17 January 2016

Big Weekend Away (Number 3!)

After watching my husband take both of our boys on their big weekends away over the past few years (here and here), finally it was my turn!  My eldest daughter and I have just arrived back from the best couple of days away together, and it was a time that I think we will both cherish forever.

The Weekend Away (or in our case, the 'mid-week' weekend away) is a tradition that our family has adopted from other awesome families we know, and a great idea from The Parenting Place. It's a time set aside for a parent and their tween to talk about the exciting and sometimes daunting things coming up ahead as teens, but also spend some one-on-one time together having fun, making memories, and creating a space for any questions.

The best resource we have found for this is The Big Weekend CD (via The Parenting Place). John Cowan (along with Jenny Hale) covers all the basics from 'the birds and the bees' to self-confidence, hygiene, peer pressure and adds a tonne of humour and stories along the way.  The CD is just under 2 hours (we skipped the boy section) and was the perfect length for us to listen to while driving down to our destination (Whangarei to Auckland!) and leave a bit of room for questions.

Another awesome book I love is "The Body Book" which is part of the Lily Series.  My daughter has loved this series over the years, and it covers so many good practical topics for girls (aimed for ages 7-11).

We began our journey with treats in the car and listened to The Big Weekend CD on our drive down (pausing to chat during some parts). After that, our first stop was New Zealand's first cat café, called The Cat Lounge!  Apart from an awesome café (that is open to everyone) you can book some time with their many cats - take your coffee in, sit on the couch and hang with the gorgeous cats & kittens. We had heaps of fun getting to know the cats, reading their stories and playing with them.

After that we headed off into central Auckland to our hotel (I found a great deal online for this special treat).  After we had settled in we explored Queen Street, did some shopping (hello donuts, bubble tea & macarons!) and watched a movie together (my girl is Star Wars obsessed, so we saw the latest movie for the second time).

The next day we did some more exploring, including a special surprise - my daughter got her ears pierced.  She has been wanting to do this for a while, but was slightly nervous about the experience. We had talked about it being a birthday present later in the year, but I decided this special time away would be the perfect time to do it.

I'm so glad I took the time to have a weekend away with my girl, and would highly recommend it to all parents as a great way to make memories and get the discussion going regarding the special years ahead. I love that a time that can potentially be awkward (for both parties) has been turned into a memorable event that is looked forward to (my 8 year old is already begging me to take her away for her special weekend) and also remembered for years to come.

It doesn't have to be an expensive event - most of our fun was had while exploring Auckland and looking around.

I'd highly recommend a weekend away with your tween - feel free to email me if you have any questions!

14 January 2016

Easy Salsa

I love salsa, and thought I'd share my quick and easy salsa recipe with you!  Perfect to go with corn chips, or as a side to your meal (perfect with mince dishes, BBQ's etc).

5 medium sized Tomatoes
6 or so Pickles
Half red onion (or brown)
1 Spring Onion
½ lemon
Chilli Sauce
Salt & Pepper

This recipe is very flexible, so make to your own taste and use more or less ingredients than suggested if you prefer!  

Slice the tomatoes in half and remove the pulp (discard or reuse for something else) before chopping the remaining tomato.  Add to a bowl with the chopped pickles, half a red onion (finely chopped) and the chopped spring onion.

Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, and 4 or more generous tablespoons of chilli sauce (I use mild sweet chilli sauce).  Season salt and pepper and mix together.

Serve immediately with corn chips or as a side to your meal.  Delicious!

For more delicious recipes visit here.

12 January 2016


We are enjoying a long holiday round these parts!  There has been a lot of relaxing, a bit of renovating, lots of creating, games & puzzles, hanging with friends and family, delicious food and a few road trips.  There hasn't been too much sun during this New Zealand summer, but the rain has been great for the farmers around these parts, and our vegetable garden.  Here's to some more beach trips in the near future.

Lately I've been loving...

Seeing the New Year in with lovely friends.  The kids all thought it was pretty exciting getting to stay up late to see the New Year in.  Fabulous company, food, a poor attempt at playing pool on my part, and some awesome classic fireworks at midnight!

Loving exploring our local waterhole.  When you walk along a track further into the bush it leads you to a couple of waterfalls, one perfect for jumping off.  I love New Zealand so much!!

Loving doing a puzzle just for fun.  After this one Symon went and bought a 2700 piece puzzle at the local thrift shop... let's just say after a few attempts we decided the puzzle phase had passed.

So enjoying this awesome frog enclosure Symon made for our daughter's 4 frogs she was given for Christmas.  The photo (taken on my phone) just doesn't do it justice... it is amazing, and created from scratch (an empty glass tank)!  Symon has uploaded a little video tour of it here.

Loving delicious snacks like home made Salsa (recipe to come), salted caramel macaroons, and home made Iced Tea!

I'm enjoying getting a few more squares done on this Granny Square blanket I started last year.  I had intended to edge it with white or cream, but now I'm not so sure!?

Loving road trips with the family.  Yesterday we headed up to Paihia after an orthodontist appointment in Kerikeri.  Such a beautiful day, and to top it off someone had given us a restaurant voucher to spend as a family.  It was such a blessing being able to spoil everyone with a night out to dinner in a nice restaurant (a real novelty for this family of 6!).  We dined at °South, Aquarium Restaurant and Bar - lovely food and the girls just loved checking out the large aquarium inside the restaurant!

For part of our journey we stopped off at Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri, a place we've been two a couple of times before.  Just for fun, Symon and the oldest 3 kids posed like an old pic we had from around 10 years ago when we were there.

Haven't changed much have they...


Have an amazing week!!

For more Loving/Lately posts, click here.

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