Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reflections on blogging every day in June

Well it's been...
1. A good experience.  I've enjoyed it.  It has renewed my interest in blogging.
2. An educating experience.  I've learned from my fellow librarians who write excellent thought provoking posts on professional topics, I've laughed, smiled and felt like reaching across the Tasman to give some of them hugs in sympathy and support.
3. An enlarging experience. I now have even more blogs in Google Reader to read! I need to weed some of the scrapbooking ones from overseas that I'm just not enjoying anymore.  My stats on Google analytics have soared.  I notice the most prevalent browser has been bumped up to Firefox (yay) and Twitterfeed is now my highest referring site.  My post on Chocolate Chilli Ice Cream is still the most popular post though.  Most of my visitors are apparently from Auckland which is interesting.. they don't seem to comment though.  Melbourne is the Australian city with the most visitors.

So, thanks to my fellow bloggers in this exercise!
*PIIICHOW!!!* <---- releases party poppers

Day 30: The End

It seems fitting to end the #blogeverydayofJune exercise the way I started it.  With my reading round up for the month.  I will write my summary post of what I have learned from the exercise tomorrow.

Half broke horses : a true-life novel / Jeannette Walls.
A true-life novel about Lily Casey Smith (the author's grandmother) who at age six helped her father break horses, at age fifteen left home to teach in a frontier town, and later as a wife and mother runs a vast ranch in Arizona where she survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy--but despite a life of hardscrabble drudgery still remains a woman of indomitable spirit.~ from the blurb.
Really enjoyed this one!  Lily Casey Smith was a feisty wee baggage alright.  If you liked Little House on the Prarie as a child then this is the unsanitised grown up version.

Tu / Patricia Grace.
A story about Tu and his brothers, the Maori Battalion and their war. I'm not sure why I have shyed away from reading Grace's work in the past because I found this story quite fulfilling.

Sand in my shoes : war-time diaries of a WAAF / Joan Rice.
Biography of Joan Rice (mother of Tim Rice, the composer/lyricist).This one was good too.  As the foreword mentions, we look back on this time and tend to focus on the huge events of the period.  The diary demonstrates that those involved in those events still had lives that included everyday joys, sorrows and difficulties.

Colditz : the definitive history / Henry Chancellor.
This is the story of the prisoners of Colditz. Using over 50 original interviews, the English, French, Dutch and Polish officers, and their guards describe their experiences in the notorious castle, and their escape across Nazi Germany.~ from the blurb
I always liked reading the escape stories from Colditz so it was interesting to read more in depth about the castle, the prisoners and their captors.  

The white queen / Philippa Gregory.
The first in a stunning new series, The Cousins War, is set amid the tumult and intrigue of The War of the Roses. Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings this family drama to colourful life through its women, beginning with the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen. The White Queen tells the story of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position and fights tenaciously for the success of her family, a woman whose two sons become the central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the Princes in the Tower whose fate remains unknown to this day.~ from the blurb
I started this one and got about a third of the way through and put it down unable to finish which was a shame seeing as I waited so long for it to come in for me!  I enjoy Gregory's stories but couldn't face reading about the disappearance of the 2 boys... even though she probably doesn't kill them off.  I find myself sensitive to bad stuff happening to kids and the story wasn't grabbing me enough to keep going.  I might give it another go later when I'm in a better mood.

Educating boys : helping Kiwi boys to succeed at school / Michael Irwin.
"Educating boys is a comprehensive, practical look at how we educate our boys in New Zealand - what's working and what isn't, from kindergarten right through to secondary school. Michael Irwin has listened to the opinions of the boys themselves and combined these insights with his own experience and the most recent research on helping boys to learn. Full of practical ideas and wisdom, Educating boys is the essential handbook for people who want to help boys succeed at school and in life." -- Back cover.
Found this book quite interesting and confirming of many of my own opinions and reading about boys and education/ society.

The diary of a nobody / George and Weedon Grossmith 
A fictional diary of a clerk (Mr Pooter) originally published in Punch.  Very British, very subtle and rather amusing old chap!

Blogosphere Book Circle Book of the Month

The graveyard book / Neil Gaiman ; illustrated by Dave McKean.
When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him - after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod's life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?~ from the blurb.

When I first picked this up I will admit to feeling a bit ambivalent about it.  I'm not a fan of the undead, vampires and the like.  Plus it is a teen fiction book which sometimes can be so full of angst and struggle... so over that.

So I was a little surprised that despite the heart wrenching beginning that I actually found myself being drawn into the story.  Sure, I did have to suspend my disbelief about the dead people but they seemed quite interesting after a while.  I even laughed at some of their personalities.  Bod turns out to be a sweetie and the story is essentially about him coming of age albeit in a rather unusual environment.  The story resolves rather nicely with Bod leaving the cemetary having grown out of his old life and heading into the new.

I liked it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 29: Monday Bunday #Bunpride

A little flurry of tweets from some of my fellow librarians has prompted this one.

I'm quite sure you are familiar with the stereotype?
Bun. Check.
Glasses. Check.
Shhhh. Check.
Pearls. Check.
Twin set. Bonus point!
Something like this...
(who is not a librarian BTW)

Anyway, there was much talk of buns and hair and a suggestion that we should reclaim the bun and wear it with pride! Which led to further talk about styles.  I claim my french roll is a bun in disguise. @fionawb and @nomesd have egged me on to post a step by step guide to french rolls.

Well, this is how I do mine, takes me 5 mins.  (My friend Rachel does hers differently - maybe she will show us!)

Step 1. Brush hair.

Step 2. Scoop the front part into a clip.

Step 3. Grab the back of the hair like you're going to do a pony tail and twist.

Step 4. Twist the tail around on itself and tuck under the roll bit. You can see the fluffy bit of the tail sticking out the bottom of the roll part here.  I usually stick a few bobby pins in the top bit at this stage.

Step 5. Take the fluffy tail and twist some more and poke it under the roll.

