Epic Auckland Beaches

We have had two cracker Auckland long weekends with brilliant weather, finally!  So it was time to hit the beach, it’s what we Kiwi’s do best!  Pack the chilly bin, grab your beach umbrella and togs, and you’re set.

Orewa Beach

A drive up North led us to Orewa Beach.  This beach is part of the Hibiscus Coast and is only 20km north of the Auckland Harbour bridge.  We headed to the Arundel Reserve end where there is a bit of an inlet into a small river.  This area was perfect for the kids to paddle and even better for much younger children, because of the depth of the water.

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Cheltenham Beach

Cheltenham Beach is a beautiful beach located in Devonport.  It is 1.5km away from the ferry and you can walk to beach soaking in the sites and admiring many of the Victorian Villas.

There are plenty of grassy areas where you can set up your picnic and relax for the day.  At one end of the beach there are stairs which lead up to North Head.  From the top you can take in the spectacular views of the beach and Rangitoto Island.

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Maraetai Beach

This beach is just beautiful.  Situated on what is called the Pohutukawa Coast in East Auckland.  It is a safe swimming beach for kids.  The sand is not as fine, it does have a bit more shell around.  Here you will find plenty of grass areas to set up your picnic under the great pohutukawa trees which provide plenty of shade. Also in the area are great little cafes where you can pick up a coffee or an ice cream, and if you were not keen on packing food,  well then you can dine in them too.

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There are a few beautiful beaches in this area.  Before getting to Maraetai you will pass Omana Regional Park, which you can also swim at.  Also don’t forget to head out to Beachlands there are a few smaller beaches there too.

Back Beach, Castor Bay

Well to access this beach you will need to encounter the famous Kennedy Park Stairs. There is plenty parking at the Kennedy Park Reserve, which is home to some gun emplacements and tunnels from the Second World War.  The tunnels open every second Sunday of each month between 11am – 2pm for guided walks by volunteers.  You will also find a big playground at the reserve which will serve hours of entertainment for the kids.

We decided to head down to the beach, via the stairs of doom.  Boy oh boy what where we thinking!!  My legs felt like lead on the way back up all these stairs.  Loads of people were training by running up and down these stairs.  I was just dying watching them.

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Hope you get to visit some of these epic beaches at some stage, and enjoy them as much as we did, except the stairs I didn’t like it much!

Ronell x

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Tantalise Your Tastebuds at Tok Tok

Okay so I realise there are a lot of t’s in the heading but never mind that, let’s get to the important bit.

I wanted to share with you my experience or review so to speak on my favourite Asian restaurant Tok Tok.  I have eaten here a few times and can never get sick of the food.  Tok Tok is located in the bustling suburb of Takapuna, and you will find that they serve Asian fusion cuisine, particularly South East Asian food.  Upon entering the restaurant you will instantly be transported to what feels like a bustling restaurant in Bali, or Thailand.

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The decor inside the restaurant is amazing, from the bamboo lampshades, to the spices and the trinkets around the place.  Every time I have been to this restaurant it was full, so it pays to make a reservation.  Even the cutlery used is so unique.  Good old-fashioned tin cups and tin water canisters.

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So once you get over the decor and the whole scene, we get to the best part, the food!  Tok Tok restaurant has won ‘Best in Taste’ at Taste of Auckland, and I can see why.  It truly is an explosion of flavour, every single dish is like a party in your mouth.  Like most Asian restaurants the dishes are to be shared.  We usually get a few ‘Small’ dishes to start and then move on to the ‘Big’ dishes.

Both my husband and I were so impressed with the service. Your order is taken at the start, and the food is brought out to you once they are cooked, it just keeps coming.  I have never seen service to this level, they were so friendly and efficient, my goodness they are fast!  You are never left sitting there waiting and wondering where your meals are.  It’s like they have eye’s on everyone at all times, they just know what you need before you even know!

