Q&A Part 1


Hi all! I’ve seen a few ‘FAQ’ blogs floating around, and I joked on Snapchat that mine would be boring because all I get asked is ‘Where is your hanging planters from?’ and ‘What brand is your vacuum?’ haha! Someone suggested putting it out there as an opportunity for anyone to ask me something they’ve been wanting to know. So here we are! I screenshot a bunch of questions and I’ve answered them below. In no particular order this is part 1, because there is still probably another 20 that I’m yet to get to… you’ll have to wait for part 2 for those. Happy reading…

What do you see yourself doing with your days, once both kids are at school?

I hope to continue doing blog and social media work, and get back into more graphic design. I would ideally love to make a full time income while working at home!

Will you ever go back to work in the future?

Ideally – no. I would be working, but not ‘at work’ out of the house. If social media takes a crashing dive, I always have my Graphic Design background behind me to fall back on and I know I can work from home doing that!

How do you find having your husband away a lot, if you could change the way he works (going away etc) – how would you?

Nare was in the Air Force before we met, so I very much knew what I was signing up for. Howeeeeever… pre-kids he barely ever went away! Just due to the nature of his position at the time. Popped some babes out, got married, and now he buggers off all the time! Hahaha. No not quite, but it looks like that’s the case 😉 I get used to it. I never love having him away, but the kids and I get into our groove and figure out our wee routine. Then he comes home and ruins it 😉 If I could change it, he’d never go away haha!

Anymore kids on the cards?

Honestly? Not sure! We’ve had serious discussions about this! I don’t feel done, like people say you do when you’re ‘done’. But I also don’t really feel like I want any more? Nare is 98% done. He’d probably go as far as saying 100% actually haha! I love where we’re at, what we can do with just the two, where we’re at financially etc. I’m not sure I want to add to that. You know they start getting out of the baby age, and you can do more things as a family? Then you add another baby again. So yeah, not sure on that one! Not anytime soon, if at all.

How do you find being a step Mum?

Jayden works full time now and has left school, so we don’t see him a lot. When he does come to stay he’s amazing! Super helpful and the kids are all over him, which he doesn’t mind – yay! I’m definitely no ‘Mumsy’ step Mum, we’re more at friends level – if that makes sense? I wash his clothes and cook him food, but we chat like friends and I don’t need to boss him around and tell him to tidy his room 😉

Where is your wishbone necklace from?

The pendant is from Pascoes, and my Mum got a more expensive chain put on it so that I knew the kids wouldn’t yank it off my neck! It’s nice and thin but super sturdy, the kids pull at it often but it’s yet to snap!

Where is your daughter’s name from?

I actually found it on a boys name list online somewhere! Spelt ‘Marlowe’. I put it on my boys list, though Nare didn’t like it. When we found out she was a girl I suggested it for her and he was a bit ‘meh’ about it, until I suggested the middle name Kobe (he loves basketball) to go with May (a family middle name). He went for it! I decided I liked the look of it more, with a few letters chopped off, so Marlo Kobe May it was!

Were your kids planned? If so, how long did it take you to conceive them?

I knew Nare was ‘the one’ pretty early on, so I didn’t muck around in putting it out there that I wanted babies soon. It was my dream to be a Mum, and I didn’t see the point in waiting years and years (personal preference!). We tried for around 6 months (felt like 10 years) before finally falling pregnant. I had no clue about my cycles and what not, which is probably why it took what felt like forever. Sadly that pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage, but I fell pregnant again straight afterwards (wasn’t trying, didn’t even get a period) with Brooklyn! #2… we planned to try after our wedding in Feb 2015. Me thinking it would take forever, suggested we start trying at New Years instead. Yeah jokes on me – first pop, 6 weeks pregnant at our wedding haha!  

How old is Nare? 

This seems to be the burning question! You guys know Jayden is 18, so the maths is telling you he’s older – but you think we don’t look that different in age. So either thats a lovely compliment for Nare, or you lot think I’m much older. Please tell me is the first option! 😉 He is 36, I’m 26.

What was it like with the age gap? Did you cop any flack when you first started dating?

Honestly, I forget there even is an age gap! Guys are immature, right? 😉 And I’ve always been told I’m mature for my age – so I guess we kind of meet in the middle at 30 haha! I don’t remember copping any flack, I think some of Nare’s friends were a bit sceptical when they found out how old I was – but we soon showed them!

How long have you been a stay at home Mum?

I haven’t been ‘back to work’ since Brooklyn was born! Funny story actually – I told my old job that I would go back when he was 3 months old and work night shifts. Bloody LOL! Obviously I didn’t realise babies don’t actually sleep haha!

