Friday, November 27, 2009


A couple of weeks ago my boss rang up and said "I'd like to have a Unitec presence at National Digital Forum, would you be willing to go?"  My answer, "Does the pope have a balcony?!" or words to that effect.

So on Monday at 6.45am I flew out of Auckland down to Wellington to this place here - Te Papa.

The conference was worthwhile and you can read my thoughts about it on The Room Of Infinite Diligence.

On Monday, during my lunch hour I was lucky to be able to meet up with Melissa - it was great to finally meet her IRL after being online friends for a fair while now.  In my daze I managed to forget to take a photo *smacks hand* but it did happen!  Thanks for the biscotti Mel, I have them at work so I don't have to share them - hee hee!

I also managed to visit with this... we didn't exactly have much conversationally to share, but still quite fascinating.  Just to let you know that theory about 2 degrees of separation thing in New Zealand is well and truly real, I have to point out that Steve O'Shea (the squid man) was my lab demonstrator back when I did marine biology at University.  He's a great teacher by the way. ;-)  I have him to thank that I can still name many marine species from the littoral zone. Heh.

By the end of the first day I was shattered and made my weary way up to the hotel.  I turned off the light at 9.30pm!

Next morning I spent some time at the water front by Te Papa absorbing the tranquil harbour views.  I was so impressed by so many Wellingtonians bussing, biking and walking to work. Well done!  Of course it helps that the public transport down there is so much better, and that a lot of people work in the CBD which is so compact.  I also noticed how New Zealanders love to wear black.  We need more colour in our fashion.

The waterfront looking towards the city.


This chappy doesn't have any undies on.  I checked.


At lunchtime I managed to catch up with Janine and this time I did manage to take a photo... though it took me a couple of tries!! Again, it was great to catch up in real life!  The hand cream is delish.


Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet Beverley and some of the other Wellington girls (like Jenny) who would have been stuck at work.  :-( Next time I will get the flights arranged a bit better so I can! 

I was so tired on the second day and very glad to get home to the bosom of the family.  I drove into the drive and saw DS's head poking over the window sill watching out for my arrival.  DD was asleep so she only saw me the next morning.. "My mummy!" was her comment.

It was good practice for next Feb when I'm going to the VALA conference in Melbourne, Australia.  Not looking forward to the flying or missing my family, but the conference should be good.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Food p@rn

"Fish Cakes" made for SIL and MIL's birthday.
The cupcakes are the Edmonds recipe, iced with vanilla butter cream.  I used the chocolate minnows for the top.

Maple pumpkin rum cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Orange Chocolate Mousse served in my Grandma's crystal glasses.
This is one of the easiest mousse's to make.  It's vegetarian friendly too (so long as they eat eggs) since it has no gelatine in it.  The original recipe uses rum but we prefer Cointreau.

from Sweet As / Alessandra Zecchini (2004) Auckland: New Holland Publishers pg. 54 (this is a great book by the way and you should definitely buy it if you like desserts, baking and sweet things! )

3 eggs (I like Rolling Hills free range eggs)
3 teaspoons brown (or Muscovado sugar)
15ml/ 1/2 fl oz dark rum (I put a little more in when using Cointreau)
100g / 3 1/2 oz dark chocolate, melted
250ml / 8 1/2 fl oz whipping cream
whipped cream to serve (opt)
chocolate shavings to serve (opt)

Half fill a medium saucepan with warm water and set over a medium heat.  In a bowl, whisk the egg mixture together with the sugar using a balloon whisk or electric beater, then add the rum.  Set the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and continue to whisk the egg mixture until creamy and frothy.  Remove the bowl from the heat.  Melt the chocolate and slowly add to the egg mixture, folding it in with a spatula.   Allow to cool, stirring from time to time.  In a separate bowl beat the egg whites into stiff peaks.  In another bowl, whip the cream.  When the cream is almost stiff, add the egg whites and whip for a further 30 seconds.  Slowly add the chocolate mixture, whipping slowly and continuously.  Pour into 6 serving bowls and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  Decorate with whipped cream and/or dark chocolate shavings if desired.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

October Reading Round Up

Bones to Ashes / Kathy Reichs
Discovering the skeleton of a young girl in the neighbourhood of a childhood best friend who had gone missing thirty years earlier, Temperance Brennan investigates suspicions that the victim and her friend are one and the same.~ from the blurb
The usual - but still enjoyed it. 