For our small dish we ordered the Salt ‘n Pepper Squid and the Pork & Prawn summer rolls. I have tried almost all of the small dishes from my visit’s to date, and I love Asian food so I was in heaven.  They were so fresh and flavourful, and they surprisingly light, they didn’t feel like heavy dishes which is perfect.

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We didn’t have to wait long for our big dishes.  We ordered the Crispy Hapuka Dry Red Curry and the Shaking Beef.  OMG I died and went to heaven again at this point.  The beef was super tender it was unreal.  The fish was beautiful and delicate.  We also ordered a side of rice and roti.  The rotis are small and really crispy.

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There is a lot of food on the plates so perfect for sharing!  By this stage we were in a bit of a food coma, but somehow we managed to find some space for dessert.  I mean how can you not right!  We had the Bay Leaf Panna Cotta and the Pandan Tapioca.  Oh my goodness, the Panna Cotta is so soft and silky with the unique taste of bay leaf served with caramalised banana and peanut praline.  The Tapioca had so many amazing textures, with caramalised pineapple, lychee and chilli cashew candy.  My husband wants to go back and just have the tapioca!

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We had to do a few laps of walking along Takapuna Beach afterwards to work off the food, but it was so worth it.  I can never tire of this place and there is so much choice on the menu there is something there to suit everyone.

If you have not been to Tok Tok yet, I would suggest you get there pretty quick smart, it truly is a culinary experience.

You can find Tok Tok at Shop 1 – 129 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna.  For more info click on the link here.

Enjoy!

Ronell x

 

Book Review – The Way We Were by Sinead Moriarty

This is the first time that I have read one of Sinead Moriarty’s books and I could not put it down at all!  I’m sure that I ignored my husband and children on more than one occasion. I bought this book just before we went camping and it was the perfect book to take with me.

The book grips you from the start, it jumps all the way forward and gives you a teaser of what’s to come, so once that is done you kinda get the picture in your head of what you think happened.  But what get’s you turning and turning the pages is that because you know that small piece you now want to know what led up to that point and more so the fall out after that!

I remember reading it sitting outside amongst our friends and I got to the part where things got a bit intense a little sob escaped me but I didn’t want to be a blubbering mess. I suppose it’s because you put yourself in that situation and having children you think that it’s you in the place of Alice.

The characters and story seemed so realistic I’m sure there are people out there that have been in similar situations.  Alice’s world get’s turned upside down not once but twice!  She however picked her self up and moved forward for her children.  All her decisions that she made were for her family.  There was a part in the book where I thought, she is going to make a tough call and put herself first but even then she didn’t.  She made sacrifices for her family and in the end it worked out I suppose.

What I liked was that we also got to see what’s happening in the story from the youngest daughter Holly’s perspective so it was nice seeing things through a child’s eye and understand their feelings and thoughts so to speak.

I would highly recommend this book it was a brilliant read and I cant wait to read more of her books.

Happy reading!

Ronell x

Let Kids Get Bored

School’s out which means we are probably going to hear, “Muuuummmm, I’m bored!” a lot. Well, we are day 3 into the holidays and it is fair to say I have heard it a few times today already.

I am all for going on trips and being out and about from time to time.  But the thing is, it is bloody exhausting and can be expensive too if you choose activities that you have to pay for.  I have said to my girls I am not employed by them as their school holiday project planner, where each day there needs to be an activity planned.  There are a few parents out there that feel their kids need to be entertained every day in some shape or form.  Not me!

I make sure we have a few days every week where we are at home with nothing planned, yes the girls moan like it’s the end of the world, but boredom in children sparks creativity and imagination.  I also take away any devices. If we are always creating scenarios/activities for them, then their brains are just not getting exercised at all!

Growing up, we never did much activities where my mum had to drive us somewhere in the school holidays.  The neighbourhood kids all got together and played, whether it was baseball in the back fields or riding bikes.  My brother and I used to set up these obstacle courses in our yard and race each other, the amount of games we used to come up with where endless with whatever we could find in the house or yard.

