Birthday Weekend on Waiheke Island

It’s my birthday! Well, it was. And here’s a little bit about how it went!

Have you ever been to Waiheke or heard of it before? If not, this is the perfect blog for you!

I’m in the process of writing another blog about love languages but one of my greatest love languages is quality time! Robbie, my husband, knows me so well – he spent the several days leading up to my birthday with me exclusively. That’s a norm for us but this was EXTRA special because we got to take a vacation to Waiheke Island near Auckland, New Zealand. We had been wanting to go to Waiheke for over two years!

We started our long weekend with a trip to Auckland for the night so we didn’t have to wake up too early for our ferry ride the next morning. Robbie surprised me with the most romantic dinner ever at the Sky Tower (the restaurant is called Orbit 360°). WOW! The food was incredible and the prices weren’t actually bad for all that’s included (portions, the view, and access to the Sky Tower itself). We will 100% be going back.

I even figured out how to wrap my infinity dress is a new way and matched my beautiful Mesamie NZ earrings with it! Mesamie gifted me three pairs of earrings for my birthday and I wore one pair every day to celebrate. They were all so comfortable and unique. Find me on Instagram to see even more pictures of me wearing them! 

The next morning we woke up bright and early, walked to Krispy Kreme (which BTW if you sign-up for their email list you get free donuts on your birthday – I am going to add all the New Zealand birthday freebies that I got to my Deals Directory so you can check them out). It was Robbie’s first time at a Krispy Kreme and it definitely didn’t disappoint! 

Our ferry ride to Waiheke Island was NUTS. The water was so stormy, we were bobbing up and down like crazy. I actually said, “I can’t believe it’s legal to be on the water when it’s like this!” 

It was a bit calmer on shore and as soon as we arrived, we headed off to our zip line adventure on Waiheke Island! There were only three zip lines but to get back to the start, we got to hike through their private forest which was filled with natural wildlife (especially birds)! The best part of the zip lining tour/adventure, besides the zip lining itself, was that all of the proceeds from our tickets went to helping restore the forests natural habitats.

After zip lining, we headed to our Airbnb to get ready to continue our day with a few wine tastings. We went to everything from a smaller commercial tasting to a gorgeous, homely Italian winery to a beer and wine tasting at a larger restaurant/winery. One thing that I found really interesting about Waiheke was that every winery was SO different. You never knew what to expect!

The Italian winery, Poderi Crisci, was like something out of a movie. Imagine this: the moment you step out of your car you’re transported to an Italian chef’s backyard – you walk through his renaissance style garden lined with raised garden beds filled with vegetables and herbs that he uses for his dishes. You see a handmade swing hanging from the tree tops and as you sit down and lift your feet, you feel the fresh breeze flow through your hair as you gaze at the mountains, trees, and vineyard. You’re welcomed into the chef’s kitchen to enjoy a beautiful wine tasting accompanied by fresh baked bread and homemade olive oil. As you walk inside you immediately smell the freshly picked daffodils on the table. Each time the doors open, you hear the clinking of his pots and pans that are hanging from the ceiling on an old metal gate. 

The rest of the weekend was spent tasting wine, exploring the island, eating beautiful food, and having plenty of more tours!

One major highlight of our time in Waiheke was with head chef and winemaker, Connie Festa from Peacock Sky. We had our first and only Degustation Wine Tasting! What is does degustation mean? Degustation is “the careful, appreciative tasting of various food, focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company.” Connie says, “[Degustation] is the fine art of food and wine pairing!”

Connie prepared several small bite sized dishes to accompany the wine we were tasting. The pictures don’t do it justice. We felt like royalty in our private tasting room as we got to hear directly from the chef herself. 

We loved hearing about Connie’s journey of opening Peacock Sky, her love of cuisine, and all of the wonderful classes and events she hosts (everything from cooking classes and tours to hen’s dos and weddings)! She even sell their divine brownie as a mix so you can make it at home!

We left Waiheke feeling like we had checked off everything we wanted and more. The saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” couldn’t have been more true. On Monday morning, we packed our things and headed back to the Ferry to spend the day in Auckland. We didn’t get a chance to go to the top of the Sky Tower after dinner, so we went up on Monday! We had the whole place to ourselves which was absolutely magical. We shopped and hit up all the birthday deals we could before heading back home (with a stop off to see Robbie’s parents).

If you’re following me on Instagram, you might have seen that on top of the incredible weekend that Robbie put together, I also got a wine fridge (which I have been wanting for a long time) and a distiller (thanks dad)! 

Thank you SO much to everyone involved in making my birthday weekend so special! I couldn’t have asked for anything more beautiful.

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3

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DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipes

As grocery stores are running out of hand sanitizers, disinfectant sprays, and anti-bacterial wipes, more and more people are making their own! Here’s a few simple recipes that you can use to make your own DIY hand sanitizer! Let us know on Facebook if you make your own. We would love to see your pictures. 

