Town Mouse Country Mouse

Our journey from the city to a town called Masterton in Wairarapa region of New Zealand

Wairarapa countryside

About 10 months ago, mid September, we packed up our house to up and leave the big smoke, to move to the beautiful Wairarapa to a town called Masterton. I think most of our friends in Auckland imagined we were leaving to pitch our tent in a one-horse town, as we ourselves hadn’t even seen Masterton until last June (only 3 months before we came). We had the wonderful opportunity to come and work in Masterton, earn a good income, halve the price of putting a roof over our heads, and also enjoy 10x the amount of land we lived on. So with 3 busy boys in mind, the lure of ‘more space’ was actually the biggest draw card.

We were very blessed with a quick and easy, pretty much painless move, and have been settling well into life in Masterton on 5 acres, but very close to town.

Part of my reason to write a bit more about this amazing move, is because I’ve been enjoying the change in focus in our lifestyle. The weather here is amazing, so after a “not very well thought out” decision, and a quick stop at Mitre10, I bought a cherry tomato plant, 3 ‘fancy’ lettuce plants and a 6 punnet of chilli seedlings (our son’s choice…”To make peri-peri with dad”). Well, a few weeks later, the tomato plant has gone from the the size of an average Auckland Starbucks Grande Latte, to the size of a local Wairarapa sheep! Several months later, after picking a few cherry tomatoes here and there for salads (with our equally thriving lettuce plants), we harvested easily a 1000 cherry tomatoes. I suddenly realised why ‘pickling’, ‘canning’ and chutneys and jams, are consistent terms in CountyLife and other equally relaxing named magazines. I was suddenly thrilled to have saved all our Pic’s peanut butter jars as we bottled about 10 jars each of tomato sauce, chilli chutney, tomato chutney, and even then, I think we still had some green tomato chutney to make which might have not happened… (guilt moment).

Anyway, after seeing how well the gardens grow (Yes, Mary Mary Quite Contrary may have possibly lived in the Wairarapa, most probably next door to Mary who had a little lamb), we’ve invested in some more fruit trees (black dorris plum, billington plum, figs and mandarins) to add to the apple and quince trees that are thriving. I have no real knowledge of gardening, so have haphazardly been collecting information to know how to supply more food from our block of land and be able to save money at the supermarket. I’ve learnt though, that there is the “fancy” (read pricey) way to garden which can get very expensive very quickly (making it less frugal and more about ‘knowing where it was grown’) or you can collect information and then work around it in the garden. If I get organised, I can grow seedlings from seeds on the window sill, make a worm farm for $20 instead of $200 for a ‘named’ one, and compost pretty easily without a fancy bin.


On top of all this ‘green’ fingers stuff, is my new found interest in building up a better financial future for our family with small little steps that make big differences in the future. It started with me reading Scott Pape’s, The Barefoot Investor book which opened my eyes to how I can more carefully plan our life and our future and get the bank off our bank in the nearer future. I also read Unshakable by Tony Robbins which for me, got me considering the fees I am paying my Kiwisaver provider (horrendous!!), has been a great tool during this journey.  I feel empowered that we’re now heading in a much better direction at a much better pace. I’m so excited to share more about that journey too, as I feel we can all retire a little better off if we just set a few things in place.

Our family on our lifestyle block (Photo courtesy of Ashley Syms Photography)

Our move away from the big city (which we still love and gave us such a great start to our ‘grown-up’ life) has opened our eyes to the fact that there is not only ‘life’ beyond the bright lights, but it is thriving! People seem to have so much more time which seems to spill over into other areas of their lives in such a positive way. We’re grateful for all the people who have helped make this move so wonderful, who have been generous with not only their precious time, but also their food, supplies, machines, and overall with their support. My advice to anyone who is considering such a momentous move to a smaller regional area of NZ, is to take in all that the area has to offer, research, meditate, visit and know that smaller towns of NZ really are wonderful, and you may find like us, that it was the best decision you could have made.

With love,


Jo and the boys (and our dog, 10 chickens, 2 borrowed sheep and our newest arrival, our jersey calf MissyMoo)

Missy Moo and I getting acquainted. She will grow up to hopefully be our house cow and raise a few beefy’s too.



Library book mayhem

We LOVE books! My 2 and a half year old is a very active boy, who amazingly enough will happily sit down and read 3 or 4 books with me… twice! (Read to them from day 1 even when you think they’re not very interested, it really pays off). So it’s not unbelievable that there are pretty much books scattered all over the house. So I’ve decided to start a book hamper just for the borrowed library books. I went online and got this gorgeous hamper with a removable insert bag so we could take it straight to the library! And… It’s in a central place between the kitchen and living room area. Also I’ve decided that its not a strict basket otherwise he may begin to despise the basket and its contents, but rather, a destination for the books hanging around the house. If I see a library book lying next to my bed, the floor, it now has a place to go! Plus when I’m rushing out the door, most of the library books are in the right place and easily found!


Quick and easy banana pikelets/pancakes for a snack

I’ve discovered these quick and easy protein snacks – Banana pikelets. Whip them up in about 5 minutes for hungry little tums!

1 mashed banana
1 egg lightly beaten
Two teaspoons flour (I use a gluten free mix at the moment)
Pinch of salt

Mix all together and drop spoonfills into a non-stick frypan (I grease with a touch of coconut oil).
Cook and flip after about 1-2mins per side (watch for little air bubbles to know when to flip)

Onto plate and into little tummies!

Friendships and New Toys

So I got some amazing appliances from a very dear friend of mine who sadly moved back to the northern hemisphere. This means most of her appliances wouldn’t work there! I’m so grateful for several reasons. Firstly, every time I use, for example, the food processor, I remember conversations we’ve had about something simple like making hummus, and that reminds me of other great chats we had. So it feels like she is in the kitchen with me, as she has been so much in the past 12 months! It is wonderful, and more of a gift than I could have imagined than just an awesome kitchen appliance.

The other reason I love these new appliances (a food processor, blender and dehydrator) is that I’m discovering all sorts of fun things I can make. In the last several days I’ve made…

  • Dried cinnamon apple pieces (recipe courtesy of Eat Like a Dinosaur by Paleo Parents)
  • Hummus with and without sundried tomatoes added. (I make lots and freeze small portions in a cupcake tray lined with cling-wrap)
  • Banana chips (have to work on those)
  • Coconut Milk (dairy free) Frappacino! Yummy yummy!

On another note, I’m excited as I’m currently in the process of making some ‘Coconut Condensed Milk’ for a Lemon Meringue Pie I will be making for a friend! Looking forward to seeing if it works, and if it is accepted as a replacement in my annual lemon meringue pie! Updates soon!!

Changing times

So I’d better update this blog…

As I want it to be about all the things that make my life easier, I thought I’d better write about what’s been happening as its all a little harder, hence the need to make things easier! 9 weeks ago, we had our second gorgeous little child, and we love him to bits! We’ve nicknamed him Tank, as he grew 2 kgs in his first 8 weeks! Whew, a lot of feul from mummy means I get to eat a lot! Since then, it has been a whirlwind of learning to balance a 2 and a half year old, and a baby! Its be fun, tiring, amazing!

The other big change in my life is that I’ve decided to go gluten and dairy free. Two reasons, our older boy has had bumps on the back of his arms and legs for as long as we can remember (probably about 2-3 months old) and we’re hoping it may help. This will take at least 7-12 weeks to see if it is working, so its a long shot. And secondly, because they both ‘spewked’ a lot while on breastmilk… well since I’m still feeding little one, he still ‘spewks’. “Spewk’ is our term for a mixture of puke and milk spillage while burping our baby. It doesn’t bother him, he’s not phased at all… it just creates a heck of a lot of washing, both his clothes and mind. And of course, there’s the carpet.

So that brings me to gluten free (and as a minor – dairy free). Actually dairy free is a major because I LOVE cheese. But sadly, no more.

However, I’ve found that gluten free, means I have basically forced myself to eat more fruit and vege when I’m looking for a quick snack, as my go-to used to be peanut butter and toast. So in the past 5 days, I think I’m already healthier for it as I don’t thing peanut butter on toast three to four times a day is very good for anyone!

Tonight I’ve made a roast chicken, and had to get imaginiative with the stuffing. So I took some left over quinoa from last night’s dinner, and added some chopped dates, nuts, onions, and an egg. We’ll see, its in the oven cooking now.

Other than buying really expensive ‘alternative’ flours which I have, I think going grain free and completely leaving those flour foods will make life easier for me as I start this journey. I’ve bought alternative flours so I can still enjoy baking with my toddler. We made some really yummy apple muffins this morning. And it will help keep my husband sane as he doesn’t really want to leave his lifetime addiction to pastries and all the temptation that comes from a bakery behind. So we make coconut flour pancakes… yummy!

I’ve also discovered that it doesn’t have to be expensive if you just go to the fruit shop more, and the supermarket less. Basically, I’ll be at the butchery section and the fruit and vege section a lot more from now!

