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.

Your Best Period Ever – My 3 Must-Have Products

This post may have been around 27 years in the making but I’m pretty sure I’ve finally figured out how to make my monthly period as ‘minimally disruptive’ as possible. (That was actually a really hard sentence to construct as it doesn’t really work saying “make my monthly period as ‘awesome‘ as possible”, or “as ‘fab‘ as possible lol. So, minimally disruptive it is!

I’ve been more active this year than ever before in my adult life (thanks F45 Massey!), which has been amazing, however, maintaining attendance at HIIT classes during that time of the month when I have my period has presented some challenges. I have been exclusively using a menstrual cup for almost 2 years now and will never switch back to single-use products – the convenience, cost-saving and environmental benefits are simply too great to ignore, but I was having some probs. My first cup had become increasingly uncomfortable – especially when running – and was prone to leaking. I wasn’t prepared to give up on the cup after a year of tampon-freedom so I switched to another brand ……….. and lived happily ever after!

Say Hello to Hello Cup! Made in New Zealand with a much smoother, more ergonomic design than my previous cup, I’m officially a fangirl guys. If you haven’t made the switch to a cup yet, here are some reasons why I love them; you never get caught out without a tampon in your purse or pocket, no trash, more secure when exercising, fewer leaks, more cash in your hand every month! Yay!

Your best period ever

Ok, my next period revelation came two months ago when I was gifted 3 pairs of period underwear by Modibodi. Along with a menstrual cup, period undies were something I swore up and down I would never use – because ew. Sometimes, girlfriends, it’s best to just shut those thoughts down and jump all in and give something a go. Holy moly I’m glad I did because Modibodi have been life-changing for me! I used to have incredibly disturbed sleep during my period as I’d automatically wake multiple times each night to prevent leaks and staining and now I sleep like a baby – until Nixon wakes us up at way-too-early-o’clock but I’ll take what I can get lol. I also have zero reservations about gym workouts. F45 classes are so intense and with such a variety of movements, I’d still often have to do a runner to the bathroom even whilst wearing my cup because leak paranoia is REAL am I right? I LOVE the Modibodi Active Brief under my workout tights. They don’t budge a bit, are super comfy, barely visible and best of all, they give me the peace of mind to just focus on my workout without any compromise on intensity.

Modibodi Period Underwear review

I honestly can’t explain how liberating the combination of my Hello Cup and Modibodi Period underwear is. I don’t dread getting my period anymore. I don’t feel like I can’t go for a run or head to the gym because my flow is too heavy. Yes, these products are SO out of the box for those of us that grew up with only pads or tampons as an option but give them a try, you will NOT be disappointed when they literally change your life!

The third product that I’ve been using over the past two months is the icing on the cake – or the powder in my smoothie to be exact. Women’s Hormone Health Blend by The Wholesome Co is ahhhmazing. I’ve never experienced painful pms symptoms like cramping, but lord, for the past couple of years my ’emotional’ pms symptoms have been ramping up. In other words, 2 days before my period begins I’ve been horrible to live with – moody, emotional, cranky, quick to yell……..ugh.

So far, I’ve noticed two massive benefits of taking the Hormone Health Blend daily;

  1. The emotional roller-coaster around my cycle has slowed down and evened out, to the point where I was even surprised when I got my period last month as I hadn’t been a major bitch in the preceding days! What the?!
  2. The heavy, heavy flow I’ve always experienced on days 2/3 has lessened and, much like my moods (!) evened out. Again this makes working out SO much easier and I am eternally grateful for the change.
The Wholesome Co Hormone Health Blend

Guys, girls, whoever is reading this, I’ve said to a few peeps that 2019 has been a really, really great year for me. I’ve maintained my diet overhaul that happened in 2018, I started working out regularly at F45 (life-changing!) and in general, I feel like I’ve taken control of my life a bit more instead of being a passive passenger along for the ride. Discovering innovative products that are designed to revolutionise the way we as women experience our periods and improve that experience monthly (as well as being environmentally friendly and sustainable) has also been a life-changing experience. Hello Cup, Modibodi undies and addressing the havoc my hormones were playing each month by taking The Wholesome Co. products has removed much of the trepidation and negativity I’ve felt around what is one of the most uniquely female things about me – my monthly period.

