that’s pretty much a century in blogger years lol) and, I must give credit where credit’s due.  By very definition, my blog wouldn’t be beaming its way around the world without the web, which I wouldn’t be able to access without the internet.  So, thank you mystical online world, existing in the ether, of which I have zero understanding outside of my own domain name!

Much has changed in our family over the past decade, Dave transitioned from a Marine Engineer working with his hands, on boats every day, to an IT Project Manager working from home, Ethan grew waaaayy too fast and is now a bona fide teenager, and our family grew from 3 to 4 with the arrival of Nixon just over 5 years ago. It was at this time that I decided NOT to go back to my former job and to focus exclusively on life as a ‘Mummy Blogger’.

Fast forward to 2018 and Dave and I are happily co-working from home, sharing one, long desk and at last count there are 17 devices in our home (sometimes more) connected to the internet at any one time.  That’s mental, but I know our family is NOT highly unusual, at least not here in New Zealand.  We are also travelling frequently for work,which presents its own series of online obstacles to overcome.

“With great internet access comes great responsibility”.

Our job as the parents in this online family environment is to facilitate a level of suitable internet accessibility for the boys – and their friends as is often the case.  But whilst doing so, there’s an inherent obligation to maintain their online safety, the security of our own digital assets, those of Dave’s employer and the integrity of my own online business.

What Does Online Safety and Security Mean in 2018?

So, SO much is the short answer, but if we dive a bit deeper we should be covering the following bases across all devices; PCs, Macs, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets and our beloved smartphones;

  • Virus protection
  • Protection from hackers
  • Safe, secure cloud backup to protect precious photos
  • Financial protection from in-app purchasing – thanks kids!
  • Moderation of screen time
  • Age-appropriate content
  • Real-time protection while using unsecured, public WiFi
Internet Security

The NEW Travel Essential

We just returned from a family trip to the Sunshine Coast.  As Dave and I always work during our family travel breaks, being without internet connectivity is simply NOT an option.  As such we relied on public WiFi whenever we were away from the Airbnb.  On our final day when Dave had Skype meetings after check-out, he had to sit in our rental car outside the library, so he could share his laptop screen, take his meeting and keep working.  Not a big deal but, when you rely on internet access so much, even when on ‘holiday’ it would have felt great to know that the network being used was secure. Norton’s got a product to tackle this exact issue that is our new, never-leave-home-without-it tech fave. Meet Norton Secure VPN, designed to keep personal and financial info safe when using public WiFi.  One of my late father’s most infamous quotes refers to the fact that he didn’t ‘spend all day in internet cafes waiting for someone to download all of his money’.  He was talking to his bank, frustrated at his password reset process lol.  However inconceivable this comment may seem, it could potentially happen without protection on a public network.

Dave and I have installed Norton Secure VPN on both of our phones (and Ethan’s) and laptops.  What this means is that all data sent and received using public WiFi is encrypted.  The creation of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) secures our logins, credit card info etc. and makes our extensive use of public networks just as safe as being at home.  That’s one less thing to worry about when we are far from home!

Online Security at Home…..and Everywhere Else

Ok, real talk – virus protection software is nothing new, so, choosing a product that offers comprehensive, family-friendly benefits is what’s going to impress me.

Norton Security Premium takes the cake here.  One subscription protects 5 devices from viruses and hackers, that’s really the minimum requirement isn’t it?  Over and above is what we’re really interested in and that’s what this package provides;

  • 25gb secure online storage – LOVE this.  Cloud storage is expensive guys, and I’m constantly needing more.  Why is this important?  Precious family pics are often targeted by ransomware, eek.
  • Norton Family – a comprehensive toolkit that can work cooperatively between parents and kids to both keep little ones (and not-so-little ones) safe online AND teach them healthy habits around their device usage.  The days of not knowing what your kids are actually doing online are over thanks to reports sent straight to your inbox, giving you an easy, automated way to get back in the loop and regain control over the content your kids are consuming when they’re online.

These two fabulous tools from Norton are an easy way for us as parents to take back control of the online activity happening within our families.  This isn’t about policing the internet, but, there is no way children have enough impulse control or common sense to make their own uncensored decisions about the content they access online.