Also, good things to know… cornflakes often have barley wheat extract in them, as do rice crispies. Oats has got gluten in it, but it has a different chemical name… it is called Gliadin in Wheat, and Avenin in Oats. Just saying…

Oh, and dark chocolate is dairy free! Thank goodness!

Pork and Apple meatballs

Just made these pork and apple meatballs as a treat for us, and they were so easy (I added a couple of broccoli florets and a grated carrot to sneak in some more goodness) and everyone loved them. Served up with a tomato bolognaise type sauce, and rustic (skin on) mashed potatoes! They looked really good too! Easy peasy to bake (frying is hard stinky work) and enjoyed by the whole family! Thanks Growl in my Tummy blogger!

“The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her.”

If you know me at all, you know I love to regularly pop into the local op shop for a therapeutic session of good quality bargain hunting. For things your child will need to wear or have for only a short time, keep a little lookout at your local opshop (church thrift/secondhand store) as many other have bought new, used one, and then donated it… ready for you to come and find! I often grab a pair of gumboots that fit our son now, and if I see a nice pair for him for later, i stash those away too! Way better than paying 30 bucks for a pair, when I can pay 3 dollars for two pairs of the cutest ones I’ve seen! I don’t buy ‘normal’ clothes like t-shirts/shorts as there are plenty being passed on or gifted, but I’ve got a snowsuit for about ten dollars, and a rain suit for $3. Also, the sweetest little fur trimmed red parka jacket for four dollars. As the prodgeny of one of the secret society of ‘sunscreen police’, there are never too many sunhats around, so if I see a good one, I buy it even if it doesn’t fit Leo yet. 

Few rules with op shopping I try to stick by:

  • Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean you have to have it, or have to buy it. Be strict with quality. If its torn, broken or ‘could’ be fixed don’t buy it unless you promise to take it home and fix it straight away. 
  • If you’re not sure, walk away and let it be. Pop in again in a few days if you want and see how you go. THe little red jacket I left for a few weeks, and finally bought when a howling gale outside made me realise our little man actually needed it and we didn’t have anything else! It was still there… awesome!
  • Be nice to the people in the store, don’t haggle over 50c, its a charity store for goodness sake! Let them keep the change sometimes, its a great feeling anyway. 
  • And finally, donate back to the store!Help others get a great bargain from your treasures you no longer use. Image

Keep Calm and Carry On

This is beautifully written by another blogger Mother of Four. I couldn’t say it better, so to quote herImage:
From MckMama:
“How do you do it? How do you stay so calm with four young children?”Part of it is just how God made me, I think. I am pretty calm with my children. And, honestly, often I stay calm even in the midst of chaos because, frankly, it’s better than the alternative. A shrieking, freaking out mama is not going to make an already stressful situation any better. So, for the most part, I stay calm and try to be in the moment with my children.

But how do I do it?

There is one little bit of inspiration that literally descended upon me almost two years ago, while I was holding Nuggey in the bathroom, that has completely revolutionized my parenting. When I keep this truth in mind, I find it as easy as apple pie to stay calm in the midst of toddler chaos.

I remember that I’m gonna miss this.

It was dark, during the end of bathtime, and Prince Charming was gone. I was doing dinner, baths and bedtime myself those days, as my husband worked late. It had been, undoubtedly, a long day with the kids. Big Mac was three, Nuggey was one and a half and Small Fry was a baby. It is as clear as day still, this memory.

I was sitting on the toilet, drying MckNugget off after his bath. Small Fry, unable to roll, was sprawled on the floor of the bathroom on some towels, wearing nothing but a diaper and a grimace. Big Mac was still in the tub. He was squawking to get out and Small Fry was bellyaching for attention. But I slowly wrapped Nuggey up in his towel, determined to stay calm, and cuddled him in terrycloth. I slowly rocked him back and forth in my arms and sang Rock-a-bye Baby to my second born.

As I wrapped up the song, I prepared to sit Nuggey up and attend to the chaos that was the other children. After all, there were baths to finish, teeth to brush, diapers to put on, jammies to find and beds to tuck children into. But as he sensed me about to right him, Nuggey tossed his wet head back in my arms and looked up at me. “Uh-gain!”

So I sang Rock-a-bye Baby one more time, but I told him it would be the last. Yet when I finished, he begged again for more.

I didn’t want to do more. I didn’t want to sing to him one more time. I was tired. Tired of children, tired of singing, tired of the day. I just wanted it to be over. But then suddenly, as if fairy dust was sprinkled from the heavens right onto my tired head, the entire reality of my future set in.

