Month: April 2010

Mary and Max

This is a wonderful claymation movie.  Two of life’s misfits connect by accident and friendship ensues.  This lovely Australian movie with the gorgeous voices of Barry Humphries, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette made me smile and made me sad.  A lovely way to spend an evening.  I loved the way the characters were so unattractively fabulous and am determined to try a chocolate hotdog!


I was cruising round the blogs and found this cute thing.  It’s a meme, cos it’s been doing the rounds, ages ago I think, but it’s new to me.  You are supposed to use one word to answer the questions, turns out I’m crap at that, so under Bridget rules you have to use three.  I changed the questions to be more me!  Have a go, show me your answers.

Cosy place?  Bed, book, partner

Breakfast today?  Coffee of course

Hair colour?  Salt and Pepper

Your family?  Always good fun

What are you not?  Thin and tall

Where were you last night?  Watching Big Bang

Where will you be tomorrow night?  At Lemon Briefcase

What is on your wish list?  Carpet Kitchen Heatpump

What was the last thing you did? Make macaroni cheese

What are you wearing? Lots of polarfleece!!

Favourite TV programme? Big Bang Theory

Goal for tonight?  Big deep bath!

Literary hero? John Green (sorry only two words and it’s always changing)

What do you hope?  My kids happy

Your mood? Ecstatic, Enthusiastic, Bouncy

Your computer? Lovely Apple Macbook

This year’s goal?  Kitchen nightmare banished

Your car? Karen, Toyota Carib

Favourite place at your place?  My big bath!

Currently reading?  Three Cups of Tea (it’s four words but what can I do!)

3 Favourite belongings? Lesley, Family, Raisin (not really belongings!)

Last CD purchased? Paramore latest cd

Last book purchased?  Waltz with Bashir

Favourite colour? Bright and bold

Favourite sport? Dancing at parties

Current obsession?  Too many cashews

Resolution? Walk to work

Feeling right now? Bewildered, Brilliant, Blind

Thing you need to do this week?  Door draught stopping

That’s enough now!  It would be fun to make a library one I think.  Might do that soon.  Go on, have a go, post it in the comments.

Rosa Penelope

This is Penelope.  She is a gorgeous thing and not just a pretty face.  She smells  delicious, and she grows in exactly the appropriate way for the spot she is growing in.  Penelope is a Hybrid Musk rose and is dated 1924 and therefore officially ‘Old’ which is great, seeing as these are the ones I love the most, the old ones, though casting a eye around the garden this morning, it seems I like pretty much anything as long as it smells good and is a rose!

She is pale porcelain pink, a sprawly creature.  I’m trying to teach her to grow up the fence so that her slightly droopy flowers can be gazed up into (Barbara Lea Taylor would be proud).  The flowers just keep coming and coming and although these last autumn ones aren’t her best, and tend to go a bit pink around the edges, she still looks lovely and I am pleased that I put her near the front door.  When I’m coming and going I can see her still blooming on, even though the weather is becoming colder and there isn’t much else in the garden that isn’t all overblown and had it.  Garden clean-up imminent!

I took delivery of a trailer full of leaves from school.  The caretaker there  had them collected in a trailer, and they have been sitting for about two weeks just getting all manky and perfect for mulch, the ones at the bottom were even really hot, which means they were on their way to compost.  They were distributed yesterday by the beloveds, who don’t understand my fixation with these leaves that everyone else ‘in their right minds’ is raking up and dumping.  Hey people, dump them here, they turn horrible clay into great soil eventually.

Now look here!

If you’ve been here before you will notice that I’ve been having a play with the look of the blog.  Trying for something a bit less bland, a bit more colourful, a bit more me!  Settling for this one at the moment, but well, watch this space who knows what it might evolve into next.  I’m liking the rounded edges and the flowery banner at the top.  Love the brown and green thing – so well – till next time I feel like a change this is it.

