Ringing in 2017

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It may be a few weeks behind schedule, but High Tea with Dragons is officially back in action for the New Year – whoop!

As you may have seen over on my Facebook page, 2017 is a pretty big one for our little family – we’ll be welcoming a new (less furry) member of the family in June. We’re super excited, a little nervous and are trying to get the furbabies used to the idea of being a big brother and sister.

Hopefully that explains why things have been a little quieter around here over the past few months – it’s pretty hard motivating yourself to bake and blog when you can barely keep down a cracker! Thankfully, the rough first-trimester is well and truly behind us and we’re really enjoying the notoriously nice second-trimester.

After finally shaking the morning sickness in early January, we headed to Rarotonga on a babymoon to give ourselves a chance to really relax and enjoy some time together. We had such a beautiful week away and have arrived home rearing to go – albeit at a slightly slower pace then we’re used to (for me, at least).

Now that we’re back into the swing of normal life, I’ll be back on the blog sharing new recipes and ideas with you nice and often. In fact, keep an eye out later this week for a rather beautiful cheesecake recipe – I’m sure you’re going to want to try that one!

Things you learn as a cat-mum

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There’s no denying that I am a self-confessed, over-the-top, doting cat-mum. Heading to the SPCA and welcoming not one, but two, fur babies into our family was without a doubt one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

As soon as you welcome a cat into your family, your world begins to change. Yip, there are the usual things you expect – the couch becomes slightly more crowded, any box left unsupervised will have a cat in it and they quickly become an important part of the family – but there are some other things that happen too.

The things you learn by being a cat-mum!

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Your cat has some weird quirks… which just help make it the cutest cat ever

Cats are big on personality! I know smoochy cats, chatty cats, aloof cats and cats like ours that think they’re people. But whatever type of cat you have, they’re bound to have a few unexpected quirks that just help make them even cuter. Take our cat, Hunter: he loves his cat cage! Any time we bring it out for a trip to the vets or the cattery, he springs right in and sits there ready to head off on the next adventure. If we leave it out, he’ll even curl up and go to sleep in it!

Forget selfies, your phone is full of one thing – cat pics!

90% of the photos on my phone are of our two cats, Hunter and Sybil. I’m sure it’s the same for any doting cat-mum – you just can’t help it, they’re just so darn cute! Whether they’re snoozing in a strange position, doing something a little bit cheeky or snuggly up on your knee, it’s always a good time to capture a cat-pic or two (hundred).

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You’ll buy them toys, but they’ll still choose a stick

When we first got cats, I always said they would have a few toys but nothing crazy – after all, who wants the house littered with cat toys? Two years later, dodging one of Hunter and Sybil’s two (yip, two!) cat tunnels and tidying away their many toys is just part of everyday life. And yet, even with so many toy options, we’ll still find them playing with sticks, boxes and paper bags… go figure!

Cats know the house rules – and love to break them

No cats on the bench. No cats on the table. Definitely no cats on the mantelpiece. Yeah, as you can see, these rules can be a little hard to enforce – especially when their cheekiness is actually really cute, so you have to get a photo first… you know, as evidence. Cats love to test the limits – and sprint off in a rush of adrenaline when you sharply tell them to get down!

 

Cats eat, sleep and play… so you have to get the food right!

Food is a big part of a cat’s life, so you’ve got to get it right – and cat-mums quickly learn that not all cat food is created equal. You want your cat to have the very best – the best nutrition and taste, right? That’s where Fancy Feast comes in.

Their single serve Inspirations range is a real winner in our house – for both me and the cats! Not only are they super easy to dish up (I hate getting cat meat on my hands or the bench!), but the cats absolutely devour it. Every. Single Night. Like all discerning cats, they each have their favourites – Sybil loves Fancy Feast’s sliced chicken in broth, while Hunter is all about the tuna with courgette and whole grain rice. So gourmet!

 

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Thanks to the lovely team at Fancy Feast, I have a wonderful Fancy Feast Christmas Pack (worth $65) PLUS a $100 Animates voucher to giveaway to one lucky reader and their fur-baby!

To enter, simply comment below and let me know one thing you’ve learned since welcoming your feline friend into your family. Bonus points if you share a cat-pic too – let’s be honest, your phone is full of them!

