The family is reunited

on March 31, 2011


It's been ten days now that my mom and my brother have arrived in New Zealand. Keeping them happy and entertained wasn't easy at first. My brother's initial plan had been to cycle New Zealand - but since he came here with an ear and throat infection that was out of the question. Daniel showed them around a bit while I was working but still after a few days they got pretty bored. So they finally agreed to rent a car and have been exploring Northland for the last couple days.

They should be back tonight and then we're starting on a trip south (of Auckland) showing them the beauties of New Zealand's north island. It's going to be a similar trip to the one I've just done in January but that gives me the chance to lay back and relax a bit this time instead of playing busy tourist *lol*

Here's a few pictures of the things we've done and seen in the last few days...


Me, my Mom and my brother near the Waipoua Forest Visitor's Center.


Daniel and I in front of Tane Mahuta...



... and going for a swim at Kai Iwi Lakes while those Europeans are busy taking pictures ;-) (I think they were just chickening out thinking the water was too cold for them!!!)

How to make Irish Soda Bread - gluten- and dairy-free!

on March 20, 2011

Shortly after deciding to go gluten- and dairy-free (for health reasons) almost half a year ago I signed up for the Living-Without-Newsletter and am now receiving recipes for gluten- and dairy-free meals on a regular base. This week the following recipe caught my eye: Irish Soda Bread! Since I've been yearning for some yummy bread for ages I thought I'd give it a try. It sure looked very delicious!

And you know what? IT TASTES EVEN BETTER THAN IT LOOKS!!!!! So I'm going to share it with you and hope you'll enjoy is as much as I did. Since Living Without is an American based publication all the measurements are given in cups. If you're used to grams etc. just use a free online-converter...

ingredients

2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Healtherie's Baking Mix)
1 teaspoon (tsp) baking soda
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder (e.g. Edmond's)
1/2 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup gluten-free oats (available at Bin Inn's)
1 egg
1 cup soymilk (or ricemilk)

preparation

- preheat oven to 180°C
- lightly dust baking paper with flour
- mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, xantham gum, salt and oats
- add egg and milk
- form soft, sticky dough
- place on a lighty floured surface and knead a few times
- shape dough into a flat circle approx 15cm in diameter and place it on prepared baking paper
- sprinkle with flour and mark the top with a big X
- bake until goldenbrown (the recipe said between 30 and 35mins but it took almost an hour to finish mine)

Enjoy :-)

One step closer...

on March 17, 2011

I finally got hold of an immigration officer yesterday and my hopes of being able to stay in the country have been raised considerably. Though two of three options I kinda had were basically ruled out. Going for residency under the Skilled Migrant Category as a journalist? Very unlikely to succeed without a job offer in New Zealand. Getting help from my current boss at the restaurant? Very unlikely to succeed. "He'd have a hard time convincing us why a foreigner is needed as a waitress and why no Kiwi could do that job." That's what the guy on the phone said anyway...

And then he asked me "Don't you have a partner who has a New Zealand passport?" - They actually ask you that!!! And obviously the partnership-based work permit is the best option I have. So what does that mean? Both, Dan and I, need to fill out a couple of forms. I to apply for the work permit, he to state that yes he is my boyfriend and yes he would support me.

I will also need to get a full medical done including a chest x-ray and heaps of blood tests. That kinnda freaks me out because me and needles are not exactly on good terms ;-/ I will probably need a week to recover from that...

We also need "evident proof that we are in a stable relationship". There's heaps of different documents and things they'll accept so we'll have to start collecting stuff now. But if I don't fail the medical it shouldn't be a problem even though we've only been together for three months now. Because according to the immigration guy they don't really give a damn about how long you've been seeing each other.

Well, I have four months left on my current visa and it will take about two to process my application for the next one. Doesn't sound too bad, ay? Plus once my application is accepted I'll get an interims permit that allows me to stay AND work in the country until a decision has been made. So all good for now, my back feels a lot lighter now that I have all this information...

Has anybody been in the same situation before?

Hora Hora!

Nope, this has nothing to do with Greek mythology or the Spanish language or whatever. Hora Hora is simply the name of my new soccer club. Unfortunately my days at Tikipunga were numbered. Only eight girls showed up to the first training of the season last week and numbers dropped to six on Monday. So when it was time to go to practice again yesterday I wasn't very surprised to receive a call from our coach telling me Tiki won't have a girls' team this year :-(

So what to do? Most of the girls went to Kamo to see if they still needed players. But what I've heard about Kamo so far wasn't very pleasant so I decided not to join them. Instead I went to a friend's team - in town and therefore a bit further away but a wise decision.

I instantly felt "at home" in Hora Hora. Not only was the majority of the team closer to my agge than in Tiki but the coach also maintained a good combination of fun and serious stuff. The warmup was very efficient followed by some intense tactical exercises. Gosh that felt sooo good! Finally being back on the ball and seeing that I hadn't forgotten it all! I think my coach back in Germany would be proud of me...

I did get a bit worried once we started the sprinting session. But once again I was positively surprised about how the coach handled things. I had told him about my exercise induced asthma and it seemed like he had encountered that before. He could see me starting to struggle just when I could feel my breathing becoming harder. I was allowed to take a break without any fuss and none of the other girls had a problem with it either.

So yeah, I'll definitely go back to training next week and I'm looking forward to kicking some ass this season *woohoo*

Kiwis love to go camping!

on March 14, 2011


I think I can actually count with both hands the amount of times I have been camping in my life until today. It's not that Germans don't like it - just my family didn't. I guess that's what you get for growing up with your mom only. Adding my fear of spiders und dislike of bugs I've come to the conclusion long ago that I'm just not made for camping.

