Friday, December 24, 2010

twas the night before Christmas.....

...and we went to Ballantynes to check out the window and get a decoration each for the children.  A lovely family tradition and how cute are these guys? I think my mother looks fantastic for 72 and half years old.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I found this video in my meandering around the net and thought I might try and embed it in my blog to see how it looks.  Just a little bit of nothing much to entertain you and me..

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just finished reading #37

Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson.

It is so nice to finish a book. I have been struggling with at least 5 unfinished books on my bedside cabinet over the last few months and then I can across this little gem of a read.   I am going to make an effort to review it but if you want to read exactly what I thought of it follow this link because this woman feels exactly as I do about the book.    I read Linda's other book called 'Sing me gentle songs'  and loved it.  As I have previously mentioned I love books set in cold places and islands and both these books are set similarly.  Both with a New Zealand bit and  Swedish bit.  The juxtaposition of the brightness of New Zealand light and cool glumness of Swedish winters written about with such skill, make for great reading.  As I seldom read the blurbs of books with any real attention, I am always left breathless when things happen.  It makes for a slow revealing of the story and a true adventure.  Sometimes, I would never have embarked on a book if I had known what I was getting myself into.  In this book Miriam dies fairly early on in the story and as she is only 19 and the only living relative of Adam Anker a displaced Pole in NZ, it could be the most heartbreaking story.  However, it is a story of discovery and written by a woman whom has the most beautiful way of putting words on a page.  Spare detail, if there is such a thing, means she uses each word with such care and effect.  Anyway, Adam goes on a journey of discovery trying to find out where he has come from and discovers secrets and sad things about his family.  I found bits confusing but as always thought it was me but others felt the same.  However, this did not diminish the tale or the fascinating characters. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

busy busy busy

I Can't believe how long it has been since I checked in on my blog.  Seems like days, weeks and almost months are flashing by.  Sadly, I have not been jetting around the world or spending hours lying on the beach hours from internet access.  I have been working and doing the washing, ironing, folding and shopping for delightful Christmas gifts for my friends and family.  All good things, quite busy and not very exciting to write about.  HOWEVER, I do have some images that give a little taste of what has been happening.
 Crawling up Baldwin Street in Dunedin
 Taking sneaky photo of the ceiling of Larnach Castle
 Delicious venison entree at Larnach Castle
 ...and salmon
 and a very light cheesecake...cant remember exactly what flavour although I am guessing strawberry.  And my new tiny tiny handbag which almost fits in the palm of my hand in the background.
 Some lovely buildings down George Street in Dunedin

 Entertaining my lovely parents in the backyard on a very hot day
 eating vanilla cupcakes with fresh raspberries on said lovely hot day
 planting seeds with grandad - radishes and lettuces
 Looking at the French Navy ship we couldn't get on to due to a mis print in the Press...excellent.  We did get to see it from this distance though...yay.
 Just a picture of an old brick building  pub in Lyttelton  that took my fancy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Well not strictly a road trip as we will not be meandering too much on our way down to Dunedin today.  I am staying for 5 days to attend our annual library LIANZA conference but the dudes are coming down for the ride and also so we can spend time with Jasmine.  They will repeat the journey again tomorrow which is a bit of a drag but that's how it is.  It has been cracker weather this week so setting out in the cool of the morning to hit the road before the rest of the world is our aim.  Looking forward to everything about the day
  • stopping in Timaru to see Marie-Anne and luxuriate in her stunning garden
  • tasty treats in Oamaru
  • egg sandwiches and gingernuts as we go
  • gasping at the stunning Otago coast line 
  • Dunedin!!! Yay

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A total shitty shitty day

Nothing happy about today, finally accepting after another massive explosion at the Pike River Coal Mine, that all 29 miners are dead.  This is so heartbreaking for everyone on the Coast and all of us who in this little South Island who feel like one big family.  Everyone knows someone who is grieving today. We are all grieving with them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

colour my world

I feel great this week after a days of fun, friends and sun.  Heading to the Your Home and Garden/Dulux event on a 31 degree night was just gorgeous.  Alex and I went to Hinton's vineyard and enjoyed a glass or two of wine and lovely nibbly things.  On top of that we got to meet the Dulux chic and the lovely Sarah Kerr interior designer and very excitingly Denise L'Estrange-Corbett from World fashion label.  It was just great indulging in fashion, interior fabrics, design and colour.  Very uplifting.

