Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reading for 2013

According to Goodreads I have read 60 books this year - the same as last year.  I think it is fairly accurate as I have been trying to keep the records up to date.

26 non-fiction
34 fiction

Of note, I started reading the Game of Thrones series and have just the most recent one to go before I'll join the waiting crowd for George R.R. Martin to write the remaining story!  I have also discovered the Phyrne Fisher murder mysteries which I have been enjoying too.

I'm in the midst of finishing up The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.  It's been hard going, not because it is a bad book but the writing style takes time to appreciate.

The titles that stand out for me this year have been:

The Last Runaway | Remarkable Creatures - both by Tracy Chevalier
The Dragon Keeper by Mindy Mejia

I have done a lot of reading on my iPad this year, some on my Kobo and some in print. I can't say I have a particular preference, but the convenience of ebooks has been a big plus for me.

I continue to read blogs and professional related stuff, but that is mostly done online via my iPad or computer.

How about you? Have you read any good stuff this year?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tarty goodness

I do love a bit of tart.  Here are some I made the other day.

@ home, with love / by Julie Le Clerc (2004)
Auckland: Penguin Books

Burnt Sugar Tarts (Creme Brûlée Tarts)

Sweet Pastry
1/2 cup caster sugar
200g butter, softened
1 egg
2 cups plain flour
Pinch salt

1. Place sugar, butter and egg in a bowl and beat to just combined. Stir in flour, salt to form dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly to bring together. (Note: I cut the butter through the flour in the food processor and then add the remaining ingredients and pulse the processor until the dough starts to form together, then I finish it off by hand).
2. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 mins before using as recipe following directs.

Vanilla Custard
1 vanilla bean ( I used a good teaspoon of vanilla paste)
1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 egg yolks
Demerara sugar to brûlée 

1. Roll out pastry to 3mm thick and use to line 6 10cm individual tart tins. Prick base with a fork and chill for 30mins.
2. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans/weights - bake blind for 10 mins. Remove paper and weights and return cases to oven for 5 mins to dry out.  Decrease oven temperature to 140 degrees C.
3. If using the vanilla bean, cut in half lengthways and scrape out seeds. Combine with cream and milk in a saucepan. Bring to boil then remove from heat for 10 mins for vanilla to infuse. (if you use paste like me, just add it to the milk and cream and bring to the boil.)
4. In a bowl beat caster sugar and yolks together until pale. Strain cream mixture and pour onto yolks, then whisk to combine.
5. Return mixture to a clean saucepan. Cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Don't let it boil or it will curdle. Pour mixture into pastry cases. Bake 15 mins or until custard is just set. Remove to cool.
6. Just before serving, dust top of custard with Demerara sugar. Caramelise with a brûlée torch of quickly under a grill. (Personally I think caster sugar is a better option).

Salted caramel tarts
(I used the same pastry and method as above to make these).

The salted caramel recipe I got from one of the cooking blogs I read and I neglected to write down in my cookbook which one. So I do apologize - if this looks familiar to someone, I am more than happy to link directly to your blog if you let me know! It must have been a US one because it uses the term "stick" of butter.

250g sugar
80ml water
115g salted butter 
150ml heavy cream

In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, combine sugar and water. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Add butter. Let it come to a boil and cook until it reaches a golden caramel color. Remove from heat. Add cream - be careful because it will spit - whisk to combine and put back on stove. Let it come to the boil again and cook 25-35 mins until you reach a creamy consistency. (Note: I wanted a sauce consistency and took it off the heat sooner than 25 mins. Even so, it was really too far gone along the road to hardening off for sauce. Great for soft caramels though).

For the tarts I spooned in the caramel to the tart cases and then cooked them briefly (about 5-10 mins) until it seemed like a good time to take them out - I used mini tart cases to it didn't take long. I then broke a piece of chocolate into the hot caramel and sprinkled a few salt grains on it.

You will have plenty of left over caramel. I don't see this as a problem...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Poor neglected blog.  Time for an update I think!

So time passes and I'm emerging from the fog of change.  I'm learning a lot! Fortunately I have some good allies and examples as I move from minion to manager thinking processes.  (I still am a minion to others though which keeps me humble). I am learning to care about stuff I would have dismissed as annoying minuteae .. Well some of it anyway.  Some of it is still silly.  

I can see there are going to be good opportunities within the system I am in and this is a positive change for me.  

The daily commute is still long.  I spend quite a bit of time on my phone while on the bus. Social media features of course,  but surprisingly I have found it a good time to do my daily Bible devotions too. I had thought that audio books would be good too, but for some reason I find it better for my mental health to just be quiet in my own head.  I think it is that introvert thing of needing time alone to recover after interacting with people all day.

So stuff happens even if I don't blog.

We went and saw Alice the TBM.  She was pretty impressive! 

Miss6 wrote our names on a piece of the tunnel - so when we drive through it we can imagine our names on it somewhere!

The lava flow the works has exposed is quite amazing.

I have been involved in setting up a maker space at MPOW which includes a 3D printer. It is quite exciting to see the developments around the space and the engagement with staff and customers.

