If I Ever Have To See Another Packet Of Two Minute Noodles Again… ♥

iboughtahouse1 … OR Homebrand (the cheapest of the cheap!) bread, or eggs, then I’ll… practically smooch them. Because if they hadn’t been my dietary staples for the last 3,374762728474787621526 days (rough guess!), where would I be?! How would this have occurred?! IT COULDN’T HAVE!

You see, I’ve kind of bought a house. And by “kind of” I mean “ARGH!” “I have” and by “house” I mean this ol’ thing. It’s been intimidating, stressful (“oh cry for me Argentina…” someone might grumble, but no, REALLY. Negotiating with banks, real estate agents and perusing contract page after contract page on your own – without any guarantee that the property you’re vetting for will become yours – has proven to be a complicated test of sanity!) and overwhelming, but it’s DONE.
iboughtahouse5 iboughtahouse6 iboughtahouse5It means we’ll be relocating from Auckland (but not too drastically, our new home is in the Bay Of Plenty, only a 3 hour drive away), but most importantly, it means that Charlie will have security, stability AND her great grandmother within walking distance. What could be better?! (“A place in Sydney,” one of my friends replied. “Why aren’t you coming back?!”)
iboughtahouse iboughtahouse4

If things are somewhat sleepy around here, it’s only because I’m unpacking boxes and plotting our next steps, but I’ll be back up and running and asking for all your gossip soon! (We have a heap to catch up on, don’t we?!)

xoxo

Current Style Obsession: Interior Design ♥

interiordesignWith a change of address only a squiggle of a signature away (more details on this when I’m no longer petrified that telling you anything will “jinx” everything, but I’m 99.9% likely to be MOVING!), all I can think about is interior design.

Luxurious living spaces! Resplendent ROOMS! The abode I’ve been eyeing up is a quaint-but-cute, bright (it’s filled with skylights!) two bedroom townhouse, and I’ve been eagerly daydreaming about how I’d adorn it (it’s free to fantasise, right?!). There’d be a pinch of rock and roll, a sprinkling of travel-oriented accessories and – oh, I know. Why don’t I just be quiet and show you?!
interiordesign2

Sparkles, soft candles and a nod to Paris in the form of an Eiffel Tower ornament? Très bien! 

mapoftheworlddecalProfessing a love of the world (except, uh… New Zealand? It seems to have been conveniently snipped out of this one!) with a wall decal seems like a winner of a decorating choice to me. Wouldn’t it be perfect positioned behind a couch? (I fully intend on making this happen!)

travelinteriordesign musicinteriordesignAlthough, these pieces are equally fetching…

sparklekitchenIf a bedazzling kitchen backdrop couldn’t get you motivated to cook, NOTHING could.

musicinteriordesign3 musicinteriordesign2

I adore every inch of these melodic bedspreads (I’m more than marginally obsessed with music…!).

skullinteriordesign interiordesign

Shades of silver, turquoise and ebony are my f-a-v-o-u-r-i-t-e.

shoesguitarinteriordesign

And how savvy is this approach to freeing up your wardrobe by implementing shoe shelves? Hugely! 

How would you furnish the dwelling of your desires? With an indoor swimming pool? Purple everywhere?! (I won’t laugh, I swear!)

xoxo

Our Struggles Determine Our Successes ♥

ourstrugglesdetermineoursuccesses

“Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship – but not everyone is willing to go through the tough conversations, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings and the emotional psychodrama to get there.

People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.

Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs.

- Mark Manson

(Paraphrased from The Most Important Question Of Your Life, Mark Manson’s startlingly sensible piece on success.)

THWACK! Pardon the racket, that’s just the roar of this fellow delivering a perfectly executed blow to the head of a nail!

We CRAVE fulfilling our real estate aspirationsadding international stamps to our passport every twelve months, expanding our careers (insert your fantasy here!)… but how? What’s being sacrificed in the meantime to accelerate from one stage to another? (A daily croissant and a coffee habit? Friday nights dinner and dancing to power through a thesis? Enforcing an evening Facebook ban to finish authoring that novel?!)

