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.

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.

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

 

4 Ways to Use Essential Oils in your #Fitspo Life

I’ve loved working with Bosisto’s on this post.   They make such awesome and accessible products from 100% pure, natural essential oils that are perfect for integration into both personal and family household routines daily.


Despite really, actively trying to avoid falling into the ‘busy’ trap that gets me feeling constantly anxious, worried and stressed,  our family is on the cusp of a really, freaking busy winter season of sport.  Dave, Ethan and Nixon all play rugby over winter, training began this week, I’m the rugby club captain so the sport literally consumes all of my free time, Ethan plays basketball for both his school and North Harbour and Dave is (always lol) training for his next marathon.  Me, I’m just in survival mode, sneaking a run or walk in when I can! The amount of sports footwear in our house is mind-boggling as is the amount of sweaty laundry I’m smashing out each week.

2018 is a funny old year for Dave and I.  We are trying to look at the daily routines and processes in our home on a micro level and implement improvements, tweaks and hacks wherever we can.  The goal is to be constantly simplifying, reducing and making more sense of how we live.

Finding more natural alternatives to everyday products we use around the house fits in well with our intentions to not only minimise stress and stuff but also to minimise the chemicals we use in our home and on our bodies.  Dave is a really easy-sell when it comes to this. Though the man will obsess about a running injury he is super adverse to taking medicine, paracetamol is a last resort!  After an introduction to essential oils about 12 months ago, I’ve loved learning new ways to introduce them into our family routines.

So with sporting commitments showing no sign of slowing, it’s the perfect time to share how we use Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Lavender oils daily.  Australian heritage brand, Bosisto’s range of oils are totally complementary to our goal of simplifying day to day life. They are all multi-tasking marvels that are available as both liquid and sprays, making essential oil use even easier and more convenient.

4 Ways to Use Essential Oils in your #Fitspo Life

DIY Lavender & Tea Tree Oil Gym Gear Spray:

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Beauty Review Bosisto's Essential Oils

I’ve whipped up two bottles of this gorgeous spray, one for Dave’s car and a second to pop in my gym bag.  The calming, deodorizing properties of Lavender combined with the bacteria-fighting power of Tea Tree oil make the perfect pairing to combat sweaty, post-workout odour.  Dave drives to the forest most days to run the trails, so his car (and cloth seats) need a helping hand to stay fresh, as do yoga mats – ever cleaned yours? Spritz this gorgeous spray around like magic, and keep that post-workout high rolling throughout the day.

I picked up a little spray bottle in a travel pack for $3 from a dollar store, filled it with distilled water and added 5 drops of Bosisto’s Lavender Essential Oil Blend and 5 drops of Tea Tree Oil.

Shake and spray!

Eucalyptus Oil for Muscle Pain:  
Heading into his trail marathon a couple of weeks ago, Dave was suffering an Achilles injury which was stressing him out like a bad case of Man Flu.  At this point in his preparation it was too late to pop some heel wedges in his shoes or anything like that, so, massage and rest was how he tackled the injury.  Always preferring natural remedies, Dave used Bosisto’s 100% Pure Eucalyptus Oil, massaged twice a day on his Achilles and calf muscle. The soothing, warming effect of the Eucalyptus Oil worked wonders on his symptoms, and has since become his go-to for all of his running-related niggles.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Beauty Review Bosisto's Essential Oils

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Beauty Review Bosisto's Essential OilsLavender Oil for sleep and rest:  I’ve been using Lavender Oil as a sleep aid for a couple of years now and honestly, wouldn’t be without it.  Both Ethan and Nixon find it hard to wind down at the end of the day, with Ethan having severe difficulty approx once per week where he might struggle for hours to fall asleep.  Implementing a calming, relaxing bedtime routine has helped both boys (and Dave and I!) finish each day much more peacefully, and with less stress and struggle around switching off and sinking into a restful slumber.

There are three ways I use Lavender at bedtime;

  1. Spray around the bedroom at night – yes, you can buy pure Lavender Oil in a spray aerosol!  Bosisto’s have made using essential oils even easier and more convenient with this genius packaging.
  2. Use an aromatherapy diffuser to spread that Lavender goodness far and wide throughout the house
  3. Create a skin-safe dilution to dab on your babes at bed-time!  I use 5 drops of Lavender oil in 10ml of almond oil and rub a drop on the soles of feet, behind the knees, on the insides of elbows and on the neckline of PJ’s.

