Sunday, 16 November 2014

I WAS Going to Blog Tonight...

But I have rejoined Facebook *sigh*, and it is already sucking the life out of me! I wish I didn't have such an addictive personality ;-)!

Anyway, on that note - please come to my facebook page for my blog and 'like' it; to be kept more up-to-date with what I am doing, and how everything is going! I am hoping to novelty will wear off soon, and I will be able to use it just as the tool it is meant to be (hahaha)!

Hubby has been downloading all my photos onto a private google+ account, in order to keep them safe! And we have just discovered how to download them and then upload them onto here - a bit of a long-winded way around, but I can start finally including more photos in my posts again!

Here is a current one of me:

New hair and clothes... celebrating the move south!
Oh, and getting a job - eventually!

There is so much to say, but I have wasted my time on facebook; arghhh! Suffice to say, I have big plans - the first thing will hopefully be a whole new look!

But until I have more time, and more energy (it is after 9:30pm after all, and we've had very few decent sleeps yet), it will all just have to wait...

This really was just a 'pop in and say hello' post anyway!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

SOOOOO - we are here...

So - we are here, we made it safe and sound; and almost all of our gear arrived safe and sound! There were a couple of little bits of damage, but nothing worth recording!

Eeeek - that reminds me, insurance! I need to sort out insurance...

Things are slowly, after only 5 days, slotting into a quiet and workable routine. It has been hard on my parents, as much as they LOVE having us here; but they have been incredible, and we are feeling very blessed. I think coming here first has been our saving grace - it has allowed the children breathing space, and a chance to gain their footing! And I think it has made it a little bit easier for me as well, it felt like a holiday initially; but reality is slowly slipping in between the cracks, and I am starting to relax and breathe again!

We are now slowly starting to try and fit back into small town living - looking into Kindergartens for the older child, trying to decide what is best for the younger one, making decisions about whether we rent, or stay and a bit longer at Mum and Dad's and go straight into our own home, and with that in mind - looking around at possibilities! Catching up with old friends, setting ourselves up at the library and the local Doctor, making decisions about churches... and the list goes on! 

I missed out on all the previous jobs I applied for - very disappointing and frustrating, however just in the last 24 hours I have heard or read of 5 more possible job opportunities! FIVE! One was an instant no, as it is only 15 hours per week (but boy, it would have been an interesting job had it been longer hours); and the others are all about applying and then waiting and seeing. But if all else fails - I am just waiting on my provisional registration, and will then put my name down for relief work at the local Childcare Centres and Kindergartens!

Anyway - it is hideous out there tonight, bangs and crashes all over the place; our poor kids have never had to deal with this noise before, as we lived so far out! Thankfully they have slept throughout most of it, but we're in need of an early night. 

So signing off, and will hopefully update you all later on with good news and photos! Not quite sure what is happening with my photos at the moment...

Monday, 20 October 2014

Keeping It Real...

Eeeek - I really thought I would have a bit more time for blogging and other such fun pursuits over the next two weeks; what with hubby home and all!

A BIG FAT NO accompanies the above sentence, I don't know what I was thinking really... 

We have a four bedroom house with two bathrooms, and loads of storage - and we FILL it up, to the brim! 

We are packing, cleaning, decluttering, Trade-Me-Ing, storing, giving away and generally keeping ourselves VERY busy! I haven't even managed an e-mail to tell friends yet - there are so many people who have yet to hear of these big life changes. 

And due to the fact we are not moving into our own home after all, like we'd planned, rather we're sharing with my parents... we now have to pack under four catagories!
1) The things that HAVE to go with us to Mum and Dad's.
2) The things that have to be stored at Mum and Dad's.
3) The things that can be stored off-site at my brothers house!
4) Long term storage (e.g. boxes not to be opened until we manage to buy our own place).

Yep, it's a BIG job, made bigger by having to do it around two small children this time... and trying to meet their needs at the same time, and fitting in the normal day-to-day running of a house that can't be altogether avoided.

