Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Aye fond kiss

Heading into a new year we tend to reflect on the year just lived and pick out our highlights. Currently I am listening to the radio as they are discussing the sporting achievements of New Zealanders over the past year. I think it is really nice to pick out the bits that excited, inspired and entertained. So, obviously I am going to do a quick dance through our year and consider a handful of highlights. This list is limited very much to our tiny household world and not the rest of the world....just because it is all a bit huge and overwhelming (plus a bunch of totally random photos I haven't shared before, in no particular order)


All about beaches and birthdays (Taylors Mistake and Frank's 70th)February
Oh, birthdays and beaches (Olivia's 5th and Farewell Spit)

Starting school and seeing Jasmine and Marie-AnneApril

Birthdays (my mother's 70th at Moeraki), travel to the Gold Coast to see Jonty's dad with Jasmine. Theme parks and roller coasters - weeeeeeeeeMay

A wedding (Clare and Phil) and a new baby (Georgie - we love her)June
Birthday (mine) and travel (Auckland) and shopping (Auckland) July - Glaciers

Upholstery and the Olympics ( a good winter time tonic)September
BIG month! Australian work trip (fantastic), family wedding and Jonty's birthday October
Spring and re awakening

Auckland for work (and friend, Karen) and piano recital (Nicholas)


Christmas, thankfulness and summer sun

Overall not an earth shatteringly fantastic list but a year of lovely things balanced with life as usual. I wonder what 2009 will bring. Best love and happiness to all.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just finished reading #5

Mudbound - Hillary Jordan

Now, I don't normally read books that upset me as I get really wound up about things like abuse and racism but this book is in our book group and was recommended so I read it. I did enjoy it but have to admit that I skipped the passages of the worst bits of the abuse. It is like covering your eyes at the scary bits in a movie. However, I did enjoy it and found it an easy read and thought the characters were believable if not all likable. Good holiday read.
Here is the synopsis from the book
'It is 1946 and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm - a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two sons return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not - charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defence of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion. The men and women of each family relate their versions of events as they see them, and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in tragedy on the grandest scale'

Monday, December 29, 2008

Summer is really here

Since my last post we have been blessed with the loveliest summer weather. Clear blue skies, warm wind caressing your skin (while watering the garden in pyjamas), hot cricket game in the domain and a late afternoon visit to the beach. The water temperature was inviting and embracing. Sadly I am at work right now while most of the city is holidaying. I am taking a day or two to clear out a years worth of ignored inbox messages. Luckily only 1000 messages in the 'too hard' basket. I am roaring through them as most just need another home to go to with not a lot of intervention or thinking. Interesting to reflect on the giant amount of work that went into a few projects this year. Spreydon library refurb and the 2025 Facilities Plan.
Good things about being at work while the world holidays
  • biking to work with no traffic
  • listening to my new MP3 player - bliss
  • listening to Radio NZ - National on my new MP3 player - more than blissful - Noelle now and anticipating brilliance with Matinee Idle after lunch
  • no queue at my favourite cafe for morning coffee
  • no interruptions - this of course for an extreme extrovert like me, will quickly pall and move into the 'bad things about being at work...'
  • interesting conversations with people I might not always have time to chat to at work
Back to the inbox now...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fa la la la la

Boxing Day has dawned cold and grey pretty much like yesterday. Nothing like crappy weather to slice a little of the Christmas cheer away. Yesterday had all the ingredients of a fine Christmas - family, friends, presents and lovely food. I was a tiny bit disconnected as I had reignited my old back injury on Christmas Eve (putting towels in the linen cupboard), so was in pretty bad pain all day and found it hard to relax and enjoy myself. The good thing was that I had to keep active so ended up co-ordinating the present distribution, table setting (in part), dishes and dessert preparation etc. Nice for my mother to have a bit of a break as she has taken on her hosting duties with great energy and commitment. Had a great conversation with Louisa in the morning a chat with Karen and Anna and a visit from Alex, Oliver and Joseph, a family lunch then Marie-Anne and Martin for a delicious light evening meal. Dad had given me some pain killers for my back and although they dulled the pain it wasn't until MA doled out some more heavy duty jobs did I find any relief. Shame it kicked in about 9.30pm. Still a bit sore today but will be up at the chemist getting some more little white pills today. Aaaaah the relief. This is going to be a giant post so grab a coffee...
This is the delicious green bean and feta salad I made for Christmas lunch. I used a citrus dressing for the warm beans then left them to cool. I crisped up the panchetta and sprinkled that along with the other ingredients and left it to rest. Other food delights of the day included bbq spit roast turkey. NOTHING beats this. Dad used the Jamie Oliver method of carving and the result was superb. My mother's Christmas pudding is by far the most delicious on the planet. It is an old family recipe that it is best not to know what is in it....a heart attack on a plate. Fresh new potatoes loving grown by my father....later used for an evening potato salad. YUM!
PRESENTS Nic and Ben received the presents of the day. My dad had made the both the most gorgeous treasure chests out of wood, leather, copper and whole lot of other stuff. Inside each one was an eye patch, chocolate money and other treasure, pirate hats and stickers and an 'x' marks the spot cloth. These photos don't do them justice but they really were gorgeous. Other good presents of the day for us included my new MP3 player, with tonnes of features my new slimline Samsung T10 is gorgeous. I loaded up a whole of stuff last night and spent an hour with my eyes closed on the sofa listening to 'my friends', long lost after leaving my last MP3 player on a plane in September (I hope the bastard who took it has choked on the headphone cord). I took a few risks this year buying three of my friends some art and decorative art. Instead of playing safe I thought I would try something different and loved doing that. I hope they loved what I did too. There are too many other things to describe without making this into the longest blog post in history.
PEOPLE Here are some shots from the day. My mother at the head of the table, relaxed and happy...

Having been up since 5.30, Nic was less than co-operative for the photos and this was one of the few printable ones from the day. He is still being a total s^&* as he just can't sleep in or take ONE minute out of his day to rest and revive, consequently today is proving to be very hard and it is only 9am!!
Delightful Olivia sharing some ballet moves and being a vision of serenity and happiness all day.

My dad wearing the very aptly labeled 'Grumpy Old Man' apron. Although he was the consummate host yesterday, bad table manners and wriggly children are not his bag.Three gorgeous boys at the beginning of the day. Oliver, Nicholas and Joseph looking very cool on the sofa.What an angelic pose from Ben. Amazingly for a three year old he kept that white shirt white all day. Yay Ben. Didn't eat his lunch though but there you go...well just the chipolata which he tried out in his eye first...

Finally a few pics from around the house. This is the embarrassingly sad Christmas tree especially for Louisa who needs a laugh. Having red walls in our lounge is really just a year long Christmas decoration waiting for some bling.
The mantelpiece in the dinning room with a few of the lovely red cards we got this year

Right, I need to get on as we are having Jonty's family over for turkey and trimmings tonight so I need to get the dishes done and start planning the menu...a bit behind myself today but it should be pretty easy with excessive amounts of food in the fridge and pantry. I hope everyone had the Christmas day they desired. Love Sally

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Picnic on the grass

The last lunch date before Christmas was a wonderful hour of lunching in a sunny spot on the banks of the river, sheltered from the wind and all traffic it was a perfect place to picnic. Alex was the initiator of the picnic and gathered a lovely bunch of friends to enjoy a quite interlude in a busy week. I took a couple of pics on my phone. We had bubbly too, yum.

Lovely baby Lily joined us too
BTW, this is my 200th post!! Thanks to everyone for popping in for a look and a comment. I hope you are enjoying visiting.


Me and Aurelia setting up the stall. She is a great gal, another privilege to work withA few Saturdays ago I had the pleasure of attending the AFFIRM festival in Aranui representing our library. Every year I go to this event and always get a huge blast out of it. Aranui is the suburb in Christchurch that has the highest deprivation levels in the South Island. The people live hard lives and you feel you are not in Christchurch at all. This year we gave away boxes and boxes of books to families. One per person and they loved them. One 9 year old boy pointed to a book and said 'mum, they have this at the school library', I said, 'would you like to have and keep it?' He nodded and smiled quietly, absolutely overwhelmed and happy to own such a gorgeous book. I almost cried and felt privileged to be able to do this for a living.
This was a great performance by Wainoni school. The dances had a Maori and Samoan flavour and the kids had such fun, and so proud.

All our visitors were friendly and fun to talk to and this community is fantastic. We so want to build a library here and we know it would be a great asset to the community. Once you have spent a day with a community such as this you lose all judgement. You have to be able to walk in other peoples shoes to even half way understand the hardships some people face.
This little guy couldn't wait to start reading

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The lady who lunches

Well that would have to be me. It would be a little odd not to be over indulging at this time. Today we went for brunch at our friends and are just home at 5.45 after a lovely afternoon whiling away our time on the puffy leather sofa chatting and sharing stories while the children delighted in the freedom of distracted parents. A great bunch o kids. The food was the basic brunch fare of a very long tradition, eggs, bacon, hash browns, tomatoes etc. A glass of bubbly to wash it down and some sweeties and we are done for the day.

In the past week I have dined at various locations around town and thought it only proper to share these experience and practice my reviewing skills.

First up - Holy Smoke Smokehouse 650 Ferry Road Christchurch
A stunning renovation of an old building, stylish and buzzy. Very noisy with wooden floors and a lot of chatty people. The menu was delicious looking and with a full diary of lunch dates, I decided to go with the Caesar egg but but with hot smoked salmon. It was small and perfectly formed except for the absence of the dressing!!! The dressing is the key to a successful Caesar without a doubt. So nice but not perfect. The only thing that really let the whole event down was the 50 minutes!!! it took to get our lunch. We were obviously a work group and had to rush our meals to get back to work. Lovely fresh smoked food though.

Next up was a snack lunch at Daily Grind in the city. It used to be full to the top at lunch time and was the brainchild of this very cool guy (read hot) who started up a small bunch of them. Anyway, although the food was edible, again really small and the place was really dirty. The tables weren't cleaned and there was dirt and dust all around the till. Felt grimy.

Next up our leadership team trekked down to the Bicycle Thief for our annual last lunch. Highly anticipated with many good reviews...including mine, it was a busy place and the food was tiny and mine was tasteless. I had a salad with fish - Blue Cod which was delicious. But there was not one ounce of seasoning on any of it. I licked my lips thinking about the broccoli and almond salad with greens and marinated beetroot. Not to be. No almonds, no dressing, soggy cold broc. Bloody hell. AND it took ages AGAIN!! We were obviously a work group and again had to rush meals. Apparently the chocolate torte and tiramisu were delicious. I have had several excellent evening meals at this restaurant but wont be going back for lunch. Very disappointing. Put a real dampener on our lunch.

Right, next up was 'Cup' a cafe on the hill over looking the city. It was a gorgeous hot day so we sat outside for a business lunch and the food, service and company were all perfect. We had a divine smoked salmon salad with lovely dressing and fresh new potatoes that were slightly caramelised. Excellent.

Finally I met my friend Jackie for a quick lunch yesterday and we popped into the Lotus Heart. A vegetarian haunt that is always busy and food is always absolutely delicious. Go here and enjoy your food and sweet service by the sari clad followers of Sri Chimnoy.

So, in all a range of food and service, lots of good conversation and a few extra centimetres on my waist.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I love Saturdays and last one was a very interesting and diverse day. I had the privilege of attending the AFFIRM festival in Aranui for work. I will talk about that later. Nic and I also got to attend Olivia's ballet recital. Unfortunately we couldn't stay for the whole thing because we had to get ourselves across town for my team's Christmas do at Simon's. Here are some pictures of our day. You can see Olivia in the centre of these photos. She was adorable and concentrated very hard on her moves. I think she has a future in this art as she was fantastic.
Jonty and Nic sitting on the new deck at Simon's. He has spent the last year renovating his house and garden and the result is brilliant.
Oh yes, we also got our tree on Saturday. I call it 'Jonty's revenge 'as it is a skinny scrawny little thing that can barely hold half of our decorations. With me usually buying a giant bulging tree that takes up so much space and looks divine, he had the opportunity to choose and he got what he wanted. Not a big deal in the giant scheme of things and a win for him so I laughed and still enjoy looking at what we could get on it. I think it is a bit of a tart of a tree with very loud red lights that might have to go next year. Will post a pic sometime in the next week or so.

Friday, December 12, 2008

just finished reading #4

Being Emily by Ann Donovan
I loved this book. Recommended through the Christchurch City Libraries best reads of 2008 webpage, I devoured it in a few days. It is written through the eyes of a lovely young Glaswegian woman coming of age as her mother dies and her dad has a meltdown. The story is written in the Scottish vernacular so you have to read hard for the first 10 or so pages but after that it is a breeze. A bit like Shakespeare and sub-titled movies. Lots of lovely moments, funny bits and interesting turns. 'Emily' refers to Emily Bronte the author's idol. Not sure how well that was done in the book and the links were tenuous most of the time, however, it didnea matter. A really lovey holiday or weekend read. Totally recommend.

'Tis the season to be roly poly

After spending 6 months this year hard out dieting and reaching an acceptable happy place, I am now drowning under the weight of Christmas cheer and it is killing me inside and out. I know this blog is about happiness but jeepers! Mind you, there are people who are not drowning in Christmas cheer so I am lucky I guess. Well, that sorted that out. Remember this?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Just finished reading #3

Not really just finished, about week or so ago and since then I have been struggling to settle into something. I think I am really tired and needy. Anyway, I read 'Show of hands' by Anthony McCarten. Set in London it is written by a New Zealander and the film version had a couple of kiwis in it too. Anyway, it is about a bunch of people who enter a competition to see who can keep their hand on the car for the longest and ultimately win it. It is obviously a book about people and relationships and all the things you would expect from a single setting book. It was a a bit like a play, you could make it into a play. There is the sub plot of the owner running though it too which I thought was a little light and ended boringly, however, the whole book was an OK read. I got into it but wasn't thrilled by it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Last night Alex and I went to see the Lebanese film 'Caramel'. I had no idea what it was about which is a preferred state for me as I like the unfolding of a story and don't want to have too many preconceived notions of what I am about to see. Anyway, the story was set in a beauty shop and centred around the lives of 5 women of various ages all on some personal journey or other. I love traveling through the movies and the Beirut in the film was scruffy and interesting. What I thought was most interesting was the religious diversity and inter generational expression of this, also the language was a Lebanese French hybrid, not surprising as the French did colonise Lebanon, a fact that I am ashamed to say, I did not know previously. The 'Caramel' is what the women use to 'wax' and had all kinds of symbolism around it but was not over stated. I thought the film was gentle, sweet and subtle and a really liked it.

Monday, December 01, 2008


It rained last night and it was a bit cold and wet this morning. Now this in itself is reasonably unremarkable. However, there are many reasons why rain today is a good thing:

1. The garden REALLY needs some help

2. I had to take the car - normally wouldn't but I have a hell head cold at the moment and a cold bike ride to work was not an option. I did get to park and walk which meant I got some exercise which is important

3. I could wear my gorgeous red boots which are not a summer clothing option

4. To match these boots I got to wear my stunning silver tights

5. It is not the weekend - no public or private outdoor events were harmed.

So, some very light and banal reasons why it was good to see some rain.

Photo credit