Thursday, March 29, 2012

Holiday day 4 and 5: Tauranga/Hamilton

On Wednesday mum and I headed over to Tauranga for the day. We looked around the shops, tracked down the knitting store and then visited my grandparents' at their new house.

I have to say, I wouldn't mind having this view from my kitchen.

They've had to pukeko-proof their garden. I think I may to rig something like this up for mine to keep those pesky cats off!

Today I spent the day in Hamilton. It was a ridiculously early start to get up there in time to see the balloons launching. Every year Hamilton hosts a hot air balloon festival. There's always at least one really awesome balloon - this year we were spoilt with three; Iwi the Kiwi and not one, but two kangaroos. They were so cute. Fonterra also put on a free breakfast for the thousands of people that turned out. Not a half bad way to start the day.

After that we hit the malls. I spent way too much. Check out my haul.

 I sense a theme there - green is the new red? The wee All Blacks t-shirt is for a new cousin in Argentina. I also got two more balls of merino to knit him a hat and booties. I'm so looking forward to putting on those pyjamas in a minute and hitting the hay.

My niece and I then went to a movie - Mirror Mirror. School is optional when your aunty is in town. Lunch was omelette with prawns and smoked kahawai at the cutest, vintage themed cafe on the main street. The drive home called for a stop at a berry farm for fresh berry icecream. Yum!

Back home I cooked a whole lot of mince. I stuffed the peppers from the garden and they turned out exactly as I wanted. Back in Peru a very typical dish is stuffed chillies but the type they use aren't too hot. I planted a Hungarian Yellow pepper in mum's garden and it's perfect for this job. My dad's not a fan of spicy food so I made him stuffed potatoes, another Peruvian dish. Basically you shape mashed potatoes around a small amount of mince mixture and then crumb and fry the balls. I made a pasta bake too in case anyone didn't like the first options.

After dinner I got a quick sewing lesson. I'm doing two sewing classes at Handmade so I really needed a refresher on how to use a sewing machine. I made this cute pin cushion.

I'm hoping to get up earlyish tomorrow to make some cucumber chutney and pack my things ready to go back to Hamilton in the evening. We have plans to go out for dinner and then I'll be heading to my friend's house to spend the weekend. After that, Auckland. This holiday is going far too quickly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Holiday day 3: Te Kuiti

Now Te Kuiti wouldn't be on most people's holiday itineraries, despite it being just down the road from Waitomo's famous glowworm caves. It's also just down the road from my parents' farm and home to a really nice salon that cuts my hair for a ridiculously cheap price. This time I got a full head of blonde highlights and cut my hair into a bob for $105. It's been 11.5 months since I shaved my hair off so it was in such need of a mop chop. 

The sheep shearing statue

local marae

old spinning wheel in the historic house/museum

historic house

sheep themed store names a la 'Bulls'

the Colin Meads outdoor  rugby gallery
maori carving

Afterwards I took in some of the town's sights and then shouted mum out to Boscos for coffee and cake. I quite gutted that I'll miss the "Running of the Sheep" by a day! That would be something to see. 

I also harvested some chillies from mum's garden. Just a couple more than the measly two I got off my plant!

Holiday day 2: Rotorua

My day started in the best way possible. A knock on the door from room service, a long leisurely breakfast and a bubble bath. I then headed out to the gondola/luge on the bus (which was free). The gondola and two luge rides were part of my rafting package ($115 all up). 

The last time I went luging there was when I was 14 and it's still just as fun as it ever was. The view from the top was amazing - across the city and out to Mt Tarawera with Mokoia Island standing sentry on the lake in front of me. It was a great place to sit and knit with a cappacino. 

I did think about bringing sneakers...

Then it was time to meet mum and dad and catch up with my great nana who I hadn't seen for at least 13 years. She's in her nineties now and as fiery as ever. 

On the agenda for the afternoon was a white water rafting trip down the Kaituna River with dad. It was a lot of fun. For a grade 5, it seemed a lot tamer than my experience in Colombia, but the smaller waterfalls and the larger 7 metre one were a lot of fun. We didn't flip and actually at the end I barely had to dry myself off with a towel. I'd definitely recommend doing it. 

Back in Rotorua we grabbed a Kapiti icecream (chocolate and chilli, yum!) and headed down to the lake front to eat them when we stumbled across a flying demonstration by some old bombers. What a fluke. 

A trip to Rotorua wouldn't have been complete without seeing some steam and boiling mud so Kuirau Park was a must-do on our way out of town. 

Rotorua, a big tick. I was expecting it to be very expensive and being so touristy, the people not as friendly. I was completely wrong. Everyone I met was so lovely and not charging me entry fees - that wouldn't happen just anywhere. There's a lot more to see that I missed so I'll definitely be back sometime soon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Holiday day 1: Rotorua

I think from now on all my holidays should start with a day like today. I am feeling so incredibly relaxed and stress free.

My day started with a bus ride up to Rotorua. Because I actually didn’t go to bed last night, I had plenty of time to get to the bus via the City market and a breakfast of empanadas.

The bus ride itself was great. It wasn’t full so I had space to spread out and sleep for the first half and then knit the second. By the time we pulled in to Rotorua, I’d knitted an entire ball of yarn (only 6 more to go until my scarf is complete).

The stretch across the central plateau is always my favourite and today it didn’t disappoint. Something purple was flowering everywhere. The purple, gold of the tussock, greens and browns was so beautiful. I couldn’t help thinking that if someone balled that colour way up, I’d knit it in an instant.

We had a half hour stop at Taupo so I took a walk down nostalgia lane and bought a Tip Top icecream on a cone – orange choc chip and gold rush. Yum! Then I had a quick look around the shops before parking myself on the footpath to do some more knitting.

Rotorua is where the relaxation really started. I checked into a proper hotel room by myself for the first time (in New Zealand anyway). This one is a lot flasher than the budget hotels I stayed in overseas.  The room itself is the same size as my house. I have a dining table, kitchenette, not one but two queen beds and a bathroom with…drum roll….a bath! I got a good deal on the room through work - room plus breakfast for $70.

I couldn’t work out how to get the shower to work so taking a bath was pretty much the first thing I did. I really miss having a bathtub. There is nothing more relaxing. Actually that was the second thing I did. The first was to crack open a bottle of wine – my first drink in 7 weeks and 4 days.

I wanted to treat myself but still cut costs, so instead of eating out for dinner, I grabbed a couple of things from Pak n Save – a mix of olives, sundried tomatoes and feta, cream cheese with macadamia and cranberry, crackers and ham.

My belly full and body clean, I headed down to the Polynesian Spa. It should’ve cost $30 for the entry and the locker but the cute guy on the desk let me in for free. How nice is that?! I actually was, I think, the only kiwi there. Everyone else was speaking Chinese. It was so relaxing soaking in the different pools. I got out once I started to feel like I was simmering and the two glasses of wine I’d had beforehand started to go to  my head – so about an hour. Since I skipped the entry free I could justify the taxi there and back ($16) as I wasn’t sure how safe Rotorua is to walk around alone after dark, and a pottle of mud for my face from the gift shop.

Back at my hotel I hopped into my very large bed with another glass of wine, knitting and the rest of the cheese. I also filled out my breakfast card. I’ve never had room service in my life so I’m shouting myself a $20 brekkie tomorrow which should be delivered to my room at 7.15am. I should really get to sleep now then. I’m hoping I am up early enough to do a couple of laps of the pool before breakfast.

Then it’s off to the gondola/luge, lunch with my parents and great nana and then white water rafting. I am going to sleep so well tomorrow night!

How was your weekend?

Holiday time

The day has finally arrived. After a very, very busy shift at work (all 12 hours of it), I am officially on leave. For 10 whole days! In 7 hours I'll be boarding a bus for Rotorua. I imagine I'll sleep the whole way as I have a lot to do before then and am always paranoid about missing buses/flights.

I've packed my bag. There's a nice bottle of Tolaga Bay oaked chardonnay in there which I'm very excited about opening. It has been 7 weeks since my last drink!

