March 31, 2011

What's in a name?

Today marks one week in our new home! Not much going on aside from unpacking, laundry, shopping and cleaning. We've also been without internet since Monday and I had an unfair fight with the internet company (how can I be unauthorized to access my own account?! Drove me sideways and back again, but not much I could do about that, le sigh.)

I've also been dubbed a housewife, which I don't think is fitting at all, but in true spirit, I've been living up the so-called "housewife" life. Making friends, going for lunch, and? What else do housewives do? Just kidding! I take the name proudly, considering I am setting up our home. Maybe I should be called housepartner? Housegirl? Houselady? Housewoman? Decisions, decisions!

I have been up to my elbows in cleaning products, hanging laundry out to dry (weeee!), job searching (scored some quick temp work in the meantime) and working on applying for residency. My next challenge? Meal planning, and picking a sweet, foodgasmic, delicious dessert from oh, one of the hundreds found on tastespotting. Hello new addiction, I love you times three.

My new neighbour shared this gem of a site, and served up a strong kick ass homemade flat white = espresso with steamed milk. She is the epitome of what I consider a housewife: raising 3 little wee ones, and wears the most adorable aprons on a daily basis. She also greeted us upon move in with homemade brownies. How can you not love a neighbour like that?

I guess it wouldn't be so bad to add some aprons around here, you know, to maybe own the housewife name.

March 26, 2011

Behind the Scenes




Truths:

This is our first dinner in our new rental home. I haven't cooked in what feels like ages! Oops, I didn't actually cook this one...

This is our first dinner sitting at a dining table in our own home. We have been living together for 4 years, never owned chairs!

These chairs make me shudder, but I can't be picky since we finally have chairs! I do hope to find some old ones on trademe (aka NZ's ebay) and refinish them.

We moved to New Zealand with just our clothes. We decided to rent a furnished place, however we didn't realize cutlery was not included. We ate dinner with one knife and a wooden spoon that was left behind. Cutlery is overrated anyways.

Looking forward to new plates. Just white ones, love plain white dishes.

The boyfriends beard looks better in real life!

We dreamt of this dinner since September 2010. It's amazing to finally be here!

March 22, 2011

Kiwi-styles

I remember when I moved across the country from Toronto to Los Angeles, I didn't think there would be much difference in day-to-day living. And then I encountered valet car service everywhere (even at a $5 per dish, hole in wall restaurant), gas pumps with some sort of accordion attached at the nozzle, a severe lack of inexpensive coffee shops (non-Starbucks/Coffee Bean/Pete's), traffic (aka parking lots on the 405, 10, 101, 5 etc.) debit/credit cards, and super fast postal service - while maybe a bit unreliable, USPS is much faster than Canada Post, and they deliver on Saturdays!

When we prepared for our move overseas, I started to stress wonder if I could handle things kiwi-style. So what's different here? Well, not much really, but then I run into something and I'm painfully aware that it's "new to me". Most of these things are not bad things, just a different way, like driving. Others are quite helpful and eco-friendly - they have motion detectors everywhere to reduce wasted electricity. Then there are some that leave me a little left out of the fun, like bare feet or instant coffee.

Things like...

... driving on the left, but sitting on the right side of the car (including the blinkers on the right)

... a real live person answering a 1-800, ahem 0800 number

... phone numbers that go nowhere if you don't know how to dial them (sometimes you need the 04 country code, 64 city code, other times you don't, and what's an area code? Plus oodles of extra numbers, for example, my mobile has 11 numbers.)

... yes, I said mobile! (BTW some land lines do not call mobiles, grrr)

... walking on the left (on escalators, sidewalks, stairs, you walk on the left, and pass on the right)

... rainy days where you don't bother to use an umbrella because the wind will just blow it away or damage it anyways

... bare feet (on busses, on sidewalks, downtown, on the beach, in restaurants, here, there and everywhere. Not just kids, but adults too. Hot or cold, it doesn't matter.)

... heat. As in the heat in your house. Some have electric heat, gas heat, or no heat. For example, our temporary apartment does not have heat. I read about radiators with bricks in them, and how you want a house with lots of sun to heat the bricks, so all night they warm the house. I thought it was a joke. And now I wish this apartment had sun and bricks. No luck. But our house has electric heating. And it's fully insulated with double pane windows. Rare! And we move in this week!!