I probably would’ve been committed if I’d confided to Twitter on Monday morning that my breakfast consisted of oats mixed with water and cocoa powder (!), but as I scarfed down each unappetising morsel – the remnants of the pantry! – into my mouth, I knew EXACTLY what I was doing. Leaving the dollars in my purse untouched, to scramble closer towards my ambitions. (Because while I won’t remember the occasional frightful feed, I will hold onto memories of screaming with joy at Tokyo Disneyland with Charlie, or signing the contract on a new home!)

A puny percentage of the population will KNOWINGLY endure strife for eventual satisfaction. Be the minority! What are you forfeiting now to later gain?

xoxo

Thank Frock It’s The Weekend! ♥

If you’re clicking here for the first time, WELCOME! Every Friday we celebrate the fact that – ding, ding! – it’s the weekend, and our favourite things (falafel sandwiches so flavourful they brought sparkles of happiness to your eyes? Teaspoons?! Okay, it’s probably not the latter…) from the week that was. Here’s what I’m currently loving!

Untitled
Driving Across Kariotahi Beach In A 4WD - Tick! Thanks to Natasha and her tough-as-can-be wheels, I can now delightedly scrawl that off the bucket list! (It’s just something that has to be done, at least once!)


x Lorde’s Yellow Flicker Beat - I’ve never watched The Hunger Games (I know, EEK! Don’t worry, I’m bowing my head in shame as we speak!), but I adore everything about this track that Lorde penned for the series.
Untitled Awhitu Beach
x Picnicking On The Awhitu Peninsula - With vegetable quiche, homegrown plums (thanks, Natasha!) and almost the entire expanse to ourselves. L-u-c-k-y!
Untitled

x FINALLY Having Braces - Oh, it’s only something that I’ve been jabbering to you about wanting for SIX YEARS (no big deal!)

Manukau Heads Lighthousex Setting Foot Inside My First Lighthouse – Nowhere near as spooky as I’d envisaged (did anyone else grow up reading stories about ghosts inhabiting their insides?!), but captivating nonetheless!
Untitled new zealand
x Journeying Across The New Zealand Countryside - I mean, this landscape could almost reduce you to tears. It’s gorgeous! 
Untitled

x Opening The Door To A Courier, Blurting Out “Hi! Um, I Haven’t Ordered Anything?” And Unpacking Not One, But FOUR Surprise Gifts From My Friends Kevin And Jenni In Australia – Two boxes of chocolates, a beauty/spa kit set and a rattle for baby Charlie. Even though I haven’t seen either of them in over a year. Even though they didn’t have to. Even though traipsing to the post office is one of THE most tedious tasks. (I’m thinking that I should surprise them at their workplace in Sydney in the months to come and then whisk them away for lunch. Wouldn’t that be sublime?!)
Untitled

x And ice cream sundaes on a scorching summer’s day. A must-have! 

xoxo

Wanderlust ♥

tokyo
Genie from Bunny Eats Design is inviting bloggers to share their tales of wanderlust through her initiative, The Wanderlust Tag, and it’s a bandwagon so superb that I had to jump aboard! (And when Laura nominates you to participate, well, how could you not play?!) Let the ride begin!

Where was your first plane to?

Ooh, I’m not sure! (Off to a flying – ba-doom-chi! -start, aren’t I?!) It would’ve been a domestic flight, though.

Where have you travelled to that you would love to visit again?

London, it’s – although I’m saving my clams to see if New York can give it any competition! – my favourite city! I feel 110% at home in its surroundings, so when I was 24, I applied for my British passport and booked a one-way ticket there from Sydney… and then met Charlie’s father, shortened my trip and eventually moved to Blenheim, New Zealand, instead. (And if it wasn’t for the fact that our union resulted in my baby, I’d now be bellowing “YOU MUPPET!” at myself in the mirror – we’re no longer a couple – and wishing for a time machine to reverse that choice!) I’d also love to revisit Kathmandu and Paris. Who could tire of Paris?!
nyc2

You’re leaving tomorrow, money is no object, where are you going?

I like this game. Because we’re dreaming, I’m opting for three locations (greedy guts!); Japan, North America and then South America. Whoop-whoop!

Preferred method of travel; planes, trains or car?

Planes. They fascinate me and airports excite me. (I know… w-e-i-r-d-o!)

Favourite travel website?