Today I had the very great pleasure of joining Nic and his class on a visit to the beautiful Issac Theatre Royal to see Royal NZ Ballet's latest Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker.  It was baking hot and I did have parental bus duties to perform but I was as mesmerized as the children with their interpretation of the ballet.  Stunning and beautiful with some real originality especially in the set and lighting.  The kids from Nic's class were fantastic.
Continuing the theme of colour and creativity Karen and I indulged ourselves in a repeat viewing of 'The September Issue'  It was great sitting there with a chic talking about the clothes and the people and just indulging in all that fashion.  Grace Coddington is my new hero and Anna Wintour is just plain fascinating.

Add this to a double episode of Project Runway AND a stunning new resin bracelet I bought at my hair dressers on Wednesday night and I have had a great visual delight of a week.  I wish every week was this rich with colour.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ron Mueck

 Way back in October we spent a lovely afternoon with our Waiararapa family at the Christchurch Art Gallery.  To our delight we got to see the Ron Mueck exhibition.  An amazingly crafted and moving collection of tiny and outsized sculptures.The 2 metre tall pregnant woman was breathtaking and I am sure I was not alone in feeling quite overwhelmed by the emotion of it.  The children were fascinated and Nic a bit freaked out but very intrigued.

Enjoying lunch at the Arts Centre

Anniversary weekend

What gorgeous weather we have had this weekend.  Although our memory tell us this is what it is always like, it actually isn't.  I know this because this is the weekend we celebrate our wedding anniversary and eleven years ago this weekend was freezing, really freezing and wet.  When I say celebrate I would have to say, we don't actually celebrate, we acknowledge.  This year, we just had our mates in town so up we scooped the wedding party and off we went to the best Thai restaurant in Christchurch.  Chinwag Eathai is just gorgeous.  Then we wandered down to the Crown Plaza for coffee and cake.  Very tame and friendly evening.  This is what we looked like 11 years ago
...and this is us now...lovely I think.
Thanks for a warm and loving evening everyone

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Just finished reading #36

I really did just finish reading this book ...

while sitting in this chair under the apricot tree....

 watching Nic play with the hose and this fantastic blow up stuff, which I did help blow up by holding the nozzle.  Sadly, I have no pictures of this event as although we have more cameras than people in this house, things are not going well in that department.  (I did manage to get these pics after the fact which is a bit of a fluke)

This is my second Maggie O'Farrell and if I didn't love her before, I really do now.  Tears are welling just thinking about this story.  I loved it and I am not sure why.  Basically it is about mothers and children but not so obviously until you say it out loud.  Lexie comes to live in London in the '60's and has a great life in Soho writing for a magazine and meeting fantastic people.  Elina lives in London too (about now) and we meet her shortly after a pretty intense birth experience which I would say she is handling much better than her loving partner Ted.  I am not going to tell you any more than this as the story needs to tell itself.  However, these two women are lovely interesting and warm characters.  Not soppy by any means, in fact not at all but something about them is very very compelling and I just had to read the last half of this book today at every opportunity I could.  The story of their connection unravel in a way I was not expecting but that is not to say you wont as I am an endearingly gullible reader who has been known to gasp while reading plot twists and turns.  I bought this for my bookgroup as recommended by my friend Erica and it has to be a winner.  Read it!
The Hand that first held mine - Maggie O'Farrell

Friday, November 12, 2010

Show Day

This is not a post post, it is a pre post.  Fantastic Canterbury Anniversary day here today.  Stunning warm morning with a little dew on the lawn, the roses are looking awesome, the strawberry flowers just dying to turn into shiny fruit.  We are heading down to Lake Hood (not The Show) for a picnic and taking the boat so I expect a very hot and relaxing day.  Have a great day at work everyone else.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sad news

