29 November 2011

Nice Folks

We landed on the South Island on Saturday, but Anne & Roy gave us yet another reason to return to Wellington.  They're so warm and hospitable, with such lovely interests and friends, it was hard to leave.

Hurdy Gurdy
Anne's hurdy gurdy


Wellington is just as nice as I thought it would be.  Sam and I have only been in the city twice, but we did a fair bit of exploring.  We both think it looks like a great place to settle down after we see the South Island, unless we find a place we like better down there.

23 November 2011

Sale this weekend at Harbinger Co.


Harbinger Co. out of San Francisco has long been one of my favorite Etsy shops, ever since I first spotted their laser cut bamboo jewelry.  Their bold, graphic style belies a light, delicate material that doesn't weigh down the earlobes.  Within a week of buying a pair of earrings for myself, my friend Hillary sent me a pair in the mail.  What can I say?  She knows what I like.

The shop has since expanded its range to silver & gold jewelry as well as prints and laser cut boxes.  Lots of well crafted products, all made in the USA!

Otaki on the Kapiti Coast

The cottage in Otaki

A couple weeks ago, Sam and I were looking for hosts in Wellington rather unsuccessfully when an email appeared in my inbox inviting us to stay in Otaki, an hour north of Wellington.  We decided to go, and we're so happy we did because we met a very nice, hospitable family!  The Matlas have a small olive orchard, an appliance repair business, free range chickens and two very friendly dogs.  We were pleasantly surprised to find our cottage behind the house has its own kitchen and bathroom.  The family was so easy to get along with and we had a great time.

Periwinkle flowers

Serious chicken

Egg sign

One of our HelpX projects was building and painting a new egg sign to sit on the road outside the house.  Sam constructed it with a shelf to hold eggs and a money jar, while I handled the lettering.  The sign itself is coated with blackboard paint, with space below for Sonja to add olive oil & other produce when she has it.


Sonja took me to a local heirloom rose garden full of amazing flowers.  My favorite roses were the ones with the petals packed to bursting.  I've never thought much about having roses in my future garden, but after seeing how Sonja has incorporated them into her garden I have changed my mind.

Sonja's roses

Red on green

Crepuscule Roses

Some of the work hardly felt like work at all!  I got to help Sonja pick elderflowers from a shrub down the road and make elderflower cordial.  She sent us away with a bottle (as well as muffins and olive oil-too kind!), but I haven't tried it yet because it needs to sit for a week or two.  I also got to bake two desserts for Tim's birthday, including sticky date pudding.  I'm not a fan of dates, but sticky date pudding is delicious.  Somehow I left without the recipe, but once I get it, I'll share it.

Mopey Blaze

Aside from the dogs and chickens, the Matlas have a family of white doves whose hotel is outside the cottage.  Sam built a dividing wall inside to separate the apartments and end some family feuds, as well as a set of steps for Sonja to reach the back door.

Dove house

Kapiti Island

On our way south, we drove Jolene out on the beach (cars were allowed!) to see Kapiti Island. It was a chilly, windy day, with choppy water and only a few scattered birds enjoying the beach. Sam started doing donuts but I made him stop. Boys.

22 November 2011

Occupy Etsy

I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming holidays.  Sam and I don't know where we'll be yet, only that we'll be somewhere in the South Island of New Zealand, celebrating our first Christmas in the height of summer.  It will be a frugal year for us, and our first Christmas away from our families. 

Obviously Christmas is not just about presents, but if you're in the giving mood, I recommend buying from local or independent artists and craftspeople.  Not only does the recipient get a nice gift, but it's a perfect way to give back to small businesses and neighbors at the same time.

I haven't been on Etsy much in the past few months, mainly because I don't want to be tempted, but I went there today and saw a few things that caught my attention.  First, these vintage ornaments from Hindsvik in Canada.  They remind me of a few ornaments we have from my dad's childhood: fragile, glass and brightly colored like candy.  I love those ornaments and I would love to have some more like them one day.

10 November 2011

Taupo & Palmerston North

Cloud factory
Cloud factory, aka a Geothermal Energy Plant

The internet has been playing hard to get for the past week and a half, in case you noticed the lapse in blog posts. We spent a week in Taupo with a family that runs a kennel & cattery on their property. I could definitely operate a cattery, but the incessant barking makes the kennels less appealing. Sam and I had fun, though. I went on a baking spree and picked up a new cookie recipe that we quite like: