Tag Archives: auckland

My last day of school…Bluebird Vegetarian Cafe

What a day.  Basically the moment I walked in the door, I was bombarded by little cards with various pictures and messages that said things like, “thank you” and “good luck” and “we will miss you” and “you are a great teacher.”

I also received this crown.   I know you’re jealous:

My class is honestly the most lovely bunch ever.  As I called the role, they said things like, “please try and keep in touch” or “have a nice trip” or “we will miss you” instead of just “good morning.”  My special time for the class was in the morning.  My gift to them was a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”

I simply had to, it’s simply the best message I could leave for them.  My voice cracked as I read it, reflecting on all the places I’ve gone in the past 5 months…

They loved the book, but really loved my message:

Thank you so much for welcoming me into your class with open arms, hearts, and minds.  You have helped me learn so much about being a teacher – especially the magic that happens when can all be friends.

You each have a special place in my heart, and I will never forget my class of Kiwi children as long as I live.  Thank you so much for the memories that I will certainly treasure forever.

Remember to always be excited to learn.  Remember to be creative and curious.  Remember to love those around you and treat them with respect.  Remember to smile.  Remember that soon you will grow up to be the leaders of our world, and if you work hard, you can do anything you dream of.

Next, the real fun began…I taught them a thing or two about Vermont!  I made a slideshow of Vermont-y pictures: UVM, foliage, maple syrup, sugar-on-snow, Shelburne Farms, Cheddar Cheese, FeelGood, Lake Champlain, apple picking, The Giant Pumpkin Regatta, skiing, Stowe, and apple cider.  Oh, and me in Ghia, thrown in there because I couldn’t think how to end it 😉  They were fascinated!

They actually spent most of the day writing about what they learned.  A lot, apparently!  I have all the write-ups and can’t wait to read through them when I get a chance.  I got a little preview and they are certainly making me smile: “Vermont has lots of trees, but not just ANY trees!”

And I got more than Vermont write-ups!  Each child decorated a Takahe bird (their team name, also a native NZ bird) and wrote a message on it for me.   I love this because I sometimes refer to my class as my “flock.”

On the more serious side, I also did a lot of Maths testing today.  It was just a simple interview where I tested them at each stage to see their level. It was actually really interesting to see everything that I learned about “maths strategy stages” through my Uni class in real life!  I guess I have been learning a lot, and it’s all pretty legit!

During lunch break, I enjoyed a little bit of the leftover chili from the potluck, plus a good piece of bread I snagged from it, too!

After lunch, I led some choral reading (so much better than Round Robin, let me tell YOU!) but the best part was that I got to use the fancy pointer.  I seriously need one of those sparkly rainbow wands when I grow up!

The entire afternoon was dedicated as a special “Miss Jenkins Farewell” time.  I got several special performances.  First up: a play!  Based off a Skippyjon Jones story that I read to them a few weeks ago.

Some girls acted it out the story while another girl narrated.  Here was my program:

It was adorable!  Then, one of my favorite students (wait, teachers don’t have favorites!!!) sang me a Foo Fighter’s song.  As if my heart hadn’t already become a puddle on the floor.  Then, each child performed their body rhythm pattern they have been working on all week.  Some were very precise, others catchy, others creative!  Those kids have got the beat!

Then, they sang for me my favorite song in their repertoire: “Just One Earth.”  And the tears begin!!!  But apparently that wasn’t enough of a gift 😉 ….

My mentor class gave me the most thoughtful present.  First, a lovely cushion-case with Pukekos (a Takahe relative) on it.   I can’t wait to see this pillow on the (hot pink!) couch in my apartment!

Second, a beautiful paua shell necklace and card.  The tears continued.  Are you getting this image?

Thirdly, a little Takahe shelf decoration.  Isn’t he cute???!

It was all too much 🙂  I was overwhelmed.

We did stick to some of the Thursday afternoon routine: certificates.  Guess who won “Student of the Week?”


But then, the bell rang.  The school day was officially over.  Shirley asked who wanted to formally say a word of thank-you to me on behalf of the entire class, which is a customary practice in New Zealand.  About half the class frantically volunteered, so Shirley let a handful of kids speak.  It was so touching.  One of the most precious moments of my life.  Here, I was given my farewell card. With glitter, no less!

Of course, I couldn’t let them go empty-handed, so I let each child choose a funky pencil.

Hugs goodbye, all around.

But the fun doesn’t stop there!!!  Shirley and I had a date to go to Bluebird Vegetarian Cafe, a cute place I’ve passed on Dominion Rd each day going to and fro school.