So in tune with the title, and 'Keeping it Real', I will be taking a bloggy break, and quite possibly, an IG break (or at least not on there as much) for the next 3-4 weeks as we pack, move and settle in down south.

However - stay tuned, as I will be posting updates in time, and keeping you up with all the changes and news as I can!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

16 Sleeps and Counting...

In the past 48 hours our life has taken a dramatic turn... lets repeat that; D.R.A.M.A.T.I.C turn, yep - it's that big! At least to me it feels THAT big!

Late last week hubby verbally gave his notice in for December as we agreed to; although we were aware that if one of the jobs came through, it could be a week or two sooner than the December date we gave.

On Monday his boss called him into his office, and told him that they were prepared to pay him out until December, and Tuesday would be his last day. Just like that. So he got a lovely send-off with a morning tea and gift, and all those little speeches people feel obligated to give - and as of 4:30pm yesterday he became unemployed; and much to the children's delight, is now home full-time with us!

So this means we are currently living in Auckland on no income - eeeek! So on Monday night I got on the phone to my parents (good old Mum and Dad), and arranged with them that we can stay with them when we move down south. I then contacted the Landlord (who is currently away overseas), and explained the situation to him, and gave him our notice for the weekend of November 1st... rather than December like we'd told him.

Truck is sorted, packers are sorted, cleaners are sorted (me, hubby and Mum *grin*), dates are sorted, storage is sorted at the other end... now it's just tying up the loose ends, saying goodbye (sniff, sniff) and packing the house up.

Ohhhh - did I mention that we have no job to go down to yet? Yep, this is a HUGE leap of faith, for us and my parents! I have two job applications in that I am waiting on, a third one came back with a no yesterday; and I have heard through the grapevine that there could be another couple of suitable jobs coming up.

It is scary and exciting all at the same time - we have been planning this since May, we have a house available to us once we get a steady income; but until then we will just have to enjoy each day, and pray that the right job comes along at the right time. Once we are down there, I can pop in face to face and introduce myself to people and hand them my CV... and as long as my provisional Teachers Registration comes through soon, I can also relief teach until something comes up, which does pay well.

We'll be okay, I know that - and sometimes you have to take a risk to make the future worth living for. But between now and when the risk pays off, I need to learn to breathe in deeply, enjoy the moment and not worry about tomorrow!

So join me as we transition our family from city life to small town life, and move from a stay-at-home Mum to a working Mum! I know there will be bumps along the way, which I am bound to share with you; but in five years time it will all be a distant memory!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

5 @ 5 - Favourite LOCAL Foodie Blogs

So this time I thought I would share with you my favourite  NEW ZEALAND foodie blogs - I gain a lot of inspiration from these blogs, and check in regularly. I have been lucky enough to have met two of these lovely ladies in real life as well; and have been to a course run by one! I have a whole lot of other food blogs I follow as well, but these are the ones I recommend to local friends & family - there is nothing worse than being sent to a whole heap of blogs that have nothing in common with us! I will be sharing others that I follow as well in time, both from Australia and America... but sit back, relax and soak in the food-loveliness from these ladies; yum!

1) You must have been living with your head under a rock if you haven't heard of Eleanor from Petite kitchen fame, not only have I referred to her often; but she has columns in Viva, Little Treasures, Taste Magazine, Nature Baby and probably many other places by now! She has a cookbook out (of which I have a copy of course), that has remained in the Top Ten Non-Fiction Books around New Zealand for more than five months now, and she is sought after for catering! As well as all the above, she has had many articles written about her, and been interviewed many times, amoung many other things as well I am sure. She is only in her mid-twenties, has no formal training, and started this journey through her blog only 2-3 years ago! She is an inspiration for those who have a passion to make a difference. Her and a friend, who is just as passionate about clean eating, have started their own cafe in Kingsland, Auckland called Mondays Wholefoods, and I will be going there with my sister-in-law before we leave Auckland!