The big lesson here? You will probably have your period every month for years AND YEARS AND YEARS. That’s a fact. Can you make it a better experience? The answer is probably yes and if so, then why not try?! It’s 2020 real soon, there is literally no need to be sacrificing comfort, completely normal day-to-day activity nor your hard-earned cash each month simply because you are a woman and you have your period.

Disclaimer: These three products were gifted for review. I have used each for over 2 months before writing this post and am sincere in my review. They are all the bomb!

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

 

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

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.

Beauty Review: Dove Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo

Fact: Dry shampoo is life.  I’m a fan.  Dove asked for my thoughts on their Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo and here they are internet, just for you! Thanks for making this post possible Dove.


There are very few beauty/haircare/skincare products that I religiously use every, single day because, at this point in my life, every day is very different.  We are still deep in the thick of under 5 parenting, how much sleep I’m going to get on any given night is a lottery and what time Nix (ergo, I) will wake is anyone’s guess.  Even on the days when I’ve planned ahead, worked backward and calculated what time I’ll need to leave the house, picked my outfit in advance, pre-empted the 2nd breakfast Nixon will request…….there’s still going to be a mad rush for the door.

Which means something has to give.

I’m not one of those multi-talented mavens that are able to drive and apply makeup simultaneously.  Heck, I can barely apply makeup while standing in my bathroom!  I simply can’t hide my sleep deprivation on the run, this kind of magic requires my full attention – or at the very least what’s left over after Nixon rightly clamours for most of it lol.

So what slips through the morning cracks on 9/10 days and settles under the cosy confines of a hat is my hair.  

I tell myself my hair’s thriving under the two-child regime which sees it mostly ignored, never washed more than 3 times per week  – if that – and rarely suffering through the indignity of a hot styling tool.  My hair and I have settled into a friendly routine and rotation of hairstyles as we move through the week, getting further away from the last shampoo and limping ever so slowly towards the next.  Which I can hopefully stretch out for ‘just one more day‘.

One of the true marvels of the modern world –  Dove’s Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo, gives me that extra day between washes, as well as all the lols from dry shampoo memes!  I’m such a fan that I actually use it in two different ways, on both clean hair (I know!) and, not so clean hair.

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Dove Dry Shampoo Review

Two ways to use Dove’s Refresh + Care Dry ShampooNew Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Dove Dry Shampoo Review

  • The spray and walk away: Obviously the reason for which it was designed, Dove’s Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo is a greasy-gals saviour.  As indispensable to my morning routine as coffee, my dry shampoo helps me avoid the wet-hair kindy drop-off – the tell-tale sign that something went awry in your house that morning!  It’s such a quick pick-me-up as well; I just spray any questionable areas with Refresh + Care (usually around my hairline and centre part), massage into the roots and I’m done.  Excess oil is absorbed and my hair smells super fresh.
  • Clean hair Va-Va-Voom!  Styling my hair when it’s clean, or in fact, just doing anything as simple as pulling it back into a ponytail is a slippery, frizzy, fly-away nightmare.  It’s also very, very flat.  Creating texture is Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo’s superpower.  I swear once you volumise (not sure if that’s a word lol) your clean hair with dry shampoo, you’ll be a changed woman.  Ok, that might be a stretch, but your you hair will look amazing!  I use it exactly the same way as I do when I’m refreshing unwashed hair except I focus a bit more on the length as well as the roots.  This helps with body and grip if I’m trying something fancy lol.

I legit LOVE life hacks that make one of the busiest times in my day a little bit easier and leave me feeling great – bonus points for being able to grab Dove’s Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo at the supermarket too

New Zealand's Top Mummy Blogger Parenting Travel Blog Family Dove Dry Shampoo Review

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.