Pliny's warning / Anne Marie Nicholson
"Vulcanologist Frances Nelson is in Italy to work with an international team assessing the world's most dangerous volcano, Mt Vesuvius, responsible for the destruction of ancient Pompeii. Instead of the straightforward scientific task she expects, Frances is thrust into a sinister web of nepotism as greed, corruption and Il Sistema fill the streets with violence and pollute the countryside with toxic waste. To her horror, she realizes her work is being compromised, her team's findings suppressed and the people of southern Italy put into a perilous situation. A vivid and compelling story unfolds, drenched with the flavours of Italy, the ghosts of the past and the spice of dangerous passions in the streets of Naples and the Aeolian Islands. Meanwhile, the tragic events of a fatal explosion on White Island, in New Zealand, provide a dramatic emotional counterpoint. The shadow of her recent past adds poignance to her budding relationship with a colleague, providing a romantic twist to this fast-paced contemporary novel." -- Back cover
I liked this one.  It's a nice mix of romance, mystery and crime with sufficient character to make it an enjoyable read for a holiday on the beach.  Nothing too intense. 

Harriet & Isabella / Patricia O'Brien
A novelisation based on a nineteenth-century sex scandal traces how the downfall of Henry Ward Beecher divided the nation and severed the loving relationship between his sisters, author Harriet Beecher Stowe and suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker.~ from the blurb
This was quite good but I did get a bit annoyed by the structure of the novel.  It had alternating present time/flash backs that got a bit disjointed at times I felt.  Still, I was interested enough in it to see if the library had the author's previous novel. It doesn't. *insert rant about lack of acquisition budget for Waitakere Public Libraries*

An imperfect lens: a novel / Anne Roiphe
"With a keen mind and dedication to his work, young Louis Thuillier has impressed his mentor - famed scientist Louis Pasteur - enough to be sent to Alexandria as one-third of the French mission searching for the source of the cholera that is terrorizing the city. Along with the other members of the French mission - scientists Emile Roux and Edmond Nocard and their enterprising servant Marcus - Louis longs to find the cure, bringing glory to himself and to France. Este Malina is the lovely daughter of a respected Jewish doctor, whose family has lived in Alexandria for hundreds of years. A life of comfort has made Este a romantic, and she hopes to marry a man with the heart of a poet. Neither expects to find a soul mate in the other, but when Este begins to assist at the French mission's lab, a deep bond forms. Este, though, is engaged to another, and Louis is not Jewish - her family would never allow them to marry." "In spite of their many differences, the lovers' desire grows and their fantasies threaten to distract them from their work. In Alexandria, the disease rages on, as mysterious as it was a thousand years before. Political intrigue threatens to separate Este and Louis permanently. Their love, as fragile as the glass slides they use in the lab, is in danger before it has had a chance to thrive."--BOOK JACKET
Totally enjoyed this book despite the sad ending.  It followed on quite nicely from the book I read about diseases and the discovery of their cures or vaccines against them.  Made me very glad we have clean water to drink!

The spectacle salesman's family / Viola Roggenkamp
How do you look to the future when all around you are living in the past? This coming-of-age story explores life in a 1960s German Jewish family with all its contradictions, frustrations and occasionally, mesmerising glimpses of light. ~ from the blurb
Not sure I got what the author was trying to do, the writing style was a bit hard to get into.  Parts of it were great, not sure about the ending.  I certainly got a sense of that intense, confused time that I remember from growing up.

