October 31, 2011

Wandering around: iphone styles



Left to right: Beautiful flowers from K, hanging lights at The Flying Burritos Bros restaurant, sunrise from our bedview - gorgeous!, sunset in Paraparaumu Beach.


What have you captured recently that you love?

Note: Pics taken on an iphone 4 cam/hdr camera and edited in instagram and put together via diptic. Voila!

October 28, 2011

Wandering around: Bay of Islands overnight cruise

In September I came across another coupon that I couldn't pass up, an overnight cruise to the Bay of Islands. The Bay of Islands is at the top of the North Island, and offers a lot of history about New Zealand. It was one of the first areas where settlers arrived, and it's near Waitangi where the treaty was signed. We decided to grab the coupon and pick a date and go. Lucky for us, we brought Wellington rain with us and enjoyed a very wet and chilly weekend on a boat. We're planning a return trip because we were rained out of a lot of activities and still want to explore the area, especially visit Waitangi.

We flew up to Auckland, spent the night in the city, shopped, dined, and enjoyed the rainy views. It was packed for Rugby World Cup, and called it an early night since we had a 7am pick-up (which we missed, because the front entrance of the hotel was not the pick-up destination! Wouldn't be any fun if everything went to plan!) Thankfully we were only blocks away from the bus hub where our tour bus departed from, so we cabbed it over. Even if we had a cranky cab driver who didn't want to drive us the few blocks. He seemed to not understand the fact that we were running late and didn't have time to walk with our luggage, or stroll the streets of a new city while trying to make our bus. Alas, we made it and boarded.

We enjoyed a four hour bus drive in the country from Auckland to Pahia.

(Kev slept and I posed him for our 3 hour pic, heh, sneaky sneaky!)

We passed lots of farm land, and beautiful trees, but my favourite sighting was the pink sheep! No pic, passed by too quickly, but a sheep farmer washes the sheep with red dye in the mornings, and his land is covered in pink sheep!

We arrived in Pahia and took another short bus to the dock in Opua, and boarded our four level cruise. Luckily the cruise was only half full, considering it was a coupon deal, you know how things can get out of control! We had 30 people on our overnight cruise and lots of room to sit about and enjoy the (grey) views.

A total touristy but very cool overnight cruise, must do this again and hope the weather is better. And most def need to bring along some friends next time!! (Great sights, Ipipiri overnight cruise from Opua)
Our Great Sights overnight cruise

All rooms have a view! Comfy beds, a shower with hot water - which came in handy with the chilly temps. Totally recommend this cruise! We had half tourists and half locals, it's really enjoyable for both groups, so much to see and a relaxing way to take a mini-vacation.

Pirate ship? Pirate ship.
It was rainy so not a lot of boats out on the water, except this pirate ship one.

Motuarohi Island, Bay of Islands. As far as we could tell, there was one home on this island.

We anchored for a few hours at Mouarohi Islands. Our captain shared lots of history tidbits about this island... it's where Captain Cook first arrived, he also gave the name to the 144 islands, Bay of Islands. We explored the land, which was small but beautiful and housed one home (that we know of).

Motuarohi Island (Bay of Islands where Captain Cook settled when he arrived)

Then we left the island by motorboat, but you could also kayak over if you wanted to brave the winds. I was chicken, but next time I will!

Finally found a favourite New Zealand pinot noir!

We enjoyed a night of wine, dinner, board games, and playing the juke box. Conversations with lovely people, and also went to bed by 10pm. Another early night for us, we were tired but happy. The next day we didn't have any plans, as we thought we'd wander around... but it was even colder and rainier. We had a direct flight from a nearby small airport at 7pm that evening, so we lunched around and had coffee at every shop in Russell and Pahia, and then at the airport learned our small itty bitty plane was cancelled. So they bussed us back to Auckland to fly us out the following morning... at this point we were just tired from a long day wandering around in the rain. We had a lovely time and eventually made it home, though we have a sneaky suspicion that Wellington likes to keep us from home. Every flight we've had home from our getaways has been cancelled or landed elsewhere due to weather. We'll keep trying, because we're stubborn like that, and very much looking forward to our next getaway... coming up soon!

