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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Things I Like: Two (Style Edition)

1.  This gold ring.
Isn't it lovely?

via April from Forever21

2. This colour block shirt
I die.  So beautiful.

via Kristina from etsy

3.  This nerdy girl

via Susan Raines from wit&delight

4.  This trench that fits so well

via Elizabeth C from Burberry (of course)

5.  This long bob that might be my next cut

via Julie Herrin

Monday, September 19, 2011

Travel Guide: North Island, part one

If you have very limited time in NZ, I would suggest heading south.  However, the North Island also has a lot to offer.

Highlights:

Hot Water Beach: fantastic!  Definitely a favourite, just so weird and unexpected.  You have to time your visit right, so make sure you take that into account.  I regretted not walking down to Cathedral Cove, looks like it would have been gorgeous but it was kind of rainy.  Can be a day trip from Auckland, about 2.5 hours away.


Northland: loved all of the time we spent here, except the losing of the wallet part.  This is basically the peninsula of land north of Auckland, and is the warmest, most tropical part of the country.  Many Aucklanders have bachs (cabins) up here and head up for the weekends.

- Kauri trees: disclaimer - I love trees.  Tree lined streets make me grin.  Therefore seeing humongous trees made my day.  They were really cool.  We did about a 1/2 hour loop in this little weird abandoned-feeling park.  Hint though, if you are with your husband and he is impatient, do not plan to do a small hike first before seeing the biggest tree, as you will only do one hike, and it may not include the biggest tree, Tane Mahatu.  All throughout NZ you can find the most gorgeous wood products made from these trees that were preserved in swamps in the north.  I would have loved to stock up on wooden bowls and cutting boards, they were beautiful.


- Cape Reinga: One of my favourite NZ days was taking a bus tour up to Cape Reinga.  90-Mile Beach, the very tip of New Zealand, that beautiful blue water, sledding down the sand - all wonderful.  A great day, quite long though.  Our tour was through Sand Safaris.  Do not miss!  We absolutely loved Cape Reinga.
** We dreamed and dreamed about heading back up north and camping at Tapotupotu.   It would have been so beautiful, so isolated and right on the water and the most beautiful little bay.  It makes my heart hurt a little to think of, so lovely!  If you can make it work, do it!

- Bay of Islands: If you have a few extra days, spend them in the Bay of Islands area, just gorgeous.  This is a really great spot for a more vacationy feel.  It felt kind of like a BC lake town, but with the ocean and dolphins!  There are wild dolphins in the bay, and after seeing them splash in their natural habitat, I am very distinctly against dolphins in captivity.  Not okay.  We did a whole day boat trip out to the Hole in the Rock, with the dolphin spotting.  The Hole was pretty neat, but a full day on the boat was too much.  If you could go for a sail up here, it might be perfection.  The dolphins were one of those pure joys.  I thought it would be cheesy, but it was so good.  I've heard Russell is nice to spend a day in the old town and I really regret not scuba diving in this area, especially since we missed it in Australia.  Just do it when you have the chance!  It was supposed to be a really cool spot for diving.
We stayed at Hotel Paihia, which was quite nice except for the gigantic stick bug in the shower in our first room.  They had movies to borrow and a small fridge I think.  We got a great deal through Expedia, about $50 NZD per night for a large room.  It was also nice and close to the bay.

Rotorua
A stinky place.  Pretty cool though, full of geysers and stuff.  There is a national park that is supposed to be really good, but was also really expensive, so we did not go.  Also, lots of natural hot springs etc.  Would have been good, as well as the Maori presentations.  All things we did not do.

One thing we did do though was go zorbing.  Highly expensive but highly recommended!  We did the water one and it was a ton of fun.  You get soaked, so be prepared.  We booked this through the Information booth in town.  It is a bit out of town, so keep this in mind if you don't have a vehicle.

The park in the middle of town had a lot of hot spots where you could see mud boil and soak your feet and best of all, it was free.  Be careful though, some are very hot.  The diner with the Coke sign was good for fast, greasy food.  Rotorua was worth a stop, full of lots of activities to distract you into spending lots of cash, but with some solid attractions as well.

More to come about the North Island!  Looking at these links is making me wish we had never left, so I hope you are starting to fall in love with this country like we did.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Things I Like: One

I am hoping to do a set of my "fav fives" every week, to get me back into this blogging groove.  So here goes!

1.  The Fray - Ungodly Hour
I love this song.  It is so hauntingly pretty.  Give it a listen, you won't regret it.

2.  Pumpkins 
My pinterest is full of pumpkin recipes right now and I am hoping Matt is growing me some.

3.  Pinterest
A virtual bulletin inspiration board.  Really, everything I could say about how wonderful it is has been said.  Check it out, you will not regret it, but you may miss the time that somehow gets pulled in.  Search Geralis to find me, I happen to think I have very good taste.












4.  30 Rock
Andrew and I have been on a 30 Rock binge, and it just keeps getting funnier and funnier.  One quote that cracks.me.up every time: "To get through it, I pretended he was a sandwich".  Oh Liz Lemon, you make me laugh.

