Where We Ate: June/July Edition

We make no bones about it, we are definite foodies in this household. We love to dine out, both as a couple and as a family – for us life is more about experiences than stuff. So each month or two, we bring you “Where We Ate”, a post that outlines the new places we’ve tried and hopefully encouraging you to try a few new places too!

OKO Dessert Kitchen

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After an extremely noisy dining experience at Elliot Stables we decided to escape to the relative quiet of Aotea Square for dessert. It was our first visit to OKO and we were glad to have friends to advise us of the pros and cons of the menu (try the Volcano, rather than the Balloon) as there was the possibility of some missteps, such as the lime milkshake that M-Daddy ordered. The desserts were good, but in a city in which Giapo and Milse are the King and Queen of dessert restaurants, you need to bring more than your A-Game. There was a group of small children who had just been to the cinema as part of a birthday celebration and came here for dessert – that, I thought, would be the ideal target audience.

You can read my full review of OKO here.

Passito Italian Restaurant

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I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Zomato meet up at Passito – I must admit that I don’t often venture down this end of Ti Rakau Drive but I’m really glad I did. The food was good and service amazing for large parties (I’ll definitely be bearing this in mind for future extended-family dinners) but the real star of the evening was the stellar plating and taste that came with the desserts. It was totally beyond what I was expecting and I was very impressed.

You can read my full review of Passito Italian Restaurant here.

Bach’n

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Had to break it up with a non-dessert pic… I have a sweet-tooth problem 😂

When you happen to have a sunny midweek day off work in the middle of winter, what do you do? Head to the beach, of course! When thinking of kid-friendly beaches, Maraetai immediately springs to mind so we headed out to the East Coast. We’ve been past Bach’n on weekends before and always found it full to the gills so I was pleased to have the opportunity to finally eat there. The food was innovative and delicious but the beverages left something to be desired – I’d definitely be keen to try again on the weekend (hopefully with a different barista).

You can read my full review of Bach’n here.

Sugar Town

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When down in  Mount Maunganui recently, we followed a sign from the main street into one of the cutest cupcake parlours I’ve seen in quite a while. The decor is to die for, creating a lovely serene atmosphere – at least while my toddler was eating! While their menu range is limited, what they do, they do well. The ratio of cupcake to icing is amazing and the mocha I had was delicious. Well worth supporting if you are in the area and they also do special occasion cakes!

You can read my full review of Sugar Town here.

Canopius

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I found Canopius, a whole-food based cafe, in the main street of Papakura township. Despite being mid afternoon they still had a broad range of cabinet food available and I selected a delightful slice of carrot cake with a dairy-free coconut and maple whipped topping. This hit the spot perfectly, perking me up without giving me a ridiculous sugar high. I also tried their CoCoMo coconut mocha beverage and while the taste took a bit of getting used to (I usually take my mocha with lactose-free or soy milk), it was definitely one that I would try again.

You can read my full review of Canopius here.

Firm favourites revisited: Pepperjacks, Nick’s Cafe, Ginger Indian Restaurant.

If you’ve got any favorites to share, from the wider Auckland area, I’d love to hear them!

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I Read A Lot: “The Predictions” by Bianca Zander

If you were told what your future would hold, would you let it govern the decisions that you made? How much of prophecy is self-fulfilling? These questions and more make up the beautifully woven story of the novel The Predictions by New Zealand author Bianca Zander. Recently I was invited to the launch party of this particular book and I was absolutely gutted that I couldn’t make it. I’d just finished reading it and I would have treasured the opportunity to tell Ms Zander what a fantastic book she had written.

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The Predicitions is a novel that starts at the Gaialands commune in the idyllic Coromandel, where a group of children are being raised free-range by all the adult members. The protagonist, fifteen-year-old Poppy, starts falling for sixteen-year-old Lukas, who is becoming increasingly cynical at the way that Gaialands functions. At this critical juncture, the somewhat mysterious Shakti arrives at the commune and is convinced that the way to heal the energy of Gaialands is to perform a ceremony of prophecy, showing the younger members of the commune their future destiny. The story follows Poppy from 1978 to 1989, from the commune as she follows Lukas to Auckland and then to London. She finds a life much like the one that the charismatic Shakti predicted, but is it the right life for her?