I’m gonna miss this.

I looked down at little Nuggey, his damp eyelashes long and dark batting at me, his tiny bottom cradled in my hand, his soft, chubby legs thrown over my arm, his body entirely dependent on mine as I held him in my lap, and I could see the future. Nuggey, a grown boy, sporting a football jersey and facial hair, walked out of the bathroom. It was going to happen, and soon. And while I knew there would be joys with that time in my life, when our young children are teenagers and beyond, it struck me like a ton of bricks.

When that time comes, I’m gonna miss this.

When Nuggey comes home from college, barely speaks a word to me and hibernates in his bedroom all summer, I’m gonna miss this. As my mind fast forwarded to the future, I knew that at that moment, I would give anything for 20 year old Nuggey to be a toddler again, just for one more hour, so I could rock him and sing while I stroked his wet head.

And here, years earlier, I was being given my wish. I was able to rock Nuggey, a nearly helpless babe in arms, one more time.

Given a new perspective from which to see, I sang Rock-a-bye Baby as many times as Nuggey would let me that night. Eventually Small Fry found her hands and started admiring them, and Big Mac grabbed a new tub toy. And I relished that time with my son in my arms, knowing that soon enough he would be all grown, and my arms would ache to hold him like a baby again.

I’m gonna miss this.

My mind cannot help but wander to those parents who have lost children. What on earth would they not give to hold their children again, even for a moment. I bet they would not complain about having to sing Rock-a-bye Baby one more time. Rather, they would probably give their right arm to sing it ten million times until their voice was hoarse and their eyelids closed in slumber.

And women with empty wombs who long and pray and ache for children? What honor am I doing them if I take for granted the fact that I have children, young children who are begging me to cuddle them, sing to them. I will love those women who long for a baby by loving mybabies and not taking them for granted.

So, I determined right there and then in the bathroom to try to be ever thankful for the moments I do have with my children. I will not wish away their young years, always hoping to get more laundry done or other children dried off. I will relish each kiss, hug and song. I will leave their childhood behind with no regrets, no “I love you” unsaid, no cheek unkissed, no request to “Cuddle wif’ me!” turned down. Even as the macaroni flies and the Sharpie stains my table, even when there are midnight wailers and globs of Desitin under my fingernails, I know…

…I know I’m gonna miss this.

*When I say older, I mean anyone just a little further along than me…maybe without only toddlers…whether you have at least one school-aged child or are an empty-nester…here’s what I want to know:
-What have you learned, since having children, that you wished you would have known before having children?
-What would you have done differently, in regards to parenting, knowing what you know now?
-If you could do it all over again, would you limit the tv or video games or even ban them completely?
-What were some of your favorite memories spent with your children? What special activities did you enjoy together?
Please feel free to answer just one or all of these questions…or even share something that you wished you would have known when you were my age (25 for two more weeks, thank you very much) that would be beneficial for a 20 somethings gal to know.

Starting the day on the right foot

When you take one minute in the morning to mentally get ready for the day, I find it makes a world of difference to my overall attitude and how I exude energy! (Exude…. What a great word!)

4 questions to start our day…

1. What am I grateful for today?
Be thankful
2. What am I excited about today?
Look forward to something
3. What am I committed to right now/today?
Have a goal

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference!


Clever Tricks with Spring Onions

I am excited to share this with you, becuase it is such a simple idea, but helps prevent a lot of waste. I’m not the most organised person in the world, in fact I’m pretty far off the mark. So when it comes to buying and using fresh veggies, there is often sad looking wilting, dead and worse case, rotting veggies in the bottom of my fridge. So when I saw this idea I loved it, and most of all, after trying it, I loved that it works! When you buy your spring onion bunch (also known I believe as green onions) simple put them in a glass on the kitchen window sill, and keep watered. Mine lasted about 6 weeks this way, and I just chopped off a bit whenever I needed! The bonus is that more stems grew in those 6 weeks without me having to spend any more! Make sure you change the water regularly though!


A great idea for a healthy lunch:

Whisk two eggs in a cup and season with salt and pepper, heat a touch of oil to a non- stick fry pan. Add a sprinkle of chopped spring onions, spinach or whatever you have. If you have nothing but eggs, then so be it (tastes great anyway).

On moderate heat, pour eggs into fry pan, and spin frypan until it makes a crepe shape. Wait till cooked, roll or fold up, pop on a plate and enjoy!

Takes 2 minutes to cook, high in protein, so no toast needed to fill you up, and tastes delicious.

If I’m feeling a bit naughty, I’ll add some cheese/feta! Yum!