Well, now that I'm in New Zealand I'd better get over it. Because Kiwis LOVE camping. Most of them anyway... So last weekend Daniel and I joined four of our mates and went on a short adventure. And you know what? Apart from me burning my lip trying to roast a marshmellow on the bonfire (don't ask me how I did that...) AND the fact that there was no "proper" toilet - just a longdrop (Plumpsklo) - I actually enjoyed it.

We went for a swim, got ourselves a free mud-treatment and feasted on all the yummy food we had brought along. Roasted potatoes, steaks, roasted marshmellows, chocolate covered heated bananas and then baked beans, bacon and eggs for breakfast. I think I gained two kilogramms in just 24 hours ;-/ Better get back to my fitness programm now...

Is it true?

on March 11, 2011

I had a late night at the pub tonight (WORKING! - til midnight) and as soon as I got into the car and drove off - I got stopped by the police. Alcohol test... All good of course. But then the cop asked me what driver's licence I was on - (German one plus the International one which is valid until 2013)... And then he told me that my International Licence is only valid in New Zealand for one year. If I stay in the country longer than that I need to get a Kiwi licence. Does anyone know if that is true? Because why would my international one be valid for three years if I'm not allowed to use it anymore after one???

What is good service worth to you?

on March 10, 2011

I've been working as a waitress in Whangarei for almost a month now - and there's but one thing I really have to get used to: New Zealand has no tipping culture!!!

When I was waitressing in Germany while going to uni I would make about 30 Euros in tips per day - sometimes more, sometimes less. But it was definitely something I was relying on in order to pay my bills and maybe go to the movies or do something fun.

I still remember having served one customer... he only ordered a cup of coffee. But our coffee machine was somehow mal-functinioning that day. Not only did he have to wait for about half an hour to actually get his coffee. But when he finally did get it - it was cold. Yet when he paid his 2.50 Euros for the coffee he gave me a 5-Euro-note and said "Keep the rest". Because obviously despite that bad experience I had still made his stay with us pleasant.

In my opinion tipping helps you become a better waitress. You are more alert and really want the customers to feel as good as possible. Because good service normally means generous tips. In Germany you tip anyone from waiters to hairdressers.

Not in New Zealand. Here I sometimes have customers who keep telling me over and over again how satisfied they are and how much they appreciate my service and blablabla... and when it's time for the bill they get their cards out, pay their bills - and walk off. Leaving not a single extra penny behind. Being accustomed to the German hospitality culture this still makes me feel very bad. Because in Germany when someone doesn't tip it means your service must have been really bad.

So I should probably change my way of thinking. Though in this case that is extremely hard to do. But at least now whenever I do get the odd tip (on good days about 10 dollars - 5 Euros - that I share 50/50 with the rest of the staff) I appreciate that even more. I just have to learn not to rely on tips.

What is strange though is that even people from countries who do have a tipping culture (many European countries, the US) do NOT tip anymore when they come here. So my question to you today is: What is good service worth to you?

When you're satisfied with your waiter/waitress and the service you receive - do you tip? How about when you're travelling - do you go by the country's tipping culture?

Better late than never

on March 03, 2011

Today I had a long expected "visitor" knocking on our door. The courier - carrying a parcel from Vodafone. Our modem! I couldn't believe it... So I spent all morning trying to set it up and get ourselves connected to the internet again. Wasn't that easy - because instead of only 5mins that stupid thing took about 2hours to configurate itself. But I won in the end - and now we're back online *woohoo* Just give me a few days to sort through my emails I will be back in touch with you all soon :-)

I'm still alive - just a little speechless

on March 01, 2011

Now you might think - speechless? Me? Well, let's call it a hardware-related speechlessness. For almost two weeks now Daniel and I have been waiting to get set up with internet and a phone line through Vodafone. Our phone line is working and we actually have a phone, too =D But we're still offline and there's not too many places in Whangarei to surf the web (for little money). And I'm kinda sick of going to McDonald's all the time taking my laptop for a walk..

Anyway - I still hope to be back online and more active again soon. Just got a message from Vodafone today (or at least I just saw the email today) saying that even our broadband is now set up - all that's missing is our hardware. However, that might take just a little longer to arrive due to the earthquake in Christchurch last week. Of course that's where they focus on right now - but we signed up with Vodafone a week BEFORE the quake hit... so no further comment on that.

As to what I've been up to... Daniel and I had a little welcoming party last Friday. It was heaps of fun and due to some spontanous visitors German girls were quite a majority that night *lol* Nina, a girl that I had travelled with in January, came back up north to spend her last days with me before heading back to Germany. She had just been on her way to Christchurch last week when the quake struck and was then struggling hard to get back out. She made it here safely and I'm very grateful for that. She was quite shaken (why is there no other word for that in the English language?!?) was I think coming here helped her get some distraction. Another friend of ours that we travelled with was also in Christchurch, had just started uni there. She, too, is well, thank God, but away from the city now deciding what will be her next steps.

There's also another au pair in town that I'm spending some time with now. Another youngster *lol* but she's really nice. Might come to play soccer with us *yeah* Practice for Tiki starts next week. Time to go running again and get back in shape.

Twilight soccer this year was awesome! We only lost the very first and the very last game and the best thing: I SCORED!!!! Daniel finally kept his promise and set me up and I slammed the ball into the goal *woohoo* what a great feeling - especially because that meant no nudy run for me *lol*

Work is also good. Last week was crazy, though. I worked 40 hours (which I know is normal in Germany anyway but considering as a part-timer here I'm only meant to do 30 hours per week...) and only had one day off. This week is better though I'm working lots of night shifts. Now I finally understand what couples mean when they say now that they live together they actually see each other less than before.

Well, time is almost up. But don't worry, I'll be back soon =D