Trim Healthy Thursday: Week 3, the first casualty

Not the best week at sticking to the Trim Healthy Mama plan as I was on holiday somewhere unfamiliar, but I did manage to eat THM style about 60% of the time.  Breakfasts were easy, and I was delighted to find a chicken, quinoa and spinach salad for lunch one day.

There were some not-so-good choices in there too.  I had to snatch two meals on the go at the airport due to tight connection times and no THM-friendly options were available.  And I sneaked in some mashed potato with my IKEA meatballs, and had a roti with a cracking Malaysian curry.

But it’s all good.

As soon as I returned home to New Zealand I got back on plan.  My clothes were still noticeably looser and my saiety levels have remained stable.

I already have a casualty of THM war: a pair of jean shorts.  They were a little loose when I first bought them.  They got a bit tight in the sugar-fuelled aftermath of having a reflux baby.  Now, after a mere three weeks on THM I have to put the shorts in my discard pile as they are way too loose, especially around my thighs.  So much so I kind of look like I’m wearing denim jodhpurs.  Awesome.


Dollar Diet: Week 10

Okay, so right off the bat I will say that this was not my best week of doing the Dollar Diet.

I spent more than I intended on transport and incidentals while I was in Adelaide.

I was powerless to resist the meatballs at IKEA

I was powerless to resist the meatballs at IKEA

Upon arrival I discovered that both ear pieces on my sunglasses had snapped off in my bag.  I never leave home without my sunglasses (the sun in NZ is very harsh on eyes) so I had to buy a new pair.  They cost about $25, but still, I was really irritated that my old pair got so damaged in my hand luggage.  I had also planned to catch the bus to my hotel, but I was so knackered when I finally got to Adelaide (at 11:30pm NZ time, having left home at 10am) that I caught a taxi instead.  Fortunately I knew that the airport is only 8km from the city centre so the ride only cost me $25.  But by now, I have spent $50 more than I would have liked.

I had to go with the flow in terms of where we ate, but none of us have expensive tastes.  I think the dearest meal I paid for cost $30 which included drinks.  I bought small gifts for the babysitters who helped looked after my children while I was away, and very inexpensive gifts for D and the kids.  I found it impossible not to do gifts.  Gift-giving is an integral part of who I am, plus it feels like good manners to give a gift to someone who has done something nice for you (like babysitting or feeding your cat) while you swan off on holiday.  Having a little something to give D and the kids just says ‘See?  I thought of you while I was away’.  I probably get this from my parents, who are wonderfully generous gift-givers, and I don’t know that I could ever bring myself to stop the practice.  The most expensive gift I bought was a toy Kangaroo (complete with joey) for Sausage which cost $9.50, so I don’t think I did too badly.

And for myself: I bought two items that I have been looking for for a really, really long time.  I got a pair of bike shorts for $6; and a salad spinner for $3.50 from IKEA.  So I broke my no clothing rule for this year, but considering I have been trying to find a decent pair of bike shorts that don’t cost a packet in what feels like forever, I don’t care (because clothing manufacturers seem to think that plus size people don’t exercise…).  Ditto for the salad spinner!  I have been scouring secondhand stores for well over a year now, as I thought it was the kind of kitchen implement people buy and then never use – but I never found one.  I have salad almost every day so I knew I would get good use out of one and had resigned myself to putting up with soggy lettuce (oh the trauma!), because I refuse to pay $20 for what is essentially a plastic bowl.  (Seriously, that is how much they retail for here in New Zealand. Outrageous, right?)  My glee at finding a cheap salad spinner at IKEA is still giving me a warm glow.

I haven’t worked out exactly how much I spent during my time in Adelaide, but I do know that I spent far, far less than I usually do on holidays.

I saved money by driving from Whanganui to Wellington (2 1/2 hours) rather than taking flights there and back.  Driving meant I got home at 3am, but the money saved was worth a bit of lost sleep.

