I know there is still a bit of a stigma behind “meeting people off the big bad internets.” Me? I’ve done it more times than I probably should have and I have always been glad that I did. It has resulted in many incredible friendships, the two most important being my husband and my great friend Ashleigh who was the maid of honour at our wedding.

I’m always careful. I’m sure they are, too. My own husband told me that when he travelled across from NZ the first time to meet me face to face he was prepared for the fact that there was always that chance he’d have to book a hotel in New York until his flight back to NZ because I’d either show up and be insane or not show up at all. I like to think that most people are generally good when it comes down to it. I mean, if I’m on the internet and I’m not a big fat liar, why are they any different?

A friend who I have known online for a few years now through blogging and DailyFratze was travelling through New Zealand with her boyfriend. She contacted me on Twitter to ask me what some of the must see places were in New Zealand. I told her some places that I knew but that she was also welcome to stop by and say hello if she was passing through our town.

Adastra and her boyfriend did come and see us and they even ended up staying with us for a night. I enjoyed catching up with her and showing them a bit of our surrounding area. I like to think that only a local could give such a grand tour! Perhaps not, but I think that in the nearly 2 years that I have lived here I’ve come to know quite a bit about this place.

When they came, we went out and showed them a beautiful sunset at the dock in our town.

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I have been putting off getting a New Zealand drivers licence since I moved here. My New York licence was still valid here and I was allowed to use it legally for a year after moving here so there really was no rush. However, when I was filling out a form for my residency a few weeks ago, I noticed that I actually had been here a year. I couldn’t put it off any longer.

This was more of an annoyance than anything else, I thought. Now I would have to take a test – probably just a written test but a test nonetheless. Although the only real major difference is the fact that we’re driving on different sides of the road, New Zealand road tests have other questions that I’m not used to at all. For example, New York written tests never have the need for questions about what to do when there is livestock on the road. What would you do if you come to a random cow crossing, for instance? Now I’d have to read the manual. I’d actually have to study for something. That’s what my students have to do – not me! I haven’t had to study for a test in 10 years!

Would you pass a New Zealand road code test?
Take a practice test!

I went to town to get the manual and see what I actually had to do to achieve the goal of obtaining a valid licence. The results were hilarious. Since I’m from an exempt overseas country, this was the process:

1. Present your valid and non expired drivers licence.
2. Present us your valid passport.
3. Present proof of residence in New Zealand.
4. Pay the fee.

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I went back the next day with my New York drivers licence, my passport, a random bank statement, and paid them and they took my picture and mailed me a licence. It came yesterday, almost exactly a week later. I can’t believe I put THAT off for a year.

One of the many things that I like about New Zealand is how it seems to be just second nature to not waste as much. Right when I moved here, I noticed little things like switches on the power sockets and how stores don’t automatically give you a bag for your purchases (some even charge you for a bag as more incentive to not get one or to bring a reusable one). New Zealand also gets over 15% of its power through renewable sources like wind and solar energy. I’m all for it. I hopped right on the bandwagon. I use reusable shopping bags (I did back in New York anyway so that wasn’t a big switch) and I started a recycling program in my house. Let me tell you about it!

Recycling

In my town, you’re almost forced to recycle. It costs money for your garbage to be collected but it doesn’t cost anything if you are recycling. It is a few dollars for a town council garbage bag (they won’t collect the garbage in anything else) or you can pay for a hire-a-bin company to give you a big garbage bin and once it’s full there is a set fee to have them come empty it. Either way, it adds up fast. However, most things these days can be recycled. Paper, plastic, aluminium, glass, and cardboard – just sort it and put it out and it costs nothing to collect. This makes the trash you do have far more condensed and therefore it doesn’t have to be collected as frequently. Save your money!

Josh and I have a hire-a-bin and we choose to sort our recycling into our own bins and bring them to the local dump and recycling centre when they are full.

Recycling

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A few weeks ago, the Department of Conservation (DOC) had a special event at one of its beautiful trails here. It was the 100th anniversary of the Charming Creek Coal Mine and Logging District and what remains of this place is now known as the Charming Creek Walkway which is a beautiful 3 hour trail up in the hills. Usually it’s a 6 hour hike since you can’t really hike 3 hours and magically appear back at your car so you have to hike there and back. On this particular day, DOC advertised a deal that would give us a bus ride to the far end of the trail, a tour guide that would take us on the hike and tell us all about the trail, a helicopter ride halfway there so that we could see the beautiful mountains, and then a sausage sizzle when we got to the bottom. All of this ended up happening besides the helicopter ride since they didn’t get enough people interested to run the helicopter. They couldn’t take small kids on the helicopter and as you’ll see there were a lot of kids that hiked. (I mean rode in their parent’s backpacks.)

I really enjoyed myself. I went with a group of my friends. Altogether I think they had around about 25-30 people including all the kids. Josh was supposed to come but had a really rough week at work and was so dead tired. A 3 hour hike on his first day off just wasn’t his idea of a good time and I didn’t blame him. Plus, he was a bit bummed out that there wasn’t going to be a helicopter. Everything all added up? He deserved the sleep.

Charming Creek Walkway

Our tour guide was a really nice guy. He not only told us interesting information about the area, being the knowledgeable gentleman that he was, but also told us personal stories about the area from when he was a kid and used to play around there. He was a really good storyteller and I enjoyed listening to him speak.

Charming Creek Walkway

The walk itself was beautiful. Even though I’ve been here over a year now, my mouth still drops at the beauty that surrounds me in this place. Random waterfalls. The water is so clear. No trash anywhere. People take this place for granted.

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Everyone has one of those special places. You can be having such an awful day but if you can get to this place and the optimism comes pouring back to you. Everything just seems a bit brighter. Even though you are aware that nothing in a physical sense has really changed, something is different. Your mood has changed. Your outlook has changed. Something changed for the better. And that is all that matters.

There have been certain aspects for me that have been a bit difficult when I moved overseas. First of all, I lived in the same house for 26 years. Then I moved 15 minutes away from there when I got married. I never went far. Even if I didn’t particularly rave about New York all the time, there were definitely special places that I loved. They were close to my heart. Now they are half a world away.

Thankfully I moved to an absolutely beautiful country. It has an abundance of places that could be deemed as those special places. The only thing that had to happen was for me to find one.

I have.

There’s a town called Granity not far from where I live and Josh and I both love it. It’s got a beautiful nature walk nearby called Charming Creek, a little cafe that has good food and a lovely atmosphere, and best of all an amazing beach.

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Last weekend, I took a little mini vacation with 7 of my friends to a place called Maruia Springs. Maruia Springs is known for its hot pools and also its relaxation!

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We thought we would treat ourself to the indulgence package because we have been working hard and it’s almost the end of Term 3 here in New Zealand. We got unlimited access to the hot pools 24 hours a day, a 3 course dinner, a 45 minute private spa, a massage, a full cooked breakfast, and one night’s accommodation. It was amazing.

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This week was Māori language week. Māori is one of the official languages of New Zealand – the others being English and Sign Language. Māori is the language of the indigenous population of New Zealand.

Since I arrived in New Zealand, and especially since I’ve been teaching, I’ve been trying to learn a lot about Māori culture and incorporate it in my classes. I find it all fascinating and I have always enjoyed learning about different cultures and people. It’s even more awesome when I’m living here and it’s all around me.

