Tag Archives: new zealand

Recovering from Time Travel

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether or not I will continue to blog now that I am back in the USA.  The answer is YES!  Admittedly, from now on most of my posts will be themed around wellness rather than life in NZ.  They also might need to be less frequent, especially when school starts again, and they will definitely be less personal.  Now that my life is back to “normal” I don’t feel the need to share every detail anymore.  But I will still share anything influential in my life, because wellness is about so much more than just health and fitness. (And I can promise a new little daily feature of the blog I have a-brewing.  Be on the lookout for that :))

Today I want to chat about recovering my wellness from a 24+ hour journey of time-travel around the world.  The aftermath that has caused me to feel quite out of sorts.


Proof of my restless nights...

I have been waking up in the middle of the night (3:30am), which has caused me to suffer from sleepiness so severe that it resembles narcolepsy!  (I fell asleep in the waiting room before a doctor’s appointment.)  I have imposed strict bedtime rules for the past few nights.  I have to be in bed between 10:30pm and 8:30am whether or not I actually sleep during that time.  No napping!  A few sleepy days are inevitable, and this has helped me quickly get used to this time zone.  Last night marks the first night this week that I slept through the night!


Mom-bought favorites of mine: dates and almond milk!

I am finally eating well consistently, but it’s not sitting well.  My digestive track has been all in a tizzy, which is definitely a result of lack of sleep and the erratic, excessive diet of fat and sugar I’ve been eating for more than 2 weeks straight!  I feel better eating clean, and my digestive system will regulate in time…as long as I stick to eating well!


Reunited with both my Klean Kanteen and yoga mat!

It’s all I have to cling to right now!  I have jumped right back into my religious exercise habits with at least an hour of activity every day.  I’ve been running and spinning, doing pilates and yoga, and I have even done a smidgen of strength training!  It feels really good and feel really right, but it’s been really tiring!  I fell out of shape pretty significantly because of travel and my hip injury, so I’ve been pretty sore. That means lots of yoga for me, and not to wimp out on my cardio!

Mental Functioning

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit psycho lately!  Once again, my life has done a complete 180 and I’m trying to readjust.  For example, I almost had a nervous breakdown in the produce section at Wegmans…it was so overwhelming!  Also, I keep almost driving on the wrong side of the road.  And EVERYTHING reminds me of something NZ-related.


Logged 3 loads already

My time not spent eating, exercising, or sleeping has been spent organizing my life: responding to emails, doing laundry, unpacking, and organizing my room.  Getting my life back to normal has felt very strange, but each little thing I accomplish makes me feel more and more at ease.

Nearly organized!

I have learned that there is not that much you can do to feel healthy again right after something like that.  Just honor your body and things will get better in time.  As per my mother’s advice, I’m actually RELAXING!!!!  Though I’ve been feeling icky and sad to have left New Zealand, the comforts of home make feel better, better, better.

There is just one thing I desperately need to feel all better

Dominique!  (Did you know she has a blog, too???)  Typical to the history of our friendship, when I’m home she’s not!  She’s on vacation with her family this week.

And, as she is my best friend, I REALLY NEED TO SEE HER!!!!

How have you dealt with jetlag?




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

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

The Power of a Great Date

and no, I’m not talking about this kind of date:

or even this kind:

but the kind I currently have access to:


I am officially smitten.

I just can’t get enough.

I like to stuff my dates with peanut butter.

Or pop them straight into my mouth.

I also like to have a date (or two) in the morning before a run.  They give me an insane amount of energy.

Or before a yoga class.  Ditto.  And because every knows I’m a yoga rebel.

Or as a mid-morning snack.  They are super filling and can hold me over until lunch.

Or as a mid-afternoon snack.  Ditto.  Except until dinner 😉

Or even for dessert.  They are so so sweet!

Or even as a midnight snack.  Ditto.

And they have heaps of dietary fiber, to boot.

So basically, if I had my way, I could go on have a date up to five times a day.

Yet they cost almost nz$9 per containerI can feel my wallet quiver.  And they are imported from the USI can feel the globe roasting.

So, when I finish this container, I will resist buying more until I’m back in the States.

I’m feeling that way about a lot of things lately. 