How do you stay so tidy and organised?

First of all, I’m not perfect by any means! My house still gets messy… with 2 young kids it’s inevitable. But mostly I set myself a little routine and do my best to stick to it. Daily, when Marlo naps around lunchtime – I do a quick whip around tidying and picking up toys. Then I try to do that again just before Nare gets home, however that is right on dinner time so doesn’t always work out. Every evening Nare does the dishes and once the kids are in bed we tidy up the main living/dining area together, I vacuum (yes, every night) and mop the floors. Two reasons for that. 1. It needs it. Haha. And 2. Getting up in the morning to a clean + tidy house makes the day start off a million times better, in my opinion! On Friday’s I usually tidy and clean upstairs (bedrooms) for the weekend, and again on Monday so that they’re fresh and tidy for the week. Bathroom and toilet get done when I can, and washing daily too. I don’t always stick to this, to the day, but it’s a rough routine of what I try to work towards. Seems to work ok for me! Another key point for staying tidy is decluttering. Toy cull often, get rid of stuff that is unnecessary and that the kids don’t play with… less for you to tidy up!

What is your age gap between Brooklyn and Marlo, and how do you find it?

2 years 9 months in between them, and I absolutely love it! My whole pregnancy, Brooklyn still napped – so most days I would join him! For the first 3 months of Marlo’s life, he wasn’t at preschool yet, so there was no rushing out of the house for drop offs and pick ups, no bringing home of germs and bugs. Now there relationship is too cute. Sure they bicker, like any siblings do. But for the most part they’re pretty precious. Eg. Last night Marlo did a poo on the toilet for the first time, Brooklyn could hear me saying “Good girl Marlo!!” and came running in asking if she did a “real poo on the toilet?!”… I nodded and with a huge grin he says “Oh my goodness! Marlo I’m SO proud of you!!”. Bless!!

How long have you been blogging? How did you get started?

Just after Marlo was born (Sept 2015) I was given a brand rep job for Global Baby, and as part of that I was gifted the most beautiful stroller. I wanted to write a proper review on it, so I started a blog to go along side my Instagram. Instagram and Facebook are still my ‘main’ social media channels, I don’t blog a huge amount – not even weekly, but it’s there for when I have too much to say for a IG caption 😉

How do you disclose when you’re ‘working’ with a brand rather than talking about something you’ve paid for yourself? If it is a sponsored (paid to write the content by a brand) blog, then I will say at the end ‘Thank you *brand name here* for sponsoring this blog’ or something along the lines of that. Instagram or Facebook posts sometimes I will disclose by saying ‘I recieved…’, or ‘I was sent this… by….’ which is my way of saying ‘I was gifted this’. If it’s something I’ve paid for myself I will usually say outright ‘I ordered this…’. On Facebook now there is a feature where I can tag in the business. So if the post says ‘With The Whittakers with *brand here*’ then that’s telling you that I’m working with them somehow. Not necessarily paid content, it might be that they’ve gifted me the product as payment. I’m not really down for the #gifted and #sponsored hashtags, I hope that you guys know me well enough now to know that I will never promote something that I don’t truly believe in. I won’t tell you something is amazing, if I think it’s anything but. I fully back any brand/product that I promote, you have my word on this!

Would you mind sharing more about your budget? Groceries, affording kids clothes etc.

This is a big topic on its own, which I’m about to do a series on – so keep your eyes peeled for that!

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a teacher! Until I started high school and realised it was NOT something I wanted to pursue. Haha!

You’re a qualified Graphic Designer, where did you study and how long did it take?

I study straight out of high school at Natcoll (National College of Design), now called Yoobee. I did a 1 year Diploma in Computer Graphic Design and loved it! Smashing it out in one year meant less holidays than your typical uni, and more hours per day. But totally worth it to get it all done and dusted in one year!

What did you do when you worked at TV3, how did you get into that job? 

When I first moved back to Auckland and in with Nare, I found a nannying job for a wee baby boy and his two older sisters. The Mum (Mihingarangi Forbes) was a reporter for Campbell Live and the Dad was a camera man for 60 minutes. When the baby was a bit older, they put him into daycare so could only offer me after school hours – and managed to find me a position that was going at TV3. It was for an ‘autocue operator’, basically you sort all of the scripts for the newsreaders before the show, and then you sit in the studio and roll the autocue machine so that they read the right news! I worked on Firstline, 6News and Nightline (at different times) and nannied too.

Do you love Mum life, or sometimes wish you could be back at work and have the kiddies in daycare?