I love how gritty and real Ms Zander makes her characters. Not a single one of her characters is blemish-free and their flaws run the gamut of the human condition. Shakti as a character makes me feel horribly uncomfortable; the characterisation is absolutely superb, slowly leaking details that don’t give us the full picture until right at the very end. Both Poppy and Lukas are deliciously imperfect as well, a great change from the usual Prince Charming fairy-tale love story.

I’m not going to deny I love the New Zealand flavour of this novel. From the bucolic paradise of the Coromandel to the slummy inner-city squats, the scenes will be something that many New Zealanders can relate to. Many of the political issues the characters speak to directly concerned the left element of the New Zealand voting public in the eighties. Yet the book does not come across at all as parochial and many of the issues remain relevant and contemporary.

I’d recommend this novel for people midteens and up, due to some of the more explicit content in the novel, and could be equally enjoyed by both male and female readers. While I think this would be an amazing read at any time, I can see this as being a perfect summer read for mums- something real and flavoursome amongst the saccharine-sweet chick lit novels that you might read at the bach or while enjoying a family day at the beach. Just make sure that you’ve got someone there to look after the kids because you aren’t going to want to put this novel down!

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Not for me…

I know I’m probably months late to the party here, but as well as being smart and funny and pretty, I think Amy Pohler may have just changed my life.

I’m not a huge fan of the celeb memoir but M-Daddy and I love relaxing and watching Parks & Rec. While hubby wishes he was Ron Swanson, he’s secretly a bit more like Ben (with just a touch of Chris’ hyperactivity). And Leslie Knope is totally my type A homegirl, as is Anne. Anywho, I’ve had Pohler’s memoir on my reading list for quite some time and I recently got around to reading it.

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In what seems like a tiny wee aside from the rest of her epic adventure of a life, she talks about childbirth. Specifically:

I have many friends who have had natural childbirth. I applaud them. I have friends who have used doulas and birthing balls and pushed out babies in tubs and taxicabs. I have a friend who had two babies at home! In bed! Her name is Maya Rudolph! She is a goddamn baby champion and she pushed her cuties out Little House on the Prairie style!

Good for her! Not for me.

That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.

I completely agree with her on this point. CJ’s birth was in the water with gas-and-air (laughing gas, nitrous oxide) for pain relief. Some women have elected for Caesarean sections or to have epidurals right from the start of labour. Good for them! Not for me.

The thing that really smacked me right in the face is how much I don’t retain this attitude in the rest of my life. I let myself get far too wound up about whether I am doing things right. Am I doing the right thing by not returning to full time work this year? So-and-so went back when her son was a year old… Am I jeopardizing my career? Will other people look at me and think I’m comparatively lazy and mummy-track me? In the end, do I care?

Returning to full time work was what her family wanted and needed. Good for her! Not for me.

Sometimes I attend bloggers’ events and I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of time and energy that other people spend on their blogs. They tell me that I need to commit more time to photography, to networking, to setting up my posts so that they are pinnable (pintrable? Pintrestable?). They ask why I haven’t moved to self-hosted WordPress. They tell me I’ll never make it big if I don’t do these things.

Being perfectly honest, I’d rather be playing cars with my son then worrying about the perfect light for a picture. I’d rather save money to buy our house than to pay someone to transfer my blog to self-hosting; I’m self-aware enough that I know I don’t have the skills to do it myself. And in the end, do I want to be a blogger with a capital B? I enjoy my work and if money was no issue then I still wouldn’t want to solely blog as my job. Blogging for me is my hobby, I do it for joy and because I think it adds something to our family life. I don’t think I want to turn it into something that I HAVE to do.