2) My next most favourite foodie blog would have to be Nicola Galloway from Homegrown Kitchen

I find most of her recipes really easy to follow, quick and tasty, and family friendly (always a good thing); I have favourites, which we go back to again and again! She has just put out limited edition calendar for next year, full of more recipes -  I have preordered my copy! She is down to earth, makes an effort to respond to any questions and comments, does really good cooking workshops around the country, and has kids almost exactly the same age as my two! She also has a book out called Feeding Little Tummies, which I have a copy of as well! I love her passion for feeding her family good, wholesome and clean food; and for sharing it with others as well!

3) 4) 5) ooops, and  just remembered a number 6) worth sharing!

I can't decide which of these blogs I like the most - and I don't know a lot about these lovely ladies, however their blogs always leave me drooling and inspired! All their cooking is clean, and wholefood, a lot of it is allergy-friendly (one of the things that drew me to all of these blogs) and all of them are worth checking out!

So without further ado:

Kelly (and me) of Bonnie Delicious

Hannah at Country Kitchen

Beth at Hungry Cub

And last, but not least

Hannah at Health Yeah
This Hannah is Eleanor's business partner at the Monday Wholefoods Cafe

Hopefully these blogs leave you feeling as hungry and as inspired as they leave me, each time I visit! If I am having a 'bad food day', I only need to pop into some of these blogs, and all the reasons why I am spending so many hours in our kitchen come flooding back to me! They may not know it personally, but all of them in some way or another, have inspired me to continue on this road of clean eating, and feeding my family good food! It is a constant journey, always with more to learn; more recipes to try, more cooking to do, more ingredients to buy and try out, more food to eliminate from our pantry / fridge... feels never-ending some days; but it's all worth it in the end!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

5 @ 5 - In The Kitchen From Scratch

I promise I have not forgotten Menu Planning Monday; nor the 'Gratefulness Project' I have been talking about, or even the whole 'Confidence Series' I was going to do! I have had a friend here for a couple of days, hence why Monday went astray this week... but onwards and upwards!

I have got a few ideas up my sleeve, and decided I would start another whole lot of posts until I manage to get all these ideas down! It is a way of working through all my lists running through my head; but in a short, sharp sequence - so I feel like I have given you something, but I don't look at my screen 20 lines down, and go blank and never hit publish!

So I am going to try randomly, to get some 5@5 Posts up again; you may remember I did a few of them a LONG time ago (probably a good two years ago now)... you can find them hereherehere, and here. There were probably others, but these are the ones I could find quickly for you!

So without further ado - here is my current 5@5:

Top 5 Things I Make From Scratch in the Kitchen that I wouldn't go back on!

1) I make my own stock; I regularly make chicken stock, but I have also made vegetable stock and am going to give beef a go very soon! I also want to try fish stock at some stage! If you're interested in how I do this, I am happy to share with you - I did a lot of research, but as time goes on you get a feel for it, and come up with your own way of doing it; and that is where I am at!

2) I make all our tomato sauce now as well - I promise a recipe soon, and I have just found a recipe for making 'ketchup' from scratch with fresh tomatoes! Currently I still use tinned, as that is the cheapest way for us, with tomato season not yet in full swing! But over summer I would love to make it from scratch with fresh tomatoes, and freeze a whole lot for use over next winter. But we will see... time will be at a premium then, with (hopefully) going back into full-time work.

3) We roast our own coffee beans - this is still a work in progress really, we have not yet found the perfect temperature or time; and while it is a mission on mornings you wake up and realise the coffee jar is empty, and it is going to be a while before you can have your first coffee. I wouldn't change it now, as the coffee is a much richer, and deeper flavour than you can get anywhere else... I LOVE our coffee!

4) I bake our own bread - this can be a nuisance, as I have to be home for a minimum of 2-3 hours in one stretch, and I can't do it at night (our mixer is SO loud, it would wake both the kids up)! The novelty wore off a LONG time ago; however the health benefits it gives our family see's me doing it again and again! We started this due to my husband becoming gluten-intolerant, the cost of gluten-free bread at the Supermarkets is astronomical ($6-8 p/loaf), but we discovered  The Gluten Free Store through a couple of other friends who are either celiac, or have family who are; and we haven't looked back (we can bake a loaf of gluten-free bread through their premixes for as low as $3.30 p/loaf). Then when we thought our daughter may also be intolerant to gluten, we decided the whole family can eat this bread - it is as cheap as buying a good quality loaf of 'normal' bread at the supermarkets; and is much better for all of us (I add linseed to the bread, to add even more nutritional value)!