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You might think to yourself, “oh I’m such a lazy/bad parent”, especially when you see other families doing so much stuff with their kids, but, YOU ARE NOT because you are giving your children something priceless, the opportunity to be creative and learn with play.

Don’t get me wrong going out and doing things is great fun, but it doesn’t need to be everyday or all the time that your children become dependant on it.

So go forth parents and let them be bored!

Ronell x

The Evolution of Makeup

The makeup industry is ever evolving, there are new trends out all the time, it’s hard to keep up sometimes.  I have recently taken a bit more interest in makeup and how I wear it. I’ve always loved makeup but I was one of those girls that never really had a massive collection of loads of different shades of eyeshadow and lipsticks etc, I just had a handful of neutral colours that worked with my skin colour.  Even to this day it’s not a big collection, purely because I went with what I know and stayed safe I didn’t want to experiment too much, but hence I’m starting to explore this a bit more. As you can see below that’s the extent of my makeup!

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I have ordered a new eyeshadow pallet which I am really happy with from Mellow Cosmetics and I cant wait to start using it.

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I alway’s thought I knew a lot about makeup, but after watching a few tutorials online, I realise just how little I know.  It’s not as simple as slapping on some foundation, loose powder, mascara and lippy!  Oh no, it’s all about contouring and highlighting now, plus there are so many different products that offer different looks and even the type of brushes we use are endless.  It’s a lot to take in especially if you are unfamiliar with it all, I mean where do you start?  I guess it’s all trial and error.

So with my realisation of how little I know I was curious about makeup and how it has evolved over so many decades.  I started to dig a little on the internet to see what I can find I looked through all the decades and read all about it and thought I would share a snapshot of each one with you and show you how far we have come with makeup.

1910’s

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During the 1910 era World War 1 was near so women wearing makeup at this time was taboo.  The makeup trend was limited to pink cheeks, small amounts of lipstick and vaseline on your eyelids were all that you could wear.

1920’s

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In this decade things really changed, it was the flapper era!  Foundation that was worn was a very pale shade.  The lipsticks where a deep red shade with a distinct bow-shaped application. Kohl eyeliner was used, and they didn’t hold back either (I think they were making up for the decade before) it was applied really heavily.  Lots of rouge (blush) was applied only on the apples of your cheeks in a circle.  Shorter hair especially the finger wave style was in too.

1930’s

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In the 1930’s foundations were more of an ivory hue and applied heavily.  Eyebrows were very thin and had high arches.  The cat’s eye effect with eyeliner had started out.  Lipstick colours were deep reds, maroons, browns & raspberry.

1940’s

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During 1940 World War 2 took place, which meant a lot of the women were expected to put their best face on and head to the workplace. But because of the war makeup was rationed and there was not a lot of options.  Fuller eyebrows were back, makeup was lighter giving a more natural look.  Mascara and eyeliner were used but very sparingly and red lips made a comeback.

1950’s

1950

The war was over which meant makeup was back in full force and there were no shortages. This era’s makeup was inspired by so many great Hollywood leading ladies, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner!  Foundations were applied thicker smoothing out the skin and covering up imperfections.  Thick dramatic layers of eyeliner and mascara was used.  The cat eye effect was back.  Lipsticks were bright reds or cherry.

1960’s

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Well this decade was flipped on its head!  Famous model at the time Twiggy, set off a few trends.  Red lips were out, it was more nude lipsticks during this time.  Foundation was lighter and blending of different shades of eyeshadow became popular.  Vivid eyes were in and applying mascara thickly on both your top and bottom lashes was created.

1970’s

1970

The 70’s era brought a whole lot of stuff to the table.  The big thing was tanning as well as lot’s and lot’s of bronzer!  SPF products were introduced in the 70’s and more women started to work on their skin care routines. In the 70’s the approach was less is more in terms of makeup and women opted for more natural and nude colours.  Long feathered hairstyles were also huge, you can thank Farrah Fawcett for that one!