Maori language week I decorated part of my classroom’s whiteboard for the week for Māori language week and updated it every day with what our school was doing.

We had some great events during the week like a staff vs students quiz, a student give a speech in Māori for his assessment, a performance by our Kapa Haka group, book displays in the library, daily quizzes in the notices, and Moko paintings.

I believe the top part translates roughly to “This is Māori language week.”

“Arohatia Te Reo” means “Cherish The Language” and was the theme for our Māori language week.

I also started writing the date in Māori. Since I didn’t really know how to do this, I had my students all teach me. They showed me how to write it and say it. It was a learning experience for everyone, I think. One of those times that it’s really a fantastic way for you to have your students teach you something. It’s something that a lot of them probably learned when they were in primary school and got a kick out of showing me.

a89f81bad6bc11e1b9a5123138140995_7 Thursday was one of my favourite days. Not only is Thursday one of my favourite days every week because it’s my least busy day that falls right after my busiest day but this Thursday the students did Moko pantings. A moko is a traditional Maori tattoo. They contain ancestral and tribal significance to the wearer and would tell a story of their tribe, family, and place in social structures. Getting a moko on your face is the ultimate statement of someone’s identity as a Māori. Many Māori people had a facial moko. Women often wore theirs on their chin. My students had me get one but don’t worry – it is not permanent.

Josh and I decided to go on a beautiful afternoon walk this weekend. It was 2.9km each way along the coast plus we walked a bit more along the beach so we probably walked a total of almost 6km along the beautiful coast, coming back just in time for another gorgeous sunset.

Of course, the camera was with us…

The beach is always gorgeous.

Rocks

There were some beautiful rocks. I tried to take an artsy shot of some moss on a rock but realised later that my finger got in the way of my amazing photo. I was really upset. Josh says I was just being a lazy photographer. He’s probably right.

Rocks

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There have been quite a few things that Josh and I have been wanting to get lately but there is always something in the way.

First there was that little problem of not having money which definitely puts a stopper on trying to buy things. As most intelligent people realize, having money and having a credit card are two extremely different things. Being the intelligent folk that we are we wanted to wait until we actually had the real money.

The other factor stopping us from our shopping trip was the fact that we live in such a small town that every time we want to do some actual shopping we have to drive a couple hours. When the heck do we have the time to do that being that we each have a full time job (and sometimes we even work on the weekends). Also, New Zealand seems to not want to keep their stores open very late at all compared to what I’m used to. If I even tried to leave after work I wouldn’t even get there by the time the stores closed.

Even when we do find the time to go, this costs us a great deal in gas which brings us back to problem number one. Petrol (gas) prices in NZ are about $2.20 per litre. That’s the equivalent of about $8.14 per gallon. With the currency conversion that’s $6.62 USD per gallon. You probably don’t feel so bad about paying what you pay for gas anymore, do you? Well, maybe not. I definitely feel bad for complaining about gas prices when I lived in New York.

I am slightly off topic, though. My point is that Josh and I finally did go shopping. We got some money and allotted some time and away we went. Yay for us!

I couldn’t help myself and went a bit crazy in the office supplies aisle. I got a bunch of great things for my classroom – some of which I probably didn’t need but will definitely use and some of which I truly needed.

new cookware!

Josh picked out these great new things for out kitchen. It was what he went there for, really, because there was a sale and this was some great cookware that we got. He also talked me into getting another knife (the man loves his knives) and got that cool metallic knife rack you see mounted above the stove. That little green one that you see there is the knife I have dubbed MY KNIFE. Josh’s mom gave it to us last Christmas and I love it so much. I use it for nearly everything even when I probably should be using a knife that is more appropriate for what I am cutting. I am not very good in the kitchen but at least I know when I feel comfortable using a certain kitchen tool. I’ll let Josh wield his big knives.

new bedding

I picked out this new bedding set. We needed a winter duvet (blanket) and new sheets and pillowcases so I got tan/brown ones to match. I am extremely happy with it but I don’t think Josh likes it very much. He mentioned right away that we will need multiple sets and it is a good start. Oh well. I guess it’s a little girly but at least I didn’t get one with pink and purple flowers or hearts on it – it could have been WAY worse. The middle just has a small design with little blue birds.

What does your bed look like?

Over the weekend, Josh had a plumbing job that was quite a way out of town. We decided that, since it was a nice day, I would take a ride with him to keep him company and then we could take a little ride and find something nice to do outside and go on a little adventure.

The job actually ended up turning into a disaster and took almost the entire day instead of just being a quick job (even though it was a bit out of the way) and not only was the sun going down but Josh was a bit exhausted from spending all day on a job that just decided to go wrong at every turn.

Well, we were already out of town so we took a shorter ride than we originally planned still in search of an adventure. Josh pulled up to a tiny local restaurant near the water and surprised me saying he wanted to take me out to dinner but continuing with the day’s luck it was closed for a private function.

Caity and Josh never give up, though. We were not going to come all this way and go back with nothing! That’s when we saw the sky all lit up with the most gorgeous colours. We wandered down to the water which was only a block away from where we were.

Walk on the Beach

You can never go wrong with a walk along the beach.

Walk on the Beach

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My family finally decided that they would suck it up and take the long trip across the world to see me in New Zealand. They got here last Friday, the day after the first term of our school year here ended (we get two week’s vacation between terms) and are still here for another few days.

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We have been having a blast even despite my incredible talent to get sick pretty much right when they got here. I had to end up going to the doctor while they were here and I even had a fever on Easter. At least I’m feeling better now, though. The doctor gave me some sweet drugs.

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Josh was able to do some fun things with us like eat meat pies and take sweet scenic boat rides but unfortunately he had to go back to work. A plumber’s vacation is unfortunately not as long as a teacher’s vacation. Oh well.

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Hopefully now that I’m feeling a bit better I can actually enjoy the last few days a bit better instead of feeling like I want to just want to crawl up in a ball. I’ve got some fun events planned for us to do that I’m pretty excited about.

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I tease my family a lot – especially my mother – but I will miss them all when they have to go back to New York.

Cook Strait

I bet they’ll miss this place, too. Who wouldn’t?
Oh, and I guess they will miss me.

One of the not so great things about New Zealand is the intensity of the sun. I’m not complaining about the percentage of sunny days in my rainy little town but rather just how harmful the sun can be in New Zealand. The ozone isn’t as thick over here and it makes a HUGE difference. So many people travel to New Zealand thinking that they know how to handle the sun or how much sunscreen to wear and end up wishing they had listened to warnings. Thankfully I listened to everyone about how dangerous the sun can be here. Plus, having a mother who had a large melanoma in the past, I have always been aware of the sun and what it can do.

I spent the entire day outside in the sun with our whole school for Athletics Day. I covered myself from head to toe with sunblock. I put it all over my arms, legs, face, neck, hands, and even my ears! I even wore a huge sun hat! I bet my dad would have laughed at me since it’s the same kind of hat that he tries to get my mother to wear all the time but she won’t since they look ridiculous. Since everyone wears them over here, I guess they are a bit less ridiculous.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t thorough enough with my sunscreen in all the excitement and I missed just the bit of space above my socks.

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And oh, did I pay for it. You can even see the spaces right around the burn where the sunscreen made it onto my skin. I have certainly learned my lesson for next time.

