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Easter activities from our family to yours!

In search of activities to keep your little ones busy over the Easter long weekend? We’re here to help! Our team have pulled together their favourite fun-filled recipes, crafts and games to help create a little Easter cheer.

Our activity book features a heap of great content:

Egg-squisite Recipes
Easter egg sugar cookies
Ice cream Easter eggs

Eggs & Crafts
Decorative eggs
Cheeky chick pop-up card
Sock bunnies
Easter baskets

Egg-spert Artist
Print or re-draw templates for colouring in time

Egg-streme Activities
Egg and spoon race
Easter egg hunt
Easter eggercises
Easter egg toss

Egg-straordinary Chick Flicks
Easter movies for the whole family

Egg-cellent Crack-me-up’s
Easter jokes everyone can enjoy

… just add eggs!

From our families to yours, have a truly egg-cellent Easter!

The Covid-19 lockdown has impacted the real estate market but that doesn’t mean there’s no activity at all. Stay informed with these essential property tips.

As we all retreat into our homes for the four-week coronavirus lockdown, the importance of our own private sanctuary is highlighted as never before. The real estate market like all businesses in New Zealand will be affected by the closure of everything other than essential services, however that’s not to say that the shutters have gone down and there will be no activity in the market at all.

Those who have recently negotiated to buy or sell a property and have yet to finalise the sale should discuss the next steps with their lawyers. The Ombudsman has put legal processes in place to ensure that conveyancing will not be affected and still go smoothly, and it is essential that you check on these provisions and keep fully informed.

Talk to agents

Real estate agencies have been preparing protocols in accordance with level 4, and are set up to work from home using technology that means that they can negotiate and complete sales contracts online without any need for personal contact.

Buyers who have inspected properties that have already been extensively marketed and are keen on taking the next step towards purchasing should ring their real estate agents to discuss how to proceed.

All open homes have been cancelled but many agents have the facilities to take you on a conversational virtual tour to answer any questions you may have about the house layout, chattels, etc, which you would normally clarify with another inspection.

Individual agents will update you on selling procedures.

If you had been anticipating selling your property over the next few months, you can get an online appraisal. Many agents specialise in particular areas so can still give you an accurate idea of what your property is worth, and how it sits in the local market.

Do your research

For those looking to buy in the near future there are still many properties listed and this is the perfect time to fully acquaint yourself with the market. Use the extra time to look at what’s available not just in your preferred areas, but also widen your search to see what surrounding suburbs may offer in terms of value for money, facilities and amenities.

Now that we are all spending most of our time at home it’s an ideal opportunity to assess how your present house works for you and your family and establish your priorities when looking for a new home.

Prep your home

And if you are wanting to list your property, all that time freed up from not attending sports games, visiting family or going out with friends can be well utilised around the house. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to make the average home its well-presented best to take to market. There are many jobs you can start on such as tidying up the garden, clearing gutters and making small repairs outside.

Inside you can start on a Marie Kondo mission and get on with de-cluttering. Assess your priorities for work that will need help from tradesmen later on. Take an objective look at the décor – what needs a coat of paint, rearranging furniture for good traffic flow, easy ways to give rooms a quick makeover. You can search the internet for inspiration, look at what’s available online and be ready to put it all in place once restrictions have been lifted.

Source | Homestolove.co.nz

Lockdown | How to stay fit at home

As New Zealand is now in an unprecedented four-week Covid-19 lockdown, many of us will find that staying active and continuing training will be a lot harder than usual – but not impossible.

 

Keeping moving and getting outdoors is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing, so it’s important to know what you can and can’t do across the next month, and work to find inventive solutions. 

Physical activity helps to keep your immune system working effectively as it flushes bacteria from the lungs and airways, increases white blood cell circulation and raises body temperature, all of which help the body fight infection. 

Many people would usually exercise in a gym or go for a run in a local park, so being forced to spend extended periods at home is going to pose a challenge for remaining active. So what can we do to ensure we make the most of the situation and keep ourselves fit and healthy? 