Of course anything with “vegetarian” in the name makes my ears perk up, but I was even more excited to go when a woman I met at yoga told me how much she liked it.  Shirley, being the sweetest woman on the planet that she is, insisted that Hannah come, too! When we arrived, we felt completely serene and calm, relaxed and energized despite the crazy we’d just had.

Even though I miss brewed coffee like a Cullen misses blood, I REALLY appreciate that all the good cafes in New Zealand give you a complimentary sweet with your latte.  On the sid eof our mini berry coffee cake ;), we got chai lattes (made with homemade blended tea).  I didn’t even have to ask for soymilk–she asked our milk preference right away.

It was very flavorful and spicy, just the way I like it.

While we waited for Hannah, I was happy to finally express my undying gratitude to Shirley and give her the gifts I picked out for her.  It pales in comparison to everything she’s done for me, but luckily, I have a way with words.

I cannot thank you enough for being my NZ mentor; I was so lucky to have you and it was simply destiny that we were matched.  You taught me so many valuable things about what it means to be a good teacher.  You taught me so much about the value of spontaneous learning experiences and how to integrate them smoothly into your day: flexibility.  You taught me the importance of a good sense of humor: joy.  Most importantly, you taught me so much about how important it is to know your students as individuals: love.  Thank you for teaching me that if I can be flexible, joyful, and love each one of my students, then I can do this, and do it well.  Thank you for every opportunity, small and great.  Thank you for your generosity, compassion, and insights.  And please, keep in touch!

Then, my small gifts:

Simply a pretty mug and some dark chocolates.  She gushed and gushed over my humble gesture, because that’s just the kind of woman she is ❤

Now, onto the food…  When Shirley asked for recommendations, the waitress said, “Well, it depends on what you eat.  Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free?”  SWOON!  I told her I had no restrictions but I preferred vegan.  Shirley basically ordered everything that I mentioned sounded good.  We all shared a bit of everything:

Cashew, Potato, Broccoli Cake with Chutney

Vegetable "Rice Cake"

Legume "Neatloaf" with Mushroom Gravy

Roasted Root Veggie & Green Salad

Good food and good conversation?  Shirley and I should have gone every week!  It was the perfect way to end the internship.

And as if all THAT wasn’t enough, look what Shirley got for us on the way out:

She asked, “do you like chocolate cake?”  Well, I couldn’t lie to a woman I respect so much!

…did you think that was it?

Her question about those were, “would you eat those?”  Ummm, yes!  She certainly knows how to ask leading questions 😉

Apparently she hadn’t quite done enough for us, because she insisted on driving us home, and pulled right up in front of our door, asking if we were safe :).  There is no other way to say it: I love Shirley.  I will miss her so much!  I had such an amazing experience in her class, and it was truly all because of her.

When I got home, I had these three messages in my inbox:

HA!  Sounds like my brother’s journey is off to a memorable start.  He is in the air somewhere over the Pacific Ocean right now.  Please send him positive energy!  He lands around 6am, New Zealand time.

Even though I’m about to study my bum off for my Maori Culture final tomorrow until I fall asleep, I am feeling positively incandescent with happiness.  I’ve just had an incredible end to an incredible NZ practicum, and my brother arrives in a matter of hours to kick off our week of traveling.

Yay, life!!!   😀



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, Student Teaching, Travel

How to Use Rice Paper

Happy Birthday, Queen!  sorry the party’s so lame.

It’s officially been the most stressful day of the semester.  I spent the entirety of it trying to finish my Maths project.  Please tell me: how am I supposed to describe and justify 40 different maths activities, ensuring that they all are aligned to the learner’s level, using literature support, and IN ONLY 2000 WORDS!?  It’s simply not possible. That equates to an average of 50 words per activity.

My Maths Week's Outlined Plans

Yep, it is simply not possible.  To do at what I consider sufficiently detailed.  So, I do what apparently “level six” students are supposed to do to prove their academia: cut corners.  It was SO painful to delete all of my creative activities in lieu of brief description.  At least now I can proudly say that I am DONE!

Just under the absolute max: 2200

As long as the library printers don’t condemn me in the morning……please pray for me :-/

I couldn’t print it out today because it is the Queen’s Birthday (not actually Elizabeth II’s bday) and though it is “finals” time, the library was inevitably closed.  I also did not have Reading class because of the jolly good holiday, and my yoga studios were closed, too.  Thank god your highness because apparently I needed every moment of today to produce and acceptable finished product.

I did get a nice break in the morning to chat with the family and discuss our Scheduled Fun for their upcoming visit.  I won’t spoil the details, but here are a few highlights:

  • Rugby
  • Kapa Haka
  • Zoo
  • Aquarium
  • Devonport
  • Sky Tower
  • Rangitoto
  • Auckland Museum

I can’t wait!!!!

