rat tails, mullets, and dreads, oh my!

pretty sure i've spoken with some of my "readership" personally about this issue, but in case i haven't (and really even if i have) i'm pretty sure this is a NZ phenomena worthy of a blog post.  this post is about dreadful hairstyles - namely the rat tail..

ok ok, so that's not a real photo of someone i've met here. but it made me laugh and kind of gets the point across straight away don't you think? c'mon, you didn't laugh? anyway, if you've ever been through customs to get into NZ, you'll know they are pretty strict. no food, no medicines, no articles of clothing that may have dirt on them, and any animals that come into the country need to be quarantined for a significant amount of time.  it's great because it means that a lot of pests and diseases that are found in other countries aren't found here, however, it seems that one must have snuck by somewhere along the line because never in my life have i seen more rat tails per capita anywhere in the world.

before i left for NZ, many of my girlfriends got overly excited with the notion that i would immediately fall into the arms of some dashingly handsome man with an accent, get married, and ride off into the sunset with our dual citizenship.  it's a question i get a lot from most people - "so are you dating any one? are you in love with a kiwi yet?" - and it's been a little embarrassing disappointing people with answers like "eh, not really."

so, i'm blaming the rat tails.  first of all, it's a completely ridiculous hairstyle for someone to come up with.  how does one even start? do you one day wake up and go to the barber for your regular trim but say "oh wait, not right here in this little area. i'm going for a rat tail?" and i'm pretty sure it's well know that this is not an attractive hairstyle. it doesn't earn street cred among other men, and it certainly doesn't up your game with the ladies - so what's the point?  i could probably go on for an hour. get a couple beers in me and i can go on for a couple of hours.

anyway, unlike the first photo, these are all unfortunately real photos of real people i have encountered - just to prove i'm not just single because i'm completely dude repellent. i said "completely"...

given my lack of stealth, this is actually a photo of a guy showing off his rat tail to me. yep, bragging. i even got the story of how it all began, just a mere dream of a boy with a mullet....

um, ginger dreads? sorry dude, don't think the guitar is that strong of an airbrush for that...

sooieeeeeeeee pig pig pig

i doubt you can tell, but that black blob on the right hand side of the photo is a set of floor length dreads that belong to a guy who goes to my gym...and runs miles on the treadmill. now that's talent, people.


the most wonderful time of the year...

well, it looks like it's that time of year again - the holiday season.  can't believe it's been almost half a year since i've been here. hm, ok enough musing over my life - on to the good stuff...

this past week was the first (of many according to my schedule for the next couple weeks) media owner holiday party.  i was also told it would be the best of the lot, and it was pretty great.  the party was a jungle theme and was held at a nice hotel in town. free booze, free food, and a photo booth for everyone who works at mediaworks (a television network here) and ad agencies who was interested in dressing up like a cat/rambo/enlarged hard copy of the jungle book.  yep, someone really dressed up like that and man was i jealous.

elephant ice sculpture to keep the rtds cold

perhaps it would have been best to pic the dance floor as a background. so we don't look like we're at a party alone. with the exception of a wolfman?

this was the last photo on my camera from the night. maybe this was one of a series of photos...

of course i started the night out drinking champagne, and ended insisting that i want to act like a "bogen" (that's kiwi for redneck and one of my new favorite words) and drink a "bogen" drink (never missing an opportunity to say it again..). the drink of choice was woodstock, which is a bourbon and cola drink.  

something pretty popular here in NZ that doesn't seem as prevalent back home are rtds.  i hope it stands for "ready to drink" in a trying-to-be-fashionable kind of way, but if not that's basically what they are. a mixed cocktail drink that is pre-bottled and comes in a pack. they vary in simplicity from a vodka tonic to sex on the beach, and can be purchased pretty much an any liquor store.  

not exactly the same as having a cocktail made fresh from behind the bar, but it's certainly good enough for me.

proudly displaying my rtd


a very kiwi thanksgiving

while this is a really amazing experience and i'm very thankful for the opportunity i've been given to live and work in another country, admittedly i do get homesick every once in awhile.  it was particularly bad this week when i had to spend my favorite american holiday away from my family, and even worse working.  i mean i know i'm complaining a little right now, but believe me you don't know how bad the moping was this week.

luckily, an american friend i've met here called and invited me over to her place where she was throwing a thanksgiving potluck dinner.  most of the attendees were kiwi and there wasn't any football or a parade to watch on tv, but i wasn't going to let an opportunity to have a semi-proper thanksgiving.

