Where do you start when you sit down on a cold winter evening and decide to write something after being absent for over a year? It wouldn’t be possible for my lackluster memory to accurately recall all of the adventures I have had, but the happiness I have been living in New Zealand is simple and pure.

Life has never been filled with more excitement, surprise, stress, friendship, alcohol and yoga. It’s been a whirlwind of a year that has left me exhausted but happy. I could have never predicted that a girl from Minnesota would find herself running a restaurant in New Zealand.

My new normal is working or thinking about work nearly every hour of every day. I’ve never worried so much in my life. Worried about what hundreds of customers think, what 25 staff think and what bankers, suppliers, accountants and farmers think about our business – the worrying is a relentless feeling that nags in my chest day and night. Yet, with all worrying comes an immense sense of pride when things go right. When our hard work pays off with smiles, thank you’s and an increase in revenues it starts to balance out the worrying.

Yet, with the ups and downs at work, I have a constant positive presence in my life – Joe. He calms my worries, eases my mind and fills my heart. Our days are a constant struggle to fix broken door handles, unclog pipes, correct deliveries, pay the taxman, find the freshest fish and ultimately make everyone happy. We know we can’t do it all in a day, but when we wake up in the morning, we get out of bed thinking anything is possible.

For much of the past year, Joe and I have been house hunting. And for much of the past year, we have faced failure and disappointment. The housing market has been climbing higher and higher and we find ourselves going to open houses with hundreds of people looking to buy the exact same house. To make matters worse, we don’t exactly make decisions quickly. We like to weigh all the possible scenarios and diligently decide on our next move – a strategy that didn’t work very well when competing with forty other offers.

Then one day, when we slipped away from work for two hours to try and fit in as many open houses as possible, we found our future home. It sat high on a hill and was flooded with sunshine. It was built in 1948, small and comfortable. The best part was that it was a massive 1200 square meter section, with the potential to grow huge quantities of fruits and vegetables for our restaurant. We spent so much time looking at the garden that when we got home that day we couldn’t even remember if the floors in the house were carpeted or wood – but it didn’t matter. We were ready to move quickly. We put in an offer, met with lawyers, builders and bankers and by the end of the day we had purchased a home. A wonderful home.

After a year of looking for homes, we are no longer looking. There is no reason to look when you’ve found perfection. We move in August 11th and we cannot wait to add more projects to our day – we’re ready for gardens, bees, chickens and a dog. It feels like we’ve been waiting for ages to find this house, but it was all worth the wait. Stay tuned for photos!

In 10 days we are off to Spain and Italy. I can’t believe it has been over a year since I have had more than two days off in a row. We are ready to relax in the sunshine and try not to think about work for a glorious three weeks. Cheers to this beautiful life and all the amazing people that fill my days!




Mother + Daughter in New Zealand

You know that moment when your mom stops being just your mom and you begin to build a friendship? You get to a certain point where you can see one another for who they really are and love them as a human being instead of simply as family.

I haven’t yet mastered this newfound friendship with Mom, at times I still act like a child, I’m impatient and I say things in anger that I would never say to a friend. But, the more time we spend together, the more I feel like our relationship is becoming both family and friendship.  Read More


My Perfect Day

Most nights I find myself wishing I didn’t have to fall asleep in order for the next day to arrive. It feels like an eight hour span of wasted time, simply there to keep tomorrow at an uncomfortable distance. That is how excited I am to wake up each day. Annoying, right? I know. But, if it makes you feel any better, it’s the first time I’ve felt this way since I was a child.

Yesterday was bound to be a good day, but it ended up being even better than I imagined. I had a Friday off of work, the sun was shining and I had a plan. The plan involved snuggling baby sheep, drinking wine, picking veggies and appreciating all of the beauty that surrounds me in New Zealand.

I woke up early – obviously – and was at Farm 185 by the time the doors opened. People love buying their veggies directly from the farm and the checkout line was already a thirty minute wait. There is something very different about waiting in line outdoors, at a farm, versus waiting inside a dark, gloomy supermarket. People chat with one another, pick up additional produce as they wait, and slowly shift their baskets every few minutes as the line moves forward. I came away with heaps of tomatoes, onions, kumara, coriander, avocados, and fruit – lots of fruit – all for under $30. This kind of value is unheard of in New Zealand.