5.  Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade
Got a few of these when we were in the States for the long weekend.  So good!  and so cheap!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Two years and one day ago...

Our second wedding anniversary was this weekend.  I really don't know what to say; it's flown!  And at the same time, it feels like it's been like this forever.  Our first two years have been a little different than expected.  It's been a lot: school, surgery, saving, travelling (tried to think of an "s" word, but came up short!) and again, school and settling in.  What a trip it has been!

I always thought during those first four months of unending school work, long group meetings about Bombardier and quick morning trips to Calgary that did not involve the mall, that once we were past this part, then things would be normal, and different.  Life was good, but it wasn't quite what I expected being a newlywed.  It was supposed to be a lot more fun!  And all these other things were just getting in the way.   But once those four months passed, the next started, and I was not allowed to lift a milk jug, and was spending too much time watching HGTV.  Then that phase ended, and I began to see that no matter what we were doing, there was always the opportunity to wait for something to pass, or the chance to appreciate where we were right now.  I think that is a choice, not necessarily something to do with marriage, but something I found through marriage. 

So cheers to today, and my favourite husband!



Grow old with me, for the best is yet to come...
...although right now is pretty good too.
(Robert Browning + Geralis Enns)


One of my very, very favourite bloggers happened to get married the same weekend we did, and wrote a nice post about weddings.  It took me right back to our day, which was lovely.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Travel Guide: Auckland

I'm writing up little guides for some of the places we visited, so that if people ever visit them, we could give our recommendations easily.  Auckland was our 'home town' in New Zealand, and was really a ton of fun.  I feel like we didn't see enough of the city in a way, as we spent most of our time there in "normal" mode.  But still, we have a few tips I think.

Best place to stay:
  • Hands down, The Quadrant Hotel.  This was our favourite hotel out of the whole trip (except Fiji). Modern, clean, very affordable, with a kitchenette.  Rooms were small but fabulous. We paid $90NZD for the night we spent there, and it was well worth it.  Free wi-fi and a good location to boot.  It was also near Emily Place, the cutest little park. 

    Places to eat:
    • The Playhouse, near the Metro theater:  Good food, decent prices (about $15-20).
    • Korean Pancakes across from the Library:  Cheap and a bit quirky - watch out for peanuts
    • A pub in Newmarket, quite well known but we can't remember the name (corner of Broadway and anther main road).  I had some kind of squash pasta that was so so so good and Andrew remembers that they had good chips.  We went here for my birthday and it was an excellent choice
    • Fritz's Weiners:  Good hot dogs.  Enough said


    Internet access:
    • Auckland has a plethora of internet cafes, but you can get free wifi at the Metro Theater and the Public library.  The library also has computers to use, newspapers, and a lot of comfy chairs.  As well, MacDonald's is always a good choice for wifi.
    Things to do:
    • Favourite: One Tree Hill.  Pack a picnic, go for a hike to the top and enjoy your eats surrounded by beautiful 360-degree views of the whole cities and both harbours.  A great way to spend a sunny afternoon.  Hike down the front to end up in Cornwall Park, a relaxed large grassed area.
    • Skytower:  Fun, nice views of the harbour, about $15-20 to go to the top.  Make sure you pick a clear day.   Part of Sky City, where there are many restaurants (the one on the main level is a nice lunch spot, if a bit pricey) (Andrew enjoyed the buffet upstairs, me not so much - you decide!), a huge casino, and a very impressive tourist information booth, with lots of brochures but not the most helpful staff. 
    • Sailing!  Just lovely.  Not exciting, but so relaxed and enjoyable.  Also, had the best sandwich ever.
    • Devonport:  Across the harbour from downtown, this cute suburb has beaches, shopping, and a lot of sweet old buildings, as well as a nice relaxed vibe.  The ferry ride is short, but it is so nice to be out on the water!
    • Auckland Museum: cheap entry and an interesting look at the different South Pacific cultures as well as a whole floor devoted to war and NZ's role in it.  Beautiful building and nice view from outside as well. Also located in the massive Auckland Domain, which is a great park to hang out for a few hours, with lots of cricket. There are some nice greenhouse type buildings too with pretty flowers. The ice cream is terribly overpriced though.  
    • Mission Beach: great place to sun tan, and enjoy the views of Rangitoto Island.  About $3-5 to get here by bus from downtown.
    • Go see U2 if they are in town.  You know, not to brag or anything.  
    Things we missed out on:
    • The White Lady food truck.  We saw this on our first day in Auckland, right after we had eaten dinner, and never remembered to go back.
    • The beaches to the west of the city.  They were supposed to be very beautiful and different, with black sand and crashing waves.
    • Exploring Rangitoto and the other islands.  Supposed to be just gorgeous.
    • Hanging out in Viaduct Harbour.  I wanted to spend an afternoon down there on one of the restaurant's patios, but it just seemed a little flash (expensive) there.  Nice area for a lazy, sunny afternoon of sitting in the sun, sipping something yummy.
    Take it or leave it:
    • Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium: okay, the penguins were great but geared for kids.  Not very big, not a whole lot there. 
    • Ice Bar: interesting but overpriced and underwhelming
    • Auckland Zoo: not as good as the Calgary Zoo, but nice.  A place to see the legendary kiwi bird!