Does that mean I have a vendetta against career bloggers? Certainly not. I admire the sheer energy it takes to run your blog like a business. I enjoy seeing people use their blogs as vehicles for positive change, like This is Meagan Kerr for body acceptance. But the thought of running this blog as a money-making enterprise just makes me feel tired. It’s another case of good for her! Not for me.

Literally every time I have felt “less than” in the last couple of weeks, I have applied this mantra. The pictures of gourmet dinners made by friends while we’ve been having something like sausages because I’m dying with cramps. Good for her! Not for me (not today, anyway). The perfectly made up mum at the McDonalds playground. The friends out all night at bars looking gorgeous. The spotless houses. The Fiji holidays. Good for all of them! Not for me, at least not in my current life stage.

Because the reality is, there isn’t anything stopping me from having that. I could take a day off work, still take CJ to the carer and spend a day getting the house immaculate. I could  lock myself in the bedroom and spend an hour straightening my hair and putting on makeup while my husband and son wrestle in the lounge. I could go to the bars, although I’d have a wretched time dealing with a toddler the following morning. I could divert the money from our house deposit and have a glorious tropical holiday – and believe me, out of all of the above that is the one I struggle most with.

But in the end, these are the decisions we make. Not that they are globally right or wrong, but whether they are right for us. I often say that there’s no point in eating the cake and then regretting the calories. You just ruined something that was hopefully awesome by turning it to a negative. Our life is the way it is because those are the decisions we made for our family. Why ruin it with jealousy that it doesn’t look like the life and journey someone else constructed?

Good for them. Not for me. 

Nostalgia and places that feel like home

NZ Readers: Don’t forget to pop over to the Facebook page and enter our FoodCompass giveaway!

As I said in my last post, CJ and I headed down to Tauranga and the Mount Maunganui area for a day trip. We’d originally planned to stay with friends in Matamata but when that fell through we decided to head down anyway. With a two hour drive, it’s entirely doable to make it a day trip and so a day trip it was!

The Tauranga/Mount Maunganui area is a place that is immensely special to me. My grandparents moved down there at the start of my teen years so it was a frequent day or overnight trip for my family and I. Even when the memories are bittersweet, like the time that our big crazy extended family  gathered down there to scatter our grandparents’ ashes, they are still part of a place that means a heck of a lot to me.

Driving over the Kaimais I passed the turn-off for McLaren Falls and Marshalls Animal Park – both places that we’d frequently visit on our way to and from visiting our grandparents. Upon driving into the outer suburbs of Tauranga we passed the pub where I had stopped before arriving for one of my grandparents’ funerals. Partially because I needed some “dutch courage” but also partially because I really needed to pee. I laughed to myself, remembering that I’d left my sister and her boyfriend in the car while I had a drink because they were underage. Continuing through Otumoetai, I saw the front wall of my grandparents’ place that used to work as a seat, a hurdle, a balance beam. I saw the restaurant where my grandma struggled to get out the bucket seat of my Honda Integra.

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Saltwater Pools c. 2008

We passed the park where we scattered their ashes; the same park where my grandmother (who walked only with the assistance of a cane) told me that she’d join in on my cartwheels if only she wasn’t wearing a dress. We drove over the Tauranga Harbour Bridge and I saw the restaurant where my aunt fell off her chair and managed to bring down half the curtain with her. And finally, pulling up to the Mount, I got to see the mountain and the beach that make up so many of my memories.

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Mum splashing in Pilot Bay c. 2011

Memories of walking around the base of the Mount and then deciding at the last minute to take the very steep track. Memories of “running away” down here one new year with my friends to avoid my ex’s stalkerish new girlfriend, getting sunburnt but enjoying freedom in the way that sixteen year olds can. Memories of building castles in the sand. Memories of the abysmal holiday I had down here with an ex that ended up with me dropping him at a South Auckland train station and telling him to catch a train home because I couldn’t stand being in the car with him a moment longer – we both lived in West Auckland, so it was a two-train, two hour journey home. Memories of swimming in the salt-water hot pools. Memories of the last trip I took down here with my mother, visiting the Little Big Markets and just lazing in the sun at Pilot Bay. Memories of visiting for the first time with my now husband. SO many memories.

