July 29, 2011

Saturday Laziness


It's a lazy day here, with a growing to do list:
  • Tidy up
  • Feed the neighbors cat
  • Weekly meal planning inspired from here
  • Grocery shop
  • Prep for tomorrow's potluck dinner
  • Prep for an interview next week (a declined cv application turned into "but we have this other awesome opportunity you might be interested in!")
  • Vacation planning: short jaunt to Beijing then off for some R&R but where oh where to go? Bali? Fiji? Thailand?
  • Alterations so I can finally wear pants again, er, that sounded wrong, but my work wardrobe is missing pants, I'm all about dresses and skirts!
  • Work out but in a funner way - kinect styles

Plus it's a beautiful sunny day, I really shouldn't waste it away, but I'm so cozy in my pj's on the couch. Don't judge, please?

July 27, 2011

Winter Cold Snap

After thinking warm thoughts, we hit a "cold snap", one of the coldest so far this year! I looked at the temperatures, 4 degrees, and thought if this is a cold snap, what do they do when it's 0 degrees?

Turns out, 4 degrees is very cold. And with limited insulation in buildings, it can feel colder for longer. Heating is a bit of luxury, considering the price of our electricity for one month could fund a mini-vacation to somewhere hot, say Vegas, Hawaii or Mexico from San Francisco (flight, hotel and spending money, aye!). Then again, this is a country where you plan for sun to help with the heating of your home. We love our that home gets all day sunshine, and figured this would help us out in the winter months, but we didn't realize, more windows = less insulation. Not too mention the vents do not run up to the second floor/bedrooms. At times we are colder indoors than outside, and we seem to spend more than trying to get warm and stay warm than being warm. I'm lucky we have electric heat, and a modern home though. Living in New Zealand makes me feel grateful for things I've taken for granted, especially when I know there are others who aren't as fortunate.

After complaining sharing my feelings, my family in Canada looked to the weather report and told me things don't look so bad!

WLG Weather

Apparently, things are just fine.

So I sent them a few pics, someone looks chilly:

But he was in luck because his sheep wool blanket that he wasn't fond of and tried to attack, came in handy!

Snug as a bug in a rug.

Now, please excuse me as I take cover under 5 blankets to warm up my fingers, brrr!

July 24, 2011

Thinking Warm Thoughts

With the cold winter that has finally settled among us, I was reminiscing about the never-ending Los Angeles summer weather from five years ago.

Five years ago I packed up my bags and moved to a new country, travelled 4,200 km by car, driving across the US to Los Angeles to meet up with the boyfriend. We had been dating just over 6 months, with 4 of those months being long-distance. He took another job opportunity (his dream job) this time in LA, and it was one of times where either you do something about it to be together, or you part ways. Life was taking him in one direction, and I could support it by joining him or waving from afar, but it was clear, if we wanted to be together, something had to give.

I was in between jobs, and had never been to LA, so while I couldn't decide if we were ready to live together, I knew I wanted a chance to get to know him some more. I figured I could enjoy a few months in LA, see the sights, and somehow at the end of it, I'd figure it out. By figure it out, I mean, we'd know if we'd still want to live together, if I could find work, and if I could earn a work visa. So many challenges presented themselves, and looking back I think I was crazy to make such a big change in life on a dream and a whim.

But, here we are. Five years later, living in New Zealand. Another work visa, a 2nd cat, thousands of kilometers travelled, living in our 4th home.

I'm still in awe today like I was when I arrived into Los Angeles. The feeling of being drunk on life, on love, and bursting with excitement. Getting butterflies whenever I catch sight of the familiar iconic city sights that are now part of my home.

When we left LA I was quite sad, and missed it dearly. While San Francisco eventually took over as my lover, seriously, I LOVE SF, I realized one of the things I missed most about it was the weather. The warm sunny weather no matter the time of day. The warm sun and palm trees, always reminding you that hey, it's warm here, think happy thoughts!

It's July, and while our family and friends back in North America experience summertime, we have winter. It's cold, bitter, and windy. It's full of sideways rain, constant strong winds up to 120km per hour, and leaves my skin cracking, begging for lotion. It's been a long time since we experienced the cold winter we grew up with (oh hey -40 degrees celcius, we don't miss you!) and I feel a bit of a wuss complaining when I'm outside. California spoiled us. And as we sit by the fire, with the heat on, avoiding the chilly drafts from every window, we reminisce about our first summer Christmas in LA. And then it hits me, we will have a summer Christmas in New Zealand!

