Monday, 15 October 2012

NZ Part 2!

Looking across to Auckland CBD from Mt Victoria in Devonport

The North Island! We had even less time to explore this part and really spent most of our time in Auckland with a day trip down to Rotorua. Unfortunately the weather wasn't in our favor and was wet for the first two days we were there, pretty much rain the whole time with low cloud, so we didn't see it as its best. We still managed to explore the CBD and caught the ferry across to Devonport, tried some fantastic chocolates at the famous Devonport Chocolate factory. We hired a car and drove down to Rotorua for a day trip to see the smelly thermal pools and to go Zorbing! Now that was awesome fun, sliding inside an inflatable ball to bounce and roll down the hill, shame its not in Australia otherwise I'd be keen to seek it out and have another go.

On our last full day in Auckland we went to Mt Eden crater, Auckland Zoo (cannot resist the temptation to see some cute animals if I have a chance) and went up the Auckland Skytower to finish the trip. Unfortunately I fell sick on the last two days of the trip with a bad viral infection and made the 4 1/2 hour flight home to Adelaide rather uncomfortable. Illness aside the trip was fantastic and given the chance tomorrow I wouldn't hesitate and do it all again!

Devonport Chocolates... YUM!

Smelly thermal pool, Rotorua

Me in the Zorb ball rolling down the "Zig Zag" track

Crater at Mt Eden, Auckland

Auckland Zoo
Clockwise from top left: Flamingos, never seen so many in one spot and boy were they noisy; cheeky Kea, NZ native bird; the elusive Kiwi (would not sit still for the camera) & Giraffes munching away on lunch.

Auckland at night from the viewing deck at Skytower

I could do many blog posts on my adventures to zoos alone, we always take so many pictures, which makes it very had to choose some to put up for one post without photo overload!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

NZ Part 1

New Zealand! Where do I begin. It is such a beautiful country, don't get me wrong, Australia has many beautiful places too but our Kiwi neighbour has plenty to boast about. I know two weeks was never going to be enough time to fully explore and enjoy the sights of this country but it gave us a good taster of where we want to come back to and new places to discover on another trip.

We started our adventure on the South Island; we flew over the snowy mountain ranges on approach to landing in Queenstown and what we saw was amazing. Staying in both Queenstown and Wanaka, we enjoyed 4 days of skiing on Mt Cardrona. Apparently all the mountain ski resorts in the Otago region had recorded some of the lowest July snowfalls in years, however there was still enough powder around for us to ski and we had a great time on the slopes. Both Queenstown and Wanaka are stunning, especially with the back drop of the snow capped mountain ranges completing the picture. We definitely would like to come back here as there is so much more to explore and do not to mention other ski resorts to try!

Besides skiing we went horse riding with Dart Stables down at the nearby little town of Glenorchy and rode through where they shot a lot of the scenes for the Lord of the Rings trilogy which was very cool, not to mention it was my first time riding a horse! :) This trip we didn't do any thrill seeking activities like a lot of people go there for, however on another trip I might consider some paragliding, it looked pretty awesome. I don't think I'm game enough to go bungee jumping, I'll leave that to the real thrill seekers!

We did a spot of bird watching and photography and found some quite pretty little things and some of the more unusual birds that are native to NZ. We spent 9 days in the region, nowhere near enough to fully appreciate everything that the South Island has to offer, one day we will go back and explore some more. We took hundreds of photos, too many to share on here but you get the idea how beautiful this part of the world was. In part 2 I'll talk about the North Island where we spent the rest of the trip!

 Queenstown, looking over Lake Wakatipu

Queenstown, looking down from top of the Skyline Gondola/lookout

 Lake Wanaka with Mt Alta in the background

 Skiing! Cardrona Alpine Resort, Mt Cardrona

 James and I on horseback on the Lord of the Rings trail

NZ Birds
Clockwise from top left: Tauhou (also known as White Eye, not native but I've never seen them before); Tui; Kereru (native pigeon) & Crested Glebe

Thursday, 27 September 2012

July to September...

OK, I know it has been 3 months since I last posted, but like always you get busy and time flies. Throw in some illness and ta-da, here is the end of September! So I thought I'd give a brief overview of what I have been up to.

Firstly we went to New Zealand for a couple of weeks in July. New Zealand is a beautiful place and would love to go back, especially to Queenstown/Wanaka where the snowy mountains and skiing was fantastic.

I have been also very busy on the creative front, designing and making various things which I'll discuss in more detail in a later posts. There have been sightings of double rainbows, birthday celebrations and a trip to Melbourne thrown in for good measure (not to mention we couldn't resist the temptation and saw all the cute animals at Melbourne Zoo).

So basically that's where the last 3 months of my life has disappeared to and the speed that this year is going it will be Christmas before we know it! Eek!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Potato & Bacon Frittata

While we're already nearly half way through winter, comfort food makes its appearance to cheer one's cold body up. For the last week I have been rather busy in the kitchen cooking some of these winter warmers and decided to share with you one of my favourites of the moment. It is basically a good recipe for left overs but can be made from scratch. The potato and bacon frittata is a good one I have cooked a number of times now and I tend to tweak the recipe with what I have at hand in the fridge and pantry. When I made this one, it was a perfect opportunity to try out the new camera too. I cannot remember where I got the original base recipe for this from, but seeing as I change it slightly each time, I'll call this my recipe.

- 3 medium potatoes peeled and roughly chopped (you can use left-over roast potatoes)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 2 bacon rashers, cooked and finely chopped
- 1/2 large capsicum, de-seeded and chopped
- 1 large bok choy, stalks chopped and leaves torn (alternatively you can use baby spinach, but I didn't have any on hand)
- 4 eggs, lightly whisked
- 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup finely grated colby cheese (or a cheese that has a good melt)
- a few sprigs of finely chopped parsley (I didn't have any growing at the moment so I used a teaspoon of dried parsley)

1. Pre-heat a fan forced oven to 200°C.
2. If not using left over roast potatoes, partly cook potatoes in water for 5-8 minutes in the microwave (or about 10 minutes in a pot on the stove), drained and put aside.
3. Heat a frying pan with oil, once hot add the onions and garlic and fry until lightly golden brown.
4. Add the potatoes and toss and stir until the outside edges are beginning to brown.
5. Grease a rectangular flan pan (approximately 15cm x 30cm) and tip the potato and onions in and evenly distribute around the pan.
6. Sprinkle over the finely chopped bacon, chopped capsicum and bok choy.
7. Whisk the eggs lightly with paprika, salt and pepper, pour over the potatoes and the other things in the flan.
8. Sprinkle over the grated cheese and parsley and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until egg is cooked through and potatoes are tender with the cheese browning on top.
9. Remove from the oven, slice and serve while hot.

This can serve four people as a side dish or two people for a main. It was delicious and the perfect food for the rainy weather we have been having recently.