Savvy Lifestyle

Kiwi Top 5
April 30, 2008, 11:14 pm
Filed under: travel | Tags: , , , ,

Everyone asks what my favorite part of the trip was.  That’s pretty hard to say, but I’ve tried to narrow things down for you.  So, here are the highlights:

5. Friends-

 There’s nothing better than having your own local guide to show you all the hidden treasures.  Vanessa was the perfect host.  She introduced us to the joys of jumping (see picture below) 🙂 and spurred all sorts of crazy adventures.  She was even brave enough to take us down a one lane, cliff hugging,  gravel road,with no guard rails, at the peak of the hills on the Christchurch peninsula.  I was scared to death and I wasn’t the one driving.  It’s just a good thing we didn’t run into anyone wanting to go the other direction! 

4. Cathedral Cove-

The iconic rock formation on the Cormandel Peninsula- It takes about 45 min. to walk down the trail to it and you can only cross through to the other beach at low tide.  The view was incredible.  I could have stood there, listening to the waves crash in for hours. 


3. Abel Tasman-

I’ve never seen sand so gold and sparkling turquoise water like there is in this national park.  We went on a 6-1/2 hr tramp along the coast and I wanted to take a picture at practically every turn.  Lunch on a secluded beach was the highlight.  I couldn’t believe there weren’t more people around.

2. Castle Hill-

There are no words for this place.  I felt like God was walking through fields of emptiness with a big arm full of gigantic rocks and he just dropped them all randomly in this one spot.  Apparently, the Dali Lama considers it to be one of the biggest centers of energy in the world.  There’s definitely something indescribable about the place and it brings people of all kinds- families, climbers, tourists, locals, spiritualists…there’s something for everyone here.

1. Cave Stream Walk-

It was by far the most exhilarating part of the trip and it tested my will in more ways than one.  The water was just barely above freezing and it was definitely above waist level at one point in time.  I’m pretty sure there were also fresh water eels swimming around our legs as well.  We were so cold that we almost didn’t go through with it, but Vanessa convinced us it would be worth it.  She was absolutely right.  It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.  The cave was so beautiful!  I wish I could have taken pictures, but I didn’t want to risk dropping my camera in the water.  We had to climb up and out past a waterfall and into the light at the end of the tunnel.  It was amazing!

I was there for 2 weeks and barely scratched the surface.  Hopefully, I’ll get to go back someday.


-Rebecca, SF


Happy Birthday Abbie!
April 30, 2008, 12:51 pm
Filed under: who we are

Have a wonderful birthday Abbie! We’re thinking of you!


Learning to Tramp- Part 1
April 28, 2008, 9:14 pm
Filed under: travel | Tags: ,

I just got back from New Zealand yesterday and you’ll have to forgive me if that’s all I feel like talking about for the next few weeks.  It was amazing and there’s just so much to say! It’s hard to know where to begin.  Maybe it’s best to begin with overall impressions.  It’s a country & culture defined by its landscapes.  The cities are much like any other place, but  there’s no other place in the world where you can find such unique & varied scenery in so small an area.  You go from beach/tropics to snowy mountains in half an hour with beautiful lakes, caves, rock formations, waterfalls, and everything else in between.  As most will attest, I’m not the most outdoorsy person, but every time we found ourselves in the city, I was itching to get back out.  There’s too much to discover in New Zealand and what I like so much about it- is that it’s up to you to find it.  In America, everything would have a path with guardrails and warning signs every 2′, rules everywhere, and there would be crowds of people around anything worth seeing.  There was no one around there.  Half of the things you’d miss if you weren’t paying attention or if some local didn’t tell you how to find it.  That makes discovering things, all the more exciting.


Some interesting facts that I picked up throughout the trip:

1. New Zealand is roughly the same area as the state of Colorado (just spread longer and seperated into 2 islands). Not a very big place…

2. There are only about 4 million people living in the whole country vs. 40 million sheep.  As a point of reference, there are about 6 million people in the Bay Area alone. 

3. NZ is often called the youngest country in the world since the first Maori tribes didn’t arrive until sometime in the 1100’s (or so they estimate) and the first european settlers didn’t arrive until the mid 1800’s.  Mucht of the land was also created by more recent volcanic activity.