July 20, 2011

Recent Eats Kiwi-styles

Since we arrived in New Zealand, we haven't gone out as often for meals. It's a combination of things like schedules, wanting to cook at home, proximity to restaurants, but mostly, it's operating hours, and being newbies! Surprisingly on weekends many restaurants are closed. And as newbies, sometimes we end up at the dingiest places, I sure do miss grubhub and yelp for reviews!

But, we've made a commitment to get out and try new places, and keep an eye out on new places we want to visit. Hoping that will expand our nights out on the town, however small the town may be!

Recently we ventured out to Featherston Bar and Grill. I passed it while on the bus and was mesmerized by the height of the ceilings, the lights and the crowd action! We checked it out and while I failed on taking pictures to showcase the ceilings and outter lights, it was packed, and promised classic kiwi hospitality. Um, yes please!

I originally planned on chowing down on a big salad or grilled fish (I had the stomach flu earlier in the week and once I had my appetite back, I inhaled a ridiculous amount of junky food, so a lighter meal was on my mind.) Just one little problem... I wasn't going to find a lighter option on this menu, and I'm not complaining!

Note sure if you can see, but the menu also includes "on toast". This section has been on every menu I've seen. The variety of options offered "on toast" cracks me up! For me, I'm used to toast being a side item to your breakfast/brunch meal, but here it's the star! And, for the simplicity of the items, it's often expensive, usually $12+. Avocado and tomato, ON TOAST! Mushroom and pesto sauce, ON TOAST! Scrambled eggs, ON TOAST!

So many great options to choose from, that ultimately I settled on a mushroom and chardonnay risotto (with a glass of buttery chard on the side) while Kev enjoyed pork belly and ribs.

Another meal I enjoyed was a Maori Hangi. Hangi food is traditionally cooked in an earth oven (hangi), a pit in the ground and wrapped in banana leaf. Meat (pork, chicken, beef) carrot, cabbage, sweet potato are all steamed up and served in the banana leaf and often enjoyed on special occasions. While the traditional methods are cooked in the hangi, modern versions are cooked in tin foil in a regular oven. I enjoyed one tasty and filling meal for lunch and loved that it was similar to Thanksgiving food!

Half eaten, don't judge - I was hungry.

There was even stuffing! A pleasant surprise because Thanksgiving (Canadian or American) is not celebrated, and while on this topic, fruit pies are considered odd. Especially pumpkin pies, I get side-eye when I bring it up. Pies here are meat pies. Savory, dirty pies (as they are referred to), often enjoyed late night or to cure the morning hangover. Dirty pies!?! And fruit pies get the cut-eye?

I didn't expect food options or restaurants to be different, but they are, there are small changes with menu focus, service, operating hours and traditions. I'm looking forward to more nights out so we can dine at more places and discover more kiwistyles! And, I even picked up a kiwi cookbook, so I can adopt more of the New Zealand cooking methods into my own.

Have you relocated only to find the food differs? What makes it different, and are you brave willing to try to new things, or a creature of habit?

July 17, 2011

Wandering Around: Wellington Harbor

With a picnic packed, camera in tow, and flat white coffees in hand, we decided to venture across to the other side of the Wellington harbour.

Just a short 30 minute drive along one of only two motorways in town (see the '1' and how it splits in to two? Take that Car-megeddon in LA!) We were heading to Days Bay, and as you can see from the map, it's very curvy!

But no one mentioned the lack of guard rails...

Or the fact that the water level is on par with the road!!

Suddenly dreams of picnicing seemed a bit to "adventurous" for me. Thankfully? The public access road ended. Without a permit to drive further lifejackets, we turned around, bracing the curves and literally the edge of the road.

But looking back, while a bit freaky, it was, as always, beautiful.

But then we settled for a picnic at home. A dandy way to picnic if you ask me.

photo (6)

I still can't believe we braved the curves and water! Have you ever driven along something as crazy as this? Would you?

July 13, 2011

On the mend...

