November 26, 2011

Moving views

The secret to a successful move? Hire movers. It's life relationship saving! We always save and splurge on the extra help. I totally blame that time his work covered not only relocation costs, but movers who pack up!

Now, to find movers who unpack.

A messy view.

And from the couch? I spy blue water.

November 21, 2011

Happy food

Top left: Happy pancake. Pancake from a bag never tasted so sweet.

Top right: Happy salad. Lemon pepper pan fried shrimp over sweet potato, red pepper, asparagus and goat cheese.

Bottom left: Happy Sara. Lunch at Vynfields, Martinborough.

Bottom right: Sad Kevin. I dropped one of his mini-apple pies and squished three of them when flipping them out from the pan. These were our Thanksgiving treats for the party last weekend. Minus the one from the floor.

Follow me on instagram, I'm sasaras.

November 19, 2011

Wandering around: North Island, New Zealand (vacation!) vol. 2

After a day of wine tasting in Martinborough, we headed out to the Hawkes Bay region. It's about 3.5 hours up and out along the east coast. For us, it turned into a 5.5 hour drive with our stops along the way, if anything just to take a pic or shop. Once we arrived into Napier, we (again) visited the I-site, and they quickly found us seaside accommodations to enjoy the coastal views.

We spent the next two days walking the coast, dining out, quiz night, movie watching, sleeping in, bike riding, antiquing, and more wine tasting. We were in wine country after all!

Ahuriri coast

Christmas lights in full effect along the waterfront

We stayed at a fairly new place, called Navigate, and the owner was so friendly and helpful! He gave us some tips on what to do and where to dine, and with no plans we took him up on his advice.

He suggested we visit Tomato Peak, he said the views were stunning. And he was right! There were 360 degree views of Hawkes Bay. Only, he sent us to Te Mata Peak, and not Tomato Peak as we first heard. Ah, kiwi accent with maori words, only we would hear tomato!

The blue is the ocean, blending in with the blue sky.

I was playing with the camera settings here. Love how it looks like a backdrop for Kev's driver license pic!

I love how posed yet random this photo turned out! When we take self-portraits, we use a setting that snaps three pics in a row. Sometimes we forget there's three, and then this happens.

Take two, except we didn't realise the pics had started, it counts to ten and sometimes we're not ready.

We borrowed two motorised bikes to enjoy a sunset ride along the water. Except, it's also known as the time the bike almost dragged me along. Or that time someone probably tried to rob us of the bikes.

After a lengthy detailed overview from the hotel owner on how to use the motorised bikes, I somehow missed that the handle, when pulled down (like a motorcycle), will use the motor and cause the bike to move. I was half standing, half trying to sit on the seat when I pulled down on the handle trying to get my balance thus causing the bike to pop a wheelie and start riding, as I hung on with one hand and tried to hop along with one foot. Ahhhh! I was so terrified, but Kev grabbed the bike and suddenly it wasn't motoring anymore. And I (thankfully standing) stood there flabbergasted on what just happened. What the what, my heart racing. I didn't want to ride anymore but it was such a nice day, that I gave it another try. And glad I did, it was such a beautiful day!

As we half biked, half motored along the coast, we came across a long open stretch pathway when a man ventured out of nowhere with a camera and a shady car. He said he was intrigued about our bikes, and tried to catch hold onto mine. It was just odd, so I pulled down on the handle bar and whizzed away into the sun.

What a lovely two day trip, doing very little but having the best time. After our time in Napier, we headed out 1.5 hour to Lake Taupo. Also known as the place I want to live. Luckily, it's only four hours from Welly, so it's a great weekend road trip and we're already planning a return visit. More pics to come, as we had three more days to go!

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!

November 17, 2011

With love from Canada

Hello goodies! We received this sweetastic box of Canadian candy from Kev's sister. We came home after a long day week and were greeted with this perfectly shaped box covered in Canadian flags. I already knew who it was from since his sister asked what would be good to send, but Kev was totally surprised! He practically ran me over trying to get into the house to open it...

Yummy goodies indeed! Ketchup chips, gobstoppers, nibs, twizzlers, swiss chalet sauce and more! What a great gift to come home to! And all the goodies, including chips are in perfect condition. Already chowing down and snuggling in for the night.