... cable cars (not the rice-a-roni trolley kind in San Francisco, more of a ski lift gondola style) for super easy, and super cool access to your house on a hill

... a grande americano made with 3 shots of espresso, I think America uses 2? (Strong, delicious coffee or if you prefer, instant. I don't understand this, and it's difficult to find an American style drip coffee maker.)

... it's known as America, not North America as I refer to it. (America includes Canada and the US)


There are lots more, but I'll try to keep up with kiwi-styles as I learn them. Wish me luck, I'm off to work tomorrow for a 2-day assignment. Do you get first day of school nerves like I do when it's your first day at a new job, even if temporary?

March 20, 2011

Wandering Glimpses from the Weekend

It's Monday here, which means, Sunday (and the weekend) is SO yesterday! I get a kick out of that every time. But no, we do not live in the future and I can't tell you the sports scores.

Hope your weekend was full of love, and company.



Our view from our new, used car with takeaway fish'n chips.

Lyall Bay, Wellington New Zealand




Heinz is Watties? We notice the grocery aisles are full of so many brand images we recognize but with different names.

Pronounced "TomaTOE" sauce (to go with my chips)



After dinner, a drive out along the coast.

End of road access along Ohwiro Bay, Wellington New Zealand



Waking up to go for brunch, and stumbled across a dragon boat race

Lambton Harbour, Wellington New Zealand



Sunday night we curled up to watch some movies on projection, getting ready for the week ahead. Moving, job interviews, and running errands oh my!

March 14, 2011

Glimpse into the Everyday (NZ Edition)

A little background on the N and Z.

NZ is pronounced (with a Kiwi accent) "In Zed". As a Canadian, we refer to the letter Z as "zed", though I lived in the States for 4 years and took on the "zee" pronunciation. While I grew up with "zed" we were very accustomed to the American way, and "zee" was commonly used. It was very easy to use them interchangeably in Canada, and no one made much of a fuss. Though in the States, nothing says SORE THUMB (or pick on the Canadian!) faster than "zed" so I made a conscious effort to say "zee" (are you still with me on this?!).

Which brings me to my medical for my NZ immigration back in San Francisco last October. During the eye test without my glasses, I started reading the first two lines. Then, I abruptly stopped, pausing a bit too long, causing the nurse to ask in shock, "Can you not read that?!"

Embarrassed little ol' me: "Uh.... I forget how to say it."
Nurse: ...
Me: "The letter!! The letter Zee or Zed, ugh, the ZEE!"
Nurse: ...

Awkward?

In any case, I was very self-conscious when I moved here, and wanted to remove the "zee" and refer to the proper way of "zed" without confusion, pausing, or more awkward moments. So I decided to just say the whole sentence "In Zed" complete with a Kiwi accent. It's helping me refer to the letter Z correctly, but now I go from a North American accent (btw not sure if it's more Canadian or American at this point...) to suddenly speaking with a very heavily announced Kiwi accent for those two letters. I'm sure I'm going to make friends real fast, help!


Moving on to the glimpse of NZ, the beauty of this gorgeous country...

Sneak peak to downtown from the Wellington Botanical Gardens
Sneak peek to downtown Wellington from atop the hills at the Botanical Gardens



Downtown (CBD) Wellington, Lambton Quay shopping
Downtown Wellington, shopping on Lambton Quay



Wellington Civic Centre
Wellington's Civic Centre (quietly I chant: "not E R, not E R, not E R,") then I learned it's the Civic SQUARE. FAIL.



I wish fall/winter wasn't around the corner... a whole 'nother year of winter until this lovely sunshine warm weather comes back.
Oriental Bay Beach


Loving New Zealand so much, feels like I'm on a daily vacation. Just like San Francisco and Vancouver. Beautiful cities with so much to offer. And keeping busy trying to navigate the language and culture without feeling so awkward about it all and continuing to embarrass myself!

Have you ever caught yourself in a language mishap?

March 10, 2011

Luggage Savings and What's In My Bag

Our travels to New Zealand, took about a week so we could visit friends and family. We travelled to Vancouver, British Columbia > Calgary, Alberta > Edmonton, Alberta > Toronto, Ontario > back through Vancouver > Auckland, New Zealand > Palmerston North (random landing due to wind) > and finally, Wellington. It was both the K-man's and my first international trip, and with moving all the items we own (not much other than clothes at this point) it was a challenge to say the least when it came to packing.

