Cool educational gadgets you should check out


Education has always been a passion of mine, one that I really didn’t have time to invest in the past few years. However, as I got to New Zealand, I have to admit that the gorgeous scenery and its natural history have kickstarted an old fire in me. And I started to explore some cool gadgets that could help me get further into my addiction and to explore the wonders that life has to offer.

And one of the first things I bought was a microscope. If you are like me, and you live in a bubble when it comes to specialized technology, you probably think as I did that microscopes are incredibly expensive. But the truth is, that is not the case anymore. Of course, the devices mean for medical labs are extremely expensive, but the ones for home use are actually affordable.

And let me tell you this secret. These clever items open a whole new world to you. They helped me uncover a hidden world that I didn’t even know existed. I used it to look at rocks, flowers, leaves and even at the food I give to my pet fish. And I was shocked to notice how much detail there is in the microscopic world. And another shock was just how easy it is to use a microscope once you get the hang of it!

They can magnify everything, really. And another thing I did, to show you just how amazed I am by this device, is that I bought slides off the Internet with a lot of tissues and other cool elements that I can watch via my lenses. If I sparked your curiosity, and you want to explore this topic even further, there are plenty of amazing products online, like the microscopes recommended here.

Another cool educational piece that I got is a 3D printer. Now, you must have noticed just how hyped they have been lately. And I am here to tell you that they are rightfully talked about. The machines really take your creativity to a whole new level, and they allow you to create unique stuff that you can show off to your friends. I was inspired to buy one after I have seen an exhibition here in New Zealand.

And I thought it was going to be expensive as well, but for someone who is just a beginner, I didn’t need one of those huge printers, so I settled for a smaller one with which I could practice my skills. And to do so, I even downloaded thousands of patterns off the Internet to try myself.

There are a few other devices I bought. Among them, I acquired a video projector, which allows me to watch movies and documentaries because I don’t really like being limited by a TV. But these are the pieces of technology that truly have left a mark on me, and that have changed the way I look at the world.

• • •

My New Favorite Kitchen Tool – A Pineapple Peeler

I like fruits as a general rule, but, ever since I moved to New Zealand, I particularly fell in love with pineapples. Don’t get me wrong, I always liked eating pineapples, but, now they are part of my weekly menu. They grow all kinds of pineapples in New Zealand, and the best thing is that you can almost enjoy having fresh pineapples most of the time, since the different species they grow do not ripe all at the same time. With so many tasty delicious pineapples around, I had to get a special tool for peeling them, since, as you well may know, they are pretty tough to peel and get this apparently simple process right. Of course, they also have plenty of varieties brought from other parts of the world, including the large pineapple plantations in the Philippines.

As I said, I was in terrible need of a proper tool for peeling pineapples, and so I set on a search for the best pineapple peeler I could find. Have you ever used one such tool? I must say that before I only used to consume pineapple in various forms, but not fresh, so I was not aware of how a good pineapple peeler is supposed to work. Now that I have one of my one, I cannot be convinced to let it go off my hands. It is so much easier now to eat fresh pineapple and making pineapple juice is also a breeze, because the peeler takes care of everything and then I only have to cut the flesh into chunks and place them in the juice maker.

A pineapple peeler is quite a simple, but wonderful device. It looks like a cylinder with a circular blade at one end and what it does is that it separates the tasty flesh from the core of the pineapple, which is, as you well may know, unpalatable and uneatable. There is simply no other, easier way, of enjoying fresh pineapple than with this kind of tool. When you use the peeler, the circular blade moves round and round, cutting the flesh away from the hard core and from the exterior skin. All you get is rounds of fresh pineapple that you can eat like that, or use in various recipes, or turn into tasty, healthy juice. At first, when I looked at images of how a pineapple peeler should work, I thought that it must be a bit hard to obtain those nice looking chunks of fresh pineapple, but once I started using one myself, I was simply impressed with how easy it is to use it.

Cut the part with the leaves from your pineapple. You must first place the head of the peeler at the center of the pineapple; after that, you need to start rotating it clockwise, and you will see magic happening before your very eyes. The flesh separates easily from the rest and you are done. It is so simple and that is why I am an even more loyal consumer of pineapple than ever before.


