Monday, April 30, 2012

Sew proud

Apologies for the cheesy title! Check out what I bought today. When you see it all in one pile it doesn't look that much considering what I spent! I took forever to choose those fabrics. I'm in love with the black and white one - it's actually got little deer on it. So cute.

I've borrowed a sewing machine off a friend so I'm going to try get some practice in this week before I have to return it, in preparation for Handmade weekend (as I'll be doing a couple of sewing classes and am a complete novice). 

It took a while, careful reading of the instruction manual and a quick squizz at a Youtube tutorial but finally I got the machine threaded up and was ready to start.  I've done the top part of the curtain - it's for our bathroom window. The seam's a little wonky but you won't be able to see that from ground level. It was quite tricky to keep it straight with that much fabric. My idea was to fold over an edge, sew it, leaving a gap where some string could be pushed through and then tying that around 2 hooks to hang the curtain. 

At the moment we have a fabric scrap pushed over two nails hanging there so anything will be an improvement. 

Completely unrelated but check out the flowers. I love having flowers in the house. These were actually given to my flatmate by our work after her gran passed away. As she flew to England the next day and isn't here to enjoy them, I've nabbed them for my room. Aren't they pretty?! They smell divine. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day Off

It's my day off today so I've been out and about. I started the day at the market down on the waterfront. I got a huge haul for $20. I'm intending to parboil a whole lot of veges for the freezer and also got some quince to make jelly/jam. One of the stall holders gave me a bag of cauliflower for free so now I have 4 of them (and they aren't small!) to try and use up. I'm thinking soup and then freezing the rest for use in stir fries, curries and good ole cauliflower cheese. Buquebus will be happy eating all those stalks too!

I then watched The Muppets Take Manhattan on the big screen. It was awesome!

Handmade 2012 is only a month away and as I got paid yesterday, I decided to start buying everything I'll need for my classes. I may have gone a little nuts on cute fabrics at Nancy's. I avoided the yarn special basket though but only just. There was some adorable Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky in green for $10 a ball...I had to tear myself away.

Not so fun was my visit to Spotlight. I couldn't find half of what I was looking for, the staff weren't helpful at all and I just hate shopping in big shops like that with bad lighting.

Now it's time to cook up my haul of veges, tidy up and then sit down at the sewing machine. I'm going to attempt to make a curtain for the bathroom window. Hopefully I don't screw up too badly!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Crunch time

Well the time has finally come to seriously do something about the extra weight I'm carrying. For me, this is crisis point. I haven't weighed myself lately but by the fit of my clothes and extra chub around my face, this is definitely the largest I've ever been in my life.

Having been quite a podgy kid, I've ever since always considered myself to be overweight, even if there were times when I really wasn't. As the years have crept by, the kilos have crept on. I'd hazard a guess that in the last 2 years I've stacked on 15kg! Argh! It's certainly time to do something about it.

Before I start I want to post two very different pictures of me in a similar setting - one taken March 09 probably weighing around 68kg and one in December 12 weighing 80+kg.

I work best with rewards. When, not if, I reach my goal weight of 70kg, I will take myself off to a sunny tropical paradise again.

Baby steps first though. My main issue is a lack of exercise and overeating (and using long hours and tiredness as an excuse for laziness!).

I'm not a fan of dieting - I'm going to do a lifestyle overhaul instead.

Last week I gave up coffee for a month to help me cut the habit of having 2 (or sometimes more) cappacinos each day. Once the month is up I'll bring back a long black or macchiato a day but for now, it's easier to sever the ties altogether. I've been drinking lots of tea instead (no sugar, of course!).

I also started to consciously eat more fruit - 2 pieces a day - this is to kick start healthier eating and by trading a snack (often a cake/slice from where I work) for fruit, it'll ultimately help with the weight loss.

This week my baby step goals are:

  • walk at least one way to/from work each day (30 minute walk)
  • drink more water - take a bottle to work with me and drink that rather than diet coke, coffee or hot chocolates.
  • have breakfast every day
  • go to the pool and swim 30 laps on my day off
  • don't buy any food outside of the weekly grocery shop - take all my lunches/dinners to work with me
I think I'll add something each week and slowly up the exercise until I'm back to being able to run 5km again!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

ANZAC and The Avengers

Today felt like it was never going to end - it was seriously long - but not a bad day. After going to be after midnight I was up again at 4.30am to get ready to go to the ANZAC dawn service down by parliament. I worked out it was my 7th ANZAC day in Wellington. I can't believe I've lived here this long already.

