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!


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!

“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

Tomorrow, tomorrow… I love you, tomorrow, you’re only a day away!

And isn’t that the truth! Tomorrow has many a times, crept up so quickly, that I blinked and it was yesterday! So in effort to make tomorrow’s today, a wonderfully relaxing one, here are a few things I’ve learnt over the last couple of years to do (and I’m constantly adjusting this…)

1. Make more use of my ‘automatic appliances’. God bless the women of the past who actually washed their clothing by hand, and then heroically wrung it out, so that hopefully it was dry enough to hang without stretching, and dry by the end of the day! No no no, if you have a washing machine, make it work baby! But remember, you don’t have to be there to make it work! I know, crazy concept! I find the best routine is to dump the dishes in the dishwasher if you have one, or get hubby to help dry and do it together (quality time is family time) , then run around the house, grabbing all the dirty laundry out of all the hampers. Very rarely in a cold wash, do clothes run, so unless it is bright red, or are your new jeans, I find it matters very little to separate colours. If you’re going to have time in the morning to hang it up, put the machine on a long soak cycle to start in the morning, or if not, just get it to wash, and hang it on an indoor/outdoor clothes hanger like the one in this picture, just before going to bed. . If there is anything I hate more, it is re-hanging washing that got wet in the rain. Do it one, and that is it! Then in the morning, if it’s sunny, pop it outside, and if not, put it to the side (or if you’re having guest pop it away in one of the bedrooms. So that’s all for today, as I’ve got dinner to get to, But I’ll keep adding to this post, and look forward to your own ideas on making tomorrow’s today, easy, fun and worth enjoying!

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!