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.



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!

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!


Life as a Full time Mum and Part Time everything else!

I’ve decided to start a blog, as I feel that life as a full time Mum, and part-time everything-else is not only hectic, rewarding, demanding and absolutely fantastic, but that there is a wealth of knowledge and skills we learn in this role that would otherwise never be found. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention (or something like that), so I feel that mothers are the most profound inventors of ‘a few tricks up my sleeve’, or magic moments when I think to myself… ‘wow, that was a clever thing to think of doing’! I must say, most of my ‘research’ is done in the home, with my gorgeous son helping me most of the way! But, I hope that you all can be of help too as we pass information around the world of all the clever little ‘tricks up our sleeves’ for living life more efficiently, so we can have time to roll around the carpet with our little ones, or sit in parks watching them play while  enjoying a cappuccino… not worrying about what else we have to do!