All posts in Put this on your to do list

Put this on your to do list: Projecteo

http://www.getprojecteo.comIn another life I was an Art History Teacher.  One of the coolest bits of being an art history teacher (pre-internet and digital projectors) is that you got to have a classroom with a slide projector and hundreds and hundreds of slides.

Even for a generation who have only distant memories of slide shows from parents (or more likely grandparents) slide projectors are a hugely nostalgic thing.

But instagram isn’t – instagram is everywhere.  We have it, we use it, we share it and there seem to be a million ways to turn our instagrams into magnets, books, calendars, posters, framed artworks, stickers and movies. Projecteo combines the nostalgia of the slide projector with the access and availability of instagram.

Pick nine instagram images and Projecteo will develop them on to a single frame of 35mm slide film which is inserted into a small black wheel. They then send you the wheel and a teeny tiny miniature projector.

It is awesome AND it is miniature – that is all.

 

Put this on your to do list: Create a habit

Habit List They say it takes 30 days to form a habit. Ahem, maybe that’s why my “every other day, when I remember” exercise regime is not working for me.

I think I may just give this app a try – it includes everything you need to reach your goals, all on your phone. According to their web page it motivates you, helps you stay focused, and keeps you on track. Yes please – I will take any help I can get.

Watch this space.

Put this on your to do list: The reluctant father.

http://www.thereluctantfather.com/#The Reluctant Father serves as a letter, a journal, a diary, an acknowledgement of one dad’s somewhat reluctant journey into fatherhood.  The project is best outlined in an excerpt below…

To future fathers: When you’re asked how you like being a new dad, follow this script to the letter.

Q: So, how do you like being a father? Do you love it?

A: (EYES MISTING OVER SLIGHTLY, AS YOU REACH FOR A HANKIE)

I’m amazed at the miracle of life. She’s so precious! I could look at her all day!’

I resented the enormous cultural pressure that demanded only one response from me.

When I told people I didn’t like it very much, their faces would wrinkle like a walnut. They’d look at me as though I’d taken off all my clothes, and the results were slightly unpleasant.

It wasn’t that I didn’t feel responsible for loulou. I was there. To change diapers. To get up in the middle of the night, to do whatever needed to be done. But I felt no emotional connection.

It was like trying to have a relationship with a sea-sponge, or a single-cell protozoa.

She didn’t DO anything. Or at least, nothing I could understand.

From there the journey continues and the reluctant father ultimately metmorphises into the most doting of fathers.  What is most astonishing is, on reflection, the way the photos change as he goes from reluctant to besotted.

Worth a look.

Put This on Your To Do List: Beads of Courage

Beads of Courage - Child Cancer

The Child Cancer Foundation is in desperate need of bead artists.

Beads of Courage is an fantastic programme which helps children cope by decreasing their illness-related distress, increases the use of positive coping strategies, helps them to find meaning in their illness and helps to restore their sense of self through creativity. The programme also provides something tangible that a child can use to tell family and care-givers about their experience during treatment.  With each procedure or milestone in their treatment they are given a special bead.

There are only a very small community of bead artists in New Zealand and of the community that exists, only a few are currently donating beads on a regular basis.  Are you able to help them out by making some lamp worked beads for donation to the programme, or even by donating any odd lamp worked beads that you have spare on a regular basis?

This year The Child Cancer foundation expect that they will need approximately 5000 of these handmade beads donated so that children can continue to receive one-of-a-kind beads for significant treatment milestones. These beads truly bring the arts to the arts-in-medicine mission. They are currently reaching only 1800 and need all the help they can get to help the kids.

Each bead donated by the community of glass bead artists are individually packaged and presented to the child. It is given with a card that specifies the donating artist’s name. So it is very personalised – each child and their parents know who has lovingly made this bead for them.

If you have any questions or want more information click here or please call coordinator Kari on (09) 416 5624.