The children have finished school for the year and both have made progress in various ways. Miss6 does well at school - she is one of those kids for whom the school system works just fine. I have appreciated the efforts the school makes with Mr10 though.  We've have had opportunity to make an IEP for him and his teacher and the SENCO have been on to it in terms of looking for ways to help him.  One thing that has made a big difference for him is the iPad we bought for him at his teacher's request. It has meant he is able to by pass the difficulties he has with physical writing.  The additional help from SPELD and Kip McGrath has helped too. However, I think one of the biggest contributors to his improvements (apart from increased maturity) is the work his OT has been doing with him.

We have also discovered he has some allergies to dust, cats, wheat, some fish, soy, prawns and peanuts so I have been trying to eliminate those things as much as possible.  It isn't easy... or cheap.

Some of us folks on Twitter have been helping a women's refuge with things.  Their needs are ongoing though, so if anyone else has it in their heart to help there is a current list of needs here: http://goodeyemcwoowoo.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/looking-forward-to-the-new-year/

I have been doing some more crochet learning! Here are two beanies I am making to send to the refuge (Te Whare Marama).  Mum has been doing the cream one, I am following along with the red one.  It's quite relaxing. There are so many cool projects to do in crochet.  Learning to read the instructions on the pattern is like learning a new language though. Luckily I have Mum to show me and interpret.

That's all for now.  Is anyone going to do the blogging for 12 days of Christmas challenge?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Change process

Three weeks ago I started a new job.  You would think that wouldn't be such a big deal.  Libraries being the same and all. But in fact it has been a big deal for me and libraries are the same ... but different.

For 16 years I have worked in the tertiary sector. It has been a comfortable fit for me and my values align with the kind of things you find there.  For about 10 of those years I worked in one particular institution so became very familiar with the environment, the people, the type of customer, the culture and enjoyed the close proximity to my home.

But I left that very comfortable job, one that I enjoyed, a team that have been very supportive and have changed sector (to public libraries) and job role (now a team leader) and location (the CBD).  I moved from a position of being the person who knows things to a person who knows very little.

So yes, to me it has been a big deal. Just before I left, I attended a course called "dealing with change". In it I learned about the change cycle and what happened during that process. 

So far I can say I have been through stage 1 and 2!

Image from The Change Cycle, Retrieved from http://www.changecycle.com/changecycle.htm 

The first week was actually pretty tough. I also had this bad cold virus which didn't help. Poor DH copped his wife wailing about making the wrong decision, going off to work in tears and coming home not much better. The commute is long which puts family and recharge time under strain.

But things are starting to make more sense now. I am getting used to the different culture even if I don't always like it. Fortunately, people are friendly and though I still feel a bit Nigel No Mates sometimes, I also realize that will change as I make connections.

It both amuses and disturbs me how much I have become used to the technology freedom found in the tertiary sector. I no longer have a laptop to take around with me to meetings.  No Macs seem to exist in the organization.  I can't use Firefox (and consequently all the plug ins I had set up to use in my work), Dropbox, Skitch, slideshare... Anything cloud based is difficult which feels so alien to me. I have worked out how to get TweetDeck as a web version so that makes me more connected to my PLN thankfully.  I have managed to download Chrome so some plugins work on that. My iPad plus the free wifi lets me connect to Dropbox and other things that the web marshal clamps down on if I use my desktop.

There are things that I am doing that are exciting, challenging and will provide me with some great experience. These are the things I am trying to focus on to move myself into stage 4.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 30: In which I review the week of My Food Bag

It's the last day of #blogjune so I'm wrapping up with a quick review of the first week experience with My Food Bag.

The week we ate...

Day 1: Fish Sliders with apple slaw
Day 2: Jamaican jerk chicken with coconut rice and mango salsa
Day 3: Steak, chickpea and tomato salad with Harissa yoghurt dressing with garlic bread
Day 4: Jazzed up spaghetti bolognaise
Day 5: Butternut and ricotta canelloni with garden salad

All the recipes were easy to follow and mostly were completed and on the table in 30 minutes - some were a bit longer due to me mucking around doing other things at the same time or they required a bit more fiddling e.g. filling canelloni tubes.

The ingredients were fresh and sufficient quantity for our family.  The only time I had leftovers was the spaghetti bolognaise and the chick pea salad. 

The favourites this week were the fish sliders and the steak salad.

The meat was good quality and tasty.

Most ingredients supplied were organic or free range.

The ease of not having to think about the questions "what's for dinner" and "what do I need to shop for this week" was a big relief for me.  I know that sounds pathetic but what I feed my family and being able to enjoy cooking is something that is significant for me so this option helps lower my stress levels.

Was there anything I didn't like?  Not really -  the only comment I would make is that the fish (gurnard) is on the Forest and Bird's fish guide "orange zone" but given the paucity of options of fish in the "green zone" there has to be some lee way given.

This is what we're having this week.  It all looks pretty good to me, though the pumpkin and kumara offerings will be a challenge for Mr9 who doesn't like those vegetables much.  The delivery man came in good time.

