Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Saturday rant about giant stone jars

As I sat in bed with my tea and toast this morning I read the news online. One article in particular caught my attention. It's about New Zealand supporting Laos in building its tourism industry. I thought this could only be a good thing as in my humble opinion, we do tourism pretty darn well.

As Laos is at the moment predominantly known as a great place to get exceptionally pissed and ride a tube down a river (possibly the stupidest idea ever) I was interested to find an article about something else. And yes, I know there's lots of other reasons some people do visit Laos - like the river boat rides, French influence in the food, the people and the history - the thought of hundreds of drunk 18 year olds on gap years drinking their way around South East Asia has so far meant that's it's not on my list of must sees.

Anyway, back to my point. I was reading this article about a site there they're making better for tourists. It's a plain full of 2000-3000 year old stone jars. That sounds pretty cool. So far they've cleared walkways through the bombs/landmines and are trying to get it listed as a World Heritage Site. They've plans to build a museum, carpark, set up accommodation in the village....these are all good things. Then I got to a word that made my hairs stick up on end. THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT BUILDING A GIANT STONE JAR. Is this the Kiwi influence? What is with us and tacky giant statues in small towns?!

It's one thing building something like this in a small town to try tempt the tourists to stop and spend a few dollars rather than roaring straight through, but surely this village and its stone jars is enough to draw in tourists without a tacky gimmick.

Rant for the day over. Now to enjoy half an hour of sunshine before heading into work.

Friday, February 24, 2012

El Bulli and tapas

Today (well actually yesterday now) was a fun day. It was technically my one day off for the week so after a bit of a sleep in, cooked breakfast and room cleaning I headed into work for 4 hours. No rest for the wicked. After that's when the fun started.

My flatmate, colleague and I went out to watch a documentary about El Bulli - the famous restaurant in Spain. It was incredible. The type of food they create is so amazing - it is cooking in the extreme. I'd love to get a hold of one of his books... in fact if I keep putting in these hours I might be able to shout myself one to take on holiday to read.

There was a deal going with our local Spanish restaurant, Osteria del Toro, where you could get tapas and a beer/bubbly for $15 with your El Bulli ticket. We weren't going to pass that up. The tapas were delicious, as were the mocktails (several weeks sober now, only a few more to go) and then we ended the meal with a dessert - or for me it was the ewe's cheese. Yum! I love trying something new.

After that we caught the late screening of Shame. It was brilliant but sad and awful all at once. I'd like to see more of Michael Fassbender's work. Note to self. Rent Hunger.

Now I really should get to bed as I have to be back at work in under 8 hours for a lovely 12 hour shift. Envious?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

An update about nothing much, really.

I haven't updated in a while as nothing much has been happening. My life at the moment is work and sleep and work some more. I was planning on having a beach day tomorrow but that won't be happening as the weather is horrible and my day off has to be postponed for another 7 days. Love working 13 days or more in a row! At least I'll have the moolah to pay for my holiday and to pay off my laptop. Really, that holiday cannot come fast enough. I am daydreaming about lying in a hot pool without a care in the world.

Inspired by Lea's triathlon I've decided to take up exercising again. I've been terrible about it for the last few months. So this week I'm started out slow by fitting in a half hour walk on 6/7 days and then next week I'll start on the 'from couch potato to 5km' run/walk programme. When I did it a couple of years ago I remember how good it felt to be able to run 5km non stop so that will be my inspiration to get into it again. Also I'd really like to be able to fit into the beautiful skirts that I picked up in the mountains of Northern Peru. Teamed with a cardy and tights they will be my winter wardrobe. A couple of centimetres off my middle should do it. 

Right I'm going to watch New Girl again (love that show) and give my room a tidy so I can have tomorrow night free to see a film at the Paramount (El Bulli - about the famous restaurant in Spain) and go for tapas afterwards. It should be a good night. 

P.S. I discovered typo (a new stationery store) this week and picked up this cool letters for my room (it means peace in spanish - I know I'm cheesy!) and a cute cover for my netbook. Love it!