Dreadful things did happen on the way here though, I had a gorgeous, tasteful winter theme for about 48 hours, and then went to put a post on, and discovered that the transition phase had swallowed my log in box and I couldn’t get in here.  I knocked politely on the door and there was no way that anybody would let me in.  Had to go right back to my original sign up email and start again, thank god I kept it!  So moral of that little tale is, do not delete your original sign up email folks, you never know when you might need it.  All manner of these Web 2.0 things I belong to, many with different log in and passwords – my, it’s a drama.  I even went to the various forum the WordPress have and couldn’t sign in there.

I’ve been trying to sign up to TokBox so that I can have an alternative to Skype with multiple chatty types at once, and I have never been there before.  I sign up for a new account, enter my email and the password of my choosing and I get the message “incorrect password” What The!  I’ve now tried every email address I have and it won’t let me sign in, I always get incorrect password error.  So, fun and games, new technology is not my friend this weekend, and here was I going to try some other things I’ve been saving up but two experiences of being locked out in one weekend and I’m so not going to try again.  Might just slope off and watch some series 1 of Big Bang Theory, or even read a book, no password required there!

Brides Farewell by Meg Rosoff

I have loved every book that Meg Rosoff has published.  The totally gorgeous and tensely gripping How I Live Now, Just In Case which was quirky, funny, slightly snarky and sexy, and What I Was which has a great twist at the end and an old fashioned feel.  I like the way Meg Rosoff envelops you with her characters, and I get totally caught up in her books and do nothing else but read them till they are done.

The Brides Farewell I read in a day, it is the story of Pell who runs away on the morning of her wedding, she ends up taking her mute little brother with her unwillingly, but he is determined to come.  She cannot face marrying Birdie, the boy who has loved her for years, and her home is a miserable place.  Poverty, squallor and with marriage and the constant production of children not seeming like a great option, she is out of there.

So Pell begins her journey, she is a fighter, she is tough, resilient and I adored her.  I actually didn’t think I was going to like this book as much as I did, and I was delighted with it.  If you have loved her other books then do read this, if you haven’t ever read her and you want a book with a gutsy girl, burly blokes and sensitive children, horses, and gypsy fortune tellers go and get hold of this.   There is a great interview with Meg Rosoff here.  Crikey, she is just really hot actually.  Quick Meg write me another book.

Sweet Peas – perfect plants

Sweet PeasFence covered in sweet peasWhen you walk past a fence which is adorned with sweet peas, and has been in the sun for a while the perfume is just divine.  It smells like summer, it smells like old fashioned gardens and old ladies and the colours are riotous, the perfect plant really.

I’ve never understood why you can’t buy a perfume that has the essence of sweet pea infused into it.  I’d buy it!  I adore Sweet Peas for me they have no negatives at all, everything about them is relaxed, easy, and perfect for the sort of gardener I am.  They pop up when you haven’t planted them, in the middle of nowhere, they come in different heights, they will grow almost anywhere with something to lean on and twine through and they don’t need spraying or nurturing or have any special needy characteristics.  Chuck em in the ground and wait for them to produce smelly, colourful and pick-able yumminess.  I think I will grow them for all my days.  I grew two types this year but the only label I can find is Bijou.  There are some modern varieties which I grew once but they had little or no smell, you want the scent then grow old fashioned ones.

Pastitso (Baked Maraconi Greek Style)

I have a lovely cookbook called Mum’s Favourite Recipes compiled by Bill Tikos.  It is a different edition to this one.  I don’t make many things out of it, I really need to make a pact with myself to make more recipes from all of my gazillions of recipe books, I have an addition to them.  Anyway, from this gorgeous book I make 4 recipes regularly and one of them is Pastitso.  I have a couple of recipes for this dish in other places, but this is the one I like the most.  I  add a tsp of cinnamon to the meat.

This makes a really big meal.

Meat Sauce:  1 onion finely chopped, 1tblsp olive oil, 1tblsp butter, 500g minced beef (I actually use a bit less) 1 x 400g tin of tomatoes, 1 tblsp tomato paste, 1/2 tsp oregano (I use a bit more), salt and pepper.