Last night’s dinner was–you guessed it!–stir-fry!  With rice this time.  And soy sauce, onions, carrots, bok choy, and green bell peppers.

And sesame seeds!!! Exotic, I know.  But I what really made things exciting, was that I divided mine into a few rice papers.

And wrapped ’em up!

Asian burritos ❤

I bought a package of small round rice papers for nz$5 from an Asian market a few months ago, and its a great way to add variety.  You just need to soak them in water for a few minutes before you can use them, add a large spoonful in the middle, and wrap it up like a burrito.  They are great fresh, like I had last night, but I’ve also baked them and fried them 🙂

Today my banana oatmeal was a little bit special because I decided on a whim to add a spoonful of mixed fruit jam.

Doesn’t that picture look slimy and gross?! That’s why I made it small 😉

For lunch, I had a PB&J in the midst of my stress.  It was quick, easy, comforting, and filling!  It even held me over until dinner, which actually was pretty different!  I tried to make omelets for Hannah and I, which promptly fell apart, but they were still delicious.  I beat 3 eggs with a splash of soymilk and mixed in onions, mushroom, and green peppers.  I was obviously very spaced out from my day because I forgot to take pictures!  ososorry!!  We also ate salad on the side.

I’m about to go do some yoga to calm my mind.  I didn’t have enough time or energy today for a proper practice, which I had planned on, but I was not expecting today to be quite to torturous.  So just some gentle, restorative stuff tonight! I’m looking forward to it!

Last night I finished “Something Blue” by Emily Giffin.  It did insult my intelligence (you needed NO inferencing skills to comprehend this book, #teachernerd) but I certainly enjoyed it.  It was so quick and easy to read, plus the ending was so delicious!  It was exactly what I needed: something light, something sappy, something uplifting.  Tonight I’m starting “Say You’re One of Them” by Uwem Akpan.

It’s a compilation of short stories about various issues in Africa: hunger, slavery, religious conflict.  I have a huge interest in hunger, so I am excited to learn more about it.  Education is KEY!  And I think I’m emotionally stable enough these days to handle it 😉  The weird thing is that I found this in the fiction section…is it fiction?  I feel like they are true stories?  I shall find out.

Have you ever worked with rice paper?



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, School, Travel, Yoga

Knee Pain + Slices of Heaven

I basically jumped out of bed, into my running gear and hit the side walk after quickly chomping down a piece of PB&J toast.  I was planning on running for about 45 minutes, but something stopped me in my tracks:

Knee pain.

Oh dear.

Not OK.

Though I really love running, I am terrified of getting a running-related injury.  I read tons of runners’ blogs and hear about painful, debilitating, lingering running-induced injuries.  And duh, I do not want one.  Ever.  If I must suffer an injury, let it be an accident, not something I do to myself habitually day after day!  Usually, when I am doing Ashtanga every day, all the knee and leg stretching/strengthening makes me so limber and strong that injuries almost impossible, but now that I’m down to only truly, formally practicing once a week, apparently I’m become vulnerable.  NOOOOOO!!!!

I shorted my run to just 30 minutes and took sporadic walking and stretching breaks (good thing there are lots of stoplights on K’Road!), but it looks like I am going to have to get more serious about my yoga and stretching.  Remember my yoga routine to honor your knees?  I need to be kissing my knees a lot more lately!  I should also probably be doing more squats.  I’ll develop a plan and get back to you.

When I got home, I quickly stretched and got ready to hit up the Auckland Farmer’s Market!  I’ve skipped the past three Saturdays because of my trip, and I’ve missed the atmosphere, fresh produce, and cheap prices.

Since I’d missed it the market novelty so much, I got myself a chocolate croissant.  The cutest girl sells it at a booth with Philippe’s Chocolate & French Pastries and I can never resists a treat.  They are just so beautiful, handcrafted, fresh, and AMAZINGLY delish. Later in the morning, I was feeling a bit hungry still, so I got a “Detox” juice with freshly juiced (right before my eyes!) carrots, apples, beets, and ginger.  It was bright pink with a great gingery zing, and I was pretty proud of myself because I am usually a beet hater.

For groceries we ended up getting salad greens, broccoli, falafel, mandarins, and a special dessert for the week (see below!) all totaling nz$11 each.  Check out this lil cutie hanging out by the celery:

Hi Mr. Snail!

We needed a few more things (jam, bread, soap, and crackers, namely) so we went to the supermarket.  We also got two frozen pizzas (see below ;)) to have on hand (only nz$5.49 each!)  Our supermarket haul also ended up being about $11 each.  Funny!