Tomorrow, we are celebrating US Thanksgiving with our American friends. We're bringing mini apple pies and a bacon outing (stuffing not cooked in the turkey). Tomorrow, turkey, it's on!

Happy thanksgiving to everyone who's celebrating, cheers to the freaking weekend!

November 15, 2011

Wandering around: North Island, New Zealand (vacation!)

A few months ago we booked out time to enjoy a week off from work. We originally planned to spend this time celebrating our five year anniversary by visiting friends in China and then spend some time somewhere warm and tropical.

But we procrastinated making plans because we were busy. Busy adjusting to life, to new work schedules, and settling in. Before we knew it, we were knee deep in paperwork, and realised we couldn't just book tickets to a few countries not knowing if we'd have a passport in our hand, and then we tried to figure out how we could apply for a Chinese visitor visa with our passport floating around to Canada and New Zealand. And then we got so stressed out about it that we forgot to come up with any plan for our week off.

In the week before our time off, we decided to travel the South Island. But with our travel luck, it was no surprise we weren't going anywhere fast. Just like that cancelled flight in Sydney, or the cancelled plane in Keri Keri, or even that time we made an emergency landing in Palmerston North due to wind and low fuel.

Last Monday our ferry made the front page news because it was cancelled due to mechanical issues with the fire alarm. While we were refunded and rebooked for the next day, we later learned our returning ferry for the following week had been ordered not to sail by Maritime New Zealand. Since it just looked like a big delay of trouble, we tossed our plans out, and hit the road to enjoy the North Island.

Here's the non-plan:

  • Wine tasting in Martinborough
  • Road trip south three hours to Napier (Hawke's Bay area) and enjoy some more wine tasting
  • Then drive inland 1.5hr to Lake Taupo to relax and kick our feet up (massage, hot pool springs, bar hopping, kayaking fun!)
  • At the end of the week, head home to Wellington and enjoy the last part of our lazy getaway

Driving out of our little big city to enjoy the country life, I never thought I could enjoy myself without a hotel reservation - it was so freeing and relaxing. The hardest part of our day was packing up to hit up another adventure!

And when you finally travel to New Zealand, like I hope you do, if it's off-season (not Christmas or school holidays) you can score yourself last-minute hotel deals by visiting the i-site (tourist information centre) locations. You'll find them so fast, they're everywhere you go, and they'll help you find a great place, for free! We used them so much, that they really planned our vacation. We kept showing up at a new one each day and would say "we got here by mistake, what should we do?" and just like that we had a vacation.

Enroute to wine country in Martinborough.

We rented bikes, grab a little map, and headed out. Martinborough is shaped like a union jack, with the vineyards on the outter square, so it was very easy to just bike and keep turning left finding a new place to visit. We stopped at Palliser, Martinborough Vineyard, Ata Rangi and Vynfields. It was Monday, very quiet, no lines, and we had the road to ourselves.

Only an hour from Welly, but might be a very long bike ride Kev!

A splendid day

Since we didn't put much effort into our planning, we hit up a store before we took off and I pick-up some new shades. Kev said they looked big. I huffed and puffed and said, "that's the point!".

But I didn't expect to look like a bug in my vaca photos.

Kev took pics of all the birds, and we made lots of animal friends with bread.

Next up, Martinborough Winery, enjoyed a chardonnay and a yummy pinot noir.

Ata Rangi winery, my fav from our Martinborough visit.

Ata Rangi vines

First stop on our bike ride wine tasting treat, Palliser wines. Enjoyed the pinot gris the most!

Cool Change bar and restaurant in Martinborough, loved the rustic country vibe on the street corner!

Our self-contained apartment/motel had a spa bath, BBQ, and included a continental breakfast. We had a squabble over the loaf of bread provided, and against my wishes, we took the whole loaf as we left. And then in came in handy when we met up made friends with ducks later on the week.

The next day we headed out to Napier and on our way we stopped at a wildlife centre. We've be wanting to see a kiwi bird, which is nocturnal and hard to find. The centre had a mock night room, and once you adjusted your eyes you could view the cute birds wiggling around poking the ground for food... no photos, sorry!