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Papa M and I on Mount Maunganui Beach c. 2011

It got me to thinking – this place that is not my home yet feels so much like home to me. While we love the Bay of Plenty and especially this area, with my grandparents gone we definitely don’t visit as much. It will never be home for CJ in the same way that it is home for me. Currently we don’t have a holiday destination that we repeatedly visit. Giving him new experiences is really important to us and exploring the world is one of our goals, but there’s something to be said for a place that is comfortable and embraces you every time you arrive.

I’m just not sure where that would be.

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Currently: July 2015 edition

NZ Readers: Don’t forget to pop over to the Facebook page and enter our FoodCompass giveaway!

I have this theory that the NZ band Six60 is one of the only universally acceptable CDs to have playing in your car. Regardless of who I’m driving with, there’s generally no complaints and often a few compliments. It’s all good CJ, we’ll just leave playing Tay-Tay until we have the car to ourselves! Shake it off, shake it off…

Currently:

  • It’s back to work and daycare for us this week. No long-term contracts for me this term which is both yay and boo. The constant money coming was definitely amazing but being fully back in the driver seat was exhausting. My self-care is going to have to be AMAZING next year if I’m going to survive going back full time.
  • We’ve put off one of our goals of going to the Islands off for this year. We’re loosely planning to buy the house we live in sometime in the next couple of years so we need to make sure that we have our house deposit solidly in the bank. It was one of those horrid grown up decisions that was really hard to make but we’re so lucky that in the Auckland housing market we’re even likely to have this opportunity. Once we have the deposit in the bank, we can reassess. Maybe next year?
  • I’m a bit hesitant to say that we have a walker, but we definitely have a “few-stepper”. It’s totally like he doesn’t want to look unco so he doesn’t want to walk if he’ll look “silly”. That, and it’s nowhere near as fast as his racing crawl. That shizz is ridiculous.
  • We took a mid-week day roadie to Tauranga. We pretty much ate the entire time we were down there and then stopped for CJ’s first fish and chip meal on the way home. He LOVED it… bless, a boy after his mama’s heart. I had to laugh though, he’d had such little sleep the entire day that he was overtired when it came to dinner time and kept running away while we were waiting for our order then dissolving in fits of giggles when I would catch him before he got to the carpark. At least I was pre-emptively burning off the calories?
  • I’m really struggling with fitting in exercise into our schedule now that my husband is working later. I need to work out some way around this, whether it’s CJ staying an hour later at day-care (I usually pick him up straight after work but I could do something in between if his carer was open to it?) or something… I do need to work this out though. Being active during the day and diet can only do so much.
  • We took CJ to see Paw Patrol at the movies – some Hoyts theatres were showing several episodes in a movie cinema as part of their Hoyts Jr programme. Paw Patrol is one of the shows that he absolutely loves and seeing as they were episodes rather than one whole story we figured it was a better “starter movie” than a feature length film. He lasted 50 out of the 60 minutes (we were AMAZED) but the look on his face when he realised what the movie was was SO gorgeous. It made me so happy that we took him to the movies.
  • Bugs are still flying around our house. CJ has just got over a throat-inflammation thing and for the first time this winter (knock wood) I didn’t get sick! I’m not going to give all the credit to the zinc powder but I definitely think it’s helping. We’re huge fans of the Kiwiherb Children’s range too – I definitely think it helps kids bounce back faster.
  • Although it’s NOWHERE near happening, I randomly (like I was just about falling asleep) came up with an awesome name for our second child should we have another boy. I told hubby and he liked it but also suggested another and now we have two potential kid names that we could use in future. Yay! Random… as we know, I’m not a great preggo so I have to have some exciting things to look forward to.
  • I’ve realised recently (and even the reference is probably dated as hell) that as much as I always wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw off Sex in the City, I’ve come to appreciate that I am so much more a Charlotte York… and I’m TOTALLY okay with that. Gosh, look at me getting all mellow in my old age and all comfortable with myself. It feels nice.