I really do love Mum life. I feel so so lucky to be able to stay home with my kiddies and be able to watch them hit each and every milestone. I know it’s not for everyone, and there are totally some days where I get jealous of Nare going to work and wish we could swap for the day. But I truly feel like this is what I was born to do!

Part 2 coming soon…

J x

 

Just your average one income family on a budget – Home Reno Edition

 

Just like many families out there with young children, we’re a one income family. My husband is the main earner in our household and I’m lucky enough to have been a stay-at-home-Mum for four and a half years now. While I dabble in a bit of blogging, graphic design and social media work, my husband is still the main “provider”.

I’m the first to say being on one income isn’t easy, and I know in some parts of New Zealand (*cough* Auckland *cough*), for some, it is literally impossible to live on one income only. So, I will say first off that I do feel extremely blessed to be able to make it work, and thankful that we live in a place that is much cheaper than other parts of New Zealand.

We bought our first home in September last year, and since then we have slowly been adding things, purchasing new things for the house and fixing broken bits and bobs. I’m sure all new home owners will know what I mean. If you follow me on Snapchat, you will know we have recently been doing some home renovations! The bathroom of our house was the only room that hadn’t been renovated prior to our purchase, and to put it bluntly – it was hideous. I can’t even explain. When our 4-year-old accidentally flooded the bathroom at the end of last year, that kick started us into getting onto it!

Part of the bathroom was covered by the flooding insurance claim, some with some money we had in our savings… but knew that we would need more for the extra things that we wanted – a shower dome, new fixtures and new decor (as ya do!). So, we opened a ‘house’ bank account. A sub-account to our normal joint account, where we could transfer across a certain amount of money each pay. This would also be handy for home maintenance costs – the downside of being your own landlord means you can’t just ring the landlord! Haha! We’ve done the whole bathroom on a rather small budget, and we’re currently at the point of getting tiles and attempting to tile ourselves (to save money)… wish me luck on that one!

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I’m not going to lie and make out that I’m amazing with money. To be totally honest, up until a few months ago I was terrible! Nare was the bill payer, I was the spender. I never looked at our accounts and I never knew how much our bills came to. Nothing. I don’t know exactly what happened but a switch went off one day and I thought I better give myself a kick up the bum and start adulting… so I did. I sat down and created my own budget, I worked everything out, opened a bunch of sub-accounts and made up some automatic payments. And do you know what? It bloody worked! Nare didn’t have high hopes, he rolled his eyes when I told him I had done a budget – I’ve done it a few times before but only lasted a couple of weeks. Oops! But this time I’m proud to say that a few months down the track, I’m still going strong and we’ve been saving money! Yay!

A couple of weeks ago I had a chat with an advisor from BNZ about being on one income and how it can be a struggle. BNZ has been the principal sponsor of Plunket since 2010, so I knew they’d have a good understanding of the financial challenges when it comes to raising a young family. The advisor pointed me to a section of their website called The BNZ Plunket Hub, which is totally aimed at families and new parents. Who knew?! Wish I had found that a while ago – ironically on this page that’s about ways for new parents to sort out their finances, point number 3 says ‘make a budget, and stick to it’. So, if you don’t already have a budget, I highly recommend!! I keep mine on my phone so that I can look at it anywhere, at any time. I even pay the bills myself now, you guys! 26 years old, mum for 4.5 years… and I’m finally paying the bills! Haha!

For those yet to have a baby, going down to one income can be extremely daunting! And the idea of having ‘extra’ money after all the bills have come out, doesn’t seem like something that will ever happen. But you do get used it, and it does happen! You just learn to be a bit more savvy with things you buy, where you shop, and differentiating between what you really need – and what you want (I’m not amazing at that last one). On the BNZ Plunket Hub there are also a couple of reads from a couple who were pregnant with their first baby who did a ‘one income challenge’ one week to get a taste of what it would be like. You can see how it went here. Quite interesting seeing that once they had nutted out a budget, that they actually were able to save more than they originally thought they would. We found this too, once we had all the numbers in front of us!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a bit about how we save for things like home renovations and other things that may crop up, and how we make it work on one income. Thank you to BNZ for sponsoring this, I’ve been meaning to blog about budgeting and this was the perfect opportunity! I’m going to turn this into a bit of a series – next up is the ‘Groceries Edition’!

J x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanessa’s Twin Baby Shower

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I’ve never thrown any sort of party that isn’t one of my own kids parties – so I was super excited to give myself the job of throwing my home-girl/bestie/live 2 mins away friend ,Vanessa, a baby shower. Yes, I totally randomly said one day “Can I do a baby shower?!” and she said yes, so I was self-titled Baby Shower Planner from then on in.

