Monday, December 31, 2012


In Otorohanga, we did one of the things I've always wanted to do: See a live kiwi bird!

We went to the Otorohanga Kiwi House.  Yes, kiwis are still in the wild, but they're very rare and nocturnal, so we decided to go with captivity instead of wild kiwis.

The kiwi house was filled with plants and other birds, so we enjoyed ourselves. Here is a wheki, New Zealand's notable HUGE tree ferns.

They were really tall.

Malay Dove.

Me, very excited at seeing kiwis soon.

More Whekis.

Additional jungleness.

Again, I was very happy. :)

KIWI!!!! We've had to rely upon googleimages to find this photo since photography wasn't allowed. Still, she looked exactly like this one.

This little Papango wanted to come home with us, badly. VERY friendly little thing.

This kingfisher, however, could have cared less.

I was in heaven.

A Pukeko bird!!!

They are so weird but beautiful. Huge red combs and blueish feathers. We saw these guys in the wild too. And yes, I squealed each time.

More jungle and beautiful plants.

A wild Tui bird!

More huge Wheki fronds. This one was easily 6' long.

A HUGE KEA BIRD (moutain parrot).

A kakariki parakeet. Cute little things were total chatterboxes.

"Please can we take a Kakariki home???" Bob: "No. Bailey would think it was a squeaky toy."

"Sigh, ok..."

Afterward, we did the obligatory posing by the giant kiwi statue.

Luckily, Bob kept this picture G-rated so it can go on the blog. :)


Our trip to New Zealand was a trial in patience. We left Oregon and headed to San Francisco, only to find that the Oregon leg was delayed twice in the days leading up to the trip, which put us into San Francisco late. Luckily, the SF trip had also been delayed, but we were able to snag an earlier flight on stand-by! Not having checked luggage proved to be a great thing.

That meant we arrived in Los Angeles six hours before we needed to be back at the airport. We spent that time visiting my uncle-- it had been a couple of years since I last saw him, and Bob hadn't seen him since our wedding!

Back at LAX and through security, we found out our flight to Fiji had been delayed. Oh well, we're on our way to a holiday, right? It is what it is. So, finally taking off at 11:30pm, we were able to actually catch some sleep on the plane.

Once in Fiji, it was a 3-hour layover (but oh, the tropical heat!), and then a 3-hour flight to Auckland.

We arrived in Auckland in the early afternoon. We figured out how to get to the rental car company, and then had to figure out driving on the left-hand side of the road. Since I was the only person who had done it before, I drew the short stick. No accidents, thank goodness. Once we got the garmin working and recognizing that we were no longer in Oregon, we were good to go! We found the hotel, settled in for a few, and then hopped down to Newmarket for some wanderings and then a snack.
 Ah, wine and fresh bruschetta. Not too bad.

We had dinner that night at a lovely French restaurant. The food was astounding!

Back at the hotel, we were a bit weirded out by our funky shower. Is this an attempt to not get water misting out of the top of the shower? Regardless, it was very odd to not be able to hear ANYTHING outside the shower capsule when you were inside, especially when the water was on. If you were standing outside, you couldn't hear the person inside.  WEIRD.

From Auckland the next day, we headed to Otorohanga. More on that to come....

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Zealand!

I really don't have much of an excuse on why I haven't posted in two months. However, I suppose part of an excuse is that we just got back from New Zealand! Photos to come in the next few days, PROMISE.

To keep you on your toes, here's a story. I went ZORBING. It's this inflatable ball. You jump into the middle, where there's an air pocket and some water. And then you're zippered in and sent down a hill. Pretty fabulous.

It was RIDICULOUSLY fun. Well, it was until the final ride where I inhaled a noseful of water and felt like I was going to upchuck for the next several hours. So if you Zorb, DON'T do that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Stair Surround

We redid the upstairs a year ago. However, what was lacking was the stairwell. While our flooring was completely new, the stair surround... well... sucked.

Yup, that was it for the stair surround-- a measly bar. That's it. It meant we didn't allow friends upstairs, and especially friends with children.

Here's the surround in two more photos that I took as I was replacing flooring:

It has taken me a year, but finally, this past weekend, I decided to tackle the surround. 

The old surround, though minimalistic, was sturdy. The vertical beams (seemed) solid, and there was no wiggle. So, I decided to just build a framework in between the existing beams and then I'd use that framework and put on drywall. 

But, see the "X" in the back of the stairwell? When I removed that (after substantial work building framing within some of the existing structure), the entire existing stairwell (except for the floor-to-ceiling beam on the left-hand side) became incredibly rickety. It went from sturdy to having a 6" side-to-side sway.

Obviously, the "sturdy structure" I had been using as a backbone wasn't hacking it anymore. 

So, I tore the entire thing out, except for the one floor-to-ceiling beam:

Sigh. Projects are never as easy as you think, right? 

BUT, this was all for good, because:
1) I could build a wall that was perfect for our needs-- ie: a taller wall and one that allowed for a bigger walk-through space in the back of the stairwell. 
2) I could build a SUPER STURDY wall
3) I could fix little things, like the lightswitch.


So, here it is, partial framework up:

If you look in the far back of the stairwell, you can kind of tell that I moved the back forward about a foot to give us more of a walk-through space behind the stairwell. It's also about 6" taller than the old stairwell surround. I also eliminated the floor-to-ceiling post on the right-hand side (not needed and the space is much more open without it), and made the left-hand post a lot more solid (it's much more substantial now).

Here's how it looks right now: 

I'm very happy with it so far, though there's a LOT left to do. I'm grappling with what to stain the wood. We're going to put a topper on it. 

Strange as it sounds, I'm leaning toward a grayish stain-- Classic Gray by Minwax. It's this grayish stain that allows some of the browns from the wood to seep through. I'm hesitant to go too matchy-matchy on the wood stain with the floor color. 

Anyway, I'll do a sample piece of wood in the stain before I tackle the whole unit. Test once (or multiple times) before doing the whole project, right? :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Office

Our old office needed something... so I suggested we go to Ikea and get a few narrow & tall Billie bookcases. It's an addition that can stand the test of time-- great for now with an office, great someday in the future if we need the bedroom as a second bedroom.

And the results? We love it:

I was on a de-cluttering spree early this month and really hammered it home with decluttering the house. Unfortunately, I got through the office and our coat closet... and that's about it. I need to declutter the upstairs, but that's a HUGE task in itself.

(instead, I got distracted and painted the kitchen and stairs... still productive, right?)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Roxy and a soccer ball

We discovered this weekend that large athletic balls are great dog toys for our pups. They can sink their teeth into them enough to carry them, but not enough to easily puncture them. Don't get me wrong, they eventually destroy them too, but it takes much longer than the 5 minutes storebought toys were surviving. So, for $0.99 each at the thrift store, much happiness comes as a result. We don't leave the balls out with them while we're away-- we don't want to come home to shredded messes or dogs that have decided eating a soccer ball is a good idea.

But, while we're home, they're in full joy mode.

Particularly Roxy. Check out this expression:

Pretty joyful, huh?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Deck gloss

I don't think I ever updated the site with a picture of the deck with stain and gloss... so here it is! Two layers of stain and one thick layer of urethane later. Makes it very easy to clean muddy paw prints.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bedroom Dresser

We have been finally paying some attention to our bedroom set-up. We've painted the walls (twice) and are now happy with the color. But, it's always felt a bit empty. So, we decided to tiptoe into the market for a "lowboy" style dresser. I needed to be nice, as our bedroom is small and it would be one of the focal points.

We seriously considered the hemnes dresser from Ikea. It's one of their better-made dressers, in my opinion, and I've always admired it. But, at $299, it was a bit much for our budget (plus would involve a 2-hour drive to the nearest Ikea). It also looks a lot like our sideboard in the dining room, and I wanted to avoid that.

So, we decided to stalk Craigslist. Or, rather, I stalked Craigslist. My husband has made it clear that "he does not do Craigslist." I'd like to add an addendum to that sentence-- he does not do Craiglist, he merely reaps the benefits of my hard work.

Off soapbox. :)

A few days in, this beauty popped up:

JUST what we were looking for!!!

And... drumroll... only $40. GASP! It's well-made, by a known company for good construction. The drawers have dovetail construction, and the bottom 4 drawers are cedar-lined. WHY they were selling it for $40? Don't know. They loved the piece, but wanted it to go to a good home. And for an extra $10, they DELIVERED from 45 minutes away. YES!

SO now she's in our bedroom. More to come on how we're doing with the rest of the room. Anyone have a bed frame?