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Taieri Gorge

Taieri Gorge

Stepping into a train is like stepping back in time. Even though trains are very efficient when done correctly, they aren’t most people’s first choice for transportation. Unfortunately for trains you can’t just hop on a train for a grocery trip, that is of course unless you live in a city that actually has a good public transportation infrastructure. Portland of course has the MAX system, but it’s design almost feels like what people in the 90s thought the future would look like. Stepping into a classic railway car is different. In the same way that people seek out old polaroid cameras trains are cool little time capsules into a slow-moving world that existed not long ago. In the age of information technology advances quickly. The first iPhone already looks severely outdated. I doubt that any of the kids that are just now receiving their first iPhones would believe that when they were first released there was no such thing as an App Store. The longevity of trains is what makes them so special. Flipping through the pages of history you can watch as these revolutionary machines stayed relatively unchanged for such a long time. That level of consistency is comforting.

For our anniversary Tra bought us two tickets for the Taieri Gorge Railway trip to Pukerangi. Here are some of our photos:

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 beautiful collaboration between Vancouver producer SLOTH.TOES and Bellingham singer Madaleine DiMarco. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving them a follow on Soundcloud.

Exploring Portobello

Exploring Portobello

Hungry people are less fun to hang out with than not-hungry people. It’s funny how that works. It’s such a simple idea and yet it can have a dramatic affect on your happiness. I get grumpy when I’m hungry; Tra gets grumpy when he’s hungry. We still love each other, but I fell in love with a well-fed Tra and the latter is an annoying friend tagging along in our relationship. I’m sure he feels the same sometimes. Even though I know this, sometimes I overlook it’s importance.

Tra and I haven’t been outside of Dunedin since February. Because of this we have been planning to visit Portobello, a tiny little village on the Otago Peninsula. The weather sabotaged  our plans for one weekend and ever since we’ve been keeping our eyes open for a relatively dry weekend to visit. Portobello is only a 40 minute bus ride away from our flat we really have no excuse for not visiting more often. When my dad was helping me move to New Zealand we visited Portobello and had a great time at the small pub and cafe. Tra had never visited Portobello. So, when Tra got home from work at 3 p.m. on a Friday I suggested we visit. He asked if he could eat before we left, I reminded him that the sun was quickly setting and that we could eat at the pub. He agreed.

When you don’t have a car sometimes long bus rides can be kind of exciting. For Tra it was his first time seeing the Otago Peninsula in person and not from afar. The roads are narrow and right on the edge of the water. They feel like the roads on HWY 101 at home where you feel like you could tip over and fall into the water after every twist and turn. The closer we got to Portobello the less sunlight we had to work with. I was worried that our photos wouldn’t turn out. When we arrived Tra was excited to explore someplace new, but he was hangry and I could tell. He asked if we could eat but I pleaded that we needed to take advantage of the light while we had it. Unfortunately our lack of foresight reared it’s ugly head when we realized that the cute cafe we were excited to visit was already closed. No bother, the pub was still available.

We walked up to the water and then to the local cemetery to snap some photos and get to know the town a little better. It really is such a cool little place. Tra was hungry and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Sometimes unexpected forces can shape events even though they shouldn’t. I’m usually a planner. The usual Emma would have thought “before we visit Portobello we need to check the weather forecast, the opening and closing times of all the places we want to visit, the bus schedule and make sure we are well fed.” But I wanted to be spontaneous.

When we entered the pub we were slightly confused by the layout and found our way into the restaurant section of the pub and eagerly looked over the menu. After 10 minutes of browsing the waitress approached us and asked us if we were interested in dinner. Yes was an understatement.

“I am going to need to see some identification from both of you. If you look under 25 we need identification.”

Crap. In our rush to leave I had forgotten my my passport. The waitress politely told us that she would be unable to serve us and asked us to leave. It was embarrassing and irritating and I felt bad for Tra who had not forgotten his passport and had now been waiting over two hours since before we left our flat to eat. Every other restaurant was closed and our only option was the convenience store.

So there we were, Tra and I, eating Tim Tams, Mentos and microwaved mince pies on a bench overlooking the bay laughing about how dumb we were. We jokingly directed our anger at Portobello itself, calling it the worst place in all of New Zealand. It isn’t; at least I think. It was a nice little town and I hope to visit it again soon, but next time with an ID and a belly full of food.

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 wicked beat from the Vancouver beatmaker Karmaeiic. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving him a follow on soundcloud.

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)


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.