Unpacking the bags is quite exciting :-)

Friday, June 28, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 27: In which I muse about cultural identity and teaching

Today, Hazel blogged about culturally responsive facilitation and her visceral reaction to identity, exclusion and responsiveness.

This is a kind of topic which can trigger some critical responses from people so I respect her willingness to put it out there.  It's worth visiting these things though, not just for those of us who teach but also from the perspective of library services.

I thought I would explore some of the questions she asks in her post.

Choosing to engage or not?
Can a person elect to not engage with the way a learning experience is set up? What is the result of this?

My first response to this is yes... and no.  If a person has chosen to "attend" a learning event/experience then I think there has to be some give and take when it comes to acceptance of the parameters of that event/experience.

If I choose to do an online course learning about Drupal then I have to accept that
 a) the course will be online which results in a particular style of teaching and presentation of material.  In this case, the class participation is via forums, something I find awkward, clunky and because it's not where my PLN lives I don't enjoy using it.  So in a sense I choose not to engage completely in the learning experience - I just do the minimal I have to do in this space.  I'm not unusual in this I might add, it happens frequently with online learning.

b) the course will reflect the cultural origin of those that created it.  In this case it will be North American in style and cultural feel.  I accept that even though it makes me feel less engaged with the other participants in the course.  However, I'm motivated to learn the content so I look past my ambivalence.

The result of this is that I learn the material but I don't particularly get anything more from the course.  Does this matter?  In this case, probably not but in other circumstances it might be important.

Caution!  I haz values!
Can you go in with humility if you have a set of values up front - should they be negotiated as part of the process?

Yes, I think you can and yes I think there should be room for negotiation.  If learning is a conversation as per the constructivist approach then both parties bring something.  The important bit is sharing those values, accepting there are some that can't be negotiated and working together to find the common values. The humility occurs in being open to negotiation.

What is everyone bringing to the table?
What do we have to learn about the people that we are going to be working with?

I think it is worth finding out before the event/experience who the audience will likely be and what kind of expectations and values they bring.

With my classes it's usually a mixture of Asian and Pasifika so I have some ideas about what sort of values these students bring to the class.  It is good to learn what kind of behaviours are offensive, what sort of values are negotiable and so on.

For example, I understand many of our Asian students struggle with our teaching culture of questioning.  This is a value I bring to the class - I want our students to ask questions of me and answer my questions too.  Because they have chosen to attend a class here in this culture there is an expectation they will have to respond to this value, it's not really a value that is negotiable, but I also understand it is uncomfortable for them.   I have things I do to mitigate this.

Another example, if I'm going to attend an event/experience at a marae I understand there are some values that will be non-negotiable.  My behaviour therefore changes to reflect that, even though there are some things that I find ... not so much uncomfortable as "not the way I personally would do things".

It interests me that if we allow ourselves to be open to the values of other cultures it will affect us in ways we may not expect.  For example, most conferences I have been to in New Zealand have some sort of pōwhiri at the beginning.  The conference I went to in Australia did not and for me this made the conference beginning seem incomplete.  Another example, as a result of being open to tikanga I feel uncomfortable about people sitting on tables even though in my New Zealand European culture it's not a "thing".

Respecting our differences, finding commonalities
 A suggestion was that it is necessary to bring something to a session that is 'part' of the people - analogies, images, ways of talking about things. But, how do you do that in a diverse community. What if the analogies are meaningless to some of the people in the room? Do you focus on the majority? Do you try to cover most of the cultural groups? Do you cover all of them? How? Or, is the main focus the people in the room with the most influence? People who are from that part of the world?

Hmmm... tricky.  I don't know.  I believe there are things that a common to all cultures even if the language or imagery is different. Exploring that in the session can result in a deeper understanding of the topic and each other.   Using language like "this is how I explain this thing, does it work for you or do you have an alternative?" could result in a mutual deepening of understanding.

I have been the one person in a classroom in a foreign culture where I didn't know the language and felt excluded, but at the same time I didn't expect to be catered to either (different age, different circumstances).  If I had been more mature and if the learning had been more critical to my advancement I would have made a better effort to be engaged.  So something has to come from the the people in the room too, it's not just about the facilitator.

I know I'm still learning about this kind of thing and don't have all the answers.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 26: In which I inherit

DH's "old" phone. He starts a new job on Monday and has been given an iPhone. So, being further down in the tech pecking order I get to upgrade to his one he's been using. Yay! Shiny! 

So now I'm going to play with it some moar.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 25: In which I reflect on my online course

I'm into week 4 (the last week) of my online course learning some basic Drupal.  These are my reflections so far.

  • Drupal seems to be a good tool to use
  • There are a lot of different themes to choose from and finding one that suits your site means spending time scrolling through a bunch.
  • Having a clear site plan is necessary.
  • The course itself is well laid out and works well on Moodle as a delivery platform, with the exception of the forums which I find sterile and asynchronous.

