Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix

This past Sunday we were tipped off to an awesome event happening in our area. The 2015 Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix. Fifty teams were put up to the challenge of creating the most innovative non-motorized trolley to race for a grand prize of $10,000. The stakes were high and all the teams brought their A game.

DSC05118.JPG

Before the race’s started, I was able to snap a couple of pictures of the trolley’s:

DSC05098.JPG

Hakuna Matata

DSC05100.JPG

Tank You Santa

DSC05104.JPG

Turbo Toolbox

DSC05111.JPG

The Rolling Thrones

DSC05102.JPG

Sharknado

DSC05114.JPG

The Hoonag “Bat-Mobile”

DSC05110

Sinking Sensation and  Team Anchorman

DSC05113.JPG

The Intergalactic Ilabb Wagon

DSC05115.JPG

Project X

DSC05107

Last but not least, the WINNERS: Red Stag Hunters

No event is complete without a live freshly shaved sheep:

DSC05101

Increasing the Veggies!

So every week we try to brainstorm ways to make improvements to the meals we buy. The past two weeks we have been trying to focus on buying and incorporating more vegetables in our diet. Every week we have tried new vegetables that we normally wouldn’t have picked such as: artichoke, zucchini, and beats.  Other tweaks we have made over the past few weeks: transitioning to a lower calorie milk such as almond milk (that one is more of a tweak for me), eating more healthy snacks through the day (almonds, fruit, greek yogurt, ect.), and buying higher quality grass fed lean meats.

Here are a few of our past meals for our photo food diary:

Steak & Veggies

DSC05097

 

I made focaccia bread as an appetizer with an olive oil dipping sauce. Steak is self explanatory: grass fed beef seasoned with rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. For a side we had a roasted veggie medley of  beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, and celery.

Steak and Veggie stir fry

DSC05094

Stir fry is a great way to throw a bunch of the veggies that you have left over for the week into a pan with a little bit of soy sauce. Here we had baby corn, peas, broccoli, and yellow peppers. For the noodles we used vietnamese vermicelli rice noodles. If you haven’t tried them before give it a shot! It’s a great alternative to regular pasta especially for those who are on a gluten free diet.

 

Mexican Burrito Bowl

DSC05139

This was probably one of my favorite meals of the week as well as the healthiest! Where do I start: corn, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, and breaded chicken over a bed of brown rice. For the breading  I mixed a small amount of flour with taco seasoning, coated the chicken, then lightly fried it in coconut oil. Super yummy.

 

We’ve learned that a common greeting everyone uses here is “Cheers.”

In the spirt of the kiwi’s: Cheers everyone!

 

How we spend Saturday mornings: Matakana Farmers Market

GOPR1792

We finally got our car situation figured out! Now we’re able to start exploring the Northland.

Our first pitstop: Matakana

Matakana is an adorable small town that we stumbled upon on our way to Tawharanui. This town had the most perfect little restaurants, surf shops, and the friendliest people! The surrounding areas include multiple vineyards, beaches, and hiking trails.

The major event that draws visitors to Matakana: The Saturday morning farmers market.  It’s open from 8AM-1PM every Saturday.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.47.57 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 11.16.17 AM

How cute is this little “dog parking” area?

IMG_4513

A newfound hobby of ours has been tracking down all of the local farmers markets. We love buying local goods directly from the locals and trying all of the authentic food. This farmers market was one of the best ones we’ve ever attended. There were stands set in little shacks selling: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, cage free eggs, locally made honey, hand crafted chili sauces, smoked salmon, locally grown olive oil, macadamia nuts, all sorts of nut butters, jams, fresh baked breads, cheeses, and the list goes on! One of our favorite parts of farmers markets is all the stands that show off their cooking skills. This is a great place to grab a cheep delicious lunch!