Farewell to the East End / Jennifer Worth
This final book in Jennifer Worth's memories of her time as a midwife in London's East end brings her story full circle. As always there are heartbreaking stories such as the family devastated by tuberculosis and a ship's woman who 'serviced' the entire crew, as well as plenty of humour and warmth such as the tale of Megan'mave, two women who shared the same husband! Other stories cover backstreet abortions, the changing life of the docklands, infanticide, as well as the lives of the inhabitants of Nonnatus House. We discover what happens with the gauche debutant Chummy and her equally gauche policeman; will Sister Monica Joan continue her life of crime?; will Sister Evangelina ever crack a smile? And what of Jennifer herself? The book not only details the final years of the tenements that but also of Jennifer's journey as she moves on from the close community of nuns, and her life takes a new path.~from the blurb
Last in this autobiographical series.  Mostly wraps things up - bit sad in places.

Blood of the Isles / Bryan Sykes
Bryan Sykes, the world's first genetic archaeologist, takes us on a journey around the family tree of Britain and Ireland, to reveal how our tribal history still colours the country today. In 54BC, Julius Caesar launched the first Roman invasion of Britain. His was the first detailed account of the Celtic tribes that inhabited the Isles. But where had they come from and how long had they been there? ~ from the blurb
Not as easy to read as his previous book, The seven daughters of Eve - the "meat" of the book is in the last chapter.  Still, it was interesting and gave me some insight into my genetic ancestry.

Daisy Fay and the miracle man / Fannie Flagg
"Sassy and irreverent from the get-go, Daisy Fay takes us on a rollicking journey through her formative years on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. There, at The End of the Road of the South, the family malt shop freezer holds unspeakable things, society maven Mrs. Dot hosts Junior Debutante meetings and shares inspired thoughts for the week (such as “sincerity is as valuable as radium”), and Daisy Fay’s Daddy hatches a quick-cash scheme that involves resurrecting his daughter from the dead in a carefully orchestrated miracle. Along the way, Daisy Fay does a lot of growing up, emerging as one of the most hilarious, appealing, and prized characters in modern fiction."--Publisher description.
Classic growing up story - love the honesty and quirky characters.

The Darcys give a ball : a gentle joke, Jane Austen style / Elizabeth Newark
As Jane and Lizzie make plans for a lavish ball at Pemberley, the Darcys' second son falls for the Collins's daughter, Juliet Darcy nearly elopes, and Georgiana's timid daughter Lucy becomes caught up in Caroline Bingley's meddlesome plans, in a story of the next generation of characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.~ from the blurb
Kind of cute and a bit twee but also fun.  A bit of froth ;-)

All my patients have tales : favorite stories from a vet's practice / Jeff Wells
A heartwarming and funny collection of stories by a dedicated veterinarian featuring wild horses, porcupine-quill-covered dogs, male cats in labor, an extremely ornery pygmy donkey, an enormous hog, as well as many other domestic, and not so “domestic” animals.~ from the blurb
Kind of things you might expect from an autobiography of a vet!  I like reading about animals and their antics.

I haven't read the book of the month because I'm still on the hold list!!  But some of the other book club girls have reviewed it.  You can see their reviews by clicking on the links in my side bar.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Couple of layouts

I was lucky enough to be a winner in Scrapbook Outlet's Gok Inspired Fashoin Competition.  Andrea very kinly and generously sent me a box with some Prima goodies in it - Thanks!  I'd not used their papers before, and these are their stitched mulberry range which has a nice texture to it... kind of spongey soft and chunky.

This one I didn't do much to actually apart from silhouetting DS's daycare photo from when he was almost 2.  I wanted an aeroplane pulling the title so paper pierced one, and DS wanted the elephant to be riding the 'plane so that's what he got.

I caught Miss Moo after her shower looking for something in my cupboard wearing nowt but her "heels".  I blanked out the bare botty bit but you get the idea.  Naturally we all would like to be naked and wearing high heels when working in the kitchen so here is someone who is brave enough to do it. Ha ha!!

It was a pleasure to work with these papers - their texture really lends themselves to rolling, distressing and other sorts of manipulation.  You can get them from SBO :)