Camping Diaries – Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park

Just 2.5 hours north of Auckland you will find this hidden gem.  The Kauri Coast Top 10 Holiday Park.  The park is set amongst lush native bush and a beautiful river that run’s along the boundary of the park.  We camped here over summer with a big group of friends which was so much fun.  The campsites are huge with plenty of space for your tents and gazebos too!

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After setting up the tents, we all decided to take an early evening dip in the river to cool off because it was pretty hot!  Anyway everyone slowly makes their way across some stones and off course the kids are in first.  The next thing I hear my daughter (the oldest) scream out really loud that something bit her!  I’m thinking we are in a river there are no sharks what’s the problem??  Well let me tell you it may not be sharks but there were lots of eels!!!  I was outta there like the superhero Flash, actually I could have been faster than him, and I left Adam and the girls behind….oops! The thing is, because people feed the eels, toes must look like nice juicy food for them.  This didn’t detour us too much people still swam, but we were just extra cautious.

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The campground had such great spaces, plenty of room for the kids to ride their bikes around the place.  We also set up a few games, like swing ball and badminton.

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There is also a big play area for the kids with two trampolines, a sandpit and swings.  It’s surrounded by lots of trees so there is plenty of shade for the kids.

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The facilities at this holiday park is brilliant and always clean.  There were two camp kitchens and free showers.  Plenty of seating areas to have your dinner, whether inside the dining area or outside.  We had a roster system with dinner’s where each family had a turn to cook dinner for everyone.  So during your whole stay you only cook dinner once! Loved that idea.  There are a lot of sand flies, so make sure you have insect repellent. For our girls I bought them insect repellant bands from Kathmandu, which they wore around their ankles the whole time and we never got bitten.  

Further along the park you will find a great swimming hole with a swing, and yes I was brave enough to do it, just wish someone caught that on camera…actually maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t.

dsc_1356dsc_1357There was lots of fun had by all swinging into that!  If you were after something a bit more relaxing, then you could always float down the river on rubber tubes, which a lot of people got into.

dsc_1406At night you can take your torches and explore the park where you will find lots of glow worms that light up the place.  It was so magical and the kids were in awe of them all.  The park is really peaceful and you can hear all the sounds from the surrounding bush.  The park managers are very strict on noise control as well, they patrol the park when it is close to the curfew, I know this because our group was told to quieten down, we were obviously laughing too loud. But it’s good to know they are vigilant.

The park is just a stone throw away from so many great places to visit.  Just 30km away you will find the Waipoua Forest where you can visit the legendary Tane Mahuta.  It’s a beautiful drive up to the forest and the walk is not too far if you have little kids with you.  dsc_1256

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If you want a great place to swim at then well you need to visit the Kai Iwi Lakes.  I cannot believe that this place is even in New Zealand, seriously you will think you’re at some tropical island!  The lake used to be bordered with Pine Trees however, a lot of these were cut down due to them being a hazard of falling onto the campsite I believe.  So if you are going to visit you will need to take some sort of gazebo or shade tent with you.  During summer there are also food trucks that are there were you can grab something to eat.

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If you want to drive further along then head to Omapere Bay. It has white sandy beaches and lovely grass areas to have a picnic.  There are giant sand dunes on the other side of the Hokianga harbour, which you can take a water taxi to get across.

 

 

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This was one of the best camping holidays that we have been on, and we look forward to returning to Northland.

Happy camping!

Ronell x 

Adding Pet’s to your Family

Christmas is just around the corner and I find that one of the big-ticket items that a lot of kids receive is a pet. This is something that we are always 50/50 about and we um and ahh a lot.  Both my husband and I grew up with pets so I’m not sure why we are so against it now, well not so much against it.  The thing is we research it A LOT, so much so that we eventually get turned off the idea.  But at the back of my mind I’m always thinking are our kids missing out on a great part of childhood?  I know there are lots of benefits with having pets and it can teach us all so much.  Here are my thoughts:

DOGS

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In South Africa we had lots of dogs (at different times) and they were the bigger breeds especially German Shepard’s.  Somehow out of 4 siblings I was the one that always ended up taking them for walks, and cleaning up their poo!!  The thing is the 3 houses that we lived in, only one had lots of grass, the other two nothing, which meant when the dog did it’s business, I had to poop scoop that shit up, and then it didn’t end there!  Oh no I then had to put some soap on the area and get out the special broom and scrub it then rinse it all away!  Because of not having grass, cleaning it up this way eliminated the smell and flies!  This may have subconsciously scarred me for life.  Now I just think the bigger the dog the bigger the size of poo, that will need picking up!!  But on the flip side, dogs are such loyal, loving friends, that love spending time with their owners.  I know the kids can have endless hours of fun with a dog.