And I couldn't not share this picture of Sir Buquebus sitting in his box. He jumps back and forth through the hole. Too cute!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Planning a holiday

One of my absolute favourite things to do is to book holidays. Whether they are real holidays I'm taking or the elaborate imaginary holidays I have planned in my head while doing dishes or rolling pastry at work. You could probably name any country in the world and I'll probably tell you what I'd like to do there and whereabouts that stop would be in a backpacking itinerary or the more luxurious 'if-I-won-the-lotto' itinerary.

I did have a holiday planned out for the end of March and my leave booked but there's been a change of plans (and not as much money in my bank account as I'd like) so I see that happening towards the end of this year instead. With 8 days of leave already booked I had a choice of cancelling it and working right through (the sensible option) or travelling somewhere domestically.

Heading up north to see the family was an obvious choice but I've decided to combine it with a trip to Rotorua as I haven't been there for years. So after Rotorua I'll hit the farm for a few days before staying with a friend who's just bought a house for a catch up and a chance to do some gardening in a garden much bigger than my own, before ending the trip in Auckland to visit the zoo and hopefully a yarn store before flying back home.

With a budget of $500 max in mind, here's what I have planned so far...

Bus to Rotorua = $22
Night in a hotel = $62 (deal!)
Polynesian Spa = $25
Grade 5 rafting and gondola/luge = $115
Total = $264

Transport to the farm = free
Accommodation on the farm (4 nights) = free
Food/drink on the farm = free
Day trip to Tauranga = free
Total = free

Transport to Huntly = $5.70
Accommodation in Huntly (2 nights) = free
Total = $5.70

Transport to Auckland = $13
Accommodation in Auckland (2 nights) = free
Auckland Zoo (museum if it's raining) = $22
Bus/ferry transport = $25
Movies = free
Flight home = $73
Total = $158

And the total is.... $402.70

Which leaves $97.30 for all food/drinks/spending money if I've done my maths right. 9 nights. That's doable considering 4 of them are at my parents which means free food. 4 nights are being spent with friends and aunts/uncles who I'd normally buy a bottle of wine for to say thanks but perhaps I could take up some home baking and jam as a thank you instead. I'm limited on shopping by taking carry on only on the plane so my trip to the knitting store can't cost too much either. I'll also take along a thermos and tea bags and mostly eat from the supermarket or a cheap bakery. Definitely doable.

The big positive is that I've worked enough public holidays to get paid for most of the days I'm holidaying. That's the rent taken care of. I can't wait!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


So how was your Valentine's Day? Did you do anything to celebrate?

I was celebrating not so much a day of love but my first day off work after a long 11 days. My day started with a sleep in and then discovering the washing machine had died. I'm exceptionally stoked that I'll have to do hand washing only until it gets fixed!

Then it was out to Lower Hutt with a friend to watch a girlie movie - The Vow. 

A quick trip home to bake a plum tart - which was ridiculously easy by the way - and a chance to check on the vege patch (cucumbers are just about ready) before heading back into town to watch another romantic movie...

Titanic in 3D. 

It was the first time in years that I'd seen it and it was as good as ever. Cheesy enough to have me shaking the seat with laughter a lot of the time, but with a young and gorgeous Leo and a whole lot of moments I didn't remember and a whole lot more that I could have recited word for word. A whole bunch of us watched it and with a slice of the aforementioned plum tart it was a great night out. 

Now that I'm home and have watched the first episode of Go Girls for the year it's probably time to hit the hay before work in the morning. Thankfully I have another day off on Thursday which I feel I'm in desperate need of as the house is in need of a tidy and there's a bit of weeding awaiting me in the garden so I'd love an around the house day. 

I'll leave you with a couple of photos of the garden. 

The apple cucumbers are finally starting to get big

The tomatillos (Cape horn gooseberries) are just about ripe

Monday, February 13, 2012


I came across an article the other day that made a big fuss over a New Zealand pseudo-celebrity owning a golliwog doll. The only reason anyone knows about the golliwog is that it made an appearance in one of the shots of the house posted on a real estate website.

My reaction was "how is this news?!". Does owning a golliwog make you racist? I love gollys. I think they are adorable and have vintage appeal. It's one thing I'd love to knit for myself. Does that make me a racist? Or insensitive?