5) I make our own jam - I have tried about 3 different recipes, and made our jam four times now. I have enjoyed all of them personally, but the rest of the family have been a bit slower on the uptake! However, I think we are finally onto a winner now - I use a recipe from Homegrown-Kitchen, however the link I have included is not the link to the jam I have been making! But it is a recipe for making your own jam however (I use prunes, not dates and I don't think there was any lemon juice in it). There are plenty of other recipes out there for this - so if your family doesn't like your first / second or even third attempt, then just google and try, try and try again!

One of the reasons we have chosen to make our own jam and tomato sauce is because of the sugar content in the processed stuff you buy at the supermarket! We were doing this even before the Nigel Latta Doco on sugar (which I have yet to watch I might add); and is one of the reasons we wouldn't go back to our old ways. A lot of the reasons we have made the changes we have is actually down to health - my husband and daughter have allergies and intolerances, and this has been the catalyst for us looking at our over-all eating and health as a family... we still have a LONG way to go, and there are still loads of things I want to try; but for now these 5 things will have to suffice, with a few other random things thrown in when and as time allows!

Monday, 29 September 2014

So... Some Things Have Got To Change!

I have finally read Melissa's post 100 Days Until 2015, and it pretty much sums up my entire mediocre life at the moment (except maybe the chocolate and wine - I am doing okay on the eating front)

I have also been the Accountability Partner for a friend of mine, and she has blown my socks off! Just checked up on her again tonight, and she is seriously following through on the stuff we talked about - I am so proud of her (you know who you are), so between her and Melissa, I have decided I just need to get off my butt and DO SOMETHING!

I have no idea what yet - hahaha, I just know that mediocre is no longer acceptable; and something has to change! I read this quote tonight as well:

The Three essential steps to success are 1) Do Something, 2) Do Something TODAY, and 3) Do Something EVERY DAY!

If you want to know your future, look to your daily routine. You don't determine your future, you determine your habits and your habits determine your future. The secret to success lies in doing the right things day after day. If you do that, you will eventually succeed.

Runner, author and cardiologist George Sheehan puts it this way; 'There are those of us who are always about to live. We are waiting until things change, until there is more time, until we are less tired, until we get a promotion, until we settle down - until, until, until. It always seems as if there is some major event that must occur in our lives before we begin living.' If you want to achieve your dreams, you can't be one of those people...

The Word For Today -  excerpts from September 15th and 16th.

That tired one pretty much sums up my excuse about everything; we have had so much trouble getting 'lil M to sleep through the night, that I am perpetually tired; so really I should learn how to just move through it and get on with my day anyway! We have just had 5 nights in a row of blissful sleep from him (of course, I didn't sleep well myself for various other reasons half of this time *sigh*); but he and his sister have both got colds again, so we are gearing ourselves up for a couple of LONG nights ahead!

I have been thinking about the whole self-confidence thing that I wrote about all the way back here, and wondering where to even start. But it kind of came a little clearer the other day - I am a 'glass half empty' kinda girl, and maybe that is not actually helping! I focus on the negative and let my mind wonder... so I think I need a 'Gratitude Journal'! Two journals in fact, or at least the ability to write up two lists anyway. The first list - 5 Things I am Grateful for Today; and the second list - 2 Things I liked About Me Today! Of course, these two things will increase to five as time goes on, but I decided to start a little smaller, and work my way up!

So - I have a very neglected journal sitting up beside my bed, and I thought I will pop in there and start making those lists no matter how tired I am  EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT!  Then once a week, I will pop in here and post my lists...  between that and Menu Planning Monday (ooops - is it Monday again already?!?), I will be writing up two posts a week; which is a good start at reigniting my blog!