Step 6. Pin the rest of the roll. Voila!

 Hmmm. Maybe a video would have been easier.  But my DH already thinks I'm loopy posting this so.. another time. On request.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 28: on the home stretch

Aaaaaannnd I'm running out of oomph!

1 good thing -
This TEDTalk by Tim Brown on creativity and play.  He talks about designing experiences, something we do in libraries both physically and virtually.

1 bad thing -
Not sure my leading the discussion in the journal club today was entirely successful.  I think I need to tighten up the talk or something.  I wanted something practical to come from it and should have made it clear from the beginning but was constrained by my desire not to prevent people from expressing their opinion.  I wasn't sure if they would agree to having a practical outcome. *sigh* oh well...

One thing I learned -
I am more nervous presenting to my colleagues than when I am to a whole lecture theatre of students.  The difference? I know I know more than the students so feel more confident.

Linky love - Graph Jam... particularly this one on types of sources university students use for their assignments.  (Yes you can make your own :-P )

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 26: Lazy Sunday

1 Good Thing:
I managed to make a layout about Miss 3's hair cutting episode.  The journalling is the lyrics to The Haircut Song by Marci Appelbaum. 

Link for the day: You can download the free mp3 of her song from this place - look for Erin Lee and Marci.  Lots of other free kids mp3 songs here, traditional and contemporary.

1 Bad Thing: 
It rained on my washing so I had to feed the Energy Consuming Carbon Eating Monster (aka the dryer) so we would have school uniforms to wear.  Still haven't folded the washing mountain in my lounge.

1 Thing I Learned:
The pumpkin from my garden was too tough for the knife so had to be slain with the newly dubbed "Pumpkin's Bane" aka the axe. DH then went and sharpened my knives on the oil stone for me.

Oh and I made this egg-free Christmas Cake from Feast @ home by Julie Le Clerc (2008). Auckland: Penguin Books pg 152

Because I like fruit cake.

Amazing Christmas Cake

225g butter, melted
1 cup hot water
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 kg dried fruit
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sherry
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups self raising flour, sifted
1/4 cup whole almonds to decorate
brandy to douse

1. Place butter, hot water vinegar, cinnamon, mixed spice and dried fruit into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring regularly.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in condensed milk and baking soda. Allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Line a deep-sided 20 cm round cake tin with non-stick baking paper and pre heat oven to 140 degrees C on fan bake.
4. Add sherry and vanilla to cooled mixture and stir in sifted flour.  Pour into prepared cake tin and decorate top with almonds.
5. Bake from 2-2 1/2 hours. Cool completely before removing from cake tin.  Prick with a skewer and douse with brandy if desired.
Makes 1 deep-sided cake. <--- and I mean deep sided. I used a spring form tin and extended the height with some paper and string.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 25: Life is a box of chocolates

according to Forrest Gump's mother...

If that's the case, then which one of the Cadbury Roses chocs goes with which bit of your life?

Bad bits for me would be the Strawberry Creams.. don't like those ones.
Boring parts would be the plain dairy Milk ones.
Exciting parts would be the Hazelnut Praline Crisp or maybe the Turkish Delight
Getting married - Lemon cheesecake --> classic, smooth and sweet
Kids being born ... hmmm, Hazelnut whirl - reminds me of the head-pushing-out bit! Ow.

How 'bout you?  Consider this a meme ;-P

Here is a list of the chocolates on the box I was given today as a thank you for something.

Dairy Milk
Hazelnut praline crisp
Cherry Ripe
Hazelnut Whirl
Strawberry Cream
Turkish Delight
Classic Fudge
Vanilla Butter Caramel
Chocolate Supreme
Lemon Cheesecake
Caramello Deluxe
Peppermint Cream

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 25: How I became a librarian

Lots of others in the challenged have blogged this story so here is mine.  Sit back and grab a cuppa.

I was one of those school kids who was always the school librarian at lunchtimes.  My family had a Friday ritual of going to the library on the late night and getting a swag load of books.  At first Mum used to restrict us to 6 so she could keep track of them, but once we were old enough we were allowed as many as the library permitted.  We were/are a reading family.

But I never considered librarianship as a career.  It was never presented as an option at school.  Without trying to sound like I'm boasting, I was in the upper quartile "stream" in high school.  People in my stream at high school were shunted in the direction of law, medicine and engineering.  So my initial career choice was medicine.  As my Dad was a physiologist at the Med School it seemed a logical choice.

I suffered crushing humiliation when my marks weren't high enough to get into med school.  I remember sobbing on my bed as I realised my high falutin' ideas just weren't going to happen.  I felt liked I'd failed everyone's (i.e. my teachers, other students, people I knew) expectations.  Of course with hindsight I know now it is better not to try and please everyone else but rather look for something you feel passionate about.

On the advice of my Dad, I went on to do a BSc with the idea I might pursue medicine again after my first year.  By the time I got to the end of that year I realised that a) I had lost interest in spending 7 years at university for a very stressful vocation and b) actually I was enjoying the zoology/botany/ecology papers mostly and c) I hated chemistry.  I thought I might become a marine biologist.

So I entered my 2nd year of my science degree.  No chemistry (hallelujah!) and all Biosciences - a mixture of botany, zoology, marine biology and biometry.  Half way through my second year I went on a major field trip with the marine biology paper I was taking.  The field trip was famous for two things.  First, the amount of work expected from it and second, the opportunity for students to get p*ssed on the final dinner night.  The first didn't phase me too much though I was knackered by the last day.  Having come from a fairly sheltered life the second however... it was a bit off putting.  I got the impression that anyone wanting to be a marine biologist needed to be some sort of drunkard.  It wasn't my scene. 

In addition to this, it was becoming apparent that the current hot research trend in the School of Biological Sciences was cellular and molecular biology.  That was the topic that got the most research funding and the head of school was it's king.  Any post grad work would be heavily weighted to favour topics in that area.  I had no idea of what I might want to do as a post grad but I knew for sure that I wasn't interested in molecular stuff.  Whole animal/plant and ecology were more my thing.