It could have been way worse.

It actually rains quite a lot around here. Whenever I told people in New Zealand where we were moving, they laughed and told me to make sure I had a good pair of gumboots and a nice umbrella. I just would laugh it off myself and tell them as long as all that rain didn’t turn into snow I didn’t mind. I there’s one thing I didn’t miss about New York it was all of that darn snow. (In case you’re wondering, none of that rain will turn to snow so I’m a pretty happy camper.)

Last weekend, the weather was actually really nice after quite a drizzly week so Josh and I figured we may as well venture out and check out the surrounding area while we had a nice day on a weekend. Who knows when it was ever going to happen again anytime soon, right? We figured after all of the crappy weather that maybe all of these people really did have a point about buying some gumboots.

Cape Foulwind

We headed to a place not too far out of town – it’s only about a 10 minute drive. It was beautiful by the water although Josh reckons it’s not as beautiful as where we were living before we moved and that the visibility isn’t as good as it should be. He really did love that place and I don’t blame him. I loved it too.

Cape Foulwind

I told him that we have become a bit spoiled lately with all of this beautiful New Zealand scenery. I bet most people would give quite a lot to see all the things we see on a regular basis and even though he liked where we moved from a tad bit better, this place isn’t too shabby either.

Cape Foulwind

Josh agrees, of course.

Cape Foulwind

Plus, we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us. Who knows what will happen?

Weka!

When we were back at the parking lot, there was this little weka (a flightless bird) who started following us. They are usually quite wary of humans but this one came right up to us and it was the cutest thing ever. I started to worry that he was hurt or something but I think perhaps he was just hungry. We had nothing to feed it, though.

Weka!

Weka!

Wekas are my favourite bird. I get so excited whenever I see them!

Weka!

I wish I wasn’t so excited because then maybe I would have gotten a better photograph! He was just sitting there posing for me and I was just freaking out instead of taking a really good picture. Oh well. There’s always next time.

Last year, I was around when there was a blood drive here in New Zealand and Josh and I were able to give blood. It was a fun and positive experience despite not being able to find a vein very easily in my arm and all the paperwork that I had to do being that I was from overseas and didn’t have a blood donor card.

Well, this time I was already off to a better start. I now had my own blood donor card which skips half the paperwork and the fuss and I also decided that I was going to drink loads of water before I went. I drank 2 and a half liters of water (that’s about 10 8oz glasses of water). Unfortunately, I didn’t think through the fact that I’d probably have to use the toilet quite frequently which I did. I’d rather have to run to the toilet a bunch of times instead of have someone play with the needle in my arm, though. Just because I’m giving blood doesn’t mean I enjoy having needles in my arm.

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Being that it was my second donation, I earned a keychain that says my blood type on it and that I was a donor. Josh earned a t-shirt since he has donated over 10 times. Josh was upset because he is sure that he has donated way more times than 10 – he thinks he’s up to nearly 20 times. The lady said that this was quite possible since they had a problem with their databases a couple years ago and a bunch of people lost all their donation counts. I still think it’s nice that he donated 10 times and got a t-shirt, though!

When I finally got stuck with the needle, my blood actually squirted all over my arm and even onto my clothes. The nurse apologized but I was almost happy because I told her how much water I drank since I had so many problems last time so I was excited that my blood pressure was so high even if I did get a drop or two of blood on my clothes.

My excitement was short lived, though. The machine started beeping a couple minutes in to say that the pressure wasn’t good enough. Every couple minutes the lady was coming over trying to adjust the needle in my arm (which started to HURT – just leave the needle alone please, lady). In the end I was almost done so she just let the machine beep all the way until the end which meant my blood was draining slowly and the whole process was taking WAY longer than it should. It was very frustrating. Josh was done way before me and we started at the same time! He just got to eat more mints and cookies than me!

I donated blood!

I guess it’s a small price to pay to be able to give some blood and help someone. They told me that this blood is going to be headed to Christchurch and will be there by tomorrow.

Josh and I went to get meat pies afterward (when there’s an excuse for meat pies, Josh always finds it) and we “argued” with each other about whose blood was better. Josh was joking that his blood is better since it’s more rare and only 2% of the population have B- blood. Mine is A+ which is the second most common blood type after O+. My little retort was that since more people have my blood type, it is more in need and more people need it so mine is the better blood! In the end we know that it it all important because even though 2% of the population may need his type of blood, only 2% of the donations will probably be that type and the same thing with mine so that it all evens out and works so long as a good portion of the population donates. So as long as we all always donate blood, we’re good. We have the weirdest conversations, don’t we?

When was the last time you donated blood? I’m going to try and do it more frequently now that I am able to do so here! I need to get up to 10 donations to get my t-shirt too!

It’s incredible how many people ask me the same two questions (or variations of the same questions) over and over again:

What do you miss about America?
What do you like about New Zealand?

I have really had to think about these two things. They are actually not as simple as you would think. At first it was actually just silly things but now I actually have compiled quite the list of things from both sides that I love about both places that I’ve had the opportunity to miss because I didn’t have it when I lived overseas. I bet I’ll still leave something out but here goes nothing!

Oh, America… what I miss about you.

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I miss my family (here they are just a few weeks ago – my dad has learned to send me pictures from his phone). I also miss my cat who Josh and I thought we’d be able to get over to New Zealand way before now.

I also miss my friends like crazy. I haven’t really made any friends in New Zealand yet.

I miss my gym. Gyms in New Zealand are super expensive probably because it’s so beautiful outside and easy to be active outdoors.

I miss how cheap clothes are in America. I tried to buy some clothes for my new job a few weeks ago and all I wanted was a damn Old Navy or a Kohls so I could raid the clearance rack and walk out with a bag full of clothes – not 2 items.

I miss stores being open all the time. Why does the mall close at 5? Nothing is open on Sunday? What the heck? I actually have to PLAN my trips in to town?

Cheap takeout food and cheap food in general. Hey, I’m being honest. Sometimes I just want to get a cheeseburger or a milkshake from the dollar menu. I’m not proud of it but it’s the truth. There’s no such thing as the dollar menu here.

Four seasons. Trees changing color in the fall. I just am not seeing four distinct seasons here – although I don’t think I’ll really miss not having to shovel snow.

Central heating. Sure, maybe it’s something I don’t really NEED and maybe it’s also because my father ran a central heating business all my life but sometimes a space heater or a fire just doesn’t cut it when I’m REALLY COLD. I’m sure I’ll get used to it but I still don’t have fire building skills yet so it’s a good thing Josh does or I’d freeze to death.

Free Wifi in tons of places. The only place that has free WiFi is McDonalds which to me is kind of weird because they don’t in America.

Having fast internet – and not having a cap on my internet each month.

Thanksgiving.

Squirrels.

Iced Tea.

Pizza.

Oh, New Zealand… what I love about you.

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New Zealand is beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous.

There is no pollution that I’ve ever seen here.

People care more about the environment. They recycle. They walk places and use public transport or carpool or hitch.

The food is healthier.

It costs more to purchase takeout food. Yes, I said I missed this from America but it’s also something that I like about New Zealand because it forces me to eat healthier and Josh and I love to cook. I think that overall it is a good thing.

There is no high fructose corn syrup and food, overall, is less processed.

People are generally in less of a hurry and are nicer and more genuine.