It’s been a while since I’ve had a need to peruse one (sob!), so I don’t actually have a favourite, but Grab A Seat in New Zealand occasionally sells ridiculously cheap airfares within the country, which can be worth a glance! (Though you do literally have to grab them. I tried booking one of their deals recently, but by the time I’d entered my payment details in, they’d sold out!)
indianfood

Where would you travel to just eat the food?

Tricky to answer, because in this day and age, where can’t you find a particular cuisine? The world’s becoming so multicultural! Seeing Mexican dishes on menus in Nepal is standard (which surprised me), Germany – in my opinion – served pizza to rival its Italian counterparts and locally, there’s so many hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurants cooking up delicious meals that I don’t know would only be authentic if I was shovelling them down in their origin.

Is there a place you would never go again?

Never? No. But I wouldn’t hurry back to Italy. The Colosseum and ancient ruins in Rome are AMAZING. The beauty of the Tuscan countryside caused my mouth to hang open. But I couldn’t warm to Florence (and I’ve wandered its streets twice), and amongst the canals, gondolas and gelato of Venice (all of which are stunning) is the rampant commercialism, which I found staggering… and sad. It’s Venice! One of the oldest cities on the planet! Who wants to gawk at overpriced handbags in a space inhabiting decades of history?! Unfortunately, the cobblestones are swamped in high-end stores, and even the famous “Bridge of Sighs” is draped in advertising.

Can you recite your passport number from memory if asked?

LH0… hmmm. Afraid not!
plane

Do you prefer the Window, Aisle, or Middle seat?

Domestically, the window seat, and internationally, the same, but only if the travelling gods are grinning down upon me and I somehow manage to snare a set of seats to myself! If not, aisle all the way, because interrupting and bothering somebody – especially if they’re asleep! – to whisper “excuse me, can I please get through?” to venture to the bathroom is one of my worst nightmares. And then there’s the people who nod politely but expect you to shift past them without moving. The awkwardness! I prefer to be able to move freely and have no problem leaping up to offer someone else the same comfort.

How do you pass the time on the air plane?

Very easily! I don’t require much to be content and with food and music (and maybe wine!) by my side, what more could I wish for? (Well, maybe an upgrade to Business Class…!)

If you’d like to join the party, do! The questions are:

Where was your first plane to?
Where have you traveled to that you would love to visit again?
You’re leaving tomorrow, money is no object, where are you going?
Preferred method of travel; planes, trains or car?
Favourite travel website?
Where would you travel to just eat the food?
Is there a place you would never go again?
Can you recite your passport number from memory if asked?
Do you prefer the Window, Aisle, or Middle seat?
How do you pass the time on the air plane?

xoxo

Thank Frock It’s The Weekend! ♥

If you’re clicking here for the first time, WELCOME! Every Friday (well, today it’s Sunday. Oops!) we celebrate the fact that – ding, ding! – it’s the weekend, and our favourite things (sky-high stilettos? Dishwashing powder?! Okay, it’s probably not the latter…) from the week that was. Here’s what I’m currently loving!thankfrockitsx 2015 - It’s kooky! The only outward discernible difference between 2014 and 2015 is a number. 2014. 2015. And yet, when January 1 rolled around, I genuinely felt as though the clunky weight of the past 12 months had been lifted, and a renewed sense of grit. I don’t know WHERE you were in 2014, faith (what, were you off sunning yourself in The Bahamas all year or something?!), but it was super to encounter a stumbling block in the first few days of January and shrug with a smile, knowing – believing! – that there’d be another solution. Is 2015 bursting with promise and an undercurrent of progress for you too? I hope so!

x The Wynyard Quarter, Auckland - Um, so I won’t be scoring myself a role with Auckland Tourism anytime soon, because it took a good friend (who originates from the UK, but was leading me – the Auckland resident – around!) visiting from out of town to introduce me to The Wynyard Quarter. How hadn’t I heard of it already?! (And how much of a doofus do you think I felt like for not knowing about it?!) A family-friendly seaside neighbourhood scattered with bustling restaurants, cafes, art installations, a playground and even a tram, it’s definitely a contender for one of the best locations in the city. (And check out the picturesque surroundings; you’re flanked by The Sky Tower the entire time!)
Wynyard Quarter

x Applying For University - Well, the enrolment process isn’t exactly the most spectacular saunter through Glee Ville (oh, the forms. THE FORMS!), but imagining becoming a student again and testing my brain in new ways is. I’d fantasised about pursuing a law degree, until extensive research and chats with recent graduates helped me to realise that it probably wasn’t up my alley (I’ve learned that successfully practicing legislation requires a personality that I’m not convinced I have!), but social work? There’s a form of social justice that I believe I’d complement!