Vanessa and I haven’t been friends for long, though again the wonderful world of squares (Instagram) found me another best friend. We followed each other on Instagram, talked a bit on Snapchat about sleep training when Harper and Marlo were around 6-9 months, met up once at a cafe… and have pretty much been inseparable since! The excitement was real when we bought a house 2 mins drive from Vanessa + Chris’ house! Play dates, coffee dates, Lift Plus dates, late night Warehouse dates, fortnightly grocery shopping dates, all the dates! We catch up multiple times a week, I love her kid like my own, and she loves mine (I think haha).

Vanessa the babe is currently 30 weeks pregnant with twin girls! (yes, scroll back to that top photo now and look at how bloody babe’n she looks carrying TWO BABIES!!!) I’ve been on the journey with her since day one – I’ve heard all the ups, all the downs, and have done my best at being the supportive and encouraging friend that she needs – whenever she needs it. Vanessa says she complains a lot – but sheesh I’d be complaining a lot too if I was measuring 43 weeks at 30! She’s inspiring, she looks absolutely stunning, and I know for the fact that she’s going to absolutely kick ass at being a Mum to 3 under 2.

Vanessa, I know you’re reading this. I’m so proud of you and am so proud to be your friend. Thank you for letting me into your life, for encouraging my Lift Plus addiction, for baking my husband cookies for his work birthday shout, for everything. You’re a truly amazing friend and I’m so blessed to have you in my life. Thanks babe x (bloody cat allergies, my eyes are leaking).


Ok so that is our friendship in a basic nutshell, and that is why I wanted to throw her a beautiful baby shower where she could feel super special, eat yummy food, and relax!

I contacted Ness from OMG-Ness Styling, I knew she’d be the girl to bounce my ideas off, and give me some inspiration. And that she did! She sent me loads of inspiration ideas of what I could achieve, and we nutted out a loose theme of ‘Floral Boho’. She showed me some amazing grazing tables which I knew I wanted to do, on pallets with cushions all around for the guests to sit on. I also knew I wanted a photo wall of some kind – duh what Instagrammer wouldn’t want a photo wall 😉 so that was another on my ‘must have’ list.

We had the amazing Hugo & Grace supply us with all the beautiful party supplies! I picked out lots of goodies in florals and rose golds, and they came together amazingly.

  1. Ivy Garlands (we used these for the photo wall back drop)
  2. Boho Cups
  3. Giant Rose Gold Confetti Balloons
  4. Various other coloured balloons
  5. Rose Gold Plates
  6. Confetti
  7. Rose Gold Straws
  8. Mini Rose Gold Foil Letter Balloons

Here’s how it all looked today…

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Floral wreath from Oh Peony

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The overall look was really easy to achieve. A bit of a team effort really! Nare got up this morning and shifted our couches into the garage so that we had a blank canvas. Our friend Kelsi’s husband got the pallets for us and tidied up the rough edges. And we used cushions from mine and Kelsi’s houses, and I also borrowed some from another friend (thanks Cara!).

The grazing table was also reasonably easy to achieve! I told Vanessa’s Mum and Mother-in-law what my vision was and they turned up with bags of perfectly suitable food – crackers, cheeses, dips, breads, fruit, etc which was super helpful! We also had some other delicious goodies from the team at Food Snob, thanks guys! Kelsi came early to help me set up, I basically showed her a photo of what I wanted and she set to work – thank you Kelsi! You’re amazing!

All in all it turned out EXACTLY how I imagined it. So happy with the final result and Vanessa’s face when she walked in said it all…

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THANK YOU to everyone that helped in one way or another with this beautiful baby shower xx

You can follow Vanessa’s journey on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat (wearethewatsons) x


 

7 days of toddler lunches at the Whittakers

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We love trying to create different and interesting meals for Brooklyn for lunch, but most of all – lunches that are easy, balanced and quick to prepare… and that he will actually eat!

I’ve documented what 7 days of lunches at our house looks like, to share with you some different ideas. I’m keeping it real here – I won’t pretend he never has chicken nuggets when I can’t be bothered making anything else. These are by no means complex lunches, but I hope they help give you some ideas and/or inspiration for things you can offer your toddler at lunch time.

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Thank you to Karicare Toddler for sponsoring this post – Sourced from Kiwi cows on Kiwi farms. I love that! Made in New Zealand at its finest!

Our Replay Recycled plates and cutlery are from And They Lived Green, and Brooklyn’s Goodbyn Hero lunchbox is from And They Lived Green also.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful! I’d love to hear any easy ideas you have for toddler lunches, let me know on Facebook or Instagram!