October 26, 2011

Busy, busy and exciting times

Remember me?
Stressed out lady drowning in paperwork? Yes well, I'm still here smiling, just hiding in the wings.

Oh hai! (I'm not driving btw, sitting on the left but not driving!)

Things have been busy, and exciting. Most importantly... way to go All Blacks! They won the Rugby World Cup this Sunday! Maybe you are like my friends back home, and had to google this RWC stuff, I get it. It's rugby and in a foreign land, but in a foreign proud land my friends. Because not only did we host the RWC, we won, and kicked some butt. Some France butt in the end, but it was a good game, a nail biter (or as my Kiwi friends say, a butt clencher)! We won 8-7. In my opinon the scores are usually 33-12, so to see it in single-digits and so close right to the last 30 seconds when I'm certain NZ was hogging the ball just to not lose their one point lead, it was, YES a butt clencher game!

And today they had the Wellington parade. Luckily I work with some of New Zealand's finest and they made sure we got primo spotting at the parade. Even in the rain. Gotta love Wellington weather.

These pics, they make me happy. They remind me that hard work pays off. And that's my current mantra!

The kids, wait a minute, I spy older kids getting to touch the trophy!

In other news...
Our passort renewals were processed in seven days! They quoted us 25 business days, so we were very unprepared when they came back so quickly. I've spent more than three days trying to get my NZ application in order. The interesting part of the application is providing evidence of our relationship. We have to prove we are in a genuine relationship and submit three pieces of evidence for review. It's strange to think someone looks at you from the outside to determine if you are indeed in a genuine relationship. We did this same application last year, so we followed our lead from then, but it cracks me up this evidence business.

We've also rented a new place! And it's on the same street, not a far move, but a big move. We've been busy cleaning, tidying, and organising our home for show, and downsizing our stuff. Amazing how we can move here with only clothes yet fill a three bedroom home, but now have to downsize to move to a one bedroom!

Hopefully things get back to normal soon. T-minus 30 days until we move!

October 12, 2011

Chicken and chorizo paella cooking class

Cooking class has been on my mind for a fun date night out, so when I stumbled across a coupon for a class, I decided to grab it and take Kev out. (This also happened to be part of my 30 in 30, except the classes filled up quickly and only recently were we able to attend.)

We headed out to Social Cooking to prepare our Chicken and Chorizio Paella (recipe below!). I loved the small kitchen - it was cosy, well organised, and reminded me of home ec class. Did you have home ec in high school? I signed up for an elective course on 'independent living' and they taught us how to stock a fridge and cook a meal... and that's all I really remember. Good to know I can survive on my cooking skills if needed!

I love the bright stripe wall, such a creative way to do an accent wall!

I loved the 900 grapes wine they paired with the meal. Pinot Gris has quickly became a favourite of mine ever since our Air New Zealand flight when we moved here. There's heaps of it here, and I find this wine to be a very balanced, lightly sweet, yet refreshing wine.

I loved that Kev took on the cooking part and took it very, very seriously! (And I love having him back again! I know I've been blogging lots about our outings, it's because he recently went back to a normal 50 hour week work. Long gone are the months of working 7 days a week over 80 hours a week, we finally can enjoy our downtime and explore NZ, hope you don't mind his appearance in the posts lately!)

Cooking up the last bits so we can finally dig in!

And voila!

Chicken and Chorizo Paella... but you can make it anyway you like, open to interpretation, that's what's great about cooking this dish!

Ingredients (in order of cooking):
  • Olive oil (lots of it)
  • Meat (we used 2 chicken breasts, 1 chorizio sausage, and 1 strip of bacon - but you could do fish, beef or veggie! I mean vege - that's the kiwi way!)
  • 1 cup of Veges (we used mushroom, peas, onions)
  • Garlic (crushed)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup of Wine (we used what we were drinking, Pinot Gris!)
  • 2 cups stock (we did chicken, but go with what you like!)
  • Spices - to taste (we used bay leaf, oregano, fresh parsley - but what you like would taste best!)