Internet Security

I’m a parent and I take that job very seriously.  As someone who has dedicated over a decade to creating a viable business online via my own website and through the use of social media, I know just how brutal and often dangerous the internet can be.  On the other hand, it’s also bloody incredible, and it’s that facet of online user-experience that I want my boys to access as children.

For more info on Norton Security Premium and Norton Secure VPN, visit their website here, there is a wealth of resources on their site around keeping safe online. Thanks to Norton for sponsoring this post.

Reuse, Reuse, Reuse……..Recycle!

This Mum Service Announcement (MSA) is sponsored by GLAD.

Life with kids can easily become an all-consuming cycle of coveting, collecting, consuming and then (sneakily lol) culling when the opportunity arises.  Kids are hoarders, I am not, plus, I’m on a bit of a decluttering binge at the moment, so any method of reusing what we have and reducing waste goes straight to the top of my ‘List of Awesome Things’.

Time for a confession; before I began working with GLAD on this post, I had never washed and reused a Snap Lock Bag.

I know, I know, I’m a terrible person……….but, I had simply not considered the idea that the little, do-everything bags that have been staples in my kitchen’s second-draw my entire adult life, were robust enough to live a life more fulfilling than a single trip to school and back.

Now I know better.  Every GLAD Snap Lock Resealable Bag deserved a second, third, fourth chance at life, which is the crux of today’s MSA; no GLAD bag deserves to be discarded after single use.  Heck, find those bad boys a spot in the cupboard, housing a pack of playing cards or a Lego set and let them retire, worry-free without fear of the landfill.

Check out all the ways Dave and I came up with to reuse ONE Snap Lock Bag after it returned from a successful mission to kindy, transporting snacks surplus to lunchbox capacity;

So here’s the thing right, I know what you’re all thinking.  I do.  Ya’ll are thinking, ‘that’s all well and good, rehome the happy Glad Bags, give them another lease on life, but what happens when Nixon rips the side seam right open?  Then, surely, it’s time for the landfill?”

No Lego is safe in a Snap Lock back with a ripped seam, this is a FACT.  What is also a fact is that GLAD Snap Lock bags, ClingWrap, ZipSlide bags and Matchware containers can all be recycled, – this is another thing I had NO idea about!  Terracycle and GLAD have partnered to create a program which is free to join and allows you to ship your (hopefully!) well used and reused GLAD products off for recycling – also for free!  Click here to sign-up and find out how the program works.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Reuse Recycle Glad Sandwich Bags

In our house, we love our little GLAD Snap Lock bags even more now that we are reusing and recycling them.  Available in a range of sizes, they keep food fresher for longer – perfect for the pantry plus, they are BPA free which makes them safe to reuse over and over again, even in the freezer and microwave. 

The truth is out guys, knowledge is power and it’s time to put an end to single-use GLAD abuse. Join with me today.  Find a collection in need of safe containment (hint: look for those ‘special rocks’ under your kid’s beds) and send an old sandwich bag back to work, saving a Snap Lock from the landfill.  Together we can make a change.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Reuse Recycle Glad Sandwich Bags

 

 

 

30 Day Spring Cleaning Plan

It’s Spring!  It’s a bit grey, gloomy and coldish, but it is indeed Spring.  

The notion of the ‘Spring Clean’ is not something we focus on quite so much in this modern era of the multitasking homemaker – who may or may not work outside the home, and whose life agenda is so full that simply remembering to start the washing machine each day is reason enough for celebration.  

Just me?!  Gosh.

I’ve joined forces with Dettol to give Spring Cleaning a facelift and have put together a 30 day Spring Cleaning Plan (in an on-trend, monochrome palette no less) that you can print, Pin, screenshot, whatever……The beauty of it is that you’ll, hopefully, clean your house super-thoroughly as you make your way through the 30 days, by only spending a teeny portion of each day actually cleaning.New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns 30 Day Spring Clean TemplateAlways read the label. Use only as directed.

The concept of the Spring Clean (as outdated as it sounds) is grounded in some ancient traditions that make heaps of sense and are increasingly more relevant in today’s hectic, too-busy, too-much-stuff, not-enough-time lifestyle.

