Friday, 30 December 2011

Twenty Eleven

I’ve seen a few of my friends reflecting on the outgoing year, today on Facebook. Some have had pretty amazing years filled with lots of travel and significant milestones. In a lot of ways when I reflect on what I’ve done this year, I strike a blank … it doesn’t seem much – I’ve basically looked after my kids and made a whole lot of stuff.

Well that and we moved up here, the Hawkes Bay from Wellington – one year ago yesterday in fact!

This is when having a blog is pretty helpful – in jogging (blogging he he) ones memory.

So, in sum – in 2011 we:



Noah on paper (mostly) and I painted Isabelle's dresser and doll's cot.


Ate… Elmo and pizza animals (amongst other things)

potty   strawbs

We tried and failed at growing our own strawberries and toilet training

But we succeeded in finding someone's patch to pick and have had someone promising signs in the toilet training department of late.

… We mended and made new …

making 1

making 2





















There was a lot of making new (some would call it an addiction/ obsession.)

We enjoyed everything the Hawkes Bay has to offer … soaking it up like a bunch of tourists, we visited shows, fairs the local parks and enjoyed the sunshine.

003 bw025053

Noah got glasses and NZ hosted the Rugby World Cup…

glasses rugby

We won the Cup and Noah has only lost 1 pair of his glasses so far (that's a story for another time.)

The kids have grown from being a 2 year old and a new born to a big 3 year old kindy boy and now walking 1 year old bundle of energy!

then and now

Here’s to a whole new year of growing, making and generally enjoying life!

Happy New Years everyone!

Jenny and family xx


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Our week before Christmas– the highlights

So it seems that many of my blog posts of late have taken on a mish-mash/ random collection of far too many topics feel to them.

And this, I fair is the same. (I’ve been enjoying just soaking up the Christmassy feeling and spending more time than normal with Andrew and haven’t blogged quite as much.) In fact that is highlight number 1 … Increased husband/ Daddy time.

This last week we’ve also enjoyed…


  • Going to the Fiesta of Lights – a walk through light show with 500,000 lights (including a 40m wide Nativity Scene!) We (especially Noah) had a great time and Noah is now ‘world famous in the Hawkes Bay’ with a photo taken of him featuring on the Hastings i-site Facebook page.


  • New ‘Noahisms’ – Noah has said some especially cute things this week. One day he pulled down some Christmas decorations I made (grrr!) and I told him I was sad/ disappointed, to which he said: “No-Noah just lost his best friend!” (awww!) He’s also been calling me “Mummy- Jen” a bit this week !? (Perhaps a reflection of Andrew being around more and calling me by first name more in Noah’s earshot?)
  • Winners are grinners – I won a couple of competitions in the last week which has been awesome! – I’ll be back to share more about this in the New Year.
  • Backyarding – instead of buying Christmas presents for each other Andrew and I bought a BBQ and outdoor table and since then we’ve basically been eating and living outdoors. This is awesome for 3 reasons-

1) It feels like we now have another living room

2) This ‘living room’ does not need to be cleaned after the kids eat in it

3) I haven’t done much cooking as Andrew has been ‘manning’ (ha!) the BBQ (this also equals less dishes! Yuss!)


* Christmas Eve strawberry picking -  The kids loved it and we managed to collect just over 3kg of great quality berries despite going near the end of possibly their busiest days of the year!

Lowlights of the week include the washing machine deciding to break down right on Christmas – but I can’t complain when I think of the people of Christchurch, some still without power and plagued by aftershocks! My thoughts and prayers are with my family and friends (and with everyone else down there!)

Merry Christmas all!


Monday, 19 December 2011

The Missing Rung on the Property Ladder

Did you know that:

  • Housing is considered affordable when the Median house price does not exceed 3 times the median household income*
  • No markets in NZ satisfy this. Auckland is more than double this (6.4x) and is one of the worst cities in the developed world. The New Zealand average is 5.3x*

*These are some conclusions from ‘International studies and benchmarking: Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey (2010)’

Have I got your attention?

At first glance this is quite different than what I normally write about, in that it is not a blog post about what I’ve made or something cute my kids have done.

However, THIS is a huge issue for me and is something that I’m sure will hit home to a lot my readers – that these days owning a home in New Zealand can be very difficult. Especially for young families.

And, I wonder how many of you, like me have just assumed that this was just how it is, has to be – that it is near impossible on the average NZ salary to own your home (and even more so if you are single/ or on one income) … and if you do manage to join the home ownership club the cost to you is significant debt.

My Dad (Simon White) has for years challenged this assumption and is the reason that I now do too.

He claims that essentially that the reason homeownership is unaffordable for so many is because excessively restrictive land use regulation has driven up section costs.

Here are few more things you should know:

  • I briefly mentioned in a previous blog post that my Dad is an unpaid trustee for the new charity The Canterbury Co-operative Land Trust  which aims develop low-cost sections for red-zone evacuees. According to my Dad, the problem facing these people is symptomatic of the problem facing the whole country – that section prices are too high.
  • My Dad is extremely passionate about this issue. Often when someone is passionate about something it is first necessary to ask: Why? –  What are their credentials/ how accurate is their information and what do they stand to gain from this? Dad is a Company Director and Chartered Accountant with over 30 years experience in the Financial industry and is a homeowner himself who just wants to resolve this problem for his children, grandchildren and for the future of New Zealand’s economy.
  • This is not just an issue for those of us unable to afford a home or burdened with a large mortgage – it is an issue for all New Zealanders (see the report below).

What can you do?

  • Get educated and informed on this issue – read my Dad and Uncle’s report/ submissions on the issue below and the The Productivity Commission's Draft Report and make a submission on it. (The Productivity Commission’s draft report and this issue generally featured on the front page of last weekend’s Dominion Post article – if you didn’t get a chance to read it you can read the online version here.)
  • Share this issue with others – help spread the word and get others informed.
  • Help us urge the Government to hear and act on this. Email your local MP.

…I didn’t intend for my ‘introduction’ to be quite so long – but I urge to click below to ‘read more’ for my Dad and Uncle’s research and thoughts on this important issue:

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A few things


1. ‘This’ (see pic above) is called “Show-time!” according to Noah. He then does a bow. I’m not sure where he got it from. The boy has quite an imagination!

2. I feel that I can claim Isabelle to be ‘properly’ walking now. It’s hard to put an exact date on it, she’s been cruising round furniture for what seems like months now and the last few weeks has been been taking one or two steps and then lunging at me/ her intended destination. Now she is stringing multiple steps together, although still is more confident crawling.

3. My friend (in ‘real’ life), Clare just completed ‘Project Handmade Baby’ (PHB) where she dressed her youngest boy in at least one handmade item everyday for a whole year. What an achievement!

4. I gave Noah a haircut today. (It was getting to Sonic the Hedgehog status.) In doing so I remembered why I prefer to pay someone $15 to do it. Let’s hope Andrew doesn’t suggest that it looks like the haircut from ‘Boy’ (a NZ movie) this time!

5. Noah has not yet learnt to lie. It’s seriously like that movie ‘The Invention of Lying.’ When I’m out of the room and the two kids are playing, if Isabelle starts crying I say: “Noah what’s wrong with Isabelle?” and he will say “I pushed her.” I’m sure he will learn soon enough.


6. The Christmas tree was ‘disturbed’ today. While in another room with Isabelle, I heard what only can be described as the rustling of tinsel and the muted clanging of baubles. (Like my 3rd form English type use of adjectives?) I rushed in to find Noah holding the whole tree up. After fixing the tree I went out of the room and thought I heard the same noise, I told him off and then returned realising that he was making a similar noise with the beanbag… I should have taken his word for it, after all the boy can’t lie!

7. I’ve been enjoying putting all the things together for the kids Christmas Stockings, I may show you in a day or two.

8. My Mum bought Noah an easel of trademe for his birthday. She is bringing around tonight, exciting!

9. Fresh pasta with pesto through it is a great easy dinner. (Can anyone say ‘lazy’?)

10. It turns out Danish blue cheese is not anywhere as good as our Kiwi stuff. I’m kicking myself for not spending the couple of extra dollars.

11. When we say “bub-bye” Isabelle waves. When we say “dance” Isabelle dances. She’s clever.

12. There is a cafe attached to our local supermarket. When we occasionally pop in for a coffee/ fluffy, the girls working there make a real fuss over Noah and give him extra marshmallows. The other day when we went to leave Noah went up to them and said: “Goodbye Yadies!” (His L sounds are replaced with Y's at this stage.) He has them wrapped around his little finger.

13. I really should start writing more simple blog posts that are just confined to one or possibly two topics. However, I think this post reflects my scatterbrain pretty well!

Edit: I should also bother proof-reading more and then I wouldn’t have to edit multiple times!

Jen x

Friday, 16 December 2011

Photos make me smile

I’m one of those people that is pretty good at printing off photos, which is something people don’t do so much in this digital age. Remember film? When you had to print develop your film to see if any of your photos turned out? I’m sure when I explain this to my kids one day they’ll say: “Was that when dinosaurs were still around? … Had electricity been invented yet?”


