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

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Nic in Wellywood

Here is a round up of the dash through Wellington on a Sunday afternoon and a Thursday morning....

 through the clouds
 big things at Te Papa - whale
 and squid
 lying over the Catlins

 the family train engine shot...
 top of the Cable Car
 it is amazing who you bump into sometimes...Catherine and I have also met once under the river in the subway in Melbourne...destined to find each other in odd places
 Cable Car
handing out the lollies...self appointed

Just finished reading #34

A week in December - Sebastian Faulks

I have never read Birdsong, the novel most of us associate Seb Faulks with but have been meaning to for about 20 years.  Instead I read his latest.  Set in London over one week in December 2007 it is one of those delicious books that has a whole range of stories (7) running through it that you know are going to collide somewhere but you are not entirely sure how.  We are a bit sure as almost everyone is linked through a dinner party guest list of a Tory party chap and his wife, Sophie.  I thought this was a little bit on the obvious side and perhaps a little transparent.  It seemed rushed at the end which made me think it was a bit contrived.  I really enjoyed the stories that intertwined - John Veals the hedge fund owner who I despised throughout the entire book and wanted to see get his just desserts but didn't was everything you would expect from a man in the cit;   Hassan the young man in search of heaven through a suicide bombing was interesting and likable and  I really enjoyed Jenni the Underground train driver and Farooq the pickle maker and so on.  I think all of the stories could be interesting in their own right.  I read the review of this in the Guardian and wondered if their reviewer and I had read the same book.  I always chuckle when that happens as it confirms my beleif that I am not a great reader although I just love it.   This book was a good meaty read although not quite the book I think Sebastian might have been aiming for.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


We are here, Nic and I, enjoying a shake free holiday hosted by our lovely cousins Gill and Andrew, Anika and Hazel.  I am feeling a little guilty for being away for another sizable shake but there you go.  I haven't brought my camera download cable so I don't have pics to share except one I am going to pinch off Gill.  It is fantastic living in this straw bale, eco friendly, eclectic and self sufficient home on a hill overlooking a spectacular valley. So calm and still.