I caught the bus back to Adelaide airport instead of the taxi ($5.10) and we caught a bus out to the lovely village of Hahndorf ($13 return) – my friends and I are all seasoned travellers so catching buses in a strange place isn’t daunting to us at all.  We went to the South Australia museum (free) and attended Adelaide’s Blinc Festival down on the waterfront (free).  I normally hit the shops when I am overseas and it felt very strange not to do that.  Part of me was quite put out by it!  But I sat with my feeling of disappointment, and was helped along by the fact that shopping in Australia is nowhere near as exciting as it used to be, as we have many of the same shops here in NZ (don’t get me started about these big multinational chains!).  Until now, I had no idea that shopping was so integral to my idea of having a good time while on holiday.  Ridiculous really when you think about it.

I also often take in a show or play whenever I am in a large city, but the Blinc festival filled that gap nicely – and the time difference meant I was ready for bed early anyway.

At the Blinc Festival

At the Blinc Festival

On my last morning in Adelaide I’d planned to hit a museum or two but unfortunately they didn’t open until midday.  My friend J and I then decided to visit IKEA which is just over the road from the airport instead.  Totally random I know, but we don’t have IKEA in New Zealand so my friend and I had loads of fun reminiscing about all the times we’d walked out of IKEA in England with silly things we didn’t need, like star-shaped ice cube trays.  You might think that going to IKEA was just asking for trouble, but we had a blast and I only walked out with one item that cost $3.50.  We were unable to resist the lure of their famous meatballs, and even though it was totally un-Trim Healthy Mama, their $8.35 lunch kept me sated for the entirety of my long journey home.

So not my best Dollar Diet week, but definitely one of the cheapest holidays I have ever had.

In non-overseas trip news, D broke his debit card and had lost his EFTPOS card several weeks ago.  When told a replacement card would cost $15, he remembered he had yet another debit card for a different account and got his accounts reassigned onto this one remaining card for free, rather than get a replacement.  How very Dollar Diet.


Tending to my soul

I arrived home from Adelaide at 3am on Monday morning, desperate to see my babies and husband, and delighted to slip quietly into my own bed.

But oh, what a trip.

Moments of doubled-over-in-laughter, great joy at seeing two lovely people get married, of wandering around unfamiliar and beautiful streets.  Little things, like having the time (and a reason) to paint my nails, lingering over meals, uninterrupted conversations, friendships so old and true that no explanations or back stories are ever required, having the head space to notice and enjoy the difference between Australian and New Zealand architecture, time alone at airports spent reading a book.







My two travelling companions and I once counted Europe as our stomping ground and had many, many adventures with our group of friends.  We now live in different parts of New Zealand, so not only was it great to spend so much time in each other’s company, but it was wonderful to put on our explorer hats together again.  In terms of tourist stuff, we didn’t ‘do’ much.  A great deal of our time was just spent wandering the streets of Adelaide, a city I have decided I could easily live in; and Hahndorf, a picturesque village just outside Adelaide.  As we walked around the leafy streets of Hahndorf each one of us could feel the busyness of our normal lives melting away.  We had nothing more pressing to do than walk, look, and find a good place to have an ice cold cider.






Being ‘Mum’ to two little tots is hands down the most joyful thing I’ve ever done, but it is also the hardest and most exhausting.  It’s easy to lose yourself in the chaos of your children’s early years when ‘me’ time feels like an impossible dream, and all you want is to eat lunch or go to the loo in peace.  It was wonderful to simply be Angela for a few days, and to do anything I wanted to.   During moments of solitude I was reminded of the need to take care of myself more, to tend to my own soul while I am taking care of my children.  I know I am a better mother when I do.  I am less tired, less resentful, less hurried.  I am more patient, more kind, more fun.

But as I watched my friend marry the love of her life, I was reminded of my loves that waited for me at home.  Of how much richer my life is for having D and our two children in it.  Of how I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.  I will dine out on the memories of my trip, and all those little things that tended to the garden of my soul; but I will also try to be more grateful for the chaos of our daily life in Tawhero, and paint my nails every once in a while.