So yeah, that’s a snap shot of life as at stands right now… I’m at peace with the way that everything is floating along and excited for the things that are on the horizon for me and the whanau… and that feels like a very good place to be.

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Getting back on the (healthy) horse: Feeding my body well

If you have been reading for a while, you will know that this year I’m hoping to get my health and fitness back on track on year – initially this was fully weight-focused but increasingly it’s also been looking at the proper fuel and supplements that my body needs to get back on track. The more I research, the more I find out just how many women are incredibly depleted after pregnancy and breast-feeding. I’d love to fix this by diet alone but I am taking some supplements to pick up the slack and try and get me on track quicker.

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I was super-excited when Food Compass reached out to me recently and asked me to trial some of their products. Being so time-poor lately means that I’m sticking with my tried & true grocery list, whether I’m hauling a grumpy toddler through the supermarket at lightning pace or placing an online order for groceries while watching Grey’s Anatomy late at night. While it’s super-efficient, it’s not necessarily the best choices for fueling my body. I chose to be surprised and their fantastic team selected some delicious “treats” for me to try.

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I was a little bit suspect about this “primal chocolate“. I’m not going to lie, having a kid has given me a sweet tooth that I NEVER had before. It turned out to be the perfect treat to fuel myself up during that afternoon lull, when CJ was napping and I usually feel like it too. It gave me a subtle kick – different to that of the refined-sugar kick I usually get from a Pixie Caramel (my poison of choice) and still conned my brain into thinking it had a treat. The Inca Bar was great for this too, but I think my brain needs that chocolatey taste.

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If I’m driving long distances, I’ll usually stock the car up with a soft drink just to avoid weariness upon arriving at my destination or at home. CJ and I decided to day-trip down to Tauranga (2-2.5 hours driving from here) and I popped this Blackcurrant & Apple Chia Drink in the car. Boy, it was spot on. It’s not sugar-free (it contains blackcurrant and apple concentrate for a total of 7.5/100g) but it’s a lot better than what I would usually load in my body. I liked that this contained natural electrolytes too – I ALWAYS fail to hydrate properly when driving long-distance because I’m so worried that I’ll need a bathroom break in the middle of nowhere!

There are some other products that we’re still working out how to incorporate into our diet. I’m going to attempt a bolognese-type meal with the gorgeous beetroot noodles on Sunday and we’ve got refined-sugar-free teriyaki stir-fry on the menu next week. I’m really keen to incorporate this coconut-based sweetener into some baking this weekend but I think it might take some trial-&-error to get the mix right.

The Food Compass website is incredibly easy to use. I especially loved:

1. That you can easily filter by the products that suit your diet
Paleo, Low FODMAP, Dairy free, Nut Free, Organic….
2. You can sort the products by nutritional information
By lowest sugar, fat or highest protein.

Those two options alone are SO time-saving for a busy mum, let alone the fact that you can order online and have it delivered right to your door. It’s got a tonne of well-known New Zealand products so it’s got that “shop local” feel as well. I’m so rapt that they chose the products that they did and highlighted for me a couple of food habits I have that really need to be knocked on the head.

So here’s the exciting part:

Right now if you sign up to the Food Compass newsletter (before the end of July) you go into the draw for an epic food pack – and I mean epic. Just pop over to their site (you’re going to do that to have a browse anyway, right) and sign up and you are in the draw.

And if you are a NZ reader, click through to visit the Sweet Mama M Facebook page to be in to win a fantastic prize pack including a delicious Food Compass product valued at $39.99!

