June 26, 2011

Weekend Update

Long gone are the warm sunny days, as they are now replaced with rain and wind. A welcome return, because now it's starting to feel like winter around here, and helping me stop the confusion when I read all about the great summer weather. I start to dream of turquoise and coral colours, sandals and tank tops, picnics and cold beer but then realize it's the opposite here. I read my favourite blogs, all about their summer tips, hair tricks, bright nail polishes, and I think oooh me likey, I want to try! Then I realize I've been wearing a scarf and wool coat for weeks now. My cuticles are dry, beer is too cold I'll have a hot chocolate instead, and why isn't anyone posting about hats and mittens? I need hat and mitten inspiration please!

I'm so glad I created the 30 things in 30 days list, because it encourages me to do something other than cuddle up on the couch after a long day at work. It's helping me ease into the transition of a new place, a new job, and even into the new season. I'm finding things around the city that I would have missed if I stayed in, and it's bringing my creative thoughts out of hiding. The list isn't meant to be difficult, it's easy on purpose because it's full of things I want to do, but that I haven't because of lack of motivation, or getting caught up in work, or a lazy routine.

Quiz night, team Soul, last place

To our credit, we were only a team of four, compared to the average size of 9. We also won a drink voucher because of a random draw on the final results, and last place was drawn as the extra winner. So hardly a loss in my mind. Plus, it was fun to brainstorm with our UK friends on the top Bruce Springsteen songs from 1980-1994. I had doubts that my song contribution, Secret Garden, would fit in the time frame, simply due to the fact that the movie I remembered it from, Jerry Maguire, was released in 1996, and how crappy would it be if I didn't get a point simply because of the time frame. And since it was the 2nd and only other song next to Born in the USA, we needed all the points we could get. Too bad, the song was a 1995 hit, maybe next week I'll make up for it.

You never know where you'll find the next rainbow

In my case, at the carwash. And then it rained that night. Maybe I'll wash the car again this weekend.

Little intimidating pillows of carbs, get in my belleh!

Who knew making gnocchi was easy? 2 potatoes, an egg, 1/2 cup of flour. The result?

Mighty tasty. And thankfully, the pistachios in the pesto sauce covered up the texture of any unmashed potatoes in the gnocchi. Still, an impressive attempt at a very finicky dish.

And equally tasty and easy to make? Homemade granola!

I've always wanted to make it, and thought it would make a nice addition to my neighbours welcome home basket. This is the test batch, well, originally I was going to share half of it, but then I worried this wouldn't last until they come home. So will be making another batch to share.

Have also started Bethenny Frankel's book, A Place of Yes. Not sure what I think so far, but just getting started. And with that, so is the new week. Bring on the rainboots!

June 21, 2011

The past week in photos...

Yarn is sending me, a suspicious messages?

A large ship heading into a dead end, perhaps the suspicious messages was not meant for me?

Chance photo opportunity on a walk to town, chance because, I could have taken the bus as usual

Sven, just because

Turkey being a turkey

June 17, 2011

30 things in 30 days

Since we've arrived into New Zealand, my schedule has changed dramatically. Long gone are my busy days working from home, with over 50 annual events to plan. Long gone are weekends full of wedding bliss and orchestrating a grand plan to keep us on schedule. Some days I work when I can secure temp jobs, and other days I keep busy running errands, cleaning the house and lugging groceries down the steep hill to our home. Some days I'm enjoying the relaxed way of life here in New Zealand while sitting on the deck sipping coffee watching the boats sail by. Other days I'm hanging out with friends as we hop around town visiting new places. Somedays, time flies. Somedays, I do nothing at all.

The one thing missing for this scheduled list-maker is, well, sometimes, actual stuff I want to accomplish. So as I enter a new week with a new short-term work gig, I decided to challenge myself with 30 things in 30 days. No excuses. Especially now that it's published!

