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Our Waiheke Island Pit Stop

Our Waiheke Island Pit Stop

As Tra and I were walking up a hilly road on our trip back from swimming in the ocean we were talking about our short stay on the island.

“They are so great!” we kept saying. “There must be a catch, right? Am I missing something? Nobody can be this nice.”

I was worried that on our trip to Waiheke I would feel like an intruder in somebody else’s life. It was the middle of the week after all. From the moment I stepped off the ferry I never had a chance to feel that worry. Brodie and Sam went above and beyond to make us feel at home and make our short stay special.

When Tra, Grandma and I were planning our holiday break we made sure to fly back through Auckland so that we could visit my cousin Brodie on Waiheke Island. It’s not often that I get to visit a place like Waiheke. Sometimes New Zealand can feel like a tiny continent. When you look at a globe you might feel a bit confined, but it still feels big. You could drive through either island for weeks and still have places to explore. Waiheke feels like an island. The roads are small, fresh green life covers every square inch that isn’t holding a building and around every corner there is a new beach to explore. When I try and visualize my time in Waiheke everything is so bright. Brodie told us stories about celebrities and rich technology executives that purchased holiday homes on the island. Visiting the island felt exclusive yet cozy.

I hadn’t seen Brodie since I was 14 and I was dying to meet her partner Sam and their adorable little girls I had only seen through social media. Brodie is a natural mom. She’s what I imagine my favorite mommy bloggers to be like in real life. She is the queen of multitasking. She can hold a full conversation with me while feeding the baby, preparing for dinner and cleaning up after her toddler. Brodie is three years older than me and doesn’t own a cell phone by choice. When people say “oh I’m not on my phone that often and I don’t really use social media” I don’t really believe them. Brodie walks the walk. Although, she does make sure to post adorable photos of her girls on Instagram.

Their house is stunning. It sits high above the water and only a 10-minute walk from the nearest swimming beach. In the morning you can watch sailboats from the couch in the living room while drinking your morning coffee. We were lucky to catch the tail end of New Zealand’s summer so Tra and I took every chance we got to swim in the ocean. The water was the perfect depth and you could swim out 30 feet and still touch sand. On the edge of the beach where the surf hits the land the water was so clear you could watch groups of tiny shells being dragged by the waves. Also the waves were perfect for body-surfing; not too strong that they pulled you under and not too mild that you felt like you’re in a wave pool at an amusement park.

Brodie’s oldest daughter Bali is really cool. Not in a 2-year-old Fonzie kind of way, more like T-Swift cool. So cool, in fact, that I guarantee she’s too cool for you because most of the time she was too cool for me. She spends her days how I imagine a retired 2-year-old would: lounging on a beautiful tropical island, watering her vegetable garden, swimming in the ocean, making art and dancing to Justin Bieber. When I hung out with Bali she only gave me the illusion that I was in charge, everyone knew that in reality she was the one calling the shots.

Brodie and Sam used to live in Sydney where they owned a beautiful espresso shop right on the beach. Sam is more knowledgeable about coffee than anyone I’ve ever met, so I was excited to pick his brain. One day Sam made us some fantastic filtered coffee in a V60. They are always ordering new coffee online from all over the world. Sam happened to been waiting on beans from Portland when we arrived.

Brodie exposes Bali and India to the widest variety of foods I could ever imagined. Bali was captivated by foods I barely even knew existed. She ate avocado with organic herb paste on spelt bread and then asked for more. Brodie’s pantry was enough to make a hipster vegan Portlander gasp.

Even though in a lot of ways our lives are very different to Brodie and Sam’s we got along so well. They treated us like real adults. Spending the weekend with them was a breath of fresh air and a warm welcome back to New Zealand. It gave Tra and I and glance at where we could be in a few years.

At this point in our lives Tra and I are torn between two homes. Home will always be with our friends and family in the Pacific Northwest, but at the moment home feels like the place where we spend our days and rest our heads. The transition process from one home to the other has been tough and filled with emotion for both of us. Our time in Waiheke with Brodie, Sam and their beautiful girls refreshed our spirits and filled our minds with excitement for the rest of our New Zealand journey. It’s not every day that you feel like someone really gets you, and Brodie and Sam certainly made us feel that way. Tra and I loved every part of our stay and we can’t wait to return.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music please email me.

This week I’ve chosen a song from the Seattle-based dream pop band Lofty Stills. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving them a like on facebook or downloading their album on Bandcamp.