 

Home workouts: The knights in shining armor we may have forgotten about before the coronavirus swept in and decimated our usual routines in one fell swoop. However, instead of letting your normal fitness schedule slip, check out our round-up of the best home workouts to watch, stream and save – there are no excuses over the next few weeks. 

 

1. Livestream – If you prefer to stick to what you know – e.g., your favorite studio and trainers and have them take you through a live workout – then check out F45’s online workouts or TVNZ and Les Mills have collaborated during the lockdown period to ensure the nation gets its exercise fix. From next week, the pair will be making daily group fitness classes available Monday to Friday at 9 am on TVNZ 1 as well as a follow-up show at 3 pm on TVNZ 2 geared at teens and younger viewers. The programming will also be available on TVNZ OnDemand for the duration of the lockdown.

 

2. Running/walking – Regular walking, running, or cycling is a great way to stay active. Just be sure to keep a distance of six feet (two meters) away from other people in your community. 

 

3. Yoga – Yoga is great for the body and the mind, and you hardly need any space to be able to practice. Yoga is perfect for anyone who is feeling anxious, as the need to focus on your breathing will transport your mind elsewhere. Lululemon on YouTube has over 30 different yoga videos to choose from or jump on live Instagram with North Shore Yoga practices such as Urban Ashram yoga, where instructors are doing daily live stream videos. 

 

4. Workout Apps – Go onto the app store and type in ‘Fitness App,’ and you will find many different options. Most of these innovative apps will let you have a free trial for a couple of weeks or a month, so you can try out as many as you like without committing to paying a fee. Many of them allow you to pick a level of difficulty, so don’t panic if you are a total beginner. There is something for everyone, depending on your experience, what you enjoy doing, and your goal.

 

5. Kayla Insta – A literal cult favorite, BBG is the go-to 12-week plan for those looking to get fit at home with minimal equipment. You’ll do three 28-minute workouts per week as well as three low-intensity cardio sessions, all guided by the celebrity PT Kayla Itsines. 

 

6. Cleaning – During the outbreak, it’s important that we keep everything at home squeaky clean, but did you ever think about the fitness benefits? Cleaning your home is a great workout, and you can burn up to 190 calories on a tough job like scrubbing away dirt and grime. Stripping your sheets, doing your laundry, and making your bed is an excellent upper body workout. Hoovering the stairs, dusting, washing up- you name it, they’re all exercise. If you’re really on the ball, why not add some squats, lunges, or heel raises while you’re doing these things?

 

7. Gardening – Getting fresh air is a massive part of a successful workout for some. If you have a garden, why not keep it looking pretty during this time? Gardening is working out without realising you’re working out. It’s great for your bum, as you’ll be doing plenty of squatting while weeding. Think about your great your abs will be with all that hoeing! Using a lawnmower adds to your step count while whipping your back muscles into shape. In fact, you can burn up to 280 calories an hour from mowing the lawn. Carrying water cans and tools, pushing around a wheelbarrow, and picking are all great ways to tone up your arms and shoulders.

 

Throughout this time of uncertainty, something we can take control of is our health and wellbeing. So, whatever your situation, try to keep active, eat healthily, and stay hydrated.

If you’ve recently started to work from home, we’ve come up with some tips to help make your new lifestyle more productive.

Working from home is becoming a new reality for many New Zealander’s, and for those who have not done it before it can be an adjustment.

Without the unwritten code of conduct that comes with being in a dedicated workspace, it is easy to become distracted by pretty much everything around you – and become sloppy in your work.

A quick break to hang out the washing turns into a full-scale cleaning session. ‘Just one quick episode’ of Netflix turns into an all-day binge (and don’t get us started on scrolling Instagram…)

An afternoon nap leaves you feeling so shattered you take the rest of the day off. The extroverts among us are also discovering that working from home can be lonely.

So how do you keep up your productivity as well as your spirit? We asked those who already work from home for their top tips.

