Spoiled Rotten

Two birthday parties? Lucky!
And a new wetsuit?

Since we were going down to Whanganui, we decided to celebrate in Raglan with friends before we left. I made pumpkin lasagna and apple feijoa crumble and we drank a few bottles of wine with friends. I think the best birthday surprise was that Lenny showed up again, completely unannounced. It was a happy reunion for sure. Music, running through a field of wild flowers, and Nelson and Lenny embracing.

It was also so good to see so many friends in Whanganui. After a raucous celebration in Raglan before our trip, we celebrated two nights in a row with the Brookes family and other friends. This is the cake Mandy and Toby made. Lucky for Nelson we were traveling, because I don’t think I’ve ever made anything so beautiful. Then, thanks to Maia, Sophie, and Karuna, we had a scavenger hunt for Nelson’s birthday present.
Where could that next clue be?
Oh there it is!
Under the covers?
A winter-weight wetsuit!


This time last year we were in New Hampshire. We knew we were about to begin a huge adventure, a new chapter in our lives, but didn’t know exactly where we were headed. I sang a love song to my baby on his fortieth birthday (in front of 400 close friends).

One year later we are living in a beautiful place working towards making our dreams come true. I can’t think of a better outcome to our adventures or a better person to be sharing them with. We are away this week celebrating Nelson’s birthday with friends in Wanganui (Whanganui?), and then with a caving trip in Waitomo.

I am in love with SoSo Fancy Carrots more today than ever before. Happy birthday to the most wonderful man I know.

Au Naturale

Sequoia and I were inspired by a website that calimed it was “so easy” to dye eggs using natural dyes. It made sense to us. Why rely on Red #40 and Yellow #5 when we had marigolds, lilacs, and beetroots in bloom. We gathered almost all of our ingredients from our very own yard.

Then we boiled them down and added a teaspoon of vinegar to each cup.

Even the most principled seven year old gets impatient waiting for natural dyes to work. Can’t we just add food coloring to help them?

The beetroot was the only one that didn’t need assistance. Although, I think if I had added about 3x as mauch of each ingredient it would have helped. Chili powder worked well to make a nice orange color. Broccoli and swiss chard leaves made yellow. Lavender petals made lavender. And we heard blueberries will make blue, although they are definitely not local or in season here, so we went without blue.
Here are our results. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that most of the coloring came from the bottle. We’ll try again next year.

Coolly Cooliscious?

So here we were, relaxing in the little house that we are housesitting, watching Moko the cat go nuts over a piece of string, listening to NHPR (New Hampshire Public Radio) online. Similar scene to the rest of this week. And, just like the rest of the week, our ears were bombarded by Keith and Abby at the NHPR Pledge drive begging us for a donation. I hope that however low I get I never have to be the host of a pledge drive. So, after a few days of feeling guilty for our daily indulgence of NHPR without being members we gave in. We called in a hearty donation of $35, the minimum pledge. A pledge from New Zealand! “Isn’t that coolly cooliscious”.

Ummm Keith. We are embarrassed for you. And we rescind our pledge immmediately.

Here are some pictures of our ward: Moko (loco). He’s a killer.

Also noteworthy today: Nelson and I had a most perfect evening last night. Note the show playing on the computer, and the “american” mustard, and the giant cheeseburgers, and the beers. Yeah yeah I hear you, don’t worry they were local grass-fed (endangered maui dolphin) burgers.

What you might not have noticed in that first picture is the toasted buttered buns. Here’s a close up. Yum. D-lish.


Last week I taught a two classes at Waikato University. Nelson has taken on two sections of Intro to Environmental Education, a course required for all first year teachers (how cool is that?). I am wondering how Nelson transitioned into the role of university professor so smoothly. Just being a guest lecturer made me feel about 20 years older and caused me to have a night of binge drinking to reclaim my youth (It didn’t work, by the way).

It feels like just the other day when I was the one not paying attention in class, and here I was getting annoyed by the girl who was obviously IM-ing through my very carefully thought out lecture. (When asked, she said she was emailing an assignment to her work partner. Um, hello… Do I look like I’m in the market for BS? I was born after 1970… I know that 95 keystrokes per minute consistently for an hour is either a fantastic game of naughty tetris or an IM. Go sell that story to your other teacher.) Perhaps Nelson’s had a few more years than me to practice being mature.

Overall the classes went really well. Nelson brought me in to teach the class on “Intercultural Perspectives on the Envrionment”. I took my favorite teaching position, sitting on a desk at the front of the room facing the class. I did some great interactive activities, had the students discuss the reading, and spent a lot of time talking about intercultural sensitivity. All was fine until the end of the second lecture. Two very nice girls approached me and said “We think what you had to say was great, but you should know that sitting on a table is very taboo in the Maori culture”. UGH!

OK, so sitting on a table is taboo. This has to do with Maori people feeling very strongly that your poo end should not be anywhere near food. Fair enough. My bad. But eating in a classroom is also taboo. So, shouldn’t sitting on a classroom table be only half -offensive at most? I’ll tell myself yes to make me feel better.