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And here we are – the final pages that make up my complete Journal Your Christmas album. Hurrah!

Hi dear blog readers,

I need your help. I am a finalist in the Sisters Ridge blog competition – and I need your votes! 

The competition is to be the voice of Sisters Ridge wines. We had the choice to write about two topics – “Top 10 tips for a girls night in” and “Top 10 tips for squeezing the juice out of life” – and there are two finalists per topic. But only ONE person per topic will be chosen – that’s where you come in!!

Voting is easy. If you have a facebook account all you need to do is click the ‘like’ vote button at the end of my entry: http://www.sistersridge.co.nz/blog/amber/leah_evans/

If you don’t have a facebook account, just register your vote by posting a comment on my entry.

You can only vote once – and the girl with the most votes wins.

But wait, there’s more! When you vote, be sure to register here and you will go in the draw to win two bottles of our fabulous Sisters Ridge wines. We will give away one double pack per week of voting.

Fingers crossed!!

xxLeah

Over the weekend we loaded up the ute(-erus – Jase’s wonderful nickname for his vehicle) with all our camping gear and headed over the Wainui hill to Catchpool Valley.

I am a camping addict – I love sleeping in a tent and cooking on a portable cooker. I feel like camping is the only time I truly relax – there are no cellphones/ internet because generally you are in areas out of service (or you turn it off because you just don’t care); and there is no time – you get out of bed when you wake up, you go to bed when you are tired, you eat when you are hungry – not because the clock tells you to. You read, you relax, you tramp, you wander around in the sun, you breathe fresh air – I love it all.

Peaceful Catchpool Valley

Over the last couple of years Jase and I have camped our way around New Zealand – and we both love staying at DOC campgrounds. We have built up our camping cupboard and now have pretty much anything and everything you might need – even a camping kitchen sink!

Back to Catchpool. We headed over on Saturday morning, quickly got the tents up and headed off on our walk. I am a 4 hour maximum tramper – and definitely was hurting by hour 3. It was a beautiful flat walk in along the Orongorongo track, and we reached the valley quickly. We had a quick fuel stop there, and chatted to the DOC ranger before setting off on a steep climb up the Cattle Ridge track. Quite a toughy, and my left calf started seizing up quite a bit (have been having problems with this for a while). Once we were up on the ridge it flattened out & was quite enjoyable. After 2 hours we finally hit the Butcher track which led us steeply back down for 45 minutes to the campground.

Orongoronga Valley

Happy Trampers

Well deserved beers & wines followed, and we rugged up for a night of nacho’s and fondue. YUM.

On Sunday the rest of our camping buddies headed back to town, and left Jase & I to relax in the sun, read the paper, have an afternoon snooze, cook up some burgers for dinner, play lot’s of card games (which of course I won) and have an early night and a big sleep in. Nothing beats listening to a river, the rustle of the trees, and being snuggled away in your tent.

All in all, it was a great weekend and I can’t wait to get the tent out again! The next time will be New Years – we are heading to Otaki Forks for a few nights, Castlepoint for New Years and then to Waiohine Gorge to end up our holiday. LOVE IT!

I wanted to say how saddening and shocking it was to come home and hear the news about Rose Ives. Rose was shot dead by a hunter while brushing her teeth at a DOC campground in Turangi on Saturday. Such a freak accident, but one that shouldn’t of happened. Many of our friends and colleagues were concerned when they heard the news that the girl was me – 25 year old female, from Wellington, camping with her partner and four friends at a DOC campground. I fit the bill (almost) perfectly – except we never planned to go to Turangi. So tragic – and my heart goes out to her family and partner.

The incident did make me think a lot about taking extra precautions when camping, and here are a few of my tips:

A couple of camping tips:

  • ALWAYS tell someone where you are planning on going camping – and don’t change your mind. If you do – let people know!
  • When you go tramping – even for a day walk – leave a ‘note of intention’ in your tent, or sign the intentions book if there is one. We wrote a quick note with our names, our planned route, our time of departure and our expected time of return, and left it inside the tent. If someone is looking for you – it’s likely they will check your tent.
  • Talk to people you see on the track – say hello, stop for a chat and talk about your planned route, or mention where you are off to. Often DOC Rangers are out on the trails and they can give you good advice on the track conditions etc.
  • Be prepared. Take the right clothing, have the right gear, take food and water – and be sensible.
  • Finally – respect the wonderful country we live in. Pick up any litter you see and carry it out of the parks. We need to keep these beautiful places in pristine condition so we can use them for years to come.