Bechamel sauce:  150g butter, 125g plain flour, 5 cups of milk, 2 egg yolks, salt and pepper.

And you need 500g macaroni or penne, 1/4 – 1/2 cup Parmesan – cheapskates use a mix of parmesan and tasty cheese.

First make the meat sauce – in the usual way.  I add 1 tsp of cinnamon.  Then make the Bechamel – I do it in the microwave.  At the same time cook the pasta when done mix in the Parmesan.

Assemble it by putting half the cooked pasta in a greased lasagna or rectangular dish, top with meat sauce and then put in the rest of the pasta.  Pour the sauce over the top, throw the rest of the Parmesan over the top and bake in the oven for 45 min.  You end up with a lovely baked pasta dish that you can serve in big slices with a green salad.  Yum!

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

This book is the most beautifully produced thing.  The cover is gorgeous, the drawings within are lovely and it feels fantastic in the hands.  I have loved Scott Westerfields other work and so saved this one as a treasure to read just prior to the holidays.  I’m still not sure if I really liked it.  I thought it was clever and really liked the way true historical facts were melded with fiction.  The characters were interesting at first, but I didn’t really develop a relationship with them, it is the first in the series so maybe as time goes on they will develop and grow.  I had watched  the book trailer below prior to reading it but the Darwinist angle still surprised me a bit, mixing up the genes of animals to make war machines – it’s a bit bizarre – G.E. and cloning gone mad essentially.  I feel a bit like I am damning the book with faint praise and it will be interesting to see what the boys at school think of it.  I will promote it enthusiastically and see what happens.  I can tell you though that they will certainly be attracted to the gorgeous cover that’s for sure.

Pear and Walnut Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing

I have to put this on here because I am going to lose the little bit of paper it is written on.  It comes from Anne and Roger Wilde’s Real Fresh Food cookbook, but I don’t have that, I got it from the Listener (October 31st 2009).  The best thing about it is the dressing.  I’ve now made it about four times and it is great every time.  Doesn’t matter what you put in the salad but here is what I’ve used the last couple of times.

Pretty sure there is a lettuce in here somewhere

Half a frilly green lettuce or a bag of salad mix if your garden isn’t producing.  A couple of spring onions sliced small, some mint – chopped, half a cup of walnuts – chopped, and 2 – 3 pears, cored and sliced – roast lightly oiled slices of them if you want but the recipe calls for them to be raw, I prefer them roasted, if you roast them let them cool properly before you chuck them in the salad.  Throw all this into a salad bowl.

Mix together (I use a jar with a screw top lid to mix)  1/4 cup olive oil, 2tsp toasted sesame oil, 2 tsp cider vinegar and 1 and a half tbls soy sauce (shoyu) (the good stuff)  toss the salad in this mixture and go to heaven instantly.  It is very good.

Natalie Merchant at TED

TED is just so good.  Such a variety of specialists in so many different fields.  Today, however they have totally floated my boat by having the gorgeous Natalie Merchant – see earlier post – whom I have worshiped for years, do songs from her new album which is called Leave Your Sleep.  She puts poetry from the 19th century poets, some well known, some not, to music.  Natalie Merchant has done all manner of gorgeous things, my fave being Motherland which I own two copies of – like an insurance policy.

So here is is – lovely lovely lovely.  You should watch to the end.  Her crowd control is so funny when she has to curb their enthusiasm.

An Autumn Sunset

Check this out!  Tonight Dunedin looked totally gorgeous, well nothing new there.  Anyway at 6.30 pm this evening, when I raced outside, burning the dinner at the same time, the view on the right was what you could see from Marlow Street in St Kilda in our fair city.  I imagine that if you lived on a hill you would have had an even more spectacular sight, but I live on the flat – and I can hear the sea.  Not always a comforting thought as the sea eats away the coastline here, and the occasional tsunami threatens, but great for wandering along the beach – when I remember to.