Again I suffered a crisis of identity and purpose.  It was a period where I doubted myself and spent a few angst filled months wondering what to do.  One day I dropped into the career centre on campus with the idea I would pick up some pamphlets for my sister who was in her last year of high school and wondering what to do also.  I came across the information for librarianship and looking at the job description and personality requirements I realised I was looking at a picture of myself!  

It was truly like an epiphany for me.  Someone asked on Friendfeed in the Library Society of the World (LSW) if people thought librarianship was a calling.  For me it really did feel like it.

I entered my third year with a light heart.  Those were the days you didn't have to major in anything, you just had to have a certain number of credits at a particular level in order to graduate.  So I took the stuff I was interested in!  Entymology, crop science, taxonomy papers were in there and a Philosophy of Science paper which my Dad recommended.  (Because it had the right amount of credits and the lecturer was one of his mates).  Actually, it was quite an interesting paper and I learned some useful stuff in relation to the creation of knowledge and thought.  My final year was a breeze.

I applied to a variety of schools for a place in a library course -  one in Adelaide, one in Melbourne and the New Zealand one.  I was less enthused with the NZ option because at the time it was only a post-grad diploma. I was offered a place on the New Zealand course first so I accepted it because I could get a student loan here easily.  The course co-ordinators mentioned there would be opportunity to upgrade the diploma to an MLIS.  (Some time later the Melbourne option also offered me a place but getting funding was just too hard).

So there we are.  If you've made it this far you deserve a medal.

My experience taught me a few things.
1. As much as is practicable, career choice should be about doing things that you love, not what other people expect of you.
2. Every profession needs intelligent people and traditional career choices for the top streamed students at high school should not be so rigid.  Some career choices aren't promoted well.
3. It's okay to change direction.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 24: Nearly to the end!

Channelling Liberry Dwarf's technique today

1 good thing -  I think I may have had a breakthrough in terms of my liaison department & may have finally go myself a opportunity to attend the odd staff meeting.  Pity this is my 2nd to last week as their liaison for 3 semesters. Oh well.  I had four from the department come to see me today. Three were resource related and I was able to conjure up most of their reading lists.  Have ordered the others.  The last one was the new HoD who started 6 months ago and has finally come over to introduce himself officially.  We had a long conversation about elearning possibilities, ebooks, textbooks, podcasting and stuff they are thinking about.  I thought it very productive.  The elearning strategy that has been introduced institution wide is propelling some of them into the 21st Century a little faster than they might have otherwise done but I'm happy to see my department has realised they need to do something now rather than later. As MissSophieMac discovered also today, the library and Te Puna Ako are the "departments" that are the farthest ahead.  We started doing things back in 2006.

1 bad thing - a group of teen girls are hanging around outside the library and abusing and hassling people going to and fro around the library and environs.  One of the "joys" of being associated with a public library is the range of clientele that you get!  Management are concerned that they are up to no good and may be looking for opportunity for bag snatching as there has been a spate of thefts within the library this past week.  If they come into our premises we can do something about it, but they are savvy enough to loiter just out of our reach.  I'm concerned about some of our elderly patrons who are vulnerable to this sort of thing.  The public library has got some security guards in to hang around and try and help.

1 thing I learned - Mr6 stayed back from school with conjunctivitis.  He was rejected at the gate with cries of "Unclean!  Unclean!".  Well, not quite, but he did have to spend the day with my mum. :-P  He's having antibiotic drops which the chemist kindly gave me without a script.  Can't help but feel a bit concerned that one of my eyes feel a bit dodgy.  Actually I think it was a good mental health day for him.  It's nearly the end of term and he's tired.  Miss3 is a box of fluffy ducks though.

Today's link - these guys are cool.  Listening to them right now.

And posting recipes isn't cheating Sally :-) But it's an easy way out for me. 'Cause I have heaps.

Like this one - we had this for dinner the other night.

Spiced couscous salad with lamb and feta
from @ home, with love / Julie Le Clerc (2008), Auckland: Penguin Books p112

600g lamb short loins (I used lamb steaks)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, ceushed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous or substitute ordinary couscous and reduce stock to 1 1/2 cups
150g feta cheese, crumbled
2 red capsicums, seeds removed, roasted, skinned and sliced
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
zest and juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons each chopped fresh parsley and mint
salt and pepper

1. Cook lamb under a grill or in frying pan.  Remove to rest and cool for 15 mins then thickly slice. (The recipe calls for med-rare to rare, I cooked mine through as DH and children aren't fond of rare meat).
2. Heat a large saucepan, add oil and onion and cook on med heat for 5 mins to lightly brown. Add crushed garlic, turmeric and cinnamon and cook for 30 seconds then add stock and bring to boil. Stir in Israeli couscous, cover and simmer for 8 -10 mins stirring occasionally until grains have softened.
Note: if using ordinary couscous, add couscous to the pan, remove from heat, cover and leave to steam for 58 mins to soften. Remove covering and fluff with fork.
3. Set couscous aside to cool. Toss sliced lamb and remaining salad ingredients with couscous to combine.  Season well with salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 4.  (I have to admit I didn't wait for it to cool but served it warm... it is winter after all).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 23: Cheating with a recipe and a joke

This one is for @jobeaz

Extra Thick Ginger Crunch
from @ home, with love / Julie Le Clerc (2008) Auckland, NZ: Penguin Books pg. 94

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teasp baking powder
1 teasp ground ginger
1/2 cup caster sugar
125g butter cubed

150g butter
1/4 cup golden syrup
2 cups icing sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1 Tablesp ground ginger
1/4 cup roughly chopped crystallised ginger

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a17x27cm deep sided slice tin with baking paper.
2. Place flour, baking powder, ginger, sugar in the food processor and pulse to sift.  Add butter and process to resemble fine breadcrumbs or rub in the butter by hand.  Press crumbs evenly over base of prepared tin.  Bake for 25 mins or until golden brown (mine didn't take that long).
3. To make topping, place butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan and melt together over medium heat.  Add icing sugar and ground ginger and cook for 1 min stirring constantly to combine until smooth. Stir in crystallised ginger.
4. Pour topping over base and leave until cool and set.  Remove from tin and cut into bars or squares to serve.  Will keep for 5 days in airtight container.  Makes 18.