I also have a ton more decluttering, and a whole lot of stuff to list on Trade Me... that doesn't even begin to go into the packing for our move, exercise, going even harder on job hunting, reading up on the latest theories and practise in the ECCE field, looking into nutrition - courses and papers, getting organised for Christmas early this year, buying little baby gifts for at least 3 babies born this year, catching up with some friends before we move, getting a haircut and some new clothes for interviews (I seriously hate clothes shopping, so have been putting this off forever), getting the menu planning going properly again, sorting my favourite recipes out, getting a master shopping list sorted for hubby for next year, finishing my GF Snack Recipe Book for people I have promised it to.

Urghh - these are just off the top of my head, this is not even thinking hard! I think I am just going to crawl back under my rock, and pretend I never saw or wrote this.

And this is why mediocre must go.

Who is with me?

Anyone want to join me for the Gratitude Lists?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Menu Planning Monday, Week 16 (the pantry episode)

My pantry looks like a mini-supermarket... and that can only mean one thing:

I have over-spent the budget... W.A.Y. overspent the budget. See I mentioned last week that I wanted to try bulk-buying once a month from the supermarket, and then minimise the following weeks budget in order to try saving more money. But I didn't take into account that this would mean buying double the expensive items like soy milk, dairy products, meat etc. So by the time I got to the counter; well lets just say it wasn't pretty!

Hubby has decided to take over the money - this is a good thing, as I am just not a saver... I have been trying really hard, and am doing better than in the past; but it's just not in my DNA (or so it seems). As this is more his strength than mine, it makes sense that he looks after it - we have had this 'discussion' over and over again for the past few years; but it always ends up falling back on my shoulders. I do okay for a while, but then I relax and over-spend on something(s) (generally food related, just can't help myself), and we repeat the cycle! Maybe this time, due to all the imminent changes coming - he'll just take over once and for all! 

Despite this, and the stress it caused, I L.O.V.E a full pantry; there is just something so satisfying about it. I can't explain it, I can't describe it, and I can't even begin to understand it - but there is obviously something deep down in my core that equates a full pantry with nourishing my family. 

And trust me, I have been drooling over more food - recipes, foodie blogs and Bin Inn are my weak links *sigh*! I just want to have a couple of weeks of NO budget, and go a little bit wild! Then have a whole week - child / responsibility free, so I can try out all these amazing ideas and recipes (and a HUGE fridge / freezer where I can then store everything; so it DOES get eaten)! One of Hubby's pet peeves is how much food we waste, in particular, the children; picky eater doesn't even begin to describe my son. He went to bed hungry for the first time tonight, as we're OVER IT! This is an entire blog post in and of itself; one day...

Anyway - onto other things!

Last week the menu went like this:

Monday = Honey, Ginger and Soy Chicken
Tuesday = Mini Mince and Lentil Pies

Mini Mince and Lentil Pies
GF Pastry, much softer and nicer than last time

Wednesday = Lemon and Thyme Pasta (or noodles)
Thursday = Left-Overs
Friday = Pizza
Saturday = Scrambled Eggs and Bacon on Toast
Sunday = Sausage and Rice Stir-Fry
Monday = Hoki Pie w/Tomato and Basil 

Hoki Pie w/Tomato and Basil

The rest of this week is still rather unknown, I have run out of grocery money, but have yet to buy all the meat we need (let alone extra fresh fruit and veggies - eeeek), I have however, managed to make up a list of over 30 meals in which to choose from each night! I now need to set it up on a big sheet and pin it up in my kitchen... But we don't have a working printer, which could cause a few problems! Maybe I just need to hand-write it up *sigh*!

Always a thousand little jobs to do, and never enough hours in the day to do them... sound familiar!?!

On top of that - I want to be more snack-ready, and have pre-made things in the freezer and pantry for the kids and us; we still tend to snack on the wrong things too often and I can feel the ramifications of this around my waist lately. But finding time to do regular baking is like squeezing extra time out of the day - it just doesn't happen! But I am hopeful that I might get some free time on a Monday, at least semi-regularly, to be able to fill those empty tins more often!

