Smart Money – Make Insurance a Non-negotiable Expense

I’ve written before about certain milestones that signify the one-way, no-turning-back transition into adulthood; purchasing a brand new bed (this is HUGE!), making a will, solving problems with wine, admitting that Friday nights in with Netflix trumps all etc, etc.

Possibly preceding all other mature financial decisions is the realisation that we need to protect the things we love and those we’ve worked hard to acquire.

We need to insure our stuff.  Fact.

My initial experience with insurance was when I took proud possession of my first car – a 1977 Ford Escort Station wagon purchased for me by my parents.  They insured the car for me with their provider and I kid you not, 20 years later our vehicles are insured with the same provider!

Convenient?  Yes.  Smart?  Maybe not.

I had a firm perception that shopping for insurance was a boring, expensive, confusing and arduous exercise – possibly why I hadn’t bothered to shop around for my vehicle policies in over 20 years lol?!  Forget the ‘need’ for a broker and forget about ‘Insurance Apathy’, it’s easier (and more important) than you think to get your insurance ducks in a row and do it at a great price.

Continue reading Smart Money – Make Insurance a Non-negotiable Expense

Swoon-worthy – Luxe Organic Cotton Sheets + a set for you!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family organic sheets

The words ‘luxe’ and ‘organic cotton’ seem like a bit of a juxtaposition in general but in the case of these gorgeous sheets from Babu they are totally synonymous.  

Nix is still waking quite often at night, climbing into our bed and then commandeering the lion’s share of our king-sized bed.  I never, ever imagined that I would wish we had upgraded to a super-king but then again I was never in possession of a Nixon before lol!  

Instead of toughing it out and being kicked in places that one shan’t mention, I now change camps and head for Nixon’s sweet little single bed that’s made up with the most divine set of sheets imaginable.  And I sleep.  Quite well to be honest!  

Babu’s 100% GOTS organic cotton stretch double interlock sheets are made from the the thickest, snuggliest and softest cotton I’ve ever felt in my life.  They literally transform Nixie’s modest (cheap!) single bed and mattress of dubious quality into one of my favourite places in the whole house.   Anyone that touches this fabric is blown away by the obvious quality and attention to detail.

The top sheet is fitted at the bottom end which is absolutely genius if you have kids who are wrigglers like mine, it makes making the bed each day a much more mum-friendly task lol.

I’ve washed these sheets multiple times and they still look and feel as good as the first day I popped them on the bed – without having to wash them first of course as they are organic!  Yay.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family organic sheets

WIN

If you would like to win a set of Babu’s gorgeous 100% GOTS organic cotton sheets just let me know which size and colour you would choose in the comments below; bassinette, cot or single and white, grey, grey star, pink star, yellow star.

Competition closes 7/8/16.  NZ residents only.

In the meantime, check out Babu’s amazing range here

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family organic sheets New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family organic sheets New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family organic sheets

Budgeting for Winter Energy Costs

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Genesis Energy

The past two weeks in New Zealand have seen Winter announce its arrival.  It’s wet, thundery, cold, dark  bleak  arrival.

Sigh.

There are however, approximately three things I like about winter: coats, layering and a cozy lounge with an open fire.

Oh wait.  We have a gas fire grrrrrrr.

I agonise over using our aesthetically pleasing, slightly less effective, non-wood burning fire because I can’t budget for it.  I have no idea how much it costs to run our fire through the 6pm news, Shortland Street, The Block and My Kitchen Rules.  Does anyone know?  I’m not sure, all I know is that those massive silver gas bottles need replacing a whole lot more frequently the more TV we watch in winter!  Or maybe it’s because it’s cold.

Either way.  Eeeekkkk – winter gas bills!

Dave is the family breadwinner, the man with the money and his money arrives only once each month.  I hate monthly budgeting with a passion, you have to be super thorough, careful and resilient in the face of impulse purchases but flexible enough to accommodate unexpected expenses.  

