Friday, June 29, 2012


There are some mornings during the week when I grab breakfast on the run - a banana or muffin, or even just a cappucino when I arrive at work. There's always several mornings though when I take the time to sit now and eat breakfast properly. It's probably my favourite meal of the day - maybe because I love eggs so much!  

When I say 'take the time' it actually doesn't take that long at all. Once the kettle's boiled for tea you can use the same water to poach or boil an egg in much the same time as it takes the toast to cook. Scrambled eggs or beans on toast is even faster. Other mornings we'll make porridge or I'll have homemade muesli with yoghurt and fruit.

As there's just two of us to cook for most of the time we don't always sit at the table but most times we do. There's something about the ceremony of putting on the tablecloth and putting out the cutlery that adds enjoyment to the meal. I can remember it being a treat to sit in the lounge to eat dinner when I was a kid (always with a sheet under us to collect the crumbs) - pretty much every night the table was set with place mats and we ate the meal together - the way I think it should be. 

During the weekends I remember having cooked breakfasts - pancakes with brown sugar and lemon, french toast or eggs. At one stage when I must have been 10 or 11 I ran a breakfast cafe for the family where they could order off the menu and I'd make them whatever they fancied - probably eggs in the microwave or french toast again. 

My favourite place I've ever eaten breakfast is at my grandma's house in Argentina. She has this tiny table in her kitchen so you can all chat as she fusses about making your toast and tea. The fact that there was spreadable port salud  and dulce de leche on the table for toast was a bonus.

What's breakfast like in your house?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dunedin Day Two/Three

My yarn stash is reaching crisis point. It's a delicate balancing act to keep stray yarn balls from rolling onto the floor. Part of the reason is the 5 new skeins/balls I picked up in Dunedin. Like this beautiful yarn from Flagstaff Alpacas. 

I actually started off my morning by visiting Larnach Castle. I took a tour as it's a bit of a drive out of town and I can't rent a car. It's a beautiful building and has been lovingly restored. From the outside it's a bit of a mish mash of architectural tastes. You have the definite Scottish castle look but with large Aussie-style verandahs. A lot of work and expense went into it's construction. The plaster detail on all the ceilings for one, must have taken a long time. The rooms were fitted out with a lot of original items. Larnach's third wife's wedding dress was particularly interesting and pretty - with possibly the tiniest waist measurements I've ever seen!

After looking around I checked out the old stables for a cup of tea and Tan Square. The weather was freezing so I didn't have much of a look around the gardens but I can imagine it being a fantastic place for a picnic in the summer. I also forgot my camera so photos to come once I get the disposable ones developed. 

The tour headed back to town via a stop at the Old Cemetery to see the Larnach family tomb. He basically had built a small church that looked so out of place alongside all the regular tombstones. He definitely seemed to be a guy to show off his wealth, although he died just about bankrupt. 

A quick stop at the steepest street in the world (I didn't fancy walking up it, and didn't fancy being one of Dunedin's rubbish men having to collect wheelie bins from up there!) then it was to the railway station.

The railway station itself is a spectacular building. It also housed a cafe with awful coffee but a good haggis pie. I had arranged to go out to Flagstaff Alpacas for a quick visit and the owner, Andy, offered to pick me up from town in the alpacamobile. He had a couple of alpacas riding in the back.

So we headed out to the farm which was right up on a hill behind the city. There was still a bit of snow hanging around up there. Alpacas frollicking about in the snow - I was in alpaca heaven. They were all so incredibly cute and I learnt a lot about the fibre and alpaca husbandry. If I won the lotto I would totally get my hands on some pet alpacas. 

Of course no visit to an Alpaca farm would be complete without purchasing some yarn which brings me back to having an exceptionally full yarn crate. Luckily I had taken cash out to limit my yarn purchasing although I was also helped by them not having a whole heap in stock due to the closing and buy back of the Milton Mill. Hopefully soon their order will be processed. I'll be keeping an eye on their website for new stock. It really is incredibly soft and so well spun. I knitted a baby cardigan in their undyed product and it was a dream to work with.

Andy dropped me at a bus stop and I headed back down to the city. It was time to spend a little time indoors knitting with some local(ish) Whitestone cheeses and a cup of tea or three. I met lots of lovely backpackers while I was knitting in the common areas and arranged to go out for a drink with a couple of them after I went out for dinner. 

