Waipu Beach

On Friday, Sonic and I drove to Waipu to go to the beach with my friend Mia and her son Jesse. It was a beautiful sunny day (except for the minute and a half where it rained… but it was sunny and gorgeous again soon after!) and we had so much fun.

I always forget to bring my camera, but I took lots of photos on my iPhone. It was so beautiful! At first we just walked around and enjoyed the sand and water. Jesse loved splashing in the water. Sonic loved running on the beach, splashing in the water, and meeting some other dogs.

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Look at his floppy little ears in that picture above? So cute!

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It was low tide while we were at the beach, and we found some amazing tide pools full of life! I got so excited! Have you ever been to an aquarium with a touch tank? It was just like that! Sure, not quite as much variety at this beach, but it was similar. There were several kinds of starfish, crabs, anemones (maybe; not entirely sure what they are but they look like the anemones in Finding Nemo, except these are purple). We even saw.

Octopi.

IN THE WILDDDDD.

I’ve seen a large octopus at the Seattle Aquarium. I’ve never seen one in the wild before!

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How amazing is that? We saw several of these little guys!

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And I had no idea what this creature in the photo below was until someone on Instagram asked if it was a Sea Hare, and I googled it and found pictures of Sea Hares that look just like this, so yes- it’s a Sea Hare!

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These two photos above were taken less than thirty minutes apart; it really amazes me how God makes such beauty, and such variety too!

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It was such a fun day! We’re planning to go back soon hopefully, with Jared and Jenno (Mia’s husband) this time!

Do you live near a beach? If you do, what is your favorite beach to go to? We have so many beaches in Whangarei… so…. many….. it’s amazing! But this one was by far my favorite because of the tide pools!

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Books to Help Your Walk With God

I could not think of a single thing to write about today. So I sat here in front of the computer trying to think… and I decided that I’ll share with you some of my favorite books. A couple years ago I started reading a book called In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. That book truly changed my life. It was intriguing, personal, convicting. This is a story about a handful of people from a good church, who realize that going to church, doing ‘Christian’ things, good things, isn’t all that God wants from us. They looked like great Christians, and their hearts were in it. But they realized that God really wants us to surrender our lives to him. Each and every day. And a handful of people in that congregation decided to do just that. As you read, you see the characters develop. Some for the better, some for the worse. You see the incredible change that can happen if you give your life truly to the Lord. And you see where you could go if you don’t.

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I don’t remember exactly where I got this book when I first read it. I know it had to do with my Grandma Jean. I think I read it at her house once, and I loved it so much I needed to buy my own. I found this one on Amazon and I love it because it looks so special, and it is a special book to me. I can’t find the exact one on Amazon anymore, however, a quick search and tons of options came up; here is just one. I’ve also seen a more recent edition that has modernized language, but it’s just not the same as reading the original. Have any of you read this book before?

Another one that I love is called In Pursuit of First Love by Frank Eiklor. This book talks about how Jesus Christ is our first love, and what that means. I think I got this book from my grandma as well, but with this one I kept it on my shelf for months and months before I eventually read it. I read this book about a year and a half ago and it was another one that truly impacted me. I’m looking forward to reading it again soon, and it will be interesting to see the notes and marks that I’ve made in the book. This one is harder to find, so here is the only Amazon listing for it. I think you can get it from here as well (scroll down, it’s number 5022)- like I said, hard to find, but worth it if you do!

These two books stand out to me as books that I’ll always keep and reread. Books that have helped me draw closer to God. I am really excited to start reading these again. Every now and then we all need a reminder of where we really stand with God and how he can use us. And of course the Bible is the best place to go for that. But these books have also helped me realize God’s love for me, and taught me how to have a better relationship with him.

What are the books that have encouraged you, or touched your heart, or shown you God’s truths? Have you read either one of these two books, and if so what did you think of them? I would love to hear your thoughts.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend!

 

5 Tips for Grocery Shopping

I don’t know about you, but I love grocery shopping. I just love it. It’s so much fun to me! Before Jared and I were married, I would tag along with my parents to the grocery store at times but I never actually went grocery shopping myself. The first few times Jared and I got groceries, we were unpleasantly surprised at how much we spent- but when you’re just starting out with your own home you do need to stock up, and once we got the essentials, we were able to cut back to a much more satisfactory number for our weekly shops, and stick to it! It took me a while to figure out normal prices for things and what I could fit in the budget, but once I did it wasn’t hard to stay in budget. If you’ve just moved out or gotten married, and you’re starting to grocery shop on your own, here are a few tips to help you out.