There is a more awesome variety of ethnic foods here that wouldn’t be found in America and such foods can be bought in supermarkets.

There are way less people.

Public healthcare. Sure, every system its flaws but I think it’s awesome after not having very good luck with America’s healthcare system.

People are “forced” to recycle because you have to pay to get your garbage picked up but you don’t have to pay for recycling so the less you need to pay to get picked up, the better.

I love that these is less traffic even though I have had to get used to driving on the other side of the road. I also like that people have less road rage – or none at all, really.

Small mom and pop shops around town that aren’t driven out by huge businesses yet. They’re getting rarer and rarer in America these days. All the coffee shops driven out by Starbucks. No more bookshops because there are Barnes and Nobles. The list goes on. Here, there are plenty of little shops all over the place of all different kinds! I love it!

I like hanging up my laundry.

I can actually see the stars.

I love all the awesome birds, especially wekas.

MEAT PIES.

Josh and I were planning to have a boring, quiet evening in for New Years. I had to work from 6-4 on New Years Eve and figured that I wouldn’t be up to much (and to be quite frank we still don’t really know many people around here so we didn’t really have anywhere to go).

So we thought.

I got home from work and Josh told me that he got a text earlier that day from Matt who he worked with on the orchards for a while inviting us to a BBQ and asked me if I was up to going. Of course I was! I was so happy to be able to actually have something to do on New Years even though a quiet night in would have been lovely, as well. Josh and I each made a token dish – I made a cous cous salad and Josh made his epic tossed salad and we bought some beers and ice cream and we were on our way!

When we pulled up, the first thing I saw was this tiny kitten! I knew that the night was going to be epic when I saw her.

New Years Eve 2011

She was the cutest, most playful little kitten that I have seen in a long time and she reminded me of Moko, my cat back in New York, so much. She filled my kitty void that I didn’t even know was so deep and hurting!

New Years Eve 2011

She had so much life in her and was such a friendly little cat. She went from climbing a cactus to jumping up in your lap and going to sleep. I was dying of the cuteness ALL NIGHT LONG.

New Years Eve 2011

Here is an example!

New Years Eve 2011

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Things have been quite busy in our neck of the woods lately which is probably evident by my lack of blogging recently. Josh and I had a very exciting Christmas though and I finally have a moment to talk all about it!

The plan was to go spend Christmas with Josh’s dad who is working as a DOC (Department of Conservation) worker at the moment at the Abel Tasman National Park but we were nearly heartbroken to hear that the road in there was washed away in the recent storm and flooding.

Christmas 2011

Where there is a will there is a way especially for these kiwis. Josh’s dad decided he would just come pick us up for Christmas on his boat and so that’s what he did instead. Some silly washed out roads weren’t going to wreck our Christmas!

Christmas 2011

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Down the road from us, a new gallery just opened. Josh and I have watched this family clean out and fix up this place for the past couple months and so we finally went to check it out now that they have opened everything up and are ready and raring to go.

Kereru Gallery

This building used to be an old apple packhouse and I love it so much. It is such a beautiful building. Josh reckons it’s almost 100 years old but who knows, really. I wish I had a picture at a different time of day because when the tide comes up the seawater comes up right to the house which is why it’s up on stilts like that. I love living by the estuary.

Kereru Gallery

We were even greeted by Stella but that’s okay because we love Stella. We know her because we’ve watched her when she came with her owners to the orchard toilets which are right behind our house while they were fixing up their gallery.

Kereru Gallery

They did such a nice job with the place. They have so many amazing pieces on display and for sale.

Kereru Gallery

Unfortunately we can’t afford any of them at the moment but Josh and I would love to have something like these in our home one day.

Kereru Gallery

This one was my favourite.

Kereru Gallery

I also like this one a lot.

Kereru Gallery

This was Josh’s favourite.

Kereru Gallery

They also had this really neat wicker basket chair. I want to have something like that one day too. I used to want a hammock but I think I like this better now. How cool would it be to have something like that on a porch to curl up with a good book?


What kinds of things would you like to have in your home someday?
Or what kinds of things do you have in your home that you love?

Since it is finally summer here in the southern hemisphere, Josh and I decided that we needed to do something for the occasion. What better way to celebrate the start of summer than by having a BBQ?

Our BBQ

The problem was, we didn’t have a BBQ. So, we decided to just buy a cheap one time use BBQ since there was no point investing in one right now. We can’t really afford one right now and also we’ll be moving in January and that’s one more thing to have to worry about moving.

Our BBQ

Josh cooked us some sausages, cheap steaks, and lamb chops. He also got this tasty marinade sauce to go with it. Some lady was giving out free samples of it at the store and Josh was swayed by them. I guess those free sample stands really do work. They work on my husband. Haha. I’m glad, though. The sauce was really good.

Our BBQ

Everything took a pretty long time to cook being a cheap little grill and all but we had a great time hanging out in the backyard enjoying each other’s company, the beautiful weather, and the good food.

Our BBQ

Our BBQ

Our BBQ

I must admit that I will miss this little place once we move. It’s really pretty and I love the area. However, I’m looking forward to my new job, our new house, and all the adventures awaiting us in our new town (which really isn’t too far away from here anyway).

What do you do to celebrate the start of summer?

So you already know how I felt about the driving part of my trip

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Now to tell you about the fishing which was actually quite fun. :)

We didn’t catch many fish but does that ever really matter when you’re fishing? Well, sure it does but we tell ourselves that it doesn’t even though we always want to catch something don’t we? We caught 3 fish (I caught 1 and my father in law caught 2) but only 1 was a keeper.

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Pete’s was the keeper. Thankfully he had caught one earlier in the day before we got there so we had enough for dinner.

French Pass

We did have a really nice time, though. My favourite part was actually when we saw a little penguin swim by. I was so busy shouting “OMG LOOK A PENGUIN” that unfortunately there is not a photo to accompany my claims. I promise there was a penguin, though. Later in the night when we were up in the bus we saw dolphins too but they swam by so fast that I only saw them out of the corner of my eye and by the time we ran out to the shore they were gone already. :(

French Pass

The other quite amazing thing that I saw while we were out fishing were these whirlpools. Yes, they are really little whirlpools. They started when the tides were changing and when our little boat got caught in them we just would spin around in circles. Thankfully Pete actually knows how to drive the boat so we didn’t really get caught in any of them (just one or two really tiny ones while we were drifting) but I saw a couple really massive ones. It was really strange to see that right in front of me. That craziness is only supposed to be conjured up by the magic of Mickey in Fantasia… or it belongs in the Bermuda Triangle… or something equally bizarre…

French Pass

The rest of our trip was spent watching the Wekas. The wekas are these amazing little birds that apparently a lot of tourists mistake for kiwis because they’re cute little flightless birds with long beaks.

Weka

They are SO FUNNY and I just love to watch them run around and interact with each other and just… be wekas. I saw one weka fight with another one and it was the craziest thing I ever saw. We were laughing so hard and I really wished I had my video camera.

Smoked Fish

We smoked the fish and ate it and it was amazing.

French Pass

I love French Pass. It’s so beautiful.

French Pass

French Pass

:)

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Josh and I went back to French Pass to go fishing again this weekend. We also went to help Josh’s dad transport his other vehicle and his boat back out here to “civilization.” He has been staying out at French Pass in between his jobs to do a bit of fishing and relaxing and so we went out there for a bit of that too.