Big thanks to D, Nang Nang, Grandpa, Oma and Auntie C for taking care of my tots while I was gone.  Without your support, my trip would not have been possible.



Trim Healthy Mama Thursday: Week 2

I’m dashing off this post before I head to the airport so I’ll be brief.

It’s working.

I know I’ve been losing weight since quitting sugar again in January, but at the end of my second week I’ve noticed several things:

  • My appetite control is snapping back into action.  This could be just a result of being sugar-free for a while now, but I certainly feel sated after eating most THM meals, and haven’t needed any morning or afternoon snack in several days.
  • My clothes are definitely looser.  I know this because I have lost weight around my ARMS.  How random is that!  I put on a t-shirt that was always a little snug around the arms, and this time it fitted fine.  I’m more than a little bit excited about this because normally the first place I loose weight is my chest.  If my bat-wings are slightly reduced, I’m rather happy.
  • While I have had moments of tiredness (in fact I had to take a short power nap today as my son woke me up very early) my energy levels have been pretty stable.

I’ve tried several more THM recipes which all turned out to be both easy and yummy, and I even managed to get two runs in this week.  I have been waiting for my son to get into a morning time wake-up routine, but have given up and will just try and get out there as often as I can.  I am doing couch to 5k again, and plan to do strength training in between my running days.  Once I’m at 5ks I will be happy – no plans to run marathons here, just a desire for fitness.


Dollar Diet: Week 9

Week 9 of our Dollar Diet went well.

Also, how can it be March already?  I am off to Adelaide this Thursday, wahoo! This is me:

any excuse to put David Tennant in my blog (image credit)

any excuse to put David Tennant in my blog
(image credit)

So, frugal things.  We made good use of our apples by making apple chutney (thanks to D for his marathon apple peeling effort) and applesauce.  We are now awash with ridiculously good chutney if you ever want to pop in for a visit.

2015-03-01 22.07.53

Chutney! I love how the jar at the front looks like it has a smiley face. It’s clearly happy to be filled with yummy chutney…


If you’ve been following me for a while you will know that D makes our bread from scratch, pretty much every day.  At the start of our Dollar Diet, he spent the princely sum of $5 on a bread guide thingee (you know, those things that help you cut even slices) which turn out to be flimsy and rubbish.  So I was gobsmacked to see this in my local op-shop for $3:

Technical name: bread slicer thingee

Technical name: bread slicer thingee

And oh, it is the business.  Robust and sturdy and helps slice our bread like a dream.  Considering it will be used almost everyday, that’s the best $3 I’ve spent in a long time.

The absolute highlight of my week was attending a ‘swap shop’ organised by my frugalista friend S.  A swap shop or ‘swishing‘ is basically just a bunch of friends getting together to swap clothing, accessories and well, anything else you like, really.  It was fabulous.  A lovely bunch of ladies, some nibbles, and a floor full of great clothes.

Chutney!  I love how this jar looks like it has a smiley face...

There were two pregnant ladies in attendance so they scored some of Chip and Sausage’s clothes, and I went home with loads of clothes for Chip, some clothes for me and a t-shirt for D, some books, and a sweet little handbag that will be perfect for the wedding I’m going to on Saturday.

2015-03-02 20.39.42

If you’ve never been to a swishing party before, I highly recommend it.  What you have grown tired of, someone else is bound to adore, and you may come home with some dream clothes.  They are not hard to organise, all you need is a venue, a bunch of friends, and the will to let go of the clothes that are no longer serving you.  Oh, and wine.

Deciding what to take to the swap shop was a sobering exercise.  I went through TWO large suitcases AND one large storage bin of my clothes that weren’t currently in rotation in my wardrobe.  Most of them were too small for me, so it was rather depressing!  (C’mon Trim Healthy Mama, I say.)  I do store my summer and winter clothes in the suitcases depending on the season, but it certainly got me thinking what a crazy amount of clothes I have.  And I don’t think my wardrobe size is anything out of the ordinary!  How often have I shopped in the past, not really needing anything in particular, but just wanting to nab a bargain?  A bin load.  So I gave away clothes that I have no use for now I am a stay-at-home-Mum, or those that I never felt good in.