  1. Make a budget. Okay this one is kind of obvious, but make sure you know how much you can spend. If you just go into the store with a list but no budget you can spend way more than you intended. Also bring along a calculator so you can be sure that you stick to the budget!
  2. Make a list. Always bring a list with you! I typed up a master grocery list that I print off every week. It makes it so easy to just look in the fridge and pantry as I go through the list and highlight what we need that week. That way I can be sure I don’t forget anything important.
  3. Don’t be afraid to go to more than one store. I always go to Pak n Save, because they generally have the lowest prices. Also, they’re conveniently close! However, I also love to go to Reduced to Clear, which is even closer to our house than Pak n Save, and on the way. They’re a clearance grocery store, so it’s a bit of a hit and miss, but their prices can be great, and I always check online before shopping there to see if they have anything I need. We also have a New World and Countdown nearby but their prices are higher than Pak n Save so it’s not worth the hassle to visit them as well in the hopes of a sale. But if you do have a couple local stores that each have the best prices for specific things, don’t be afraid to go to more than one place! For example, if meat and dairy were consistently cheaper at Countdown, it would be worth it to me to make an extra stop.
  4. Be flexible! If you want to stay in budget, give your list a bit of wiggle room. I often will highlight the things we need and for the things that I’d like to get but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fit them in, I’ll use my highlighter to put a small dash on the item on my list, so it’s on my radar even if it’s not a priority. For things that tend to fluctuate in price, like fruits and veggies, I highlight the things I know I can get for a good price (potatoes, carrots, bananas, etc.) and then just see what’s on sale when I get to the store. If broccoli is over $3 a head, we’re not having broccoli that week. Again, this is where it helps to know the usual prices. Jared loves to have mandarins especially when he referees rugby, so if they’re more expensive one week I’ll just buy 2 or 3, rather than buying close to a kg. In the summer you can often find pineapples, mangoes, peaches, etc. for good prices. In the autumn, squash is cheaper- I bought a buttercup pumpkin for $1 last week.
  5. Meal Plan. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, but it does help to have several ideas of what to make throughout the week so you’re not just standing in front of the fridge a few days later trying to figure out a meal from random ingredients. But as I pointed out above, this can also depend on prices of veggies and meat, so don’t be too strict about it. When Pak n Save has a meat special, or reduced prices on a few items because they were packed a day or two ago, I love to grab those ones up! But know the prices too, so if you really want to make tacos but mince isn’t on sale,  you can still buy it because you’ve planned for it.

These are just a few things I’ve learned since I’ve been doing our grocery shopping, and I hope they can help you out a bit. What are your favorite grocery shopping tips?

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This morning I finally got something done for immigration that I was stressing about, so it’s a relief to have that off my mind! Anyone who has moved to another country knows… agh it can be stressful! When I got my visa in September I was so relieved just because I didn’t have to think about visa stuff for months and months! And now it’s time to think about it again… *sigh*.

I hope you all have a lovely start to your week! Sonic found one of Jared’s dress shirt’s and chewed a button off, so that’s great… still a better Monday than last week though!

Autumn Favorites

The past few days have really been cold, which I am loving!!! I have an amazing pair of fuzzy feet pajamas (as my family calls them) from Land’s End, and it was finally cold enough that I could wear them again!

I’m really obsessed with my fuzzy feet pajamas so I’ll tell you a little about them. My mom hates clutter, and in general tends to prefer quality over quantity, so she would much rather buy my siblings and I each one or two pairs of great quality pajamas that would last years and years and years, than be buying new ones every year because they wore out. Land’s End has great quality items and I remember we got bath towels, dresses, coats, and pajamas from there, and I’m sure other things as well!

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photo from Little Earthling Blog

These pajamas last for so long. When one child outgrew them, they got passed to the next, and so on. Once the feet started getting holes, we would just cut them off and keep wearing them because they were still going strong! And the name? It’s not too hard to figure out why we called them fuzzy feet pajamas. They’re fuzzy. They have feet.