For lunch I had leftover Spicy Lentil Bean Frittata from last night:

I put the rest of the salad green on the plate before popping it in the microwave to “steam” them.  With some salt and pepper action, it was a divine luncheon.

Snack time!  Never lets me down:

I worked for most of the afternoon on a Math paper.  We were given a sample class with math assessment scores, which we had to organize into ability groups we would hypothetically use to teach the class.  Then, we had to write a paper explaining why we created the groups the way we did.  I originally thought it was a lame assignment, because at first I didn’t think grouping by ability was a good idea or valid enough to write a whole essay on.  But now that I have researched it, given it a good hard think, and written it, I can see why it’s a good method.  And the paper’s not bad, either.  See, learning is fun!

For dinner, we ended up heating up one of those Mommas Spicy Vegetarian frozen pizzas.  We’ve gotten one before and loved it, so we were happy to see them on sale again!

It’s really soooo tasty!  I ate about precisely 3/8ths of it with a side of salad greens.

For dessert, we enjoyed our special treat!  A slice of ginger crunch:

There is a woman who sells some beautiful cupcakes (a rarity in New Zealand!) we always oggle, but today we noticed this on her table, too!  It reminded us of the ginger slice we had in Picton, and it is pretty big for only $6.  But we needed no convincing, it looked/sounded amazing!  The woman joked that she was disappointed–she thought it would be coming home with her!  lol

It should be called: Ginger Crunch Slice of Heaven

A creamy, thick, gingery-sweet icing on top of a mild, crunchy cookie. Thank God we have 10 more pieces!  You’ll be seeing more of this baby.

Any advice for preventing knee pain? 



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Running, School, Yoga

May Foliage

I started my day with a long chat with this crazy bunch:

My family in Pennsylvania!  That’s my sister Sam, my Dad, my dog Ghia, and my mom (She has a new hobby!

Collecting vintage Pyrex bowls!  It’s fascinating!  That’s my g-ma Gram L. creepin in the background.)

Once we said our goodbyes, I set out to try running again among the autumn foliage.

Good news! My run today was much better than Sunday’s!  I ran (with some walking for recovery, especially after/during hills!) for 45 minutes and saw lots of pretty leaves changing.  Nothing can compare to Vermont of course, but I’ll take it!

After doing a loop around the Domain, I intended to stop once I crossed the bridge, but instead I cranked “Shipping up to Boston” and pushed pushed pushed!  I did finally call it quits after one hard loop of the park near my apartment to “Dog Days are Over.”

I felt pretty good most of the run, with just some side cramping that is pretty typical for me.   I just walk it out until it goes away.  But also, my hamstrings were really tight from yesterday’s yoga, so I needed to stop and stretch a few times.

A fabulous lunch was waiting for me to heat up when I got home.

Though my practice wasn’t exactly perfect last night, dinner after yoga did not disappoint!  The studio I attend on Mondays offers a full vegetarian meal after class, included in the nz$14 drop in price for students!  Last night they served this lasagna, veggie soup, a side salad, real AMERICAN lemonade (“lemonade” here is really sugary and carbonated), and apple crumble for dessert (made with apples from my friend’s tree!)  Since I wasn’t feeling my best after class, my appetite wasn’t as rampant as usual–I can usually clean the plate!  I finished the soup and salad and a few cups of lemonade.  I don’t have to tell you that I was feeling well enough for dessert 🙂  But I brought all of the lasagna home!

It was amazering.  A HUGE bowl of spinach and kumara (sweet potato) lasagna was the perfect way to refuel after my run.

I also had a nice instant coffee with oat milk before class.  Gotta stay awake during the 2pm-5pm class somehow!

During class, we got the news that a tornado had struck just north of Auckland.  Traveling at 200km/hour, it swept away cars and roofs of buildings, injuring many people and killing two.  Luckily, I am home safe and the storm system has dissipated.  In comparison to the tornadoes in Alabama, it seems like nothing, but it is a huge deal for Auckland and New Zealand – stuff like this simply doesn’t happen here.  I am so thankful that I am safe, but those affected are certainly in my thoughts and prayers.



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand

Journey to Wellington

(Read about my entire trip around the South Island of New Zealand!)

Waste not! I’ve been working hard the past few days, trying to whittle down our food supply so that we didn’t waste anything over break.

For example, breakfast was an egg over-easy on a toasty pita smeared with hummus.

Perfectly runny!

Also, coffee was enjoyed while last-minute blogging. Never know when I’ll be able to again!

Plus a hard-boiled egg with S&P, cause it’s almost Easter ❤

I threw together a stir-fry with most of the remnants of the fridge.