DCIM100GOPRO

This is the best candid picture the Go Pro snapped. We tried a steamed pork bun (soooooo good), and Vietnamese spring rolls. I was super excited for the spring rolls! Except, when I took a huge bite out of it, all I got was a mouthful of cilantro (yuck!). I was so disappointed because then they were ruined for me. I know it sounds bizarre, but to a certain percentage of the population (up to 14% of the population) cilantro has a very bitter overwhelming taste. Some say it takes like soap to them, I think it tastes like crushed up stink bugs, ugh. Moving on, Chad seemed to enjoy them so they must have been delicious!

We ended up buying a container of olive oil and honey roasted macadamia nuts. Not much because we already had a cooler full of food in the car!

Tawharanui Sanctuary

Camping is a huge thing in New Zealand. Which means, we needed to get a tent.

We did some research and picked Tawharanui as our first camping location. This place was unreal!
Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 11.53.07 AM

Tawharanui is a regional national park that is about an hour north of Auckland. The park has some of the most incredible white sandy beaches and blue luminous water.

 We stayed in the camping only portion of the state park. The camping grounds were protected right behind the dunes. There were no showers here, but there were compostable toilets and fresh running water. The first thing we did was pitch our tent and head to the beach!

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 11.44.23 AM

picture is worth a thousand words:

DSC04877

DSC04881

DSC04913

Seriously, this is why people come to New Zealand.

DSC04882

We did some rock climbing and exploring.DSC04900

DSC04894

After we took a nice long walk on the beach, we went back for some meatball subs.

DSC04920

Next, we head back to the beach to drink some wine and do some relaxing.

Tawharanui is an animal sanctuary that integrates conservation, recreation, and farming. The peninsula has a ton of great hiking. We went on the two hour ecology trail, which was 3.8km. Boy was I excited that we went on this hike.

DSC04937DSC04940

First the trail went through what looked like a mini rainforest. All you could hear were five or six different bird chirps that all came together to make a song. Next, the trail required a bit of a hike up hill. Totally worth it. It lead out to a cliff that overlooked the top of the peninsula. To our surprise, there were also a herd of cow right on our trail.

DSC04950

DSC04958

DSC04951

DCIM100GOPRO

The views from up there were unreal. I wish I had more adjectives to describe how beautiful it was.

DCIM100GOPRO

After our hike, we watched the sunset up on another hill, surrounded by sheep. The sunset was followed by dinner and a coma. I was so tiered that I couldn’t keep my eyes open!

The next morning, after brushing our teeth and a change of clothes, we headed back to Matakana for brunch!

DSC04966

Sausage rolls and Eggs Benedict.

Journey to Culinary Competence

Chad & I are trying to figure out a way to keep a virtual cook book of our favorite meals.

We figured we could do this by continuing to post about our journey to culinary competence on our blog. This way we will be able to look back and pick out a recipe we have made before. So here are a few of our most recent dishes:

We’ll start out with Chad’s favorite:

Sweet Chili Salmon

DSC04726

Our version of the recipe: Marinate the salmon in a mixture of 2 parts Sweet Thai Chili sauce (which we bought pre-made) and 1 part teriyaki sauce (also pre-made). We then cooked the salmon with this sauce on a skillet on medium heat. The sauce became slightly thicker when cooked and a little less spicy. We served the salmon over a bed of cous cous and broccoli.

This is the original recipe: Broiled Salmon With Thai Sweet Chili Glaze

Cous Cous Stuffed Mexican Peppers

DSC04833

Our version of the recipe: Cook the cous cous following the directions on the box. In the meantime, cut up tomatoes, green chillies (I used canned), and any other vegetables you like. Once the cous cous was finished cooking, I added in a little bit of organic taco seasoning and mixed it throughly. I poured the cous cous into a bowl then added the cut up tomatoes, green chillies, half a can of beans (I used a 4 bean mix), and a can of corn. I then scooped this mixture into the red peppers and put them into the oven for about 30 minutes on 350°F. A couple minutes before they were done, I sprinkled a little bit of mozzarella cheese on top. When they were ready to eat, we cut them in half and topped them off with a little bit of salsa and sour cream.