Talking to the DOC Ranger about our planned route

 

All in all – Catchpool was beautiful. And only 45mins from Wellington – go check it out!

Catchpool Valley

When I talked about what was in my handbag (and how it was tragically disorganised and cripplingly heavy) the last thing I expected was for someone to hear my pain.

But the interwebs were listening! Imagine my glee when a box arrived with a challenge to make over my handbag from Borne Naked!

As I have mentioned before, I have been on the hunt for a new handbag for ages. I couldnt bear to put such a pretty shiny new bag liner like the Borne Naked one into my heffer of a work handbag – so I thought it was time to go out & get a new one. (This realisation was also coupled with the fact that the strap on my $300 Saben bag snapped on Saturday night – leaving me trying to rock a hugely heavy* & oversized clutch while out at my first tweetup).

I couldn’t afford the Kelly Moore that I have been lusting after, so instead picked up this cheapie from Equip. I wanted it to still be big enough to fit a drink bottle (or bottle of wine!) and a couple of books. I was tossing up a gorgeous dove grey bag – but in the end the practical side of me won out, and black it was.

So – here are all the bits & pieces I normally carry to & from work (and remember – this is already DOWNSIZED from what I used to carry!):

Yeah. I know what you are thinking. What a freakin mess. Between the iPod earphone tangle, the sunglasses and pens and lipbalms, and the towel and sports headband – there is A LOT going on here. To find my phone it’s like digging to get to China.

In comes the new Borne Naked liner. I decided I wanted to keep my essentials easy to grab – so the wallet, makeup case and phone were left out. Check this out for organisation:

And then insert into the handbag, add the essentials I kept out and VOILA:

Check it out – my handbag even CLOSES. A new achievement!

I am definitely going to be getting a few more of these – especially for my gym bags (yeah, I alternate between two gym bags – don’t even ask why!). I also think they would be a great baby shower gift (for those of us who don’t yet have kids) – something totally different to the normal gifts given, and yet so practical!

Check Borne Naked liners out here to see where you can get yours. I know you want one. Jealous of mine yet? 😉

* possibly why the strap may have snapped

My gorgeous friend Natalie and her wonderful fiancee have made it through to the top 3 in a competition to win their wedding photography. And they need your help!! Please please please take 2 minutes out of your day to help make their dreams come true!

Here is Nat’s story:

Very exciting news…and I need your help!

I had some very exciting news this week (this kind of thing never happens to me!).

I was going to tell you all the back story to how we got to this point but I think i’ll just cut to the chase…

Matt and I are finalists (1 of 3 couples!) in a fantastic competition to win our wedding photography by an amazing photographer called Annamarie Stepney! And we desperately need your help as we need people to vote for us to win!

So I would be forever grateful to you if you pop over to Annamarie’s blog, read the competition instructions in the first post, and then pop down to the second post where you can read all about our wedding (and engagement story!) and then vote by commenting on the post about us on her blog – it will only take you a minute, I promise! Just remember you can only vote once and  you need to say “I vote for these lovely people” somewhere in your comment.

This is probably a good time to reveal something else I’ve been keeping quiet for a little while until the right time (now seems pretty good!) – Matt and I are planning on having our wedding in Marrakech!
 

That’s a photo of me in Marrakech last year and you can see a collage of my favourite photos I took here – we loved the city: bustling, colourful and a bit gritty on the outside, but once you step inside the buildings they’re absolutely beautiful, peaceful places.

We love it.

Thank you guys so much for voting!! It would absolutely make my big day if I was able to have such an incredible photographer document it (and imagine the awesome scrapbooking I could do with such great photos!)

Nat x

Monday: Sluggish 55min step class (day 1 of detox so felt super blurgh)

Tuesday: 45min express pump class

Wednesday: 75min Yoga class

Thursday: 45min RPM class

Friday: day off

Saturday: walk around the botanical gardens

Sunday: 5.42k run on the treadmill

Weightloss to date: 1kg exactly (whooop, yes! A big loss finally!).

Shape up for Summer officially started on Saturday – so bring it on!