Look the part

Travel writers Lydia Vasko from Singapore and Kerry Heaney from Australia both agree that following your usual morning routine of showering and getting dressed is your first step to productivity.

You don’t have to put in as much effort as you would for a day in the office but you do need to get out of your pyjamas and make yourself presentable, they insist. Says Lydia, “It’s a stressful world out there so I say wear whatever makes you feel good and safe and comfortable. I change into ‘house clothes’.”

Kerry has learned from experience that whatever you wear needs to be presentable enough to pass muster when your boss holds an impromptu Facetime or Skype call.

Kiwi journalist Penny Lewis, who has freelanced in the past but currently works in an office, adds, “For me I’m ‘in the zone’ once I put on my red lipstick. So even though it sounds a bit flaky, that’s what I do every morning. “I’m not in a job that requires me to wear a suit, but for people who are I can see why they would still put on a suit.”

Stay away from the remote

Once you turn on the TV it’s a slippery slope to zero productivity, every person we interviewed for this story warned us. “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT TURN ON THE TV OR NETFLIX AT ANY POINT,” says Lydia. “Take it from many hours/days lost down that rabbit hole – your days’ productivity will be shot.”

Penny would add to that, “Stay off social media. Anything you wouldn’t do at work you shouldn’t do when working from home. If you have a job that requires you to stay on top of social media, that’s fine. But if you don’t, save it for the end of the day.”

Make lists

Says Kerry, “I think it’s important to have a good list of what you want to achieve for the day and work through it just like when you are in an office.” Lydia, too, works off a daily to-do list. “I like to follow a loose structure.”

Look at ‘break times’ through a new lens

Break times, for Kerry, are when she hangs out the washing or takes the dog for a walk. Adds Penny, “By all means put on the washing, but when you hear the beep that the machine has finished hang it out and make that your morning break time – or wait until you’d normally take a morning break to hang it. You wouldn’t down tools to hang the washing at work, would you?”

Try and keep to the hours you would at work too, so that you’re in sync with your colleagues.

Find new ways to share social interactions

Kerry says she uses grocery shopping as an opportunity to connect with other people. “I will often have lunch out, too,” she adds.

You can also take advantage of technology like Zoom to hold team meetings that give you ‘face-to-face’ contact. You could even have your Friday afternoon work drinks over Zoom, if you wanted to.

Email, Slack, Zoom and Facebook Messenger are all great tools to help you stay in regular contact with your colleagues.

Work in a dedicated space

Penny learned the hard way that she cannot work from a laptop in bed. When she first tried working as a freelance writer she tried it: “I used to fall asleep all the time,” she admits.

While she explains that she was pregnant at the time, she also learned that she was better to have a dedicated work space. “Even if it’s the kitchen table or bench and you clear it away at the end of the day…”

She also advises, “Make sure you have everything you need. For example, I always use a mouse. It’s a good idea to also have a keyboard. Have everything that you’d normally have at work to do your job.”

She also suggests being extra vigilant about looking after your work equipment especially if you use a computer because sourcing IT help from home is much more difficult than it is from the office.

Add white noise if that is what you need

If you’re a person who is comforted and soothed by the sound of office chatter, then you will not work well in silence at home. In the absence of people around you, create low-level white noise by turning on the radio or running podcasts at low level.

“Depending on the work I’m doing I put on music,” says Lydia. Kerry plays Spotify play lists to help her with her focus. She recommends the Deep Focus playlist on Spotify.

Eat like you’d eat at work

It’s tempting to spend all day helping yourself to whatever is in the fridge when it’s right there in the house with you, but Penny suggests taking breaks to eat in the same way you would at work. We will be doing our very best to follow this advice.

And last but not least, remember it’s all about discipline

Australian journalist Sarah Reid says, “I have a really strict structure.” She’s up at 6am-ish for a run, swim, surf or yoga, then eats breakfast and is at her desk ready to start work for the day at 8am. “Basically I don’t move until around 6pm unless I have to hang out the washing, make food, get wine, pop across the road for a cheeky swim or yell at my husband to stop distracting me.”