After a 30-minute walk (my hip is still too sore to run on, I don’t want to push it), Hannah and I went grocery shopping and literally got the bare minimum.  Since David arrives on Friday and my two weeks of family-frolicking begins, I didn’t want to get anything that I might end up wasting.  So, I can guarantee that this is what I’ll be eating for the next week:

Breakfast: Oatmeal made with cinnamon, and part-water-part-soymilk.  It will contain either banana or apple, and always a peanutbutter swirl.  If I do anything interesting, like add chopped almonds, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Lunch: Leftovers (like today).  French Toast PB&J when I’m really desperate.  Or some crazy salad/sandwich combination of veggies, cheese, eggs, and hummus. I’ll be sure to share any particularly genius concoctions.

Snacks:  Peanut butter on an apple or banana (whichever is not in my oatmeal), and the occasional carrot sticks and hummus, or almonds and cheese.  And of course, for at least a little while, DATES.

Dinner.  Stir fry.  Or pasta.  Full stop.  (That’s Kiwi-speak for “period!” Ha!)

Thus, I won’t be posting many of my meals on the blog.  I don’t want to bore my readers myself.  Sucks to be you, I guess!  lol 😉  But don’t cry, I’ll be sure to post about anything interesting…..

In fact, my afternoon snack today was actually pretty interesting!  I wanted vampire toast, but I was in the mood for something slightly more substantial with a little more of a crunch, so I got creative:

I sprinkled some chopped almonds and sesame seeds on top (plus more whole almonds on the side :)).  It was really satisfying!  I bet with another piece of p’nut butt- slathered toast, this would make a great, powered-up PB&J.

See the rain?

I spent the rest of my afternoon shopping, despite the dismally persistent precipitation.  I tell you, New Zealand has the best souvenirs out of anywhere else in the world, and since I moved here in February, I have been putting off buying gifts because I was afraid of finding something better down the road.  But now, with less than three weeks left and a dwindling checking account, I need to get busy!  Since I have been into every gift shop in both the North and South Island, I pretty much know exactly what I want to get for everyone, so shopping for it all was so much fun!  I was happy to find some great deals, too.  This is the “off season” for tourists in New Zealand, so there were tons of sales.  I can’t wait to see the looks on my loved ones faces!

Do you like dates?



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Travel

Too Much Chocolate?

Today was full of all those fun, silly, cute, nice things that some teachers can only hope for.

Sunrise from this morning

I am going to miss those children…terribly.

I started the day while my teacher was in an IEP meeting.  I called the role, which is always exciting because instead of saying “here” like the American punks do, they say, “Good Morning, Miss Jenkins,” in their home language.  Today, I decided to teach them about my Italian grandmother and how she mights say, “Ciao!” or “Bon Giorno!”  Then, we looked up where Italy is on the map.  (In case you didn’t know, it’s the one in Europe that looks like a boot ;))  I love integrating inquiry!!! #teachernerd

While we were still in a worldly mood, one of our Chinese students from Canada (she is VERY worldly indeed!) sang, “O Canada” to the class.  I was beaming the entire time at how cute and brave she was, also feeling reminiscent about my time learning Canada’s national anthem in high school for our choir trip to Montreal.  It’s really a lovely song!   She felt like a star after her round of applause and she truly deserves it, as one of our most distinguished academics in the class.

To wrap up the morning, I we read Stanley Paste!  But I knew that it would be at most of their reading levels, so I chose one girl to read it aloud for me.  She is one of our most accelerated students, but I have noticed her becoming bored and despondent with her work, so I wanted to boost her confidence and enthusiasm for participation a bit more.  She read it beautifully, with wonderful expression!  It was so fun to hear her 🙂

Then we did some portfolio work, which I find very dull but I understand (as my teacher explained to the class) that it’s important to document so that we can see how they progress.  The students copied their writing assessment on nice paper, using their best handwriting and correcting any mistakes they noticed.  I kept watch to make sure that they were on-task, and all of them were working very hard.

During the 7-minute run, one of my students said that he was not feeling well, so I let him stand with me.  It was some really great one-on-one time where we got to talk about Harry Potter, Mac products, and spending time with out parents.  He is most certainly one of my equals 🙂

I spent the rest of the morning doing Running Records for their reading, and I must admit, I am getting really good at it!  I thought it was pretty tedious work, but that was back when it wasn’t so easy.  Now that I have had more practice, I can pay more attention to their reading than to my accuracy, which helps me get more of a snapshot of their level.  Again… #teachernerd

Since they were working so well in the morning and, “we want to make Miss Jenkins’ last few days very special so that she has wonderful memories of us,” we got to do music early.  Yeehaw!  I love that the special subjects allow our more developing students to shine, and one child in particular who struggles with everything else is excellent at keeping beats, so of course we let her sit in a special chair and keep the class on beat.  Though the lesson was mostly about rhythm, I noticed that a lot of it was great practice for their ability to follow directions.  My teacher allowed them to go and create a rhythm (using body percussion) outside so that we wouldn’t disturb other classes.  Unfortunately, we had some students who did not stay in the designated area, so we had to go back inside.  We sat in a circle and each child performed the pattern they created.