It was like all other ANZAC services I've been too - cold, solemn and thought-provoking...
I'm sure every year there are more and more people. The crowd must have been at least 5000.

The walk home around the waterfront was gorgeous as the sun was just beginning to rise. I love that time of morning but somehow I always forget that when I am tucked up in my warm bed, pushing snooze time and time again.

Then it was back to bed for a couple of hours before heading into work. 10 hours of time-and-a-half - I really can't complain about that.

Straight after work I watched The Avengers and boy was it great. I'm not a fan of the super hero genre but I am a fan of Joss Whedon (who directed this and is most famous for directing Buffy - a show I still go back and watch on DVD). It was fantastic. The atmosphere was great as there were almost 400 people in the theatre including a large group from (who did some of the digital effects) so the movie was broken up by applause and wolf-whistling. I haven't seen a crowd get that much into a movie (or that many people go watch a movie in its opening 24 hours) since the last Harry Potter. God knows what The Hobbit will be like this December!

Mostly my plans for this week are to work and to watch movies. I'm planning to see The Way, The Most Fun You Can Have Dying, The Muppets Take Manhattan, A Separation, A Dangerous Method, and The Five Year Engagement. That's a heck of a lot of movies to fit in around a 55+ hour work week and rabbit caring duties, especially when I've given up coffee for a month but it can be done!

I've borrowed a friend's sewing machine too so I've booked myself some time with that to attempt to make a new curtain for the bathroom. Wish me luck! I'm going to need it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I spotted quince for sale at the supermarket last week. It was the first time in my life that I'd ever seen them in the shops. Having never cooked with them, I didn't buy any. Actually I'm pretty sure the only time I've ever eaten quince is in paste with cheese. Yum!

I just stumbled across this recipe so I'm going to have to buy some this weekend to try it out. It looks delicious.
Have you ever cooked with quince?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Three kiwi flicks

Well this Sunday was like most other Sundays for me - I worked. However we did host a premiere of a new Kiwi film 'Good for Nothing'. Part of the catering was cute little pavlovas to go with the theme of the film being a pavlova western and the red carpet was covered in hay bales. Here's a little clip about the film - I'm looking forward to watching it. 

There's another couple of kiwi films coming out this year that I will definitely be watching. Especially this one as it stars my celebrity crush of the moment, Matt Whelan (Brad off Go Girls).

This one stars another awesome kiwi, Bret Mckenzie. Actually he might have been at a certain premiere tonight too standing about 2 metres away from me for about half an hour. He scrubs up pretty darn well :-)

What do you reckon? Will you be checking out any of these? 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Saturday and musing about wine

Today was exactly what I wanted it to be - relaxing. I awoke quite early and did some knitting before taking another nap. By then it was time to hit the market. I cannot say it enough times - I love market shopping! The last couple of weeks I've been a bit lazy and not getting up early enough to go before work. Today just gave me the push I needed to make sure I'm there every weekend rain or shine. The supermarket can never compare :-)

I was excited to see all the Autumn produce has arrived. Feijoas are getting cheaper every week. Next week I'll grab a whole lot to make jelly. Nashis, tamarillos, passionfruit and persimmons are now out too. It's that perfect in between time when summer vegetables like tomatoes are still affordable but winter veges are dirt cheap too. Buquebus is going to enjoy a ginormous cabbage I bought for only $1.

After the market I met my flatmate for lunch at Simply Paris. It's tough deciding what to order at that cafe. In the end I had salmon and caper crepes with a pot of vanilla/rose tea. Yum!

Back home to put the vegetables away and do a quick bit of cleaning. I cleaned out the oven actually. It so needed it. 

Later in the afternoon I walked out to the Warehouse by the airport via the beach. It was a gorgeous evening with both the hills and the waves full of surfers lit up pink as the sun went down. 