4. Because NZ seperated from the land mass known as Gondwanaland (the mass that included Antartica & Australia) early on & the rest was developed by volcanos, there are no indigenous mammals or reptiles.  Only the birds are native.  Sheep & cows were introduced.  That means there are no squirrels, no snakes, no mountain lions, nothing like that.  You have nothing to worry about on the hiking trail.

5. Kiwis are a pretty laid back sort of people.  It was not a strange sight to see people barefoot on the street, in grocery stores, and retail stores.

6. Apparently college culture always involves barbeques & burning.  Burning couches to be specific.  It seems that a good portion of students live in super cheap housing and there’s an abundance of crappy furniture perfect for torching.

7. They have their own vocabulary that can cause some confusion at first.  A few examples:


fizzies= pop/soda

dairy= a corner store

lollies= all kinds of candy

cheers= seems to be a catch-all phrase that is many times synonomous with thanks

rocket= a type of lettuce

flash= ritzy/ fancy

O.E.= overseas experience, a kiwi rite of passage when kids go abroad- usually for several years

That’s probably enough fun facts for one post. 


-Rebecca, SF


Bon anniversaire ! Joyeux anniversaire Rebecca!
April 28, 2008, 11:11 am
Filed under: who we are

Happy birthday to Rebecca!  We hope you have a wonderful day!


AIA 2008 COTE Awards
April 28, 2008, 10:47 am
Filed under: design

Last week on Earth Day the AIA and it’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) announced their top ten examples of sustainable architecture. The projects show examples of sustainable architecture that showcases sustainable design principles, reduced energy consumption. The winners are to be honored at the AIA National Convention in Boston coming up.

One of the awards went to a project out of our office! The Pocono Environmental Education and Visitors Center (PEEC) which was designed by our firm and built not too far from our Wilkes-Barre location. The building is a nice example of a modest structure with some green approaches to it. The center functions as a space for meetings, educational activities, and a visitor’s center.

I visited about a year ago and really liked the feature wall out front which is made of old tires cut into strips and attached as a cladding to the front wall facade. The windows in the main gathering space also utilize natural cross and stack ventilation which works great with the orientation of the building on the site. The building is really a nice structure with some unique details and green approaches to it.

You can check out more about the project or the awards at the following link.

To see more pictures including ones of the tire wall follow this link and search under projects and sustainable design for the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) through our company website.

-Jackie, W-B


Going "green" with your grass…
April 24, 2008, 8:04 pm
Filed under: environmental issues | Tags: ,


As the weather is now getting warmer, that means it is time to get out in the yard and try to make it look purty.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my husband and I just built our first house and with that comes our first lawn.  So we were pretty clueless about all the stuff we needed to begin our yard.  There were hoses, shovels, rakes, weed eaters and the biggest one of them all…the lawn mower.  From day one we decided that we would go “green” with our lawn and we are proud to have a zero emissions lawn.  We purchased a reel mower and a battery operated weed eater.  I like to call our reel mower the “Leave it to Beaver” kind of mower when people look at me funny because they don’t know what I am talking about. 

So far everything is going well.  We are on mow number 2 and the mower is actually pretty easy to use and it is so light we can hang it on our wall.  It’s a space saver and definitely a conversation starter with the neighbors. We’ll never have to buy gas again to power anything to maintain our yard.  I wouldn’t recommend this to people with large yards, but I think that the idea of the reel mower should become mainstream once again.

Alison, KC, MO

Recycled Jewelry – also a women’s best friend
April 24, 2008, 12:29 pm
Filed under: fashion | Tags: , , ,

I feel like everyday I see a new product being made out of recycled materials.  I LOVE IT!!!  Seriously, why waste the energy and resources to make an all new material when tons of reusable plastics/ metals/ goods are being discarded daily?!?!

One of the most clever designs I’ve seen lately consists of used camera parts.  Aussie designer Craig Arnold has developed (haha…no pun intended) a line of these rad cuff bracelets, re:vision.   

A different Australian designer, Liana Kabel has come up her own jewelry creation by melting and fusing old pieces of Tupperware together. She has turned what was once used as a crate for leftovers into interesting necklaces, earrings and rings.


So, what can I say but “Give it up for the Aussies” for recycling materials to create these unique, everyday accessories! You can find more unique handmade jewelry at Oye Modern.

Kelsey_Vail, CO