Tea Tree Oil for foot health: Running shoes, rugby boots, touch rugby shoes, basketball sneakers, gumboots, (expensive Dr Martin’s school shoes that are used to play Basketball in every day at school grrrr)……we have ALL the shoes in our household and they are all used for very active pursuits.  Keeping them fresh is hard, keeping active feet healthy and odour free is also hard. Tea Tree Spray from Bosisto’s is a natural antifungal agent and so easy to apply; simply spray shoes to freshen and help knock out fungal infections such as tinea, follow up by spraying affected skin after washing and drying feet.

Ethan wears 100% wool socks to school and they have an odour like no other lol.  Adding a capful or two of Tea Tree Oil to the laundry is literally the ONLY thing I’ve found to combat and eliminate the smell of teenage, schoolboy feet – at least until the next day!

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Beauty Review Bosisto's Essential Oils

For more great ideas on how to use natural, high-quality essential oils around your home, head to Bosisto’s Facebook Page and get yourself in the draw to win an amazing prize pack!  Trust me you will LOVE these products, they are so incredibly useful as well as naturally therapeutic.

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: Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic Electric Toothbrush

Looking for something totally fabulous to spoil Mum with or (even better!) to pop on your own Mother’s Day wish list?  This toothbrush is IT.  It’s hard to believe that I’m writing with such affection about a toothbrush, but hey, weird things happen when you’re over 35 and know how much a visit to the hygienist costs!  There’s a $50 Mother’s Day cashback offer on the Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic Electric Toothbrush right now so it’s a great time to invest in beautiful teeth.  Details here.


Hate me if you must, but, I’m Becky with the Good Teeth.  Hair be damned, I can’t style it to save my life, but I’ve got the teeth on lock.  I can’t claim it’s due to an extensive oral health routine (the shame of it), pure genetics.  I even hate milk guys.

No braces, no fillings, just bright, shiny, healthy teeth.

I could put on weight (I have), leave the house without makeup (I do) but I’d always have my pearly whites to carry me through.  Flash a shiny smile and many a grievance is forgotten, items exchanged without the receipt, late pickups at kindy overlooked………

This was how Becky with the Good Teeth rolled until, approximately two years ago when I discovered my Motherhood Lifeblood – coffee.

And we all know the story from there.

Despite semi-regular appointments with the dental hygienist, I’m talking yearly guys, my once brilliant teeth have been showing signs of staining and increased plaque build-up.  I hate flossing with a passion so I know I don’t do myself any favours.

So with this in mind, and a vanity-driven desire to head into my 40’s with at least one part of my body on point, I’ve taken to the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic Toothbrush with enthusiastic abandon.

It’s time to get my bad-ass smile back.

The box itself makes a bold claim – in a fairly large font so you know this is the real deal; ‘Whitens teeth in just 1 week’.  I was pretty, freaking excited about this and hoping no-one was pulling my leg as I ripped into the packaging to get the most beautiful toothbrush I’ve seen charging and ready to use.

Let’s discuss;

  • Rose gold accents on the toothbrush
  • A luxe rose gold charging glass. You simply put the toothbrush in the glass to charge!  It’s magic!  Actually, it’s not, it’s just awesome technology but magic goes better with a rose gold toothbrush mmkay?!
  • A charger travel case that’s so pretty it looks like it could be an evening clutch

Soooo, we’ve established the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic Toothbrush looks amazing and comes with two fantastic charging options.  But does it actually clean and whiten your teeth?

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Beauty Review Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Toothbrush

It does and it does it like NO other toothbrush I’ve ever experienced.

The first time I used the DiamondClean, the crazy, buzzy, vibrating sensation made me squirm, but over the past 6 days of use I’ve become totally accustomed to it and now it doesn’t bother me at all.  Honestly, nothing would bother me after seeing and feeling how incredibly clean my teeth now are.

I mean SHINY clean btw.  Plaque removed from between my teeth clean.  Just left the hygienist clean.  Never had a cup of coffee or glass of red wine clean?  Oh, I have no doubt that’s coming.  My teeth are soooo much whiter and brighter already I am so excited.