But first… the drive…
That’s not relaxing.

The trip to French Pass.

Well, okay, so it’s relaxing when you’re not driving. Hell, it’s gorgeous. However, when you have never driven on anything like this before then AHH it’s DAMN SCARY. I am not used to changing my cars into different gears to go up winding hills on the side of a mountain and driving on those same kinds of rods except they are made of scary gravel. Oh, and now they are on the side of a mountain. Don’t look down because OH HI THERE IS THE OCEAN.

The trip to French Pass.

OMG AND THERE IS A TRUCK COMING AROUND THE CORNER AND ONLY ONE AND A HALF CARS FIT ON THIS ROAD!

Yeah. Can we say panic attack?

French Pass

Well, once we got in the boat and started fishing I felt better but looking back up at the mountain seeing the road I just drove on and knowing I’d have to do it again on the way back made me nearly have a panic attack again. I knew I would be alright, though. I had a really good teacher. I was glad that Josh had me drive out there with him in the car so he could give me tips and talk me through everything so that on the way back when he had to drive his dad’s truck and I was on my own, I’d feel a lot better.

Boy, I couldn’t have been more right.

Lets skip the entire day of fishing and save that nice story for another time. Perhaps tomorrow I will be in a better mood. Here is a brief preview for you of when I was fishing and happy to tide you over.

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Now picture the exact opposite when I woke up the next morning and looked up at that mountain and saw the weather. Dark clouds coming out of the mountains. I couldn’t even see the top of the mountain. Well, we had to drive back so we started back and hoped for the best. I started driving and not even 5 minutes in, I couldn’t even see a few feet in front of me. Half my tricks were gone right there of predicting my turns by looking a few turns ahead of me and being prepared for what was coming, seeing which corners I could turn wider because I knew if nobody was coming. Oh, and not only that but there is that fear of… well… driving off a cliff?

Lets not even talk about it.

My parents are probably having a thousand heart attacks right now. Oops.

Well, the main thing is that I conquered my fear. If I can do that scary drive IN SCARY CLOUDS and rain and when my windshield gets covered in mud and evil bits then I can do it when it’s normal, too. I am proud of myself and so was Josh and Pete (my father in law).

New Zealand power outlets fascinate me.

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Besides looking like cute little faces and being interesting because they are just a novelty to me, they have one other feature that I really like. Most NZ outlets have a switch right on them to turn the power on or off. It further saves electricity because it directly shuts off the electricity to the outlet entirely. It’s such a genius idea. It’s so simple and yet it’s something I’ve never seen before. You can save so much power by flicking the switch off when you’re not using the outlet so the outlet doesn’t draw any power at all.

I had to admit it took me some getting used to since I just usually plug things in and then pull them out again and that’s that but now it’s always a two step deal – plug it in and flick a switch or unplug and flick a switch.

The other thing that takes getting used to?
Up is off and down is on on all switches here!

I try to think I’m doing my part reducing my usage and recycling (Josh and I set up a recycling system here) and reducing my carbon footprint. Even little things like flicking switches on your outlets can add up if everyone does it.

One of my coworkers won a million dollars playing lotto at our store last month. Of course everyone’s first instinct is to complain saying “I wish it would have been me” but of course half of them don’t play. I don’t think anyone is entitled to complain about not winning the lotto if they don’t even play. Maybe I should start telling them all that I wish someone would just walk up to me and hand me a million for doing nothing at all because at least that makes more sense.

Instant Kiwi
Via

I bought a lotto ticket the other day. It looked a lot like this one, being a losing ticket and all, so I will borrow someone else’s lovely photo from Flickr. I should have known I would lose anyway. The odds of someone winning the lotto are slim to none. What are the odds of two people winning the lotto from the same place? I don’t think it would be very good, if I had to guess. Playing the lotto is fun, though.

In New Zealand, they only have the big lotto drawing once a week. That’s pretty different to me being that in New York it’s every day and the jackpots are even bigger – and that’s just one state compared to an entire country. (Yes, yes, I know New York is huge but I’m just noticing more differences and musing about them.) It costs a lot more for a weekly drawing here, too. I guess I won’t be gambling on lotto tickets very much.

They have really funny commercials, though. This one is my favourite.

I will be participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) again this year! I was successful in 2009 (and even won a prize)! Last year was a crazy time and I was taking a blogging break during November but now that I’m back in full force, it’s time to give NaBloPoMo another go! I will be blogging every day for the month of November! :)

Yesterday Josh and I decided to go and do something nice outside since the weather was so beautiful. We took a trip to Mapua which is the next village over on the coast here.

Mapua

We had a walk around the docks and watched all the native birds which I kept scaring away trying to get too close to take awesome pictures of them. Josh told me I was a bad nature photographer.

Mapua

At least I got a decent picture of this bird before he flew away. That’s probably because he thought I was going to give him some fish & chips.

Mapua

My mom asked for some pictures WITH PEOPLE IN THEM. So here you go, Mom.

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I have still been working hard to lose weight and I’m nearing the 60 pounds lost mark. My weight loss is not as rapid as when I was in New York – I no longer go to the gym every single day and I have increased my calorie intake a bit more – but I am still slowly shredding the pounds. Actually, I should say I’m shredding the kilos. Things are a bit different now that I’m in New Zealand. I have had to get used to measuring my weight in kilograms as well as the speed limit in kilometers. The metric system does make a lot more sense sometimes and I’m very familiar with it being the stupendous math teacher that I am but it’s a lot different understanding something and using it in your daily life. You may understand the conversions quite adeptly but you may not be able to visualize how much someone might weigh in kilograms as opposed to pounds if that’s what you used all your life. Don’t even get my started on the weather. The TV says it’s 30 degrees? Let me get my winter coat. Oh wait… I need my jandals?

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I realized that I really didn’t have anything that was appropriate to wear to a teaching interview. I had brought the skirt from a suit set that I bought in New York but I forgot the blazer. I figured that I would buy a nice top to go with my nice black skirt and that just might do. I wandered off into town this bright Sunday morning only to realize that everything was closed. My tiny town was a ghost town. (It’s one of the joys of living in the middle of nowhere – along with the serenity, you also have times where you must go a bit further in certain instances.) If I was going to get anything today I was going to have to drive a half hour to the mall. So off I went.

I realized that I didn’t really know any of the stores in New Zealand. It’s one thing to not really know what you want or where to shop when you actually KNOW the stores, but here I am in this brand new country, not really knowing what I’m looking for, and I don’t know what the stores even have to offer me. I walked into one of the stores and realized that I don’t even know what the heck size I am over here. Even better. I really started to miss my friends today. I think it was the first time in my life that I actually was looking around at all the employees hoping that they would swamp me and ask me questions. It figures the one time I want this to happen, it doesn’t.

I walked into one of those small clothes stores in the mall. Those stores where it looks like they have too many people working there for the size of the store and they’re just waiting for the customers to come in so they can ask you if you need help with something. I made eye contact with the first girl I saw and smiled a crooked smile at her. I must have looked like easy bait. Well, I sort of was. She sold me 2 shirts. Everyone was happy.

