‘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!

MEATBALLS

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

To the men in our lives: what to do when we cry…

 

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  1. Ask if we are okay. We are aware it’s very much obvious that we’re not okay. But ask anyway. This gives us the opportunity to word vomit all over you about why we’re upset, who upset us, why we feel this way… even if you don’t really want to listen just nod and say “it’s okay” or “that sucks” every so often. Even if it’s not okay and it doesn’t even suck, again – we’re aware of this but it makes it sound like you care, so just roll with it.
  2. Hug us. This needs to pretty much come immediately after point 1, 90% of the time it might even need to be at the same time. We’re 0.9767 seconds away from bursting into a full blown Kim K ugly cry now, and the last thing we want is for that to happen while you’re staring us in the eye. We know – it ain’t pretty! So be quick and get in there with the hug, then we can ugly cry into your shoulder instead. Don’t worry –  we’ll wash the mascara stains out of your shirt later.
  3. Get us a treat. Chocolate, ice cream, hot drink, Lift Plus… whatever floats your gals boat – get it. ASAP. (Note: not YOUR idea of a treat either AKA “lets go to bed babe”. Don’t even think about suggesting that right now). The ugly cry is over but that doesn’t mean we’re not still dwelling on all the things we word vomited in point 2 and our head is still a foggy mess of emotions. Bonus points if we have kids and you take them out for even just half an hour, to give us a moment to breathe.
  4. The next day… The next day reassure us that you were semi listening to our emotional word vomit the day prior, a quick “Hope you have a better day today” or maybe leave a note on the bench if you leave early – don’t wake us up to say that. It’s cute, but not THAT cute.
  5. Not quite out of the woods. When you get home from work that evening (day after meltdown), ask us how our day was. I’m warning you though, this could go one of two ways. Either you will be back at point 2 very quickly… OR you will be thankfully greeted with “Better, thanks for caring babe! Lets have sex tonight.” Good luck if it goes the first way!Happy wife, happy life – am I right?

    J x