x Other Little Things - Wolfing down haloumi bruschetta at The Shaky Isles; Incubus’s rendition of Massive Attack’s Teardrop; putting a call-out for referees for my university submission and immediately receiving a message from a previous employer asking “right, what do you need, and when do you need it by?” (despite the short notice, the fact that he runs two thriving businesses and has a family of five. What a champion, right?!); starting Charlie on solids (she’s six months old next week. How did THAT happen? Sniff!); buddies who you can spill your thoughts to and who are only ever a Facebook Messenger “ping!” away; reserving my ticket for January’s #brunchclub event (hooray for meeting more New Zealand bloggers! Are you attending?); and goals. DREAMS. It’d been a while!

xoxo

Have You Ever Wondered What It’s Like To… Meet With A Home Loan Specialist? ♥

meetwithahomeloanspecialist
Many moons ago (six, in fact), my then-boyfriend Tom and I toddled into a Sydney bank to meet with a home loan specialist. It was mostly an experiment, and one that we were confident would be met with theatrical cackling and being shown the door. I was a 22 year-old full-time Media and Communications student (but also worked full-time at night. My, what a charming, sleep-deprived era THAT was!), and Tom arrived with his long hair, trademark tattoos and metal band t-shirt. Who would grant us a mortgage?!

Them, apparently. Within an hour of us presenting our (modest) payslips, we’d been approved to borrow $400,000, and shortly afterwards we purchased a pocket-sized apartment on The Northern Beaches. All from an enquiry! A planning session! People eyed us with “ooh, you smug so-and-sos” expressions when we (quietly) announced that we’d bought our address, but truthfully, we were dumbfounded. Goals require steps before they’re achievements, and by taking the first leap (setting up an appointment with a financial advisor), we were hoping to shuffle closer towards our target. Hitting it was an unexpected bonus that we frequently downplayed (because we weren’t smug so-and-sos!).
homeloanspecialistbathroom

(Not the bathroom I had in Collaroy, but cripes, isn’t it lovely?!)

Fast forward to today and waltzing into Westpac was nerve-wracking because my monetary, geographical and marital position is as starkly contrasting as aioli is to tomato sauce to what it was then. For starters, I’m now currently on (unpaid) maternity leave (and in New Zealand). Secondly, I’m not only single, but I have a dependent child. Sitting with one of their “Personal Managers”, I felt like a lender’s worst nightmare and that scene where Carrie Bradshaw’s informed in Sex And The City that she’s an “undesirable candidate” flashed through my mind as Emelda* (*not her real name) furrowed her brow as I spoke. BUT, I conceded to her, I was residing in Auckland. And paying $330 a week – for a studio! – for the “privilege” of doing so. Wouldn’t moving to a nearby (affordable) town and buying the real estate equivalent of a shoe box there – I’d estimated the repayments would still be $200 cheaper fortnightly than what I’m forking out now – be feasible? Emelda was dubious (and hugely hesitant to proceed with an application), but I persisted, and here’s what our conversation enlightened me to:

Be Aware Of Your Pecuniary Picture

Educate yourself on your every penny: what do you have in savings? What do you have in debts? How much superannuation do you have? I didn’t think that the few thousand I had tucked away in my New Zealand KiwiSaver account – which I’m not eligible to use – was of any importance, or that my Australian Super was relevant, but Emelda disagreed. “EVERYTHING helps paint your financial picture,” she notified me, punching the figures into her calculator. “It all contributes to your suitability.” 

Consider Alternative Avenues

In 2013, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand changed its lending rules, dictating that borrowers required a minimum 20% deposit for homes. 20%. When the median Auckland house price is $738,876. Ain’t nobody got time (money) for that! The sole reason I’d consulted Westpac for financing was because I knew they were one of the few organisations permitted to authorise low-deposit loans through the government’s Welcome Home Loan initiative. What’s available to you? What alternative avenues can you consider?