I’m also one of those people that probably frames too many photos. By the time I’m 50 I’ll probably have no wall space left.

I blame my kids for being so cute.

This time however I had got a bit behind in my printing. It had been 5-6 months since I’d last printed a bunch of photos out. Since I started blogging actually (you may recognise a lot of the photos here if you follower my blog.)

So I did a massive online order through Snapfish.

My prints arrived by today.


I have to say I was mighty impressed. The quality is great (and I’m a bit fussy about my photos), it was super fast ( I think it was Wednesday this week I ordered them and today is Saturday), and cheap too (I ordered 71x2 prints and with a few deals – first 50 prints free, 10% off second set and then 50% off all of that plus free delivery … it ended up costing $8 something for 142 photos!)

(In case you wondered, I think the 50% and free delivery deal is running for a few more days.)

It is fun going through all your pictures especially near the end of the year… you get to relive all the memories again.

And how much easier is it to take your time picking your photos online, compared to in store with a toddler pulling your leg and a baby in need of a nappy change?

They also do photo books – and a bunch of other photo gift ideas too. I’m not so much into the photo mugs and T-shirts but I did order a couple of snow globes (also 50% off, score!) to use as stocking stuffers for the kids. They are due to arrive in a couple of days.

It seems a bit random to dedicate a whole blog post to talk about printing out photos, but like I said photos make me smile. And today Snapfish, you have made me smile. (Besides you get some more credit/ future discount if you share their website with a friend.) Does this count? snapfish, snapfish, snapfish ?

I sure hope so…

… Because I have some photos to print out involving my kids and cake …


See what I mean?

Does anyone else share my photo fetish?

Jenny x

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Make Do and Mend (a Pinterest edition)

I’ve alluded to it some time ago and I’m sure it’s obvious anyway, that my blog name is inspired by the old WW2 propaganda /policy of ‘make do and mend’ / ‘mend and make do.’

Recently, while browsing Pinterest I found some gems that I thought I’d share with you.

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

Note the emergency spool and snaps.

Pinned Image

I think these days we call that ‘re-styling’

and this is my favourite …

Pinned Image

I especially love the spiel at the bottom: “It’s up to you to keep the home fires burning, to see that you and your family stay easy-on-the-eyes.”

Obviously a lot of things have changed since then. We are not currently in the middle of a world war and we have not just been through the Great Depression (although we do have a current economic crisis nonetheless!)

When searching on Pinterest with the search term "make do and mend" I encountered quite a few links for sewing techniques on how to mend clothes/ darn socks etc. And with these I saw that quite a few people had commenting how sad it was that things such as the art of sock darning have been lost.

However I disagree in a way, as a lot of things have changed for the better. Yes, it is sad that perhaps less people sew and knit than before (although I think there has been a bit of a resurgence) but in my mind really one main thing has changed since then:

We have more options, resources, and information (especially from the internet) at our disposal

Back in the day (so I’ve heard) people had to basically knit their whole baby layette. And staying with the baby example, I would be rich if I had a dollar for every time an old lady has accosted me in the street to tell me that back in her day they didn’t have these fancy prams/ car seats clothes etc – they just had one or two brands.

With all the options we these days comes competition, sales and things being made cheaply offshore and therefore cheaper prices for us the consumer. But this can be both a blessing and a curse. I can’t say what it was like back in those WW2 times, but today’s society seems to me very materialistic, always wanting bigger, better and more stuff. (And I’m no exception.) Also because things are made cheaper they are more disposable which leads to more waste and want.

Of course, on the other side a lot of things have improved over the years due to innovative ideas and developments in technology. For example modern cloth nappies are a vast improvement as are the modern disposable ones. ( I just can’t seem to get away from the baby examples, can I?)

The internet is also something that has provided us with great opportunity as well as potential to do us harm . The whole social networking phenomenon can make us think that everyone else is very successful – has a nice house, things and a happy family. It’s like Keeping up with the Jones’s on speed and makes us discontented with what we have.

But then on the other side the internet provides us with ideas, inspiration, the ability to buy things from the other side of the world and a you tube clip on ‘how to darn socks’ at the click of the button. (This is why I really like the ‘Pin real life’ idea started by Dee – using Pinterest “to inspire not promote desire.”)

So, it really is a matter of taking the best that this option filled, internet age has to offer and leaving the rest.