(Nearly) empty!

Froze what could be kept frozen: oat milk, pasta sauce, hummus, and chocolates!

And said a little prayer for our “pantry” stash.

After some frantic, last-minute packing (Hannah.) we hopped on the Airbus Express for our 2:30pm flight to Wellington! The bus ride took a lot longer than I thought, but since we left early enough, we got to the airport by 12:30. No. Problem. At. All. Check in was as easy as swiping the credit card I used. As in, that was exactly all i had to do! However, we were pissed because BOTH of our suitcases didn’t fit into the “maximum carry-on size” box, so we had to check our bags. This was also easy, but a big pain because 1) the woman at the luggage factory told me it would work as a carry on–that’s why I bought it, and 2) Hannah’s suitcase was so small–hence the stressful packing! But, we were quickly happy again because there was literally NO LINE at security. In fact, I told the security man that it was the easiest security experience of my life, and he joked, “in that case, I’d better look in your bag!” We were at the gate by 12:50pm.

To kill time, we admired the contents of the vending machine, celebrated the water bottle refill station, and gobbled our pre-packed fried rice (with stolen plastic forks–shhh!). Once on the plane, we were offered a complimentary drink and snack! Not bad for an hour flight. I got coffee (french pressed–oh yeah baby)

And given the choice, “biscuit or sweets?” I of course went for the biscuit because I have become the Cookie Monster’s Kiwi cousin, the Biscuit Banshee.

One of the most pleasant flights that I’ve been on! We did end up getting a sweet, anyway 🙂

There was also trivia playing on the TV screens! Which actress played the voice of Charlotte in the recent Charlotte’s Web?

Before we knew it, we were landing in Wellington. It was particularly terrifying exciting because the runway was right off the beach. It looked like we were going to land on the water! We picked up our luggage, then one pleasant bus ride later, we were officially in Wellington!

What’s the best flight you’ve ever been on?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand

PB&J French Pita!

This morning, I woke up at 5:45am to make a 6:30am beginner Ashtanga class at the Auckland Yoga Academy. I was so glad I did! I love having my practice done before I even start my day, and suryanamaskara (Sun Salutation) never feels more sincere than doing them as the sun rises. Though its so much more challenging since I’m so stiff from a 7 hours of sleepy stillness! Luckily, it’s the best way to wake my body up. I felt pretty bad, though because even though I turned my phone off, my 7am alarm still went on? Technological mystery to me!

After yoga, I took the journey all the way to the North Shore to turn in my literacy paper. It only took about 45 minutes (I was back by 8:30am), which is the best I could have hoped for. And now, it’s officially DONE!

When I got home, I made myself a pretty special breakfast to celebrate my productive morning: PB&J French Pita!

This is essentially French Toast made with a pita (pita bread dipped in an egg beaten with cinnamon)

But, I put peanut butter and jelly on the inside before dipping and grilling! So yum.

Update on my clear skin journey!

This Week

Last Week

It seems like I am improving!

This Week

Last Week

Since I have been using the correct “potion” (as my BFFL Dominique whimsically put it) my skin has felt a lot better.

This Week

Last Week

I realize it may not look all that much better, but I can feel it healing! It is less sensitive to touch and the bumps are going down. Definitely progress!

What have you accomplished this morning?



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Yoga

Auckland Inner City Dash

This morning, I woke up bright and early at 7am, ready to run!  At the same website where we got information about the Coast to Coast Walk, there is a section about running routes!  I found this great one near my apartment that goes through both Albert Park and the Domain – my fave places to run!

It is 4.5 kilometers long, and says it takes “approximately 30 minutes.”  ummm…with all those hills?  LOL! Maybe, if you are a cheetah!  I figured it might take me 45 minutes, a perfect length for me this morning.  However, once I hit the pavement, I wasn’t feeling very strong 😦 so I just shortened the route (didn’t go over to Myer’s Park) and walked whenever my bod wanted me to.  This resulted in me running up ALL the hills and only walking to catch my breath after each one.  Motivation courtesy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban audiobook, plus Dev’s “Bass Down Low” for one particularly rough hill.  I made it back to my apartment in 45 minutes, so it ended up being the perfect length!

When I got back home, I enjoyed a lovely cup of instant coffee with a splash of oat milk (the giant mug was clean-SCORE!)

plus a standard bowl of oatmilk oatmeal with coconut, cinnamon, and dried berries.

Just like dinner the other night, this has a hidden treasure underneath it, too!

A glob of crunchy peanut butter!  I love pouring my oatmeal on top of a spoonful of PB because it gets it all melty and it easily mixes in.

What’s your #1 motivational song?


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Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand