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.

Black Friday Bliss: One-Stop Shopping online at TheMarket

I first fell in love with the phenomena that is Black Friday when I spent six years living in the states.  Our eldest son was born on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and I was up-and-at-em 5 days later on Black Friday to hit the awesome sales that American retailers are well known for.

I can’t say I’m mad about the fact that this epic pre-Christmas shopping tradition has made its way down to New Zealand.  For me, it encourages planning ahead, shopping early and avoiding expensive panic buying as I run out of time (and inspiration!) in December.

This year navigating the myriad Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales in New Zealand is a lot easier with the arrival of TheMarket, an online destination which has successfully streamlined the kiwi shopping experience across a huge variety of departments.
This is a retail experience with a difference guys – think of your favourite department store, complete with collections from premium fashion brands, as well as a comprehensive toy store, garden centre, tech department and a health and beauty offering to make you swoon.  TheMarket is one of the most user-friendly websites I’ve ever shopped – thankfully (!) as it hosts over 1500 retailers – no-ones go time to peruse THAT many aisles in real time am I right?!

I’ve done a quick swoop of the early Black Friday deals available online at The Market and created a wishlist to (hopefully) keep me focused as I tick off my Christmas list.

Check out my gifting ideas for our family below and HELLO, I’ve got a discount code for you! 

Enter the code BEST20 to get $20 off your first order at TheMarket when you spend $99 or more!

T&Cs – Discount applied when code entered at checkout on TheMarket.com. Saving of $20 off everything with a minimum spend of $99. Excludes shipping costs (if relevant). Single use per customer. Expires midnight Monday 2nd Dec 2019.

This post was kindly sponsored by TheMarket.

Fitbit Versa: My Winter #Fitspo

Nevermind how truthful such statements might be, I’ve never been one to live and die by mantras such as;

Summer bodies are made in winter.

The facts are, the gym and I aren’t ever going to be friends and my natural inclination to hibernate during winter is strong so, if there is a season in which all good intentions fall off the wagon – winter is it.

Despite this, the past few months have been revelatory for me, and it all kicked off with a throwaway comment during lunch with a friend.  We were discussing the frustrations of living with our middle-aged-mum bodies and the struggle of deciphering what advice/diets/workout plans we should or shouldn’t be prescribing to.  I’m not running at the moment (more on that later!) but mentioned to my friend that monitoring your heart rate during workouts was a good way to ensure your activity matched whatever goals you might be working towards.  This was a lightbulb moment for me as I remembered the Fitbit functionality that automatically maps your heart rate zones during exercise.  Right now, I want to be burning fat during workouts and maintaining an (almost) daily exercise routine – that means power walking.  6kms per day, around an hour, putting me in the fat burning zone for approx 50 mins and tracking this daily on my Fitbit app.

Put simply, moving and doing it more often are my top priorities.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Home Decor Fitbit Versa Review
I love checking in with my Fitbit app or the desktop site to see the results of my daily walks – in the zone baby!

The past 6 weeks have seen me create space in my day that I didn’t think I had, and dedicate that time to myself.  Exercising has to be a non-negotiable part of my routine and I think I’ve finally arrived at that sweet spot where the habit is sticking, yay!

I’m a total magpie and LOVE my gadgets so no surprises that the latest Fitbit iteration, Versa (RRP $349.95) caught my eye – as they always do – and I was excited to review it.  There’s a lot to be said for the persuasive power of measurement and accountability and as I’ve been a Fitbit user for years now I know first hand how effective wearable tech can be when it comes to keeping you on track.  I definitely lean towards Fitbit’s fully functional range, loving the multitude of features in the Ionic (built in GPS) and now the Versa.

What I LOVE about the New Fitbit VersaNew Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Home Decor Fitbit Versa Review

  • The battery life is awesome.  Specs say ‘over 4 days of battery life’ and this is legit.  Plus, the new charger is the best Fitbit charger yet, secure and FAST.
  • Slim profile.  Guys, let’s face it if you don’t need a built-in GPS then why pay for one or make room for one in your watch?  When I’m running (soon, baby!), I love the accuracy of the Ionic, but, you pay for this in size.  The Versa is gorgeous, no joke.  It’s all slim and curvy and is super comfy to wear.  10/10 for design.
  • Water-resistant to 50m!!! yus.  I’m no swimmer but Mum life dictates I’m washing dishes, laundry, dogs and children multiple times per day and as a Rugby mum (and Rugby Club Captain) I’m out in the weather a LOT.  I’ve always been a little bit precious about my Fitbits getting wet so love that my faves, Versa and ionic are both water resistant.
  • Improved sync:  I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t use one of the big 2 phone brands (currently Huawei Mate 10 Pro),  but sometimes syncing was a bit iffy with previous Fitbit products.  The Versa syncs easily and quickly with my on-phone app which makes me soooo happy as my Fitbit dashboard is life!  
  • It’s just SO pretty.  This is a BABE watch team, that just so happens to look equally good on both men and ladies.
  • Fitbit app.  I’ve been using this for years and it just gets better and better.  I’m loving the addition of the Female Health module, which is helping me track my period – and associated moods (gasp!), plus I’m becoming more and more aware of how important it is for me to consciously increase the amount of sleep I’m getting each night.  The Fitbit app tracks sleep beautifully and provides such great feedback and info that you seriously can’t help but want to do better for your body and your life in general.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Home Decor Fitbit Versa Review