And now a joke (thanks to friend K on FB).

3 men walking in the forest come across a beautiful waterfall. While they are looking at it a genie appears, and a huge slide from the top of the waterfall to the pool at the bottom. The genie says "Today is your lucky day! Slide down the slide, say your wish aloud and whatever you wish for will be in the pool when you get there."

The first man ... climbs up, and slides down yelling "gold!" Just like that the pool turns to liquid gold. He fills his bottle, pockets etc and runs away a rich man. 

The second man sees this and climbs to the top. He slides down yelling "Silver!" Instantly the pool turns to liquid silver. He fills everything he can find, and runs off a rich man. 

The third man climbs to the top of the slide and is blown away by the height of the slide and the beautiful view. He gets all excited sliding down, and yells........weeeeeeeee!

There is a lesson in that somewhere ;-P

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 21: ShoutLaughLove

so much shouting, so much laughter

I'm participating in Suzannah's blogfest ShoutLaughLove.

Sometime back I posted on Facebook a little conversation I overheard in the car while taking Miss3 to daycare.  Mr6 had some wise words for her on the subject of making friends.

"When you see a friend you don't know, you tell them your name and then you play with them all day."

There are things I love about his advice.
1. His willingness to view everyone as a potential friend.
2. The apparent freedom he feels about introducing himself to that person he wants to be friends with.
3. His suggestion on how to grow that friendship.

I'm a shy person and find it difficult to make new friends.  I'm not a natural socialite.  As an adult I've lost that innocence that everyone is a potential friend. There needs to be some kind of connection or commonality before I will reach out and introduce myself. But the funny thing about blogging, Twitter and other social networking venues is that once I've made an online connection I feel more confident about meeting that person in real life.  I'm still a bit shy about it but it's easier for me because the ice has been broken.

If a friendship is to grow it needs to be nurtured and Mr6 is right - you need to spend time with that person.  There are some kinds of friendships that seem to be able to stand up to periods of disconnection, to pick up from where they left off and grow some more.  Others, like marriage, require constant input in order to grow.

This little incident gave me some thoughts to meditate on in terms of my faith, my relationship with God, His graciousness towards me etc.  I don't feel completely comfortable sharing them here, but those of you who are thus minded could probably suss them out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 21: Menu Plan Monday

I asked the kids what they wanted to eat for dinner this week and the answer was pizza from both of them.  So I guess we'll have to insert that in somewhere.  The other suggestions were peas-meat-and-gravy, fish fingers, pasta and pie.

DH isn't very forthcoming with ideas. "Something Moroccan." he says.

Going to use my new @home with love/ Julie le Clerc book a bit.

Monday - lamb chops marinated with mustard/garlic/lemon juice/rosemary infused avocado oil, mashed potatoes, silverbeet, carrots.  Also made gravy from the pan juices as I had a craving for mashed taters and gravy.
Tuesday - Moroccan chicken & tamarillo tagine with extra veges (crockpot), rice. (My late night, only one more of these to go! Hoorah!)
Wednesday - pork mince rissoles (garlic, rosemary in them), peas, yams
Thursday - Spiced couscous salad with lamb & feta
Friday - Chicken & vegetables with fragrant peanut sauce
Saturday - Spicy beef and carrot stew to put in a pie, veges
Sunday - Pizza

I tried to make these coconut bikkies tonight.

Except I managed to turn the oven too hot, so mine turned out like this.

More like wafers!  They taste fine, just weren't quite what I planned.  Probably would be good with ice cream.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 20: Cookbook shelf

I'll show you mine.

You show me yours?

The books on the middle shelf and those stacked horizontal on the lower shelf are the ones that I use the most.  The top shelf has books I don't want to throw out but use only occasionally.  I love reading cookbooks and could easily spend heaps of money on them but I try and only buy those I know I'll use and fill a gap in my shelves ... figuratively speaking that it.  Collection building you know.

I used to subscribe to Cuisine magazine and Dish.  I liked Dish better, but the lack of an index for the magazine is a drawback.  I stopped my subs because of space issues.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 19: A breath of fresh air

We decided to have a family walk today - a reasonably easy one for the children's sake. DH decided on visiting the Waitakere Dam because the walk in is sealed and the kids only had sneakers.  We need to get them some sturdier walking shoes. It is a rather steep walk down and back up though.

We saw some rata flowering on the way down so we waited while DH took a photo.  Why Miss 3 has her tongue out here is anyone's guess.  Tasting the air maybe?  There was a little detour to see a big kauri and then discussion about "boy" cones and "girl" cones and how kauri seeds are made.

Then we got to the dam.  It was on the verge of spilling over, we just need a few more downpours.

It was rather windy on the dam top as evidenced by my hair!  Mr6 is clutching his beanie, scared it's going to fly away. (Mine is on inside out. How come no one told me?!)

Here's a likely trio.

Then we had a look at the left over tramway at the edge of the dam - left over from when they built it.  They were a pretty hardy bunch to do the job in those days I reckon.

Then we headed back up the steeeeeeep hill.  Miss 3 had to be piggybacked some of the way.  Then mean Mummy made her walk some more which meant we heard "I'm weally, weally, weally, weally, weally, weally tired now" every 3 metres.  She crashed in her car seat about 5 mins after we got back on the road and slept for 3 hours. So maybe she was right ;-P 

We're heading to my folks for a mid-winter Christmas dinner tonight. Hooray!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 18: Two things meme

It's Friday night, I'm tired, got a runny nose and no inspiration so it's a meme.