Some researchers trace the origin of spring cleaning to the Iranian Nowruz, the Persian new year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of “khooneh takouni” which literally means “shaking the house” just before the Persian new year. Everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture.  Wikipedia

Other ancient cultures and religions (Judaism, Catholicism) plus North Americans and Northern Europeans also acknowledge the importance of, let’s be frank, cleaning the crap out of the house you’ve ignored and collected dust in alllllll winter.  Plus, if we bring things forward a couple of hundred years, the minimalists and the discarding experts are all totally on board for a good clean out right?! (I didn’t actually ask them as such, but I think it’s a fairly safe assumption lol!).

I’m all about making this concept way more Molehill than Mountain, so this Spring I’m going to take little, cleaning baby-steps each day and fingers crossed my house will be sparkling by the time summer rolls around.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns 30 Day Spring Clean TemplateAlways read the label. Use only as directed.

We can do this!

I’m not a big fan of hauling a cleaner’s trolley around our house filled with 10 million assorted products, so the equipment needed will be kept to a minimum.  You can probably accomplish most tasks with some Dettol Disinfectant Wipes as these kill 99.99% of germs (E. Coli, Salmonella, S. aureus) and are for bathrooms and kitchens.  Also, just knock these out in whichever order you please, some days you just won’t feel like dusting, and I reaalllllly feel you on that one, so, #youdoyouboo.  

Print my cleaning plan out (click to open up the PDF version), stick it on the fridge and spread the load by getting the whole family on board!  

My household lifesavers, Dettol Disinfectant Wipes now come in three handy sizes: 45, 90 and 120 wipe packs, in three fragrances, Fresh, Lemon and Apple so you can keep the right size pack, on hand, for whenever those messy emergencies strike – keep a pack in the car, trust me on this one!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns 30 Day Spring Clean Template

Always read the label. Use only as directed. New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns 30 Day Spring Clean TemplateNew Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns 30 Day Spring Clean Template

Always read the label. Use only as directed.

The Little Laundry Appliance that Could – Meet my Spindel

My favourite household chore (if I’m going to say that I actually have a favourite chore!) is definitely laundry.  I really don’t mind rinsing out muddy rugby gear, sorting washing, hanging it out, getting it in.  In fact, the only step in the process that I don’t enjoy is putting clean laundry away.  That’s what my floor-drobe is for.

Despite my enthusiasm for washing clothes, it doesn’t seem as if there is a whole lot of innovation and tech to get excited about in the laundry.  There hasn’t really been a game changer since the electric dryer became a consumer fave so it’s definitely time for a shake-up.

Meet Spindel!

mummy-blog-new-zealand-blogger-mommy-travelblog-family-kids-spindel-reviewLaunching in New Zealand this month, Spindel is already a firm fave in South African homes.  I’ve been test driving mine for the past month and I’m totally convinced that kiwis are going to love these specialist laundry dryers that cut fabric drying time significantly.

Here in New Zealand we are a nation that’s pretty committed to our clotheslines and drying racks, generally looking to avoid the expense of using the dryer at all costs.  Winter makes this hard and a wet winter like we are having this year makes it near impossible.  Air drying clothes inside using a drying rack instead of a dryer may save some money on your power bill but it might be a false economy as you switch on your dehumidifier to remove the excess water that’s evaporated from your clothes into the air.  This is where the Spindel comes in.

I’ve been completing my usual wash cycle in our fairly late model Bosch washing machine, then running the finished load through the Spindel before hanging it out to dry.  Here’s where it gets amazing; I’m spinning around 1.25l of water (more than what the website suggests) out of each load after my washing machine has completed its spin cycle!  That’s a lot of water right?!

Spindel uses no heat, just a large amount of centrifugal force to spin excess water out of your washing.  Spinning at 2800rpm (more than twice that of most washing machines), an energy efficient, 3-minute cycle is all it takes to cut down air drying time or the amount of time you need to run your costly electric dryer.

Genius.  Imagine how much water would come out of a load of super-absorbent cloth nappies?  Totally a laundry life-saver.

I really can’t recommend Spindel enough, it’s slotted into my laundry routine beautifully and is so simple to use – pop a bowl under the spout to catch the water and turn the latch.

The 6.5kg Spindel is now available to pre-order for New Zealand delivery!  Head to www.spindel.nz and click on shop or, email directly here

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