I'd have my eye on one restaurant in particular for a while. Two Chefs Bistro had been ranked in the Top 50 restaurants in New Zealand by Cuisine Magazine. It did not disappoint. The service was impeccable and there was just the right amount of time waiting for food to arrive to drink my wine and get a good few rows of knitting in. 

I had a glass of pinot noir from the Wooing Tree, a vineyard I later visited in Queenstown. This washed down a crumbed rabbit loin with field mushroom and a side of yams quite nicely. I hadn't intended to splurge on dessert but after seeing the menu I couldn't say no to dumplings in Pedro Ximenez sherry and golden syrup with poached quince and local saffron ice cream. Oh my god. Memorable food moment. It was by far the best dessert I've ever had at a restaurant. It was such a good evening. I like dining out with others but I have no qualms going out for dinner by myself. With food like that and good people watching opportunities it's always a lot of fun.

The night ended with a few wines and gossip with new friends from Japan and Taiwan. The next morning I headed off to the Otago Museum with the same two women. We stopped in at a church on the way to have a peek as the building was gorgeous. The stained glass didn't disappoint and we were treated to the organist practicing. 

The Museum was great. I saw my first Easter Island Moai and there were excellent exhibitions on the Pacific, native animals and the local area. 

The one let down was the mispelling of Colombia. It's the one pet peeve that really rials me up! 

After a quick coffee it was time for me to catch the bus to Queenstown...more on that later.

Even the fire station is a cool old building...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A rambling Sunday post...

Well I'm back from holiday and it was over much sooner than I'd have liked. As soon as my plane touched down I rushed to a taxi and went straight to work. I'm already hanging out for my next day off as I've got lots of knitting planned - hopefully I'll finally finish that last fingerless mitt and knock off some booties. I knitted two baby hats while I was away so I'll post pictures as soon as I can. That is as soon as the parcel containing all the yarn I bought in Dunedin and most of my clothes arrives. I had to post it back as my bag was full of wine. The wineries in Central Otago were too full of temptation! 

More too on Queenstown and Dunedin tomorrow. They were both incredible places and I had such a blast. 

Tonight I was doing more mundane things like tidying the pantry. I always like to do it just before doing the big shop (I think it was 6 weeks ago since our last proper supermarket shop) so I can see what we need to buy. I've been collecting big jars from work to help organise it. I'm a messy person by nature so I need to fight hard to stay tidy. 

One new thing we've started doing is chopping up our ugliest tea towels to make dish cloths and putting it in the wash at the end of the day. I guess I still have to buy some disposable ones occasionally for cleaning the bathroom though... although my friend does make her own and reuse baby wipes so can you wipe the toilet with a designated cloth, wash it and reuse it again?

A bit of a rambling Sunday post but my cup of tea and knitting is calling me. Here's a sneak peek at a photo of Queenstown - how lucky am I to live in country as beautiful as this?!


Sunday, June 17, 2012


What a day. I slept most of the flight down but from what I did see, the South Island was blanketed in snow and frost. It is freezing here in Dunedin. Today I was wearing five, yes FIVE, merino tops/cardys under my goosedown jacket with two pairs of gloves, hat and scarf on and was till cold. 

A little chill wouldn't have stopped me from throwing myself into today though. I did a tour of the Otago Peninsula with Elm tours. The guide was great and I saw a royal albatross, lots of smaller albatrosses, NZ Fur Seals, sea lions, blue penguins and lots of gorgeous yellow eyed penguins. 

Boy was it windy. I can't remember the last time I was that cold - possibly after snorkling in Patagonia? Brrr.
I'm so in love with this town (city, I guess). It reminds me of Wellington with the pretty harbour and steep streets but with much older and more striking architecture. 

As my eyes are beginning to close on their own accord I'd better quickly upload some pictures and then hit the hay. Only almost 2 hours of sleep last night - just on the plane - and a belly full of Speights porter, vension, mash and Speights Old Dark gravy will do that to you. 

the railway station

View from the Octogen

Buildings around the Octogen

Foetal position fur seal pup

Mum, bub and bub's friend - NZ Fur Seals

Look what I found down on the rocks

Surfing Hoiho

Hoiho and its reflection

A sheep and a yellow eyed penguin

Aren't they just so cute?

Me wearing pretty much every merino shirt I own and still shivering, in front of sea lions on a  private Otago peninsula beach

Dinner - Speight's porter with taieri venison

Dessert of Old Dark ice cream at the Speight's brewery restaurant

Holiday time

1am and I'm home waiting for the kettle to boil before packing my things. The shuttle is coming to collect me in 5.25 hours. Yay! I'm super excited as always to be going on holiday. Even more so now that I stayed at work an extra few hours and got a big chunk of work finished and all the ordering done for the week so I can relax totally while I'm away, not worrying about work things.

I'm booked on a wildlife tour of the Otago Peninsula for this afternoon which I am extremely excited about. Fingers crossed I get to see an albatross and yellow eyed penguins. Fingers crossed I also have enough layers to keep me warm (I'm kind of hoping it snows...).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Freezing cold and mentally scarred

Brr it's freezing in Wellington tonight. Not as freezing as in Dunedin though, apparently. I'll be there on Sunday morning so sent off an email to Andy of Flagstaff Alpacas to see if I could arrange a visit. Apparently they're in the snow! Perhaps I will pack my gumboots after all so I can wear thick merino socks over my tights. 

Tonight I stayed after work to watch our screening of Labyrinth. I have to say David Bowie wearing tights on a screen that big is plain scary. More scary was the squeals of joy coming from the older women in the audience. Disturbing! Haha. 

One more day of work and then holiday time. I'm so looking forward to it, even more so after an afternoon buried in excel spreadsheets. Note to self: remember to bring reading glasses when planning to do computer work. 

So tonight I leave you with two clips from YouTube as I have to save any remaining energy and inspiration for cleaning the house/finding all my warmest winter gear. The first, the one and only David Bowie, and the second, a song I'm loving at the moment from the Season Three Offspring soundtrack. 

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I might have accidentally booked another holiday...

After all that talk of possibly heading to the islands again, I booked a trip to Napier for Knit August Nights and then to Tauranga and to the farm. Then some cheap flights started to appear and I was sorely tempted. Another holiday in October to celebrate my 25th birthday a  little early as there's a certain event happening on my real birthday in November in Wellington that means I'll be busy working, not celebrating....

Tonga, Norfolk Island, Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia - they were all cheap. Somehow I've ended up with a return ticket to Sydney instead! It was a hard choice between there and Melbourne but I talked my little sister into coming along too (not that it took much persuasion) and neither of us has seen Sydney so it'd be a little more of an adventure. I must confess I have an ulterior motive in visiting that metropolis too - Peruvian cuisine has actually reached there. And not just boring, very traditional Peruvian cuisine, but the modern, hip new take on it that's made Lima so famous in gastronomic circles. I'm thinking degustation menu and I can't wait!

Other than that I'm excited to see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and probably the zoo and perhaps Bondi? Who knows. I'll be there 5 nights in total, 3 with my sister so there's going to be plenty of time to soak up the sights (and some sun). Let the countdown begin. I wonder if there's any cool yarn stores there...?

Also does this count as ticking off a different Pacific Island before my 25th birthday? Australia's just one huge island isn't it?!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A day off and projects completed

I had quite a lazy day today. I didn't get anywhere near as much housework done as I should've, but I don't feel guilty about that at all. I slept in until 10.30am and then knitted until midday in bed, only venturing out for a cup of tea. 

By the time I thought about going to the market it was too late so I did the vege shopping in Newtown instead - a couple of things from the supermarket and the rest from the little greengrocer type shop that stocks all the island food. As I passed a couple of elderly Samoan men in the entrance to the shop I said excuse me to them in Samoan as I squeezed past - you should've seen the look of shock on their faces and they started to laugh. I'm glad I brought some happiness to some strangers' day.

I'm quite selfish with my days off. I find after 6 days of working in a very social job I mostly want to spend some time alone doing something I like doing. Whether this is cooking, gardening, reading, going for a walk along the beach or knitting, changes depending on my mood and on the weather. Today the sun was shining so I shouted myself lunch at one of my favourite cafes, Monterrey. So I sat outside on the pavement with a glass of pinot gris, my knitting and some delicious french toast with haloumi and slow roasted tomatoes. It was lovely until my hands started to turn purple when the sun became shade. Brr. Home to bring Buquebus into the house and to carry on my knitting in front of a dvd. 

While I was knitting Buquebus taught himself a new trick - how to climb up onto the chair. What a cutie pie. 

By tonight I'd sewn in the ends of my scarf - now it just needs to be blocked before I can get a picture wearing it as the sides curl in. It's a bit hard to get a photo of but this is it folded in four, so a quarter. It's so warm and snug. 