J x

#madeinnz #nzmumlife

Meet Pam the Penguin


Pam is without a doubt the cutest looking sleep-trainer I have ever seen! We were gifted her by Sleepytot to try out, and I was going to save her for Marlo but Brooklyn spotted her so I gave in and let him have it the last few nights.

Pam is a sleep-trainer nightlight (not clock) and I thought I would tell you a few features about her…

When placed on her charging base, Pam can be an all night night-light – or she can be used unplugged however the light will shut off after 30 mins. In the morning, when there is 30 minutes to go until ‘wake up time’, Pam will turn orange – showing your little one that it’s almost time to get up! When it is ‘wake up time’, Pam will turn green!

I’ve been doing a bit of reading about what coloured lights help increase your body’s naturally produced melatonin (sleep hormone). The general consensus is that RED is the only colour of light that doesn’t inhibit your child’s melatonin. Blue and white based lights being the worst! Ironically the colour of a very commonly used sleep training clock (which we have had for 2 years now!) – the Gro Clock, is BLUE! Nothing against the Gro Clock, just something to think about!
ANYWAY the point of me talking about different coloured lights, is that I love how you can choose a colour on Pam. You can choose from blue, red, white, pink and multicolour (or off) – I would go for red or pink personally after my recent readings.

Pam is also a wireless speaker – fab for users of white noise or if your child likes to fall asleep listening to music. You could even play a Spotify playlist if you wanted to! I haven’t tested this feature yet, I’m not sure I want to add yet another thing to Brooklyn’s OCD night time routine haha!

You can buy, read a bit more, and see the different colours Pam is available in HERE.

J x

Mini Capsule Mum-Wardrobe

First off – this is by no means only for you if you’re a Mum. I just called it that because it’s my ‘mum style’.

What is a capsule wardrobe, you ask? The idea is that instead of having many many items in your wardrobe that a. don’t all go together or b. you just don’t wear very often… you have a smaller amount of items that all go together, you love, and together they make loads of different outfits. From what I have read – a capsule wardrobe will usually consist of approx 30-40 items, that’s including shoes. You can read more about a full capsule wardrobe here.

I have put together my own mini version of a capsule wardrobe, consisting of 15 items from The Warehouse. 2 pants, 1 skirt, 1 jacket, 2 jerseys, 2 shoes, 4 tops, 1 dress, 1 beanie, 1 scarf. I went with a colour scheme of black, grey, white, blush pink and khaki. These colours work beautifully together so it makes it super easy to throw together some easy outfits.

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These are the items I picked out. Basically how it works is… 1 pair of pants with 4 different tops = 4 outfits. Different pair of pants with same 4 tops = 4 more outfits = 8 outfits total. Get my gist?

Cost:
Denim jacket $39.95
Black pants $39.90
Khaki pants $39.90
Blush cut out jersey $25.00
Drop hem black tee $15.00
Striped top $12.00
Cold shoulder jersey dress $25.00
Printed tee $10.00
Grey jersey $25.00
Skirt $15.00
Lace singlet $10.00
Snood $20.00
Beanie $15.00
Shoes $8.00 each (2 pairs)

Total: (I got these while there was a ‘buy 1 get 1 half price’ sale on women’s ware – they have these often so keep an eye out!) $240.50

Below is a collection of photos showing how I have put together some of the items, and how I would wear them on a day-to-day basis. I’ve been in Auckland for 2 weeks now and these are the only clothes I packed to bring with me, and I definitely haven’t felt like I’ve been lacking in outfit options – it’s been fun mixing and matching these items to make new looks! My favourite items out of the lot are definitely the pants – they’re a super stretchy skinny style cargo pant and I got them in both colours (a washed black look denim and khaki), both of which I have been alternating living in since I got them! They’re high waisted (good for hiding that Mum-tum) and super flattering.

This blog was so much fun to put together! My beautiful friend Vanessa from We Are The Watsons came shopping with me, and my #sisterwife Erana from The Culture of Grace took the beautiful photos for me – I’m pretty lucky to have such awesome friends! And of course a huge thank you to The Warehouse for working with me on this content! I hope you all like it as much as I do!

J x

 

Keeping warm with Woolbabe

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We’ve been Woolbabe users since Brooklyn (now 4) was a baby. A friend gifted us a 3 Seasons Woolbabe sleeping bag and then I went on to purchase a Duvet Weight one as I loved them so much. Not having to worry about them staying under the blankets was obviously a big one, Brooklyn didn’t start doing that regularly until around 2 1/2 years old – so knowing he would be kept warm all night was a great relief for me. Also the fact that they’re merino – the best fabric for keeping your babes warm and it’s not going to make them sweaty like a synthetic fabric would.