Someone is feeling more like their little turkey self!

photo (5)

After a biopsy of his ear (x3 areas), blood draws, and a tooth extraction, Turks is almost good as new. The vet believes his ear and nose were affected because of either a food allergy, mosquito allergy or an autoimmune disease. Since nothing else appeared out of ordinary with the tests, and we did change food twice in the two weeks that lead up to the problem, it was most likely a food allergy. He's off his antiobiotics and very much back to his tricks. Like small box, big kitty syndrome.

I sure don't miss the poor guy wearing a cone for 72 hours straight, and being so lethargic. But, one teensy upside was our daily snugglefests.

Kitty hugs kinda rule. Said the crazy cat lady.

July 6, 2011

I ran down the hill trying to catch the bus...

... Now I'm hopin to myself everything is cool
Standin on my block like a fool
for (1) I'm all alone and (2) the bus is gone...

I missed the bus. (True story.)

Have never experienced so many missed buses now that I'm in New Zealand. Not trying to complain about it, but it's getting a bit out of hand. There is a very decent system here, that covers many stops and locations, but the actual drivers? They are a bit aggressive, sometimes I think there their motto is 'keep on truckin', cause they just go, always on a mission, always as if they are late. So while I've had my share of moments where I literally am missing the bus by mere seconds, and running, arms flying trying to catch up to it, the majority of the time? The bus psyches you out, and then decides to keep going.

You can be standing at a bus stop, waiting. Bus approaches. Slows down. Pulls into the bus lane to stop and pick you up, and then? Decides to keep driving on. Sara 0, Bus 3.

Yes. 3 times the bus has psyched me out, stood me up, left me standing there.

Or. You can see the bus arriving, and think, 'I'll show that bus' so you start waving like you are on fire, thinking, the bus won't leave me. This time. Right. Wait?! There. Goes. The. Bus. Sara 0, Bus 4.

Or. You can be standing in a spot where multiple buses stop. And then when 3 or 4 buses arrive at once, if you are not standing in the magic spot where the bus decides to screech to a halt, you may very well miss your bus as you race sidewalk traffic (it's intense in the central business districts, that and I'm always on the wrong side, fighting upstream it seems). Once you make it to the doors, you see that the bus is closing the doors and departing, without a care in the world as you stand there shouting, "Hey! Open the door! "I wasn't even late!!" Sara 0, Bus 7.

If you are lucky enough to get on the bus, there is a strong possibility someone will drop there cell phone when the bus stops short. Or if you are extremely lucky, the cell phone will hit you in the head first as it falls to the floor sliding across, because the bus stopped short. Sara 0, Cell phone 1, Bus 8.

There's also the confusion over what constitutes a bus transfer. I've only ever been successful in making a transfer once, with use of my bus card (snapper, a card you load with funds and swipe on the bus). It's been 3 weeks and the $10 round trip to work is getting pricey. No matter how hard I try, somehow I'm on a bus that doesn't do transfers, is an express, the bus driver has no idea, the time expired (how is that possible when exiting one and hopping right on another?!) or whatever other excuse, reasoning, suggestion the driver makes. Sara 0, Bus 9.

And then the unthinkable happened this week.

As I was transferring from one bus to another, I saw my 2nd bus driving off, and I muttered to myself "crap, there it goes" to which the driver responded, "HOLD ON! Let's catch that bus!" And indeed we caught up to the bus at the very next stop. Sara 1, Bus 9.

Small victories. I'll take 'em while I can get them.

And for the record, Kris Kross was my first concert.

July 1, 2011

One of those weeks

It's been one of those weeks. Where no matter how much you tell yourself to simmer down, or take it easy, the next backwards thing that happens just keeps nudging you along down the woe-is-me path. Late buses, grouchy coworkers, forgotten lunches, rainy days with no rain jacket, missed garbage day pick-up, missed meeting, late for work, cold. Yup, one of those weeks.

Right now, Turks needs some lovin' and small prayers. Will know more this week after a biopsy why his ear is all rashy and scabby. It's not easy seeing him like this, he's a very cuddly loveable guy. He's on meds, eating mounds of wet food slathered in gravy (his fav part), and is getting cuddles 24/7.


P.S. Happy Canada Day (July 1st). We very much miss fireworks with friends, and craving some timmies (coffee) and ketchup chips.