How I’m staying motivated this winter

  • Using my Fitbit Versa as my support team and my coach.  Gyms don’t work for me, being personally accountable DOES.
  • Podcasts are GO.  I can easily smash out my hour-long walk by zoning out and listening to some awesome content.  I use Podcast Player on my android phone and some of my faves are; Death in Ice Valley, Fat Mascara, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, The Minimalists, This Sounds Serious.
  • Doing less gives you time for more.  I’ve stopped saying YES to other peoples demands so I have more time for what I need to do – which is scheduling exercise for my mental and physical health.  Blocking off 1 hour per day for me is NOT a sacrifice, it’s something that positively impacts my life and has a flow on effect on my family.
  • Embrace the weather and prepare for it.  Winter sucks, winter in Auckland sucks more.  Walking in wild, winter weather is kinda liberating.  Embrace it, wear a hat so the rain stays out of your eyes, put a jacket on and go for it.  Letting go of excuses is priming me for great things I can feel it!

I’m so pumped on my daily walks right now, I’d love to know how you’re pushing through during this awful weather and getting your workouts in,  leave me a comment below if you’d like to share!

PS – Versa also has on-screen workouts so if dodging hail isn’t your thing, squeeze in a 10-minute ab workout while you’re hibernating with Netflix!  

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Home Decor Fitbit Versa Review

 

Home – Easy Eco-Friendly Product Switches

Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Who would ever have imagined that Bob the Builder – a beloved children’s show – would be so ahead of its time?  With sustainability and environmental issues ramping up in importance and public awareness every day, the onus on individuals to increase responsibility as both consumers and caretakers of the land is becoming a more widely accepted proposition.  

Taking action on a micro, personal level, and claiming responsibility for the generation and disposal of waste in our own households is the first step in the much bigger picture of building long-term, sustainable communities.  I’m sooooo not a traditional ‘green’ early adopter – anyone who knows me can tell you that – but, I do love products and brands that make sense, make my life easier and combine ethical integrity and environmental concern with common-sense practicality.

So, here are some brands and products that tick all of these boxes and that we’re using daily in our home or out and about;

6 Green ‘n Easy options for reducing household waste

Ecopack Compostable Plastic Free Bags and Bin Liners

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Biodegradable Bags

I going to be honest here – I’ve never once considered ditching bin liners and using layered newspaper.

Never once.  I mean who even HAS newspaper any more to start with, and secondly, ew.

Which brings me to my first eco-friendly find; 100% compostable, plastic-free and biodegradable bags and bin liners from Ecobagsnz.  Single-use plastic presents a major environmental concern around the world.  Determined to make a change here in New Zealand is locally owned and operated Ecobagsnz.  They produce a range of ethically produced bags suitable for both retail lines and personal use.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Biodegradable Bags

The Ecopack Compostable range eliminates the need to reconsider my stance on drippy newspaper (thank goodness!).

Available at leading supermarkets and health food stores nationwide, the Ecopack Compostable range is available in 6 different sizes and only takes around 90 days to break down in your compost!

ECOPACK COMPOSTABLE KITCHEN LINER 27L (20) RRP $7.99
ECOPACK COMPOSTABLE KITCHEN LINER 36L (15) RRP $7.99
ECOPACK COMPOSTABLE BIN LINER 60L (5) RRP $6.90
ECOPACK COMPOSTABLE BIN LINER 80L (10) RRP $8.99
ECOPACK COMPOSTABLE WHEELIE BIN LINER 140L (5) RRP $6.50
ECOPACK COMPOSTABLE WHEELIE BIN LINER 240L (5) RRP $8.80

Reusable Produce Bags from The Rubbish Whisperer

Another kiwi company determined to reduce single-use plastic bags is The Rubbish Whisperer.

Most of us care about the environment but don’t realise the scale of the pollution our disposable lifestyles are creating. The Rubbish Whisperer shows people how easy it is to have a huge positive impact on the environment by making small and simple changes. www.rubbishwhisperer.co.nz/pages/aboutus

I’m loving the super-cute Reusable Produce Bags, RRP $22.49 per 5 pack.  NZ made from strong and lightweight polyester tulle, these beautifully bright bags are a fun visual reminder to by-pass the plastic bag roll next time you’re in the fruit and vege aisle.  An added timesaving bonus of the quick-dry fabric is that you can wash produce directly in the bag!

Noteworthy: 1% of all Rubbish Whisperer sales are donated to local conservation projects!

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Reusable Produce Bags

Put your money where your mouth is: Shop The Source

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Zero Waste ShoppingFinding retailers that are supportive of your zero-waste efforts can be tough.  Cutting through the layers and layers of packaging that almost every retail product is subject to can be disheartening and in my case, a massive workout for my recycle bin.  Shopping at the most established zero waste grocery store in Australasia is now easy if you live in Auckland.  The Source has two beautiful locations in Milford and Kumeu and is stocked to the rafters with delicious ways to say YES to healthy, nutrient-dense food.  They also supply kefir, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup on tap, you can make your own nut-butters, shop for home cleaning supplies……and take everything home in your own reusable containers, use paper bags or purchase your zero-waste supplies in store.

Genius!

Online shopping will be all systems go in the next 8 weeks so everyone in New Zealand can get a taste of this awesome shopping experience. 

Follow The Source Kumeu here > Instagram, Facebook and The Source Milford here > Instagram, Facebook

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Zero Waste Shopping

Drink SMART and ditch the disposables

It sounds dire but plastic straws have to be one of the greatest ecological follies ever unleashed upon the world by the industrial age.  Trust me, once you go stainless you never go back, they deliver a really lovely drinking experience especially with smoothies!

My faves are these beauties from CaliWoods, available in cocktail, smoothie, drinking, tall and bubble tea options plus each four pack comes with a cleaner brush!

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Zero Waste Stainless Steel Straws

Another Melissa Must-Have is my New Zealand made CuppaCoffeeCup.  These beauties are lightweight, durable and 100% recyclable, plus they showcase NZ artists in a range of designs.  Released just in time for Mother’s Day is the new ‘Miromiro & Manuka design by Janine Millington – I’ll be hosting a giveaway at the end of the month so keep your eyes peeled!

You can find the CuppaCoffeeCup range in Farmers, Whitcoulls and selected gift and kitchen stores for around $16.50 each.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Zero Waste Reusable Coffee Cup

Go Green with Personal Care

Four months in and I’m still raving about my Lunette Menstrual Cup.  Yes, the whole concept is a bit weird at first when you’ve been using tampons or pads for over 20 YEARS!  But ladies all I can say is, change is good and this change is one you will NOT regret.  Read more about my personal experience here > Lunette Menstrual Cup

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Lunette Menstrual Cup Review

Weleda Skincare

Skin care is BIG news when it comes to living your best sustainable, eco-friendly life.  The brands you choose to spend money on should reflect your own personal values and help support your retail decision making.  You are applying these products to you skin, the largest organ in your body as well as the precious skin of your little people so, a considered choice made by any consumer one is to be respected.

A firm fave in our home for years now, is the huge range from Weleda.  With ethical and sustainable standards that are so aspirational (read about them here), it’s easy to find yourself in the midst of a guilt-free bathroom cabinet makeover!

Three of our faves are; Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil, After Shave Balm and KIDS 2in1 Shampoo & Body Washes.

Look at those beautiful glass bottles!!!

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Zero Waste Weleda Skincare

Beauty Review – Arbonne Rescue & Renew

Although over 30 years old, US-based Swiss heritage skincare giant Arbonne has only recently become available here in New Zealand.  They got in touch recently and asked if I’d like to review one of their ranges, so,  not one to do things by halves, I willingly went all-in with my first Arbonne New Zealand skincare experience and have been using the Rescue & Renew range exclusively for the past 2 weeks – something I never do.  I’m a bit of a chop ‘n change, mix-it-up girl when it comes to skincare and beauty products so committing to one brand and just one range was quite a novelty!

It totally had its benefits though, particularly with the Rescue & Renew products which have all been formulated with a really holistic ethos in mind. 

Why Rescue & Renew?

Arbonne’s Rescue & Renew range is based on Ayurvedic practices where the focus is traditionally whole body health and wellness, with the goal of achieving a balance between one’s mind, body, and soul. The emphasis and importance of natural ingredients and heroes are evident throughout the Arbonne catalogue but particularly in this range.  Turmeric root, dandelion and ginger root are the botanical mainstays in each Rescue & Renew Detox product, designed to cleanse the skin’s surface of impurities while also protecting our natural moisture barrier. 

This is a skincare range in which the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.  I was trying to put my finger on why this was and came up with three elements that prescribed my experience with the Rescue & Renew Detox products; routine, ritual and therapy, all of which play huge roles in my overall wellbeing.