We have since been gifted another two Woolbabe sleeping bags for Marlo, and in return I’m doing this post to tell you my thoughts on them. I chose the colour ‘Pebble’ because it’s gender neutral, and ya never know… there may be another Whittaker babe one day, so I’m thinking practically 😛 I chose a front zip Duvet Weight sleeping bag, and a side zip 3 Seasons. As we had only owned front zip ones before, I wanted to try the side zip for comparison purposes. Marlo is 20 months, however is wearing size 2 clothing, so based on Woolbabe sizing recommendations I went for the size 2-4 years so that we can get the most use out of them. They recommend that before buying the size 2-4 year bags, the child is wearing size 2 clothing and/or weighs over 12kg. 

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3 Seasons weight is suitable for 18-20 degrees & up to 30 degrees. We are in the South Island and currently use the 3 Seasons for day naps where is keeps her nice and snuggly on cooler days, but not overheating either on warmer days. It is a light weight feeling merino/cotton blend that is super easy for them to wriggle around in, to get comfy and doze off. I actually love the side zip, I find it easiest to zip up and down (over the front zip). Marlo stands up in her cot when she wakes up and we have had no problems with the domes popping, which I am glad about as I had read mixed reviews on the shoulder domes popping open. The 3 Seasons weight is a great overall weight for people that only want one sleeping bag.

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Duvet weight is suitable for 18-20 degrees & under, down to approx 12 degrees. We currently use this overnight for Marlo, but more into winter this will be her full time sleeping bag for all sleeps. We will also have a wall panel heater on in her bedroom as it can get into the minus’ overnight here, brrrrr! The Duvet weight is super cosy looking, it literally looks like a duvet! It’s quilted with organic cotton lining and a plush filling of 100% merino, super snuggly – they need to do adult versions! The pro of the front zip on this one (though it comes in side zip too!) is that it doesn’t have shoulder domes, so one less thing for your babe to muck around with, if they’re the kind of kid that likes stripping off at bedtime! 

I like that the Woolbabe sleeping bags are super easy to care for – they don’t need washing all that often, just air them out by hanging over the side of the cot in between uses. If need be I even tumble dry ours on a low setting, but that’s a positive of having more than one – you don’t need to rush with washing!

I’ve been lucky enough to get given a DISCOUNT CODE for you to use when purchasing your own Woolbabe! Use code ‘WITHTHEWHITTAKERS’ to get a huge 30% off any full priced Woolbabe sleeping bag, purchased HERE. And I have a giveaway running over on Facebook so head over to enter that! Discount code is valid from today (Wednesday 26th April) and expires this Sunday (30th April). Note: it is 30% OFF a FULL priced Woolbabe and can’t be used with any other coupons or free gift.

Thanks Woolbabe for keeping my baby girl snuggly and warm in bed!

J x

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‘Trick the kids’ meatballs – making 500g of mince go 2 meals 

Meatballs packed with hidden veges, my kids devoured these and Brooklyn (4 y/o semi fussy eater) went back to two extra meatballs! Win!

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Serves 2 adults + 2 kids + 1 adult serving of leftovers 

Ingredients

Meatballs:

Sauce: 

  • 1 can of tomatoes blitzed (if your kids don’t mint tomato chunks don’t worry about blitzing)
  • 1 tablespoon Pepper & me Mo’rocckin paste
  • 100mls coconut cream
  • Pepper & Me Man grind to taste

Method:

  1. Grate all the veg (I do mine in my food processor).
  2. Add to 500g mince and mix well.
  3. Take half of the mince + veg mixture and put into a container/covered bowl in the fridge for tomorrow night.
  4. To the remaining half add egg, breadcrumbs, paste and grind – mix well then roll into balls. I use a cookie/ice cream scoop to keep them even.
  5. Fry in oil until browned all over, then add all sauce ingredients and cover. Leave to simmer until meatballs are cooked through. If the sauce is getting too thick add some water to thin down.
  6. We served on couscous (I added Pepper & Me man rub to the water rather than using stock).

The next night we use the mince + veg for Spaghetti Bolognese –  just add some tinned tomatoes and anything else you like to add to your bolognese and serve on spaghetti pasta 👌🏼

#TheWhittakersTakeNewCal

WHY WE CHOSE NEW CALEDONIA:
A family holiday was on our ‘must do before Marlo turns two’ list (so that we didn’t have to pay for her full price flights), we had been discussing destinations – the usual Fiji, Rarotonga were the top contenders as they seemed the most popular. But then… in December last year, some flights came up through Nare’s work (he’s in the Air Force) at a largely discounted rate, to New Caledonia. He text me the details and I replied almost instantly “Lets do it!”. It was for February, so a bit sooner than our planned May holiday, but it was too much of a great opportunity to pass up!