    Other tips:
    • Two or three days in Auckland is good, but you can definitely do more
    • Queen Street is the main drag in town, lots of shopping and quite a range.
    • The bus system is pretty good, sometimes runs quite behind.  In the downtown area, there are many buses though, so it shouldn't be a problem.  This site will be your good friend!  Bus fare seemed relatively expensive, considering you could take the inter-city bus for hours for a few dollars more.  Auckland is fairly walkable, and some attractions do offer shuttles from Sky City or other main locations.  Most buses start or end at the Britomart, which is the transport hub of the city.
    • Grocery stores: We relied on Countdown (it's the final countdown!) as it was the most convenient.  There are not really any grocery stores that are overly close to the tourist areas, this one was probably a 10 minute walk from the main harbour area down Quay Street.  And Quay Street is pronounced Key Street, fyi.
    • The Airport shuttle seems to stop near most hotels and is the most affordable way to get in and out to the airport.
    • Newmarket was a good shopping area, with lots of the more mainstream (ie cheaper) stores on the main drag, and then more boutiques in the side streets.  Good area for window shopping.
    I feel like we barely scratched the surface, but will update if more comes to mind.  

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    To be honest...



    I've been feeling a little discouraged lately, with myself.  We saw Wicked today, and sometimes I feel more like Glinda, trying to look good, but actually really selfish and shallow.  It's hard sometimes to do good in our lives, to live generously, acting kindly, and meaning it all.   Day to day, it is so easy to get caught up in myself, my interests, my problems, me.

    And so I beat myself up a bit, withdraw and shut down, making it all worse.  There are so many excuses right now; busy weekends, job/life instability, decisions etc.  But I want to be able to rise above that all, and still be that "best self".

    "I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do...For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing."
    - Romans 7:15-19

    And then I see Paul, who sometimes seems like he thought he had it all together, admitting to struggling to do right.  I found that very refreshing.  It doesn't give an answer really to fixing all these problems, and I don't have one either.  All I know is that Jesus asks us to keep trying, every day.  So I will start again in the morning.  Or maybe right now.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Wicked



    Had a nice time today, seeing Wicked and stopping at Peter's!



    Thanks ladies!

    Monday, May 30, 2011

    Take me home, country roads

    So it has been raining a lot here.  We live on gravel.  These two things equal a very dirty car.



    However, there is a good ending: it did not rain today or yesterday, so I washed the car today.



    Highlight of my day!  I know, I'm easy to please.  Simple pleasures though.  After some hard work painting, it was nice to get something done so quickly.

    What's been making you smile this week?

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Long live the King!

    I've had the chance to go up to the Kingsland Market in Calgary twice now and wanted to share some of the goodies I've discovered.

    Early morning drive

    Both days started with a yummy pastry (after a very early morning and long drive) from Le Creperie.  When Andrew came he had, and I quote "the best breakfast wrap ever" from the Urban Bistro.  When I went back with Erin, he asked me to have one for him but the pastry won out.  I asked if he would like me to bring one back, but we decided it just wouldn't be the same.

    I am not very good at venturing out, so for lunch had a highly recommended crepe that did not disappoint.  The first time, I meant to get a savoury crepe (it was lunch after all) but got sidetracked by the chocolate, strawberries and bananas.  Oops.  Delicious, although I would say that the chocolate got in the way of the flavour of the yummy crepe, and that's saying something!  On round two, I had a delicious basil and such good cheese crepe and it was fabulous.


    Erin and I split some of the best gelato we've had (and we've been to Italy - although it was awhile ago so our taste buds might not remember clearly) from the Glowing Hearts Coffee Company.  Indian Chai and Raspberry Lime, I wish I could eat it all day.

    I scream, you scream, we all scream for gelati!
    The market was full of delicious looking produce and I was also able to sample the sushi and Thai food.  There is a really nice mix of vendors, a plethora of ready to eat foods, lots of samples and SHOCKER, the musicians are not horrible.  That's my kind of market!


    Macarons! - this picture really does not capture the cuteness




    I can't forget to mention the delicious pies that were the reason for the trip...



    What a yummy place!

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    My apologies...

    I've definitely been shirking my blogging duties.   Oops.  What have I been doing instead?  I got a job!  Temporary but a great opportunity, I start this week. 

    In the mean time, our basement has been keeping me busy.  We agreed to do some painting for our landlord, and I'll share some (better-quality) after pics soon.  It's been a lot of work, easy in that it is bare, but difficult in that everything was pretty dusty and it's a fairly large space.  Painting is instant gratification though, as soon as the paint starts going on, and it's fun to see the difference.




    I'm getting a few other posts together, so there should be a bit happening over here soon.  Also, this weekend officially marks the beginning of wedding season, round two (we went to three within the first four weekends we were home).  There is a bit of travel involved, so that should mean a few stories as well.

    Do you need proof?
    This is our wedding invitation shelf!
    As well, I've been wanting to put together some travel guides about a few of the places we visited.  So those should start happening soon.

    Much love and a happy rainy week!