Don’t Be Defeated

This is NOT a takeaway from Emelda (ha!), but me. Refuse to give up. If you’re declined, find out why. Demand to know which section of their criteria you didn’t meet – so that you can rectify it. What would it take to bridge the gap from “sorry, but…” to “congratulations!”? An extra $150 in income a month, or $500? Chopping up your credit card? “Fail”, acknowledge temporary defeat and then strut back to the drawing board with a new plan of attack.

xoxo

Old-School Frock And Roll:

x Have You Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Complete A… Résumé Bomb?! ♥
x Have You Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Try… Belly Dancing?! ♥
x Have You Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Attend A… Sex Toy Party?! ♥

10 Easy Low-Carb Meal Ideas (That WON’T Make You Want To Stab Your Eyes Out) ♥

10easylow-carbmealideasI can almost hear the (multiple) packets of pasta sniggering from the cupboards (are there helplines for that?!) “you? Preaching about low-carb meal ideas?! In your gnocchi-loving DREAMS! Why, we’ll be back in your bowl before you can chant “penne”…, because you could say that I’m partial to a carbohydrate. Alright, let’s not skirt around the subject: if it was legal to marry bread, we would be honeymooning together in The Maldives right now.

I’m devoted to grains! I have a MAJOR weakness for wheat! The term “clean eating” – seriously, unless we’re discussing those unwashed potatoes (mmm, potatoes), how can food be considered “dirty”?!  – is something that makes me want to stab my eyes out! But I also probably don’t need to be viewing two-minute noodles as a viable breakfast, and rice as my culinary ride-or-die.

Whether you’re gluten-free, curious about alternatives to accompany your favourite dishes or simply clicked through here to be polite (bless you!), here’s 10 easy low-carb meal ideas (that WON’T make you want to stab your eyes out!):
lowcarblasagne

Layered Vegetable Lasagne

If there was a world without lasagne, I don’t think I’d want to exist. But these layers of vegetable (who needs your traditional lasagne sheets when you can sandwich strips of zucchini, carrot and onion between lashings of cheese?) lushness? These I can support!
stuffedsweetpotatoes

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes/Kumaras

Half Baked Harvest have filled theirs with chipotle chicken, but you could pack yours with lentils, spinach, bacon… anything, really!
lettuceleaftacos

Lettuce Leaf Tacos

Just substitute the traditional taco shells for lettuce leaves and not only will you have a low-carb dinner, but a cheaper one, too! Gosh you’re clever.
Untitled

Pan-Fried Tofu And Warm Pumpkin Salad

The Simpsons might’ve asserted “you don’t win friends with sal-ad!”, but clearly they hadn’t cottoned onto this beauty. (It’s my go-to!) Slice up some tofu, pan-fry it in olive oil and serve it alongside a plentiful helping of avocado for the ultimate plate of tastiness.
pestovegies

Pesto-Coated Produce

Just add a drizzle of this saucy goodness and hey, pesto! Every side suddenly becomes sexier.

bunlessburger

Bunless Burgers

You’ll soon forget about the humble sesame seed bun once you’ve played with plump portobello mushrooms as toppers…
sanchoybow

San Choy Bow

It’s a parcel of Asian perfection.
salmonandsteamedvegetables

Salmon And Steamed Vegetables

(We’ll turn a blind eye to the mound of mash.)
curriedcabbagewithcashews

Curried Cabbage With Cashew Nuts

It’s next on my ‘to cook’ list.
omelette

The Ingredient-Laden Omelette

I’m not egg-xactly (should I show myself out the door now?!) the egg’s biggest fan, but when it’s dressed up in omelette form, I can make an egg-xception (okay, okay… I’ll stop!).

xoxo

14 Things I Did In 2014 ♥

IMG_8641

“I don’t like looking back. I’m always constantly looking forward. I’m not the one to sort of sit and cry over spilt milk. I’m too busy looking for the next cow.”

- Gordon Ramsay

And after the hurdle and a half that was 2014 (for me, it was largely ghastly), I’m all too enthusiastic to forgo the past and forge towards the future! But, in celebration of seeing through the most trying of years, I’m having one final shimmy down memory lane…

1. I spent New Year’s Eve 2013 bar-hopping – on lemonade! – in Blenheim with my friends Laura and Kris, miserable from a recent break-up, pregnant, EXHAUSTED and anxious. Would I encounter the fellow responsible for the bump underneath my dress? (No… although my flatmate did at the venue next-door, and promptly gave him a piece of her mind!) Would I ever get served?! (I have to admit, I can totally understand those who choose to have a low-key December 31. Who wants to venture into “town” and line up on the busiest night of the year for an overpriced tipple with everyone else?!)  As I stood there, grateful for my wonderful company, but weary from being knocked around by the crowds and my emotions, I vowed that I had one resolution: to be somewhere different in 12 months time. (Mission accomplished!)
IMG_49262. I wandered. By May I’d visited New Zealand’s Nelson, Havelock, Lake Rotoiti, Whakatane and Auckland. I may have been woefully depressed (I was), but that wasn’t going to keep me from exploring as much of the country as I could!

3. I learned to cut ties. I briefly “saw” an acquaintance in February, and even though I could practically smell the proverbial car crash long before the tyres screeched, I couldn’t bring myself to end it because I was terrified of feeling more hurt. But, here’s the thing: you can choose to let something continue ripping you up, or you can allow something to rip you up temporarily and then move right on. (I implore you to pick the second option!)
IMG_4764 IMG_5333

4. I watched my body grow, as I carried a sprog to full term.

5. I stopped putting off applying for my learner driver’s license, which now proudly sits in my wallet. (And in 2015, I’m committing to accomplishing my full license!)
IMG_5015

6. I had two baby showers (the above photograph was taken with colleagues when I was seven months along), and…
ITS A GIRL CAKE IMG_5040

7. … even had a handmade cake surprise delivered to me at work! (Thank-you again, Cherie, for creating one of the most special treats – and moments – of my life!)
IMG_4757

8. I moved to Auckland, at the suggestion of my Auntie Muringa, and a tremendous sense of relief washed over me. Goodbye, Blenheim. 
IMG_5227

9. I farewelled my beautiful grandfather, the happiest man I’ve ever known. Once upon a time, a Dutch woman met a Rotuman (it’s an island off Fiji) teacher in London. They fell madly in love, and raised three daughters there (the eldest was my mother; this is why, thankfully, I was able to acquire a British passport!) before moving to New Zealand. My heart broke – along with many others – when he passed away, but I have the greatest memories of him.
CORRINE LYNSKEY IMG_6025

10. I gave birth to my Charlie, my heart, my motivator and the best thing that’s ever happened to me. (Those are tears of rapture and “is she… mine? Did I… do it?” flowing from my eyes!)

11. I attended the August Auckland Bloggers Brunch Club, and met some brilliant people. I’m not a shy person but my teeth were chattering as I tip-toed into Okra, because it was my first social outing in not only Auckland, but MONTHS!
IMG_6393

12. I shifted into an apartment in Auckland’s city centre after countless rejection messages from real estate agents (I was baffled; Charlie was six weeks old when I was searching. She was hardly going to be drawing on walls or throwing wild parties!); I’d always said that I could never live alone (but then I’d always said that I couldn’t be a mother!), but here I am, Miss (completely) Independent!

13. I re-tried foods that I’d previously despised. We change SO MUCH over the course of our journeys, so I figured that surely our tastebuds would, too! Olives? We’ll never be chums. Tomatoes and asparagus? Y-u-m! 
WHAKATANE NEW ZEALAND WHAKATANE NEW ZEALAND Untitled

14. I enjoyed the last days of it re-visiting Whakatane, smiling, relaxing, EATING (oh, how I ate!) and seriously envisaging later settling there.