A Brief History of my Infatuation with Coffee

A Brief History of my Infatuation with Coffee

I don’t think of myself as a coffee snob. My Instagram feed would have you believe that I would only savor my precious double shot lattes in cafes that have an affinity for the color white and lightly-shaded wood. For me drinking coffee is a sacred morning ritual that I rely on every single day. I don’t hate franchise coffee chains. In fact I know that they serve a very valuable purpose. I find myself visiting Starbucks and Dutch Bros when I’m in a hurry and need a quick caffeine fix, and I don’t feel guilty about it. For a lot of people coffee is a comfort, and for me the cozy atmosphere of a locally owned cafe is more comforting than the consistency and familiarity of a large franchise.

My obsession with coffee began when I found a perfect spot to study near Clark College. This spot happened to be in a beautiful coffee shop near the railroad tracks lining the Columbia River. I wasn’t a huge fan of coffee, but over time, and probably too much money spent, I really grew a liking to it.

I always loved the idea of working in a coffee shop. The hustle and bustle, the steam from the machine, conversations with smiling customers and the constant flow of caffeine. So when I saw an ‘Intro to Espresso’ class offered through the student union I jumped at the opportunity.

The class was three hours on a Saturday. The shop was a little outside of my regular walking radius but I eventually found it among the industrial area near the Otago harbor.

We began by looking at raw beans which honestly looked like a type of nut. The shop owner showed us his range of beans from places like Nicaragua, Brazil, Ethiopia and Indonesia. Then we moved onto my favorite part… the espresso machine. I’d never actually stood behind one before, so I had to hide my giddiness. I viewed espresso machines the way dogs view dinner plates full of human food. Why do they get that when I’m the one who wants it the most? In my head I knew it was not a big deal. Hundreds of thousands of people use these machines everyday. But wasn’t it? I had been looking forward to this moment for far too long and finally I got my chance. For those who think I am exaggerating, I promise I am not.

My coffee turned out okay.

We learned to “pull a shot” and we looked for slow, dark coffee to pour out of the machine and into our cups. Once we mastered that we moved on to texturing the milk and eventually making drinks! I made a cappuccino and a flat white. I really enjoyed the experience and at the end of the class we were given ground coffee to make ourselves.

So, I give you my guide to making pour-over coffee in a Chemex!

For Christmas my wonderful mom gave me this Chemex. Well, actually I received two. Tra and my mom bought me the same gift! So, I returned one and pocketed the cash… thanks, Tra!

What you will need:

  • Kettle for boiling
  • Fresh coffee
  • Grinder (unless your coffee is ground)
  • Chemex
  • Chemex paper filters
  • Scale (optional)

STEP ONE

Boil your water. Ideally you’d have a kettle like this, but since I’m a “starving student” as my dad says I’ll do with what I have. It makes it harder to pour but it’s not terrible. Some people are very precise about measuring their water and beans… I’m not. But if you are, check out Blue Bottle Coffee’s recommendations.

STEP TWO

Unfold your Chemex filter, I use the “tri fold method.” Wet the filter. This step is important because you definitely don’t want your coffee to have any hint of filter taste. Wet your filter with your boiling water to rinse it. Make sure you dispose of the water that drips through before continuing.

STEP THREE

Pour your grounds. I like to put as many tablespoons as cups I’ll be drinking. So for two cups of coffee I’ll pour 2-3 heaping spoonfuls of grounds, depending on how strong I want it.

STEP FOUR

Now you will need to pour just enough water to wet the grounds. Let it sit for 30 seconds to one minute. This will let the coffee “bloom” or “awaken.”

STEP FIVE

After your coffee is awake, slowly pour the water around the center and make sure it doesn’t hit the sides. Brewing should take 3-4 minutes. Take your time and pour gently, be careful not to pour water around the sides or too much as it will bubble over.

STEP SIX

Relax and enjoy your filtered coffee! If you’re like me and don’t read enough use this as an opportunity to thumb through that book you’ve been meaning to get to. For me, I’ve checked out this beautiful interior design book from the library. Now that I think about it, it might be overdue. Oops.

Next week on the blog: Beautiful Waiheke Island. I promise to only dedicate two sentences max on coffee! If you haven’t done so already, sign up for our email newsletter. Seriously, what is wrong with you? It’s by far the best way to keep up to date with my posts.

Thank you again for reading!

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music email me.

This week I’ve chosen a sweet little song from the local Portland/Vancouver band Foreign Talks. Give it a listen and maybe even consider following them on Soundcloud or pre-ordering their new album on iTunes.