‘Just the basics’ gel hand sanitizer:

2/3 cups rubbing alcohol (99.9% isopropyl alcohol)
1/3 cup aloe vera gel

Pros: Super easy. Least expensive. 

Cons: Strong smell of alcohol with nothing to mask the smell or provide additional benefits.

Easy essential oil hand sanitizer spray with alcohol:

4 tsp rubbing/isopropyl alcohol (optionally vodka – preferably over 60% alcohol)
1/2 tsp distilled water
1/2 tsp Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO)
30 Drops doTERRA On Guard essential oil – you can also use lemon or lavender essential oil if you prefer. On Guard is great for immune support which is why this is my preference. 

Pros: Some people really want to have it 65% plus alcohol. So this will do that. This will also give you that dry hand effect.
Cons: Strong smell alcohol & alcohol is not good for our skin or our gut biome / good bacteria.

Essential oil hand sanitizer without alcohol:

4 tsp witch hazel
1 tsp distilled water
1/4 tsp aloe (optional for softer feel)
20-30 drops On Guard or other essential oil
Pros: No alcohol. Smells great. Skin feels nourished. Also slight drying effect (and if you do use witch hazel WITH alcohol then even more so – but without smell of isoprop alcohol).
Cons: Very slight wet/sticky feel. But hardly noticeable IMO.

If you enjoyed reading this and would like more information on home, lifestyle, advice, tips, tricks, and more, follow me on Instagram @Its.Mary.Taylor and on Facebook at Mary Taylor! I can’t wait to see you there!

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3


Fun Board Games

Looking for fun, new board games and card games for yourself and your family? You’ve come to the right place! Here is a selection of games that we have and love! If you have any other suggestions, let me know by contacting me via Facebook or Instagram! If you like what you see here and want to join our shopping group on Facebook, head to Mary Taylor’s Shopping Finds or use the link provided.

As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through my links. I cannot see who purchases what. You will not be charged anything extra for clicking or using the links provided. 


30+ Things to do at Home While in Isolation

What has isolation looked like for you? People around the world are being forced or encouraged to stay inside – to self-isolate and to quarantine during this virus epidemic. Many people are struggling with what to do with so much time at home. No matter who you are or what you do as a profession, here are some suggestions on what you can do at home with your extra time. Keep in mind that these are great activities for all year round (looking at those that have snowed in winters).

General things you can do to keep busy:

  1. De-clutter: create a box of things that you can donate or sell (clothes, toys, shoes, kitchenware, etc)
  2. Reorganize your leftover items
  3. Go through your emails and delete what you don’t need anymore
  4. Delete and organize the photos on your phone and on your computer
  5. Start or complete a DIY project
  6. Cook or bake something new
  7. Read a book
  8. Start a new TV series
  9. Garden
  10. Meditate
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11. Find a new podcast to listen to
12. Create new Spotify playlists
13. Practice yoga or learn a new workout routine (there are tons of great videos on YouTube for free!)
14. Deep clean your house
15. Learn to sew or knit
16. Learn or practice a new language
17. Learn or practice a new instrument
18. Plan fun, indoor date nights
19. Set the living room up like a movie theater and have a movie night (we use a projector like this one)
20. Have a game night/day (here are some games that we have and love)
21. Rest/take a nap! You deserve it!
22. Call/Facetime/Skype friends and family members you haven’t spoken to you recently – even have a virtual double date
23. Go through everything that you’ve saved on Facebook and remove what you don’t need                        24. Have an at home spa/pamper day

If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, here are some things that you can do from home:

  1. Update your website with new information and/or pictures
  2. Start a blog on your website or schedule out future blog posts on your current blog
  3. Schedule out social media posts
  4. Create new social accounts that you don’t already have but would like to (Pinterest, Tik Tok, Facebook group, YouTube channel, etc)
  5. Learn something new through an online course or YouTube
  6. Re-organize your office space

7. Interact for a minimum of 60 minutes every day on social media
8. Create a list of goals for the next six months
9. Spruce up your current social media pages with new highlight covers, Facebook covers, etc.
10. Design a new logo
11. Network with and support other professionals
12. Go live on Facebook
13. Give other businesses you’ve worked with reviews online
14. Update all of your accounts including Google
15. Update contact forms, questionnaires, etc.
16. Create another form of income such as listing templates on Etsy

If you’re looking to take on a virtual assistant or social media manager during this time, I would love to help! You can learn more about the services that I provide by going to my services page here.

To help you stay motivated and on top of it, every day I will be posting on my Facebook page at least one task! If you have done the task or that will be your task for the day, comment and let me know! Let’s hold each other accountable while having fun. If you have any other ideas of what people can do to make their time at home more interesting, productive, or fun, let us know on Facebook or Instagram! To find good recipes, fun activities, and interesting articles, follow me on Pinterest here.

I hope this blog helped you to think of some fun and productive ideas! If it did and you would like to stay updated with more blogs and posts, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

Signing off,

Mary Taylor <3