Wednesday, 30 December 2009


The inner goal setter in me goes crazy when the new year comes around. And this year it's a new decade no less. A complete blank slate! So much to resolve! So many goals to set!

To prevent myself from committing to a ridiculous scroll of self-improvements, I have to remember something I heard this year. Apparently, the average human learns approximately two life lessons per year - so no point trying to cram in more than that. I try to bear this in mind when I'm attempting to prioritise more than two things at a time and find it difficult. For example, when I'm in the 'going-to-the-gym-zone' it's hard to be also in the 'writing-every-day-zone' as well as the 'win-the-damn-cupcake-competition-zone' at the same time.

I don't have enough bandwidth. I just have to choose two priorities and stick with them.

In 2009 my two overarching life priorities (resolutions if you'd be so kind) were writing and holistic health. I set these in January and decided that every activity I took on should feed into one of these. I'm not talking hour by hour scrutiny here, I'm talking about just thinking through bigger projects and making sure I was spending my time on what I really wanted to be focusing on. Like going to Pilates class (yes!),  writing every morning (yes!), learning to sew (interesting, but no), baking (depends), getting an organic box (yes!), painting (tempting, but no), etc...

Naturally, God, Dan and friends are already set priorities that I don't need to include into my two rotating ones. And I'm not really as militaristic about these priorities as I sound, I just like to whip myself into a frenzy for motivation. In reality they're just always in the back of my head, keeping me in check. If I really was inspired to paint, I'd freaking paint.

So, new year, new priorities...

I think that since we're going to be in New Zealand until June and I can't really think beyond that, I'll stick with 1/2 year resolutions if that's OK.

The first one is easy. I'll keep writing up there. I've had a great run with it this year {thanks to Writing Down the Bones, The Artist's Way and my morning pages} and this period without a job is like a writer's paradise so I can't turn it down really.

The second one is a bit harder, but I think I'm going to have to go with simplicity. Not in an Amish way, but in a taking-each-day-as-it-comes way. Since we don't know exactly what we're doing with our lives after June it's harder than it sounds. So instead of spending all this amazing time we have in paradise planning the next steps, I want to, simply: eat good food, drink good coffee and good wine, read good books, watch good films, go to the beach, write and enjoy any other of life's many simple pleasures rather than complicating things.

So, those are my priorities for the year so far. Feel free to hold me accountable. :) What are your priorities for 2010?

{Photos: Picnic by Ellie, danagraves}

Monday, 21 December 2009

Afghans and Flat Whites

For the past month my only mission has been to get on the freaking plane to New Zealand. There was so much to do that I couldn't even think about all that awaited us in Auckland, I just had to get there.

So now I'm here. But like any human, without a pressing narrative (ie trying to leave England), my mind starts to wander into worry territory. Yesterday I was caught trying to plan too much into the future (How long will we stay in NZ?! What will the next step look like?! What are we doing with our lives?!) and it freaked me out. Having a completely open slate is exciting but stressful.

To combat the stress of having too many options and the luxury of time, I decided to enjoy each day as it comes. It's strange that this is something I have to tell myself to do, but that's just the way it is. 

So here's what I enjoyed this weekend...

La Cigale French Market in Parnell

Cookie Party - Dan's mum had me baking 6 dozen cookies on Friday to prep for the cookie party on Saturday. I was naturally happy to oblige as cookie parties remind me of growing up and all the cookies that used to fill our house (and probably still do) around Christmas. This one was thrown by an American ex-pat living out here and the result was some sweet cookies, including my flavour of the month and Antipodean fave, the Afghan...


Cops and Robbers party - Saturday we were partying hard because, after the mid-day cookie party, Dan's bro Justin lined up a Cops and Robbers themed party. Great costume effort on everyone's part as well as a steady supply of donuts.

Flat Whites at Kohi -After a beachside curry lunch Dan and I fell into a cafe at Kohimarama for a lazy Sunday sidewalk cafe Flat White and paper reading session. The highlight was possibly the drive-by egging, which caught us by surprise, but, since it didn't injure us, was funny. Plus it greased the wheels for some banter with the ladies drinking wine at the next table. I loved one reaction: 'What a waste of an egg.'