I managed to get that pile from here, down a bag, all folded and organized. To help save costs on lugging our bags from Vancouver across Canada, and then back to Vancouver, we found a luggage storage facility at the Vancouver airport. It cost $6 per bag, per day, plus a $15 pick-up fee, not bad considering it saved us over $300 on the extra baggage fees the airlines would have charged! We stored the majority of our items, and kept 2 suitcases on us to take across Canada.

Our itinerary to New Zealand, included flying Air Canada from Toronto to Vancouver (domestically) then changing planes and terminals, to board our international leg on Air New Zealand. We then had to transfer in New Zealand from Auckland to Wellington. To make sure there were no issues to check-in luggage at our stopover (Vancouver) I called the airline to confirm, and then had to use the the special luggage line at the airport counter in Toronto to "short-check" our 2 suitcases that we took to visit family. This step ensured these 2 suitcases would not transfer directly to Wellington. If we didn't ensure this luggage was short-checked, then we would not have been able to check-in our stored luggage. It was a bit complicated and used up a lot of time during the stop over, but the savings made it all worth it.

The K-man looks a wee bit too excited to carry the luggage, or maybe he's just delirious from all the flying...


Vancouver Airport

Another savings with the luggage was my frequent flyer status with United (though we flew on Air Canada and Air New Zealand) My status provides extra baggage allowance, so with all this flying around to visit family, we only paid for one suitcase for one part of the trip. More savings! When you fly, ensure you sign up for frequent flyer points, and try to use the same airline as much as possible to rack up miles. Most programs accumulate miles over an annual period, so with a bit of pre-planning you could easily rack up status with your vacation planning or family visits home, or if you are like me and wander around a lot, it doesn't take too long. I'd also recommend that you check out Star Alliance, as they have connected with over 25 airlines, and your status carries over to other airlines in their network for things like baggage allowances, and priority waitlisting, plus lounge access (which is why my star alliance level achieved with my frequent flyer miles on United gave me benefits on the other two airlines, they are all part of one network).

Also, making so many stops over the week, meant I had to pack my purse with all the necessities I would need/want to have on hand. Here's what I managed to stuff into my tote-sized purse with magnetic button closure. In hindsight, I should have used something with zippers to keep things enclosed. And pockets. Because pockets are the greatest invention ever. (Especially dresses with pockets, but back to the bag...)


With limited space, I decided on the following:



Overall the bag was stuffed to the brim, but not heavy, and I had everything at my fingertips. I made sure to pack:

- E-reader (I love my nookie!)
- Travel pillow
- Pashmina (perfect for keeping warm with plane temperature changes, though I often use it to cover my legs since I love wearing dresses when flying)
- Make-up bag (stuffed with goodies like my go-to concealer for under eye circles Time Balm concealer)
- Hand sanitizer
- Pain reliever
- Hand lotion
- Band-aids (they always come in handy, usually for a blister. And it seems that whenever you need a band-aid it's always hard to come across one, especially a decent one, so I pack 'em all the time. By the way, have I told you I'm a planner for work? Surprise, no?!)
- Tissues (airplane tissue is so thin and scratchy!)
- Zinc tablets (cold/flu viruses were following us around the entire trip)
- Gravol (especially because I cannot find this anywhere but Canada, and if you have an upset tummy, it's so handy! I also thought it would be helpful as a sleeping aid, in case I had troubles falling asleep... which I didn't.)
- Deodorant (yes, I prefer men's, but really need to switch to all natural - any suggestions?)
- Baby powder (for freshening up in my shoes, and as a dry shampoo)
- Moisturizer with SPF (but my travel size not pictured)
- Iphone loaded with videos and games galore (I'm also an iphone pic addict, sorry no professional photos here)
- Glasses (better to see you with my dear!)
- Wallet
- Nail file/buffer all in one
- Gum
- Mints
- Hair clip
- Make-up remover wipes (to freshen up)
- Toothpaste (not pictured is my toothbrush, though I'm a huge fan of Colgate Wisps. Used them all up on the trip - not pictured. Easy to brush up without making a mess, and you don't need toothpaste!)
- Earphones
- Phone charger
- Travel book
- Plastic baggie to stuff all liquids, and a second one to stuff the little items in so they are not floating around my purse.
- Passport (always triple check you have this on hand!)
- Pen (like a band-aid, whenever you need one, they are hard to find)

Overall I had almost everything I needed... it was my first international flight, and I found a new must-have, EAR PLUGS! They block out the airplane noise so well, made sleeping so easy. Thankfully they were provided by the airline.