My Routine

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Arbonne Rescu & Renew Review

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Arbonne Rescu & Renew ReviewI’m definitely a creature of habit.  My routine (where I can find it) is familiar, comforting and welcome as I find working for myself, I don’t generally have any two days the same.  Slotting new, beneficial products in as replacements for existing ‘blah’ products is an easy way to make a positive change in my existing skincare routine.  Using Rescue & Renew Detox Body Lotion and Body Wash daily are perfect examples of how I’ve done this.  Like most women (I imagine), I use a body wash in the shower followed by body lotion each day and have done for years.  The major difference with the Arbonne products is the inclusion of the essential oils – the grapefruit and orange in the Rescue & Renew Body Wash is amazing.  I can have had the worst nights sleep and step out of the shower feeling fully energised and l00% better, I absolutely LOVE this stuff.  Layered with the Detox Lotion which contains orange, lavender, anise and bergamot oil and I’m literally invincible (at least whilst Nix is at kindy lol).  

On a purely functional note, I also love the caps on this range; no flip tops or screw off lids, you simply twist to open and close.  Genius.

Ritual

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Arbonne Rescu & Renew ReviewOnce a week, 99% of the time in the weekend when Dave can be fully ‘on-duty’ for the kids, I generally opt out of whatever family activity is going and simply embrace my inner home-body.  I love being at home, I really, really do.  Taking time to appreciate not having to rush anywhere is such a treat for me that I find it super important to intentionally enjoy the experience – guilt free.  I light a beautiful candle in an effort to banish the smell of sneakers and Lynx that usually permeates every corner of our boy-filled house, and I cleanse my face and follow up with a face mask.  Clay masks are my favourite and always have been.  Arbonne’s Rescue & Renew Detox Mask uses French pink clay that draws out excess oil (very visibly!) as the mask moves from wet to dry.  The first time I used it, I was super tired after the initial, mega-busy first weekend in December and I was legitimately thrilled with the results.  My skin looked and felt hydrated, rested and renewed.

I also love to take a bit more time with after-shower care during the weekend, so the addition of a hydrating oil under my body lotion is a luxe touch that pays dividends when I think about how my skin looks and feels.  The Rescue & Renew Detox oil contains the same essential oils as the lotion so the natural fragrance layers well, plus the key ingredients; Vitamin E, grape seed, sesame and argan oils do such a fab job of providing skin support by firming, moisturising and conditioning.

I LOVE my weekend ritual!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Arbonne Rescu & Renew Review

Therapy

Ok here’s where I’m going to introduce my two FAVE Rescue & Renew products.  New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Arbonne Rescue & Renew ReviewThe whole range definitely has therapeutic benefits, but the essential oils and the straight-up magical Gelée are next level in my opinion.

I’ve been really, really slow to jump onboard with what I considered the essential oil ‘bandwagon’, but the Arbonne oils have changed my mind.  Peppermint and Lemon, how did I even get through the day without you guys?!  Peppermint is my ‘working’ oil.  I’ve been diffusing it whilst writing or tapping a couple of drops onto my temples to help gain/maintain focus.  It’s the most incredible pick-me-up ever, and totally natural for the win.

My friend Lemon.  Such a perfect addition to the Rescue & Renew family; Pure Essential Lemon Oil just makes everything smell clean and fresh plus actually MAKES things clean and fresh!  One of the many ways I’ve been using it is adding around 5 drops to a microwave safe bowl of boiling water, popping it in the microwave for 3 minutes, letting it stand for 2 minutes before wiping clean with a paper towel.  TRY THIS GUYS.  No elbow grease required it’s amazing.

The Rescue & Renew Detox Gelée is such an interesting product, something that’s so awesome you’ll wonder why you’ve never found anything like it before.  I describe it as a mashup between a cooling gel and your fave body lotion.  Heaven on a hot day when typical lotion gets sweaty and slick, Detox Gelée is exactly what you want to apply after a workout or sun exposure, perfect summer skincare. 

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Arbonne Rescue & Renew Review

Shop the entire Arbonne range of health, wellness, skincare and beauty products online here, or via an Arbonne consultant.

Summer Bedroom Refresh

Oh my lord it’s HOT!  Seriously, these temps in December are crazy, but crazy good for sure.  Being able to throw open the bedroom windows and freshen things up is so therapeutic for me.  Both of the boy’s rooms have had a big spring clean that included purchasing fresh, new linen for their beds.  Over the weekend, I finally had the time to do the same in our master bedroom.

You know those dumping grounds that ‘some’ of us have throughout the house?  I have two; one is our dining room table and the other is our bedroom.  It’s so odd that I despise clutter and mess yet the very place that should be somewhat of a peaceful sanctuary for Dave and I, has become the epicenter of chaos in our home.