CATS

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Out of cat’s and dog’s I have to say cat’s are my favourite, however, growing up we never had one.  I used to feed the stray cats that used to visit our house, that was as close to having a cat that I had.  The only thing about having a cat I’m not keen about is the lovely gifts that they bring their owners, like birds and rats, I would literally crap myself. Also cat’s seem to get injured a lot from fights with other cats and I’m not so good with handling that.  Both my daughter and husband are really allergic to cat’s unless we got the cat’s which are specific for allergy sufferers like:

  • Siberian (Less of the Fel d 1 protein)
  • Balinese (Less of the Fel d 1 protein)
  • Bengal.
  • Burmese.
  • Colorpoint Shorthair.
  • Cornish Rex.
  • Devon Rex.
  • Javanese.

These cat’s are well over the $1000 mark!  So….mmmm…will have to keep thinking about that.  Cat’s are playful and so much fun, but they can be temperamental and have a bit of an attitude! However they are much more low maintenance than dogs!

I know there are lot’s of other options like fish but that’s a lot of work after speaking to the pet shop.  Maybe a bunny is the go, but I’ve never had one, but are they social like cat’s and dog’s?  Would the girls be able to play with them?  I suppose with rabbits you just have to make sure if you get a pair it’s not a boy and a girl or it will be humping galore and lot’s of babies after that…non stop!

We always said, that if we get a pet we will take out pet insurance because I hear all about the cost’s of taking pets to the vet and when they get sick it’s not as cheap as us going to the dr. I wish I could be like other people who just go out and buy a pet without even thinking about it.  Are we thinking about it too much?  People say that having a pet is like having another child, except they don’t talk back to you!

So there you go, that’s my dilemma!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this?  Are you in a similar frame of mind?  How has pets helped your family?

Ronell x

 

Book Review – Two by Two Nicholas Sparks 

Another great story by Nicholas Sparks, and it was a tear jerker!

I’ve read stories when a couples marriage breaks down and it’s usually the man that leaves, thus leaving the women to pick up the pieces. However here the tables are turned and it’s the husband who is left to do that and also be the primary caregiver of his daughter. To be honest some parts of the book when reading I wanted to bitch slap his wife! She was just plain mean! 

This book showed me the amazing bond that fathers have with their daughters and no matter what crap was going on in his life he always stopped everything for his daughter. It made me think about my husband and our girls and the bond that they have. 

The book also covered the relationship you have with your family and friends and how when times get really tough it’s the ones that stick around and help. But just when you think life knocked you over once and you’re starting to get back on your feet, you get another blow, this time closer to home. 

I loved reading this book it evoked so many emotions and got me thinking about my family, my husband and our kids and even my friends. 

Highly recommend this book. 

Happy reading!

Ronell x

White Cloud Spur – My Take on it!

When I heard that Spur was opening up here on the North Shore I was beyond excited, being South African, and knowing what a great place it was back home.  The weekend after it opened we attempted going however the line was extremely long, and we would have been waiting probably an hour to get in and with two hungry children we made a quick U-turn.

So we decided that we would let the hype die down and then go during the week.  When Adam finished work today we dashed over in peak hour traffic to get there in record time to if I might add.  We got there around 5:15pm, dinner bookings start from 5pm so you want to go early as it does fill up.  The good thing though is, it has two levels so once the downstairs is full then they open up the top dining area.

Once you are seated, the kids get some colouring in to do and mask’s, much to my girl’s delight.  Whilst we ordered our dinner the kids played in the playground outside (check out my Facebook page Not in a Nutshell for the video of the kids playground).

The meals came out pretty quickly, first up were the kids meals, Kiara had the ribs, which where a bit on the small side.  Chloe had the pizza which was great and a lot for her (thank you I’ll take a doggy bag please!).

I ordered the Sauce burger because from memory the mushroom sauce at Spur is amazing! Well I was very disappointed, the sauce was a bit bland and the actual burger pattie itself had no seasoning on it at all!  My meal was luke warm besides the chips that were hot.  My burger kinda looked sad!  I was so looking forward to this.  I’m not sure why people are scared of using seasoning when making food!!  It drives me nuts every time.  Adam’s was no better, the chicken wings seemed poached because they were so white, rather than having some sort of char grill to it.  The sauce on his ribs were good but his meal too was luke warm as well.

All in all, we were fairly disappointed with the food, however, the atmosphere, deco and playground were fabulous, but we wont be rushing back!  I really wished I could have written an amazing review for the food but I can’t.  Please note these are just my opinion’s you might have a completely different experience with the food.

Maybe in time it will get better!

Ronell x

 

Christmas Gifts – Save or Splurge

Christmas is such a magical time of year, there are fairy lights everywhere, christmas songs playing in the shopping malls, there are lot’s of parties to go to and great food.  But, it’s the season that also bleeds you dry, as in leaves you broke!  Unless you’re one of those super organised people and buy your gifts throughout the year and at the big mid year sales, then your’e good.  We all aim to do this however, not many of us are successful.

Lots of people tackle Christmas gifts differently, in my family for the adults we do a secret santa, which is so much fun and when you are part of a big family it is a good way of keeping costs down as well.  The kids however, get gifts from everyone, and I feel christmas gifts are more for the kids than the adults, in my opinion anyway. Adam and I usually buy something for each other as well, but again we keep to a budget.

So I would love to know what’s the deal with buying Xmas gifts in your family?  We usually get the girls one big present from us (Santa aint taking credit for that one), and a few small ones which are from Santa.  They also get a new set of pj’s each christmas.  My husband sometimes likes to do lots of small gifts so the girls have loads to open, but really sitting for over an hour unwrapping gifts!!!    I would rather buy a few things that are good quality, rather than ending up with a shit load of small gifts everywhere that get lost or broken over time.

Do you have a budget that you stick to you? Is there a certain number of gifts that you give out per child?  Besides your own children, what about your Christmas catch ups with your friends and if there is a big group of you, how do you tackle that?

We did this cool thing last year with our friends and their kids, each person buys a gift according to the number of kids you have, I have two girls so I bought two gifts.  There was a budget I think of $10 and everyone wraps the gifts (unlabeled) and places them on a table.  The kids then pick numbers from a hat, and that’s the order that they go up to the table and choose a gift.  They absolutely loved it and it was so much fun to watch them.

Now don’t forget teacher gifts and something for the class!!!  So you can see how slowly all this starts to add up!!  But in saying that I do love giving gifts, I would rather give a gift than get one myself.  One year for my daughters class I put together little lolly bags, which was great to do, and who can resist packing maltesers! I also got a personalised gift for the teacher from Identity Direct.

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Just to put it out there we are mid way through November and I have not done any Christmas shopping at all!  I will be the crazy lady running around the mall.  Here are just a couple of websites to help with finding some cool gifts.

Mighty Ape

Fish Pond

The Book Depository

Collected

Shut the front door

For Keeps

Crave Home

Have fun shopping!

Ronell x

 

Meet Charlie – Our Elf on the Shelf Christmas Tradition

First of all I needed to make sure there were no kids around when writing this post, or else the secret is out!!!

The story behind Elf on the Shelf, when you purchase your elf, you can choose either a girl or a boy, and since our household has a lot of girls we thought we even it out and chose a boy, and you can choose an elf with either light skin or dark skin.  Our Elf arrived with a book which explains what his job as a scout elf is, and the kids get to name the elf as well. Our elf is called Charlie Shera.

The Elf is sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. Each day the elf keeps an eye on the children and then at night he returns to Santa to report back on what he has seen during the day, which helps Santa make his naughty and nice list.

Each morning, the elf returns and is usually in a different place each time. My girls love to wake up and race around the house looking for Charlie each morning.

It’s great because I often remind the children that Charlie is watching and if they are bad, he is going to tell Santa all about it!

The first year it was all gun’s blazing, I even brought out Charlie a few days before 1/12, I had so many ideas as to what to do with him each night so the kids can try and find him in the morning.  Here’s a snippet of Charlie’s first year with us.

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The thing with traditions is it’s something that when you start, you have to keep doing it each year after, so that it sticks.  By the second year the novelty for Adam and I dropped a little because we used to forget each night, and then at about 9pm we would be like, “shit!!! we need to find a place for Charlie!”.  Then off course we are scrambling around the house trying to figure out something funny to do, and at that time at night, not a lot of inspiration is happening.

Below are some photos of what Charlie got up to during his second year with us!

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With Christmas almost upon, Charlie will surely be making an appearance this year, however I’m thinking after about day 3 he just might have a Dr’s certificate with him, putting him off all Elf duties for a bit!!!

I would love to hear about any Christmas traditions that you have started as a family, and if you do have your own Elf on the Shelf, then please help me with some inspiration!

Ronell x

Charcoal Face Mask’s

Lately I have read about charcoal face masks.  They seem to be popping up everywhere! Since my face mask had finished I jumped on the charcoal bandwagon and bought some. Now there are loads of different brands offering face masks, it just depends on your budget, in saying that please don’t go and grab some from the bag you use for your bbq/braai.  The charcoal that get’s put into beauty products is activated charcoal.

What is activated charcoal I hear you ask?  Well, it’s charcoal that has been heated then powdered.  By heating the charcoal it increases it’s absorbtive power.  Which makes it perfect for drawing out all the toxins and impurities in your skin.

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We have been recently renovating our bedroom which means lots of sanding (which equals a lot of dust) and painting.  I could feel my skin become gritty and it didn’t feel great.  I knew it must be absorbing a whole lot of nasties.  So today I went out and bought the Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask from  The Body Shop.

This mask has been inspired by Ayurvedic traditions, the tingling mud mask contains powerful bamboo charcoal from the Himalayan foothills, active exfoliating green tea leaves from Japan, which is rich in antioxidants and Community trade tea tree oil from Kenya, known to help keep skin clearer looking.

I am really looking forward to giving my skin a good detox after using this! If you have used this mask I would love to hear your experience.

Ronell x