i wanted to stop by the american store to pick up my favorite stuffing - stovetop - but unfortunately, they were sold out of the mix.  i was forced to resort to googling "homemade stuffing that tastes like stovetop" and braving making a recipe myself.  granted i had an audience that wasn't quite sure what stuffing was or how it fit in with the rest of the meal since it wasn't "stuffed" in anything, but i got a couple of compliments so i'm going to take them and run with them.

it was pretty hard being away from my family for this one, but i'm glad i had people to celebrate with and hope all my friends back home had a great holiday as well! borderline cheesy i know, but it's the holidays people! give me a break...

look mom, stuffing from scratch that tastes like stovetop! proud?

happy thanksgiving!


red shoe ball

this week was another busy one in the advertising world.  given that the holidays are coming up, it seems that my schedule has been filling up with holiday lunches and parties galore.  believe me i'm not complaining.  even better is the fact that it's starting to warm up here, so when i had to attend a black tie event this week, i was extremely excited not to have to base my dress choice on weather.

the red shoe ball is an annual event that mcdonald's hosts in support of the ronald mcdonald house charity.  if you've been to a black tie charity auction before, it's really much of a muchness in comparison. there's a dinner, silent and live auction, too much wine, and awkward dancing to a list of top 100 pop songs that were popular 5 years ago.  the only difference really was that there was a clown on the guest list.  wish i had a photo to share of myself and ronald slow dancing, but as it was a charity function they were charging for these photos and it's a bit of an effort to scan in a hard copy of a photo, so i just have a picture of some of my team all dressed up in our finest.

and while i've tried to make an effort to have this blog be less about me and more about things i'm doing/places i'm going to, i can't help but brag about the item in the silent auction that i won.  i have a trip planned later this year to go to thailand to meet up with my friend alex and travel around and luckily enough there were a few hotel packages available in the silent auction at the event.  even after a dark and stormy and probably too many glasses of champagne, i managed to put my strategy hat on and decided i could probably manage to get a deal here, given that it was unlikely there were many others in the crowd that already had trips planned to thailand.  anyway, i went into it ebay style (don't bid until the last minute) and i won accommodation for 2 nights in bangkok and 2 nights in phuket for what my friend and i will likely be paying for a backpackers anyway.

that's the end of the story right there, but like i said it was too big of win in my mind to not brag a little bit.


small request

can someone please make me this cake? pretty please?


pie face

somewhere in the 48 hours i was in sydney, i managed to become obsessed with a small food chain that i saw around town.  i know you're thinking that this is another item probably not noteworthy enough to deserve a blog post, but it was also my first pie experience while i've been down here so i technically have to write about it.

it's called pie face (how can you not like a place named after a fictitious insult?) and they offer sandwiches, coffee, pastries, and pies.  yes, some of these pies are the standard dessert pies (fruit, chocolate, etc), but most are the savory pies that are a favorite food in these parts.

i chose conservatively and went for the chicken and mushroom pie - this seemed closest to the very familiar chicken pot pie that most of my people (americans, but i kind of just wanted to say "my people") have eaten since they were young.  it was good, but probably a little too close to cpp.  next time (and believe me there will be a next time), i think i'll venture out and try mince and tomato chutney.

the sign

the selection of pies

my "open my eyes" soy latte


taronga zoo

i'm a complete sucker for a zoo.  not just in a "oh it would be great if i had time to see the zoo while i'm here" kind of way.  it's more like if i find out there is a decent zoo in a city i am traveling to, visiting the zoo skyrockets to the top of my list of priorities. i simply can't resist them and frequently have to drag whomever i'm travelling with to the zoo with a speech that usually ends with "c'mon, it'll be fun!" (right, vanessa?)

so when i heard the taronga zoo in sydney was already on other non-zoo enthusiasts list of must sees, history repeated itself and i booked myself a zoo pass (return ferry ticket to and from the zoo and tickets for entrance at a 10% discount!!! wowwowwow!!) and spent most of my sunday perusing the interesting wildlife australia had to offer.

took the sky pass to the entrance of the zoo which is kind of like a little gondola. of course was too busy staring to take photos, but hey here's the sign!

 entrance to the zoo

komodo dragon

and into the reptile zone...

the closest i'll ever be to a cobra (hopefully)

fierce snake - super poisonous and super scary. not sure what is up with the 200,000 mice analogy. couldn't we just say one bite can kill something larger?

inside a turtle tank - just KIDDING!


up close and personal

elephant family

caught the seal show at 11 just like the rest of the toddlers at the zoo

chillin with some roos and wallabies in the outback walk - no cages to keep you from the animals there

tasmanian devil - now i'm not sure where they get the cartoon depiction from

the best part of my trip to the zoo was hands down my "animal encounter" experience.  basically the zoo offers patrons to pay extra to get up close to an animal, feed them, and take a photo with them.  the animals offered ranged from giraffes to reptiles, and i couldn't resist the chance to be close to a koala.