FYI, the Mystery of the Gas Bottle constitutes an unexpected expense in my opinion.  We use gas to heat our water, and run the fire and our cooktop, and I have no idea month-to-month how much gas each of those elements uses or when one of our two bottles will run out.  In saying that, I absolutely can’t abide a cold house for my kids, so that fire will be on if we need to get the house warm.

Because of this, our LPG bill can range from nothing one month to the cost of two bottles the following month, a variation of well over $200!  This wreaks havoc on my budget and also prohibits me from indulging in my favourite winter hobbies – buying coats and layers to wear under said coats!  Damn you monthly paycheck!

I’m not one to switch energy providers on a whim, based on short term incentives, but Genesis Energy have taken up the challenge the mystery of the gas bottle poses and have come up with four LPG plans that smooth the winter spike and give me some fixed numbers to pop into my monthly budget.

We have three adults and two kids in our household so the LPG Plus Plan is the right option for us.  A fixed rate of $99 per month throughout the year will provide us with 12 gas bottles whenever we need them over the 12 month plan.

I LOVE it!  Power bills are notorious for their winter heart-attack-inducing values but at least now our gas costs will remain the same year round – plus I can order my refills from their handy app!  

For more general information on LPG, click here. Or find out how Genesis Energy can help your budget this winter here.
A big thanks to Genesis Energy for sponsoring this post and providing me with an LPG Value Plan.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog Genesis Energy

Fit Tech – how to get the most bang for your bounce!

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog tgoma springfree

If you’re talking about one ‘toy’ or piece of play equipment that just hasn’t disappeared from New Zealand backyards over the past 50 years, it’s undoubtedly the trampoline.  Seemingly immune to trends, kiwi kids simply LOVE to bounce!

In typical NZ Dad fashion, my first trampoline was made by my father who was an engineer.  He carried me downstairs to our rumpus room at the time, where he threw me, blindfolded, onto the tramp.  We replayed this gorgeous surprise when our eldest son turned 3 and we’ve been trampoline owners ever since!

Our tramp has become the outside go-to for the boys and their friends over the past few years.  More hours than I can remember have been spent on the black mat, in the sun, in the rain, inventing games and practising wrestling maneuvers lol (remember this post where I made Ethan a wrestling dummy to play with on the tramp?).

But, if we‘re being really honest, times are changing.  Unfortunately the pull of screen time has become more and more attractive, especially for my older son.

Thank goodness the resilient trampoline is NOT going down without a fight!  Global innovators in active play, Springfree Trampoline have already given the humble tramp a 21st century makeover and now they’re taking on the tablets with tgoma.

Take Gaming Outside & Make It Active!

We work pretty hard as a family to show our kids a healthy lifestyle and the easiest way to do this (in my opinion) is to exercise with your kids and do it regularly.

We’ve been loving the tech/tramp integration that tgoma has brought to our yard.  It’s super easy to set-up, we’ve all created profiles on the app and now we can track exactly how many bounces we’ve done (+ jump time, energy burnt, height jumped etc).  We can monitor our global rankings against other tgoma jumpers – I LOVE this, hello Miss Competitive! – and participate in Trans-Tasman battles playing the Fruitants game.

I’ve picked our 5 favourite ways we’ve been using our tgoma this week, I’m sure this will change as we all find our favourite apps and challenges – it was pretty hard to narrow it down to these actually!

