Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

I love Thanksgiving.Every Thanksgiving is special to me, but the years that jump to the top of my list as truly special are:

2009: New York City with my sister Erica for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, drinking wine on the train up to Chappaqua and hiding wine in my purse at Erica's in-laws house, drinking on the porch (since they don't serve wine with their Turkey Day dinner). It should be noted that I was the only one having wine, since Erica was currently pregnant with Claudia, but she hadn't told anyone yet and surprised us all at Christmas that year.

2008: Mom and Lisa visiting Arizona (and taking exceptional care of me) for my ankle surgery. Lisa spending her first Thanksgiving away from home, and me trying to make meringue for chocolate pie while on vicodin (took two attempts). Lisa helped serve dinner and even did all the dishes. certainly a first for her. ;)

2005: Fountain Hills Thanksgiving Parade with Alicia, listening to the most monotone announcer repeat "happy. thanks. giving." over and over, then traveling to Mesa for Thanksgiving with Eric Johnson and his family.

2000: Thanksgiving at Home in Michigan, Granny Gulick's last Thanksgiving. Aunt Nancy, Ed and I drove from MA (I was at RPI then) to MI. The day after Thanksgiving we convinced Aunt Nancy to go shopping with us at 4am. She was in *delicate* shape from the Thanksgiving wine. As such, we sang to her, "12 days of Christmas" while waiting in line for a store to open. "and a partridge in a pear tree" turned into... "and one hung-oooover Aunt". :)

1999 and 2001-2002: Thanksgivings in Maine. Simply magical. I will always remember Aunt Nancy and Ed's friend Karen calculating the time it takes to cook the Turkey on her mini calculator/wrist watch!

Of course I love every Thanksgiving I am lucky enough to enjoy. I love remembering special ones from Time to Time as well.
I certainly hope you, and the ones you hold dear, had a lovely day full of calories and thanks.

Thanksgiving 2010 - San Jose

Monday, November 21, 2011

Camping, Boxes and Roses

It seems I am on a 2-week posting schedule! We're been busy unpacking and enjoying the sunshine. I will post a few updates from the last few weekends.
November 5 weekend we went camping with some of my co-workers in the Arthur's Pass area, specifically Hawdon Valley. It had snowed the night before we went camping, well, snowed in Arthur's Pass, not Christchurch. The snow was amazingly beautiful.

The full gallery of photos can be seen here. Some of the photos were taken by my Nikon partner in crime, Forrest.

Our shipment arrived via the Pacific Ocean and Crown Relocation on November 10. The relocation team used the gondola to bring our boxes up to our house. I think they were secretly overjoyed not to have to carry the boxes up the steep incline.

I even found my Ove(n) Gloves (thanks dad). If don't own any, you should really consider purchasing. My dad says everyone needs two Ove Gloves.

November 12 weekend we celebrated our second public holiday in New Zealand, Canterbury Anniversary Day. We decided to take a break from unwrapping our items and drive north up the coast to Kaikoura.
The first day was a little rainy, but we decided to make camp anyway, right next to the beach.

but the next day, the sun came out,

This past weekend we went paintballing, with some of my co-workers. As you can tell from this photo...... i was scared. i will never go paintballing again, but at least i can say i tried it once. i did not end up with many bruises, probably because i was busy swearing and screaming at my opponents... er.. co-workers. This morning at work, coffee time wasn't too awkward. well. not as awkward as you might think.

Sunday we took a nice walk in Hagley Park, which contains the Botanical Garden. The rose garden was in full bloom.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If you can't beat them...

....join them. I made my first meat pie tonight. (pause for shock and awe.) why? New Zealand is OBSESSED with pies. pies are EVERYWHERE. and everyone has the "world's best" version of them. after mistakenly eating another crummy pie while we were touring the NZ countryside, i decided to try to make my own. for you back at home, think, pot-pie. same thing.
here is a recently purchased pie, it looks cute, no?
it was rubbish!