This is the original recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

I had a ton of left over cous cous and veggie mixture, so I scooped it into tupperware containers. I topped it off with some mozzarella cheese, cut up tomatoes, and put it aside for lunch the next day. When I ate it for lunch I added a little bit of salsa and sour cream on top. Yummy and pretty healthy!

This recipe was super easy and convenient to make in a time crunch. I made this for us before we rushed off to play soccer.

Cheater Pad Thai

DSC04698

Our version of the recipe: Buy a pack of rice noodles, cook according to the package instructions (super easy). We bought a pre-made version of pad thai sauce. We heated up the sauce on the skillet and then cooked the chicken in it. Next we added the noodles in, mixed it all up, and served it onto the plated. We scrambled and egg on top, and added a few green onions. TADA! Easiest Pad Thai ever.

Original recipe: Cheater Pad Thai

I know we omitted the crushed peanuts and bean sprouts, only because we forgot to pick them up from the store. It was still equally as good.

I’ve made Pad Thai sauce from scratch before and it turned out amazing, but I did not feel like buying all the ingredients this time. We have a limited amount of space in our pantry so I just took the easy way out.

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Oatmeal

DSC04709

Our version of the recipe: I like to heat up milk (close to boiling) and then put in the oatmeal. Once the oatmeal is cooked, I almost always add a little bit of vanilla extract and brown sugar. From here the options are endless! This time we added dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Oh my gosh, it was so yummy.

Other things we put in our oatmeal: almond slivers, peaches, boysenberries, walnuts, apples, banana, dried apricots, pomegranate, and almost everything else.

Cheers from NZ everyone!

An update on our life in the city

The past couple days have been extremely busy for us.

Our task this weekend was to buy a car. We drove around to some dealerships and looked into buying something small and old to explore the country. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the perfect car within our budget. Instead, we found city hop. City hop is a service similar to zip car. It takes all of the headache out of car ownership without worrying about buying a car, buying insurance, or reselling the car after our five months. Now that we have a mean of transportation, we will be back to exploring shortly. Next weekend will be our first time going camping, yikes.

Besides car shopping, we’ve just been spending a lot of time FaceTimeing with our family and friends. I’ve had virtual wine dates with my best friend Natalie back home, and virtual dates with Chad’s little goddaughter Charleigh.

IMG_1257

We’ve also been doing some exploring in the city. Chad took me on a lovely date to a Spanish restaurant on the water. We had all you can eat Tapa’s for the first time and sangria. I never though that little plates could manage to fulfill Chads appetite, but apparently enough of them can.

DCIM100GOPRO

Aside from car shopping and date nights in the city, we have been spending quality time together. We’ve been going on runs, exploring local bars, and planning our upcoming trips. There is so many incredible places to see here that we’re having a hard time planning a trip that will let us see them all!

  Besides that, we have been enjoying being a normal couple and having a normal life.

Here’s a non-climatic video to supplement our non-climatic blog:

New apartment!

Sorry we have been so behind on posting new content to the blog.

Our lease officially started on November 2nd so it was time to move in! We moved this past Monday so we have been pretty busy with relocating and settling in. Since we arrived in Auckland on October 21st, we needed a place to stay for twelve days until out lease started. This will be the official place we are staying in for the next five months!

Our apartment is located in the heart of the city, in the CBD (central business district), which is only a five minute walk to Chad’s office. The apartment/hotel complex we are staying in is called the “Heritage Towers Auckland”. The apartment is a small one bedroom apartment, with just enough space for the two of us. It also has a ton of amenities! The complex has a rooftop pool, an indoor lap pool, sauna, two gyms, tennis courts, and a restaurant.

(These are all pictures I pulled off the internet and the Heritage Towers website)

heritagepool

View of the roof top pool!

rooftop

tenniscourts.jpge

We can’t wait to play some tennis together!

Here is a little tour of our apartment for anyone who is interested!

Halloween in Waiheke

Happy Belated Halloween everyone! We are loving seeing everyone’s pictures from Halloween.