coolest experience ever. even if i look like i'm fake smiling.

felicity the koala

 hiiiiiii little guy!

 do you have any idea how hard it was for me to walk out of the zoo gift store without one of these?


shaker fries

alright, so i do have a thing or two to say about food while i was in sydney.  true to form, however, i have more to say about fast food/chain restaurants than i have to say about the amazing wiener schnitzel i had for dinner on saturday night.  i'll make the excuse that working on the business made me curious, but i had to check out mcdonald's as i knew from a few conference calls there were products that are available exclusively in australia that i felt compelled to try.  

one of those were mcwings, which i had heard good reviews on (apparently they have had these in new zealand previously).  in my opinion, they were mcdisgusting.  they are basically little breaded buffalo wings, which sounds fine and normal i'm sure.  the gross part for me was even though these were shaped like normal buffalo wings, i had a mini internal conflict wondering whether or not this product contained a bone, or subscribed to the same theory as the mcrib where it was only necessary to look like the product has bones.  conclusion: mcwings have bones and are nothing special.

the other thing i tried was shaker fries.  i'm not really sure why these are exclusive to australia actually.  they are delicious and simple and make mcdonald's fries taste more like fries you might get in a restaurant. they were also pretty uncomplicated - no internalized conflicts to report.  in fact, i'll give you a little step by step on the process.

step one: order any size fries and ask for a "shaker" - this will cost you 20 australian cents

step two: dump your fries in the brown bag you are given and allocate as much of the shaker packet as you would like.  i ordered a small and used the whole packet, which was a bit strong for my taste, but to each their own.

step three: shake the bag to distribute the seasoning (hence "shaker fries") and enjoy! 

step four: convince mcdonald's to make these a global product, as it will be difficult moving forward to enjoy regular french fries.


bondi to bronte

before heading off on my first trip to australia completely blind, i emailed my friend alice to gather a few recommendations.  topping her list (that i was extremely appreciative to receive - pretty much made my trip!) was taking the walk from south bondi to bronte.  

surely most of the people reading this have heard of bondi beach, as it's a pretty famous beach just east of the sydney cbd.  not only did i consider it a landmark that i needed to see while in sydney, since i had pretty much been awake since 3 am that morning with little to no sleep, i thought it might be a good opportunity to take a little nap and still a florida girl at heart, maybe even get insanely tan.

after my nap, i decided to take the big walk over the cliffs to bronte.  luckily i had good timing in my trip, and not only was the walk along the cliffs beautiful, but there was an art exhibit that was going on along the way.  it was an amazing way to end the afternoon after exploring the city, and i only left when my face began to resemble a prosacea "before" photo...

bondi beach.

little history lesson in case you're interested/have fantastic eye sight

cliffs on the walk from bondi to bronte

 zebras to start the artwork walk

i'll admit it, i don't know what these are or what they're supposed to mean - i just thought it looked cool

 elephant made of plates with different cities in australia and "new zealand" on them

more cliffs - almost to bronte beach



in an attempt to gather material unrelated to fast food for the blog, i took a trip to sydney, australia.  ok, it wasn't all for the blog. i've never been to australia before and there was a special deal on air new zealand for $300 round trips to sydney.  since i don't have any leave from work really due to some upcoming vacations/not being there very long, i decided it was still a rare opportunity for me to be able to go see a city i've always wanted to see.

so i went, and ended up falling absolutely head over heels for this city.  it's a much busier city than auckland, and reminded me a little bit more of new york with the high rises, ample public transportation, and the abundance of restaurants, shops, and other entertainment.  one thing sydney does have on new york, however, was that i was able to get on a bus for 20 minutes and get to an amazingly beautiful beach for the day.  also a plus, it seemed like a few american products i have been missing were more readily available in sydney. which is pretty strange considering the shipping cost to australia versus new zealand shouldn't a vast difference. just saying...

anyway, i went into the trip with loose plans.  i didn't want to disappoint myself if i wasn't able to do everything i wanted, however, by some miracle i checked most things i had on my list and more. this means i'll be doing a couple of posts about some of the things i did, but in the meantime below are a few of the highlights of sydney.


hyde park

hyde part artsy photo

last artsy sydney photo...maybe.

sydney opera house.

 zoom, zoom.

sydney harbour bridge.  


the strand. 

a small alley filled with birdcages i stumbled down while exploring. not sure if there's any more significance than that.

 the rocks

oh sydney, you're so considerate!