  1. Learn to knit.
  2. Cook 1 intimidating meal each week.
  3. Wake-up at the same time each day for one week.
  4. Walk somewhere three times a week, the bus stop doesn't count.
  5. Skype with family or friends each week.
  6. Read a book and a half. (Finish The Help, and start a new one.)
  7. Learn a new hairstyle.
  8. Take a tai chi class.
  9. Get back on track taking daily vitamins.
  10. Visit a new part of New Zealand.
  11. Dine out in town at a-must-dine restaurant.
  12. Attend a quiz night at a local pub.
  13. Create a filing system for our GST receipts.
  14. Bake a dessert.
  15. Sweep the leaves from the back porch.
  16. Mail out care packages to our three nephews.
  17. Host or attend an NZ wine tasting.
  18. Mail out two long overdue thank you notes.
  19. Do something that will add to my career path in event management.
  20. Create a welcome home basket for our neighbors upon their return from vacation.
  21. Stretch daily.
  22. Wash the car for the bf.
  23. Learn how to take a photo that has a blurry background while focusing on something in great detail.
  24. Keep up with blogging weekly.
  25. Plan two surprise dates for my bf.
  26. Purchase (and use daily) a crosstrainer/elliptical machine.
  27. Make something crafty.
  28. Stock three new spices in my pantry and make a dish with them.
  29. Create weekly intentions for myself.
  30. Organize my desktop files.

Any other list lovers out there? How are your to-do lists, 1001 in 100, or 30 before 30 lists going? Are you looking to try something new in the next 30 days, do share!

June 15, 2011

10 Things About New Zealand

Inspired by Leah's post on 10 things about Vancouver, I decided to do my take on 10 things about New Zealand. She recently left Wellington to relocate to Vancouver (while I left a brief stay in Vancouver to move to Wellington.) I love how blogging has connected us! It's been great to be able to communicate and share our experiences. If you haven't travelled to Vancouver, Leah has some great pics and adventures to share, if you have, you will love reading about her discoveries. She's just recently settled in, and already found a job, made friends, and ventured out to so many cool locations! I'm living vicariously through her because I'm too chicken for some of them, like crossing a suspension bridge!?! Brave!

Here are 10 things about life in New Zealand:

#10 - Screwed
All wine bottles that I've come across so far, New Zealand based, are screw caps, not cork! Handy, and helps get to the goods a whole lot easier, and faster.

#9 - Potato, potatoe
Coriander is cilantro, kumara is sweet potato, and toma-toe (pronunciation) is tomato! Whole meal is whole wheat, milk is offered up as trim, slim, and regular. Biscuits are cookies, mince meat is ground meat, lollies are candy, and (hot) chips are thick-cut fries but shoestring fries are the same and wedges are potato wedges - important to know what you want and order appropriately!

#8 - Technically ketchup is tomato sauce
Toma-toe sauce is a ketchup. It's overly sweet, and has a thinner consistency. Not to be confused with toma-toe puree, which would be an equivalent to North America's tomato sauce. I write this to serve as a reminder, because two days ago I made a quickie minestrone soup with two cans of toma-toe sauce ketchup. Gross.

#7 - Convenience
If you see a Fish'n'Chip place, it most likely doubles as the local Chinese takeaway (take out).

#6 - The NZD
Prices include tax. What you see is what you pay. But it doesn't matter. Things are expensive anyways. An oil change, on the cheap back home could cost $19.99 plus tax. Here, you are looking at $100 and up. Avocados off season and purchased from the grocery downtown, $3.50 and up. OPI nail polish, $25. Cover girl mascara, $22. And a typical breakfast meal for us (two people) usually costs $45 and up. Tipping is not necessary by the way, and only on public holidays will restaurants tack on, usually 18%, holiday service charge. Yes, a charge to enjoy their location on a holiday. (I haven't figured out the reasoning on this one yet.)

#5 - Operator, operator
Every time I call a business number, say airline, bank, or the government's recycling office - a real live person answers! (Insert halo angel like music.) None of this automated assistance, or press 1, then 5, then 4, then shake your left leg business. Just a real, live, person on the phone who wants to help you. LOVE!

#4 - Cuss words
It's common to read/hear swear words in/on the news. The best one we read that we felt truly captured the moment, was a passenger's story of a flight making an emergency landing. The news quoted the passenger saying that everyone was (pooping) bricks. I mean, it made sense that someone would say that, but I can't ever imagine seeing that in print back home. Here, they tell it like it is!

#3 - To the left right, to the left right
Not only do they drive on opposite sides of the road, but the same goes for walking! Surely this thing is a non-written rule around the city. But you know how it goes during the business hours, there's a groove to the city and the walking, and I always seem to be on the wrong side.