A few years ago I realised the Wellington factor had crept into my wardrobe (for my non-NZ readers, Wellingtonians wear a lot of black!).  I am a bright spring who loathes wearing black near my face (I look like I might be a recruit for a zombie apocalypse), so I vowed not to buy any more black or grey clothes, and now my wardrobe looks like a rainbow exploded in it.  Bright colours make me happy, what can I say.  The swap shop got almost the last vestiges of my funereal attire which was happily was snapped up by a friend.  Oh, but guess what colour I am wearing to the wedding?  Black is just so darn useful…

Anyway, what else did we do this week?

D returned a faulty bbq and a heater to a store who replaced the heater, and they are replacing the faulty parts of the bbq.  D also needed new glasses as his prescription has changed, but he opted for some inexpensive frames over the ones he usually likes.  You’re so Dollar Diet D.

One of the things I like about the Dollar Diet is that I am spending more time relationally.  I see more of my friends.  In my home, in their homes, whatever.  Spending time in each other’s homes somehow takes any friendship to a deeper level.  You get a real understanding for what someone is like when you can see how they live – and check out their book collection.  I see my friend A and her son 4 or 5 times a week, so when she asked me if I could babysit her son the other day due to an emergency, it was no problem to do so.  Being a Dollar Dieter I am often at home, and her son is totally comfortable with me.  We whiled away the time painting (yay for my roll of newsprint).

2015-02-27 11.23.45


Next week I suspect will not be filled with as much frugality, whilst I meander around Adelaide with a couple of my best girlfriends.  I’m looking forward to great conversations, uninterrupted sleep, visiting the Hello Kitty Cafe, and of course, seeing my wonderful friend get married.


Virginia Lake, Whanganui

If you are a visitor to Whanganui, or merely a local in need of a nature fix, Virginia Lake is a must.  The lake is most certainly my happy place; my favourite bit of my home town since childhood.  On the rare occasion I get some time to myself, a walk around the lake does wonders for my soul.  It’s also my go-to place when I have scratchy kids as the lake never fails to cast its spell of fun and excitement.  And it’s free, of course.





Situated in St John’s Hill on Great North Road, Virginia Lake is a 5 minute drive from the centre of town.  Popular with locals, it’s the number one place in town to have wedding photos taken.  For good reason.  It’s blimmin’ beautiful!  There are three walking paths around the lake, with the most popular path being the lakeside path which meanders all around the lake and would take most adults 25 minutes.  If you’re with kids, expect to take much, much longer.

The water fowl alone will amuse most kids.   There are ducks, geese, swans, pukeko and more.  The birds are used to being fed bread by their daily visitors so if you take the lower path PREPARE TO BE BESIEGED BY BIRDS.  Sausage loves it until they get too close for comfort and scolds them vociferously.  The birds are a great part of the lake experience, but I find if I want a nice, peaceful, meditative sort of stroll, then I take the middle path.

Who can resist this face?

Who can resist this face?

A cheeky pukeko

A cheeky pukeko

I like this sort of black swan a lot more than the movie...

I like this sort of black swan a lot more than the movie…

There’s plenty at Virginia Lake to keep everyone happy.  Besides the beauty of the lake itself, there is a bird aviary, a child-friendly cafe, free gas barbeques, a fountain which lights up like fireworks at night, an amazing Winter Garden complete with a wishing well and a tunnel(!), a band rotunda, a small pier, and a toddler playground.


The Winter Garden (image credit)

The Winter Garden
(image credit)

I love visiting the lake at any time of year as the greenery never fails to delight me.  Sausage is flower-mad and we spent a good hour at the lake just looking at all the different flowers on show, and touching tree bark.  Because tree bark is just begging to be touched.







Basically, Virginia Lake is awesome.  Go there.