The walk back along the beach in the dark was equally lovely with the lights reflecting on the water as planes came in to land and ferries sailed past. I've not mastered capturing scenes like that in the dark on camera yet though.

I found something I've been looking for, for ages - the BBC Pride and Prejudice on DVD. I'm watching it right now. Mr Darcy is as handsome as ever.

Of course I had to stop in at the supermarket on the way back to choose a bottle of wine fit to match my DVD choice. It takes me forever to pick just one bottle. There are so many options. To make my decision easier I do have a rough guide in my head of what I'm willing to spend on an every day wine (as opposed to a special occasion wine). 

Mumsie's guide to wine buying

  • Try something different unless a wine is so damn good you can't go past buying it again.
  • When drinking at a pub/restaurant, pick something a little pricier that you wouldn't want to spend over $20 a bottle on without trying first.
  • Keep in mind a price bracket that will give you a decent drop for a decent price.
  • Choose something that is in your price bracket because it is on special, rather than a wine the same price, at full price.
  • I don't tend to buy sav because I'm quite bored of it...there's so many other lovely white varieties out there - pinot gris, viognier, torrontes, gewurtz etc etc. 
Here's what I'm willing to spend on 'every day' wines (I have to stress there that I don't actually drink wine every day).
  • Cab Sav - up to $12
  • Malbec blends- up to $15
  • Pinot noir - $14-$18
  • Sav - up to $12
  • Riesling/pinot gris/viognier - up to $15
  • Gewurtztraminer - up to $21 (because my fav, Lawson's is $21 not on special!)
  • Rose - up to $12
  • Other reds - up to $14
I tend to buy mostly Kiwi wines because they're what I know but I am trying to push myself to try some other varieties. I spotted an Australian tempranillo tonight and I've promised myself to try a Chianti sometime soon. It's a very mixed blessing living in a country that produces so much great wine. On the one hand you can find something local that is delicious at a good price, but on the other we don't import as much wine so we're more limited in our selection. 

I ended up with the Esk Valley Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2010. It's a Hawke's Bay wine and I have to say, it is very very drinkable. Very smooth and perfect for this cooler weather. The best thing is that it was on sale for $15 and normally retails at over $20. Score! Very nice teamed with spaghetti bolognaise. I highly recommend it.

How many grated types of veges can you squeeze into one pan of bolognaise?
How is your weekend going? Are you as much of a sucker for wine as I am?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day off tomorrow

There's nothing quite like getting home from work and knowing that you don't have to be at work again tomorrow. Because I just had a day off only 2 days ago, I don't have to hang around the house catching up on things. Instead I have big plans. I'm going to go to the market, watch Pirates 3D, go out for a late lunch and then, weather behaving, go for a massive walk around the bays home.

Normally I'd spend a good chunk of a day off cooking meals for the week ahead but I'll be cooking for one for most of the next two weeks which is a good excuse to be lazy - things like toasted sammies for dinner or perhaps I'll indulge in some meat for a change. My flatmate, unfortunately, has to fly home to Europe for a couple of weeks as a relative passed away. I'm left in sole charge of the rabbit.

Right now I'm going to put on the kettle for a cup of tea and get out my knitting. I'm almost up to the thumb gusset on my first fingerless mitt - it's just getting exciting. Hopefully by the end of the weekend I'll have a picture of a completed mitten to post!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday night in

Today I got to work and was excited to see that our knives had been professionally sharpened. We store our knives on a magnetic block that attaches to the wall. I went to put our super sharp knifes back onto the knife block and the whole thing fell off the wall, sending a knife flying at me and slicing my finger. Murphy's law. Had it happened yesterday when all the knives were decidedly blunt, it wouldn't have even nicked the skin. It was rather funny. 

I never seem to hurt myself doing normal things like actually using a knife to cut. I have several plasters on my hands at the moment from a nasty burn I got from microwaving a piece of brownie, slicing my hand on a bag of salt, stabbing my palm with a toothpick, a cut from opening a bottle of lemonade.... I must be a seriously clumsy person! It reminds me of when I was 14 and snapped my toe in two places after running into a pole :-)

Right now I'm really happy to be tucked up in bed with a cup of tea and about to watch the first episode of season three Offspring. I seriously love that show! My other favourite at the moment is Go Girls. The gorgeous guy Brad in it is in a new movie coming out soon - The Most Fun You Can Have Dying - about a kiwi guy with a terminal illness that 'borrows' some of the money raised for his treatment and takes off overseas. It looks fantastic! 