Now I've just got to decide what knitting to take with me.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


My favourite TV show at the moment is Offspring.  I have to confess that I've watched season two three times already. It's definitely my go-to thing to watch while I'm knitting. While watching this show I find myself fawning over two things, Patrick, and Nina's owl collection.


Her teal and orange owl apron in episode 10, season 2 is quite possibly the most adorable thing I've ever seen!

I love owls. Due to incredible self-restraint I only have a few in my house. An owl doorstop, one made from a vintage blanket that I use as a pin cushion, an owl hot water bottle cover, owl stitch markers, owl pyjamas and an owl cable hat. Every time I go shopping (online or in person) I end up fighting myself not to buy things with owls on it. They are just so incredibly cute but I keep telling myself that if I want to go travelling long term, it's best not to spend money collecting things that I'll only have to store away. 

That said, tonight I visited a friend's house and she has an owl lamp from Iko Iko. I felt so insanely jealous. I want one!

I think I'm going to use Handmade weekend in June as an excuse to indulge my love of owls. I'll be making sock owls in one class. I've been trawling through for fabrics to use in my fabric baskets and cushion making classes. These have caught my eye...

And check out these gorgeous owl goodies on ...

"Wise Old Owl"  Purse or Pencil Case
purse from alexoandco
 I can see myself sipping tea from this mug...
I would love this owl vase from Ezibuy... 
These owl hand warmers are on my to-knit list...

Oh the temptation!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gadgets you can live without

Starting the day with a strong cup of fair trade coffee and a breakfast burrito - mmm. It's nothing fancy - just scrambled eggs and tomato in it but makes a nice change from toast (and we're out of bread - I really need to bake some tonight). 

I'm also starting the day by reading a couple of blogs like this one posted yesterday about whether or not you need a microwave oven. Do you have one? We don't in our flat. We simply don't have any room for it and I'm not sure I actually miss it that much. Sure it'd be handy for defrosting fish or heating meals I've put in the freezer, but we manage fine taking things out to defrost a few hours before we'll need it. If I forget, I just make something else. We also tend to use the oven for reheating or a pan on the stove top. 

Another thing we survive without is a clothes dryer. There's also no room for that either, but I also prefer to keep the power bill under $70 a month if I can. For that same reason we don't actually own a heater either. Come Winter we rug up in lots of layers, under lots of blankets and more than one hot water bottle cover (we're lucky to live in one of these uninsulated New Zealand homes). For clothes drying we have 3 clothes racks and a dehumidifier. It seems to work alright. The iron seems to take any remaining moisture out of clothes I need washing overnight. 

Now I think about it, we haven't had a toaster the last few weeks as well. I haven't gotten around to replacing it as it doesn't take much more effort to grill the bread - just need to remember it otherwise your flatmates will be less than appreciative about the smoke alarm going off early in the morning. 

One thing I wouldn't be without now is my crock pot. And whizz stick too. Especially now soup weather has arrived. 

Are there any kitchen gadgets you can't live without? Or can live without quite easily? 

The downside of grown-updom

One thing I don't like about being a grown up is having to be all sensible and responsible. Tonight I didn't get home from work until after midnight (and I have to be back there again before 9am) and so all I want to do is to hop into bed. Instead I had to venture back out into the rain to put out the rubbish and move the rabbit hutch along so it doesn't ruin the lawn. Then there's still dishes, ironing and washing to be done before I can sleep. This is when I start to dream about the freedom of only being responsible for myself and a backpack :-)

On a happier note I have a nice cup of tea and new episode of New Girl to watch while I do my chores and I just ate the most delicious apple - New Zealand Lemonade, I think the variety is called. I'm so going to buy some of them again! Also I am so close to finishing the last bootie in the hat/bootie set I'm knitting so it'll reach it's wee owner before the weekend and then I only have one more hat/bootie set to knit before I can start my winter scarf. There's also 3 hats to be knit and still that pesky tea cosy.... Hopefully I can knock quite a bit of that off next week - I've got a long bus ride to Rotorua...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Survival kit

Only three more days of work and then I'm off on holiday! That means though that there's only three more days for me to get the house and garden spic and span because I hate coming home from holiday to a pile of chores. I managed to get the pantry and fridge done tonight and cook two meals so here's hoping I can finish the rest tomorrow leaving me with some knitting time. 