My teacher took it to the next level, and the next thing they had to do was to create a whole pattern with four different rhythms.  One sweet but timid students looked very nervous, but my teacher explained that the only reason to be worried is if you aren’t going to follow directions.  “Students who try should never worry in this classroom.”  Then, she let them go and work on their patterns on their own.  The students who ran away could not be trusted with that privilege, so she had them stay inside.  She also invited anyone else to stay inside who felt they needed help (they created their pattern together, as a group.)

We had to cut it short for lunch, but after lunch I got a very special performance.  My class sang two songs, “Just One Earth” and “Individuality.”  I will tell you, it took all the strength I had not to burst into tears during “Just One Earth” because they sang it so expressively and beautifully, right to me, and it touched my heart in a way I haven’t felt in a long while.  I kept thinking about how in a feew weeks, I will be a world away from them, and I am going to miss them so much, but at the same time, it’s just one earth, and we will always be connected because of my time here.  I was happy that the mood changed for “Individuality” – a very upbeat song with movements and silly verses about “being me!”  I was one happy teacher, with a class full of happy kids.

To finish up music, they were to create a written representation for their patterns with some kind of symbol, which will go in their portfolio.  They have had practice doing this before, so it was pretty easy for them, and everyone was on task.  Except for two girls, but I think I sparked a friendship out of it!   I noticed that two well-behaved, quite girls were staring off into space, and it turns out that they both couldn’t think of a second part for their pattern.  So, I got them sitting next to each other and collaborating!  Before I knew it, they were done and proud of the finished product, while so pleased to have helped each other and completed their own work, all at the same time.

The end of the day is always a bit hectic in my classroom – they don’t clean up very cooperatively or quickly, so it’s always a struggle to get them on their mat.  But I did get to sneak in two whole poems for a great book by Roald Dhal called “Songs and Verses.”  He is such a brilliant, creative children’s writer, perfect for any age.  I need to get my hands on a copy of that one!  We ended the day with a sweet “good afternoon, Miss Jenkins” and off they went, till next time, the last time.

My teacher decided to do my final evaluation this week so that we could focus on just having quality time together next week, and I got another rave review.

“Emma, you have had such a wonderful influence on the students in Room ##. Your quiet, friendly, positive, caring nature encourages the children to be open to communicate and learn with you.  Thank you for all your professional support.  All the best for the future.”

I am anticipating next week with mixed feelings – so excited to spend more time with them all, yet dreading saying goodbye!

Upon reflection, the best part of my day was that it was Rose’s last day….HA!  Just kidding 😉  Since it was Rose’s last day, she brought in brownies (with mini M&Ms on top) for her students, and she gave me one during lunch.  And a corner piece, none-the-less!  It totally made my day.  Thank so much, Rose!  I’m glad I got a brownie out of it, but I’m so sad it was your last day.  I’ll miss my morning tea, break, and lunch buddy next week! 🙂

When I got home, I wasted no time in getting some laundry done, and with my purchase of laundry tokens, I also bought this not-so-impulsive impulse buy:

I see Whittaker’s chocolate’s Peanut Slab at the check-out of nearly every shop and I have tried to resist, though intrigued by the Golden Ticket-esque wrapper.  Then, when I saw this fabulous bar reviewed over at Wayfaring Chocolate, I knew I had to buy some Whittaker’s, STAT!  I mean, I have to try New Zealand chocolate while I’m in New Zealand, eh? It was a very good decision.  Even as a milk chocolate bar, it had some dark, almost bitter, undertones. Das jus ma stile.

I proceeded to eat the whole bar.

Which was a very bad decision.

Big brownie with M&Ms + Whole Milk Chocolate Bar = Too Much Chocolate.


I bite my tongue!  I know I just proclaimed that I am trying not to overeat, but especially at this time of the month (if you know what I mean) sometimes you need a little extra chocolate in order to nourish the soul  😉  But seriously, I didn’t have too much to enter a Fullness Level 5.  And that is just one reason why I don’t count calories!

Do you agree that chocolate is necessary nourishment for the soul?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, Student Teaching

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

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

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