Organising and decluttering our bedroom is a work in progress, so I’ll update you on that as I get to it in the future, but, as focusing on both the quality and quantity of hours spent asleep is a big priority for me heading into 2018 (thanks Fitbit lol), I decided to begin with a bed linen makeover.

Our prior duvet set was cozy, grey cotton jersey.  Lovely and snuggly and perfect for winter but it didn’t invoke any ‘light and bright” summery feelings whatsoever.  Despite my reservations (those reservations being a very sticky four-year-old and two dogs that love to sneak on the bed!) I knew I wouldn’t be happy with anything but 100% crisp white < insert sighing husband here.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Kiwi Kids Bed lInen

I flipped the bed’s colour palette inside out, opting for grey linen sheets this season and that fresh, white goodness for the duvet cover.  Texture was also a consideration, and I’m loving how our new bed linen provides lots of depth and variation, considering the very neutral colours I chose to work with.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Kiwi Kids Bed lInen

What do you guys think?  I’m loving how it came together.  The muted trio of white, natural and charcoal is exactly what I was looking for to draw the eye out of the room via our large windows, to the garden beyond – which is super lush and green right now.

That’s the fun part over, now to declutter, cull and organize!

Shop this look from Logan & Mason here;

Duvet Covers and European PillowcasesLangley Linen Knitted Throw $159.95, Solaris White Square Cushion $69.95, Cove Natural Square Cushion $89.95

The items above were all sourced from the extensive linen range at Logan & Mason with whom I collaborated on this post.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family yarns Kiwi Kids Bed lInen

 

 

Beauty Spotlight: Skincare

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


 

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser 150ml, RRP $38

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser ReviewHere it is – my FAVOURITE stand-alone cleanser of all time, and I’ve sampled many.

Prior to this I had only ever used one Kiehl’s product before, Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm.  Fab product, but not something I use every day, I always take it snowboarding though as it’s a perfect barrier moisturiser.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser $38, is a gentle, liquid gel cleanser that somehow holds it’s form (I can’t think of any other way to describe it lol) so that while massaging it on, you can feel the gel gliding between your fingertips and your face.  It’s such a luxe daily ritual that I really look forward to and it works beautifully on removing a full face of makeup as well as fresh morning skin.

LOVE LOVE LOVE and a great price point for a full-size product (150ml)  from a premium brand.

Garnier Pure Active Range

An excellent coup for those with sensitive skin, Garnier has just launched a 3 step cleansing and care routine designed for sensitive acne-prone skin.  

Garnier Pure Active Sensitive comprises 3 products; a soap-free Pure Active Sensitive Cleanser, a clarifying Pure Active Sensitive Toner and Pure Active Sensitive Moisturiser.  The combination of natural ingredients such as zinc to purify and boost skin immunity and witch hazel to soothe irritated skin results in a hypoallergenic and ph-neutral range, perfect for calming and caring for sensitive skin.

Point of difference to note; a gel toner!!!  I’ve never seen nor tried one before!

Garnier Pure Active Sensitive range RRP $13.99ea, available from select supermarkets, pharmacies and Farmers.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Garnier Pure Active Sensitive Review

Clinique Pep-Start™ HydroBlur Moisturiser, 50ml RRp $58Clinique Pep-Start HydroBlur Review

This little blue pot of matte-moisturising perfection has been my daily go-to for the past 2 months.  I took it with me to Surfers Paradise anticipating needing some help controlling shine in the warmer conditions and it exceeded my expectations.  It’s like a combination moisturiser/primer, which is awesome as it’s one less step when you’re getting ready.  I’ve found many ‘blur’ products end up sitting on top of my skin leaving a residue that seems to rub off when applying foundation or BB cream over the top – which kind of defeats the purpose really!  This stays on during makeup application and looks great on a bare-faced day as well as one where I’m sporting a full face of makeup.  Zero shine plus great looking and feeling skin.

I was gifted this but would absolutely purchase as it’s now a daily essential.  Shop it here

To discover your custom fit perfect moisturiser, take the Clinique Hydration Quiz here – that’s how I discovered Pep-Start!

L’Occitane Shea Butter Skincare Additions

I’m a huge fan of this range so am always excited to tet out new additions.  The Shea Butter skincare line from L’Occitane not only smells incredible but is pretty much the most effective hydrating collection I’ve used.

It’s got a lovely back-story too, with L’Occitane only purchasing fair trade shea butter from the women producing it sustainably in Burkina Faso.

L'Occitane Shea Solidarity Soap reviewOne of the new arrivals is the limited edition Shea Solidarity Soap, 50g RRP $8.  Do yourself and a charitable cause a favour and pick one of these up next time you’re at the mall or shopping online at nz.loccitane.com.  The subtle fragrance of the shea range is totally addictive and works beautifully in this solid soap bar which cleans without L'Occitane She Butter Foaming Cleanser Reviewstripping skin.  Plus, 100% of the profits are redistributed to fight avoidable blindness.  Ask in store if you can’t find this variety as it may have sold out!

