January 28, 2013

Melbourne Australia part 2

Christmas in Australia was a blast, and I loved our two day road trip on the Great Ocean Road. But we also spent five days relaxing in St. Kilda's mixed with venturing 30 minutes into the city (via the tram) for sunny strolls and fell in love with Melbourne. Everyone says what a great city it is, and it didn't disappoint. Sadly my camera doesn't do it justice, taken on my iphone, but I hope you get the vibe. The city streets are wide, with large sidewalks and lined with trees. The buildings tall, the architecture beautiful, and sun beaming down on every corner. Many an alley was found covered in graffiti art with vibrant colours, and when we weren't even looking we discovered the Yarra River that runs through the central business district. We stumbled into Federation Square, enjoying gelato while sinking into lounge chairs put out for the holiday movies (or cricket game, as it happened that day).

I can't wait to go back and restaurant hop as there was plenty to dine at but only so much time. I also missed out on shopping since it was a wee bit hectic with Boxing Day shoppers, instead I stood on the sidewalks trying to get a peek into the windows through the crowds.

And next time I'm bringing a camera!

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photo 4 photo 21 photo 22 photo 11    photo 41 photo 31

January 19, 2013

Enjoying a long weekend

The best part about enjoying a long weekend, is taking an extra day to make it last longer. Off on a four day adventure. See you soon Welly!

January 15, 2013

One, two, three

A breakfast dinner inspired by $2.99 blueberries.

It can't get cheaper unless you count the blueberries I've picked for free in the rocky hills of Northern Ontario Canada. Here in New Zealand they are usually priced at $10.99. And every time I spy them in the store, I gasp and shake my fists at the grocery walking away empty handed remeniscing about all the blueberries I could eat when I lived in California because at Trader Joes they were $3.99. (That's right, blueberries span three countries and evoke a story from me, which now will be, remember that time we bought blueberries for $2.99 in New Zealand when they usually cost $10.99!!?!)

After a long day at work I declared I was not up for cooking. But breakfast? Breakfast for dinner was possible.

Enter this deliciously baked cinnamon gooey banana, hot blueberry goodness (made with rice milk!)

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 I'm pretty sure I just ate dessert for dinner. It was amazing.

January 8, 2013

Driving the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne Australia

For Christmas, we booked a last minute flight to Melbourne Australia as our Samoan resort was closed due to Cyclone Evan. Our resort hosts encourage tourism as one way we can help the island recover from the destruction and have invited us to return later this year - will share more about the trip when we can make it this winter. It's a beautiful family owned resort that was destroyed in the tsunami of 2009 just after it's grand opening. The staff have bonded together with the owners to rebuild their "home" creating a welcoming place for visitors to experience the beauty of Samoa. Can't wait to meet them all and learn more about their story.

You could say we flew by the seat of our pants, as we had no idea what to do in Melbourne, nothing planned. We booked a hotel in St. Kilda on the beach, and spent five days touring the downtown area (CBD). Lots of sleeping in, dining al fresco (such a rare treat as not very common in Wellington where we live! Too windy!) taking in the beautiful sights, ports, river, and beautiful architectural found at every corner. Melbourne is so clean with wide streets and sidewalks, lush green trees lining the road, and sky high buildings. And has some great shopping!

By the fourth day, we decided we had to extend our stay and hire a car so we could do the highly recommended drive on Great Ocean Road to see the Twelve Apostles. This drive is listed as one of the top 10 great scenic roads, and often compared to the Pacific Coast Highway 1 drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Having done that drive, we knew this one would be spectacular! And it was. So much so that after driving 9 hours to Warnambool one day, we did the same drive back instead of taking a short cut across to Melbourne.

The drive is estimated at 5 hours (Melbourne to Warnambool) but with so many great beach towns, cafes, look out points, we almost doubled that! And we're keen to go back and visit the lovely beachy area of Lorne, a true beach town that draws you in with white sand, crystal blue water, and a string of shops across from the water full of jandals (flip flops), ice cream, pizza, and coffee.

Shame that we forgot to pack the camera! I did make a list, but didn't cross things off - I think I went into vacation mode fairly quickly when I finished work on the Friday before Christmas. Alas, the handy dandy iphone 4S took some nice snaps, and instagram to the rescue.