I wish you nothing but all the bliss, luck and pizza (can you think of three better things?!) on the planet as you write the next stories of your script. May 2015 be everyone’s most exciting phase yet!

xoxo

Thank Frock It’s Monday! ♥

If you’re clicking here for the first time, WELCOME! Every Friday (well, today it’s Monday. Oops!) we celebrate the fact that – ding, ding! – it’s the weekend, and our favourite things (warbling along to Christmas carols? Endless queues?! Okay, it’s probably not the latter…) from the week that was. Here’s what I’m currently loving!
Charlie meets Santa ♥

x Introducing Charlie To Christmas - And here I’d been thinking that we had all the enjoyment as youngsters… until I suddenly had a squid that I could deck out in Christmas clothes (thank-you again, Lena!), whisk off to meet Santa and plan festivities for! (Possible spoiler alert: December 25 becomes eminently more special when you have children to excite!)
Untitled

Santa’s smallest helper?

Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand - I’ve babbled about it before, but when it comes to outings, I typically have one rule: new, new, NEW! I always want to explore somewhere that I haven’t set foot before (a little Turkish borough on the opposite side of town? The CIRCUS?!), guzzle something completely foreign to my lips (mango lassi, anyone?), and I’ll rarely gobble at the same restaurant twice, so when Natasha generously offered to acquaint me with her (unknown to me) neck of the woods, I couldn’t refuse!

Untitled

So green, so serene: the view from Pukekohe Hill, Auckland, New Zealand. 

Located on the southern fringe of Auckland, Pukekohe is a community that’s vibrant and tranquil all at once, making it an ideal escape from the city centre’s frenetic bustle. Natasha was an amazing tour guide (she had the voice down pat and everything! “And on your left…”), sharing information about the region’s history, taking Charlie and I sightseeing and selecting what’s touted as “the coolest cafe in Pukekohe” (and I’m not about to disagree!) – The Town Mouse - for a bite to eat.  
Untitled The Town Mouse Cafe Pukekohe

With its attentive staff, fabulous furnishings and a menu that’s worth returning to Pukekohe for alone – pictured above is the “smashed avocado on sourdough” and a salted caramel hot chocolate with almond milk – The Town Mouse is a WINNER!

Pizza at De Niro, Elliott Street Stables, Auckland. elliottstables

A trip to Elliott Stables is almost akin to being transported to a European metropolis…

x Elliott Stables Epicurean Village - Did you know that “epicurean” means “loving food and finer things”? It does! Tucked away in a cobblestoned street reminiscent of any in Italy, Elliott Stables is an unusual – and rather genius – concept. Essentially, it’s an elaborate, gourmet food court; tables are scattered across a complex with various surrounding eateries, including Italian, Southwest Indian, Spanish, Japanese, American and German cuisine, and you’re welcome to purchase from any of them, and seat yourself anywhere. I’d never been before meeting Laura and Lena (two of the best dining companions a girl could hope for) there for lunch last Thursday, but I already want to return!
lenaandcharlieinelliottstables

Lena and Charlie (“mother? What mother?! Lena’s my favourite person now!”) at Elliott Stables. 

The loveliest Christmas card from ness
x Receiving The Sweetest Card From Vanessa – She also poses a pivotal question: what AM I going to get up to next year?!

x Other Little Things - Trying to be stern with Charlie and dissolving into fits of giggles; Starbucks’ Gingerbread Frappuccinos (ordering one on a whim was an excellent life decision!); re-watching Sex And The City and shaking my head AGAIN at the painfulness of Jack Berger (ugh!); grabbing my phone as the screen lights up and seeing “I am so, so glad to have made friends with you” flash across it (awww!); meeting Pam (it’s phenomenal; EVERY friendship I’ve made in Auckland has originated from Twitter or blogging! And people still doubt the brilliance of social media. PFT!), who is not only lovely, hilarious and was polite enough to pretend that the mess in my apartment didn’t exist (embarrassing), but bakes THE most scrumptious lemon cake; cracking up in Natasha’s living room; zig-zagging along Karangahape Road; sourcing the perfect present for my niece, who is somehow turning ONE next Tuesday (!); and these sentiments from Xhoana Xheneti: “I’m almost never serious, and I’m always too serious. Too deep, too shallow. Too sensitive, too cold-hearted. A collection of paradoxes…”

PHEW! If you’ve made it this far, I should be buying you a Gingerbread Frappuccino!

However you’re spending your December 25 (I know that Christmas isn’t for – or celebrated by – everyone), I hope you have a marvellous, restful and memorable day. Happy holidays!

xoxo