 

 

Put This On Your To Do List: My Family Food Bag – Review #1

My Family Food BagTake one family of five, with three boys under five, and the thought of having your dinners planned and ingredients delivered is nothing short of heavenly. It truly was like Christmas had come again when the courier visited our home at 8pm on Sunday night – one of our ratbags was still awake and greeted him at the door, ‘Mummm there’s a man here with food for us!’ He proceeded to show the courier through to the kitchen where he picked out the baby carrots. ‘Oooooooh mum! Are these to feed to the horses? What are these green bits?’ Finally, cue mother-guilt. My four year old son had never seen a baby carrot with the ‘green bits’ still on. Bless. 
After trying to find places for all the delicious produce and fresh meat, I sat down with the menu cards and was rather sceptical. Salads, salads in wraps and salads in rice paper… are my kids just not going to eat for three nights?! Salads?! My kids don’t eat salad. Do yours?

Night #1 – Fish Tacos.
The kids got right into the preparation of this meal. They helped slice the avocado and mango for the salad and proceeded to construct their fish tacos with a dressing of their choice as directed by the recipe – tomato sauce. They are kiwi kids after all…

Night #2 – Mini Beef Sliders.
Deeeelish! That bread. I could eat that for dinner on its own. Nice job Paneton. We added A LOT of seasoning to the patties, but they were absolutely delicious. Dad wasn’t home for dinner so there were plenty of left overs – the kids enjoyed them the following night and mum enjoyed not having to do a thing but re-heat and re-plate!

Night #3 – Chicken Chop Salad.
Hmm. 300gms of chicken for five people? It was the best part of the meal and there quite simply wasn’t enough. The kids weren’t interested at all so I did the usual ‘If you don’t eat your dinner you can head off to bed hungry.’ Well they did, and they didn’t ask for anything else. Yikes. There’s a first time for everything right?

Night #4 – Goats cheese, broccoli and pea pasta.
I have to admit, the ‘optional’ ¼ glass of wine’ in the recipe stayed in my glass and out of the pan. I was probably more sceptical about this meal than any of the others. It just sounded plain. Cheese, broccoli, peas and pasta. Really?! No bacon, chicken, stock powder, nothing.
I will now eat my words, as well as the entire recipe of pasta. What a beautiful dish! I’d never eaten goat’s cheese before and I am absolutely in love. This was a hit with the kids too. Dad wasn’t home for dinner, thank goodness, and his share was quickly gobbled up. The broccoli was still fresh (it would usually have gone soft and droopy by now!) and there is still some of the pasta packet in the cupboard. Watch this space, I will attempt it again!

Night #5 – Lamb Rice Paper Rolls with Noodles
Hmm. This recipe said it was gluten free if you omitted the egg noodles… yet the rice paper was made with ½ rice and ½ wheat flour. We made a salad instead as Dad was home for dinner this night. The sauce was lovely – I made several batches and turned it into a dressing for our salad and it was just beautiful! I had egg noodles through my salad and the kids enjoyed sucking them up and flicking the dressing everywhere, the lamb was tender and pink (nice job on the cooking Dad!) and the meal went down a treat.

Verdict:
Fresh produce, beautiful meat, pre-determined recipes (open for substitutions and alterations) and the goods delivered to your door. What more could you ask for?! My family tried food they hadn’t had before, and things I wouldn’t have cooked so we are voting My Family Food Bag gets the thumbs up.

Put this on your to do list: My Family Food Bag #theteenagercooked

theteenagercookedAt work,  when the opportunity came up at work to trial the new My Family Food Bag, I wasn’t actually sure we were the right family for the job.  Nobody we knew had ever tried it.  Quietly we doubted they could really supply enough fresh meat and veges to feed a whole family. The price seemed very cheap and privately we all if the people at My Food Bag really knew how much a family could get through when it came to food.

At home, it was the start of another school year.  For the kids it was back into a routine of uniforms, homework, after school practices.  It is also the time of year when, as a family, we sit down and work out which household jobs the kids will do as part of their contribution to getting our family up and out the door 5 days a week. Cooking meals is something I remember myself doing as a weekly job but it wasn’t a routine that we had ever nailed with any regularity in our own house.

And then…. I had an idea – instead of the parents cooking the food – let’s give My Family Food Bag to ‘the teenager’ for a week and see if she could cook our family 5 meals unassisted simply using the My Family Food Bag Recipes and ingredients. Our teenager (my 15yr old step-daughter) is pretty awesome but asking her to cook for our family of 4 was still a pretty big ask.