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Photo from Little Earthling Blog

I think as we got older we stopped wearing them as much, and then a couple years ago my dad was ordering pajamas for my younger siblings. Well…. fuzzy feet pajamas! They are so cozy, so warm, and I have so many great memories. I was so bummed because I really wanted some too… and then my mom told me to just ask my dad to get some for me as well. Uhhh why don’t I think of things like that? So I did, and my dad ordered me a pair, and they are just as amazing as I remember! They don’t come in adult sizes but I got a size 16 kids and they fit me perfect with a little room (I’m 5’4″). Here is a link to the pajamas on the Land’s End website. I think they have different colors/patterns each year.

If you want to stay warm in the winter, go get yourself a pair. They’re not cheap but they’re worth it and they will last forever!

Another thing I love about this autumn is that we have a mandarin tree in our backyard and the fruit is starting to ripen!

The other day I bought a pumpkin at the grocery store, and roasted half of it for dinner. I think I’ll turn the other half into pumpkin bread. I absolutely love pumpkin bread, but unfortunately it’s harder to get pureed pumpkin here than it is in the States, and much much cheaper to buy a pumpkin and cook/puree it yourself! That’s what I did for pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, and though I was a bit intimidated at first it turned out really well.

I know you may think I’m crazy but I love how chilly it is! I got groceries the other day and the cold air was so refreshing and made me so happy. I do love summer but man have I missed autumn and winter! Plus when it’s cold, it’s so cozy and fun to cuddle up in a warm blanket with a hot drink. I just love it!

If you enjoy decorating your house, the changing seasons mean change of decor as well! Unfortunately I don’t have extra money to spend on home decor but that doesn’t stop me ‘window shopping’ online anyways. I think ‘online window shopping’ is one of my biggest hobbies. Thankfully there are lots of ways to decorate your house without having to spend much money, like free printables that you can frame, or cheap candles in autumny colors. The Warehouse and Kmart have great prices for some really cute stuff! I love The Warehouse’s pillows and throws… I have a couple throws/blankets from there and I love them! I think these three pillows together would look so good. The different colors and textures make it an interesting combination.

I love my light box that was a Christmas gift! It’s so personizable. (Yeah I think I just made up that word…) you can write whatever you want!

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Do you enjoy decorating your house? Do you change the decor out for the different seasons?

Thank You! {Free Kitchen Conversion Printable}

4,795.

That’s how many of you there have been. 4,795 of you have stumbled across my site, and viewed my posts. Some have read one post and never returned, some might have read a few and then moved on, but some of you have stuck around. Whether you’ve been reading my blog since September, when I was barely even posting, or if you’ve just found it recently; whether you read my posts regularly or if this is the first- Thank You.

Sometimes I wish that I had more readers on my blog, more followers and more likes on my Instagram. But then I remember that those numbers aren’t just numbers, but individual people. And I feel so honored that I get to write on my blog, post on my Instagram, and there are 50-100+ people each day who want to read what I’ve written or see my photos. However others may look at that number, I am grateful for it. For each of you.

Saying that, I wish I could do something for you. I hope in the future I can do a fun giveaway, but unfortunately there are bills to be paid and groceries to be bought, so I’m not able to now.

But there is something I’ve been working on for a while that I wanted to share with you, and I figured what better time to finish it up than now?

When I’m baking for fun, or cooking dinner, and one of my measuring cups is dirty or I have to use my kitchen scale, I hate having to pull out my phone and look up 1 cup butter in grams  or 6 Tablespoons to cups. I decided to get the information that I’m always looking up and put it together on a sheet of paper so I could tape it to the inside of a cupboard and easily find the answers to my kitchen questions!

I’ve already memorized ones like cups to pints to quarts to gallons, because growing up we had a magnet on the fridge with those, and other conversions. Those are easy for me to do in my head and I think most people learn those pretty quickly, so I haven’t included them.

I use these pretty much every day! Just click the link below the photo to get the printable PDF version.

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Kitchen Conversions Printable

This is seriously a lifesaver for me. No more greasy phone covered with flour… well… I do still use my phone for recipes a lot. But at least now I just glance at it every now and then instead of trying to google my questions while in the middle of something! I hope that you find this useful and that it includes conversions that you need to use often as well.

