7 Fun links

These have been keeping us entertained in our house….

We don’t have Evian water here – our local tap water is fantastic tasting, but it was my preferred water to drink when we lived in the UK.  Can’t imagine buying water now, or even having a preferred taste!

Something else we don’t get here is Britain’s Got Talent – here’s a surprising group…

We’ve been watching Frozen today as it’s just been released on DVD and we missed at the cinema.  Here’s that song…

And just cause every time I hear this song my toes tap and I smile…

And I’ll be making these two ingredient pancakes over the holidays…..

25 April here in New Zealand is ANZAC Day, the day we remember those who have fought.  Here’s where to find your local dawn service

And these are my all time favourite ANZAC biscuits from Annabel Langbein that I make all year round.

 

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Review: The Collective’s Yoghurt Suckies

Suckies

My boys love yoghurt but normal yoghurt pottles seem to be beyond their ability to manage.  They make a MESS!  They’re invariably spilt all down their uniforms or on the ground, not to mention the yoghurty mess that ends up in their lunchbox and backpack by the end of the day.

The lovely folk at The Collective have pretty much solved this problem for us with their cool suckies range of yoghurts.  They come in either 100g pouches or 70g tubes.  There are no fruit bits or seeds to be rejected, no artificial flavours or preservatives – just the good stuff.

I’d been a fan of The Collective’s gourmet yoghurt range and loved their flavour combinations and branding.  You’ve probably noticed them on the chiller shelves.

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The boys choosing their suckies

I got in contact with the PR team at The Collective and organised for the boys to review their suckies.  They loved the extra bits that came – a hessian bag, tattoos, badges and of course the yoghurt.  The boys had been restricted to small bowls of yoghurt at home but had had lunchbox envy when friends had the pouches and tubes and were dead keen to have them in their lunch boxes.

Each day they took a different flavour in their lunchbox and reported back on what they thought.  The littlest one liked the Nommy Banana flavoured pouch and Bonkers for Bananas tubes the most, whereas the biggest one liked the Honeycomb pouch the best.  They both happily scoffed all the other flavours we had as well.

From a mum’s perspective these are great – highly practical size and shape so I don’t get leaky leftovers in the lunchbox, you can freeze them so they’re cool for break time, easy for the kids to open (one twists and the other tears or snips), a good range of kid friendly flavours with no fruit bits or pips, no preservatives and no artificial flavours.  Personally the practical packaging and healthy yoghurt (with no preservatives or artificial additives) is what sold them to me, oh and I’ve got a real thing for funky branding.

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Lunchbox for the biggest one

From a kids perspective they look cool, taste fab, are healthy and are easy for little fingers to manage.

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They loved the tattoos!

The full range of 100g pouch flavours are: Nommy banana, Blueberry, Honeycomb, Peach and Apricot, Sassy Strawberry, and Heilala Vanilla.

And the 70g tube flavours are: Sassy Strawberry, Bonkers for Bananas, and Bouncing Berries.

The tubes come in a box of 8 and the pouches are sold individually.

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Happy sucking

The Collective as a company is super cool.  They launched into the NZ premium yoghurt market in 2010 and made their presence known pretty quickly.  There’s a great range of innovative flavours and a limited edition yoghurt that is changed every three months – currently it’s raspberry and amaretto.  You can buy The Collective yoghurts in the UK, Ireland and Australia, and NZ of course.

The Collective supplied the yoghurt pouches and tubes plus the super useful bag, fun tattoos, funky magnets and badges, but the views are all my own.

Overcoming Fear

fear

Fear is a funny old thing – everyone feels it, and while it can be a powerful motivator or alert us to danger, it can also inhibit our lives.  Fear of something specific can be a HUGE block in your mind, something you can’t see a way past, but if you can confront it, somehow you manage to overcome it, or at least live with it.

There’s been a bit of fear around recently.  My son has an Anxiety Disorder as a result of the earthquakes here in Christchurch.  But it’s morphed into him being fearful of whole load of things – big buildings, loud noises, his little brother jiggling on the sofa, wind, heavy rain, the dark, being apart from me, earthquakes…..you get the picture.  We went on a course last year specifically designed for kids affected by the earthquakes, and it helped a lot.  But, we’ve had a couple of aftershocks recently which have set him back and he’s had panic attacks again.   Confronting this fear is tricky.  Learning to deal with it helps hugely.  I defer to the experts on this one and we’re heading back for help.

images

A good friend of mine developed a fear of flying.  She’s a very sensible woman, has travelled the world, but a few years ago a variety of factors combined to trigger this fear of flying.  And as she put it to me “If you won a trip for two to New York to see Pink in concert, I’d have to decline”.  So off she went to a week long night course at the airport run by a psychologist, culminating in a domestic flight.  She’s conquered it – unpacking the fear, learning techniques for relaxation and putting them into practice worked.  So, if by chance I win a trip for two to New York to see Pink in concert – she’s my plus one!