I’ve also been enjoying another line addition, the Shea Butter Foaming Cleanser, 125ml RRP $45.  With 5% shea oil, this is an excellent in-between cleanser if you’re not a fan of liquid/gel cleansers but aren’t ready to commit to an oil cleansing regime.  I’d recommend this for normal to dry skin types, the end result is beautifully clean, but also really soft and hydrated skin.

Other new products in the Shea Butter Skincare Line are; Shea Butter Intensive Hand Balm 150ml, RRP $53, Whipped Body Cream Shea Rose 125ml, RRP $38, Whipped Hand Cream Shea Rose 30ml, RRP $18.

Miri Skincare Kiwifruit Seed Oil & Manuka Honey Balm, 25ml, RRP $12.99

Miri Skincare Kiwifruit Seed oil and Manuka Honey Balm ReviewYou may have seen me try this on my IG stories last week, in which you’ll remember how surprised I was at the formulation and how easily and quickly it was absorbed.  I find most all-purpose balms to be super sticky, which makes them far too annoying to keep on for any duration.  Miri’s new offering is different.  Made in New Zealand from natural ingredients, Miri’s Kiwifruit Seed Oil & Manuka Honey Balm was created with the intent to combine NZ and South Pacific ingredients into an all natural balm to soothe chapped lips or irritated skin.  Suggested uses are; moisturising lips, chapped lips, dry or cracked skin, burns, scrapes, nourishing cuticles, insect bites, prevention of nappy rash, general massage and shaving rashes.
There’s no nasty fillers, preservatives, petroleum, BHA, BHT, DEA-regulated ingredients, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, parabens, PEG compounds, siloxanes, SLS or triclosan.

And it’s STILL lovely and effective.

Available from leading pharmacies nationwide.

Dermalogica PreCleanse Balm 90ml, RRP $75

Dermalogica PreCleanse Balm Review

Described as Step Zero in your cleansing routine, this is a breakthrough product that takes Dermalogica’s double-cleanse regime to the next level.  I’m a huge fan of their PreCleanse Oil, it’s in my shower for everyday use, to be honest, but the pump bottle does make it more difficult to travel with.  

Enter the innovative PreCleanase Balm that activates on contact with water, transforming from balm to oil.  LOVE.  There is no cleanse like a Dermalogica double-cleanse, that is a fact.  The retail pack comes complete with a double-sided, ergonomically-designed mitt that is heaven on skin (really), and leaves skin “soft, nourished and ready to receive the benefits of your regular skin care regimen”, Caroline Parker, Head of Education for Dermalogica New Zealand.

Available from authorised Dermalogica® skin centres, selected department stores, Life Pharmacies and online at dermalogica.co.nz

Eco Tan Invisible Tan® – Express Self-tanning Crème 150ml RRP $39.95

Eco Tan Invisible Tan reviewConfession time; I’ve never, ever self-tanned.  Ever.  but I’m going to.

After two revelatory spray tans, one before our family holiday on the Gold Coast and one before my trip to Melbourne last month, I realised that fake tan has come a long way since I was in high school.  You very rarely see an orange tan-victim these days, in fact, I can only think of one and his name starts with T and ends with Rump.  So, I’m going to do it.  My dad died from melanoma as many of you know, so my passion for laying out is pretty much zero these days, plus the bikini bod isn’t doing what it should either.  In the words of my very wise nail tech, “tanned fat looks a whole lot better than pasty fat’.

So that’s my new motto.

Eco Tan is a cruelty-free brand that uses natural cacao, herbs flower extract, fruit extract and chamomile to create a natural looking glow that is certified organic.  To support the Eco Tan range of tanning projects, creator Sonya Driver has also brought a beautiful range of natural body care products to market.  These are all vegan, toxic free, synthetic free, cruelty-free and licensed by PETA.

Eco Tan and Eco by Sonya Driver are available at Unichem and Life Pharmacies, Health 2000 and Commonsense Organics, leading health and organic retailers and online at www.naturalthings.co.nz

That Retail Life – New on Supermarket Shelves this Month

I’m seeing a lot of awesome new products each week so thought it was about time I curated these new releases into a regular ‘Hot List’ that’s short and snappy, giving you guys the lowdown on the latest and greatest from brands we love.