  1. FreeBounce – This app was a surprise to me, as my initial perception of tgoma was that it was strictly a gaming platform for trampolines.  This isn’t the case at all.  FreeBounce doesn’t detract from traditional fun play on your trampoline at all – it simply tracks the time, number of jumps, kj’s burned and height jumped while playing or working out.  Kind of like a Fitbit for your tramp!  The boys have their own games they have invented and like to simply ‘play’ on the tramp so using FreeBounce lets them do that, while still tracking exercise time – great for my big boy who is very quantitative!  Nixon couldn’t care less of course lol!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog tgoma springfree
  2. Alien Stomp – This is Nixon’s pick.  He can sometimes be a little hesitant about initiating individual play on the trampoline but this game is perfect for getting him out there and jumping!  His enthusiasm is definitely there and his developing gross motor skills will be benefitting so much as he learns to control his bounces around the mat and stomp the aliens! (Ethan is also quite partial to Alien Stomp just quietly!)New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog tgoma springfree
  3. tgoma Fit – this is my fave guys.  6 minute workout blasts that kill!  Completing all 5 in a row is #GOALS.  The Blogging / Mummy combo means that whenever my ‘Boss’ Nixon lets me I’m at my desk frantically trying to write.  As such, I’m loving sneaking outside and punching out a couple of guided workouts throughout the day – it’s getting my blood flowing, boosting my energy and helping with productivity and exercise motivation.  Totally hooked!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog tgoma springfree
  4. Stickers! – Nix and I like to play this together.  There is no goal, aim or rules, each bounce on the mat simply places a sticker in the corresponding place on the screen.  We actually just spent 20 minutes bouncing around laughing at our ‘splats’, ‘kitty cats’ and ‘squiggles’.  This is simple fun, done right.  A lot of parents definitely struggle with imaginative play with young kids, games like this give you and your child a starting point and the tools and trust me, it’s easy to take it from there!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog tgoma springfree
  5. 2048 – Dave, Ethan and I have been playing this addictive number game on our phones for well over a year now so it’s been really fun to take it outside and get both our brains and our body’s working!  This is another great challenge where you can keep an eye on the leaderboard and get competitive with the family!New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Rotorua Travel Blog tgoma springfree

Our first two weeks with our tgoma Springfree Trampoline have been so much fun.  I haven’t been this excited about a tramp since I was a little girl!  I have a feeling that we will discover more and more ways we love to use tgoma together over the coming months and years.  

As an early-adopter myself, I love new tech and this definitely has a flow-on effect within our family.  The pervasive nature of digital devices and the roles they play within the modern family isn’t going to diminish, so I’m particularly stoked to see innovators like Springfree channelling tech in a way that provides multi-layered benefits to both kids and their parents.

Win an iPad Mini 9 with tgoma Springfree!

This prize is ahhh-mazing so you’re going to have to work for it! – 10 jumps on the spot NOW!

Just joking.

What you DO have to do, is head to the Springfree website > click here, read all about tgoma, then come back and comment below with one of the many features of the tgoma app.  Easy right?

Stay tuned for the next tgoma Springfree post for a 2nd chance to get in the draw.  You can enter as many times as you like in separate comments.

Competition closes 10/7/16 @ 10pm.  NZ residents only.

An Easy Bedroom Update

Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Bedroom MakeoverMy bedroom linens have been on my make-over-radar for a while now.  I’m still in love with this pretty pastel mash-up featuring one of my fave Kip & Co duvet covers but unfortunately it’s suffered some major sun fade.  And that BUGS me no end.

We get almost all-day sun in our bedroom so a fresh white duvet is really the only option to avoid ruining any more expensive linen.  Heading into stores to leisurely shop for anything is just not possible at the moment with my 2 year old terror, so I was relieved/excited/super-duper stoked to check out the latest catalogue from Ezibuy Home – in the comfort of my own home!

I’m a very decisive shopper.  I know what I like and I’m great at making no-regrets, snap decisions.  But, I struggled trying to decide on what items to choose from this new range.  I wanted to incorporate a variety of textures and keep the look clean and white, preferring this time to accent with colour rather than feature it.
Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Bedroom Makeover

I chose the Nantucket Quilted Duvet Cover Set RRP $119.99-$169.99 which is heavy, lush and has the most beautiful detailing – exactly what I was looking for as a focal point for the master bedroom.  White, but definitely not boring!
Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Bedroom MakeoverTo complement the pretty detailing in the duvet cover I wanted to add even more texture.  The Epsom European Pillowcover RRP $27.99 has quilted herringbone chambray on one side and ticking stripe on reverse.  I finished the look with a Velvet Throw pillow in grey RRP $49.99, ramping up the soft, tactile feel I was going for.Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Bedroom Makeover

There’s still a couple of pieces I need to finish this look; a linen valance and linen sheet set are definitely top of my wish list.

