Bill and Kaitlyn

From the Wedding Aisle to the Window Seat: Our Travel Adventures and Everything Else In Between

July 15, 2013
by Kaitlyn

386 Days Later

IMG_3688I really haven’t been keeping track about how long we’ve been here in New Zealand. I knew it was a year and some change, and our time here went so fast, it’s hard to believe it’s been and gone. For us, leaving is bittersweet. We miss our families, friends, and ketchup that tastes normal. And, I’ve mentioned numerous times how much I miss Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee. But New Zealand has been an absolute blast. The coffee here is fantastic, the people are wonderful and there country itself is beautiful.

We’ve had opportunities to see and do things that we never imagined we’d get to do. We got to go to a movie premiere last week at the Embassy Theatre – Peter Jackson was there and Bill even got to talk briefly to Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes, Khan in Star Trek). We’ve had family and friends come to visit and had the opportunity to share Aotearoa with them. We snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef. We climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We’ve successfully driven on the wrong side of the road for a year without getting killed. We’ve seen the All Blacks Haka in person. And for those and all the other little things we’ve done, I’m thankful.

I will miss Wellington, the coolest little capital in the World. A very big thank you to all of you who made it possible.

Next stop? Another capital, that begins with W and ends with -ington.

Better get the passports ready.

July 2, 2013
by Kaitlyn

Wine Tasting at Zealandia

When I started thinking about this post, for some reason a song from Sesame Street popped into my head. In particular, the one where Cookie Monster sings a ballad about the lovely cookie: “C is for cookie and that’s good enough for me, OH! Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C!” Except, in my version, I created an adult variation: “W is for wine, and that’s good enough for me!”

Before you start worrying about my drinking habits, settle down. I was never much of wine drinker before moving to New Zealand, and I’m still not. But, I’ve really grown to appreciate the wine of this wonderful island nation, in all it’s varieties. Before moving here, I was definitely into the reds. I appreciated a good Malbec or Pino Noir every now and again. But surprisingly to me, the local wine whites are winning me over!


^^^Look at all those bottles!^^^

With our time here coming to an end, we just haven’t been able to get down to the South Island for wine tasting. And getting to Martinborough, here on the North Island, involves a drive over a nasty mountain ranges which get closed if the weather is bad. No wine tasting for us….until I saw a wine event at Zealandia. Done and done! The wine served was from Kaimira Estate, in Nelson.


^^^We started off with some bubbles!^^^

^^^One of the winemakers, John, walked us through the range and taught us some of the techniques used during production.^^^

It was a great little event! That had nibbles, both savory and sweet, which complimented the whites and reds accordingly.

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^^^I just so happened to be tasting two Pinot Noirs at the same time. I swear, I’m not a lush!^^^


^^^Bill enjoying a Pino.^^^

^^^Our takeaway from the evening.^^^

June 21, 2013
by Kaitlyn

Wild, Windy Wellington

Last night, Wellington got hit hard by a nasty storm from Antarctica. Sounds odd to read and refer to, right? Antarctica? The South Pole? Only 2000 miles away, Antarctica is a straight-shot south from Wellington. There are no land masses between us here and the southern continent, which means nothing to stop the nasty weather we’ve been having.

Winds have been slamming the city, hitting 125mph last night. One of the Interislander ferries even snapped free it’s moorings. You know it’s bad when they refer to 50mph winds as “calming down.” Evidently, the swells in the Cook Strait we hitting around 10 meters. You know during the Olympics, when they do platform diving, from that reaaaaally high board? That’s 10 meters. Now think of water swells that big. Yuck.

It wasn’t easy to fall asleep last night. You could hear the roof creaking and shaking, and the big silver fern outside our bedroom slamming against the window next to my pillow. Thankfully, our house didn’t sustain any damage. That could not be said for our neighbor’s fence. It was completely busted. And all of that damage from wind! Crazy, right?!

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^^^And all of that damage from wind! Crazy, right?!^^^
^^^The sign in the New World parking lot for Cafe Classic gave up the ghost as well.^^^
^^^There were some major slips of mud and foliage, blocking alot of streets.^^^

Lots of people are still without power or heat. Our heater is gas powered, so we’ve been fine. Stay safe everyone!

June 16, 2013
by Kaitlyn


“So, what’s the first thing you want to do when you get back to America?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this over the last few weeks. It’s starting to sound like we’re finally getting out of prison and have to decide what to do with our newfound freedom.

So, what do I want? This:

iced medium coffee 045

A Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee, people. Sweet Moses, I’ve been craving it for a whole year. Most especially during the summer. And heaven help you if you get in my way. I might knock over a little old lady. I may punch a police officer who is picking out his dozen donuts too slowly. And heaven help me if there is a bratty kid who can’t decide on a glazed donut versus a cake donut. Glazed, kid, all the way. I am a woman on a mission.

What does Bill want?

Fast Internet.

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 10.42.47 PM^^^Look at that! Pathetic!^^^

Our Internet sucks here. Trying to make a Skype call is akin to a Verizon commercial: “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?”

And while I’m definitely going to miss the views, the amazing people, the Rugby, and the quirkiness, I think we’re both ready to come home.

June 10, 2013
by Kaitlyn

Life Lately According to my Camera

My calendar the past few weeks has been a hot mess: working, saying goodbye to people, working, meetings, job interviews….the list goes on. Since we’ll be leaving Aotearoa soon enough, we’ve found ourselves scrambling to see places, buy stuff and do things that we’ve long been putting off. Visit Zealandia? Check. Buy wine to bring back to ‘Murica? Done. Try out Logan Brown? We’re going again in a few weeks. So! Many! Activities!

Since my brain is a bit fried, I’ll share some of my snaps over the past few weeks. Imagine some witty and hilarious commentary to go along with the photos, and I’ll see you in a few days with a more cognizant post.

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May 27, 2013
by Kaitlyn
1 Comment

Wellington Open Day: Our Trip to Zealandia

wellingtonopendayZealandia was one of those places that I drove by EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. but never went to. Located in the Wellington suburb of Karori, it’s the World’s first fenced urban ecosanctuary. It’s got rave reviews on TripAdvisor (love me some TA), but I never seemed to take the time to stop and actually visit it. Well, yesterday was the perfect opportunity! A long weekend, plus it was Wellington Open Day, where a bunch of attractions around the city offer admission for a gold coin ($2).

Apparently everyone else had the same idea. Add in some road construction and you have the recipe for gridlock. What a mess! Cars were parked along a very busy road, people were walking in the streets, and, as most places with Wellington, there isn’t much of parking lot, so it was crazy to find a spot.

But once we got there, what a gorgeous place, just outside the city center! The white and grey bird is called a pied shag, but the but the colorful bird is actually quite special. The Takahē were once officially declared extinct until they were rediscovered in 1948 in a remote Fiordland valley. Through conservation efforts, the takahē  has seen a gradual increase from a low of 112 birds in 1981 to the current population of 225 birds.



May 5, 2013
by Kaitlyn

The Family that Globetrots Together, Stays Together

10 days. 2 countries. 18 hours flying to New Zealand. Could it be done? You betcha.

Bill’s parents and sister, Alex, flew down from Canada and DC respectively to come and visit us here in Wellington. The itinerary was ambitious; Milford Sound, Marlborough Wine Country, Wellington, Queenstown, Sydney. We spent more time at airport and ferry terminals in those few days than I have all year. Gallons of flat whites and long blacks were consumed. Pies were eaten. Time was spent in cars. Andy was missed. Passports were stamped. Beer was enjoyed. Revelry was had. And looking back, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Thanks to Mom S., Dad S. and Alex for making the trip!

May 1, 2013
by Kaitlyn

Rarotonga: Literally, the Middle of Nowhere

See that? See that little “A” bubble in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?


That, dear readers, is Rarotonga, the largest island of the small nation of the Cook Islands. Four hours flying from Auckland and 9 hour jaunt from Los Angeles, Rarotonga was a little slice of heaven in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Literally, the middle of nowhere. It’s anyone’s guess how any explorer came across it. Although geographically closer to New Zealand, and using NZ currency, the Cooks are 22 hours behind New Zealand. By flying there, we got to experience Wednesday ALL. OVER. AGAIN. Is your mind blown yet by how we time traveled?

We haphazardly learned about it’s International Date Line relationship when booking our hotel. With flights booked, I went ahead and booked our resort, with the arrival date the same as our departure date from New Zealand. Fabulous, not a worry. Two months later when I took another look at our flight manifest, I swore loudly. What’s this devilry about leaving New Zealand on April 10, only to arrive on April 9th? Thankfully, I was able to rectify our reservations without penalty and not arrive at the resort swearing we had a room only to learn of my flub there.

So, what’s there to do in Rarotonga? Not much….sounds perfect.

April 7, 2013
by Kaitlyn

Learning to Cook Kiwi: Pavlova

My husband is generally an easy going man when it comes to what I make for dinner or dessert. The conversation usually runs as follows:

Me: “Bill, what do you want for dinner?”

Bill: “Whatever you want make.”

Me: “Is mexican alright?”

Bill: “Sure, sounds great.”

I don’t often get requests, but when I do, I know that means he’d really like me to try it. A few weeks back I was emailed a recipe for pavlova, a meringue-fruity dessert which I’d never had before, nor ever even heard of before coming to New Zealand. I’m so glad I gave it a shot. (Apologies for the blurry photos, all I could find was my iPhone, which has been on the fritz.)

5 egg whites
1 ¼ cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
2 teaspoons of white vinegar
1 ½ cups of cream (for whipped cream)
strawberries, blueberries or other fruit to decorate

Pre-heat oven at 150 degrees celsius (300F).

Using an hand mixer, whisk up the five egg whites and until they’re light and fluffy and form soft peaks.  Add in caster sugar a little at a time, whisking it in between.  Once that’s become glossy, sift in two tablespoons of corn flour.


Then add two teaspoons of white vinegar and a little dash of vanilla, mixing until well combined. If you can turn your bowl over without the mixture coming out, then you know you’re done.


Transfer the mixture to a tray lined with baking paper.  Take the spatula and smooth it out until you have your desired shape. An oval or circle will do.

Drop the oven down to 120 degrees celsius (250F) and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. After that time, turn oven off, leave door slightly ajar and let cool to room temp before decorating.

Whip up the cream and place on top of the cooled pavlova. Add fruit to the cream and serve. It should have a crunchy outside and a spongy inside.

Below is an instructional video I found really helpful.