Entries close at 11.59pm Sunday 11 December and the winner will be drawn at random on Monday 12 December. Winner must make contact within 3 business days or they will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be drawn. Due to timings, Fancy Feast Christmas pack may be received after Christmas. Sorry – this giveaway is only open to New Zealand residents.

This post was made possible thanks to Fancy Feast. All words, photos and opinions are, and always will be, my own.  

Make your cat fall in love with the cattery

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We’re heading off overseas for a month later this year which means one thing – our fur babies, Hunter and Sybil, will be enjoying a holiday of their own as they spend four weeks at a countryside retreat (aka. the cattery).

Whether you’re heading away for a week or a month, it’s never easy leaving your fur-babies behind – there’s usually a bit of crying when we drop Hunter and Sybil off for their little holiday… and it’s definitely not coming from them!

But luckily there are things you can do to help ease that separation. Here are my top five tips to help make your time apart as pain-free as possible – for both of you!

  1. Bedding:

Whether you’re a cat or human, there’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed. Pack your cat’s favourite sleeping spot with them for their holiday – we have little cushions that both Hunter and Sybil have loved sleeping on since they were babies. Don’t have one? Buy a bed or blanket the month before you head away and pop it in their favourite sleeping spot so they’re used to it and it smells like home by the time you jet off.

  1. Keep in touch

Don’t be afraid to ask your cattery to send you photos of your fur baby while you’re away. Many catteries will be happy to send you photo updates on how your cat is enjoying their holiday – all you need to do is ask! When Hunter and Sybil spent four weeks at the cattery last year, the lovely team sent us little photo collages every Friday morning – it was always a real treat to wake up to on the other side of the world and definitely made our time apart that little bit easier. Here’s a peek at some of the photos we were sent – awesome, huh?

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  1. Stay warm

Heading away in winter? Then don’t forget a blanket (or two!) for your cat. You can even cut up an old dressing gown or blanket you know your cat loves and use that. Think about investing in a cat-safe heat pad – your cat will love it! These clever little pads just need 10 minutes in the microwave to stay warm for up to eight hours – they’re the perfect solution for those chilly winter nights. We all know how much cats love lounging in front of the fire, heater or on a nice warm bed – let them bring this little luxury with them.

  1. Feed them well

Just because you’re away doesn’t mean your cat should give up on the things it loves – that includes their favourite food! Most catteries are more than happy to let you bring in your cat’s favourite food for them to enjoy during their stay – after all, they want them to stay happy and healthy as much as you do. Fancy Feast makes catering to your cat’s special tastes easy while making their holiday that little bit more luxurious. We’ll be sending Hunter and Sybil off with a stash of their favourite Fancy Feast pouches and cans again this time – they’re single serve, which makes it super easy for the cattery, and you can rest-easy knowing that your fur baby is eating well.

  1. Kick-off the holiday early

Rather than dropping your cat off when you’re in a rush to head away yourself, let them start their holiday earlier – it means less stress for both of you! They won’t have the stress of seeing you pack (and you won’t be bothered by the cat constantly sitting in your half-packed bag) and you’ll be in a better frame of mind to settle them into their home away from home. Remember, it’s not forever!

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Is your cat feeling the winter chill?

Thanks to the lovely team at Fancy Feast I have an awesome cat-safe heatpad to give away to one lucky person. These heatpads are filled with a clever gel that holds the heat for up to 10 hours – and your cat can’t chew through them!

To be in to win, simply leave a comment below and let me know how you’re keeping your cat cosy this winter. Bonus points if you share a photo of your beautiful fur baby too!

This post (and Hunter and Sybil’s holiday diet) was made possible thanks to Fancy Feast. All comments and photos are, and always will be, my own.

Entries close 11.59pm Monday 8 August. The winners will be chosen at random and notified on Tuesday 9 August. Each winner must make contact within 3 business days or they’ll forfeit the prize and a new winner will be drawn. Sorry – this giveaway is only open to New Zealand residents.