Side note… totally going off topic… it’s cold right now! Yessss! After spring, summer, spring, summer, spring, summer, spring, summer, I am so ready for autumn! It hasn’t been very cold lately even though we’ve been in autumn for a month now… but last night and today have been really chilly, and I’m soooo happy about it! The trees are losing their leaves, it’s getting colder… life is good. I know you guys who are just coming out of a frozen winter are probably thinking I’m crazy and that constant spring and summer sound pretty amazing… and they are. But God made four seasons for a reason (in some parts of the world anyways… haha) and I love variety.

Plus life is SO WEIRD when you switch around the seasons. And do it again. And then again. It messes with my head! Getting older and growing up means lots of changes but I didn’t think that the seasons being switched around would really be that big of a deal… but it is just really weird. We’re going to celebrate American Independence Day in the dead of winter. Christmas here is barbecues. Life. Is. So. Weird.

Anyways… we’ll talk about that some other time! For now, I hope you enjoy the printable, and I hope that your weeks are off to a great start!

 

The Value of a Moment

The Value of a Moment How I Realized I Was Taking Things For Granted

I was 18, and had every possibility you could imagine in my future. I had just finished school and I had so many options for what to do next. Maybe I would work for a year and save up to go to Bible college; maybe I would go visit my sister in New Zealand- for at least a month; maybe I would travel the world; or find a job and build my savings account; I felt like I could do anything. So when my sister sent me a message asking if I wanted to come visit her in New Zealand, I eagerly agreed to. Then she sent me another message asking me to stay for several months… even six months. I was a little hesitant… that’s a long time!

A long time to be away from my family, my friends, my church. I would miss Thanksgiving… Christmas… but I realized that spending half a year (half a year?! It sounds so long!) in another part of the world was nothing short of an amazing adventure. So I would miss Thanksgiving; but I would be at home for the next Thanksgiving, and the next, and next… and Christmas? It comes every year. I’d be home for the next Christmas, to enjoy the festive music playing in every store, abundant decorations, the smell of warm gingerbread, hot chocolate and candy canes, Christmas movies, the biting cold, and the family traditions leading up to and on the day of Christmas.

Yes, there was always the next year.

So I decided to do it- to go to New Zealand for six months. I didn’t know many people there; only my sister, her husband, and his family. I had never been to New Zealand before. I knew I wanted to go sometime, but I’d never imagined going for such a long period of time.

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Kalina, Enoch, Me, and Judah – March 2017

Having something specific to work towards gave me motivation to transition to working full time and I enjoyed seeing my savings account grow after each long week. Between work and church, I was barely home, but I didn’t mind the long hours because I really enjoyed my job as a nanny, spending time with and taking care of four precious children.

As the days passed, I started preparing for my move. Going somewhere for six months really is living there, not just visiting. I sorted through what to take and what to leave behind. Soon it was only a matter of days until I left, and I finished packing, made sure I had my passport and my visa, and anxiously awaited the day I would fly out.

Saying goodbye to my family and my friends was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Not the most difficult; that was saying goodbye the second time. But I’m getting ahead of myself! Knowing that I wouldn’t see any of them again for six months was challenging. But I knew that we would be reunited, and we vowed to keep in touch in the meantime.

If I don’t know what to expect in a situation, I go into it without any expectations, ready for whatever happens. So, without any idea what the next six months would hold, I was off. My dad and I woke up at 2:30am and he drove me to the airport. We got some breakfast, checked my bags, said goodbye, and I went through security. I’m not a huge fan of flying (which is kinda funny since I’ve been on 30+ planes!) but at least on the long flights there are movies to distract from the fact that you are travelling hundreds of miles per hour and are thousands of feet in the air. I had a layover in Hawaii, and can I just add that the airport there is prettyyyy confusing. It took me a while to figure out how to get to my gate; and what my gate even was. Once I did, I enjoyed the view of the tarmac as I waited to board my flight.

When I arrived in Auckland, my sister Adalia, her husband Ben, and his brother Jason picked me up from the airport. I can proudly say my first food in New Zealand was McDonalds… what can I say, it was late at night and when someone offers you chicken nuggets, you never say no.

It was amazing to see my sister again after 2 1/2 years, and get to know Ben better, as well as his family. Those six months were so precious, and one of my favorite things was getting to spend a week with just Adalia vacationing in Australia!

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Me and Adalia – Australia – January 2017

After a few weeks in New Zealand, I was surprised at how much I missed my family. It’s one thing to go away for a few days, or weeks; even when I went to Malawi and was gone for two months, I knew I would be returning home to my family where I would once again be with them every day, for years.