One thing I was nervous about, totally unnecessarily as it turns out, was how the DiamondClean would feel on my gums.  I’ve been a solid manual toothbrush ‘scrubber’ my whole life.  My teeth never felt clean unless I used Medium bristles (against my dentist’s advice) and as previously mentioned, I may not floss as often as I should.  Hence, my poor gums often bled whilst brushing my teeth.  Total thing of the past; my gums have not bled once whilst using the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic Toothbrush.  Not once.

There are five brushing modes available; Clean, White, Polish, Gum Care and Sensitive modes – switching between them is intuitive and easy via the on/off button.  I love the 30-second Quadpacer intervals in Clean mode, signified by beeps.  It’s made me so much more aware of exactly how much time and attention I spend on each area of teeth.  Or didn’t spend as the case may have been!

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Beauty Review Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Toothbrush

The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Sonic Toothbrush is an exceptional personal care product that I now can’t imagine living without.

It’s not cheap, this is true.  But, the potential health benefits and future savings on dentist visits are undeniable once you’ve been using the DiamondClean for just a couple of days.

I’m in love for sure.

For more info (ie technical stuff you might be interested in!), find out more about the DiamondClean Sonic Toothbrush here.

Plus, There is a Mother’s Day $50 cashback available NOW until May 27th!  Details here.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Beauty Review Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Toothbrush

 

 

PlanetBox Review: Nixon’s quirky eating and the Lunchbox that makes it all ok

The arrival of PlanetBox lunchboxes in New Zealand has been long awaited by Mums and/or Instagram food stylists for a long, long time.  With a picky eater on my hands, these bento-style lunch boxes looked like just the thing to help Nix make the most out of his packed lunch each day.  Little & Loved kindly provided the Rover for review, check out their range of PlanetBox products and accessories here > PlanetBox Lunchboxes available in New Zealand!


I’m writing this mid-bedtime battle with Nixon, so I feel like I’m banging on a bit about his somewhat ‘difficult’ behaviours at the moment but it is what it is.  Our little guy is a gorgeous wee package full of surprises and challenges and we love him for that, as trying as they may be.

Anyhow, food is the topic de jour, in particular, Nixon’s LOVE of food.  

This statement comes with caveats, of course, doesn’t everything when you’re discussing a 4-year-old?

Nixon loves all food that is;
  • Quick to eat
  • Not touching other foods
  • Not mixed with other foods ie he loves berries and he loves yoghurt but he can’t stand berries IN yoghurt.
  • Not in any way being devious about vegetables.  “Just don’t try and hide veges in my shit Mum, just don’t”.
  • Not past it’s prime, even slightly.  no brown bits on bananas, apples or avocados, please.
  • Not a fancy hybrid of any kind.  A croissant is perfection.  A pain au chocolat is abhorrent!
  • Not in excess of any one element; too cheesy no good, too buttery no good, too much mince in a mince pie?  No good.

So meal times at our house are usually a two-step process.  We usually cook all the components of our meals separately, serve Nixon in his divided plate and then combine the ingredients for everyone else’s meal.  Last night we had an amazing turkey and vegetable fettuccine.  Nix had roasted turkey, fettuccine pasta with alfredo sauce (no bits!) and chopped tomatoes and beetroot on the side.

Kindy lunches are a similar scenario, complicated further by the fact that lunch must be packed separated and stay separated throughout the day – bento style.  Needless to say, we’ve had lots of semi-full lunch boxes (with the contents inadvertently mixed together) return home at the end of the day with a very hungry wee boy.   Nix needs to eat a lot and to eat often, so finding the right lunchbox for him to get used to before he heads off to school later this year is key right now.

I’m totally aware of how OTT this sounds (it’s just a freaking lunchbox right???), but, Zoe from Little & Loved took some time via Instagram to chat me through lunchbox options for Nix and his ‘requirements’.  There’s no doubt that PlanetBox as well as other bento-style lunchboxes have become popular in recent years BUT, they are quite an investment.  If you’re looking at purchasing online it’s amaze being able to ask questions before dropping 90 bucks on your kids’ school lunch receptacle right?

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox

So, Nixie’s PlanetBox Rover arrived and I was immediately in love; the gorgeous, retro packaging, the seemingly indestructible nature of its eco-friendly, stainless steel construction…….. I know a friend who has had 3 PlanetBox lunchboxes for her kids since her eldest began school over 6 years ago and they are still going strong, so the longevity of these guys is amazing.