Our first impression was just how much food there was.  The teenager unpacked all of the items, rolled up her sleeves and got stuck into ‘Fish Tacos’ with Mango Salsa.  And so it began… the next four nights she cooked full meals for our family totally unaided by any other adult.  The recipes were clear, they didn’t miss anything out and we found ourselves quickly becoming rather accustomed to sitting in the sun with a quiet drink while dinner was cooked for us by the teenager.

What were our meals?  Soft Fish Tacos with Mexican Mango salad and Steamed Rice; Yummy Chicken Chop Salad; Little Lamb Rice Paper Rolls with Vegetables and Warm Egg Noodles; Little Beef Bap Burgers with Cheddar, Avocado and Cherry Tomatoes and Fusilli Pasta, Broccoli, Peas and Baby Carrots.

Were there stuff ups?  Not really – a couple of times the vocabulary of cooking came into play and we had to translate but nothing too major.  Did the teenager take longer than the average adult? Yup – because we had a vigilant non-cook on our hands the recipe reading was pretty intensive but certainly not hard. We found most meals with 30mins prep time took our teenager 45mins. Could you eat it at the end? Each and every meal the teenager prepared us was delicious and looked very much like the photo on the recipe card. Was anything missing? My Family Food Bag was a slick operation form start to finish – right from the Friday afternoon email that told us what we’ve be having for dinner next week, to the grocery check off list, the language of the recipes and even the delivery. Was there enough food? Every single time.

What did we learn? Portion size – My Family Food Bag isn’t a diet or a healthy eating plan but it is healthy – great fresh veges and meat will do that for you.  Our biggest learning was regarding portion sizes – our family really likes food and while the meals were never small they were a great reminder in just what proportion of your meal should be vegetables.

Could you do the same thing for the same money yourself? I seriously doubt it and definitely not in Hamilton. Many of the products that made the meals delicious, such as the egg noodles, are sadly not able to be purchased anywhere near where we live.  The quality of the veges and meat was superior and not anything we could have purchased at our local supermarket (please note we live rurally).  For us, as a busy family, the added bonus of having every single ingredient arrive at your door at the start of the week was awesome.

Was there a downside?  My Family Food Bag is aimed at the New Zealand family that is trying to get kids to eat a good spread of veges and meat and to try new things without going too far out of their comfort zone. If you’re a more adventurous family of eaters I suggest you try The Classic Food Bag or get The Family Bag and keep extra chillies to hand.

When the week was over we had a teenager who felt that she had achieved no small feat in cooking for a family of four for 5 nights.  We also had two adults who had grown very accustomed to their own personal chef complete with the freshest of veges and high quality meat. My Food Bag also had a new regular customer. Check out the teenagers efforts on twitter #theteenagercooked

 

Put this on your to do list: Clothes Swap

ZM clothes swap We are always on the hunt for new outfits, and have heard about the great ZM clothes swap happening this weekend (March 8th)

Happening in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch we think it would be a great girl’s day out, plus a fun (and cheap) way to revive the wardrobe.

If anyone is able to get there, we’d love to hear about it – email us and let us know how it went.

Check out all the details here.

Put this on your to-do list: Book of Family Favourites

http://www.thekitchn.com/gift-idea-make-162227My Dad laments the fact that his mother passed away without passing on her pink icing recipe to anyone in her family.  His sister, my aunt, makes a damn good pick icing coconut cake in my humble opinion but according to my Dad – it will never hold a candle to Grandma’s.

Every family has a bunch of these types of recipes long cherished and anticipated at Christmas, for birthdays and central to any family get together.  Many people would argue that those recipes, those dishes are sometimes the best piece of the family get together full stop.

Think – what would be the must have recipes you would choose? I know a Mum whose Grandmother survived World War 2 and as a Czech Refugee in New Zealand found solace for her homesickness in a delicious savoury dumpling, one of our MoT team has a caramel addiction that started when her mother discovered what happened to condensed milk when she placed it in the pressure cooker and yet another team member claims that her mother’s first attempt at satisfying her daughter’s new found vegetarianism with a vegemite and cottage cheese loaf  is the one recipe that is truly indispensable to her life.