I have never, ever shopped at Ezibuy before and the quality, price and on-trend range of this homewares line sees them firmly overtake some other large retailers in the very competitive home decor market.  I love it all!
Top Mummy Blog new Zealand Bedroom MakeoverStore credit was provided for editorial consideration.  All opinions expressed are my own.

DIY | Refinishing our dining table

Our dining room table was not a pretty guy and was really letting down the overall ambience of the dining room. I joke!  I would never use the word ambience and mean it, I promise.

Our table was a hand-me-down from Mum and Dad and was still in awesomely solid condition, but the original varnish on the top was thin and the finish had suffered over the years (standard nail polish remover accidents etc).  My initial inclination was to just go out and buy a brand new table, but dang, those suckers are expensive!  It was decided that we would refinish our dining room table ourselves.

Dining Table Refinish DIY NZ BlogI knew I wanted the top finished in bright, high gloss, hard wearing white enamel.  The opposite of the dipped leg that is trending right now but I had Dave had exactly zero interest in sanding down all of those fiddly little side bits!  And so we began;

Step 1.  Strip the existing finish.  Dave used a 30 grit disk on an orbital sander.  This took him probably 5 minutes!  Absolutely no indicator of how long and arduous this project was to become!  (I have neglected to mention that we undertook this project in the middle of one of the hottest summers I can ever remember – the worst possible time for oil based enamel paint to harden). 

Step 2.  Buy premium rollers.  I began with cheap ones and paid the price of having to apply more coats than I otherwise would have.

Step 3.  Apply two coats of Dulux Prepcoat Oil Based Primer with a light sand using 220 grit in between.  I didn’t listen to Dave and only applied one coat!  You will probably have to hand sand the edges and sides as it is easy to strip these right back to the wood – over and over again.  Sigh.

Step 4.  Take careful note of drying times and stick to these religiously.    After a light sand begin top coats.  I used Dulux Super Enamel Oil Based High Gloss in white.  Paint the small edges first and roll longways down the table.  Light sand between each coat.  With proper prep and good rollers you should only need 3 coats max.  I did SEVEN.  fml.

Step 5.  Do not listen to your neighbor when he suggests you top coat your hours of work with polyurethane.  At any cost.  

Step 6.  You will hate your table by this point, but now you must wait for the enamel to harden.  Give it at least two days before returning it to use.  It will probably take weeks to harden, especially if you have applied seven coats of oil based paint!

Dining Table Refinish DIY NZ BlogHowever painful the process was, I swoon over the new finish every time I sit at the table.  It is so, so glossy and hard wearing.  Nixie’s crayon scrawls come right off and cleaning up after mealtimes is bliss compared to the previously worn varnish.  A labour of love that has given this fab table many more years to endure the abuse of my children!

Dining Table Refinish DIY NZ Blog Dining Table Refinish DIY NZ Blog Dining Table Refinish DIY NZ Blog

Dining chairs, wall art and copper basket from Freedom Furniture

The King Size Upgrade | Kip & Co Candystripe Duvet Cover

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Nixon’s arrival last year heralded a rather large sea-change in our family, albeit a wonderful one!  Things like sleep can no longer be taken for granted so we decided to make what little of it we can get, into good, cozy slumber.  That meant upgrading our tired old queen size for a delicious new king sized Sleepyhead.  Oh.  My.  God.  Why we did not make a great bed a priority sooner I have no idea.  Oh wait, yes I do, money!

Buying a larger bed means buying larger linen = $$$$$, but,  I was so super lucky to win a new season Kip & Co Candystripe Duvet Cover and Pillowcase set from the amaze LeeAnn Yare the week before the bed arrived!  Thank you so much x

I’m not afraid of colour in my house (my last Kip & Co set was rather loud too) so the bright and fun Candystripe fits right in and looks great with a myriad of colour combos – I particularly love it with teals and mint tones.