However, I underestimated the depth of my son’s food ocd.  That river runs DEEP ya’ll.  I was all set up to send him off to kindy on Friday with his new PlanetBox lunch box but, a ‘Farewell Day’ for his plastic Systema was required.  Literally, I had to agree to one more day before we could recycle the lunchbox I thought he disliked so much because his food got all mixed up inside it!

Strange little fellow lol.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox

Two weeks into PlanetBox Life, both Nix and I are converted and convinced.  I initially worried that the latch system might be a bit tricky for him (no idea why I presume my 4.5yo is a baby still?!) – it isn’t, that it might be a bit heavy – it isn’t, that it might not hold enough – it does.  But my most overwhelming observation comes from the fact that Nixon’s PlanetBox comes home from kindy four days a week completely empty.  These are the most perfect, rubbish free, bento-style lunchboxes I’ve personally ever used or seen.  Nix eats everything now because his food stays separated………no matter what.  I’ve flipped it, shaken it all about (as does Nix on the daily!) and the smart design stays true every time.

Zoe has a great range of eco friendly Planetbox stainless steel lunch boxes and accessories in stock here in New Zealand, all with a five year warranty.  Dishwasher safe, eco-friendly, non-toxic and built to last, I know I’ll be using this awesome lunch box for years to come.

Shop the Little & Loved collection here > Stainless Steel PlanetBox Lunchboxes

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Planetbox Stainless Steel Lunchbox

 

 

True Story: The printer that made me forget how much I hate printers

I’d given up on home printers years ago, but after receiving Epson’s innovative WorkForce EcoTank Printer to review, I’m ready to smash work, life admin and school projects in 2018 – without running out of ink once.


I am a techy, gadget geek, early adopter kinda girl.

You don’t keep blogging for over 10 years without having some sort of affinity for how technology can increase productivity and creativity and improve your lifestyle, at least to some degree.

Despite most communication being conducted via email these days, ‘life admin’ still requires paper and printing. Forms, permission slips, itineraries, confirmations, tickets, bank statements, school projects, photos… I need to print multiple times per day (heads up, in my experience, printing needs increase exponentially with the number of kids you have!).

I swore off printers 3 years ago after bringing the last failure home. I purchased a ‘WIFI’ model that never connected to our network, wouldn’t talk to my Mac computers, printed everything on a 25° angle and required new cartridges constantly.  The kicker?  If you purchased on special it was often cheaper to buy a whole new printer (which came with ink cartridges) then it was to stock up on ink. This sort of false-economy is super disheartening as both a consumer and as someone who tries to think about the impact our purchasing has on the environment.

It was time to say goodbye to the weakest link in our home office environment, preferring to suffer through the inconvenience of waiting for that friend who could print something out at work (Dave and I both work from home so this was ridiculous!) or actually driving up to our local stationery store and using the kiosks there.

The printer that made me forget how much I hate printers

There is always an exception to every rule, however, and it appears one printer company have magic-ed up a device that can do what I need it to do – and do what it says it can do on the box!

Meet the Epson WorkForce EcoTank ET-4750.

My New Best Friend!

This multi-function marvel has addressed every problem I’ve ever experienced with printers as, well as doing its basic job of printing better than I could have imagined.

Why I LOVE my Epson EcoTank Printer

So many reasons, but let me count the ways:

  • EcoTank – there’s a BIG clue in the name; this printer has no cartridges, it has refillable tanks (!!) and comes with enough ink in the box for 2 YEARS WORTH OF PRINTING! I’m dead.

  • WIFI Direct Print/Copy/Scan: I know, sounds good right…but…NO buts this time, it legit works and is super easy and fast to set-up. I work from two Macs, my husband uses a PC and there are iPhones, Samsung and Huawei phones in our house – WE CAN PRINT FROM ALL OF THEM. It’s a home office miracle and I love it!
  • It holds 250 sheets of A4 (in a hidden draw so Nixon can’t steal it for his ‘projects’): this may not sound like a big deal, but I’m often printing in a hurry e.g. homework ‘remembered’ as Ethan is running out the door for the school bus. Scrambling for paper to print with and then struggling to get it to feed without jamming etc. is now a distant, horrible, memory (lol).
Half a ream in the paper tray no worries!
  • Borderless printing: I had no idea my EcoTank did this until we returned from Japan and Nix wanted to bring a picture to Kindy news of a manta ray he saw in the aquarium in Osaka.  I actually squealed in delight as the beautiful image came out of the printer. Guys remember – borderless printing is GOALS!