I found an interesting article about the origins of golliwogs that you can read here. I remember them from the Enid Blyton books I read as a kid. Perhaps we (or just me perhaps?) were sheltered here in New Zealand because I never considered them as having a negative connotation until a couple of years ago when a foreign friend expressed disbelief that they were sold here.

Is this all PC gone mad? Or are gollys something we should tuck away into the past?

If you like gollys I found a link on felt where you can buy make your own golly kits. Cute.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What $14 can buy...

1 huge celery, 1 bunch silverbeet, 1 broccoli, 1 leek, 1 large cabbage, 1 purple cauliflower, 10 cobs of corn, 6 courgettes, 6 apricots, bag of plums, bag of peaches/nectarines. 

I wonder how much that would cost at the supermarket...

We are lucky this week to have heaps of beans, tomatoes, spinach, rocket/lettuce and fresh herbs in the garden. 

Now to find room in the freezer for the little stir fry vegetable packets I'm about to cut up and blanch. 

A sunny Saturday and build up to Handmade 2012

Happy Saturday to you. The sun is out and I don't have to be at work until 5pm. To celebrate I'm going to hang out a load of washing since sunny days have been so few and far between this summer. I'm also about to head down to the vege market. The benefit of going down there later in the day is that they often drop their prices. Since we don't need anything that is prone to wilting - the garden being full of lettuce and spinach - there's no real downside and the bonus is I got to enjoy a Saturday morning sleep in.

Right now I'm indulging in a bit of online shopping as Buquebus has been so well behaved (and is getting friendlier by the day) I think he deserves a cat harness so we can walk him around the backyard. We did get a handmedown rabbit harness but he is a little on the chunky size and there is no way we can buckle it up.

And in exciting news tickets to Handmade 2012 go on sale in a fortnight. I have booked leave for Queen's Birthday weekend and have now narrowed down my classes. I'm splashing out on a $300 full weekend pass. 8 classes in 2 days. Here's what my weekend is looking like at the moment.


  • Cheese making
  • Ruth Pretty cake masterclass or cupcake decorating
  • Two handed, stranded knitting
  • Lynda Hallinan masterclass: self sufficiency on a shoestring budget 
  • Cushion making, oriental book binding or flax weaving
  • Spinning with a drop spindle
  • Tapa Cloth dying or wine tasting
  • Sock Owls
I'm having heaps of trouble choosing what to start my Sunday with as all three options sound like fun. What do you think?

It's going to be a great weekend, hopefully with some time spent in the knit lounge as well. Do you have any plans this year that you're really looking forward to?

Friday, February 3, 2012

On my needles

I'm supposed to be finishing a tea cosy right now but it's knitted in 3 different colours of double strands and so taking it out and about with me is a nuisance. 6 balls of wool = lots of tangled mess. So I cast on this baby cardigan and knitted up this much in only an hour or so last night. 

This yarn is to die for. It is so beautifully soft and has the most amazing stitch definition. The photo doesn't show up the colour that well but it's a steely blue. I almost want to say screw the baby knitting, I'm unraveling it and making something for myself in this cashmerino. I won't though. The best thing is that it was on sale for $4 a ball. Bargain! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Donating blood

This morning I headed down to the blood donor centre for what was supposed to be my 14th whole blood donation.

The process starts with a finger prick test to make sure your haemoglobin levels are high enough to donate. They need to be over 120. 3 months ago I think mine were 122 down from a whopping 133 when I was fresh off the plane from Argentina and its massive steaks.

Today I only managed 113. So I had to have second finger prick to see if they could get a higher result. 112. Then it was into the donation room for a blood test to make sure the finger prick was correct. That came back 111. And so now I'm not allowed to donate for 6 months while I build up some iron stores again. I see chicken liver pate on toast for breakfast in my future.

I still got a cup of tea and a squiggle biscuit for my efforts (or lack thereof) and a pretty darn good reason to sink my teeth into a steak at least once a week from now on. Being able to donate blood is important to me as...

80% of us will need a blood product in our lifetime
but only 4% of us actually donate.

It only takes an hour of your time every few months to give something that could end up saving someone's life. Perhaps even yours or someone that you know...