Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dreams Do Come True

I have been keeping it a secret...but can't help but externalise what has to be the best birthday present ever.  Gifted from a like-minded after-hours sifter ("to be worn only in the home" were the instructions), I was gifted a matching navy blue Juicy Couture tracksuit....complete with monogram, double hood, XL and only just fits (Hong Kong sizing).  It is like my very own soft toy suit - grips the physique - making me look very J-Lo or Madonna in the 90s.  I can't tell you how good couch times are with this new addition.

Summer (from the backyard)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day Lunch

A fine day coupled with a beautiful feast for two...
Falling Waters to start - with Pacific Oysters...
 Salmon Capparccio with herbs and tomato,
 Some pea podding in preparation for the main course...
 And sauteed courgettes from our garden..
 to create a compliment a fresh, good square main meal for Christmas, all centered around a leg of lamb,  (with new potatoes and mint sauce of course).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Notre Chou-fleur

Meet Al's first home grown cabbage. What a tight wee number. Perfectly round, and really sweet.
We chopped her up into coleslaw with roast chicken and new potatoes.  Living is la la la!

Watch Out Shirts....

Look what I got for my birthday. Its a Brabantia ironing board to assist in my ongoing obessession of ironing.  I no longer need to wrestle with a midget, wonky and wobbly board.  I now 'surf' over shirts, press corners like you wouldn't believe and generally feel like I am playing 'god' as I stand behind my new Dutch ironing deck!  Its even neutral in colour.  Thanks Al! xx

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sherbet and "beado"

Cycling home today (think, leafy ChCh streets, warm sunshine, and my mind relaxing on a Friday), I came across these 4 proud cuties flagging me down with their poster - fundraising for the Pike River victims' families.   For just $2 I am now home with home-made sherbet and a strange 'beado' bumble bee.  Beados are apparently a set of beads that interlock to make a pattern. Its a totally rad new concept for me.  The 'beado' bumblebee is too ugly to document. But the four below are not. They insisted on having their cat in the photo too. Got to love those smiles!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hi Sydney, I think we can be friends...

Last weekend I made perhaps my 5th trip to Sydney.  I've never had the 'connection' with the city that many talk about. But this time - I started to get it.  The plants, soft pallete of colour and ease were some highlights...
 So was the lobster and crab angel hair pasta entree at Beppe - an old Italian restaurant (as in started in the 60s), and grandpa is still waiting the tables...
 We ferried to Balmain, my friend's ex neighbourhood, and it was nice to see how the central suburbs live..
 ..with an ever present queue for the cult bakery in every suburb. I love it how Australians are so into their food, that they will always queue - and there appears so little pretention. They just know its good!
 This pineapple, lime and mint freshly squeezed juice was an unbelieveable starter to a maroccan breakfast...
 Lamb mince tagine with poached eggs anyone? So good...
 We headed for Darlinghurst for some wine bar time in the lanes, and came across some good scenes...

 But it was the ever-present jackaranda in bright blue bloom that has really stayed with spectacular just for November...and I was there! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mountain Air - Part 2

This week I was lucky enough to stay a night at Braemar Lodge just out of Hamner.  With warm temperatures, great company and a facial to die for - the Mountains looked after me again.

 And the road trip was superb - passing icons like this tea-room that was serving amazing coffee and fresh West Coast whitebait sandwiches for $9.
 And of course, no trip north is complete without stopping off to see Al and Digby hard at work at Black Estate.  The shoots and vines are growing like weeds! The greens of the surrounding farms and vineyards,  so vibrant.

Moutain Air...Part 1

Over the past week I have been up to North Canterbury twice.  Its so nice to have a change of scene - especially from flat land to 'peaky' land.  The Spring shades of green blew me away (particularly the dark forboding green of the West Coast bush at Maruia Springs).  One of the natural pools at the Springs is shown below.  We stayed a night at Maruia so soaked as sunset and sunrise (well a bit later than sunrise).
The black algae in the pools is the Japanese owners' pride and joy as the algae ensures the pools are alive and well with natural minerals to make them even better for 'we' humans to soak in.

 We shared a seafood hot pot (in chilli miso broth) for dinner at the very simple, cooky, and good Japanese restaurant in the Maruia Springs lodge building.  It was really fresh.
 With no mobile phone coverage, and not much else going on - Maruia is the best place to steal 24 hr catch ups with oneself!