 I Love Pies Spiced Chickpea & Spinach Pie RRP $4.99

I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch today, tucking into the latest addition to the I Love Pies Family.  I’m a massive pie fan, rarely passing up the opportunity to enjoy a classic mince ‘n cheese but my appetite for meat isn’t what it once was.  Give me a hearty, tasty vegetarian option and I’m a happy little kiwi.  That’s exactly what I Love Pies have delivered here; a satisfying pie (with that trademark, to-die-for sour cream pastry!), grown-up flavours and a perfect combination of NZ spinach, chickpeas and a sauce to rave about.  Pop these in your freezer for a Meat Free Monday meal in a pinch!

Available in the chiller section of supermarkets and gourmet food stores.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Foodie Chickpea Spinach Pie

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Foodie Cadbury Spider ChocolateCadbury Marvellous Creations Spider RRP $4.69

I love a good throwback and these two new creations from Cadbury certainly nail the brief!  The Marvellous Creations range is always a little bit different and surprising but in a totally delicious way.  Chocolate lovers won’t be disappointed with the two new varieties.  Choc Raspberry and Choc Orange are now on shelves, reimagined as a mashup with the classic Spider dessert we all loved in the ’80’s.  Don’t be fooled into passing these off as more suited to a younger palette, these are full fruity flavours that definitely satisfy my very ‘adult’ sweet tooth.

In stores now.

Cadbury Favourites – Kiwi Edition RRP $18.99New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Foodie Cadbury Kiwi Favourites

This Christmas I’d bet money that this new Favourites assortment will be winging it’s way all across the globe as New Zealanders send a little taste of home off to their loved ones abroad.  This is actually a genius product, forget about the Turkish Delight vs Cherry Ripe argument once and for all and just give in to the favourites everyone loves.

Think Caramilk, Peppy Chew, Buzz Bar and Perky Nana – every option’s a winner, right?

Available now at supermarkets and dairies across the country.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Foodie Meadows Canned MushroomsMeadows Canned Mushrooms 220gm & 425gm RRP $2.19 & $4.69

Mushroom lovers rejoice!  Every day meals, last minute throw-togethers or special occasion triumphs just got a wee bit easier with the launch of Meadows luscious range of canned mushrooms.  More times than I care to remember, I’ve opened the fridge to find my paper mushroom bag crumpled in a corner with the last remaining soldiers a broken mess inside.  As a mushroom lover, this is obviously a travesty but it also throws a bit of a spanner in the works when you were counting on your beloved mushrooms to steal the show at dinner time.

Available in 4 varieties; Whole in Brine, Sliced in Brine, Sliced in Garlic Sauce and Sliced in Sauce, Meadows canned mushrooms have cemented their place in our home as a pantry staple.  They are unarguably delicious but also contain selenium, potassium and B7 vitamins making them a nutritious addition to any meal.

For more Mushroomy goodness from Meadows, check out this incredible mushroom pie recipe or head to www.meadowmushrooms.co.nz

Available at all major supermarkets and produce stores nationwide.

Nutella Morning Mood Jars

Every person in our house loves Nutella.  It’s obviously genetic or it could be that it’s just too yum to deny.  Thick, buttery white toast spread with Nutella’s hazelnut magic is an excellent way to put a smile on any grumpy pre-teen’s face and is a trick I use quite often as needed lol.

Limited edition jars have just arrived in New Zealand, each labelled with a different morning mood – yes grumpy is one of the options, along with cheeky, smiley, legendary and loved.

Nutella 220g RRP $4.19, Nutella 400g RRP $6.81, Nutella 750g RRP $10.49

Available in supermarkets nationwide.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Foodie Nutella

New Regal Manuka Salmon Range

Marlborough King Salmon is such a bloody gem, isn’t it?  I could eat it every day and never get sick of it.  Regal have knocked it out of the park with their brand new range of salmon, Regal Manuka, which is just as incredible as it sounds.  Think King Salmon, cured with premium sea salt, smoked over Manuka wood and then sliced – AMAZING.  

Salmon works beautifully in our household as the retail portion sizes are easy to work with and there’s never any waste because it’s insanely delicious.  You’d be hard-pressed to convince me of a more versatile protein source that’s suited to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The new range of Regal Manuka Cold Smoked Salmon is available in 2 x 50g, 2 x 100g convenient twin packs and Regal Double Manuka Wood Roasted Salmon is available in a 200g pack.

Available from supermarkets nationwide.New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Foodie Regal Salmon

Speight’s Summit Ultra Low Carb Lager RRP $21.99New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Foodie Speight's Low Carb Beer 

Summer (and touch rugby season!) is almost here and that means it’s time for cold beer/s after a hot day and a great evening game.  Sounds like bliss as I sit huddled under a nana-blanket at my desk lol.  Each season it seems like everyone adopts a few more healthy habits than the one before.  As such Speight’s is making it easy for beer lovers to cut carbs without sacrificing the flavour of a great lager.  Summit Ultra Low Carb beer contains 75% fewer carbs than the average content of leading NZ beer.  That’s a massive reduction – looks like I may have found my summer drop!