If this post has you talking then check out this awesome blog post from The Kitchn where they’ll talk you through how to make a family cookbook for under $5 using the online publishing platform Blurb

Put this on your To-Do list: Suckies and ABC Magnets

sassy_strawberry_long_angled-MagnetsWe know you remember it.  Depending on how old you are your memory will be of Nomad Tags, Trek Tags, Petrol Station Smurfs, Yopi watches, Shrink-a-dinks, Snork Bubblegum Tattoos, Scratch and Sniff Stickers, Kinder Surprise Toys, Rubbers, Strawberry Shortcake Pals or All Black Cards.

We’re talking about the collectable obsession of your childhood (I find I am alone in the office in remembering the Snork bubblegum tattoos by the way).  You remember the way that school suddenly became all about play lunch and the hunt for the elusive Poppa Smurf or Nomad Tag?  And that sense of injustice when somebody scored the chocolate milkshake scratch and sniff sticker and all you were left with was the dumb-ass ‘daisies in a  summer meadow’ one (or am I getting too personal?)

Anyway… we’re here to give you advance warning of the latest playground obsession. Our good friends at The Collective are packing a cute as can be alphabet magnet into every pack of Berry, Banana and Strawberry Suckies from the 1st of February.

MoT loves The Collective and not just because they make Apple Crumble Yoghurt but because they are New Zealand made, independent, doing it for themselves, making it all in Avondale, funny, honest and full to the brim of integrity. They also employ a bunch of mums who are juggling the jiggle just like us – and we love that about them.

From tomorrow each pack will include one free ABC magnet – there are 26 different designs of magnet for each letter of the alphabet which we know your kids will love to collect. We’ll be supporting the 8 week programme through the duration and we hope that all you lovely MoTs will too. Look out for daily giveaways via their Facebook page.

Get it on your to do list today.

Put this on your to do list: I Love You Mummy

Having a bad day?  We live in a world of smart phones and high speed internet.  While our own mothers cherished a scrap of paper with our love you mum scrawlings on it, we can now carry photos (oodles of them) in our pockets on the genius invention that is the smart phone.

You have to love this idea though.  11 seconds guaranteed to warm any heart (and I don’t even know this kid!).  Make your own version and play it in the toilet to yourself when you’re having a bad day just to remember that you are the centre of the universe for your little person.

Genius.

Put this on your to do list: How to write to Santa

As I wandered around our supermarket this last weekend I was horrified to see Advent calendars for sale – seriously? It’s the beginning of October!

My kids started talking about Christmas and their wish lists, and the usual writing to Santa came up as something we will need to be doing.

Luckily Kid President as the writing of the official “letter to Santa” sorted. Check this out:

Spring Has Sprung at Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs - family and baby kiwiIt’s spring; a hint of summer is in air, the flowers are blossoming and at Rainbow Springs, the kiwi are starting to hatch.

Rainbow Springs’ involvement in kiwi conservation began in 1995 with the arrival of an orphaned egg and the hatchery has grown over the years to become the largest kiwi hatching facility in New Zealand, successfully incubating and hatching brown kiwi eggs from around the North Island.  More than 1,200 kiwi have hatched at Rainbow Springs and released back into the wild – a huge boost to the conservation of kiwi numbers.

Spring marks the start of the new hatching season, and by all accounts, the 2013-2014 season is shaping up to be another big one.  Kiwi eggs arrived at Rainbow Springs as early as June this year, one from Taranaki has hatched and another two from Maungataniwha (Napier) are incubating on-site and will arrive before the school holidays at the end of September.

There is also a lovely example of the love and care the extended family can offer siblings in the native bird world, with a caring ‘Grandad’ kiwi continually incubating and hatching eggs for his daughter.  The story begins with Tika the adult kiwi male who hasn’t quite got his priorities right!  So far his faithful partner Ahi has laid nine eggs, but instead of sticking to his fatherly duties and incubating the egg, as is the traditional kiwi male role, he wanders off relinquishing that duty to the chicks’ Grandfather Tahi instead.

