Flanders in NZ 3 – Flanders Flat Warming Fiesta

Its been over 2 weeks since landing, we moved into a new home, unpacked, mowed the lawn, bought a decorative porch plant (thanks Keith!), finally got our internet turned on…sounded like time for a Flanders Flat-Warming Fiesta! Saturday afternoon was beautiful autumn weather. We invited my colleagues and initiated a bake-off to which resulted in pumpkin pie, apple crisp, choc. chip & nutella cookies, and banana bread cupcakes(?…there was some debate to whether these should be named cupcakes or “muffins”). We discussed trying to use up the ripened bananas in the office so I brought a few home to make these. I still can’t believe last time around I lived in a motel with no oven for 6 months…now it is so much easier to bake! This was the first time I tried these types of cupcake-muffins with homemade cream cheese frosting, they were quite tasty if I do say so myself. Thanks to joythebaker’s recipe here.

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Cupcakes, open fire, & some yummy chicken

In work-news I got back into the Christchurch abandoned-building-site-visit world last week. Nothing like wandering around a hotel that’s been abandoned since February 2011. Makes for a nice view from one of the few tall buildings left in the city.

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Penthouse View

This week’s Sunday hike involved a beautiful drive out to Castle Hill (about an hour west of Christchurch). Keith had yet to be outside of Christchurch so I figured this would be an easy day trip to start to encounter the southern alps range and do a quick, easy, yet beautiful hike around the limestone outcrop. Last time I was here was September ’12 and it was just as nice and we decided to climb the giant “hill” once again.

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Keith enjoying the scenery. “Anything is Possible!!”

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Jen enjoying the scenery

One fun thing about knowing friends around the world is getting involved in fun travel projects. Keith & my WPI peer (actually our orientation leader!) is currently a doctor in Norway. She contacted me asking if she could send me a package from her friend’s kid’s elementary school in the mid-west. The project was to send a drawing of themselves around to friends and family to get their pictures in different locations. So after our Norway friend took the drawing to the Arctic Circle she shipped it off to me. Hopefully the elementary school class will enjoy our photos with their “classmate” around the world!

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Jen hanging out with a stranger elementary school student’s school project 🙂

We’re both pretty pumped to already have a line up of future trips. Keith is going to Auckland for business next month, the All Blacks national rugby team is playing in Dunedin mid-June which a group of us are traveling to, a Wellington trip is happening in August, and we’re currently debating where to vacation to escape the Christchurch cold in a couple of months. Anyone have any ideas!? I’m still attempting to convince Keith that Thailand is a great & unique option, but an easy flight to Australia, Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, or others(!?) is also in the running.

Cheers mates.

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