  • I feel like I'm skimming the surface of the topics - in order to get the work done in the week assigned. I tend to jump through the hoops without any deep reflection or investigation on why/why not things work.
  • It was good to have some others doing the course IRL with me - as I said, the forums didn't really work for me.  I'm used to the immediacy of  Twitter I think.  It probably doesn't help that the rest of the class participants were asleep when I was awake, plus a day behind us.
  • Others in the class have done some amazing stuff which makes me feel meh, but I just don't have the time to commit to digging deeper.
It's interesting that many of the things I mention are also the experience of our students.

Monday, June 24, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 24: in which I stay home

And nurse Mr9 who is afflicted with a cold.  He mooched around, watched some DVDs and I sewed a top and a camisole/half slip for Miss6.

Tonight was the first night with My Food Bag supplying the dinner plan and ingredients. Tonight's meal was Crispy Fish Sliders.

The meal preparation was simple and yes, it took more or less 30 minutes from start to finish.  I was interested to see the portion size and balanced nature in the meal. I struggle at times to get that right so I can see that this regimen will help me get my brain into the "healthy" space again.

No photos..it all got eaten up.  Even Mr Reluctant Fish Eater scarfed his down and commented it was a good start.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 23: In which I make some fingerless gloves

Finished off these today.

Black and grey merino with silk caps I dyed and some silk chiffon.

Teal merino with silk tussah and silk caps I dyed, some silk chiffon embedded as well.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 22: In which I don't write much


Took kids swimming. Miss6 swam half a length with breathing. Put DH's name down as person who would be interested in adult swimming lessons. Told him when I got home. Heheheh.

Changed sheets on the bed.

Took family to mall to see about getting Mr9's frames for his Irlen lenses. Fortunately Specsavers at Henderson were happy to assist and it wasn't too hideous a price. Also to library to return overdue books and get new.

Endless laundry... Still not at the bottom of the basket.

Laid out wool for two lots of fingerless handwarmers.  

Rushed around to vege shop to get fresh ginger. Discovered they had purple carrots and locally grown walnuts too.

Munted wrist chopping wood for the fire because DH out shooting birds with his big lens.  Lit fire anyway because it was cold.

Spent ages in the kitchen cooking 3 curries and puris for dinner.

The fire is warm. Nice fire.

Friday, June 21, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 21: Five things Friday

Heeeeey we're on the home stretch!

1. Shifting sands - was relevant to my interests today as I pondered some stuff happening around me. Also this one on disruptive education.

2. I've bitten the bullet and signed up to My Food BagYou can see what we'll be eating next week.

3. Am engrossed in Game of Thrones series. Have ideas about "epic" video for promoting library services which led to searching Jamendo for dramatic orchestral music as a sound track. You see how my mind works...

4. These wind sculptures are cool.  Probably not so suitable for my Wellington friends right now...


5. (For the believers and because I needed this today)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 20: In which I reveal my crochet attempts

So far....

Learning to crochet

Not as neat and tidy as Tony's!  But still quite fun to do.  Haven't finished it yet as it's not really square.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 18: In which I get spicey


What is in your spice cupboard?

Some time ago (2007) I published a list of spices I have in mine.  Here is the current line up:

Star anise (whole)
Baharat (home made)
ground chillies
ground cardamom
dried marjarom
curry powder
dill seeds
dried sage
juniper berries
gr. black pepper
fenugreek seeds
mixed spice
brown & yellow mustard seeds
black peppercorns (whole)
caraway seeds
dry mango powder
poppy seeds
chinese 5 spice
lemon pepper
cinnamon quills
kalonji seeds (nigella seeds)
smoked paprika (hot & sweet)
ground turmeric
celery seeds
gr. coriander
gr. cayenne
gr. nutmeg
whole nutmeg
gr. cumin
gr. cinnamon
cumin seeds
prickly ash/Sichuan pepper
dried oregano
dried tarragon
dried galangal
gr. ginger
dried chillies (birds eye)
gr. Kashmiri chilli
cloves (whole)
vanilla pods
all spice
coriander seeds
panch phoran
sesame seeds
fennel seeds
cardamon (whole)
ras el hanout (home made)
rose water
garlic powder
brown cardamon pods

I frequently use spices in cooking.  Some of my favourite ones are the more familiar ones like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  I sometimes use them as a medicinal thing too - rather crudely perhaps but studies have shown benefits of a number of spices listed above.  For example, fenugreek appears to have a glucose lowering effect, turmeric apparently has anti-cancer properties and so on.  (You can do the literature searches yourself). I have used fenugreek as an anthelmintic and turmeric as an anti-viral against the common cold, both properties of which have been reported.

I love the history, mystery and exotic "romance" of spice.

Monday, June 17, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 17: In which I sacrifice my potato ricer on the altar of learning

In an attempt to make learning some spelling words more "kinesthetic" and "visual-spacial" for Mr9 I made play dough.  It's been a while since I made this for the kids.  In fact, in a fit of declutter fever I'd moved on a bunch of baby toys including the play dough tools to Miss6's old day care. 