Although we are bummed that we could not go out and celebrate Halloween with all our family and friends in costume, we did spend our Halloween in a very non-traditional way. We took a trip to Waiheke island and did some wine tasting.

Waiheke island is about 17.7 km off the coast of Auckland, easily accessed via a short ferry ride. The island has many hills which makes it an ideal geography for growing wine grapes. The climate is slightly warmer then in Auckland which made for a beautiful sunny day in paradise! We ran into a friend who worked on the ferry and invited us in to the captains quarters where I then commandeered the ship!

captinola

Once back on dry land, we started our exploring with trekking up the hill to “Mudbrick Vineyard”, our first stop of the day. Mudbrick has a very homey classic feel, with a ton of outdoor space and mahogany wood.

DSC04574

The views were down right spectacular.

viewmudbrickDCIM100GOPRO

We got to the vineyard a little ahead of schedule so we took the opportunity to take some selfies =P

DSC04591

DSC04572

DCIM100GOPRO

At 10:00AM we had our first wine tasting! Yay! Who doesn’t love wine first thing in the morning? It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? All the wine at Mudbrick was phenominal, we ended up buying a bottle of Syrah.

The next event on our agenda was “Cable Bay Vineyard”, which was a short walk from Mudbrick.

viewcbvines

viewcablebay

Cable bay was really neat and super modern. Our favorite wine from Cable Bay was the Sauvignon Blanc, which is what New Zealand is known for. Our favorite part of the vineyard were the outdoor bean bag chairs that you could relax in. Who doesn’t wanna drink a glass of wine in a comfy bean bag chair facing this view!

Our next event was the main highlight of the day. I found a vineyard that had some awesome activities on site, “Wild on Waiheke”. Their main activity: Archery. I was super excited that I got the last booking available, and I wanted to surprise Chad. Unfortunately, I’m the worst secret keeper because I blew the surprise (by accident) within a couple of hours of making the booking. To see some footage of our first time doing archery, see the video below.

Archery and wine tasting at “Wild on Waiheke” was our favorite event of the day! Although it’s hard to pick one event since every place we went to was special in it’s own way. After archery we had lunch on the property. We have not eaten at a restaurant where the food wasn’t top notch, but this place in particular was “niebo w gebie”, which in polish means “heavin in your mouth.”

IMG_4423

Chad ordered their version of a meatball sub with a fried jalapeno. I ordered a bread and spread platter with salmon spread, hummus, and olives. As a side we ordered beer battered onion rings and beer samplers. Who goes to a brewery and doesn’t order the beer sampler?

IMG_4416

All the beers were tasty, our favorite was the non-alcoholic ginger beer. We’re figuring out that ginger beer is a big thing here in New Zealand.

During lunch, the sun came out and created the most perfect weather: slightly breezy with the warmth of the sun on your skin. I know we were warned that New Zealand does not have an ozone layer, but with us being professional beach bums I was sure that it wouldn’t be an issue to us. Boy was I wrong, thirty minutes in the sun and the spots where we didn’t put on sun block were turning nice and red. Luckily, the restaurant provided all it’s patrons with free sun screen.

photo 5

The next place we went to is called “Stonyridge Vineyard”. We didn’t do too much research on this vineyard before going there, but we were thrilled we had the extra time to go to this one. The environment was so laid back, and everyone there was in the mood to relax. We really enjoyed the scenery, the atmosphere, and the little amber doodle puppy that came to play with us!

DSC04642puppybutt

Seriously though, how cute is this puppy butt?!

stonyridgeview

 This view…. woah.

After Stonyridge we were spent! From here we head straight to the beach for some serious relaxing. We planted ourselves in the sand and laid back to watch the sailboats.

beachview

DSC04657

We then head back to the ferry and back to Auckland!

P.S.- Here is the aftermath of the battle wounds I obtained during archery.

IMG_4427

Leave it up to me to find a way to injure myself, typical. Thank goodness I went to nursing school, right? To manage to care for myself, haha.