How to plan a winter-escape for $250

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Is it just me, or is there something about winter than can make you go a little bit stir crazy? While winter is perfect for cosying up with a good book and cup of tea, getting into a bit of baking or binging on Netflix without feeling too guilty, sometimes you just need an excuse to get out of the house.

But luckily there’s a simple solution: head off on the perfect winter mini-escape! Regardless of the season, there are so many beautiful places to visit in our backyard – sometimes the hardest part is choosing where to go. But the best part is a quick winter holiday doesn’t need to be expensive – all you need is a bit of forward thinking and planning.

Set your budget
First things first: decide how much you’re able to spend on your winter mini-break and use that to determine how long you go away for, how far you travel and what activities you do.

We recently switched our power over to Genesis Energy who have an awesome offer at the moment where you get up to $250 off your first month’s electricity bill when you sign-up your home to a 12 month fixed term Happy Winter plan.

Not only is Genesis Energy’s pricing super competitive (so we’re looking set to actually save money on our power bill each month), but making the switch left us with $250 extra in our budget. Because our electricity bill comes in a lot higher during the winter months thanks to our trusty dryer and having the heating cranked up, we were able to get $250 off our first month’s bill –  and that became our winter mini-break budget!

Sounds pretty tight, right? It is, but it’s totally achievable if you plan your little holiday the right way.

Pick your destination
Let’s be honest, chances are you aren’t going to be able to pick up return airfares anywhere on this kind of budget – at least not if you need to pay for accommodation and activities too!

The trick is choosing a mini-break destination that’s an easy drive away – somewhere you can drive to and from on a tank of petrol. Not only does this help keep your costs down, but it also means you can make the most of your time away from home, actually getting out and exploring rather than spending half the day sitting in the car. For us, the Coromandel is the perfect destination – and if you get a good winter’s weekend, the beaches are just as beautiful as summer (though we’re not brave enough to take a dip!)

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Think about activities
What are you actually going to do when you get there? Is just having a night away from home going to be enough, or will you want to head out and see some of the local sights? Before you get too set on your destination, have a quick think about what you’ll be able to do within your budget. A great way to keep your costs down while still having a great time is to make sure that there’s a good mix of free and paid activities – think nice walking tracks, window-shopping and hot pools!

Be clever with your accommodation
Accommodation is always one of the biggest costs when you have a night away, but there are loads of ways you can help keep this down. Why not see if any of your friends or family have a bach they wouldn’t mind you staying at for a night or two? If that’s not going to work, then booking a private room through Airbnb is a great option – not only are they super affordable, but there is usually a handful of options so you can find somewhere that suits you perfectly. If more traditional accommodation is your thing, then keep an eye on booking sites like Wotif to snag a great last-minute deal.

Still wondering whether it’s actually possible? Then check out how we managed to head away for a night with the $250 we saved, thanks to Genesis Energy:

Petrol We used a tank of petrol for the return trip. The trick was not driving too much when we arrived! $60
Accommodation We booked a lovely little private room in a house on the water through Airbnb near Whitianga which suited us perfectly. $90
Activities The weather ended up being so lovely that we spent all our time out and about enjoying the beach and bush walks. Instead, we used some of our budget for a nice drink by the water instead. $50
Food and drink We grabbed a few things from the cupboard at home (including a bottle of wine!) and picked up some chilled essentials for meals when we arrived at our destination. $50
TOTAL   $250

Want to head off on a winter-escape of your own? Then why not switch your home’s electricity to Genesis Energy on a 12 month Happy Winter plan – you’ll receive up to $250 off your first bill, which can absolutely be put towards a night out of the city. Pop over to Genesis Energy’s website for more info.

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Thanks to the lovely team at Genesis Energy, I have a $100 Prezzy Card to give away to help one lucky reader head off on a winter mini-escape of their own. 

To be in to win, simply leave a comment below letting me know where you’d head off to on your winter mini-escape. It’s that easy!

Thanks to Genesis Energy for sponsoring this post and providing me with $250 credit on a Genesis Energy Happy Winter plan. All comments and photos are, and always will be, my own. Entries close 11.59pm Wednesday 10 August. The winners will be chosen at random and notified on Thursday 11 August. Each winner must make contact within 3 business days or they’ll forfeit the prize and a new winner will be drawn. Sorry – this giveaway is only open to New Zealand residents.