I've just cast on some fingerless gloves to knit while I watch. That's a beige colour Rowan cashmerino - simply gorgeous!!!! It's 4 ply so I'm going to knit it double. Hopefully I'll have a new pair of gloves before the month is out.

Scarf, interrupted

I had planned to make a cabled winter scarf but I really wanted to start it while I was on leave and couldn't find my cable needle. I decided to do one with a very simple lace pattern instead. I had 7 balls of shepherd 12ply felted lambswool and figured that would be more than enough. It turns out I was wrong. Today I finished my last ball. It's still too short despite being as long as my bed! 
I've rung every yarn store in Wellington to see if they have any left - no luck. I'm now waiting to hear back from the knit world website. Looks like they have my colour way but I'm hoping I can get something of the same batch. 

The best thing about this pattern is that it's so simple you don't need anything written down and is rather mindless - perfect for knitting on public transport or in front of the telly or during my breaks at work. 

Now I can't do any more of it for a while, I've cast on some fingerless mittens in a beautiful beige colour in baby cashmerino. It's so nice knitting something for myself! On the other needles I have a just-about-finished bootie. I'm terrible at only knitting one thing at a time!

Have you any plans to knit something this winter?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Is South America really that dangeous?

Disclaimer: this is yet another travel related post/South America flashback as several people I know are mulling up a trip over there and I for one already have a savings account open for my next trip over there too; therefore it is on my mind.

A colleague asked me today whether it is safe to travel alone in South America. I replied something along the lines of "of course it is - I'm still here aren't I?". I added though that I probably wouldn't travel around Venezuela by myself right now though, but that's mainly because visiting a place with the highest murder rate in the world, widespread police corruption and having to navigate getting currency on the black market doesn't really appeal. My opinion of Venezuela could be unfounded though. The things that put me off visiting there seem to be common ideas a lot of people have of South America as a whole. My colleague seemed to be of the opinion that it is overrun with guerillas and people dying to rip off/rob white women. Hopefully as more of us come back with tales of how easy and relatively safe it is to travel around that continent, people's opinions will change.

So here's a short list of some of the dangers of travelling in South America and tips on how to avoid them/set your mind at ease.

1.  Crime - especially getting robbed/mugged. 
Yes it happens. I myself lost one camera and about US$200 to thieves. It's no big deal as at the end of the day, they're only possessions and it gives you a story to tell. My money was stolen from a locked locker at a hostel, not on the street. The best thing to do is to be cautious but not paranoid.

  • Only carry the cash you need and split up it's location - use your bra - you'll definitely notice someone pick-pocketing it from there.
  • Set up an automatic transfer weekly so there is never more money than you can afford to lose in your bank account in case of card skimming. 
  • Put locks on your bag to deter petty thieves.
  • Sleep with your passport/money on you in more dodgy environments like Amazon riverboats. Actually if on one of these boats, padlock your main pack to a pole.
  • Don't cart around anything you can't bear to lose. 
  • Be alert and don't take risks like walking alone after dark or get intoxicated/take your eye off your drink - same as at home. 
  • Use official taxis especially in Arequipa (Peru), which has a bit of a name for taxi muggings. 
  • Do your research and be aware of common scams.
2. Guerillas, wars and drugs.
Chances are you won't see any guerillas on the tourist circuit. There are certain provinces in Peru and Colombia, for example, that it is inadvisable (or bloody stupid) to go to. Chances are these are the same places you won't be covered by travel insurance if you go there any way.
  • Check what your government says about where to avoid -kiwis should visit
    • The article on Colombia mentions a car bombing in Bogota in 2010. This happened within 2 weeks of me travelling there and had no effect on me as a tourist apart from taxis/cars being searched with sniffer dogs before entering the car park at a mall - good piece of mind, if anything.
  • Stay away from drugs. From what I've heard the prisons over there aren't nice!
  • If protests are going on, it's best to steer clear.