My latest offerings - Muesli Slice and Apricot Bites

But once more, time is marching on; so I say farewell again!

Have a great week!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Menu Planning Monday 15

I have decided to try something a little bit different this week! It is grocery shopping week here, and as we only go fortnightly; I have decided this week that I am going to seriously stock up (hopefully still within our budget though), and buy enough for the month... I will be trying to menu plan for the whole month also, and thus the next pay we can save some of the grocery budget instead. 

I am NOT expecting to save the entire grocery budget next time, BUT I figure if I can save half the budget - this will go a long way towards our goal of moving, and buying our own place (as long as I can keep it up)! It is also the way I am thinking we can shop once we move - big shop once a month out of town, then smaller shops each week/fortnight for fresh produce etc locally.

I have not written a menu up for this week, but I will come back and share once I have had the chance to put together at least a few days; if not the whole month. However, I have been a lot better at noting what we have been eating over this past week or so, and will quickly jot them down here for you:

Wednesday 10th September = Quinoa Fritters

Thursday 11th September = Mini Meatloaves
Friday 12th September = Pizza and Homemade Burgers
Saturday 13th September = Zesty Lemon and Soy Chicken
Sunday 14th September = Panfried Fish, Salad & Hot Chips
Monday 15th September = Honey, Ginger and Soy Chicken

Nothing is decided on beforehand, so I cannot give you any indications of what we'll even be having tomorrow night! But I will get onto it this time, it has just been a busy few days here (and it's only going to get worse over the coming days/weeks, so I just need to get my butt into gear and get sorted)!

I am hoping to be able to try a few new recipes in the Ultimate Bundle of E-Books I bought last week; so exciting! I have been banned from buying any more recipes books for a while now, although have a few more on my list I'd like to purchase yet! Might just have to start saving my pocket money *grin*!!!!

Hope this finds you happy and healthy, and ready for the new week!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Have You Heard of...

Ultimate Bundles?

Probably not if you live in New Zealand, it is an American thing (of course), however it is well worth a look if you're into healthy living and green cleaning!

AND, you could have a chance to win a Vitamix and a $500 Amazon Card - simply go and visit Crystal Paine at Money Saving Mom here, help spread the word about this amazing deal, and you're in the draw to WIN!

Basically what these guys do is a few times a year they put a 'Bundle of Books' out on a specific topic, for a VERY low price! The current one, of which I have purchased, is called 'The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle', and for US$29.95 you get over 70 e-books on healthy living - from Essential Oils, to Whole Food Cooking, from Yoga to Green Cleaning , from Gardening to Keeping Chooks and everything in between! You also get heaps of e-courses for free or very minimally priced, as well as actual products that are offered free (but you would need to pay postage, so I probably won't bother with these myself).

These bundles are only available for a week each time, and the week is up this Monday 15th (or Tuesday 16th our time of course); even if you're a sceptic - take a look at the link above, and check it out! I bought mine on Thursday, and within thirty minutes I had the link to download them. I then spent Thursday and Friday downloading and sorting them out, onto my Google Drive, so I can access them from anywhere. I have skimmed as many as I could this weekend - and I am seriously EXCITED!

For someone like me, who has cooking challenges within the home - this is an amazing resource, there are a whole heap of gluten-free cookbooks, as well as a whole heaps of wholefood cookbooks; all of which I will use excessively! There are also books about Picky Eaters (we need to read that here), and how to encourage your children to eat healthier - everything I personally, could ever need at this stage in my life!

For me personally, it has been well worth the money - it is covering every area that I am now interested in, as well as every area I am currently dealing with. And the convenience of having them all right at my fingertips via Goggle Drive means they will be used and read over and over again!

I am in-love, and will be keeping an eye on them for future bundles that may be of benefit to me as well (although I don't think I have convinced my hubby yet)!

Seriously - go check it out before the deal is over!