The next stop on my lovely day trip was to the Animal Farm, where I finally got up close and personal with this season’s lambs. I had been eyeing these adorable little creatures for the past month as I drove past sheep grazing in pastures, but every time I would hop out of my car to try and hug one, it would immediately run in the other direction. I figured the only way to get my fair share of sheep snuggles would be at a place like the Animal Farm, and I was right. I kissed, hugged and cuddled these little cuties until they were squirming so much that I had to put them down. Needless to say, they didn’t want my love. Luckily, the farm also had baby goats who were much more appreciative of my obsessive affection.

Then there were the baby pigs, who quite possibly have the most lovable tails in the world. Yes, I tried to hold the baby pigs as well, but judging by their instant squealing, assumed that they didn’t exactly enjoy my tender loving care.

After soaking in my fair share of adorable baby farm animals, I drove to a nearby vineyard and sat in the sun, with a bottle of Chardonnay and marveled at the New Zealand countryside. At this point in the day I was beginning to feel the need for lunch. I was so excited to get going in the morning that I skipped breakfast – if you know me at all, you know that I never skip breakfast. I was hungry and the perfect solution was fish and chips along the waterfront.

I made it home by early afternoon and figured I would nap in the sun and drink some wine, but my garden was calling my name. I ended up playing in the dirt until the moon rose in the sky. Exhausted and happy, I fell into bed, eager for yoga the next morning and counting down the hours until I could wake up once more.


Roadtrip New Zealand

I’m stubborn, I’m opinionated, and I could listen to Disney songs for an unhealthy amount of time and still be perfectly content. Lucky for me, I have an equally opinionated group of women in my life to play devil’s advocate and open my mind to new ideas – I can’t tell you how grateful I am for their strong, independent souls.

One such friend flew half way across the world last week to visit me in New Zealand. Kyla booked a flight from the U.S. 10 days prior to departure, and arrived in New Zealand looking more well rested and refreshed than anyone legally should after traveling for 30 hours. Read More


Bach Life

I didn’t think life could get any better. I have been living it up the past few months in the winter haven of New Zealand – Nelson. The days are sunny, the nights are frosty and life has been perfect. I spend my mornings drinking coffee with friends, doing yoga by the sea and walking on the beach. As the sun starts to set, I start work. I get to serve people delicious food and meet new friends – all while getting paid. It doesn’t even sound like work, it sounds like a holiday. But, alas, I just arrived home from a proper three-day holiday, filled with adventure and delicatessen.

Yes, you can hate me, I’ll still love you.

In the United States, we have cabins (or cottages) where we get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life. In New Zealand, if you’re lucky, you own a bach (rhymes with catch). These rustic, little holiday homes are plentiful along the coasts of New Zealand and quickly fill up during the summer. But, in the winter, you can easily book your very own bach for under $100 through the website BookABach. We paid $85 / night for a two bedroom, private house directly on the sea. It felt like I stepped back into the 70s, complete with the coordinating orange kitchen, shower and bedding – it was the perfect getaway in every sense of the word.

We had access to a row boat, two kayaks and all the shellfish we could eat. We spent the first night gazing up at the starriest sky I have ever witnessed. When the tide went down, we scampered over rocks and collected oysters. We brought our bucket full of oysters into our little row boat and sat in the middle of the sea cracking open shells and devouring them raw. I had never enjoyed the texture or flavor of oysters, but I am a changed woman. I have never consumed anything this fresh. Just thinking about the salty sea water mixing with the creamy oyster is making me hungry for more. When can I go back?

New Zealand Ocean Sounds boat ramp new zealand Marlborough Sounds New Zealand Boat House fishing gear happy girl fresh oysters boat gear boat shed stairs


You Are Not More Important Than The Earth

When was the last time you hung your laundry up outside, rather than tossing it in the dryer? Can you remember a time you chose to sweep your house over vacuuming? How about running errands on your bike instead of in the car? I’m convinced that Earth’s environmental health will continue to deteriorate until we make the conscious decision to value natural resources as equal to human resources.