Perhaps we need the attitude of then, but making use of the resources we have now…

For me, I’m happy to:

  • Scour op-shops for bargains and deals,
  • Make a few things (and have fun while doing it),
  • Take advantage of all the inspiration the internet has to offer but try to be happy for others but content in myself,
  • When the budget allows, splash out on a few things such as high thread count sheets (there’s nothing like nice sheets – and I figure I deserve it for saving money in other areas.
  • And should my socks get holes in them I think I’ll just throw them out and buy some cheap ones that were probably made in China – I am happy to mend a lot of things but socks are just not one of them.

Jenny X

Monday, 12 December 2011

My big 3 year old Kindy boy!

Noah celebrates two milestones today. It is his third birthday and first official day of Kindy/ preschool. His birthday this year is a bit of an anti-climax as we had 'the party' a few weeks ago and he had already opened most of his presents. (In fact this morning when I said “Happy Birthday” to him he said “Happy Birthday Mummy” right back to me!)

As the cliche goes; Where have the last 3 years gone?… it feels like yesterday that we were here …

My first hold – I had tears in my eyes at that moment!

He’s grown into a lovely caring and considerate boy that says “thank you” and “I love you” repeatedly, has a vivid imagination …

… loves and is very protective of his little sister (and also now of his toys from her – we still have a way to go with sharing!) …

And he thinks he is a super hero! … Actually he does have some super powers … they include …

Stuffing his face with too much food, sleeping in odd positions …

… And melting this Mum’s heart! Happy Birthday Noah!

Love Mum

Friday, 9 December 2011

…Dress the tree (and a flashback)

As promised, the tree is now up.

It is insanely difficult to get good photos of a lit up Christmas tree (well at least for my little cheap point and shoot camera and amateur photography skills.) The lights confuse my poor little automatic flash, especially when they are on flicker mode.

So this was the closest we got to a group shot of the two kidlets..


Yep, no-one looking at the camera. The Christmas tree is too exciting, Mum! (Note the child barricade – well more like Isabelle barricade. Noah at the same age toppled the tree a number of times.)



While putting up the tree I had a bit of a flashback to this time last year.

My Dad had come up for a day to meet Isabelle for the first time and catch up with his good pal Noah. I thought it might be nice for Poppa and Noah to dress the tree together. However, while Dad enjoyed himself I’m sure it was all about efficiency for him. “You don’t need tinsel round the back, actually lets just throw it on” and “Gosh, you’ve got a lot of decorations. We don’t really need to put them all on.” Needless to say, I did have to go and fix/ rebalance the decoration cluster once he’d left. (Love you Dad!)

Here are some pics from around that time ( a ‘Then and Now’, if you will) …

Ohhh … weren’t they wee! (And this must be from before I ‘fixed’ Dad’s tree decorating attempt!)

And this was at the Kirk’s Christmas Shop, with Isabelle in the front pack just a few weeks old.

Dad, if Kirks are ever hiring staff for their Christmas shop – you needn't apply. (At least you’re talented in many other areas!)

Doesn’t time fly!

Jen xox

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Deck the Halls …

{ First, a disclaimer : the Christmas tree is not yet up (hopefully this evening) – so this really is just the pre-tree decking. } – I will post photos at another time with the decorated tree, and it’s probably best that way, otherwise there might be photo overload!

Today Noah did some painting. I was hoping to kill multiple birds with one stone – we needed a birthday card for his friend, some thank you cards for his and Isabelle’s party and I thought we could make some Christmas decorations at the same time. Birds: 0, Me: 3.


I let Noah free with the coloured paper, paint and some glitter and then when his pictures dried I cut some into Christmas appropriate shapes for decorations we will hang on the tree; and some in circles to make the ‘Merry Christmas’ garland. (As you can see I used cookie cutters to make the shapes, as I don’t trust my very limited drawing skills!)

(I’m also ‘planning’ on cutting some more circles, threading them with cord and writing birthday thank you’s on the back to double as both a thank you card and Christmas decoration from the kids – we’ll see how we go.)


I also spelt out ‘Joyeux Noel’ on the window sill with Isabelle’s blocks. (There is only one of each consonant, so there are limited things you can spell – Merry Christmas: too many r’s and s’s; Joy to the World: two t’s… I could go on.)

And we put up the very special nativity scene that Andrew’s Auntie (a missionary in Kenya) sent us a few Christmas’s ago.  It instantly became Noah’s new favourite toy.

P.S. I’m also claiming my new cushion as a Reindeer – to keep within the Christmas theme.

The funniest moment of the day was when Noah got his toy chainsaw out and offered to chop down the Christmas tree (he’s obviously forgotten that we have a fake one then!)

How’s all your Christmas preparation going? I’m terribly behind on presents – but I’ll worry about that another day!