Two names you go by:
  1. Penny
  2. Pen
Two things you are wearing right now:
  1. fuzzy slippers
  2. stripey tshirt
Two things you would want (or have) in a relationship:
  1. friendship
  2. aligned values
Two things you like to do:
  1. read
  2. cook
Two things you want very badly at the moment:
  1. a holiday
  2. to be well
Two things you did last night:
  1. dreamt a strange dream involving crazy driving (me) and mummified body parts
  2. read some of The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe to the children
Two things you ate today:
  1. pasta
  2. vegetarian hamburger
Two people you last talked to:
  1. Mr6 who is trying to stall about going to sleep
  2. DH, to ask him the date
Two things you’re doing tomorrow:
  1. taking the children to swimming lessons
  2. cooking food for a mid-winter Christmas dinner with my family
Two Favourite Holidays:
  1. my honeymoon in the south island
  2. visit to Melbourne BK (before kids)
Two favourite beverages:
  1. coffee
  2. Macs ginger beer
Two things about me! Things you may not have known:
  1. I have never broken any bone in my body
  2. When I was a kid I thought the sound of crickets singing was the sound the night made
Two jobs I have had in my life:
  1. gardening (Student job search type stuff)
  2. librarian
Two movies I would watch over and over:

Dunno... nothing springs to mind

Two places I have lived:
  1. Bad Nauheim, Germany
  2. Wellington, New Zealand
Two of my favourite foods:
  1. Desserts
  2. Roast pork
Two places I’d rather be right now:
  1. in bed
  2. in a bath... in fact, that sounds like an excellent plan!
Good Night!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 16: It's Thursday

which means a friend of ours is getting married in Ireland today and tomorrow is Friday the last day of the week.

I'm feeling a bit frayed around the edges. Trying to do one job but having another in the wings popping in and out to distract me hasn't been easy to juggle along with the other balls I have in the air. Today we've been discussing when my replacement will start and how it will all work with my leave, the contract and my attendance at a 2 day library seminar I will be going to wearing my new hat as eLearning librarian.  I am starting to feel nervous about the job and if I'm going to be able to achieve all the expectations my boss has of me.  I appreciate the faith he and the info literacy librarian have in me but eeeek!  I need to believe in myself!

Parent teacher interviews have been canceled for Mr6 because his teacher is sick (again) so I am torn between being peeved and trying to feel some sympathy with his teacher. She had some abdominal surgery last term and took most of it as leave, with a substitute teacher in charge. Since the 3rd term started she has been frequently unwell. I do feel sorry for her troubles but I do wonder if it would be better for her to take long term leave and give the children some consistency in their classroom. I feel mean for thinking it.

It's chilly, the fire is on and my bed is calling to me. So no erudite post tonight. Just some pictures.

This is the scarf/collar I made on the weekend.

 Walking the Mr6 to school...

He can be very solicitous towards his sister - here he is holding her hand and telling her something "important".  Not sure if you can see in the photo but he has also made her carry his book bag - she is quite willing to do so I might add. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Creativity: nuturing the spark within

Creativity is something I'm interested in.  I like to create in a lot of different ways.  I like to learn about how to encourage creativity and understand it better.  I have written about it before.

There are some who think that creativity is something that is outside themselves; that it comes from a "muse" or other being.  Others are of the opinion that sufficient practice of creative endeavour results in creative products. I'm not sure where I sit in this spectrum.

In her TEDtalk, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, pray love) speaks of the experience of the creative muse.  She sees it as something outside of self but that a person needs to apply oneself to the creative process in order for it to be of benefit.  Kind of like harnessing the power of a wild element.

Amy Tan (author of the Joy Luck Club and many others ) in her TEDtalk speaks of life experience and how it informs her.  She also asks a lot of questions of her experience and other's experience.

I read somewhere (possibly in this book) that Einstein would deliberately put a pencil in his hand and try to doze off because the period between awake/asleep was when he had his best ideas.  I have noticed this myself.  Moving from awake consciousness to sleeping I pass through a zone where I'm sufficiently relaxed with an open mind that ideas do occur.   Sometimes those ideas startle me awake again and my mind begins to race so fast I find it difficult to go back to sleep.  I really need to keep a notebook or something beside my bed to jot stuff down in so it isn't lost and also so I can relax again!

I do think there are things that dampen creativity. 

Time is the obvious one.  If you don't have space to let the muse occur or to begin to practise with your creative tools (whatever these are) then nothing productive will happen.

For me, pressure to perform can be a creative killer but other times it can be a motivator.

The environment also contributes something.  I need space to do scrapbooking and my desk is small, my space is cluttered.  It's not helpful. If my workplace environment is oppressive, with lots of "passion killing" attitudes floating around then I find it difficult to be creative at work.

How to kick start creativity?

There are a couple of things that can help me. 

If it is scrapbooking I want to do, I find sitting myself down and picking some photos, coordinating cardstock/paper and a sketch from someplace will help me on my way. 

If it is an idea for teaching or something work related I like to have the space and freedom to brainstorm wild ideas however inconceivable they seem at first.  This can be difficult if somebody thinks I'm actually serious about some of the wild ideas and stomps on them.  Visiting other libraries, reading about what other libraries and librarians are doing via conferences or my PLN is also inspirational.

DH recently entered a competition for landscape photography - he got a bronze award for his entry & was 35th in his category.  I'm so proud of him; he inspires me. (Someone has to toot his, ok that sounds rude *cough*)

Here are some other things I find inspirational

What do you think?  Is creativity from within, without, nature vs nurture vs practice? What inspires you?  What kills your inspiration?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 14: Shanachie Tour of New Zealand

This morning I beetled off into town to the Town Hall where the two Shanachie guys were giving a presentation prior to their one week tour of New Zealand. (Why only one week!?  I know we're a small country but...)

Here's to prove I was there. Along with a bunch of other librarians whose faces I have blurred. Thanks Kris for taking the photo!