#2 - Maori heritage
The Maori culture is a strong part of New Zealand, and very integrated into the work world. It's quite common to greet others with, Kia Ora (pronounced Key Ora)! I've had a chance to participate in a Powhiri (pronounced Poh-fur-ee, note the 'wh' makes an 'f' sound, so much to learn!) which is a welcoming ceremony with lots of singing. And we even performed the Haka, a traditional dance accompanied by rhythmic shouting and movements. I won't lie, it kinda scared the goonies out of me, when I stood up to prepare to sing, and someone else shouted first. I thought the song was being cancelled, but that was just part of it! It was an interesting moment as a newcomer to say the least. The songs are beautiful and the ones I've sung often refer to beauty of the land.

#1 - Underneath it all
Women's fashion is similar to back home. Leggings are quite popular, and boots. Although all kinds of boots, short ankle, lace-up, heel, tall, short, baggy. Flat shoes are popular but more lace-up styles than ballet styles. The biggest difference is how they layer their clothes. Because the temperatures here don't get too cold, or too hot, layers are key. Just like eternal fall in San Francisco, though layers here are often a merino (wool) long sleeve tshirt, under a dress, paired with leggings. It's almost as if their summer wardrobe lasts all year because of the under layering, kinda smart. And of course confusing to me all the same, because it's spring back home and fall here - my mind is in overdrive trying to keep it all straight!

What a list! Did anything surprise you? Have you been to New Zealand before? Anything to add?

June 12, 2011

Making House a Home - in progress

Operation making house a home is in progress. It's a slow project, that I know will never really be finished. It will always be a work in progress as tastes change, styles evolve and design transforms.

One of the things we are most proud of and most challenged by, was our decision to move with only our clothes. We considered options of storing our furniture, bringing it with us, or selling it. Selling made the best sense, as it would provide us extra cash for the move. Plus, since we hope to be overseas for a few years, we weren't sure our stored items would still be something we enjoyed. We planned on renting a furnished place to help on cost, and to avoid the buy and sell pattern we started, but even with someone else's furnishings, it still needs a bit of us infused to make it just right.

When we sold our belongings, we were sad to see so many of our little treasures go. Like our home gnome that stood at our front door (tacky yes, but hilarious, especially when neighbours put him in funny places, that wandering gnome!) or my $4 solid as a rock coral piece that fit in anywhere and everywhere making everything look fabulous. Or our chocolate brown serving tray that sat atop our microsuede ottoman acting as our dinner table, and also Turkey's preferred seat to watch tv. Or the 6 foot Christmas tree that I worked so hard to make look like a model tree, that I shopped for hours, abandoning carts of decorations that just weren't "it", or how my first attempt at decorating it 5 years ago, looked like a mardi gras party gone wrong. Or the extremely discounted champagne flutes I scored at a Hollywood store closing, that lasted right until our move to Vancouver, where I had to leave them behind. Those flutes have been a part of every celebration in our relationship. From birthdays and holidays, to work visas, new jobs, or even as a high-five to finishing up a house project.

Ah, but looking back, these were just things. And I get to keep the memories from them and looking forward to creating new ones. Operation making house a home is very dear to me, I really want to make our wandering adventures more comfortable and homey. And we are sitting on the sidelines of let's-not-sell-everything-next-time. Not that we have regret, but we'd really like to have more of our sentiments with us. The furniture, not-so-much, but the trinkets and things that make us smile, most definitely.

A few new things added to our home:

A collection of saucers, trays, cups and bowls to create my vintage inspired beauty bar. This is just small portion of my collection, as I channel my inner Martha to create a girly home for my make-up and baubles.

A sample of our collection of frames. They will all be spray painted satin black to recreate a tv/memory wall, inspired by Emily A. Clark's black and white vision. (Oh and that $10 sticker? Pshh, scored it for $3, part of the fun has been thrifting and finding discounted deals!)

A new porcelain vase to hold my weekly weakness for the $5 flower bin at the local market. Anything goes as long as it's under $5. This vase makes them look like a million dollars in my mind. Small things.

A recent find in Sydney, Australia at the Bondi Market last Saturday. Notice the theme in this? Ok, Sydney might throw you off, but hopefully in a few years we will call it home too just like the others. Of course, need to add Wellington, I may have to order a custom one, or get a little crafty!

A quick peek at one of my biggest design challenges in operation making house a home, the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. And the bigger goal of only buying things that have sentimental memories or will be coming with us on our next adventure. So books are out of the question! Ah dilema dilema.

What say you? What's your most treasured home item? Any design tips for this bare area that's a major focal point in our lounge (living room)? What do you do to make your house a home? I'd love to know your secrets!

