Month: December 2010

The zeitgeist 2010 (or the world according to google)

Periodically it is worth checking out the Google Zeitgeist page to see what people in the world or in your country are searching for on Google.  This year Google have made a video to show what was trending in 2010.  Makes interesting, and if you are me slightly cynical viewing.  Great product placement guys.  We are being shown all the cool google toys, with the exception of android, which is Google’s product.  Android not trending in 2010, well no it wasn’t.

Head over to the page to check the trends (Chatroullette. was the number one fastest rising this year)  but watch the video below for the most popular.

What did New Zealanders search for?  “Kiwis had a broad range of interests this year, focusing on sport, with searches for FIFA; music, with Justin Bieber and YouTube music; and entertainment, with Chatroulette and Avatar. A more sombre and focus, too, took over in September, with searches on the devastating Christchurch earthquake.” from the NZ trends page.

The summer garden – there is perfume everywhere

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Here are some of my treasures.  Mostly roses with some lilies thrown in for good measure.  The garden does look rather good in selected spots.  As you walk down the path you have to avert your eyes a little over the ‘works in progress’ but it is certainly coming along as it matures and there are more areas which lure you in to grab a drink, sit down and enjoy a quiet moment in the sun or in the shade depending where you are.

A tiny bit marvellous by Dawn French

This is the book I most wanted for Christmas this year, and after some wrangling with the cherubs about who would be the lucky one to hand over the book of choice this year, the lovely Megan came to the party and this was her present to me.  I wanted to love love love this book, the first couple of pages had me hooked in immediately and the teenage girl who gets the opening chapter bore a remarkable similarity to teenage girls I have parented!  However, just like the real variety this one gets tiring very quickly.  The teenage boy who has adopted camp in the style of Oscar Wilde is amusing for a couple of chapters and then – whaddya know is also irritating.  The Mum of the book is it’s saving grace, along with the fabulous Grandmother, who was the one character where you could really see Dawn’s wit and clever way with words coming through, I loved the tea and sympathy, but especially the terrifically pointed comments she provided along with fabulous cakes.

I spend a lot of time in recent years saying “where is the editor?” when I am reading, and I think this book could have been infinitely better with the help of a big red ballpoint.  It is a constant frustration to me that so much ‘non story’ slips into the books I read.

This is a mid-life crisis, chick-lit-ish kind of book and obviously I am only the target market of the first, and chick-lit is just not for me, not enough action, too much navel gazing for me.  I really like Dawn French and I’m pleased I read the book, despite it’s faults and my rather ordinary attitude to it once I got to half way, I had to pour myself a large glass and lock myself away to finish the thing.   I am going to try the lovely sounding cake recipes at the end of the book.  Below is the promo for the book..

Green Mayonnaise (our potato salad dressing)

Photo by Tessa Aitchison

Xmas has been and gone and New Year looms.  At this time of the year I seem to spend most of my time cooking for other people – a lot.  I get a bit stressed and end up making a lot of food to take to other people’s places,  so I need to take things that travel easily and unmessily and which most people like.  Potato salad is one of those things.  I think that on that potato salad you should try this dressing.

It is the dressing of choice here for potato salad,  but is equally good with crunchy carrot sticks or other little things which need a dip, you can make it thinner just thin with a little water, it is a very thick dressing.  It is perfect on sandwiches with leftover turkey or ham or lamb.  It is just grand!  The original recipe comes from Susan who is the Mum of my friend Rebekah and it works every single time.  I know that lots of people are a bit frightened of making mayonnaise but this one is trouble free and has never disappointed.  Feel free to double it.  Keeps ages in the fridge in a jar.

Use any herbs you have to hand, but I always have basil mint in my garden at this time of year, it is too cold to grow basil here and mint is patchy for me so I grow basil mint, and have mountains of it so it goes into everything salady.

You need: 2 eggs, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp mustard (whatever type you have), 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of herbs, about 2 cups of oil (I use rice bran)

Add the eggs, salt, mustard, garlic, vinegar and sugar to the food processor and press go.  Beat for a bit then add the oil in a slow stream with the motor running.  I do it a cup at a time and don’t get too panicky if it seems to be going too fast, this is a forgiving mixture.  I add the herbs last and taste.  Adjust taste to suit you.  Stand for 30 minutes and use with reckless abandon.