  1. Sautee meat in oil until almost cooked (it will steam and cook more thoroughly later), remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Sautee veges in same pan (add garlic halfway through) in more oil until soft, remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Turn pan down to medium heat, add arborio rice and coat it in the oil left in pan.
  4. Once translucent, add in a cup of wine (or more to your liking!).
  5. Once wine is almost absorbed, add in stock and turn up the heat, bring to a boil.
  6. Add in all ingredients (except peas, frozen veges should be added near the end) including spices.
  7. Carefully bury the ingredients in the rice, avoid stirring too much (stirring is actually the difference between making a paella and making risotto. Risotto needs lots of stirring, paella does not.) - only stir lightly and to keep the rice from burning on bottom of pan, then cover and turn down to medium/low heat.
  8. As the stock absorbs, stir sparingly. Once stock is mostly absorbed. try the rice, it should be soft and al dente like pasta but it shouldn't be tough to bite through - you may need to add more stock/water if it's too firm.
  9. If rice is cooked, add frozen veges, cover and remove from heat for two minutes, then serve.

Total cooking time took us 40 mins and made 3-4 portions

I also made a seafood paella this weekend. For meat it was shrimp and butter fish, veges were capsicum (pepper) and peas, and spices were bay leaf, oregano, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper, red pepper. Very versatile dish, love it.

Pour some wine and enjoy!

October 8, 2011

Far out!

Thank you for all your encouraging comments on the last post. I need to get the stress off my mind, and didn't expect your sweet responses, thank you! They helped me stay focused and made me realize there's no pity party of one allowed, as a few of you have been there, and still there. I hear ya, and if you need to vent to me, I'll listen. And good news, the Canadian consulate passport service people have contacted my references already, so hoping we'll have them back in a jiffy and then can send in our visa paperwork.

Until then, I've come across the best kiwi word... well, technically it's not a kiwi word, but it's used so much here, they must really like it...

Far out! Heh, and then I expect someone to say dude in the background. Sounds like such an 80's saying, and I love it.

I've also been introduced to the word, mates, and trying to pull that off, but I just sound ridiculous. They say "me and my mates" or "him and his mates", so I'm trying to add it my list of growing kiwinese!

And just for fun, because I swear Kiwi's correct me because I don't have a kiwi accent, but for the record, the rest of world says Subaru (aka "Sue-ba-ru") and not "Sub-a-roo". Cool? Cool.

Cheers mates!

October 4, 2011

Weighted down in paper

Lately I've been stressing over paperwork for our new visa. In part it's because I'm used to knowing what to do when filling out paper - hello it's a form, just answer the questions! But the other part is that it's a very complicated process! There are laws, rules, timelines, expiry dates, and immigration procedures. And there are requests for fingerprints, renewed passports and itty bitty bad lighting passport pictures.

I need to stay focused on the prize (not the grey hairs), the chance to stay in New Zealand and enjoy life in this great city.

But it's hard to do that when I feel like a hamster in a wheel... need a new passport for a new visa, but need a passport to get finger prints for a new visa, need signatures and dealing with processes from overseas, with helpful people, and not-so-helpful people, and countless hours filling in bits of information we've supplied numerous times. Plus the worry that our passports won't arrive in time for our extension and then what?

We know our passport numbers by heart, every zip code of ours from the last 4 addresses, all our contact and tax info from three countries, and yet I can't figure out how much I weigh in kilograms, or what size I wear in New Zealand or how that converts to US, UK or Aus sizing when trying to order that last skirt from Forever 21 for $7.99!! (plus $38 in shipping!) Ah, brain overload.

I promise I have more fun things to share with you, like our weekend getaway to Paraparaumu Beach and also to Bay of Islands, it's just this paperwork has been weighing me down.

In the meantime, here's another gif (Morgan, I can't get enough of these!!) of what two silly people got up to onboard a cruise when it rained!

Bay of Island cruise fun