I had a look online at some different accomodations and found it all a bit overwhelming to be honest. So I emailed the one travel agent I know, well I ‘know’ online haha. Hannah runs a super cute online kids boutique ‘McGoober Boutique‘, but I knew that she was a travel agent by day… so I enlisted her for some help! Hannah works for Travel Smart, Porirua – so we aren’t in the same town, and everything was done via email and/or phone call… but it was super stress free! Hannah gave us a few different options for accomodation in different price ranges, and once we chose one she went ahead and booked that along with our transfers to and from our apartment. Basically she did all of the hard work for us, which was great because my French isn’t all that amazing 😉

I snapchatted a lot of our holiday (well as much as you can with limited internet) and had loads of questions asking how we found it, what we thought of New Caledonia, etc. So I’ve put all of our thoughts into a blog post for anyone that is interested…

LANGUAGE/CULTURE IN NEW CALEDONIA:
This was the first major culture shock for me (Nare not so much as he’s travelled a lot), as I have only been to English speaking countries before. French is the main language used in New Caledonia and I’m not even kidding you – all I knew how to say was “Bonjour” and “Merci”, I would advise learning even a tiny bit of French before going haha! New Caledonia isn’t a huge tourist destination, other than cruise ships – and we found not many locals and people working in shops/restaurants, spoke more than a few words of English. It was hard! I pretty much just let Nare do all the talking – lets be honest! Everything from finding a taxi, asking which bus to catch – heck even doing groceries was hard because EVERYTHING was in French!

WHERE WE STAYED – NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA:
We flew into Tontouta but stayed in Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia. Our hotel ‘Casa Del Sole’ was approximately 10 minutes by taxi/shuttle from Noumea city centre and was located smack bang in between two of the most stunning beaches. A less than 5 minute walk to Baie Des Citrons (Lemon Bay) on one side – which was a beautiful bay, perfect for kids and across the road from a bunch of shops and restaurants. Off to the other side (only a 5 minute walk) was Anse Vata Bay – less hustle and bustle being away from the shops and super picturesque – though not as sheltered so once the wind picked up, a few days into our stay – we didn’t go back there as it was too rough for the kids to swim in (loads of kite surfers on these days and you can hire them too!).

Baie Des Citrons

Baie Des Citrons

Anse Vata

Anse Vata

We were on the 14th floor at Casa Del Sole and our view was amazing. Hannah booked us a 2 bedroom apartment – 1 bedroom with a king bed and 1 with two singles, a decent size living area, kitchen and balcony. The apartments were tidy and clean and we would 100% stay there again. The location was too perfect! The internet wasn’t very fast all the way up there, but I still managed to upload snapchats and photos to social media… it was approx $24NZD for the week. The motel had a pool which we used multiple times, and had a wee shop at ground floor which you could purchase fresh bread and croissants from each morning (which we did), and other ‘four square/dairy’ type items. Casa Del Sole was really reasonably priced (we thought) and was around $2000NZD for 9 nights.


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WHAT WE ATE:
We knew that we wanted an apartment with a kitchen so that we were able to save money on food and cook some meals ourselves, so that was something we told Hannah from the get go. We went to the supermarket at the start of our holiday and again around the half way point (a $10 round trip via taxi, or bus which is only a couple of dollars). We got snack foods for during the day, sandwich fillings, bread for toast in the mornings and then ingredients for some slap together dinners. We aimed to cook a dinner every second night, eat out the others, and have breakfast and lunches at the apartment – we did pretty well at sticking to that! Each morning we would go downstairs and buy a baguette for approx $1NZD and use that for our sandwiches at lunchtime.

Eating out isn’t overly cheap there, we mostly ate at a bar which sold yummy pizzas (and had some staff that spoke a bit of English) and a place called Quick that was basically like Burger King haha! The kids loved it because it had a huge playground. Pizza + a couple of drinks cost approx $25NZD and similar price for our dinner at Quick also. Gelato is a must try too!

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WHAT ELSE DID WE DO – OTHER THAN THE BEACH?
Prior to our holiday I’d done a bit of research, written down things we could go to, places to explore… and in the end we had so much fun relaxing at the beach, swimming in the pool, having naps, eating (LOTS of eating) – that we only did ONE thing on my list! haha! That was hitting the aquarium. It was less than 5 min walk from our apartment and the kids loved it. We managed to kill a good hour there and the kids thought all the fish and turtles were the coolest ever! It’s no Kelly Tarltons by any means, but definitely cool to check out if you have kiddies. Other than that, we literally spent most days at the beach, back to the apartment for nap time + food, back to the beach, repeat, repeat, repeat. We did bus into the city centre one day ,but it wasn’t overly thrilling to be honest. It’s cool to have a look if you’ve never been there – but where we stayed was much nicer (and cleaner) than the city.