My theory was that by forming the words with something tactile and manipulative it may help Mr9's brain to store the information in a way useful to him.  I have no idea if this is good pedagogy but he seemed to enjoy it. I remember a colleague of mine telling me about her son who has microcephaly and how she spent a lot of time making him feel textures and saying words about them to help him learn to associate the word with the sensation. Now obviously Mr9 is not severely disabled with microcephaly but I have always remembered my colleague's devotion and conviction that it was helpful as a learning tool.

Having discovered I had given away the "worm maker" to daycare, Mr9 was indignantly upset so in order to allow him the joy of creating words out of worms, I let him use my potato ricer. It works a treat actually and fortunately the play dough is a good recipe and is easily cleaned off while soft.

Naturally Miss6 was soon in on the action, making pizza and cookies and taniwha. Mint green, peppermint scented taniwha... the best kind. :-D

Friday, June 14, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 14: Five things Friday

1. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Look out for ... the comfy chair!

2. Jelly beans and lists... two good things

Jelly beans and lists

3. Tart cherry juice from http://www.cherryvite.co.nz/ is my current obsession. The freeze dried cherries are awesome too. I think it may be helping me sleep, or maybe it's placebo but in any case it tastes good.  It is supposed to be full of Good Things.

4. What is your preferred potato chip flavour? Mine is salt & vinegar.  DH likes plain or those new sour cream and Kaitaia Fire ones. 

5. Spent the evening shopping for birthday presents for other people's children. Not sure what it is about October, but it seems like it's a good month for making babies! (As well as Christmas and New Year... We have 4 family birthdays in September).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 13: In which I display my cookbook collection

This Cookbooks are possibly my guilty pleasure.  I read them like novels. I try and be restrained in my collection but I sometimes succumb to a new one!

This is the bottom shelf. I need to weed those magazines. The two big tomes on the right are The Joy of Cooking & Mrs Beeton's Household Management. I use the books and folders on this shelf a lot. The magazines not so much.

This shelf I use a lot too.  The Hummingbird Cafe Cookbook is being hidden by some of the thinner books but it is a current baking favorite along with Ladies a Plate.

The things on the top shelf I don't use very often.  They tend to be more for reference but the Anne Willan French one and the Thai Food one do get consulted from time to time.

Do you have a cookbook collection?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 12: In which I bare my insecurities.

The following may indicate my ignorance but I always say, if you don't ask the question you just remain ignorant...

A while back I did a "self-awareness" course which was about becoming self-aware.  (As you might imagine).

For me, it is an uncomfortable and confronting thing to realise how my behaviour affects others' perception of myself.  One of the things the course looked at was "transactional analysis" and the kinds of states one goes to during interactions.  Based on the observations he made of me during the 3 hour course, the facilitator told me I move into the "free child" state a lot.
"The Natural Child is largely un-self aware and is characterized by the non-speech noises they make (yahoo, whee, etc.). They like playing and are open and vulnerable.
The ... Little Professor is the curious and exploring Child who is always trying out new stuff (often much to their Controlling Parent's annoyance). Together with the Natural Child they make up the Free Child." ~ from Transactional Analysis [my emboldening]
I took from his [the facilitator] attitude that this state is not the one to be in if you want to be a leader or considered a rational adult member of staff.  In my defence, I would like to add that on that particular day I was emotionally vulnerable owing to a number of things happening both at work and home.

The questions I find myself asking are these.  In an environment where we are exhorted to be creative, innovative and disruptive in our approach to librarianship, what is the role of the free child?  What is the role of Adult in this environment?
"the Adult in us is the 'grown up' rational person who talks reasonably and assertively, neither trying to control nor reacting aggressively towards others. The Adult is comfortable with themself and is, for many of us, our 'ideal self'." ~ from Transactional Analysis
Or am I reading too much into this?  Are these things unrelated? Have I taken it out of context?

Yesterday someone tweeted this blog entry:
"The antidote to consumption is play: physically and mentally. We have stripped many of our institutions of play as we became heavier with the burden of information to pass on. It is inevitable. But play is not what happens at ‘recess’ or ‘lunch’. Play is not mindless, in the same way not all information is mindless. Compelling information coupled with playful experimentation, helps us create meaning and improve processes." - Consumption Mentality
 While coming from a different perspective, the part about play not being a mindless activity but rather helping us build meaning and improve processes intrigued me.

There is a part of me that wants to justify allowing the creative side of myself to appear in the work environment - this I freely admit. But I do wonder if I'm shooting myself in the foot to let it do so if I wish to be seen as "professional" and having worthy leadership qualities.

On the other hand, I see a real risk of librarians stagnating into starchy, un-interesting creatures with no flexibility if we do not provide a space for playfulness.  Or perhaps I'm just equating "professional" as boring... certainly the times I've been accused of being "not very professional" is when I have been expressing humour or playfulness.

This is very deep. I am interested in your opinion.