Because no one ever said “Get that man a kale smoothie”

Available in 12 packs.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Foodie Akarua PInot GrisAkarua Pinot Gris 2016 RRP $29

From the cool climate of Central Otago comes Akaroa’s 2016 Pinot Gris.  A perfect match for lighter summer meals of fish, salads, veges and flavourful BBQ meats, this is a wine I’m really looking forward to enjoying this summer.

Described as having a bouquet of white peach, pear blossom and a hint of ginger with ripe pears, notes of nectarine and orange peel across the palette.  Serve, share and enjoy!

Available at leading restaurants, selected supermarkets, Glengarry and other fine wine retailers nationwide.

Rockburn Stolen Kiss Rosé RRP $29.99New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Foodie Rockburn Stolen Kiss

Speaking of Summer…….Hello Rosé and hello Rockburn’s limited edition Stolen Kiss Rosé!  Released this week as we switched over to daylight saving, the story of grapes stolen from Rockburn’s highly awarded Pint Noir makes a delicious back-story to a wine that’s fast building a cult-like following here in New Zealand.  Winemaker Malcolm Rees-Francis’ tasting notes describe “candy-floss and crème-brûlée aromas, leading into a flirtatious toffee-apple and simmering strawberry palate smeared with cherry lipgloss”.  If that doesn’t wet your whistle for hot days and cold wine then I’m sorry, you’re dead to me!

Available in selected fine wine stores including Glengarry and online via www.rockburn.co.nz

 

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

mummy-blog-new-zealand-blogger-mommy-travelblog-family-kids-spindel-review

Sundays are for…………..family.

One Sunday morning at 4am the sun was not up, but into the bed came a very wriggly and very hungry little boy.  He started to look for some food, but Mum and Dad were still sleeping.  Last week they survived; 1 professional exam, 1 swimming lesson, 1 basketball game, 1 basketball practice, 1 committee meeting, 4 rugby practices, 2 GST returns, 1 rugby Club Night, 1 science project,  1 missed meeting with the bank (the bank manager may not have survived this one!), 2 PR events, 1 EMS workout, 4 blog posts, 1 All Blacks test……………and they were still tired.

Needless to say, Mum and Dad were very much looking forward to Sunday.  Until they remembered Ethan had rugby rep trials at 11am ::::::::::sigh::::::::::

Many are beginning to lament the innate ‘busyness’ of modern family life, and to be honest, last week just about broke me but, our family are joiners, participants, volunteers.  We like to get involved, put down roots, contribute and get to know our little community – something that doesn’t happen simply by virtue of being a ‘neighbour’ anymore.

The flip-side of this is that ensuring we have family ‘down-time’ sometimes becomes a mindful miracle of scheduling.

Eating helps.  Eating together nails it.

This Sunday, breakfast became early afternoon tea for Nixon (he woke at 4 remember!) and some combo of breakfast-brunch-lunch for Dave and I and our beautifully bed-headed preteen.  Keep in mind this is intentionally NOT a cereal breakfast ala Monday through Friday.  This is a ‘real food meal’ that takes time to eat so we can spend as much time as possible together, around the table without anyone on a device or rushing off .

The menu varies, it could be waffles, pancakes or crèpes but this week it was freshly made cheese scones, bacon, and omelets to share.  Of course, we have to be a little bit prepared, a mindful meal begins with some mindful shopping, or at the very least making sure there are some flour, milk, and eggs on hand!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Organic Milk

The way modern families shop for food and consider their purchases is as much a dynamic process as our hectic day-to-day lives.  Food innovation now often (ironically) takes the form of simplification.  As parents of a 12.5-year-old, we want to know where he is, what he’s doing and who he’s doing it with.  Similarly, I want to know where my food is coming from and who is producing it, but is it realistic to expect this from supermarket staples?

Surprisingly, the answer is YES.  The milk we used for our Sunday breakfast this week came from a single organic farm located in Manawatu, farmed by the Flipp family.  Four generations live and work on the farm along with their 600 cows and I didn’t have to drive 6.5 hrs to the farm gate to pick it up! 

Kapiti Single Farm Organic Milk was in the chiller, at my local New World 5 minutes from my house.

Mindful family routines and meals begin with mindful shopping – grocery or otherwise.  Investing in a product that is the end result of the Flipp Family’s 3-year journey to achieve organic certification is definitely a brand story that I’m happy to have at my table every day.

For this post, I partnered with Kapiti Single Farm Organic Milk which is now available from Supermarkets nationwide.

  • 1.25L Homogenised/non-homogenised RRP $5.49
  • 750ml Homogenised/non-homogenised RRP $3.50

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Organic Milk