That was a big statement, do you agree with it? Do you fully understand what I mean? I mean, that our human resources of time and energy are currently considered more valuable than Earth’s resources. Oil, water, soil, and clean air are all resources that we use to make our lives easier, at the expense of Earth.

We need to shift our way of thinking, we need to begin to value ourselves as equal to Earth. If we keep believing that our life is more important than the Earth’s, we are doomed to destroy our own home – a home that is beautiful, inspiring and worth saving.

Something about living on a big island, in the middle of the ocean is changing my perception of the world. New Zealand is the perfect size, big enough to be filled with beauty, yet small enough to see that it’s natural resources are in limited supply.

I’m not asking you to change your whole life around, but I am asking you to think about the impact your decisions have on the environment.

Chose to make Earth’s life easier rather than your own a little more often and we will all live in a better world.

On Monday, I’ll be launching “The World,” a photo series that will leave you dreaming of new places to explore on our lovely planet. The first feature will be in Austria, captured through the lens of How Far From Home – a creative duo with 50,000 followers around the world.

Never miss a story – subscribe to One Simple Soul today!

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High Finance to Food

I worked as a waitress the summer after my freshman year of college. It was an easy way to earn a little cash before going back to student loans in the fall. Being a waitress isn’t for everyone, and when you tell people you’re a waitress, oftentimes people feel obligated to tell you, “I could never do that job.” Read More


Autumn in New Zealand

The life of a traveler is filled with uncertainty. It seems like only yesterday I was jobless, homeless and driving a broken car. Today, my car is still broken but I’m living in Nelson, New Zealand – a town that is as close to perfect as I have yet to find.  Read More


My Life Has No Purpose

I realized recently that my life has no purpose.

I’ve spent my entire life thinking there was one, preordained path with my name on it and if I looked hard enough, was open minded enough, my purpose in life would reveal itself.

Well, I’m calling bluff on all this “purpose” baloney. I no longer believe there is one purpose for me in life. I’ve wasted too much time searching for my purpose. I’ve even tried not searching – and letting my purpose find me. Needless to say, it didn’t.  Read More


Searching for Sunshine

You know when everything in life is going wrong and you start to feel like you just don’t belong in a country? That’s been my frame of mind for the past two weeks. No money, no job prospects and no internet. Boo hoo. I even stooped so low as to look at flights to Southeast Asia, because I couldn’t quite make it work in New Zealand. But, the universe wasn’t ready for me to be done with this country. Read More


Exploring the South Island

Most of the time I love this vagabond life I’m living – the unplanned days, the wide open road, the starry night skies. It’s the epitome of freedom. But, there are days weeks when everything falls apart. These are the moments when I question why I’m not working in a steady job, living in a warm apartment and earning a reliable paycheck. These are the moments when I freak out and it’s all Chase can do to convince me that our world is not ending.  Read More


New Zealand Apple Pickers

We all have a story to tell and these pickers are no different. Each of them traveled thousands of miles to be in New Zealand and somehow we all ended up picking apples at the same orchard.

Who are these pickers? What’s their story?

Read More


Living Happily Ever Orchard

For the past six weeks, we have been living and working on an apple orchard in Hastings, New Zealand. Our life is anything but glamourous. It’s half organized, half disaster and oftentimes a little too dirty for my liking. But it’s simple, and simple is good. 

All of our material belongings fit into our 22 sq. ft. station wagon and we tend to spend most of the day outdoors. We see the moon as it’s rising over the apple trees, we feel the first hint of stormy weather when the wind picks up and we have one too many flies to keep us company.  Read More


Apple Pickers in New Zealand

It feels like we have just signed on to be part of a reality show.

This is the true story of twelve strangers, from seven countries, picked to live and work on an orchard, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. Is this, The Real World New Zealand? 

Okay, maybe there aren’t video cameras in the corner, recording our every move. And maybe, instead of living in a mansion, we all sleep in our cars, but it does sounds eerily similar, don’t you think? Read More