Speaking of warm and snug I also finished my Hermione hat today. It's the third I've knitted - I love this pattern. This time I knitted it in worsted instead of dk and added an extra cable repeat to make sure it sits snuggly over my ears. It'll serve me well in the South Island next week I reckon.

I've never been good at self photography but here's what it looks like on. I'm in love. I totally need more cascade for my stash! 

So that's two things ticked off my list of 10 things to knit before the end of winter. My aim is to finish my fingerless gloves this week before going on holiday so then hopefully it'll be 3/10. How was your Sunday?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I wish...

I wish you could wear knit a hat while knitting it. I'm trying on my beanie right now. It's half done and so warm and snug. It's a real beanie type hat - I think I'll make a cooler, slouchy one next, but for now I'm going for warmth over looks. That's something I loved about knitting my scarf; you could wear it and simultaneously knit it. Brilliant!

I also wish Thursday would hurry up and arrive and with it the next episode of Offspring. No spoilers here for kiwis that haven't seen it yet but this last episode was so good I watched it twice in a row! Seeing the guest star Kick Gurry on something again brought back a whole lot of memories of studying 'Looking For Alibrandi' in high school english class. I still love that film :-)

I should get an early-ish night so I can get up and make the most of my day off but I think I'll pop another dvd in as this cabling is too fun. It's got Robyn Malcolm in it so it should be a good watch.

Friday night knitting

I've just finished the ribbing on my winter hat which is very exciting as it means it's time to dig out the cable needle. The yarn I'm using, Cascade 220, is really nice to knit with. The knitting would be made a little easier if I didn't have a heap of plasters perched awkwardly on my index finger.

 I managed to cut it at work tonight, right in the middle of a busy time. It would not stop bleeding (and in fact still hasn't) so I discovered I can make coffees, pour wine, open beer (just) and operate a till with one hand - the other wrapped in a wad of paper towels. For obvious reasons I avoided the food prep.

I'm so looking forward to Sunday, my day off. I intend to spend the day at home making croissants and in between resting the pastry, doing a lot of knitting. I have a pile of dvds to watch too. I finally joined the local video store.

Last night we spent a happy evening watching Mammoth starring my all time favourite actor, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Michelle Williams. On Sunday I'll be watching Blue Valentine - nothing like a Ryan Gosling fix to look forward to.

I'm hoping by the end of Sunday I'll be able to post a photo of a completed hat and scarf - still got to sew in those pesky ends, then it's done.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

If ever you need cheering up...

...just look at the face of a smiling foca. 

That last one's not a foca. That's just how you can spot the kiwi in freezing cold Patagonia. Very appropriate choice of footwear.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I've dug up some more photos...

For the last 18 months I've had my memory cards full of photos from travelling stored at my mum's. I've only had access to the ones I'd already put on facebook or my blog. I'm planning on trawling through them all and backing them all up and printing a whole lot out for the wall, so that is what I've been doing tonight. There are so many photos I forgot I'd taken of so many beautiful places. I thought I might do a few blog posts sharing a few that I haven't shared before. 

Today: photos from my week travelling on riverboats down the Amazon. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I'm definitely going to repeat it again - but for even longer next time!

Three times a day the bell sounds - time to line up for food. BYO tupperware and cutlery. Wash it out in the bathroom between meals. 
Mmm lunch of rice, chicken and plantain
Relaxing in my hammock. Notice how my camera is on me and I am clutching my bag with my valuables in it. I actually slept with it underneath me like a pillow. Notice my pack peeking out from behind me - it's chained to a pole. 
Dinner of rice, plantain, chicken AND beans. I appear not to change my skirt very often over the week :-)
Ooh that's exotic. Rice, plantain and fish! Same skirt.
It's best to pay a little more for the top deck - cooler (in a gets more breeze way) and less crowded 
The boat doesn't stop that often - a lot of people/goods are transfered while it's moving via canoes/small boats from villages
If you're hungry between meals people come on board to sell snacks at each stop.
The cargo hold - so many eggs!
The riverbanks are MUDDY.
Gas and petrol exploration everywhere.
People actually live on this banana boat, like gypsies
Nice catch
Mototaxis at Nauta ready to take you to a depot to take a shared car down the highway to Iquitos
The boat justs drives right up to the river bank to park up. Gives you a heck of a fright in the middle of the night when your hammock goes flying when it hits the bank
Carrying precious cargo to isolated villages
freshwater dolphin - notoriously hard to photograph