• • •

I’ve Bought My Own Raclette Grill and I Love It

Have you ever heard about raclette? It is a type of Swiss inspired meal that combines the guilty pleasure of fondue with grilling delicious pieces of meat, fish, shrimp or veggies, or all together. While of what I’ve heard, the way a raclette meal is served today is quite different from what Swiss shepherds used to have at the beginning of the 20th century, the idea is all the same: to bring people together to have dinner and have fun.

This little introduction brings me to the subject of today’s post. I got myself a raclette grill! Let me tell you all about it. The model I purchased is the Toastess TPG-315 and it is the ideal cooking tool for making a party awesome. What happens when you organize a raclette party is that you basically place the grill as a centerpiece and everybody gathers around it, and starts cooking their own food. Sounds fun? Well, it certainly is!


The model I got is for 6 people, and I chose it because that’s the usual number of people I have over when I host small dinner parties at home. Of course, if you are planning a large party, it is quite obvious that you need a bigger model, but, for me, this is exactly what I was looking for. I like the overall design of this raclette grill because it is pretty straightforward with a cooking area on top, and another area underneath for keeping your raclette dishes with the fondue melted and at the right temperature. Because it is round, it makes it easy for everyone to have easy access to it, so there will be no people dissatisfied that they cannot get to the food. Now that would be pretty frustrating, wouldn’t it?


So far, my friends and I absolutely love this raclette grill. Since I’ve come to New Zealand, I’ve made plenty of friends, and it is quite common for me to go over to their house, or for them to come over for meals. I have never been too much of a cook, so I am really thankful for having this raclette grill, since it makes things so simple. I need to mention that all the accessories you will need for this raclette grill are supplied. You will get pans, spatulas and even a recipe mini-book, in case you have no idea what raclette is all about (like I had). Plus, it is sold for a really affordable price and that is the best part in my book.

Now, you may say, how about cleaning after all that grilling and fondue? Well, it’s a breeze! Why? Because this model comes with non-stick cooking surfaces and I only have to wipe them clean. So, is there anything I don’t like about this raclette grill? I simply love it, so I don’t really have anything bad to say about it. I heard some people say that some bigger models have separate temperature controls, so that each person around the grill can play with them, so they can cook their food just the way they like it, but, so far, I’ve got no complaints from my friends. Plus, for how little I paid for this fancy party cooking appliance, I am thoroughly satisfied with its results.

• • •

A great NZ Party or How I Fell in Love with a Chocolate Fountain

Ever since I moved to New Zealand, I have learned a lot of things, but there is one that really took me by surprise. The people here really love chocolate. They love it so much that they even have a special festival called the Chocolate Festival, where the nation’s best chocolatiers are displaying their goodies and people can buy goodies directly from them. But I am not going to talk about this festival in this post, for the simple reason that I am yet to attend such an event, and I have only heard about it. Now I want to talk to you about the first large party I attended since I have become a New Zealand resident.


New Zealand Chocolate Festival 2013

I am always happy to make new friends and meet new people, so this party was really a good opportunity to do exactly that. Besides the interesting people I met at this party, I was also impressed with the food. Before coming here, I had little to no idea what those living here, in NZ, love to eat. No specific dish could come to mind, so in a way, I can say that I was swimming in uncharted territories. After the party, however, I can say that I have learned a great deal about how well the locals know to throw a party, and I can say a few things about the great food they usually serve on such occasions.


First things first, the locals seem to be quite in love with bite size dishes and I was more than pleased with the selection. But I don’t want to go into detail about NZ food right now, because I want to tell you about the thing that really impressed me at this party. The centerpiece was a chocolate fountain in three steps on which rich, heavenly flavored chocolate was flowing in waves. I had heard before about chocolate fountains, but I had never had the opportunity to see one from up close.

At first, I was a little confused because I had no idea how I was going to have a taste of what looked like a really decadent dessert. Then I noticed what others were doing, as various items were neatly organized on plates in front of the chocolate fountain. So, I got myself some courage to try whatever they were using for dipping in chocolate. There was an assortment of pastries, fruits and cookies you could dip into the chocolate and enjoy the exquisite taste. I personally went for banana bites and strawberries, since I’ve always wanted to try such a thing.