For me it’s dentists.  Never liked the school dental nurse, nor my orthodontist, and managed to steer clear of them with no pain.  But after six years it’s all coming back to haunt me.  This week we had to come home from holiday as I was in agony with dental pain.  There was no choice, my fear had to be faced.  With my two sons in the waiting room I was forced to put on a brave face.  As it turned out a root canal needed to be done and it cost a bomb!  But, as the injections (six in the end) numbed my pain I realised that they weren’t any worse than the iron or B12 injections I’ve had regularly at the GP.  The Dentist, who was incredibly kind and gentle, tells me it’s all about the head.  Apparently very few people are happy with their head being interfered with.  No problem with other parts of their bodies, but not their heads.

If you can, confronting your fear will enable you to overcome it, sometimes it’s just grabbing the bull by the horns (or a LOT of pain) and other times seeking help from professionals is just the ticket.

 

Thermal rock pools

Day Trip: Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools

 

Hydroslide

Once a year my father likes to treat us to a day trip to Hanmer Springs.  Every year the boys look forward to it, and this year it was a surprise phone call the night before announcing that Dad had been looking forward to it all week and wanted to go the next day.  So we went.

Thermal rock pools
Thermal rock pools

Hanmer Springs is an alpine village, a very pretty 90 minute drive from Christchurch.  It is most famous for its thermal hot pools.  The thermal springs were discovered by the Maori, and then by a local farmer in 1859, and in 1883 the Government Lands Department excavated the natural springs to create the first swimming pools.  Over the next hundred years the pools and Hanmer have grown, and are now a popular tourist destination.  Many friends prefer to stay the weekend and enjoy the walks and mountain biking in the surrounding hills and mountains, but we tend to make it a day trip.

Original hexagonal pools
Original hexagonal pools

There’s something calming, relaxing and luxurious about sitting in piping hot water up to your neck.

I remember coming to the hot pools as a child on the end of a weekend church camp at the local forest park, then it was three uninspiring hexagonal concrete pools, but we still loved it.  Now, there are twelve thermal pools, three sulphur pools and a fresh-water family pool, lazy river and kids activity area, as well as two hydro-slides and a SuperBowl.  The thermal water is drawn from a bore adjacent to the pool complex.  This means you have to remember NOT to put your head or ears under the water!

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We reckon the best time to visit is in autumn.  In summer it’s too hot to sit in hot water up to your neck, in winter your feet go numb hopping between the pools and I can’t think of a good reason not to go in spring, but in autumn you’ve got the beautiful leaves changing colour.  The main street is lined with lovely big trees so it makes a nice entrance to the pools.

Selfie with the boys
Selfie with the boys

Now that the boys are a bit older we can negotiate with them.  As youngsters they wouldn’t sit still in the hot pools for long enough, which is what I like to do, and wanted to play in the kids area, which is decidedly cooler!  This time we took a picnic, having seen others do so, and this was a great idea.  It broke the day up nicely giving us two long swims.  There’s lots of picnic and seating within the pool complex, and as the cafe is really bad, it’s the much better option.  We stopped for coffee and slice at the end of the day in the cafe, the staff were surly, bordering on rude, the hot drinks were very average and the slice was decidedly awful.  The changing facilities could do with an upgrade too, but I’m prepared to overlook that as the pools really area fab.

We start in the hexagonal pools, move to the rock pools, then indulge the boys in the lazy river, family pool and kids playground.  After lunch Dad and I took turns in the adults only (bliss!) pools and then we all sat in the incredibly hot sulphur pools before finally getting out and heading home.

The SuperBowl
The SuperBowl

 

This year my eldest son went on the hydroslides and SuperBowl which he’d been keen to try for a few years.  He loved it and was able to ride them alone and pop back once in a while to check on us.  They have cleverly positioned the family pools and an end of a rock pool close by so parents can now sit in relative warmth and keep an eye on the youngsters.

The pool complex also boasts a spa which I’d LOVE to try……one day.

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools cost us $50 for a mini group (2 adults and up to 3 children) and the hydroslide cost an extra $10 for unlimited rides.  The complex is open 10am-9pm every day except Christmas Day.

Pool feet
Pool feet
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British accents and Superhero kid – two fun videos

Have you seen these two videos?  They’re fun to watch, one more for adults and the other for adults and kids alike

We lived in London for six years and I loved the melting pot of culture and accents.  It amazed me that in a small country there was such a diverse range of accents, and languages.  Here in New Zealand we generally sound the same,  there are about three regional twangs but nothing like the UK.  This video is by dialect coach Andrew Jack – Enjoy!

 

 

This is like looking inside a child’s imagination – my two boys were impressed.