Though if you’re into hikes and adventures, there is plenty of that to do! Just not something we looked into personally.

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WHAT WERE OUR HOLIDAY MUST TAKE ITEMS?
First off on my must have list is 100% our Mutsy Nexo, from our friends at Global Baby. HIGHLY RECOMMEND (proper review coming soon on this). It’s a super light weight stroller that folds down really compact (would fit in an overhead compartment on an international flight!!) and was an absolute life saver! Marlo cruised in it 90% of the trip, to and from the beach constantly and on the odd occasion when Brooklyn got tired of walking – he would jump in and one of us would carry Marlo. It reclines totally flat which meant Marlo could comfortably nap on the go if we were out at nap time. It has a decent sized storage basket underneath which meant we never even had to carry a bag with us – we just chucked all our belongings under there and were good to go! It came on the bus with us too! I took our Mountain Buggy Juno with us also – but we only used it a couple of times because it was just too hot for baby wearing.

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We took with us our Banana Boat sunscreen duo and almost used a whole bottle of the lotion! We would apply the lotion first thing in the morning (to both us and the kids), and then use the clear spray throughout the day as a top up. Super easy to use while out and about etc. Highly recommend taking your own favourite sunscreen so that you don’t have to try and track some down when you arrive, and then not be able to read the ingredients because they’re in French 😉
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The kid’s Haakaa stainless steel thermal drink bottles were also absolute life savers while we were there! With it being so hot, it was nice to know we could fill them with ice cold water, and know they would stay cold the whole time we were out. Nare and I were jealous that our water kept going warm while they had nice cold water haha!
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Before we left I purchased two Yumbox lunchboxes for the kids from Global Baby – thinking they would be perfect for day trips for lunches for the kids. But as you’ve read above, we barely went on any ‘day trips’ because of the perfect location of our apartment. So they barely got used while we were in Noumea. BUT they WERE amazing for on the flights! They are an awesome slim line, bento style lunch box and I can easily fit two side by side along with their drink bottles, in my bag. Perfect for both flights and I’ve been using them both lots since we got home.

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You will find some of our must haves in a giveaway running at the moment over at Travelsmart Porirua so make sure you enter!

WOULD WE GO BACK TO NEW CALEDONIA AGAIN?
Absolutely YES! Though we were there for a decent stay (9 nights), we were super gutted to be leaving and wished we could stay for longer. It was a such an enjoyable and relaxing holiday, even with a 4 year old and a 1 year old. Given the opportunity again, we would definitely go back! We can finally tick ‘First family holiday’ off the list! Yay!

J x

Making family holidays a priority – With The Whittakers

After returning from our first family holiday recently, actually – make that first ever overseas holiday since Nare and I have been together… I realised that it’s something I want to do more often (read ‘more than once every 5 years!’). However – we are just your average one income family that pays a mortgage, so flitting off on an overseas holiday once a year (though sounds amazing) isn’t something we can afford to do. Yes we can save, but like lots of other families – there isn’t actually that much extra money each week, to put into savings!

I’ve been thinking about other ways that we can save some money to go towards holidays, and when I was introduced to the new Flight Centre MasterCard – I thought it was a great initiative for families like us. Now before you think ‘nooooo not a credit card Jordan!’… yes it is a credit card. And yes I feel credit cards get a bit of a bad wrap because they scream “DEBT!”. However if used in the right way I believe they can be super beneficial.

Let me explain…

For every NZ $100 you spend on your Flight Centre MasterCard – you get 1 Flight Centre Reward. When redeemed, this equates to $1 to spend on your travel. It may not seem like a lot, but it is something that you wouldn’t have had otherwise – so it actually seems silly not to do it!

I’m talking everyday purchases here… $200 of groceries = $2 towards a holiday! If you spent $200 a week on groceries, that’s a 104 Flight Centre Rewards ($104) in 1 year – and that’s just groceries! Think of all the online shopping purchases you do (well… I do), that you and I could be racking up rewards for to go towards your next family holiday. Petrol, phone bill, internet bill – the list of everyday purchases goes on (that adult life!)

I’m also not talking about getting yourself into mountain loads of debt, I’m more meaning using the Flight Centre MasterCard for everyday purchases – which you pay off regularly. Whether that be weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

The Whittakers are going to be giving this a go and seeing if we can gather up some rewards to spend on our next family holiday… where to next?

J x