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Well, I was happy to an extent. I learned that NZ sizes are bigger than American sizes. Even though I’m a size 10 or 12 in American sizes now, I’m a size 14 NZ. I know that technically I am the same size and only the number has changed but in my head, it’s like I gained sizes again! I know it’s completely superficial but I can’t help thinking it. I have worked really hard to lose all this weight and going down in clothes sizes has been like a reward system for me along the way, raiding the clearance racks for $5-$10 items so I’m not wasting money on items I will grow out of again. At least in shoe sizes, I’ve gone from a size 8 (American) to a size 6 (NZ). Is that supposed to make me feel better about the whole thing? Haha!

When we first moved in to our little cottage, there were the remains of a vegetable garden in a cute little sun lit corner in the front. Unfortunately, it was overgrown with weeds and most of it was completely unsalvageable except for a bit of silverbeet (swiss chard) and chives which we did use whenever the opportunity arose. The chives became an almost daily occurrence for a while there. They go amazingly with eggs.

happi hens eggs

Speaking of eggs, we get eggs from our neighbor who has free range chickens. We trade her our table scraps for eggs. Pretty fair trade, if I do say so myself.

Josh decided that the other day while I was at work he was going to dig up the vegetable garden. Now that we are headed into Spring and the weather is getting nicer it’s the perfect time to start a vegetable garden. (That’s right, down here in the southern hemisphere it’s finally our turn for nice weather! Bwahaha!)

Our Veggie Garden

Our Veggie Garden

The garden was pretty overgrown, but that was no match for Josh and his hoe! (Har, har.)

Our Veggie Garden

Our Veggie Garden

Josh transplanted the silverbeet and got a bunch of seeds. Hopefully in a while we will see:
- tomatoes
- capsicum (peppers)
- cos lettuce (romaine lettuce)
- basil
- beetroot
- zucchini

We still have some chives on the side of the house, too, so we can still have our awesome eggs!

Vegetable gardens are awesome ways to save money. Especially because Josh and I do eat a lot of salad and vegetables, it will save us a great deal of money once we have it up and running! Plus, fresh vegetables taste better and they are a lot healthier than getting them from somewhere that may have had to use sprays or different kinds of fertilizers.

Do you have a vegetable garden? What did you plant in it?
If you don’t have one, what would you want to plant in your garden?

I have been trying to find a job since I got back to New Zealand. It has been very frustrating and daunting as I’m sure it is for most people who try to find a job and I’m sure I don’t have to tell most people how hard it can be at times especially in today’s economy. It’s hard everywhere.

For those who don’t know, I’m a math teacher. I’m certified to teach secondary math in two countries – obviously America (New York State) and in New Zealand. However, even though teachers are said to be in need in New Zealand right now, math jobs are hard to come by in the area that Josh and I have settled. We’re in a small little town and quite often small little towns don’t really cycle through jobs like that as fast as places with larger populations.

I really needed a job though so I didn’t give up. I decided that I didn’t really need a teaching job right now to be happy even if that’s what I had technically chosen for a profession. Besides, there are things more important in life than jobs that pay a lot of money like having a job at all and waking up every day feeling happy and healthy and loved. Now I have all of these things.

I finally found a job at a local supermarket in the dairy department. I actually really, really love it. I have enjoyed being out and about and it has given me the opportunity to meet some other people here in New Zealand besides just Josh and his family which is always refreshing and interesting (not that I don’t love all of them but it’s good to expand the circle).

Trying to Steep
All I do is drink peppermint tea lately, it seems…

The only downside so far is that it has left me extremely tired while I am getting used to the job. I came home feeling sore and wanting nothing more than to eat a gigantic dinner and go to bed which I can assure you is what I did. My schedule is better now. After only a week they offered me better hours. They gave me more hours and the hours themselves are more manageable for me. I like them so much better.

At first I thought I would be upset that I was not teaching. I even got some comments of condescension from a few different people because they think that this job is below me. I think that is ridiculous. I think that my happiness shouldn’t be dependent on what job that I do but rather on how I do whatever job that I do and I should always do that job to the best of my ability. Too many people focus on what they want instead of what they need. If I kept trying to get a teaching job then maybe I wouldn’t even have a job at all and that wouldn’t be productive either – isn’t it even more counterproductive to be unemployed? You can never make any connections or get yourself out there by sitting at home. I never know who I will meet at my new job. The choices we make in life make us who we are and bring us where we are headed. I want to be headed somewhere – I don’t want to sit still… do you?

I am happy. That’s enough for me. If there’s anything I’ve learned in life it’s that if something feels wrong in your life then you have to do something about it. Sometimes that something might be something a little different than what you originally had planned. For me, the further I differ from my original plans, the more amazing my life becomes.

I finally got myself a job here in New Zealand. For now, I’m working in a local supermarket stacking shelves in the dairy department. I’m happy. I’m out here meeting people in a new country and I have a full time job in an economy that isn’t the best. That’s a success if you ask me. I love it so far even if it has interfered with my blogging time and tired me out quite a bit! Ha!

A couple weeks ago, Josh’s dad came to visit us. We took a day trip to a place called Kaiteriteri. It is a beautiful beach.

Kaiteriteri

Soon I will run out of pictures but definitely not yet…

Kaiteriteri

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As I told you in my last post, we went out to visit Josh’s dad at French Pass. The drive out there was beautiful so it only follows that French Pass itself is absolutely breathtaking.

French Pass

Josh’s dad was staying out there in his house bus for a while in between some work that he was doing and he told us to come and see him and he’d show us around and take us fishing. I was so excited to see some more of New Zealand and also to see Josh’s dad again who I get along with very well. I also love fishing. I grew up near the water and my family owned a boat while I was growing up so it was not a few thing to me yet it was something that I do enjoy very much. I think it’s always fun to do the things you enjoy in a different way and in a different setting.

Oh, and it was very different but I had an absolute blast!
(And just a warning: picture overload once again!)

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I have been without the internet for so long that I am so behind in my blogging. It almost seems silly to blog about something that happened such a long time ago but it seems even more silly to me to not blog about it at all. I also want to give all of the adventures that I have had in that time the proper attention instead of plopping them all into one post and being done with it so I’m going to continue to blog like this until I’m all caught up. I just felt the need to clarify this fact even if it was just to myself.

So… back in the start of July… *giggles*

Josh and I took a trip out to French Pass which is at the second most northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand to visit Josh’s Dad who was staying there. He lives in a bus and travels around the South Island, moving around where he works. The drive out to French Pass was one of the most beautiful things that I had ever seen.

The trip to French Pass.

Warning: photo overload!

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One of the first adventures that I had was going to Rabbit Island. It is a small place that is closeby and it is very beautiful. Well, that isn’t fair to say because this whole place is absolutely breathtaking. I walk outside my house and it’s amazing.

Josh took me to Rabbit Island just after sunrise one weekend just for a little while on the way to somewhere else. We didn’t even explore the entire thing – we just walked along the beach for a while.

Rabbit Island

It wasn’t even that nice of a day and it was still more wintery weather so it was quite cold but it doesn’t change how breathtaking it was.

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Finally, I found some internet.

First, I’d like to say that I wish I never made that joke about the ash cloud. I ended up getting stuck in Sydney for quite some time and although I tried to turn it into an adventure like I always do, there were times that it definitely wasn’t fun at all. That’s a story for another time, I think. For now, I have more exciting (and recent) things to speak of!

us

First of all, Josh and I are reunited and I couldn’t be happier. Our time apart has done us both a world of good. Although it was a really rough time it has brought us closer together and our relationship has never been stronger. We are both very happy.