Monday, June 10, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 10: in which I reveal my first attempts at crochet

A couple of worm like things that I hope will end up as a kind of dish cloth!  I had some difficulty holding the bits but I think I have that sorted now. My mum also showed me I was doing something working with where I was inserting the hook too - something I didn't actually realize I was doing having watched some videos.  Is this an instance where face to face teaching is better? Or did I just not choose the best videos? :-) 

Sunday, June 09, 2013

#blogjune2013 Day 9: In which I meet some unexpected issues

A few posts back I mentioned Mr9's tentative diagnosis of dyspraxia. Since then we have been trying to move forward with testing and finding ways to help him.

We have been helped by the SPELD association who gave him a comprehensive test that revealed some strengths and weaknesses. He now has a SPELD tutor who works with him once a week.

A friend has screened him for Irlen and we see a diagnostician this week.

I am still trying to find an OT for him that will help him and hopefully give a definitive diagnosis. The closest one is too busy - too many ACC cases.  Another recommended one has yet to get back to me so I fear the same will hold true of her also. I may yet have to find someone myself. As this is one of the key things he needs I am feeling frustrated!

It has not been cheap either and he doesn't qualify for any funding.  It worries me that it will be difficult for us to get assistance like reader-writers when his condition is not considered "severe" enough.

One good thing is that the school have been very helpful and co-operative.  His teacher has a 2 other students with learning difficulties so she is open to exploring ideas and ways to deal with this.  Additionally, she is trying to incorporate some elearning into the class which is a challenge in a small school with limited funding.  She approached us about the possibility of purchasing Mr9 an iPad as she has found some of the apps useful in assisting her to teach her students with learning difficulties - the other 2 in her class have them.

We were hardly a "hard sell" given the geekiness of our family so we agreed and today Mr9 got an iPad2 (wifi only).  It will live at school most of the time, locked away in a secure place when not in use. It can come home when he wants to bring it home though.

Here he is "unboxing" his iPad.

We needed to set an email for him as some of the work he will do on the device will be emailed to his teacher rather than submitted on paper.  We assumed a gmail would be fine, but we discovered he is too young for one!  We went back and forth about options and in the end we found Yahoo! allows a child account if you set up a "family account" arrangement.

I am just hoping we'll be able to find a similar thing for gmail because I suspect he will need to use some of the Google apps like docs.  Perhaps the school has Google for schools?  I don't know but will have to find a way to work around this.  In the meantime, the Yahoo! address will have to do.

One of the apps I installed for him is the Overdrive one for borrowing library ebooks and audiobooks.  Of course, it needs to have an Adobe ID.  Mine has been used on too many devices so I had to make one for him as well. 

It both amuses and alarms me that Mr9's digital footprint is already growing as a result of this purchase we've made.

Here are my loves heading out to this morning's fellowship. Miss6 is not impressed she didn't get an iPad.  Mostly because she wants to play Fruit Ninja.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 8: In which I fall back on a bullet point post

Because I am tired and sad.

1. Saturday is a day for the kids to have swimming lessons.
2. A friend in Japan died yesterday - she fought cancer for 3 years, 8 months. Far too young to go, she leaves a son and daughter my age. Cancer sucks.
3. Spent some time helping DH chainsaw up a tree for firewood for my sister and ourselves.
4. Went out to Muriwai so DH could take photos of kingfishers and sunsets.
5. Made home made fish and chips.

In memory of Reiko:

In blossom today, then scattered;
Life is so like a delicate flower.
How can one expect the fragrance to last forever?

Admiral Takajiro Onishi

Friday, June 07, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 7: Five things Friday

1. Good to see the recycling bins are up at MPOW.

2. Hot pink slugs - awesome.  If you had to be a slug, this is the colour to be.

3. It takes a library: It is time to change the tone of the conversation about the future of libraries - agree 100%.

4. I watched a film on dyslexia today.  I sure wish there was as much awareness of dyspraxia as there is of dyslexia.

5. I tried some new food related things this week. I made a coffee and walnut cloud cake.  It's based on the angel food cake idea but I don't have a tube pan so I made two cakes instead.  It was delicious but I'll only be making it on special occasions as it's quite a bit of work.

Coffee & walnut cloud cake

I tried some buffalo sausages from the Whangapiro Buffalo Cheese co. Also delicious!  I think it's marvellous that we can get things like this here.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 6: In which I share a Hamster powered machine

Hamster powered machine a video by pdugmore2001 on Flickr.

Made by Mr9 using his sister's Zhuzhu pet. Miss6 can be heard exhorting me to put it on Facebook in the background. Also in the background is DH playing the piano.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 5: In which I present one of my bookshelves

Someone mentioned recently the sadness they felt when visiting a home without bookshelves.  This is a feeling I share.  One of the first things we got when moving into our house was a shelf for our books. Admittedly I don't have quite the number that some people have - looking at my Dad here... But I have a limited amount of room so I need to keep the collection smallish. 

 I dream of a house where I could have a "library". I'm sort of embarrassed to admit it because it seems I am, once more, a living cliche.

Top two shelves featuring a mixture of mine and husband's choices. Plus some kid ones that gave ended up there because of lack of room on their shelves. 