June 10, 2011

Wrap-up on Weekend in Sydney

Our trip to Sydney was a quick one. With friends who are relocating to Hawaii, we high-tailed it over the Tasman Sea and took full advantage of spending the weekend with them by catching up over wine, dinner, sand, and waves before they head out.

With last-minute plans to visit, we didn't have much time to prepare and research our destination. But as ironic as this sounds, it's best to leave the Type A Planner in me behind. I prefer my getaways to be relaxing and loosely planned, with high emphasis on relaxing. On our 2 day getaway (plus an impromptu extra day due to mechanical issues with our departing flight) we tagged along with our friends to an afternoon BBQ, hopped on the tour bus to catch some must-see sights, sat on Bondi beach enjoying morning coffee, shopped, enjoyed massasages, acted like a tourist, pretended to be locals, and took a ferry across to Manly Beach to meet up with a highschool friend and her family. (The world is indeed a small place, when you can cross paths with old friends!)

Because the loosely made plans were in effect, we pleasantly wandered upon:

Sydney's amazing lightshow

Taste of Manly, a food, wine, and sustainability festival

A little something-something from Swarovski

Duty free shopping at SYD is at one of the largest airports I've visited! (Forever New, Swarovski, Victoria's Secret, and Apple were our hangouts during the 5 hours we sat waiting for an update on our plane, that was eventually cancelled. I could get into my complaint about non-existent customer service, but I'll save you from my nagging ways. I've tried to inform VA of the experience via phone, twitter and website feedback forms, but have not received a response. In fact the phone agent directed me to the website feedback form, so while she is aware, there was nothing said or done to assist us. Word to the wise: Virgin Australia is NOT Virgin America in terms of service out of the International terminal at SYD.)

The upside? An extra night in Sydney!!

We visited King's Cross district, known for it's party hopping ways... though it was a Monday, so it was a bit more on the tamer side than what we've been told. Dined at the lovely Gazebo Wine Garden in this area, and I highly recommend it to any food and wine lovers. A quirky yet quaint place, with a unique (to me) menu. I enjoyed salmon in a champagne sauce and had an amazing wine tasting experience, while sitting on a zebra print couch. Our friends sat across in leather wing back chairs with nail head trim, and there was a fox with a crown hanging upside down from the ceiling, while the gazebo garden theme was in full effect. I failed on taking pics, but if you can imagine this crazy scene, just imagine even better food and service. You will not be disappointed!!

Due to the cancelled flight, our new itinerary included a stopover in Brisbane, and we noticed there was a shuttle from the airport to the outlet shopping mall. Made us wish we had arrived earlier so we could partake in some more shopping! (I'm sure my wallet is thankful we didn't!) Add it to your list if you're making any plans for this airport.

If you're planning an upcoming getaway, let me know what we missed in Sydney! We hope to return and enjoy more getaway weekends wandering around Australia.

June 8, 2011

Wandering Around: Sydney Australia (video montage)

Recently discovered a new (to me) blog, La Mia Vita, and have fallen in love with Niky's view on life, family, friends and San Francisco. Not only is she beautiful, but she has the most amazing get togethers that look like a blast, and she makes me long for the city that has my heart (cheesy but true!). Love how she captures all the fun and vibrance in the city by the bay. I devoured her archive blog posts and loved the way she recaps her trips, specifically her video montage.

So with a bit of luck (on not losing the camera during our outings), a bit of patience (not everyone was on board with my recording, ahem, boyfriend), a bit of work (remembering to capture video and not just snap iphone pics) and a whole lot of patience (using iMovie), here is our 3 day getaway to Sydney in 3 minutes.

Wandering Around: Sydney Australia from WanderInDelight on Vimeo.

June 6, 2011

Best part of living in New Zealand...

Proximity to places that normally would take days to get to from North America. Took off and enjoyed a weekend getaway to Sydney Australia! Talk about wandering around. Had a lovely time visiting friends in Bondi and wandering the city enjoying the sights and food, taking in as much as possible on a 2 days 3 day trip. Cancelled flights are fun, right? If you're in Australia they are!

Getting settled back into the daily grind, and looking forward to sharing the trip and possibly a video montage! For now, here's a sneek peak of the Opera House, view from the Manly Beach ferry. Yes, an iphone pic because we had to fight for prime photo taking real estate, and between two iphones and a camera, this was our best shot! Love it!

Sydney Opera House view from the Manly Beach ferry