The ultimate cat birthday

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If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram you probably already know this: I am a very (very) proud cat mum. Like all good cat parents that means two things – that our ginger fur-babies, Hunter and Sybil, are quite simply the coolest cats on the block and that I love each and every one of their little quirks and details.

While I can hardly believe it, these furry twins just turned two – and obviously that’s something to celebrate! As rescue kittens we don’t know exactly when they were born, so always make a big fuss of them on the day they officially joined the family – that means a whole heap of cat-ty fun.

When we celebrated their first birthday last year I came across this awesome ‘catland’ idea and knew that we absolutely had to make it part of our cats’ annual birthday festivities. Seriously, why choose just one toy when you can let them have everything – and I mean everything!

This year’s cat playland featured every one of Hunter and Sybil’s favourite things: a blanket, ribbon and scrunched up paper ball, Christmas ornaments, hair ties and an old phone cable (encouraging bad behaviour, I know!), their favourite play tunnel and – of course – the perfectly sized cardboard box. And the cats absolutely lost it with excitement.

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With both cats exhausted, it was time to move on to part two of the celebrations – the food! Food is a big part of all birthday celebrations, so making sure you have the right things on the menu is key.

Maybe salmon, spinach, courgette and green beans? Or how about chicken with pasta pearls and spinach? Luckily you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to pull together such a fabulously gourmet meal – Fancy Feast has got it covered.

We whip up a little cat birthday ‘cake’ for Hunter and Sybil each year using their favourite Fancy Feast flavours – for Hunter that means beef is on the menu, while Sybil’s more of a chicken girl.

It’s super simple (and way less gross!) than it sounds – just pop over a can or pouch of Fancy Feast (they’re single serve, so you won’t have open cat food lingering in your fridge) on a nice dish and top it with a little extra treat you know your fur-baby loves: think cream cheese, grated cheese or their favourite cat treats.

Oh, and a candle of course!

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Hunter and Sybil’s birthday is officially done and dusted for another year, but they won’t be longing for the next one to roll around too quickly – they can relive the magic of their purr-fect birthday every evening with Fancy Feast. After all, we all enjoy eating well, so why shouldn’t your fur-baby – love is in the details.

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Hands up if your cat’s mad about running water?

Thanks to the lovely team at Fancy Feast I have a cat water fountain to give away to two lucky readers – plus we’ll pop in a replacement filter with each one too, so your cat’s all set for the next six or so months.

To be in to win, simply leave a comment below telling me how you show your cat how much you love them. Let your inner ‘besotted cat parent’ out – it’s something we all have in common!

This post (and Hunter and Sybil’s second birthday celebrations) was made possible thanks to Fancy Feast. All comments and photos are, and always will be, my own.

Entries close 11.59pm Thursday 21 July. The winners will be chosen at random and notified on Friday 22 July. Each winner must make contact within 3 business days or they’ll forfeit the prize and a new winner will be drawn. Sorry – this giveaway is only open to New Zealand residents.

Mondayitis

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Happy Monday!

Wow, what a stunning weekend it was, huh? It’s certainly beginning to feel like summer – and with all the Christmas decorations popping up in stores, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas too. I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and managed to enjoy the sunshine – we certainly had a busy one, with friends coming over for a BBQ and fireworks and we booked our flights for next year’s big adventure… to South Africa, London, France and Dubai! I absolutely cannot wait – if you have any tips, please do let me know.

Here are five things to help get your week off to a great start…

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Mondayitis

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Happy Monday!

Well, the weekend certainly whizzed by, didn’t it? Both days were absolutely packed as we zipped around the city collecting things for upcoming projects around the home, baked up a storm and finished our latest DIY project – a catio (cat-safe patio).

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend – not long to go now until Labour Weekend and an extra day of relaxation. But until then, here are five things to get your week off to a great start…

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Mondayitis

Mondayitis-99

Happy Monday!

What a wild spring weekend we’ve had, huh? We had an action packed couple of days with friends visiting from overseas – the perfect excuse for an adventure down to Rotorua, a few wine tastings and lots of delicious food!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend too – here are five things to get your week off to a great start…

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