3. Dodgy food and dodgy tummies. 
If you are on a tight time schedule it probably does pay to be a little careful, but again, not paranoid, about what you are eating. Don't avoid street food - it's the best thing about visiting these places. If you are travelling for a while, risk a day or two of feeling ill to try a chicken kebab from a roadside stall or ceviche at a market. However...
  • Wash your hands before eating.
  • Use tap water for drinking but stick a purification tablet in it first. 
  • If the place looks truly unsanitary (your view of this will change the longer you are there), buy from someplace else.
  • Opt for fruit you can peel and avoid the salad if you are on a tight time frame.
  • You don't need to carry a full first aid kit. There are pharmacies over there and they are much cheaper than our ones. Purification tablets, a few anti-diahorrea pills, a roll of toilet paper (at all times) and hand sanitiser is pretty much all you need. 
  • Wash it down with coke. That stuff will kill whatever's lurking in your belly!
Don't be too paranoid. Some of my funniest memories are of a shaman performing a ritual on me to cure a dodgy tummy and having to ride a mule out of the second deepest canyon in the world after coming down with another bug. A bout of flu had my trekking guide force feeding me shots of a restorative alcohol made from the bark of the quinine tree. 

4. Aren't there all sorts of dangerous creatures over there...?
  • The most dangerous creatures are probably mosquitoes. There's dengue fever, yellow fever and malaria to be caught from them. The best thing is prevention - wear repellent (dengue mosquitoes bite during the day time) and get vaccinated against yellow fever. I decided not to take my malaria pills in the Amazon but you might like to... you can buy them cheap enough over there.
  • Chagas disease from assassin beetles. This is something you can get from a bug dropping, usually from a thatched roof, onto you during the night. If you are out in a rural area, wear a long sleeved shirt to bed and put repellent on your face. Give blood when you get home and you'll get a free screening test for the disease. 
  • Dogs/rabies. Someone from my hostel got bitten by a dog while I was in Colombia. He needed stitches but rabies is so rare there now, no shot was necessary. People in part of South America do still die of it but often it's transmitted by bats and to people living in very close proximity to the animals. You can get a series of vaccines that will buy you a week to get to hospital after being bitten. If you are very cautious it might be a good idea. If you're sticking to the beaten track I would say it's not all that necessary. I did get vaccinated for my first trip to Peru, but not for the second...
  • Mules. Mules are most definitely dangerous. They are moody and a kick from one of them will cause pain for several days. Avoid at all costs :-)
  • Snakes. I actually saw someone getting bitten by a snake. It was not a pleasant experience but luckily it wasn't venomous. Probably better to wear something a little sturdier than a jandal when in the rainforest. The likelihood of it happening to you as well is probably very, very low. It does make for an exciting story.
  • Spiders, alligators, piranhas, sloths... These creatures are cool! If you get a chance to see one in its natural habitat, grab it. Respect, don't fear :-)

To sum up: do your research, be cautious but not over the top, and she'll be right.

Right that's all for tonight. Probably the most dangerous thing over there is crossing the road (I'm not much good at that here either, though), the crazy extreme sports us backpackers find ourselves doing, and not wanting to return!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I've had the same duvet cover now since my 19th birthday, so several years. I really love it but all that pink was getting a bit much. I want a more calming atmosphere in my room. I also didn't want to spend much on new bedding as as you can see I have a single bed (room is physically too small to fit anything larger) and don't intend on having one forever. 

Here's the before picture.

And the after.

Better zoom in so you can see my new owl. Isn't he cute? 

White duvet (The Warehouse) = $15
White quilt (Ezibuy) = $40
European cushion (Ezibuy) = $35
European cushion cover (Bed bath and table) = $25
Owl vase (Ezibuy) = $18

Argh added up that's more than a week's rent. Whoops. Not toooooo expensive though :-)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wine on a budget

When buying wine on a budget, here's a tip. Cleanskin wine! Of course it would be more budget friendly not to drink at all but if you must (and I must) then unbranded Chilean red at under $9 a bottle is not bad. Not bad at all.