The convenience of having a home printer again and the ease of WIFI printing is just so delicious; I’m literally singing the EcoTank’s praises to anyone who will listen. There is a large range of models and price options available and all come with that amazing no cartridge, refillable tank system and 2 years of ink included.

Check out all of the options here for more info> Epson EcoTank Printers

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Epson Ecotank Printer
Nixie’s gorgeous borderless image of Waffles/Talulah (the visiting pig) to share for news at kindy.

Women’s Health: My first time using a Lunette Menstrual Cup

A year ago I never would have written this post.  A year ago I would have ignored/declined the invitation to try a menstrual cup, firmly placing the very notion in the ‘too hard/too hippy’ basket.

So why now?  The only answer I can come up with is simply; why not now?

My monthly period annoys the heck out of me.  It’s never been painful nor irregular, just heavy and inconvenient (a bit like me in the morning before I’ve had a coffee lol).  I’ve been using tampons my whole life, and while better than pads, they still totally suck.  They’re uncomfortable if not quite in the right position, they leak, they aren’t absorbent enough, a heavy flow day means frequent changes, they are expensive and require disposal, plus, they are just something else waking me at night and wanting attention – I’ve already got a husband and a 4-year-old taking up night-time hours #kthanksbyetampons.

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

So earlier this week, with Christmas in New Zealand done and dusted and tent-life beckoning (always a PIA when you’ve got your period) I decided to trial a Lunette Menstrual Cup for the first time.  I’d been gifted one just before the holidays and had been planning to give it a whirl before our trip to Japan in January.

What did I think?  Short version; amazing, liberating, life-changing.  Long version; read on.

Lunette Menstrual Cup Review

First tip:  Get ready in advance.  I was all raring to go as soon as my period began but hadn’t opened the box or read the short set of instructions that accompany the Lunette.  In fact, I hadn’t even touched it!  There are two sizes available, I picked size 2 which is recommended for women who experience a heavier flow or who have given birth vaginally.  The silicone is super smooth and soft, but also much firmer than I anticipated.  After sterilizing my cup for 20 minutes in a pot of boiling water I was ready to go.

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

The thing that puzzled me most about menstrual cups prior to using one, was placement.  A tampon sits so much higher than a cup and feels awful when it’s inserted wrong/low and feels like it’s going to fall out!  Yet, the Lunette cup sits low and you CAN’T FEEL IT!  It’s amazing, and I’m sure the imperceptibility is due to the flexible silicone moving with your body when you move.

Insertion/application, whatever, was easy, fold it in half and up she goes. A bit of a jiggle and you can feel the cup unfold – that’s it!  I was completely floored by how easy the process is and how completely ‘leak-free’ I feel when wearing the Lunette.  I realise that describing a state of being as ‘leak-free’ is a bit bizarre and a probably a complete misnomer, however, if you’ve experienced that tampon-angsty feeling when you know you could leak at any given time, you’ll totally understand what I mean!

The stem was the only thing I found uncomfortable and as recommended in the instructions I simply trimmed it until I found the optimal length.  I don’t actually use it for removal at all so cut it really short.

Am I converted?

Heck yes I am, I just wished I had been brave and tried a menstrual cup sooner.  The Lunette just makes so much sense; 

  • I feel completely leak free, even at night
  • I can go longer, up to 12 hours, without having to worry about reaching max capacity
  • I don’t feel like I’m going to get ‘caught out’ without another tampon on me when I need one
  • I haven’t yet, but know I’d be able to workout and run wearing a Lunette Menstrual Cup, something that was out of the question for me on heavy flow days with a tampon.
  • Cleaning/sanitizing is easy, there’s heaps of info here

In fact it’s all easy.  The only hard part about using a Lunette is in your head, once you’re over the mental hurdle you will never go back to tampons.  I never will, of this I’m convinced.

I can see how learning how to use a menstrual cup may be slightly more challenging for young girls, but to be honest, no more challenging than learning how to use a tampon.  The benefit of potentially NOT having to change a tampon/pad for the entire school day is incredible and totally worth the very little persistence that’s required to get super comfortable with using a Lunette Menstrual Cup.

There’s heaps of information on the Lunette New Zealand website, so check it out if you have any questions or are keen to make the switch – you won’t regret it!