Melbourne Australia Great Ocean Road

From top row (left to right): Great Ocean Road from the car, a scenic look out 
point at a beachy cove, spotted: koalas up in the trees.
Middle row: Rugged coastline, Twelve Apostles (seven remain), Lorne beach
Bottom row: Walk way up to car from The Arch, The Arch, the look out point to The Arch

You can view larger images by visiting my instagram page 
(see the right-hand link on my blog, or find me, @sasaras)

The gorgeous turquoise waves below the blue skies was spectacular - to show you, the first pic in the top left hand corner has no filter, and was snapped as we drove by with my phone hanging out the car window! Stunning! I hope your holidays were just as enjoyable, this drive along Great Ocean Road was unforgettable. Our travel day ended in Warnambool with a very late check-in at a very booked hotel, and somehow we scored a double room upgrade to a spa suite. It was the perfect way to end the day by soaking in an over bubbled spa tub. Heavenly.

January 3, 2013

What to stop, start and continue for 2013

New Years Day 2013

New Years Day breakfast

Cheers to the new year! I hope 2013 brings you a year filled with fun and happiness to build more great memories.  

Were you like me and so over 2012 by mid-December? I was ready to start the new year but I needed to be a little more patient to enjoy the last two weeks. For Christmas we took off on a very last-minute changed itinerary to Melbourne Australia, I'll share more about that trip in another post. On New Years Eve we flew back home to New Zealand, and ended 2012 with a low key evening by cuddling on the couch with the cats, sipping champagne and toasting to 2013 by watching a movie. It was a very relaxing way to ring in the new year, and probably all the energy we could muster up after a busy week travelling in Australia.

Instead of setting new goals and making resolutions that I'll never get around to, I decided to do a stop, start, continue reflection and see what I could do for 2013. I'd love to hear what you're planning and all exciting things you've been dreaming up!


... stressing out on things I cannot change. This sounds easier than it is, but I really to need to stop fretting late at night when I'm trying to sleep... which leads to starting things to help me find my calm...


... doing more activities with friends, say yes to them more often than not.
... Tai Chi. 
... conversational French classes, I studied it for 13 years but never used it, and maybe it will inspire a trip to France one day.
... drinking more water and tea.
... reading more. 
... wearing clothes that fit me. Over the years my weight has fluctuated, and I was at my heaviest during the time I was working from home (six years ago). Now that I've shed some of those pounds, I still think of myself as bigger than I am, so it's about time I focus on the size I am now and wear clothes that fit, rather than buying too big or "comfy" items. (I also want to start tailoring pieces that I love that could use a little help to improve the shape or allow them to fit properly, things like sleeve lengths or arm widths.)
... planning regular dates for Kev and I to enjoy.
... sending birthday cards to family and close friends. I'm on a mission this weekend to organise myself, so that each month I'll have it sorted on what cards I'm sending out. I'll have to get an organiser and stamps, and for fun some fancy pens.
... a side business and work for myself again.


... cooking, and trying new recipes. I love to cook and really want to start adapting my favourite meals with diary-free alternatives. (I've been dairy-free for over three months and noticing a lot of positive changes, such as the excema on my eyes and behind my ears cleared up and my joints aren't so stiff). I'm debating going vegan, but that feels so drastic that I'm going to follow the Oh She Glow's series and see how it goes.
... travelling in New Zealand. From January to March, I have four trips booked that include Queenstown, Taupo (twice!) and a week long getaway around the South Island with a great friend visiting from San Francisco. (I'd also like to try standby and grab the next available flight out for a weekend to see where it takes me and what adventures will follow.)
... making house a home. I stopped a lot of my favourite things when my mom got sick. I feel like I stopped a lot of things, just let go, and I need to get back on track to find some stability and routine. For this one, I want to get back to making house a home. It was quite awhile back when I shared my bedroom inspiration, but it's almost complete, and I'd love to share how it turned out.

It took some time to create this list, and I found it hard to think of things to stop because I just wanted to turn it into something new to start, it was easier to think of things to start! In fact, I could have gone and on, but I need to focus a bit if I'm going to get these going. Once I do, I'll post some more things to start and keep at it.

What's on your list this year?