This is the story of how a long time friend of my parents and our family met his maker last weekend.  Clouds of sadness gather around the people that knew John and although really sad, we are not surprised that this is how he left.  Robert, his son, is pretty amazing to say these words about his father.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Eat Pray Love

Read the book, liked a lot of it, got sick of the indulgence after awhile, however the movie was a different story.  Really enjoyed the story, characters and locations a lot.  Also really enjoyed my raspberry and white chocolate ice cream and the company of my lovely friend Alex.   I am also a closet Julia Roberts fan and melt at the sight of Javier Bardem.  Nice. And I am still thinking about it and remembering some of the good wisdom and life observations. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

I have recently been the recipient of a random act of kindness and I was almost moved to tears by the thoughfulness behind a beautifully wrapped gift left on my desk.  I have been in the very enjoyable position of doing a bit myself.  Having received a very large box of treats from a very generous supplier (another random act) from the North Island who wanted to ease our earthquake nerves, I have been randomly delivering tasty treats to meetings, teams and workmen in our building.  Although the cost of this is not mine, I have gained so much enjoyment delivering the treats and making people smile.

A few weeks ago I also had the pleasure of collecting for Canteen and observing first hand the kindness of others. Many people walked past not wanting to make eye contact or engage in any way but many did stop and drop a few coins in the bucket, chatted about friends who had died of cancer and generally talking about life and handbags, clothes and those kinds of bits and bobs.

Wrapping those small daily experiences up I am going to hold onto the loveliness of receiving and giving random acts of kindness.  If the car texting red light runners, balloon poppers and people who complain about the tiny life injustices they experience partook in such kindness and respect for others, they too might get to experience the warmth and joy that can be achieved with small kind actions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious.  Donna Hay is one of my taste gurus.  Her recipes are so tasty and they never fail to deliver.   I did change it a bit as you do and added peas and cucumber instead of snow peas and I fried up a couple of shallots instead of red onion.  This is a lovely after work creation....mmm...

ginger beef patties with lime noodle salad
photography Vanessa Levis

ginger beef patties with lime noodle salad

  • 100g vermicelli rice noodles
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • 300g beef mince
  • ¼ cup (60ml) oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 150g snow peas (mange tout), sliced and blanched
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 ½ tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 small red chilli, chopped
Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 5 minutes or until soft. Drain and run under cold water until cold. Set aside.
Chop half the mint leaves and place in a bowl with the mince, oyster sauce and ginger. Mix well to combine. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Divide the mince mixture into six patties and cook for 2–3 minutes each side or until cooked through.
Place the noodles in a bowl with the snow pea, tomato, onion and remaining mint leaves and toss to combine. Add the patties to the salad. Combine the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chilli and pour over the noodles to serve. Serves 2.
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  • this recipe is from donna hay magazine issue 47

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just finished reading #35

Over the past few months I have been very slack in the book reviewing stakes.  So I thought I would do a bunch of small reviews to catch up

Dear Alison -edited by Simon Pollard

Courtesy of Penguin website. In July 1942 with a notebook and pencil he had bought from a German guard, Dudley Muff started Alison's Book. Dudley was 42 and a prisoner of war in Stalag XVIIIB in Germany and his niece Alison was four and living in Timaru.
It starts 'Dear Alison, Mummy has told you all about Uncle being a prisoner so now I must tell you what we do to pass the time.' With humorous entries, sketches and what he called 'little men' his story grew until it became an unbelievable account of his time served in two prisoner-of-war camps.
Given to Alison when he returned to Christchurch after the war, she read it first as a child, purely for the excitement such a story could impart. Only later, rereading this as an adult, did she see through the veiled references to how life really was in the camps. After returning to Christchurch, Dudley added a one page postscript describing his journey to freedom. He finished the book with, 'Now I shall tell you in three little words what all my travels have taught me, NEVER BE AFRAID. With all the love in the world from Uncle Dudley'

It is a great little read with super pictures that Dudley drew...nice to read with children about 8+ probably.  Very good.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


Enjoy these photos of our trip to Gladstone
 Beautiful morning mist down the valley

 Family picnic under the titoki tree

 The ubiquitous bath shot

 The best ever playground in Masterton


Early morning farewell at the train station...thanks for a great relaxing time