Hopefully it is yet again “a red sky at night – shepherds delight” kind of thing, the weather here has been just great.  Lots of holiday time for sitting out in the sun with friends having a quiet wine or a big mug of coffee.  Earlier in the evening L and I had been sitting on the deck marvelling at the blue sky and the fact that there was not a breath of wind.  Very unusual for the time of year.  We  headed off to the video shop to get something to watch after Top Model – I have to watch it for tips for my modeling tomorrow, so it is considered swot!  Anyway we noted that in Dunedin we are so excited when the weather throws us a gorgeous day that all around the streets there were people whipping out their shorts and singlet tops in excitement that they get to wear their summer clothes for another day before heading back into their puffer jackets.  For me, the fact that there is warmth is a big bonus, it makes the paint dry faster between coats.  Photos of that project to come later.

Boy – NZ film at it’s most accessible

This is the must see movie of the year for all New Zealand.  Believe the hype, this is just so cool.  You will walk out of the theater with a smile on your face and you will be humming along to a lot of the songs you remember from the early 80’s – if you are old enough.  This is the story of a young boy called Boy, his brother Rocky and their Dad,  Alamein, who returns to their small town after an extended absence in prison.  Everyone has to get used to each other and learn about each other, Boy has built his Dad into a hero, but the reality is slightly different.  Boy has been  left in charge of Rocky and  assorted smaller cousins while their grandma is called away to a funeral.  When Dad turns up with his two mates everything changes.  It is a story of finding out who you are, the truth about things you thought you knew.  There are some great scenes in it but the overwhelming feel of the movie is that it could only have been made in New Zealand.  I loved every minute of it.  Taika Waititi has captured something essentially feel good, and yet at the same time  moving and sad about the relationships in the movie it is totally gorgeous! Do visit the website turn up the volume on your computer and smile.

Top image from:

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larsson

Well, I’m done.  I’ve knocked the Millennium Series off now, and they great!  It seems that if you start talking about these books in a public place it makes it really easy to strike up conversation, everyone is reading them.  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the third and final one – if you don’t count the unpublished one they have found on the authors computer, but can’t publish because of disputes over who should be paid the royalties.  Steig Larsson is dead now, no more fabulous books to keep me up late at night – till 2am a few nights, such a shame.

Actress Noomi Rapace who plays Lisbeth Salander

This third one I found, in the beginning, took about a 100 pages or so for me to sort out all the characters and get them ordered in my mind.  Lots of names all beginning with the same letters and sounding the same in my mind, but, this is the book that pulls all the threads together, you couldn’t possibly stop after the second book.  This one gives you closure.  You have been reading a story where lots is going on and there is so much action that you don’t need to think too much about how it all fits together, but in this one you get lots of ah ha moments as you find out exactly who was double crossing who and why.

If you want to watch a preview of this movie, which is out in Europe but a long way off here, given that the movie of the second one isn’t even here yet then go and have a look here (YouTube Link).  Have a look at Mary Whipple’s blog for lots of links to the videos and info.  I also like this interview with the actress who plays Lisbeth Salander.

There has been a bit of discussion at school about whether the books are too violent to have on the shelves.  I love this kind of discussion, and it’s great to get people talking about these kind of books because often it is the things that make some readers uncomfortable that also make them have to think about what it really is they object to.  In the case of these books it is the violence usually that they cite, but I also think that the frankly written sexuality in the books is something that makes people really uncomfortable.  Lisbeth’s fluid sexuality is really well written I think, and the fact that there is well written lesbian sex in the books – written by a man – makes some people really uncomfortable.  There is also heterosexual sex, violent sex and rape in the books, but if you ban the books for that reason then you are really missing the point.  These books, I think, are about power, control and manipulation by the state.  There is blatant, state sanctioned misogyny in the story as a kind of back story, the original title was Men who hate women, and the author had spent many years researching Sweden’s dark and seedy side. It seems that a lot of what he knew to be true, about how the State manipulated the media and managed to control the lives of ordinary citizens is written into these books as a fictional situation.  I imagine this is not particular to Sweden, and you have to remember that they are fiction.  Maybe fiction based on some real situations but fiction nonetheless.  See the post about the other one in the series here.