Ornamental Brassica

Came home one night this week just gone, and Al had made a flower arrnagement for me. 

It is the first home grown brasscia of the season for us.  Cooked it up with Haloumi later in the weekend. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The craziest Tuesday of the year...

So...every 365 days Christchurch hosts 'Cup Day' (Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup, part of NZ Cup and Show Week). I have now attended this day for 4 consecutive years (in a working capacity). It has been completely unnatural. This year, I bought a clutch bag as part of my outfit.  Last year I invested in a fascinator. Who would have thought! It is a cultural phenonmonen. Its the 'Trotts'. Its the largest 'race' day in NZ and the largest trotting day in Australasia. And with racing crowds slowly diminishing in frequency, this day is flourishing.  In summary, its a concrete jungle, Lindauer, a lot of colourful satin and fake-tan. 'Pleasant' is not a word for it - but I'd still recommend going.

This Tuesday just gone, I had the pleasure of spotting some smart shoes...
 This pair is designed by Dries Van Noten. Note the embroidered detail on the sole. They were so beautiful!
 And this smart (and sensible) race goer, packed some equally quality shoes just in case the heels got too much.  They are French with a rubber sole, but I forget the name (a famous shoe maker but not a brand I knew. Will update). 
And I hung out with some beautiful people during the day. They were really nice and it was fun getting dressed up. I honestly enjoyed myself.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

'Hail' Hillary

Another amazing experience came to me today via 'what I do for a crust'.  I was invited to a special meeting at the US Antarctic Program today to hear Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of State speak.  It has been a very 'Antarctic' like day (poor Hils arriving in such conditions), however we pulled out all the stops for a polar welcome....
We were herded into a small room a good 2 hours before her arrival (security, security, security), and joined 30 people to hear her speak about Antarctica and the US relationship with NZ around the great continent. Once again, the Antarctic community came out in the most meaningful ties for the occassion.
Exhibit A is the Antarctic Tartan (of which I am still to get the full story of how it came about). I really like the warm 'summery' tones considering the subject matter!


Exibit B is a bit of fun from a previous tie wearer featured on this blog.
Note both wearers have paired their ties with light pink shirts.  Perfect on both occassions.


Exhibit C is the Polar Medal 'pin'.  It is pinned to my cousin, Tim Naish who came down for the occassion from Wellington.  He received the polar medal from the Queen this year  for the work he does in Antarctic science (this is what the badge represents - so you don't  have to wear the medal).

Tim and I did some testing shots while we waited for Hills.  Unfortunately we were forbidden to 'snap' the rock-star herself, and with an entourage of security with very well trained eyes that stared at you throughout the presentation, I was not taking any chances....

Hillary was great - casual, a delight, and insanely powerful in stature and attitude.  A true star.  So US and NZ relations appear in good shape and Hillary looked to be in good shape too (although the navy blue pant suit was not as tailored as I would have hoped).  Ah well.  Got to fly in comfortable clothes I guess.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A quick 'half' at the University Staff Club

I had a quick meeting at the University Staff Club at 5pm the other day - and I wish I had more meetings out there. It is set in a beautiful old house, with a dynamite beer selection, idyllic gardens with river border, and packed wtih intellectuals.  Lots of thought going on out there!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We Banded Together...

Jeepers - we held a nice concert in Hagley Park on Saturday.  Nice, as in I wasn't scared of the crowd.  It pretty much consumed me for 6 weeks, but was worth the while...with a good crowd of 140,000 turning up to some classic old school (and a few new school) NZ bands playing for 8 hours.  ChCh was treated, and loved it, and it really felt like we Banded Together and forgot the shakes (which were going on when everyone was shaking themselves, but nothing over a 3.5). 
 Check out the grannies below waiting for the Bats' set.
 Stewie from Family Guy was there. It was that kind of gig.
 My friend got confused for Dane Rumble. Dane (if you didn't know) is a NZ teenage heart throb. I didn't know that till Band Together.  He's on the right.
And along with the new, and 'pop', we had the old, and 'Pop' - 'pop until you almost drop - but you've still got it in you to keep people smiling'.  Ray Colombus (He's a Mod circa 1960 and Jordon Luck, Exponents, still playing at a summer pub near you) were dynamite and generous, and full of 'pow'.   The NZ music industry came together and it was great day for Canterbury.  Big Ups!