It’s quite odd behaviour for a kiwi.  Adult male kiwi are supposed to incubate kiwi eggs, this gives mum a break after delivering such a huge egg, but not Tika! Thankfully granddad Tahi is doing a wonderful job.  Kiwi sit for a total of 78-80 days in the wild.  At Rainbow Springs, as part of the breeding programme they sit on the egg for the first 40-60 days, before it is transferred it to an incubator to complete the incubation. Continue reading →

Put this on your to do list: Blueprints

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 3.49.19 PMEarlier in the year our family had the BEST holiday overseas.  It was awesome and one of the best bits was that we hooked up everyone’s phone, camera, iPad, iPod, iPhone (and all the other electronic paraphernalia no one seemed to need or have 4 years ago) to the same instagram account.  It was the best because everyone was in charge of taking their own photos and we ended up with a set of holiday photos form everyones perspective.

We were flabbergasted by the different perspectives all of us had on the same location.  Kids were able to get closer than adults because they were cuter but the adults were taller so they had a different angle.

Once we got home I did one of the cleverest things I have ever done and uploaded the lot to prinstagram.  In about ten days a beautifully wrapped package appeared on my doorstep.  It was all our instagram holiday snaps – beautifully printed on lovely stock in vibrant colours. The prints were beautiful – so beautiful that we picked the best lot and got them framed.

I tell you this story because now the clever people at prinstagram have invented Blueprints – which is the facebook version of the very same thing. So you can take all of those photos you’ve accumulated from your committed facebook relationships and print them as individual photos, in frames, as posters and in books.  Best of all even though we are in little old New Zealand they have flat rate international postage which means you don’t have to mortgage the house to get the photos here.

So get your photos of your facebook wall and put them on your real one.

Win Two Double Passes To Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs - Big SplashIt’s that time again, the school holidays are just around the corner. Have you made any plans?

We are lucky enough to be able to offer you the chance to win two double passes to Rainbow Springs.  If you missed out last time this could be your opportunity to experience first-hand this stunning 22 acre park with a fun and friendly atmosphere.

If you would like the opportunity to win two double passes to Rainbow Springs, all you need to do is the following:

  • Check out the Rainbow Springs website  and have a look at the fun images of  The Big Splash.
  • Write a caption for one of the images in the comments section below (Mums on Top blog).

Make sure you have entered your caption by 5pm Monday the 23rd of September.  Good luck!

This competition is now closed.  Thanks for taking the time to enter.

A Mum Did This: Vicki

A Mum Did This: VickiDescribe your business in a sentence.  I set up Parents Online New Zealand to provide a brand meet blog community for Kiwi Mums and Dads in early 2013. We have already held our very first blogger training workshop in Auckland in early August and it was very successful with rave reviews from the attendees. I train small business owners on how to reach their audience and grow their business by using a brilliant content strategy. 

How did it all begin?  I started blogging in 2010 when I was restricted from working by the UK Border Agency, to keep from going nutso. I was mainly successful and Vegemitevix quickly grew from there. When I returned to NZ in December I was busting with ideas and info I wanted to share with other Kiwi blogging Mums so I established Parents Online New Zealand and our now famous BlogCamps.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned in the last couple of weeks?  The value and beauty of silver linings should not  be underestimated.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  A nun, a mum, a foreign correspondent, a writer, a grown up. In that order. (I still would like to be a grown up….)

What’s your best skill outside of creating and sustaining an entertaining blog as well as providing support for the digitally dumb-struck? I can literally feed the many with a few fish, or a block of cheese a can of tomatoes and some pasta.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday?  Coffee. Sleep. Hanging out with the teenagers and my Englishman.

What embarrassing incident have you never gotten over?   The Flying Brazilian. The story here.

How do you jiggle the juggle?  I’ve been jiggling since 1993 when I fell pregnant with my first child and first business simultaneously. Accepting you will always be letting someone down – either family or clients – at any one time is essential.

What do the futures of Digital Discussions and Vegemitevix hold?  I have my memoir, entitled From Pavlova to Pork Pies, almost ready to publish and have some exciting speaking gigs coming up later this year.

How do we find you?  You can find me blogging or herding cats at http://www.parentsonlinenewzealand.com or being the consummate professional at http://www.digital-discussions.com

If you would like to enter to win a ticket to the Wellington or Auckland BlogCamp then click here.