18 April 2014

What I wore to run errands

Another denim skirt outfit!

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Top: thrifted and modifed by me
Skirt: The Warehouse
Belt: eBay
Necklace: thrifted
Pierre Cardin sandals: outlet store


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16 April 2014

Washing the car

(Yes, my boys tend to wear pyjamas all day if we're not going out!)

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14 April 2014

Prepping for healthy eating

Thanks for the kind words and support on my last post (about launching our business)!

Today I wanted to share with you some ways that I prep ahead of time to make healthy eating easy and convenient.

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I boil and peel a few eggs and store them in the fridge in a sealed container. I just bring water to the boil, add the eggs and boil for 9 minutes, then tip out the hot water, shake and bounce the pan to crack the eggs and add cold water. This allows the cold water to get inside the shells, cooling the eggs more quickly and making them easy to peel. To ensure the shell comes off well I add half a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when boiling.

The eggs are great to grab for a snack, add to a lunch salad, slice onto toast for breakfast, or chop and mix with mayo for a sandwich filling.

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I pull grapes off of the stems, put them into a colander and rinse them, then roll them around in a tea towel to dry them somewhat, before storing in a container in the fridge. They're great to add to salads, or grab for a sweet snack.

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Peeling and slicing carrots doesn't take a lot of time and it makes it so easy to add veges to your diet. They can be eaten raw, added to salads, steamed to serve with dinner, or eaten raw with dip for a healthy snack.

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Here is the dip I make for the carrot sticks. It's low fat cream cheese with a packet of onion soup mix stirred in, loosened with a little milk. It is so yummy and adds a little protein to my snack. It's also tasty on crackers or in a sandwich (just a thin layer as it's can be strongly flavoured).

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While healthier for you, brown rice does take longer to cook than white. I like to cook up a big batch, drain and rinse it, then freeze in little containers or ziplock bags. It defrosts quickly and is handy to have on hand to be able to quickly whip up fried rice (with veges and meat), serve with sauce-based dishes (like curry), or to make rice salad.

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Grant and I are mad about broccoli like this. I cut two heads of broccoli into small pieces and add it to boiling water, letting it simmer for 4-6 minutes. Then I use a slotted spoon to scoop it out onto a clean tea towel on the counter. This lets the steam evaporate off of the broccoli so it doesn't go soggy. Once it's dry I put it into a container, add a little olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, and shake to toss.

We like it in salads, on its own, warmed to have with dinner, or added to omelets.

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If you or your kids like to take apple slices on the go it helps to soak them in Sprite. The citric acid prevents the slices from browning. I've added a glass jar to the container to keep the apple slices submerged. They don't last for days on end, but a few hours of soaking means you can package the slices for lunch and they'll keep. Also a handy trick if you want to serve apple slices and dip at a party.

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Noah and I enjoy this apple dip. It's low fat cream cheese, peanut butter, a little cinnamon and / or vanilla, and sweetened with either icing sugar or maple syrup. I don't eat it often as I am avoiding sugar, but it's a low-guilt, high-protein treat if you don't put too much sweetener in.

I hope that gives you a few ideas. I know that eating healthy, fresh foods can be less convenient than packaged snacks, so taking a little time to prep ahead eliminates the inconvenience and makes it easy to improve your diet.


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10 April 2014

Best View - our new business

Perhaps you have noticed that I haven't been super active here on my blog. There's a reason for that - we've been busy learning new skills and organising and setting up our new business, Best View!


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We actually almost bought a similar business back in January. We'd gone as far as seeing a conveyancing solicitor and putting in an offer but it sold from under us. We were disappointed but felt like we'd been led down that path for a reason. The vendor had actually suggested we start our own business doing the same thing in our area (he / the new buyer primarily operate up in the city) and after a little while we decided to do just that.

Our business is real estate photography - interiors, exteriors, and aerial (using a drone with camera), and creating floor plans. We're hoping to deal mainly with estate agents, and already have a few contacts in the pipeline.

It's been quite a learning curve and a lot of work getting everything set up, but now we are legit and ready to trade. You can see our website here.

Here are a few examples of photographs of our own home - I'm showing you how I have photographed the rooms before (old pictures) and how I photograph them now (as I would for a real estate listing). By the way, the window views are not added in later in Photoshop, there is minimal Photoshop work needed - it's all in the lighting:

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The remote controlled aerial camera we use is pretty cool and can go up to 100m (330 feet) high. It can take photographs or video. You can see some of the photos on our website.

Here is the floor plan of our house. You might remember me mentioning (when we first moved in) that it's a very odd layout but that it suits us well. Now you can see the layout for yourself. The stairs lead down to the garage, which is beneath the bedrooms (craft room and spare room) - the rest of the house has walk in storage space underneath it that gradually becomes more and more shallow until you can only crawl in the space.

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Thought I'd share a pic of me in uniform (polo shirt embroidered with the company logo).

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So that's my news! It's been about 3 months from conception till launch, during which time at one stage I dreamed about babies literally every single night (babies being symbolic of new beginnings) except for the one night when I dreamed about chicks hatching. It was quite weird.

Anyway, wish us luck on this new venture, and if you are in the Auckland area and needing to sell your house, get in touch :)


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4 April 2014

What I wore to run errands

Oh my word, this outfit is so comfy. These are actually my cropped yoga pants that I work out in - they have such a comfy waistband and are thicker than leggings so remain modest.

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Tunic: eBay
T-shirt: Pagani (on sale)
Cropped yoga pants: The Warehouse (on sale)
Shoes: The Warehouse
Bracelet: Mother's Day present


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1 April 2014

2014 Books - March




The Bartered Bride Collection - Lynette Sowell, Cathy Marie Hake, JoAnn A Grote, Pamela Kaye Tracy, Amy Rognlie, Kelly Eileen Hake

A collection of 9 books, I finished reading the collection with this title (I read the rest last month and in January):

Finishing Touches 

I enjoyed them and would recommend.



The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain - James Fallon

This book was fascinating. I think it would have been a bit of a hard slog reading it as a regular book, but I listened to it as an audiobook while I worked out and found it really interesting. Would recommend.



Sarah's Key - Tatiana de Rosnay

This was one of our book club books. I enjoyed it and would recommend.



Hopeful: Return to Sugarcreek, Book One - Shelley Shepard Gray

I listened to this as an audiobook. It was okay, I enjoyed it well enough but probably won't seek out any of the other books in the series.



Into the Wilderness - Sara Donati

First of a trilogy. I enjoyed it, have started the second, and would recommend. The highlight for me was when Outlander characters were mentioned! Loved that :)



Growing Up Amish: A Memoir - Ira Wagler

I listened to this as an audiobook while I exercised. I found it very interesting to have a geniune, first-hand take on Amish life. Not quite as idyllic as Amish fiction makes it out to be. I enjoyed this book and would recommend.


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