Next shelf contains taller books. Asterix and Tintin to the left - they get a beating these days - they originally belonged to DH and now the children are at a stage to enjoy them. This shelf also includes some gardening and craft books.  These tend to be crafts I am currently not pursuing, like stump work and marbling.

 The next shelf down is mostly DH's stuff.  Bill Bryson, "Day walks" series. 

The bottom two shelves are devoted to photography books, photo albums, dictionaries and atlases.  I have a weakness (inherited from my Dad) for dictionaries and other classic reference books.

I have to admit I don't buy so many books these days. If I do, it will be books I intend to re-read or they are harder to find non-fiction books.  I do buy ebook fiction and DH buys ezines though.

You will note there is a singular lack of "classification" happening here. That is because the shelf height dictate what goes where for the most part. I did try and alphabetise the fiction a bit.

What's on your bookshelf?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 4: In which I begin my Drupal course online

I logged on to begin my online course in Drupal today.  The LMS is a familiar interface - the same we use at MPOW.  Looks like my colleagues and I are the only participants outside of the US/Canada.

I first heard about Drupal back in 2009 or so when we were reviewing our website, looking for a suitable CMS to manage our pages. In 2010 I went to VALA (a library conference in Melbourne) where there were quite a few presentations/workshops related to Drupal.

I really like the flexibility and open nature of the beast.

So far the course has been easy to work through and I'm looking forward to mucking about under the hood of my sample website.

Hi, my name is Penny and I'm a geek that finds this stuff fun.

Also, thanks to Claire...

Penny's Dewey Decimal Section:
699 [Unassigned]
Penny = 65445 = 654+45 = 699

600 Technology

Health, agriculture, management, public relations, buildings.

What it says about you:
You are creative and inspired to make the world a better place. You can work hard on something when it catches your interest. Your friends have unique interests in common with you.
Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com

Monday, June 03, 2013

#blogjune 2013 Day 3: Monday Menu plan

Last week's menu plan

Monday - roast beef in the crockpot, Yorkshire pudding, beans
Tuesday - mini meat loaves, slater potatoes, broccoli
Wednesday - Fish with Spanish potatoes peas and chorizo (recipe from My Food Bag)
Thursday - Spinach, ricotta canelloni with tomato sauce with a rocket, pear, walnut, blue cheese salad
Friday - Chilli with tortillas, salsa
Saturday - Chicken Nasi Goreng with peanut sauce and prawn crackers, Croissant orange and cranberry bread and butter pudding for zert. *

Nasi goreng
Nasi Goreng

This week's menu plan

Sunday - pizza and Minestrone soup
Monday (Queen's birthday) - gnocchi and tomato sauce with sauteed spinach, lamb steaks, steamed carrots
Tuesday - pork chops with garlicky spinach & mash
Wednesday - Pasta puttenesca
Thursday -Tom Yum soup
Friday - chicken cacciatore
Saturday - fish and chips (homemade)

Has anyone tried My Food Bag before?  My colleagues and I were looking at it last week.  It looks interesting.

Croissant, orange and cranberry bread and butter pudding
Bread and butter pudding made with croissants

* Croissant orange and cranberry bread and butter pudding

3-4 croissants cut into slices (or enough to fill your dish)
1/4 cup sugar
zest of an orange
juice of an orange
3 eggs
2 cups milk
dried cranberries (as many as you think are good, probably about 1/2 cup)

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease an ovenproof dish and arrange the slices of croissants in it. Sprinkle over orange zest and juice and allow juice to soak into the croissants. Sprinkle over sugar and cranberries.
Beat eggs and milk together briefly then pour over the croissants.  Spinkle with cinnamon.
Cook in the middle of the oven until custard is just cooked (it will be very slightly jiggly).
Serve with cream.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

#blogjune Day 2: In which I discuss 10 rules for winter fashion

Okay, so this isn't strictly in my "theme" list but who cares?  The newspaper had an article last week announcing 10 rules for winter fashion.  I thought it would be interesting to see what people thought about these rules.  My opinions are included below.

1. Thou shalt wear more than a skirt and a tshirt

Well doh. It's cold so yes, long sleeves are a must. But skirts are fine, especially with tights.

The original article referenced "showing off assets" and "flaunting" feminine shapes which can be done without the need for skin showing.

One style that I can't get behind is short shorts with tights and ugg boots. Euuw!  Not for me. 

2. Thou shalt wear leather

Yeah nah.  Not for me.  Except for shoes, belts and handbags, leather has never been of interest to me to actually wear.

3. Thou shalt wear something snuggly to bed

The original article suggests onesies as an option.  Horror!  I do have flannel jammies though. 

4. Thou shalt keep the noggin warm

Beanies, felt hats... yes I will wear that.  I'm hoping to make a few more this winter.

#dailyimage2011 4 August Wearing mushroom hat
5. Thou shalt wear boots

Yes.  I would like some MOAR boots.  I need ones with wider calf width though.  Do you think ankle boots look ok with skirts?  I think they look a bit meh, but I wear them all the same.

6. Thou shalt own a decent coat

Working on it, working on it.  I have a pattern, just need time and fabric.  In the meantime I've ordered a duffle coat.