Phew, well that was a long one, but I sure love learning about everyone else's travel tips, thought I could pass some along as well. Any other travel must-haves that we should be packing in our purse?



Side note: All recommendations are my personal opinions from my own personally paid experiences. I was not compensated to share any of the links or views in this post.

March 8, 2011

Settling In

Oriental Bay

Oriental Bay, Wellington. Stitched together using the Autostich app.



Our first few days in Wellington have been full of food, wandering around, apartment hunting, and running into familiar faces on the street! We are lucky to have travelled so far from our last "home" of San Francisco, where many of my boyfriends past co-workers have also made the move, giving us a built-in circle of friends. Walking along the street and literally bumping into someone who ends up being someone you know very well is comforting!

We are enjoying lots of pubs, restaurants, takeaways* (take-out) and street festivals. Tons of butter chicken (Indian dish) that was missing from California, and heaps of great wines, particularly Pinot Noirs - my weakness!

*On Saturday I enjoyed a delicious moroccan chicken dish at Casablanca restaurant (complete with a belly dancer!) and wanted to take the remaining food home. Thankfully, I brushed up on common words, because when the wait staff offered to "takeaway" my chicken, a part of me wanted to shout "NO!" and hoard my plate, when indeed I wanted takeaway. Learning the small language differences and culture is my favourite part of being here.

On Sunday, we hit up a street festival. While it was raining, no one appeared to be put off from the activities, the streets were bustling and food lines long. We noticed that very few people use umbrellas to keep dry, and learned that because of the strong winds, they opt for coats with hoods. And while rainboots would make a good choice, there are many who go barefoot. Even in the rain! For me, the best part about the festival was the street food and games. And boy, do kiwi kids know how to party!





The first few days had wind, rain, and the beginnings of fall much to everyones dismay. This week shows bright sunny skies with 20 degrees Celsius every day! Yesterday at lunch, we ventured back to Oriental Bay, walking along the beach. Yes, the beach, that sits next to the CBD (Central Business District = Downtown). We even managed a sunburn from siting out on the patio for lunch!




We are not even one week in, and I love this little gem of a city! Considering we had ventured out without a prior visit, we are very much enjoying life in a new place, and can't wait to settle in. I wonder, who's coming to visit?

March 4, 2011

Greetings from New Zealand!

photo by Dangerous Business via PhotoRee



We arrived!

3 planes + 1 emergency bus, 23 hours of flying, 5 heavy luggage pieces, 4 carry-ons, 1 windy city makes for two happy Canucks in Wellington!

The country is beautiful, very green with hills for days. Cascading homes, cute kiwi accents, and water everywhere. Looks like we will have lots to explore over the next 8 months (though hopefully we can stay a bit longer!)

Our travel here, felt like an episode of the Amazing Race! Mostly because we had so much luggage to handle and lug around that was not transferred over to our 3 flights, but will save that story for another time.

We were warned that Wellington is windy, aka Windy Welly, and we learned just how windy when trying to land. Our plane missed the landing, then ran low on fuel trying to fight the winds, so we instead landed in Palmerston North, approximately 150km north of Wellington. Then we boarded a bus, and trekked back to the city. We enjoyed the beautiful views while trying to grasp the left-side of the road driving. (We take lessons next week!) In fairness about the wind, while it is normal to be windy here because of the location/bay, there were severe wind warnings that cancelled many of the remaining flights for the day. We flew in bright and early and had no other flight info to compare, and our pilot kept us updated on the situation. It was more of an adventure than anything, and we are happy to finally be here!


So, just how windy?








Windy Welly


Have you ever been blown away before? Literally?

March 1, 2011

Christchurch Earthquake

Christchurch New Zealand suffered a major earthquake last week. The devastating event took the lives of hundreds of people, with many still missing. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected by the tragedy. Especially for those who lost their loved one, or who couldn't locate them, or still cannot locate them. To those who were injured, and to those who escaped crumbling buildings, and falling objects to run for safety, and for all those who continue to live in fear, reliving the traumatic experience.

Today, one week later, the world united for a 2-minute moment of silence at 12:51pm to honor those who lost their lives.

Sending New Zealand love, prayers, and strength during this time.