I've got my feet up waiting for pastry to defrost (yes I cheated and didn't make it from scratch this week - blame the illness for my laziness). I'm planning to make a batch of beef empanadas and then some cucumber relish. That's my Friday night sorted. Have you any plans for the weekend?

Cool dinosaur stuff

My day was sooooo long today. It started at 4.30am when I woke up coughing so hard I couldn't sleep again until 6am. By which time it was just about time to get ready for work. After a full day there I watched two movies, one being Titanic and we all know how long that is! It's so nice now to be in bed. I also discovered today that my job isn't a good one to have when you have lost your voice. It makes answering the phone and talking to people (aka almost everything I do) very difficult. 

Enough of that though. I was reading the news just before when I came across this article about a new discovery of dinosaur eggs in Patagonia.

Have you ever seen a dinosaur egg? I actually have. I've even held it in my own hands. Here's the proof. 

It's the real thing as well, not a replica. 

Dinosaurs probably aren't the first thing you think about when you think of Argentina (things like steak, malbec, tango, the Falklands spring to my mind first) but it's probably one of the most accessible places in the world to see some awesome dinosaur-related stuff. 

When I was over there we visited Neuquen. This is a dinosaur hot spot. Actually there's not too much else there apart from vineyards, oil fields and dinosaur digs/museums. We had the chance to visit a working dinosaur dig where we got to see (and hold) all sorts of cool finds) and then several museums with actual bones and replicas of fossils found in the area like the gigantic Argentinosaurus. Truely impressive and fascinating. I'm a bit of a big kid but I'm sure actual kids would also have a field day acting like Indianna Jones running around a dinosaur dig.

I'm pretty sure I haven't shared these on here before so tonight I leave you with some more pictures of cool dinosaur stuff in Neuquen. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

One year bald-iversary

It's hard to believe it's now been a whole year since I went from this... this.

Now a year later it's this long...

I can't say I'll ever doing it again as a shaved head is great but growing out hair is so irritating. It can only get better from now on as I grow it even longer until it's back to being like this again...

In another year hopefully!

Definitely worth it for a good cause (Leukemia and Blood Foundation) but from now on I'd rather sponsor someone else to do the shaving!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Week so far

I am tired. I had big plans to make relish, perhaps do some baking, rearrange my room and watch the latest episode otf Bones tonight but as the clock edges closer to 10.30pm I think I'll be a nana and go to bed instead. The way my roster has fallen, I get to work 8 days before having a day off so best to start the week off slowly.

Yesterday I had a great around-the-house day. I cooked two family sized shepherd's pies for the freezer (one meat, one lentil), made pizzas, cooked a whole heap of chickpeas and lentils from dry for the freezer, did the gardening and sanded back a stool. Oh and knitted an entire booties. Mumsie success.

Tonight we conquered some more of the movie challenge by seeing American Pie the Reunion. It was so-so. I actually laughed quite a lot though I won't be admitting that in front of some of my serious movie buff friends :-)
The glass of Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir and arrancini at the pub beforehand wasn't half bad either.

Just now I've booked myself back into Samoan classes which will start in May. I did the first 3 courses last year and it was so much fun so I've decided to redo the second course at least. I feel that language learning engages a completely different part of my brain, makes me more accepting and understanding towards others and is a great way to meet a whole range of people from all walks of life. In my class last year we had a movie producer, stay at home mums, nurses, backpackers, retirees etc etc. Somebody actually brought her newborn daughter along to class with her - that's dedication. The tutor was a right laugh as well so I'm really looking forward to getting back into it. Plus it gives me a good excuse to have a guaranteed night off work each week.

Other than that I've not been doing much since I got back from holiday a week ago. I have tried out a couple of recipes in the bread maker but I've found them both to be a little disappointing. The first was hot cross bread (too lazy to make buns) and the second a plain white loaf. The white loaf tasted alright for breakfast but didn't rise much at all and there was none of the fun of kneading the bread and waiting for it to rise before kneading it again. It was very convenient though. Pizza dough in the bread maker, however, was a raging success. It's going to become a week night staple I reckon!

Yummy pizza with homemade cashew pesto, sundried tomatoes, capers and cheese

disappointingly flat bread