7. Thou shalt wear black

Really?  REALLY?  No. I'll wear whatever colour I like.

Africa Dreaming scarf

8. Thou shalt dress for a decadent 1920s party

This referred to "jewelling" and "lavish trimming".  Not sure I'm into the OTT stuff but some is ok.  Like this bag I embellished.

Red Bag

9. Thou shalt wear cosy jumpers

Chunky knits are "on trend" at the moment.  Times like these I wish I could knit.

10. Thou shalt wear wide leg trousers

As someone with wide legs I could get behind this one.  But not so wide I catch them on my shoes and trip over.

My favourite winter fashion things are my felted scarfs, hats and coloured tights.  What about you?

#dailyimage2011 28 Aug Paua Aroha

Saturday, June 01, 2013

#blogjune 2013 June 1: In which I set the scene for the month

Once again, I have set myself the challenge of blogging every day of June.  You can read about this exercise over at Flexnib.  If you'd like to join in please do!  The only requirement is that you have a blog.  The subject matter and topics of blogging are entirely up to you.  There is a list of participants if you would like to follow along.

I didn't participate last year because of reasons, but I missed the fun, the pressure, the sense of community around the event.  This year I am going to give myself a few themes to focus on so I have some impetus to blog.

The themes for this year's Blogjune at Walking Upside Down will be:

1. Food - including menu plans, recipes, trying some new things
2. Crafts - which will include me learning how to crochet
3. Reading
4. Reflections on doing an online course to learn Drupal
5. Five things Friday
6. I will attempt to blog over at Diligent Room for some days
7. Photos of things

Speaking of which...

These are things which make me happy

Monday, May 27, 2013

My reading rules

As much as a cringe to admit it, I am a librarian who likes to read.  There.   I'm a living cliche.  Oh the embarrassment!

Side note: this is not an admission that will get you very far in an interview for a librarian job.  Just so you know. Customer services skills are much more relevant.


Reading rules, do you have them? This is a kind of meme coming from Bookriot, via Bookshelves of Doom and Flexnib.

The writer at Bookriot says,

"...I thought about it as just a list of my (many!) seemingly arbitrary rules for reading. Once I got started, though, I discovered that those rules actually tell you so much about me that they double as personality traits..."

So, in the interests of delving into my personality, here are my reading rules.  What are yours?

1.  One book at a time.  I do occasionally break this rule, especially if I pick up one I must read AT ONCE and I'm in the middle of another.  Or, I'll sometimes read a fiction and a non-fiction at the same time.

2.  Must read before turning off the light. It's a conditioned reflex for me.  Reading is relaxation and so reading before going to sleep is signalling to my brain to turn off. 

3.  I rarely re-read things.  Only a few books will be revisited. 

4.  A good book is one where I emerge from it with a book hangover.

5.  Don't mark the pages.  I'm not sure where this one comes from since I have no issue with writing all over printed out journal articles and other documents.  But, books?  No.  On the other hand I do highlight non-fiction if I'm reading it as an ebook.

6.  I rarely use bookmarks, preferring to turn the book face down at the page I'm reading.  Bookmarks are used for ebooks though.

7. I usually prefer the book to the movie.  I can appreciate a movie as a separate interpretation but most of the time the book resonates more.

8.  I will read the "in" book if it appeals.  But some genre's don't appeal.  Fifty shades?  Nope. Life of Pi? Okay.

9.  There are some books I won't read because I find their content too much to deal with.  For example, dystopian books rarely appear on my reading lists.  Harrowing books about children don't work for me right now. E.g. Sarah's Key is not something I can face reading right now.  Unless there is some kind of Happy End, I can't deal with that sort of story.

10.  I like Happy End.  Please give it to me.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sew-a-saurus maximus

Finished this project - Simplicity 1882

 Simplicity 1882

I started this 2012 but struck a number of issues - inflicted by myself!

 Firstly, I was impatient and got the pattern a size smaller than I should have, planning to grade it up.

Then, while I was cutting it out I had someone chatting to me which distracted me and I ended up cutting too small. Fortunately I had enough fabric to re-do the back bodice and add some to the back skirt. It's not perfect even now but it is what it is. I ended up binding some of the seams that were fraying because I didn't overlock them ... you know when you haven't got the right colour on the overlocker and can't be bothered re-threading? Yeah that.

 bias edge finished

I also finished my coffee sack ottoman - yay!

Coffee  sack Ottoman

It's stuffed with 5kgs of fibre fill and a plastic cube made from two plastic crate things that DH dissected and fused together.

Coffee sack Ottoman

I have heaps of projects planned and am trialling mysewingcircle.com as a means to keep track of the patterns I want to use with which fabric from my stash. I have heaps of stash. It really needs to be rationalised... *hangs head in shame*

However! One thing I can't decide is which blouse to make from some navy polka dot cotton I have. So dear readers, what do you think?

This one? View E (the green gingham)

or Butterick 3524 view E?

Or this one? A retro bow blouse.

 Gertie's bow blouse?

So many patterns and fabric.. so little time.