 

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I Read A Lot: “Speak” by Louisa Hall and other fall-of-humanity stories

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I’m a huge fan of dystopian fiction so I was incredibly intrigued by the premise of new novel Speak which examines the ethics of artificial intelligence through the voices of both the machine and those who led to the creation of this life. The breadth of time and geography covered in these voices is breath-taking, spanning from a pilgrim girl venturing to a new life in America to the 2040 creator of illegally lifelike dolls. It does sound totally bizarre but as the story progresses it begins to make more sense, how the stories that our key narrator tells you encompass the life stories of all these diverse characters.

I’ll admit that it took me a while to get into this novel, always a complication when you have multiple narrators and Speak has more than most. At the start you are only getting snippets of stories and it is hard to see how it fits. I’m glad I persevered though, as the pieces start to roll together and form a more cohesive whole as the story progresses. Some of the stories called more to me than others – I think that the MARY3 conversations with a traumatised young girl will be a hit with young adult readers whereas Karl, Ruth and Steven may appeal to older readers as they see reflections of their worst selves. The end left me somewhat unsatisfied, wanting to know more about each of the narrative voices – and in a very clever way I think that was a perfect ending to the story.

I believe this novel has wide appeal – while the basis of it is science fiction, there’s enough human interest to capture someone not familiar with the genre. It would be a story that I would recommend to both high school students interested in a step on from the dystopian world of The Hunger Games and my science-fiction loving father. I’m interested to seek out Hall’s other novel The Carriage House and see how she brings the voice of Austen’s Anne Elliot to life in the 21st century.

If you’re a fan of this novel you might also enjoy:

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Another dystopian story that took me a while to get into, but I’m glad I persevered. The Road is considered a modern classic and follows the story of a man and a boy travelling the road to get to the ocean after a post-apocalyptic event. The story is mostly told in the third person, an interesting narrative choice. The boy, in particular, is so well-written that you can’t help but sympathise with his experience and his challenges in understanding the world that he finds himself in.

Climate of Change by Piers Anthony

In the same vein as Speak, Climate of Change endeavours to tell the same story through multiple stories – although in this case Anthony uses the same characters in timelines from the dawn of time to the not-so-distant future. The subject matter at times can be very challenging; his ability to examine the why and how – not just the what and who – of society, the environment in which we function and the dangers of a future that we will not like if we continue on our current path.

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I feed my kid out of a tin… and I’m okay with that.

Before I had kids… I was going to be the perfect mother. I’d make all their food from scratch. We’d sit around the table together and eat as a family. I’d be so darn Pinterest-perfect that I’d make everyone sick.

*record scratch*

Meanwhile in the real world… life hasn’t turned out exactly like that. I’ve returned to work while CJ is still a toddler, something that I hadn’t necessarily planned on. Papa M is climbing the management tree at work and sometimes it means long hours. We’ve got an absolutely ravenous toddler who gets a hangry rage on if we keep him waiting too long for his meals. The “before kids” image I had of me as mother has faded into the ether and I’m perfectly fine with that. It can be so hard when the so-called sanctimommies (I’d never let mine do that, Blossom only eats quinoa harvested by native Chilean orphans and boiled in  pure spring water) are calling you out on your life choices, but in the end you have to do what is good for you and yours. Whether that’s bottle or breastfeeding, co-sleeping or separate rooms and even when it boils down to the food we put in our kids’ mouths. I realise that even having a choice of what and when to feed my kid comes from an immense place of privilege, and I’m not keen to point fingers at others for their choices.

Unless you were letting your kids wash a pack of Doritos down with a bottle of Jack… then we might have words.

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Yup, poor guy looks heartbroken to be having a yummy dinner by himself – chicken and pumpkin risotto here

Dinner in the M household is only a family affair on the weekends – Papa M is never home before 6:30 pm on weeknights and CJ is in bed at 7pm due to his 6:30am daycare wake up call. I’m not interested in fighting a tired toddler to eat his tea just so he can eat at the same time as his dad – instead he is done and dusted by the time dad gets home and they enjoy bath time and a book together before CJ goes to sleep. I think that if your schedules allow a family meal together that’s awesome, but it’s certainly not the only way to spend quality time together.