But when you start getting older, you realize that you might not have much time left with them. With Ben and Adalia both working, and since I only worked for a couple weeks while I was in New Zealand, the house was often empty and quiet; with thirteen siblings, I wasn’t used to that. It just made me realize how far away I was from my other siblings and my parents, and I missed each of them. Anyone who knew me for those six months could easily tell you that I was a little bit homesick, even though I was in a great church and made several amazing friends.

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Me, Annabethany, Daniel – Paeroa, NZ –  October 2017

Realizing that the time we have together is so precious and shouldn’t be taken for granted, I tried my best to enjoy each moment, both while I was in New Zealand- I have some amazing memories from those six months- and when I returned home in March. The year before, when I was in school and when I was working, I was often too busy or tired to do things with my family. After returning from New Zealand, I tried to spend more time with them. Instead of crashing in my room on the odd day I got home while it was still light outside, I would join my siblings while they watched a movie. I went jogging with Tucker. Tried to be more involved, and live with my family instead of just alongside them.

I challenge you to do the same. I know I still take things for granted at times, but I do try to slow down and appreciate all that I’ve been blessed with. Since returning to the States, I got engaged, married, and moved to New Zealand permanently (which I might add is wholly different than even moving somewhere for six months). Thankfully my friends and I have been wayyy better about actually keeping in touch this time around, and since being here, I’ve gotten to see my mom and Jubilee, and my dad, which is pretty amazing considering Adalia waited two whole years for any of us to come visit her when she moved here.

These past two years have just taught me that you may never know until after the fact that it’s the last time you’ll spend Christmas at home. The last time you’ll celebrate Thanksgiving in the fall. The last time you’ll be sipping eggnog as snowflakes fall. The last time you’ll celebrate Independence Day in the country the holiday is all about. Even things as simple as the last time you go shopping with your sister, or the last time you watch a movie with the family; you might not know.

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My family and grandparents – June 2017

So, are you sufficiently sad after reading that last paragraph? I’m sorry, but please let me finish. I’m not just telling you how growing up sucks. Change can be an amazing thing. (Yes I’m still trying to convince myself of that as well) And what makes it easier is fully appreciating each moment so you don’t feel like you’ve missed out. I would hate to have spent six months in New Zealand just moping around missing my family and friends in the States. If I did, I’d spend the next few months moping around thinking about how I missed my New Zealand family and friends. No, appreciate each moment and don’t look back. The past is already finished, and you can’t change it. So the best you can do is to make sure you don’t repeat the mistake you’ve made before. In this case, I made the mistake of not appreciating my family enough, and it’s a mistake I don’t want to make again- with anyone, anywhere. God has truly given me amazing family and friends, all over the world, and I’m so thankful for each one of them.

Have you been taking anything for granted lately? As Dr. Seuss put it, ‘Sometimes you don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.’

Let’s do our best to enjoy each moment so the memories we have are fill our hearts with contentment; not regret.

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Me and Jubilee – Oregon Coast – August 2016

One of My Favorite Books!

I just posted this week’s video over on my YouTube channel.

The book I talk about in this video is Virals by Kathy Reichs. I’d love to tell you about my favorite books more often, maybe I’ll make it a regular thing… anyways, I first read this book years ago, I found it while perusing the small teen section at the public library. This book is one of those that you don’t want to put down until you finish it… and when you do, you’re so glad that it was written several years ago so you don’t have to wait for the next books to come out! I love when I find a series I love and all the books are already published… yes!

Our library here in Whangarei is actually hugeeee it’s so big! And there’s a large teen section as well. I was so excited to find Virals there, as well as the second book, Seizure, because I’ve actually been thinking about these books for a couple weeks and wondering if our library has them. I looked before and couldn’t find them… either they were checked out at the time, or I just mixed up the spelling of the author’s name? Either way, I did find them yesterday and I’m so excited to read them. I’m a huge fan of reading, and I have great memories of staying up late reading Alex Rider books (which Jared was also a fan of!) until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I would get to the point where I was so tired I could barely go on, but if I stopped then I wouldn’t remember what I’d just read, so sometimes I would just power on and finish the book even if I could hardly stay awake. Virals is that kind of book, where you can’t put it down!

Do you enjoy reading, and what are your favorite books?