In my opinion, we have already had more fun times and adventures in the past two months than we have in the past four years. That also could be the fact that our attitudes have changed toward the world, too. Well, I guess it could be a bit of both… the fact that there are some more adventures and the fact that our attitudes have changed.

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I leave for New Zealand tomorrow! Tomorrow!!!

I probably won’t be able to be in touch for a while and understandably once I reunite with Josh I probably won’t want to talk to all of you for a while. No offense. :P

In all seriousness, though, we won’t have internet for a bit while we get situated in our new place. Things will probably be a bit crazy for a while. I expect it to be crazy in a very good way, though.

So, I wanted to leave you with one more goodbye blog post and give you one more treat! I will share with you what I will be doing on my plane ride. Aren’t you excited? I know you are. My trip will be over 30 hours long not counting travel time to the first airport or customs at the end of the last airport. Crazy, right? Oh, and that could turn into an even longer journey now that a stupid volcano decided to erupt in Chile and blow some ash my way. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. I think 30+ hours is long enough for me.

So, here is what I’m doing on my trip.

  • Sleeping. Oh, I really, really hope I can sleep. If you have ANY tips for sleeping on planes that you’ve been hiding… NOW is your time to share them with me.
  • Finally reading the Harry Potter books on my Kindle. Yeah, I know. What kind of person am I for never reading the Harry Potter series? You probably are disowning me as a blog friend right now. Hit that unsubscribe button right now. I will probably understand. I might even unsubscribe from my own blog. I’m that embarrassed that I haven’t read them yet.
  • Worrying about the ash cloud. Hey, it’s the truth. Not necessarily worrying about danger but worrying about it delaying my damn flight. No offense to Sydney but I don’t really want to be stuck there, only 3 hours away from glorious Wellington.
  • Listening to my super fabulous playlist that I made until my crappy little 4G mp3 player dies. Oh, but it will be epic while it lasts. I’ll even share my music playlist with you.

Caity’s Epic Playlist of Awesome:
Africa – Andy McKee
All Around Me – Savage Garden
Australia – Manic Street Preachers
Billionaire – Travie McCoy ft. Bruno Mars
Carnies – Martina Topley Bird
Eggplant – Gui Boratto
Firework – Katy Perry
Fix You – Coldplay
Four Seasons In One Day – Crowded House
Girl – Beck
Give A Little – Hanson
Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
I Can’t Decide – Scissor Sisters
In The Bath – Lemon Jelly
Intolerance – Tool
I See Red – Split Enz
Jessica – Allman Brothers Band
Judas – Lady GaGa
King’s Lead Hat – Brian Eno
Life On Mars – David Bowie
Like A Boss – The Lonely Island
Love Story meets Viva La Vida – John Schmidt
Mer Du Japon – Air
Mutha’uckas – Flight of the Conchords
Panic Switch – Silversun Pickups
Peacock Tail – Boards Of Canada
Penguin – Avicii
Pokarekare Ana – Hayley Westenra
Supermassive Black Hole – Muse
Voodoo Child – Rogue Traders
Watch It Die – Eisley

I hope you enjoyed.

Don’t worry. Some songs have special or silly meanings. Try to guess some of them if you can. Maybe you remember one I might have sung at my wedding or you can guess which ones I might listen to in a certain airport or even which one I might listen to on my New Zealand touch down? I just might not get back to you for a while.

See you on the other side!

I leave for New Zealand in less than 3 days now.

Yesterday night I had a get together with most of my friends at Dave and Busters. We had a great time. I was glad that I got to see all of my friends and have a nice time before leaving and I think they had a nice night, too.

BFF

Two of my friends even got me some gifts to remember them by, including these best friends forever necklaces which I have one of and they each have the other 2 pieces. Super dorky and awesome if you ask me. I love it.

Matching as much fun as I had last night was how horribly ill I got last night after I got home and for the entirety of last night. I was so violently ill that I spent more of the night in the bathroom than in my bed and I do not like to remember the times that I was that miserable. They are probably counted on one hand at this point.

I think the only good thing about food poisoning is the amazing relief that you feel once your system gets rid of whatever it is that has toxified you. In my case, I’m almost 100% sure it was chicken quesadillas. (Though it could have been the sour cream that accompanied them.)

All I could think for the entire night was, “Please be food poisoning and not a virus. I can’t be sick for New Zealand! I leave in 3 days!” I don’t think I’ve ever wanted something to actually be food poisoning so badly in my life. Thankfully it was and now that it is gone, I feel a lot better. Today I only felt dehydrated but at least my body was not trying to expel poison anymore. Don’t worry, I won’t be any more graphic than that. I’m sure you can use your imagination.

New Phone

I won’t have internet for a while when I arrive in New Zealand most likely however thanks to my amazing new toy, the HTC Inspire, my phone has basically become a computer. I am confident that although I am not fully connected, I will be able to keep in touch. I have a Facebook app, Twitter (which I’ve become a bit more addicted to since my phone is attached to my hip), email, and plenty more so that I can still keep in touch. What are some of your favourite Andriod apps?

I have my ticket back to New Zealand.
I even got a cute little case for my passport. Yes, I was a little bit excited.

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I guess now my lack of blogs make sense. Things have been just a little bit crazy around here lately since, you know, I’m moving back ACROSS THE WORLD again.

Oh, you’re still waiting for the date, aren’t you?

June 22. That’s right. Just a little over a week until I depart again.

Mokie

Don’t worry, guys. Moko isn’t worried. If she’s not worried then you don’t have anything to worry about either. Oh, by the way, you can start getting super excited now!!!

(Also, if you hadn’t already noticed, new layout and new about page, too. Lots of things are changing! *flails arms around in the air*)

[box type="shadow"]Question 30 of the BlissMB 30 Day Meme: Share something about yourself that you’ve been wanting to tell all the blog readers out there. Share pictures. [/box]

Whoa! The last day of the meme! I made it! :)

I suppose that one thing I should share that some people still seem to be confused over is the fact that I will be going back to New Zealand soon. Earlier this year, I came back from New Zealand without my husband Josh and it was the hardest thing I have done in my life. It has been a long, hard journey for me but that journey is almost over. Soon, and with some conviction from my family and friends, I will be headed back to my husband and back to New Zealand. I can’t wait.

Thank you to everyone who has been there for me in the past few months, both online and offline. I really appreciate your friendship, support, and love.

I searched for a photo but nothing seems appropriate so you’ll just have to wait for me to go over there and take one. ;)

[box type="shadow"]Question 29 of the BlissMB 30 Day Meme: If you could be anywhere in the world, but you had to be there for a certain cause, where would you be and why?[/box]

Well obviously I’d pick New Zealand! I’m not there yet so I can still pick it! :P

Castle Point :)

But of course there is the second part of the question… it has to be for a certain cause. It can’t just be for fun and games. So what cause would I pick to be there for? Well, there was just a large earthquake in Christchurch and I’m sure that the Red Cross wouldn’t mind some more volunteers to help clean up. Apart from that, New Zealand has tons of programs to help with conservation projects all over the country. I would love to get involved in something like that to learn more about the environment and more about New Zealand. What better way to learn about a country than to work alongside others who have goals to preserve, monitor, and re-establish the natural environment of New Zealand?