Aunt Nancy has this really funny saying about British food, and since British food most resembles New Zealand food, i shall recite her saying.... "British food has the 3 F's. Fried, Flimsy and/or Flavorless." ah so true, so true.

so my first mince pie, it was surprisingly delicious. Here is the recipe, Best Mince Pie

Modifications: 1 carrot and 1 celery, 2 bay leaves in the simmering mixture (because my older sister taught me that bay leaves make every stew type dish better) and added a bottom crust. it was cheater crust. i am using the excuse that my rolling pin has not yet arrived. and when the rolling pin arrives, i shall find a new excuse for buying store bought pie crust. am i allowed to complain about food if i purchase pie crust from the store? who knows but i do know that the results are in on the mince pie.

Result: Very lovely tomato flavor. Great depth of flavor. Recipe worth repeating.
Also, I'm never buying canned tomato paste again. it's tube all the way.

Wine bus to Waipara

A few things have happened over the last week at work. I am on the social committee, we have a paintball event lined up that i am trying to get excited about. (mostly i am just picturing me leaving the paintball field painted in various polka-dot paints and bruises on my body to match.)
I also started up with the work "beach" volleyball league. I decided it was time to overcome my residual fears from the high school "sara vs. volleyball net wire" episode that resulted in about 20 stitches. "beach" volleyball because the courts are in sand, but no where near the beach. I am told that after Christmas the courts move to Sumner Beach, which is located directly outside our living room window. The games last night were fun and i managed to come away with only minor injuries, no stitches, success!

This past weekend Forrest invited me to attend his company's "Wine Down" social event. The wine bus departed for the Waipara Valley around 11am. We made stops at Torlesse Winery, Waipara Springs Winery, The Mud House and ended at Brew Moon Bar and Cafe for a beer sample. The weather was absolutely beautiful. We rounded off the day with an impromptu BBQ at Forrest's coworkers place.

Sunday we hiked 10k (round trip) from our house over to Taylors Mistake, a nearby beach. I finally touched the southern Pacific Ocean. It was a fairly mild temperature. Remind me of that when i start up surfing lessons and am shocked through my wet suit.

Labo(u)r Day Part Deux

Greetings Family, Friends and Internet Stalkers,
Sorry I have neglected you with internet updates. We have been fully engrossed in the Christchurch (Chch) way of work and life and are really enjoying what seems to be the start of Summer!
(i did hear you east coasters grumble at me just now, sorry for your loss of power during your recent snow storm.)
On October 24 we celebrated Labour Day with Australia and New Zealand. Forrest and I decided to trek 5 hours west to check out Westlands National Park, and more specifically the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. **recently learned that glacier is more commonly pronounced "glass-e-air" actually had no clue what this person was talking about, "you want ... a glass ? i am going... where?"**
We arrived at Franz Josef around 5pm on Saturday, October 22. Along the way we stopped to gaze at the Tasman Sea in Hokitika. Forrest booked us a wonderful accommodation at The Rain Forest Retreat. We grabbed some dinner at a nearby restaurant. Burgers, complete with beet root, pineapple and something else strange I'm not remembering. Sunday October 23 we woke up early to catch a ride on the full day Franz Josef Glacier expedition.
The experience was great, but i was a but scared of falling down a crevasse, clearly i needn't be. i had on crampons! "what did she just say?" crampons are lovely little devices that, once affixed appropriately to your foot gear, give you spider-man like powers. Forrest even has his very own pair, and noted several times that he should have used them last winter in Boston.
Here are some of my favorite photos of the day. The photos are all from Forrest, because i was desperately clinging to the rope and wasn't into capturing more artistic shots, just not falling to my demise (which would have been completely impossible really, i think the guides get docked pay if they lose a guest). and Yes, Forrest was wearing shorts. Come to think of it, I've actually never seen him hike in pants.

The full view of the Franz Josef glacier is behind us in this photo.

I did not want to go through this ice tunnel, in fact, i was quite scared.

After the Glacier hike we had a lovely meal at Alice May Bar and Restaurant and relaxed in the Glacier Hot Pools (not geothermal). It was quite deserved.
This is the Fox Glacier, we just hiked to a view point to see it. This view is actually similar to the view of the entire Franz Josef glacier.