See... I was breathing the same air as these guys. I never got to say hello personally but it would have probably been too embarrassing for all involved.   *picture me struck dumb with awe*

I think I want to work at DOK.  *Sweeeeetie?  Would you like to move to the Netherlands?*
I love how their focus is the people in their community.  They look for ways to bring the collection to them as well as ways to bring their community's interests into the library.  They actively seek ways to partner with their local community businesses.  Some of the things they have done which I thought very cool were

  •  Hosted a LAN party
  • Their furniture (you can see some in David Lee King's  Flickr stream here or from Jenny Levine here)
  • Collaborate with the supermarket across the square by providing a recipe from the collection. The supermarket supplied the ingredients in a special 'fridge (with the library's logo) and if patrons swipe their library card at the checkout, they got 25% off their bill.
  • Invent a gaming flightcase
  • Take a specially marked combi van to a summer camp where kids create content during the day to present to their parents at night.
  • Solicit stories from their patrons about the community where they are living (Agora: storyboard of your life)
  • This brilliant multi touch surface which makes me wish MPOW had some sort of collection we could show off

Multitouch Microsoft Surface: Cultural Heritage Browser from Jaap van de Geer on Vimeo.

Now I need to think about how some of what I saw can be brought into MPOW.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 14: Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Sticky Chick in the crockpot, rice, stir fry veg
Tuesday: Pies, peas and chips (terrible I know! but easy for DH to prepare and the kids love pies. So do I).
Wednesday: Pasta Carbonara (going to use fusilli), pear, spinach, blue cheese and walnut salad
Thursday: Sticky Asian Oxtail (going to attempt this in the crockpot), rice, Asian greens
Friday: Vego Hamburgers plus the usual fixings.
Saturday: Pork vindaloo (free range pork was on special at Nosh) and some vege curries including this dal.  Might make some roti or pooris too.
Sunday: some sort of soup - saw a recipe somewhere for a Thai pumpkin one so might try that but will have to make something separate for DS who doesn't like pumpkin.

I finished off Miss3's slippers with butterflies (her request), still in the process of doing Mr6's.

Going to see the Shanachie's tomorrow!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 13: Travel Meme

 To everyone who responded to my last post - THANK you. I appreciate it more than you can know.  I'm going to see what the school is doing (Thursday) and then I may be talking to some of you in more detail depending on what they say...
But thanks. *lump in throat and tears in eyes*  This is all new territory for me.

1. What country and/or state do you live in? Auckland, New Zealand

2. What was the last country you visited other than your own (or that you want to if you haven’t been out of your country? Australia - for a library conference.

3. What is your favorite kind of trip (i.e. camping, laying on the beach, cruise, etc.)? Not sure.  I like a number of kinds.  Road trips can be fun if not rushed, lying about camping beside the beach is good. But no, not cruising - not my scene.  I like visiting new places and especially National Parks and other nature related places. I also like food related touring. Shopping I can take or leave, mostly because I can't afford it.

4.What is the farthest location south that you have gone? Mossburn (well, we drove through it to get to Te Anau. I got my first speeding ticket coming back the other way nearby. >_<
View Larger Map  One day I will get to Stewart Island.  DH would love to go to the Auckland Islands but the cost of getting there is more than we can consider.

5. What is the farthest location north that you have gone? Findochty in Scotland. It was flippin' cold.
View Larger Map

6. What is our preferred mode of transportation when traveling long distances? In terms of practicality, planes are difficult to beat especially when you live in New Zealand and the rest of the world is too far away to swim. I do like trains though.  If I was in Europe, trains would have a lot of attraction.

7. What kind of vehicle do you own or would like to own? I own a Mitsubishi Lancer. It's old and needs to be replaced. DH wants us to get an SUV of some kind so we can go on holidays easier. I'd be keen on a hybrid version or one that used something other than fossil fuel.

8. What is your ideal destination? I have so many places I'd like to visit. India, Italy and France are the top on my list. Some of the US would be interesting too.  I was saving to go on an OE with my sister when I met DH.  My sister went on the OE and I got married.

9. Who is your favorite travel companion? My family

10. What is the largest city you have visited? It would be a competition between London and Amsterdam.  I started school in London here.

11. What destination would you recommend to a friend? Milford Sound, New Zealand.  It's beautiful. The sandflies are incredible. Stay overnight in the lodge there... so much nicer when the hoardes of tourists leave.

12. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Here. This is my land, this is where my roots are. Ko Puketapapa te maunga (my mountain is Mt Roskill, the area where I grew up), I identify with the Auckland region particularly West Auckland.  I feel most comfortable here.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 12: The Curate's Egg

I was going to write an intelligent post on creativity (an interest of mine), but today has been a bit of a curate's egg day.  According to Phrase Finder the meaning of this term is:
Something bad that is called good out of politeness or timidity.
The origin of the phrase is the George du Maurier cartoon "True Humility", printed in the British satirical magazine Punch, on 9th November 1895. The cartoon gives fuller insight into its meaning, which relies to some extent on an appreciation of irony.

Right Reverend Host. "I’m afraid you’ve got a bad Egg, Mr. Jones!"
The Curate. "Oh no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellect!"
We use this term quite a lot in my family being avid readers of Punch. (Library collections are great are they not?)

I had a rather disappointing Friday at work so I was glad to wake up to a new day, new possibilities.  The kids had a good sleep and swimming lessons went well.

I ventured out to Mt Eden to see a lady who is going to teach me how to felt.  She was displaying her wares at a craft fair - some lovely stuff - and it was exciting to see what we're going to be making.  Parking is an abomination though.  It took me 20 minutes to find one a block away.  Not really what I wanted when I have Mr6 and Miss-I-can't-walk-my-legs-hurt-carry-me 3.  We returned home via Nosh having picked up a few items of a foodie nature for lunch.

So far so good.

Then Mr6 remembered he had an Important Notice in his school bag and brought it out to me.  According to this he is either below or well below the National Standards for reading, writing and maths.  I knew he was struggling with reading and we've been working on that but it looks like everything else is an issue as well.  I find it so disheartening and wonder what I did wrong. Should I have had children earlier? Should I have not gone back to work and put him daycare? Did I drink to much coffee when he was in utero?  The report has things parents can do to help and I am happy to try and do these (already do some) ... but when I have no idea.  My melodramatic streak thinks I should just pack up all my craft stuff and give it up for the next few years since I won't have any time to do it at all.  I half expect I shall have to give up work but having signed a 3 semester contract I don't think that's a possibility. We see the teacher on Thursday.  I hope to find out what the school is doing about it. It doesn't help my attitude when I find spelling mistakes in the report they sent home. I just don't know what to do. Should we send him to a special school? Get him extra lessons?  How is all this supposed to happen when I work 9-5?!

So. Feeling sorry for myself.

I tried to fix my felted slippers and managed to shrink them so much they are now too small! I will either have to give them to someone else or turn them into a pin cushion.  I did have some success in making some for the kids though.

Here is one for Mr6 before it got felted.  Looks like a Yeti foot!

Here it is being felted.

Here are the products I made.

I will need to edge stitch the children's slippers and may decorate them a bit.  As you see I made a scarf/collar as well.  I have every book out of MPOW's library on felting and have been looking at Youtube tutorials too so decided to give a simple scarf a go. This is the series I used as instruction... this particular one has the order of the tutorials in the comments.  The one we're going to do in the class is much more complex using some different fibres, silk - even has a pocket!

I didn't realise how much shrinkage would occur so it could have been a bit longer, but that is all part of the learning process!

Looking forward to my dinner and trying not to stress about things.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 10: Personal or professional blogging

Sue asks on her blog

Those of us participating in this challenge are not necessarily blogging on professional topics. Of those that aren’t – do you feel constrained in anyway not to speak out on professional topics? I am not saying that you should professionally blog- just wondering if perceptions of risk to career colour that choice. Of those that do post on professional topics- have you ever felt it threatened your career? And even when it’s posts about topics of general interest to the larger profession?

This blog began when I went to a course run at work.  I wanted to find out about blogging and podcasting since "podcast" was the word of the year and I had no idea what it meant! So this space began as a place for me.  I did occasionally post stuff about librarianship but mostly, this blog is a personal one.  Where I brag about my crafts, kids and cooking.

When I went on maternity leave, my blog became my connection with a bunch of scrapbookers and as such was a kind of sanity saving community for me.  Since I returned to work it has been a struggle for me to maintain the momentum for a variety of reasons.  I no longer have as much time to do crafts. The scrapbooking community has moved more to Facebook. Blogs in general seem to be winding down in favour of micro-blogging.

So to answer Sue's question, no I'm not constrained about posting on professional topics on this blog but it isn't a topic that many of my previous readers would want to hear about continually.  I've since joined a professional blog The Diligent Room, and that is where I post about professional stuff.  Sometimes.  Which brings me to my next point.

I don't feel constrained when I post on Diligent Room.  When I began there I informed my boss that I'd be doing this and asked him to let me know if there was a problem with this.  I don't blog about the sticky stuff - I'm no good at controversial or pot-stirring type posts. 

So far, my posts there have been about what we're doing at MPOW because I figure if I like to hear about other libraries activities then other librarians will like to hear about it too.  I tend to blog about what I know and what I feel I am qualified to speak on.  In fact I struggle with think posts.  I do think about things, but I tend to observe and keep my thoughts to myself.  I think I'm afraid of being shot down.

For me, Twitter has become a place for interaction with other librarians.  For me, Facebook is more about family and friends.  Different tools for different communities.  At least, that is how it has evolved for me.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Day 9: Meme from day 7

CW's meme from day 6/7 via normblog  

Yeah yeah, I'm slow...

Do you snack while reading? Sometimes.  I like to read while eating my lunch.  Mostly I don't though. Unless I'm having a cuppa as well. Or some chips have made their way into the house.

What is your favourite drink while reading? I don't really have a fav drink - whatever I feel like at the time.

Do you tend to mark your books while you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?*Shudder* can't write in books.  Sacrilege!

How do you keep your place? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book open flat? Bookmark mostly - a bit of paper, shopping list, receipt.  I never dog ear, but confess to laying the book face down and open.

Fiction, non-fiction or both? Both, but definitely more fiction.

Do you tend to read to the end of a chapter or can you stop anywhere? Anywhere.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you? No. 

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away? No, I get the meaning from context.  Having said that, I haven't come across any words I didn't know in a long time.

What are you currently reading? Tu by Patricia Grace.  It is good.

What is the last book you bought? Walter the farting dog by William Kotzwinkle. (A birthday present for a 5 year old).

Do you have a favourite time/place to read? I read a lot in bed or in my armchair by the fire.

Do you prefer series books or stand-alones? No preference. I just need to read.  I read the cereal box at breakfast even.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over? It really depends who is asking.  There is no point me recommending some authors to my MIL for example because I know she wouldn't read them ever.

How do you organize your books (by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)? I need more bookshelves.  At present the fiction ones are organised by author and size and the non-fiction is mostly by subject but we're limited in shelf size so some bits are higglety-pigglety.

Barbara’s additional question: background noise or silence? I just read.  Though if the conversation is interesting enough I'll stop reading.  I can tune out pretty much anything.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Day 8: Menu Plan Monday on a Tuesday

The trouble with a long weekend is that I think Monday is another Sunday!

Anyway, meal plan for this week.  Last week got a bit mucky towards the end so I ended up doing some things differently hence the revisit of one item on this week's plan.