Now I am so in love with chocolate fountains that I am planning to get one for myself. Well, not exactly for myself, since I want to use the chocolate fountain for parties I intend to organize. My decision is made and now I only need to start shopping for a nice model that will work just fine like a centerpiece.

• • •

I’ve been invited to a raclette party

Since moving to New Zealand I’ve made some great friends, and now I’ve been invited to a raclette party. Don’t worry, if you aren’t sure what one is neither was I. I had to research it online so I knew how to dress, what to bring, and in general what to expect. Thankfully it doesn’t involve any unfamiliar sports or games, a raclette party is all about food.

It seems that a raclette is a grill that can be used by several people at once. The whole idea is for everyone to get together and spend some time laughing, talking and cooking. This is definitely something that I am looking forward to.

Since my friend told me that there are going to be eight of us, I’m guessing that there’s going to be at least two raclette grills. I came to this conclusion since most of the models I’ve seen online have space for four people to use at the same time. Our host, or in this case hostess will have the all of the ingredients chopped, diced and ready to go. This way all we have to do is select the ones we want to eat. Like I said before, this is definitely one party I’m looking forward to attending.

While our food is cooking we have plenty of time to sip on some adult beverages and relax with each other. We can catch up on the latest gossip, have a few laughs, and in between we can eat and grill. I also love the fact that this is a casual party so I don’t have to worry about what to wear.


Some of the foods that are commonly served at a raclette party include potatoes and cheese. It seems that the grills come with special compartments that are designed to melt cheese and other ingredients. This way we get to pour delicious melted cheese on our potatoes, and pretty much anything else that might be served. Seafood is pretty common in New Zealand so I’m sure that it will be included on the menu, along with tomatoes, mushrooms, corn and colorful red, orange and green bell peppers. I think I’m starting to get hungry just writing this blog.

The raclette party is still a few days away, but I am excited to go. I can’t wait to share my experience with you or at least write about what I ate.

• • •

My life

Hello everyone! If you are here, it means that you want to know a few things about me. Here is the thing. While I am born in the US, and I lived there for many years of my life, I decided that a change of scenery was not going to hurt, so I packed my bags and I traveled across the planet, to New Zealand. You may think that is a drastic change of scenery and, indeed, you are right. But now, I am going to give you a few strong reasons why I did that.


People here are really friendly. At first, when I landed here, an American with no real knowledge of local customs and such, they were happy to help me out with directions and whatnot. Here they speak English, sort of. When I say ‘sort of’, it is because they have what is called a ‘kiwi’ accent. Don’t be afraid; it is nothing too dramatic and you can understand what they are saying and sooner than you think, you will start developing a ‘kiwi’ accent, too. At least, this is what happened to me.


nab4The next reason on my list: amazing scenery! Hey, here is where they shot Lord of the Rings! Who doesn’t want to see where the hobbits and their friends fought the evil orcs? I joke a little, but the truth is that the first sight you will snatch from your airplane window will take your breath away. If there is paradise on earth, this must be it. I guess there is no accident that New Zealand also goes by the name of “Paradise of the Pacific”. From pristine waters, where you can see trout frolicking about, to impressive mountains and beaches, everything is to love about New Zealand.


nab2I do not have a lot of space at my disposal in this post, since I want to make it concise enough so that I do not bore you. I started this blog as a means to document the changes in my lifestyle that are now occurring. I must say that things are pretty different from what I was used to in the US. Unlike many places in the States, where cities are really crowded, New Zealand is much less populated. This helps finding good accommodations and easy living really doable.


nab3In my future posts, I will try to cover as many of the sights worth visiting as possible, but I will also talk to you about the local customs, the local food, and how people here like to enjoy themselves. So far, my life here has been really good and I want to share my experience with other people. Maybe, some day, you will come visiting and you will love it so much that you may just want to stay!


Until next time, Kia Ora! (which means goodbye, as some good people here taught me)

• • •

New Zeeland


Cool roadtrip

• • •