Kiwi bird, we stopped at a bird sanctuary and saw them in their noctural set-up, such cute funny things! They wobble around digging for food.

The drive to Napier was rolling hill after rolling hill, covered in sheep. I couldn't get enough of it, country living never looked so beautiful! We even passed sheep herding, and they were getting ready to cross the very road we drove on. If you look closely, you can see the cheeky sheep checking us out as we passed by!

Sheep herding in progress, they were off to cross the road we were on!

Sheep sheep, bah bah.

Leaving Martinborough, heading to Napier. Most of the drive looked like this, green rolling hills.

I saw this perfectly line of trees and grabbed the camera, I'm so glad it turned out because I want to try and paint this. And I'm not an artist, but I figure I could try, if it fails no big deal because this photo looks a painting anyways. One thing we learned (and love) about New Zealand, is that there are no boring roads.

Picture perfect, just waiting for me to take it's pic.

More to come, makes me wish we were on vacation all over again.

November 12, 2011

Homesick - just a little bit

This week, I enjoyed my first kiwi vacation, more commonly referred to as annual leave... this will be a first of many, as Kiwi's take at least four weeks annual leave per year. That means I have more holidays to plan! A recap of our holiday is upcoming, but in the meantime, I'm having some serious home sickness pangs! I think it's because it's the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) in North America. In New Zealand, Christmas is in full effect, but I feel a bit lost in it all.

Things I'm missing:

  • Family - it's just too far to hop on a plane last minute and travel 20 hours one way to Toronto.
  • Friends new babies and growing kids - while I'm an auntie to three adorable nephews, I miss the opportunities to be a stand-in auntie to my girlfriends babies and snuggle them up.
  • My neighbour and her family who are moving away on Monday, long-term location TBD. Perhaps selfishly, I hope they end up in Canada (which is top o' their list) but above all, I hope they end up somewhere that is full of adventures.... and I can't wait to visit!
  • Wedding planning and event management - having my own business, working for myself, contracting in events - a day in my past life was quite... eventful.
  • Red cups at Starbucks and my fav peppermint mocha (and a pumpkin spiced latte). Starbucks isn't popular here, and neither are the flavours I miss, in fact, I got the side eye when I asked if they carried pumpkin spice... they did have orange mocha, is that popular back home?

There's lots I love about our life in New Zealand, and our holiday was a great reminder of all the things we enjoy about it. I'm looking forward to moving to our new flat, and putting up the Christmas tree! If only I could score some pumpkin puree around here, then I'd be set.

November 8, 2011

Travelling on the fly

Made the front page news!

Sounds a bit dramatic, but yes, we were sort of stranded.

Since we hadn't departed we weren't technically stranded, but we'd be risking it if we went ahead with our plans. Instead of a South Island adventure, we decided to wing it on the North Island.

Lots of beautiful views, warm weather, and many many vineyards. Life is good, if it does feel there's a conspiracy with our travels. What's a little ferry delay?!

November 3, 2011

Rockstar nails

It's been almost nine months since my last mani/pedi! I can't justify a $65 nail indulgence in New Zealand, especially when I know back home they are much cheaper. So I turned to the internets for a DIY do. I don't fuss much with touch ups, so I was looking for a low maintenance nail look - that sounded like an oxymoron - but don't discount the power of the internets. The internets delivered:

One of my favourite online shops in New Zealand offers tons of discounted nail polishes, so for $6.50 I picked up my orly mini nail lacquer in tiara. Princess rockstar glam, love it!

I'm a fan of french manicures, but can't be bothered to try it on myself, but sparkles? Sparkles are easy. And if you mess up the "line", you can just push the sparkle up with your other hand. So easy, you can either swipe right across the top of your nail, or hold the brush straight up (so the polish can fall down) and place your nail right up against the bristles, and then swoop the bristles down so the polish falls onto your nail, easily in place!

Then apply a clear top coat.

Low. maintenance. Kinda the opposite of a rockstar I guess, but this low maintenance look makes me feel like one.

So pretty! Do you have a favourite go-to polish look? What other colour do you think will work for this one?