1980’s

1980

This decade everything about it was big! Big hair and bold colours.  In regards to makeup so much was around at the time I think it was more like lets put it all on and see what happens!  The 80’s were influenced a lot by music especially with the likes of Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Boy George.  Concealer was used to hide imperfections with foundation on top.  Bright eyeshadow were applied and sometimes even clashing colours. Blush was huge giving people crazy cheekbones and bright shades of lipsticks were used.

1990’s

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When this decade came around I think, everyone took a step back and thought, “whoa time to tone it down a bit!”  This decade was influenced by the catwalk, when the Supermodels graced the covers of most magazines and TV commercials.  The 90’s was an all over very natural and nude look.  Eyebrows were shaped and defined.  Eyeshadow was blended but more to the natural tones and mascara and eyeliner were used sparingly. Blush was used but again to more natural toned down colour.  Don’t forget the 90’s also saw the Gothic look with dramatic eyes and pale foundation, but not many opted for that trend.

2000’s

2000

Everything about this decade was all about shine!  From shimmer eyeshadow to lip gloss.  Lipgloss in every colour was all the rage.  Botox was also in and spray tans!  This decade saw the rise of trout pout everyone was getting their lips plumped or if you couldn’t afford that then just pout when you’re getting your photo taken.  Foundations were a little heavier and browner to give you a sun kissed look.

2010’s

2010

Since we are still in the current decade I’m not sure where the trends will go.  Now there is contouring to give your face shape and highlighting to give you that dewy look.  You could either go for a heavy matte foundation look as well.  Fuller eyebrows are definitely in and bold eyes.  False eyelashes are all the rage now, but I have never tried them myself.  Matte lipsticks and lip paints are also in.  I think makeup in this decade is more adaptable, you could go either way heavy and dramatic or light with a dewy look.

I thoroughly enjoyed looking through all the different makeup trends through the decades and I hope you enjoy it too.

Do you have a favourite decade?  Which is it?

Over the next few weeks I will be featuring some of our very talented New Zealand make up artists who are going to shed some light on makeup with a little Q&A.   So stay tuned!

Ronell x

Berry Picking Season

It’s the 1st of December which means it’s officially Summer!  One of the things I love about summer is all the stone fruit and berries available. My kids devour them every time and we go through a lot of fruit.

Something we always wanted to do with the girls is find a strawberry farm where we can pick our own berries and teach them how it all works.  Most of the pick your own (PYO) fields only open on Boxing day.  Now its tradition that a lot of people hit the shops for the big Boxing Day sales, why would anyone do that after just spending the month before at the shops buying stuff for Xmas, go figure! Right back to picking fruit! So why not try something a bit different this Boxing Day and hit the orchards instead.

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Last year we headed to Sweet Red orchard to pick our very own strawberries, however we kinda got the timing wrong and went in October!  But we still had a look at all the fields, and bought a few punnet’s of amazing strawberries and off course fresh strawberry ice cream. Even though we went when you couldn’t pick the fruit it was pretty busy.

img_0560I think it’s such a cool thing to do with kids, getting them outside in the fresh air, looking for fruit and seeing where it comes from.  We took this one step further and planted our own strawberries at home and it was super easy to do.  The girls loved watching them grow and then running out and picking them when they were ready.  Organic as it comes.  We bought a couple of the big tubs from Bunning’s Warehouse and drilled a few holes around the bottom.  You can get a bag of Tui Strawberry Mix soil from most garden shops. Once the strawberry plants were planted we added some pea straw and you’re done.

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Below is a list of links for Strawberry farms that you can visit and pick your own.  There is one listed for the Hamilton region as well.  I’ve had a look for some Blueberry farms but there isn’t much in the Auckland region at all.

Phil Greig Strawberry Gardens

The Strawberry Farm  (Hamilton)

Sweet Red

Blueberry Country

Mona Vale Blueberries

So I hope you will grab the kids and find a field where you can pick your own berries for summer, and create amazing memories.

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