Posh Nosh and the asethetics of plating!

The always elegant Emily Duncan recently posted this on her FB page.  I believe it to be stupendous, and one of the vital things one must think about at this time of year.  Plating – Christmas it is all about the look of the food isn’t it rather than the actual taste?  Or not.  Anyway here is the vastly superior  Hon. Simon and Minty Marchmont offering helpful and not at all snarky advice on how to plate aesthetically.

Stars Richard E. Grant and Arabella Weir. Aired February 25, 2003

Lucky

“Lucky finds himself in a bind, and he’s going to have to pull off more than a Houdini act to get himself out of this one.”

Watch this video!  It is very full on!  Excitement all the way!  The music by The Sleepy Jackson is excellent, and the writer and director is Nash Edgerton it is produced by Brooke Wilson.  He is Blue Tongue films who did Animal Kingdom which I am so desperate to see, and there are a whole bundle more clips on their YouTube channel and they are very entertaining watching.  I recommend.

Penguin Dilemmas

Via Neatorama

This is very cute.  Two Cute, funny penguin couple overcome an obstacle in the rainy, windy elements. Shot near Volunteer Point in the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean by Carole Anne (babers201) and Ron.

Penguin: Ooh, look, the ground is gone here!
Penguin: It’s water.
Penguin: But not deep enough to swim in.
Penguin: What will we ever do?
Penguin: I’ll have to think about that a bit.
Penguin: Look, maybe we could …walk through it!
Penguin: I don’t know, that doesn’t look right.
Penguin: Give it a try!
Penguin: I believe I will …jump!
Penguin: Now you’re just showing off.
Penguin: Well, your idea of walking through it may be for the best.
Penguin: Hey look! Mud! Whee!

 

The student flats of Dunedin immortalised

A flatters paradise (from the set) by Sarah Gallagher

If you have ever been a student in Dunedin you will recognise some of the photos in the links below.   They are from a Flickr collection called My Flat Your Flat Our Place and I think they are a cool collection they are from SteveandSarah (Sarah Gallagher, ex-Scarfie, librarian, web junkie, flat names archivist as she states about herself on the site). Sarah is writing a book about the flats and how they got their names.  Great idea, it is very cool

Here is the blurb that goes with them and there is more on Flickr if you want to check them out.  There is even a Facebook page.

“The creation of identity and a sense of place was not at the forefront of my mind in 1991 when my flatmates and I named our flat Mouse House. It was because we wanted to name it something, and our flat was infested with mice.

Nine years later, an exploration into the history of print culture in New Zealand while studying through library school provided a lens through which to view the ephemeral nature of the student flat names, names that colourfully dotted my then community of North Dunedin. Some names endured but many instances of this print phenomenon were fleeting. I was intrigued, and continue to be, by the names, the materials used to build the signs, and the stories behind them. The creation of identity and a sense of place was not at the forefront of my mind in 1991 when my flatmates and I named our flat Mouse House. It was because we wanted to name it something, and our flat was infested with mice”.

Go check it out, it is really cool, and there will be some great stories from the flats of both the past and the present.

Maybe the most famous flat's front door. Photo by Sarah Gallagher

The Project by Brian Faulkner

Brian Faulkner is fast becoming one of the really reliable authors for young adult books in New Zealand.  His books have a great sense of adventure that is easy to sell to teenagers – particularly boys.  I haven’t read Brainjack which was the release before this one but I did enjoy The real thing and The tomorrow code (except for the hideous final chapter which I tell all the boys not to read).  I think his specialty is the chase scene.  Good guys versus bad in a race against time.  That seems to be the recurring theme in his books and for fast paced adventure books he is the ‘go to man’ of the moment.

The story travels from the modern day America back in time to Nazi Germany via a book, the most boring book in the world. Which of course turns out to be a book written in code.

I really enjoyed this book, he kept me interested all the way through, I knocked it off in two sittings and I thought he handled the time travel aspect really well.  I really liked the fact that the book was set in the USA but the main character had links back to New Zealand, cute!  I might even have to go and read Brainjack now!