[box type="shadow"]Question 2 of the BlissMB 30 Day Meme: When you want alone time, where is your favourite place? Why? What do you like to do when you have your alone time?[/box]

I enjoy being outside going for walks when I want to clear my head and be alone. Here in New York it is not that easy to do, especially lately with all of the bad weather we have been having. I bet that I will have more opportunities to go for some nice walks now that the weather is clearing up and Spring is coming. I did take Baylee for a walk a few weekends ago and I did enjoy that.

Ideally, I would like to take my walks in New Zealand again. I miss my beautiful New Zealand walks and nothing else can really compare to them no matter how much I try. It’s okay, though, because I am sure that I will have the opportunity to take my amazing New Zealand walks again.

Bridge

Right now what I do is go to the gym for my alone time. It’s my favorite place to be to be alone. It might seem silly since the gym is a place where a lot of people go and it can often be very crowded but I am all alone on whatever machine that I pick and when I put on my headphones and zone in to what I am doing, I am all alone. I can go deep inside my mind and I am all alone with my thoughts. Plus, the exercise really helps me to think.

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. ~Henry David Thoreau, “Solitude,” Walden

Two girls who live in our flat with us came home yesterday afternoon with some cool stickers saying that they gave blood! Josh and I perked up at this and were quick to ask where we could go to donate, too. Josh has been giving blood for years and even holds a NZ blood donor card. I have given blood a few times in my life but would have liked to have the opportunity to do it more. I love the idea that I might be saving someone’s life.

365 [Day 19]

So Josh and I walked down to town hall where we realized that his Nan would probably be, knowing that she has been a lifetime member of the Red Cross and an active member in the community. Sure enough, we walked in the door and there was Josh’s Nan in charge of the cookies and juice! We were introduced to all her friends and given our favourite cookies – Squiggles!

Josh didn’t have to register since he had a NZ blood donor card. I went through the registration process which I passed. The only question I couldn’t answer were ones about my blood relatives since I’m adopted but they didn’t seem to mind about that since everything else was perfectly fine. Everyone was so nice there and made me feel really welcome. That’s what I love about this community – they are all so welcoming and nice to me.

My efforts to donate blood almost turned into a disaster which I had feared. It’s always hard to find a vein in my arms. Once I had to have a lot of blood drawn for medical tests and it took them such a long time to get my veins to pump out enough blood for the tests I needed. At first, the Red Cross nurse wasn’t going to even try to stick a needle in my arm since she was having trouble finding my veins. In the end, she did find a usable vein and I pumped my little fists for the 6 minutes and 30 seconds that it took to get all my blood.

Josh and I got more cookies, some juice, and some lollies and went on our merry way. We were in such a good mood for the rest of the day. We both love to do things for others and giving blood is such a wonderful way to do that.

Unless you live under a rock, you must have heard about the total lunar eclipse last night. What made this eclipse really special was the fact that it happened on the winter solstice. It figures that when I move to the other side of the world, something like this happens. However, there were a lot of clouds in New York so I probably wouldn’t have seen it anyway if I was there.

I heard that there was a chance of seeing it here, and I ventured outside a little after 9pm when I was told it would be optimal viewing. Well, I should have known I wouldn’t get to see it. It was way too light, still. That’s what you get when it’s the day after the longest day of the year.

I did, however, see an amazing sunset.
(Photos by Josh!) :)

Another Amazing Sunset

Another Amazing Sunset

When one door closes, another always opens.

I mentioned in my last entry that I was disappointed that the pāua shells were not pretty. The truth is, they are… just not when they come out of the ocean. Pāua shells are often used in jewelry and lots of other cool things since they are so naturally beautiful. My parents have coasters made out of pāua shells and I know other people who have pretty jewelry made from pāua shells.

We cleaned out some of the shells a little bit so I thought I would share how pretty they are! Plus, a lot of you asked to see.

Paua Shell

Paua Shell

See? I knew they were pretty!
I was going to take a picture of the paua fritters, too… but they accidentally got eaten! :P

If you want to check out some stuff made from paua, you should check out Paua World! This place is only a town or so away from me and I plan to visit it when I can because I seriously can’t get enough paua shell beauty! :)

It is Josh’s birthday tomorrow and we are having a little BBQ. One of the things Josh really wanted to have at his birthday shindig was pāua fritters. That meant we needed to get some pāua! So, this afternoon Josh and I and one of our flatmates took a ride to the beach to get some!

Ngawi
Josh and his friend went in to get the pāua. The water was still a bit too cold for me. We really should have had wet suits but oh well! They’re hardcore, that’s all!

Ngawi
Still searching for some! It took a while to find them!

Ngawi
It was so beautiful out there.

Ngawi
The mountains.

Ngawi
It was a really beautiful sunset.

Ngawi
Purple mountains magesty?

Ngawi
My attempt at a dramatic rearview mirror sunset shot failed miserably. I had good intentions, though!

Ngawi
The haul! We got 28 pāua. The legal limit is 10 per person but it got cold and was getting dark so they called it. I think it’s cool because 28 is my lucky number.

I was a bit disappointed because I thought that the pāua would be pretty! The pāua actually do have beautiful shells that are used in jewelry and other things but I guess when you first take them out of the ocean they are gross. I am hoping to wash off a pretty shell or two to keep for myself because they are so pretty.

Now Josh and our flatmate are going to work on gutting those things and grinding them up in a meat grinder so we can make some fritters tomorrow!

Joey

Today you get to meet Joey! Joey is one of the animals that lives with us in our flat. He belongs to one of the other girls who lives here but he comes to visit me and Josh quite often. Joey is probably the friendliest cat I have ever met. He jumps up into my lap while I’m at the computer and just curls up and starts purring. Maybe Joey knows that I miss my cat and he’s trying to help me fill my cat void.

Joey

Joey also likes to sit on my windowsill, which is right next to my computer, and look out the window. Sometimes he even jumps out of the window if he sees something exciting! He is such a good cat.

Suitcase Cat

Moko would be really jealous, I think. Maybe it’s better if I don’t tell Moko about Joey. Moko wanted to come with us but she didn’t fit in my suitcase, see? She sat on top of it for a few days before we left and it made me really sad because I really wish I could have taken her with us. Josh and I are hoping that Moko will come join us in New Zealand soon, though. My parents are planning a trip here and so is one of my good friends so I’m sure one of those times Moko can come along. I miss my Mokie.

Taumata

One of Josh’s uncles came back with this photograph after a recent camping trip. Yes, this is a real sign for an actual place. Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­turi­pukakapiki­maunga­horo­nuku­pokaiwhenua­kitanatahu is the longest place name in the world. (Really! The Guiness Book of World Records says so!) In case you’re counting, it has 85 letters. I already counted. Of course it’s a Māori place name and it roughly translates to The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.

Sure, it’s often called Taumata because… well… who can actually say all of that every time you want to talk about the place? Still, it’s pretty awesome. Can you imagine someone asking you where you’re from and you just casually but realistically being able to say “Oh yeah mate, I am from Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­turi­pukakapiki­maunga­horo­nuku­pokaiwhenua­kitanatahu, New Zealand!” That would be sweet.

Do you live by a town or a place that has a cool history like that?