This, of course, does sometimes cause some logistical issues. Sometimes I’m cooking a quick and easy meal (felafel, corn fritters) that I can easily prep and then just cook at two separate times for the kid and the adults. But if I’m wanting something that involves a longer prep time, I’m more than happy to use one of the Watties Little Kids meals for CJ’s dinner. They’re low in salt (always a bit of a concern for me when I’m considering the seasoning of our family dishes) and they’re free from artificial colours and flavours which I bear in mind seeing that Papa M used to react a little too them. There’s a pretty wide range available and so I don’t feel like I’m just spooning in the stereotypical spaghetti my parents always used to give us for a quick and easy meal. The Meatballs and Macaroni is always a big hit, as is the Lamb Moussaka. He’s also become a bit of a fan of the improved spaghetti bolognese so we’re not depriving him of the childhood experience of spaghetti completely!

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Treat wars!

The one thing I am pretty strict on is lollies. And if you’re not, I fully stand behind your right to choose what you feed your kid. For us, a marshmallow with a “fluffy” might be okay but no lollipops, jelly beans or gummy bears are part of the diet in the M household. I have developed a “work around”, a mummy con if you will. CJ thinks that the Heinz Little Kids Fruit SHREDZ are lollies and he flips out when ever I bring a pack out as a treat. I am going to milk that con for as long as I can!

Moral of the story? If you are a keen food prepper who manages a family meal every night, I salute you! But if you aren’t – welcome to my club. The kids’ options out there for convenience food are far more creative than what we grew up with and a happy FED kid is the best.

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This post was brought to you in collaboration with Heinz/Watties via Kiwi Mummy Blogs – I almost feel a little cheeky doing it as we love and use these products already.

Christchurch: What We Ate

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Of course, one of the biggest things in our foodie household is where we’re going to eat while on holiday! We follow the breakfast at home, lunch and dinner out philosophy when we’re on vacation, finding a supermarket near our accommodation and stocking up on arrival so that we know that we can start our day healthy even if it doesn’t stay that way.

Friday

We arrived late and our eating pattern was a little bit muddled. We got CJ sushi at the Auckland Domestic Airport terminal for an early lunch and that combined with a small snack on the plane was enough for him. During his afternoon nap, I went grocery shopping and we snarfed down a late lunch when I got back to the holiday park.

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That evening, we walked down the road to Joe’s Garage, a restaurant with an industrial/American diner feel. Despite the theme we felt that the menu had a wide range of options and they were more than happy to swap out the kids’ menu chips for the healthier option of mushrooms. They looked like they had some delicious dessert options on their menu but we knew that CJ’s hyperactive behaviour (thank goodness he’s cute) was indicating that we were on borrowed time so it was back to the cabin for us. We’re definitely keen to return for a full meal in future though!

Check out my full review for Joe’s Garage here.

Saturday

On Saturday morning we were up fairly early to check out the Re:Start container mall before the crowds got too heavy (it was also registration day for the Christchurch marathon in the CBD). We picked up some small snackable items but we were interested to see what a wide range of food truck style places have also made Re:Start their home. With more time up our sleeves we would return for a lunch or evening meal and trial some of those places out.

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After visiting our family, we headed to The Tannery Shopping Precinct for lunch. The shop conversion has been done absolutely beautifully but we didn’t find a lot there for small kids. We ended up with a bacon & egg brioche from the deli and CJ devoured it but I would probably look to return in future without our little buddy and try one of the other eateries.

That evening, we visited The Running Bull – a little bit of a drive from our Redwood home base, but seemed like a family friendly “pub grub” type place. We weren’t mistaken. The food was definitely pub as opposed to gastro-pub and it did make us laugh that they have quite clearly designated part of the bar as the “kid zone” where they seat all the families. Despite not being the best meal that we had while we were down there, it was a very relaxing experience knowing that we wouldn’t have other diners giving us the side eye if CJ was burbling away.