Monday - spag bog (can't beat it for quick and tasty. Mr6 loves pasta and Miss3 wasn't feeling well so this was okay for her.  DH and I added chilli sauce.)
Tuesday - pot roast in the crockpot for DH to serve up. (My late night at work... so glad not to do this come July and my new position).
Wednesday - Nigella's chicken* & sausage roast, rice, some sort of veges that I think up on the night
Thursday - smoked fish pie (one pot dish)
Friday - chicken jambalaya, spinach salad
Saturday - lamb and pea tagine, cous cous
Sunday - French onion soup with breadand toasted gruyere cheese

*which involves mixing up mustard, worchestershire sauce, lemon juice and olive oil and marinading the chicken pieces in it before mixing with some sausages, onions in wedges and some dried sage. Chuck in the lemon rinds too and roast.  I like good quality pork and fennel sausages with it best.  Inf fact, if you can't get decent sausages, leave them out.  It's still good.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Winter garden

Not much is happening in the garden right now except for weeds.  I have some parsnip seedlings that need to go in, but that means I need to pull out the weeds!

Mac the nut tree has some nuts though.

We have two macadamic nut trees.  They are still small but this older one produces more nuts than we can really cope with.  According to teh interwebs you have to dry them with husk removed and then roast them in their shell for a while and then crack them and roast again.  It's such a drama to do it that we've yet to complete an entire cycle of it.  I have a small nutcracker that works on a screw basis to crack them - you have to do them 1 by 1.  Which isn't really an option for someone like me with little patience.

Actually we wanted to plant a walnut tree until we read they don't really fruit until they are 50 years old. Which seemed a long time to wait. Pity.  I like coffee walnut cake. Instead I order walnuts from Naturally Organic because I can trust them not to be old and rancid. Unlike the ones in the bulk bins at Pak N Save.

My herb garden is currently bursting with chervil.

I use chervil in mushroom soup and also in egg dishes like omlettes. It is also quite nice with carrots.  Chervil is really easy to grow from seed.  In fact, it has self seeded into the lawn around the garden which makes for a nice herby smell when you mow.

In Auckland, the milder winter means citrus is also available in winter. We have a mandarin and a lemon tree.  The mandarin had only a dozen or so fruit on it this year, but they were good sized ones.  It's still a young tree and seems to have on/off years.  My lemon is currently in a pot.  I've not have too much luck with my lemon trees but this one is doing quite well. I use a lot of lemons.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Day 6: Appliance love post

Sally wrote a post about her kitchen appliances and I thought it a cool idea so here is my list of favourite appliances.

1.  My Kitchen Aid.  It's red, it goes fast and has curves... what's not to love?! I got it for my birthday in 2007 - it's arrival was rather amusing.  I think I've used it every week on average.  It has featured in a few posts on this blog.

2. The Espresso machine. We've had an espresso machine for a fair while now.  I can't deny I'm a coffee snob. It is one of my guilty pleasures .

3. The dishwasher.  When we bought the house in 2000 it didn't have a dishwasher.  We'd promised ourselves that our house would have one so we installed one.  I would hate to be without it now.  Some people have said that washing dishes by hand promote fellowship and family bonding.  That has never been my experience.

4. The crockpot. I probably use this every week as well. It means I have to get things ready the night before but it pays the next day because tea is on the table sooner.  Which is great when you are an evil working mother and your daughter falls asleep by the oven if you don't get tea on soon enough.   I actually have 2 crockpots.  A large oval one and my grandmother's one.

5. Fridge/freezer/chest freezer... saves us from getting salmonella, buying food daily ... all that stuff
6. Washing machine. I couldn't cope without it.
7. Sewing machine.  My mum bought me my first machine when I was a teenager and I've had one ever since.  I've made so much stuff on my machine.  Even a bag hide and tent for DH to use for bird photography.  I should get myself an overlocker one of these days.  Mum's one is living at my place at the moment and I really should give it back.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Day 5: Saturday swimming

Saturday means swimming lessons round here.  I've enrolled the kids for this term and will probably re-enrol for next term too.  It cuts into my "free" time but it is important to us that our children gain water confidence and respect.  There are too many drowning accidents in New Zealand.  Some of those accidents could have been prevented by basic respect for water and some swimming skills.  (Of course, swimming skills are not always going to be helpful in bad situations but still ... YKWIM).

This one used to be terrified of the water.  His first swimming lesson when he was 3 1/2 was a disaster.  He clung to the teacher the whole time and screamed nonstop "I want my mummy" in her ear.  The poor girl!  Before his second lesson I took him to the local pool and swam around with him, played floating games and after that he was happy to get into the water with the teacher and actually learn some skills.  These days he seems to spend a lot of time under the water when he isn't being supervised to do some activity. His skills are slowly improving.  He still pokes his bum in the air when trying to stroke freestyle!

This little monkey has a blast!  She has a very experienced, gentle teacher called Matt who does a great job with the littlies, some of whom are very afraid. They play cool games like Jungle River and pretend to be crocodiles.  They have rides on a floating device (Tommy the Turtle) to practice kicking.  They fetch rings from under the water to practice putting their faces underneath.  She has had a small falling-over-under-the-water accident since and although it gave her a fright I am glad because she now has a bit more respect for the water environment than before.

It's worth missing out my sleep in for.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Day 4: Incredible sulk

Miss 3 sulking because I told her to change her clothes prior to going out. Apparently if you can't wear a dress with cherries on it your life is not worth living.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

10 Reasons I love my library

1. It has a pirate stapler.

2. It lets you have lots of holds... for FREE. When the supercity happens I will highly peeved if we inherit charges for holds from Un-named City. Bah! Bah I tell you! edited to add: not every library in NZ charges for holds, but one of the major Auckland ones does.  Which I think stinks.

3. It hosts fun events like New Zealand Music Month.  Including bagpipes.

4. The staff get to have paper aeroplane fights at their Christmas party. (Note plane crash landed in halo).

5. It has the entire Beatles collection on CD and it lets you borrow them.

6. You can sign up to get library notices via txt.

7. It has cool spaces for different needs.

8. It keeps your reading history for you.  This is great for remembering what you read for monthly reading round ups! edited to add: this is an opt in option. You don't have to choose it if you are concerned about privacy.

9. It promotes the use of eco-bags to carry your books in.

10. The boss sends me to cool conferences like National Digital Forum and VALA.