It feels like I am in a constant search for the perfect handbag. I am always buying bags – and then barely using them, because something just isn’t right. It’s not that I spend hundreds on my handbags – but I still haven’t quite found the right one.

When I left my last job, I was given a beautiful Olga Berg handbag. It was so gorgeous I wanted to stroke it. Unfortunately our relationship ended in tears. One of the screws that kept the handle on was missing a cap and it shredded many of my beautiful tops before I noticed that the handbag was the culprit. The leather cracked and split and despite minimal use – it lasted only 6 months as a “going out” handbag. Sorry Olga Berg – that wasn’t worth the $200.

So I moved on to a practical handbag – a large laptop handbag from Nood. Sure it houses my laptop comfortably in a padded section in the middle – but its just a bit awkward and clunky. I can’t quite get it over my shoulder, and if my laptop is in there it is too heavy to do that too. Most of the time I end up carrying my laptop seperately anyway…

Now I am on the search for a new handbag. One that stands up to the pressures of carrying my weekday items (iPhone, makeup, iPod, hairbrush, digi camera, lunch, notebook, sunnies, keys, medications…and various other goodies that seem to lose themselves in there). I would also like something that allows me to carry my dSLR camera around with me – because I love snapping pics when I can and I want to do it more.

I started browing photographers handbags – and came across a few to choose from!

Enter…uber bag lust…

1) b-hobo bag in heather grey by Kelly Moore

2) Kelly Moore Classic in Rich Fuschia (ok, anything from Kelly Moore would be divine!)

3) the Lola in black by Epiphanie

How cool are those? You can fit your camera, lenses, flashes all in padded cells – all while carrying a super stylish handbag (which I am sure would fit the rest of my bits & bobs in). Now I just need to hint REALLY bad, or save REALLY hard. Somehow I think it’s going to be the latter!

Ahh, bag lust.

Today is Friday the 13th. Spooky…

I am so looking forward to this weekend! Jase has mates in town, so he will be busy and out in about – which means a weekend all to myself. I have loads of little things that I can’t wait to spend some time on:

1) Friday night TV. I have to say, it’s the best girls night in! First up its Shortland Street (Yes, after 15+ years of this homegrown medical soap opera, it is still a nightly addiction!); then over on TV3 it’s New Zealands Next Top Model (second series); and finally The Bachelor has just started again!

2) Collating my recipes. Over the last year I have started to really enjoy cooking (don’t get me wrong, nothing gourmet is coming out of my kitchen just yet, but at least I am no longer burning salads or blowing up microwaves – which has been known to happen!). Maybe it has something to do with cooking for two instead of one? And seeing how much enjoyment Jase get’s when I cook something yum. Mum always did say “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”!

Anyway, a few weeks ago I bought a Kaisercraft Recipe Holder, and spent last weekend scrapping the covers. It was my first ever beyond the page project – and I have to say, literally, a little rough around the edges. I probably didn’t have the right adhesive tools, but I think I had a decent crack at it!

So this weekend, I am looking forward to filling it with my favourite recipes (which are currently scattered all around the kitchen!).

3. Joining in with an online crop. Even though I will be a bit behind (well, actually, in the future) by being on the otherside of the world and in a differnt time zone, I can still scrap away while the rest of the world is sleeping through this online crop that Shimelle is hosting.

4. Exercising. On Saturday I plan to do my usual 3k route around the water to the wind needle (correct name – Zephyrometer) and back – but extend it a bit more. We have this awesome route near my house which winds its way around the bay and is dotted with wind sculptures. I am increasing my running distance one wind sculpture at a time! This weekend I plan to make it to the spinning boxes*! I bought a Nike+ Ipod set off trademe this week, so can’t wait to get that and try it out – inspiration from Cathy Z for sure. Sunday morning I will be at my Les Mills Body Pump class as per usual! (See if I write it down here, it means I have to do it haha).

(*Not their real name, apparently called the Urban Forest – I just learnt that today!)

Those are the big things on my list. Of course there are plenty more like making cupcakes with the cute cupcake set I was given by Jase’s sister for my birthday, sorting out my photos and getting a bunch more printed for my next album, blogging, drinking Shott Lemon Honey & Ginger (the best ever!), and possibly going for a bit of a scrapbook shop with the $50 voucher Jase’s mum gave me 🙂

What are you up to this weekend?

xxL

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