I actually remembered today to buy something for our survival kit. At the moment it's looking pretty sad - some water, a wind up radio, purification tablets and anti-diarrhoea pills. Last year we had quite a bit of tinned food in it but each time we needed an emergency cooked breakfast, the beans got used. This time I have a canny plan. I'm going to stock up on tinned meat products as they aren't that appetising to me so I won't be tempted to dip into it, and my flatmate is vegetarian so she shouldn't touch them either. In the event of a natural disaster it'll be interesting to see if she prefers meat or going hungry (evil laugh). 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Prettying up the kitchen

I came home from work a few hours early today as I had the most awful headache. After a nap I felt a bit better but not good enough to read, watch TV or use the computer, and knitting was out due to my dicky wrist. I found something else to do though.....

All of these jam jars needed pretty tops. We've put a new bookshelf in the kitchen to store them on to free up space in the pantry. There's quite a few considering there's another four opened jars of various flavours in the fridge...

I still have intentions of making courgette honey and some more jam from summer fruits next weekend. Then it'd nearly be feijoa and tamarillo season. Can't wait!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cape gooseberries

This week I've been eating Cape Gooseberries from my garden. I only put in one plant, not knowing how big it would get or how much fruit I'd get off one plant. It was a spontaneous buy as I'd never really eaten the fruit before discovering it in Northern Peru (the country it originates from) although apparently it's pretty common in gardens here. 

Next summer I'll put more plants in as I only have enough fruit for eating, not for any baking, jam or cocktails....

Here's a cocktail recipe I found which combines cape gooseberries with one of my favourite spirits, pisco.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day off: Miramar

Today was my day off. As I normally only get one day off a week (sometimes not even that, lately), I often end up spending it catching up on sleep and housework which is all well and good, but doesn't make for the most exciting life. This last week I've been really conscientious about keeping on top of my chores during my work week and getting to bed at a decent hour so I can spend my day off doing something that makes me happy. Mopping floors and doing laundry definitely does not make me happy.

So this afternoon I headed out to Miramar to check out a garden centre (California) that my friend told me about. It was a gorgeous day for a walk, sunny but not too hot. The garden centre was pretty big so I spent quite a while looking around, managing not to walk out with any thing from the display of owls (I was sorely tempted). I did spend $10 on four punnets of vegetables - midget broccoli, little cutie cabbages and lots of silverbeet. 

I then started the walk home via the Roxy Cinema where I caught up with a friend for a coffee. Then it was to Lyall Bay via the airport and Moa Point. I love walking through Miramar as it is so flat with wide, pohutakawa-lined streets - the opposite to most of Wellington. Although it's home to quite a few famous people at the moment, I didn't manage to spot any (not for want of trying!). 

The sun was beginning to set as I reached Lyall Bay. I've heard so much about the burger cart there but somehow had never visited before. That changed tonight. I ordered an honest rob - a beef burger. I ate it while walking along the beach, the waves washing over my toes. The water was freezing but the burger fantastic. I'll be trying to get out there more often.

By the time I got back to Kilbirnie I remembered that my work shoes completely disintegrated yesterday and I'd be needing some for my shift tomorrow (the ones I've ordered being stuck on the wharf in Auckland due to the strike). Luckily Farmers had a late night and big sale on. I ended up with shoes and a new exercise outfit. I've been meaning to start my couch potato to 5km running programme again but the lack of anything to wear while exercising had been my favoured excuse to procrastinate. Excuse eliminated. 

Walking through Kilbirnie, I spyed this in the window of a children's clothing store. I'd love to try make something like this. It's so cute!

Then it was to the supermarket and home for a cup of coffee as I finally replaced the plunger I smashed last week. A cup of coffee never tasted so good! 

So all in all, a great day off. Only 10 days to go and then I'm off on holiday. Cannot wait.