Camelbak

Review: Camelbak Water Bottle

Camelbak

 

As you know I can be pretty picky about some things, and one of those things is water bottles, another is hot chocolate, but that’s a previous blog post!

I’ve now decided that they fall into different categories.  Car bottle – must fit into the drinks holder in my car, and be easy to use one handed (for obvious reasons) – I use a Tupperware one with a slim body and a flip up lid.  Bike bottle – must be able to be used one handed without stopping (a hydration pack would be a good idea…).  I use the one the bike shop gave me when I purchased my bike and it works just fine, but I worry about the dust all over the mouthpiece.  But, my general take everywhere with me, use at home, and especially walking on the hills water bottle has been been hard to find.

I’ve tried the throw away ones from the supermarket – not good.  I tried the Tupperware one – not big enough.  I tried various Kathmandu bottles – a really annoying little bit keeps falling inside and there’s a top you have to screw off and then hold making it way too fiddly.

In Bivouac recently I spied a new range of Camelbak bottles.  The over enthusiastic sales assistant was so eager to tell me all about them, and there was a discount, AND I really liked the vibrant colours, though that’s not really a good enough reason to buy a drink bottle…  I left with a purple one with orange trim.

The Camelbak Chute has turned out to be the best bottle I’ve had so far.  Great 750ml capacity with handy measurements on the side (for those of us tracking our fluid intake), nifty bottle top that screws off easily and then slots (with a bit of practice) into the lid so it doesn’t get lost or bobble about in your face.  The spout is just right, not too big and not too small.  Funny how the lid and the spout have become something I look for.  No tubes to clean, and the main lid screws off for general cleaning.

So there you have it, the closest so far to the perfect water bottle.  Dad went and got one the next week, in another lovely vibrant colour.

By the way, we’ve been asked if we’re sponsored as we have a fair bit of gear that’s the same.  The second time it happened we worked out a story – we’re in a multi-generation adventure racing team.  The third person who asked (almost) believed us, but we couldn’t keep our faces straight for long enough!

Latest walk on the hills revealed these toad stalls
Latest walk on the hills revealed these toad stalls
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Fashion trends: Autumn/Winter 2014

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As part of Riccarton Style Week I popped along to Westfield to hear fashion stylist Stephanie Rumble talk about the latest fashion trends and how we can incorporate them into our wardrobes.

Trends are a new way to wear fashion, and this season’s main trends are floral grunge, heritage, urban punk and sports luxe.  Some of these I can definitely relate to, and others not so much.

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Stephanie Rumble
Paint colours and fashion colours
Paint colours and fashion colours

A revelation for me was that fashion colour trends follows paint colour trends, and that designers work closely with colour experts at Resene.  It was fascinating for me to see how trends for interior colours and fashion colours follow so incredibly closely.  I had no idea!

With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Stephanie expertly showed us how to put together outfits from a rack of clothes she’d chosen (impressively quickly) from nearby shops in Westfield.  She passed on her tips and tricks for colours, patterns, our shapes and sizes and embracing new trends and new shops.  I for one saw garments from shops I always walk past, but now I’ll be in to browse. It’s inspiring to have someone show you how to wear trends that you see but aren’t quite sure how to wear.

Putting an outfit together
Putting an outfit together

Floral Grunge

This I can do, I have a bold large patterned floral top which I bought when floral grunge first came out a couple of seasons ago.  This isn’t  pretty floral, instead think bold and assertive prints.  Combine floral and leather or denim, both of which are very on trend.

Heritage

This is very much me.  Think English country estate and chunky knits and away you go.  Tweed, herringbone, muted colours and lots of texture.

Urban Punk

I remember tartan the first time it was fashionable and have a vivid memory of choosing my first pair of tartan trousers and wearing them with great pride.  It’s back, but I don’t have the trousers… Stephanie had on a fab tartan jacket, and as she pointed out tartan has son many colours in it, it’s pretty versatile.  Team it with ankle boots or whose with a bit of patent, or metal trim.  Leather jackets fit in this trend well, with the biker jacket style being very popular.

Sportsluxe

Think trendy trainers and comfy weekend wear or dashing to the school run.  Baggy t-shirts, anoraks, boxy crop tops and add a touch of metallic.  A bomber jacket is a key piece for this look.

We all loved this one!
We all loved this one!

Check out Riccarton Style Week for yourself at Westfield Riccarton.  Free seminars and advice, workshops and colour consultation.

Riccarton Style Week, 7-13 April:

Tuesday: 12.30pm, 2pm & 4pm How to buy the Wardrobe Essentials

Wednesday: Colours Day – I’m booked in with Stephanie for a colour consultation, but it’s booked out now sorry :(

Thursday – Sunday: Style Lounge – free one-on-one style sessions

Saturday: In-Store Styling Day – stylists will be in different stores to help you shop

Stephanie Rumble has her own image consultancy Flair Image

 

Life and style in New Zealand

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