(Great view, ay?)

As you can see, all the essentials are here with a vengeance: sun, coffee, fresh fruit and farmers markets. I'm happy to report that the stress was just a blip...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Kia Ora! {LON - TYO - AKL}

 Ahh... after almost three days of travel we finally touched down in Auckland last night. As you can imagine our last few weeks in the UK were pretty manic, so it feels nice to be here with Dan's parents. And be warm. I love being warm. 

(Last minute pics from Heathrow airport.)

We had a great stopover in Tokyo on the way to NZ. It was just over a day, but we still managed to check out some favourite haunts in Harajuku and test out the new branch of Zoka's, a Seattle coffee shop that's just opened in Tokyo.

Our jet lag cure has been baths and coffee. At our Japanese style inn (think tatami mats and roll out futon) there was an outdoor hot spring (onsen), so we went for a plunge just before midnight and slept like babies.

Even after a day, being in New Zealand feels amazing. For me, it's the perfect antidote to London: warm, spacious, good coffee. Today our itinerary included going for coffee with Dan's parents at a beach side cafe. I ordered a latte and a muffin and check it out (top left)! It was massive and came with a fresh fruit salad! Absolute awe. I'm not saying that all British food is awful (there's some good stuff), but when you go to a restaurant in London it's like Russian roulette - you have not idea what to expect except for an outrageous bill at the end. I think New Zealand may do a lot to revive my faith in eating out.

Well, much more to come from NZ in the weeks to come. Just want to say that we made it!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Good-bye England

So much for doing a proper 10 day countdown.

We've been packing like mad men and haven't had a chance to think about the 9 more things I'll miss about this I'll save that for a sunny day in Auckland. I can assure you however that the weather will never make the 'things I miss about England list'.'s been a good run. I gave you four years but it's time to move on.

We're literally putting our lives into 2 suitcases each (plus bulging carry-ons and snowboard and guitar that Vanessa and Tim are graciously taking over to LA for us). We packed everything up last night and had 3 boxes we wanted to ship, then looked into prices and decided against it. It's like £100/ box even to send it by land! Our stuff isn't worth that much, so tonight the challenge is to go through one more time, with a ruthless and fine-toothed comb, and whittle our wares down to all we can carry.

It is hard to get rid of some things, but I think it's a good discipline not to be too attached to 'stuff'. Not that 'stuff' is bad - I can't wait to move in somewhere and accumulate some more - but I like to not hold on too tight. It's also fun to give it away (to good homes). We've had many people be generous to us, so it's satisfying to be generous back.

I don't know that I'll get a chance to do another blog post before we're in New

Good-bye England!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

10 things I'll miss about you, England

Ten more days to go and my challenge is to list one thing I'll miss about England every day. Today, I must admit, it's certain foods. By no means will I miss 'British food' in the broader sense, but there is a sub-section of items here I've grown a real appetite for.

I'm not sure what genre Marmite on toast, yorkshire pudding with gravy and beans on toast (with Marmite under the beans, naturally) is considered, but I think there must be some intensely-salty-savoury thing going on that binds them all together. Whatever it is, I like.

I'm also going to be interactive, so... if you were leaving where you're at now, what foods would you miss the most? Or...what foods are you craving that you can't get now? Go on...

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Greencard approval and 11 day countdown

Hooray for Old Glory waving over the shores of Malibu! Dan went for his interview today and they approved it - phew. I had the arduous duty of holding his stuff (no mobiles allowed) and waiting in a cafe in Mayfair for him to finish. {This cafe, Allan's, is OUT OF CONTROL. I highly recommend spending a morning there.  Latte + honey and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toast was a great way to kill time.}.

So...the countdown begins...Or at least now I start making a big deal of the countdown. I like making a big deal of things, so I think for the next eleven days I'll try and post one thing I'll miss about England. {I'll save things I won't miss about England for later!}

Thanks to everyone for your prayer and support.
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