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If you’re thinking of upgrading to a bigger bed, there are some things you can do to lighten the cost;

  • Wait for a sale.  Seriously, you never have to pay full price for anything these days and Farmers has a sale pretty much every weekend so look out for the specials.  We bought our bed in a 50% off sale plus the salesman knocked another $150 off for paying right away rather than financing and he included free delivery.  Do haggle.
  • Plan your purchase.  Upgrading in summer will mean you don’t have to purchase a spendy heavy duvet inner right away to keep warm over winter.  Stock up on sheets, valence, duvet cover etc a couple of months prior to purchasing the bed so you can wait for them to go on sale.
  • My queen size mattress protector stretched comfortably onto the king bed so I didn’t replace that as it was nearly new.  Yay money saved!

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Kip & Co Candystripe Duvet Cover available from Collected

Op-Shop Show Off | Vintage Mustard Chair

Oh my lord.  This was one of those finds that I have hoped for, imagined in my home and finally scored!  Waipu has quite the plethora of second hand shops, so I was really looking forward to some lazy browsing last week.  As it turns out the shops in Waipu operate on Waipu-time, meaning they either don’t open at all on Mondays or Tuesdays or if they open at 11am this really means they don’t open before 11am but it may be some time after 11am (like 12pm) before anyone arrives!  So, sitting in your truck outside to wait may be a lengthy exercise in exasperation.

I didn’t even have to go into any shops to find my beautiful new/old chair – it was sitting on the side of the road like a woe-begone hitchhiker!  So Sad.  We were on our way to the beach and I pulled over to have a look, fell in love immediately but it was all a bit hard to manhandle a large armchair then and there.  I promised that if it was still there the next day I would buy it.  I thought of little else until the next morning, which was a sign that this wasn’t just an impulse buy.  You definitely have to be sure about a loud and proud piece such as this, and at $150 it was still within my realms of a “good buy” considering the chair’s mint condition, but it certainly wasn’t a trivial amount of money to spend.

This guy is super comfy, sturdy and fits in with my mid-century sensibilities just perfectly.  I’m in love.

vintage chair

Around Here | Family Room

Getting the nursery ready for our winter baby is requiring a little re-jigging in our house.  Unfortunately we don’t have an empty room, painted in neutrals, ready and waiting to transform into the nursery of my dreams.  What we do have is our office that we have to re-home.  Dave works from home at least 50% of the time so having a workspace for him is important, but in saying that all he really needs is table space to lay out his laptop and there is plenty of room for that on the dining room table.

After selling an old table on Trade Me this weekend we had space in our family room to move my desk out of the office to it’s new home;

Freedom_Tractor_Stool

The only stipulations I had regarding having a computer in a living area was that there was workspace for two so E has a place to easily complete homework, and secondly, no ugly computer chairs.  Dave and I found these Tractor Stools at Freedom Furniture (they are not on the NZ website yet) and they fit the bill completely.  They were a little more than I had expected to pay at $159 each, but I had to love the stools we chose as they are in a room in which we will be spending more time this winter with the arrival of our new bubba.

Family_Room_1

We moved a couple of other pieces of furniture around and I’m so happy with this room now.  It’s a rectangle with 6 doors off of it so wall space is at a premium, but everything now works and feels much more open.  I also discovered the most amaze product at Spotlight today; Mode Rug Gripper $6.99 for 10m.  That crazy orange rug {which I love} is quite light weight and Ethan and the dogs are forever causing it to bunch and move.  This tape actually works, is cheap and easy to apply.  Magic.

Family_Room_2

We will move Dave’s desk out of the office in a couple of months and then I can decorate until my hearts content!  Until then I have a growing stockpile of all things baby that is slowly engulfing our changing table and the  briefly vacant corner of the office.