Read my full review of The Running Bull here.

Sunday

After swinging by New Brighton we met up with our relatives at Castle Rock Cafe. If you are looking for hearty brunch-style food, this is the place. Castle Rock does set themselves up as a family-friendly destination with toys, books, colouring, little vintage pedal cars and three different styles of high chairs! The only downside for me was that the doors were a little too easy for a certain fifteen month old to manoeuvre and the cafe and the outdoor area are not fenced – definitely a great choice with non-mobile infants and older kids with a little more street sense.

Read my full review of Castle Rock here.

CJ had less day sleep than usual on Sunday, not napping until after we got back from our Gondola adventure, and the adults were feeling a little weary too. We decided to get take-out from Thai Temple, the Thai restaurant that we had seen on our walk from Joe’s Garage a couple of nights previously. While CJ does like his spicy food, we organised him a “breakfast for dinner” meal and made a phone order just before putting down the toddler and enjoying a night in. The food was piping hot when Papa M collected it and was definitely comparable to our favourite local places.

Read my full review of Thai Temple here.

Monday

We flew home in the morning and our meals were back to usual, with a slightly heftier tilt towards fruit and vegetables which we never seem to eat as much of while we are away. Are you guys the same?

I feel like we were really lucky with our restaurant selections this time round. With the exception of The Tannery, it was quite stress-free and easy to find places with good food and a great family atmosphere. Have I missed out on any of your Christchurch favs?

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10 Totally Random Facts About Me

  While driving to get my brows waxed today, I had a flashback to a really random experience I had as a fourteen year old (perks of living in your childhood home) and thought that I’d share some of the random facts of my life that you may or may not know. So starting off with the memory that triggered it all off:

  1. When I was fourteen I went out with my friends and our younger sisters and we were all catching the bus back to our place. Instead of dropping us off on the main road, the bus driver drove down our winding street and dropped us off literally outside our house. Even in hindsight I can’t tell whether that was cool or creepy.
  2. My first love cheated on me, which was lame enough as it was. But then the girl he cheated on me with said he was the father of her kid (he wasn’t), they got together, and SHE proceeded to stalk ME for another year before I moved out of home. Feel free to agree with me that the whole situation made zero sense.
  3. I had an obsession with languages growing up – at one point I had fluent French, plus had taken classes in Russian and Mandarin. I wish we’d been able to raise CJ bilingual. I’d like to be able to speak both Te Reo and Samoan.
  4. My debating coach hit on me the year after I left high school. I returned to the school for an event and he came onto me so obviously that even my sister’s friends picked it up. I mean, bless him for not making a move when it would have been tantamount to serious malpractice but it did make me rethink all those times we’d been alone in a room at lunch time.
  5. As pathetic as it sounds, what I miss most about my pre-kid days is the ability to sit on the couch and read books cover to cover with no one to worry about but myself.
  6. I love being 30. I don’t know whether it’s the age or my stage of life but I’ve never been so sure of who I am or what I want as I am now.
  7. I desperately want someone I know to get married in the Pacific Islands so we have an excuse to go there. I feel like we can’t take money away from our saving goals otherwise.
  8. I resent the cat, but only in the afternoons. It’s just too much when I get in from work and I’m trying to get CJ’s dinner sorted before he throws a fit and then the cat starts up and half the time bunts the cat biscuits off the table because I’m not moving fast enough.
  9. I ate like absolute garbage last week and lost weight… Proof that I’ve no idea how my body works. 
  10. The angriest I’ve ever seen my dad is when I tore the ligaments in the top of my right foot three days before we flew out to Disneyland. I’d been jumping off the fence using a plastic bag as a parachute, only this time my shorts caught on the fence and I gave myself the wedgie of my life before landing funny on my foot. I was on crutches for the first couple of days of our holidays but was pretty sweet after that.

If you’ve got a random story or fact to share, I’d love to hear it!