Saturday, 29 January 2011

Two months to go

Wow, just two months until my 101 in 1001 project officially wraps up on 29 March 2011! The countdown is on. I realised on New Year's Day that I wasn't going to complete everything on the list by the due date but am still keen to keep going with the activities afterwards. That decision still stands. I have 70 activities full completed and several more ongoing goals which will be done by the end of March. That's a grand total of 17 more than where I was at  ten months ago. Here's a roundup of where I'm at with two months to go.

Ongoing goals that I'm confident I will complete
  • #1: Read at least one book per month - yep, all good.
  • #7: Blog at least three times per week - ditto.
  • #12: Play the piano at least once a month - getting better with this one.
  • #44: Sort out/purge my teaching resources - a little bit more to do here.
  • #45: Sort out/organise my MEd resources - same thing.
  • #46: Organise recipes - nearly done.
  • #48: Find something to be happy and thankful for each day - a good thing to remind myself of each day
  • #100: Put aside $10 for each goal achieved - I'm up to $700 and thinking about how to spend it.
Slightly bigger ongoing goals that I think will make it
  • #2: Complete two cross-stitch embroideries - nearly there - about another month to go on my current project.
Small goals that should be easy enough for me to complete
  • #8: Send flowers to someone
  • #73: Take a train ride - and I don't mean just a commuter train ride.
  • #76: Knit something - I'm going to visit knitsch when she opens up her yarn shop at the end of February.
  • #82: Make home-made sushi - a friend is going to show me how.
  • #89: Eat waffles for breakfast/brunch - still looking for a cafe that serves waffles.
 Medium-sized goals that I should be able to manage (with some effort)
  • #11: Visit Somes Island - just waiting for a sunny day when we are not too busy.
  • #13: Walk/cycle to the Pencarrow lighthouse and have a picnic - might make this one weekend.
  • #23: Fly a kite - we just bought one for my sweetie's nephew's birthday and it made me think about flying it with him.
  • #25: Go berry picking - might be running out of time for this one.
  • #38: Go to the zoo - I need to grab my nephew on a sunny day and go with him.
  • #39: Host a brunch for friends - it just might not be at our place.
  • #40: Visit Karori Wildlife Sanctuary - weather and time permitting
  • #70: Host a girls’ craft session - anyone keen? 
  • #24, #98, #99: Buy artwork/prints - still not sure whether I'll wait until I have walls first. It would be cheating to spend my 101 money on achieving more goals ...
Big(ish) goals that I'd really like to do but realistically won't be able to finish
  • #9: Swim with dolphins
  • #19: Lose 12 kg - still going with this one. Hope to keep on track but probably won't make the whole 12 kg.
  • #32: Add at least two more countries’ stamps to my passport - the second stamp is just not going to happen by the end of March.
  • #50: Ride in a hot air balloon
Goals I'm going to put on hold
  • #3: Buy a house - probably not.
  • #101 - definitely won't happen by the end of March, if at all.
So, according to my calculations, that means I will easily complete another nine activities, am likely to do five, will possibly do all or some of eleven more, and will have six left incomplete by the due date. That's going to have to do - I'll keep going after 29 March 201, though, as they are still things I'd like to do.

How's your 101 in 1001 list going? Or are you working on another project?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Fur babies

Let me preface this post by explaining that I am not a cat person. Before I try to drown out the litany of, "yeah, rights" coming my way, let me assure you that I'm not - really. For some reason, cats seem to like me. I've grown to tolerate cats more these past few years, but I grew up in a home with birds and a brother who is severely allergic to fur. You can probably imagine how welcome cats were in our household. The phrase, "every home needs a pussy cat" is debatable for me.

Kitten-sized hiding place
Those of you who follow me on Twitter may recall that we had to have Zed, my sweetie's cat of 12 years, euthanised last week. Although I'd only been on the scene for the past few years, it was an incredibly difficult thing to do and he left a big gap in our home. It's just not right coming home to an empty house. While Zed will always be with us (he's buried in the back yard), a week off work seemed the right time, if any, to start again.

Last night, we picked up an 8 week old kitten. She is a grey tabby with white paws, huge eyes and a tiny meow that sounds more like a mouse squeaking. She is as yet unnamed and had a very big first day here with us. After yowling all the way home (about a 20 minute drive), she explored her new home and found a comfy spot underneath our lounge recliners. She has found her way under and in between every piece of furniture we have and many other obstacles we didn't realise were there. She chased a piece of string endlessly before falling asleep on my sweetie. So far so good!
Hours of cheap kitty entertainment
And then it was bedtime. We closed her into the kitchen area but could hear her meowing two rooms away. OK, she wins; we'll have her in our room for her first night after all. We probably should have brought her to our room earlier in the night as she needed to spend a good half hour exploring every possible hole or gap to go under, behind or between. We all eventually drifted off to sleep after midnight, then discovered that 1 am is apparently kitty play time. She helped herself to a tissue and amused herself by chasing it around the bed and tearing it up. *sigh* She decided she was hungry around 5 am but hasn't eaten since. (It's been 17 hours - surely she must be hungry by now!) The rest of the day was spent sleeping ... and nothing else. We don't know if that means 1 am will be playtime again or if she's finally missing her brothers and sisters and the family she came from.

So, here is our new kitty. Hopefully she will have a confirmed name in the next day or so and will have started eating and playing again. She is tiny, unbelievably adorable and quite affectionate. Perhaps she doesn't yet realise what a great home she has come to?

Saturday, 22 January 2011

One week off

For those of us living in Wellington, we have the luxury of a long weekend with Monday being Wellington Anniversary Day. Having had a somewhat shortened break over Christmas and New Year, I am going to extend this luxury by having a full week off work. After two weeks back in the job, I'm already ready for a break.

So, what to do when my sweetie and I have a week off with no definite commitments other than the usual household chores and a few other errands? Here's what I'm thinking:
  • Read a book or two.
  • Sew, sew, sew (embroidery).
  • Drink coffee.
  • Play a few rounds of mini-golf.
  • Play with my nephew. He's nearly 3 and entirely gorgeous!
  • Visit Somes Island (weather permitting).
  • Buy a ninja costume for the sevens weekend.
  • Make some flowers out of gum paste to decorate cupcakes with.
  • Have a massage.
  • Get a haircut and get a real job. Seriously, the honeymoon is definitely over at work and, while I'd like to stay there and put some projects into action, it doesn't hurt to see what else is around.
  • Organise my recipes and baking gear for once and for all.
  • Investigate buying either a bread maker, a food processor or a set of good kitchen knives (or all three) to spend my 101 in 1001 money on.
  • Lie in my hammock.
Sounds like a plan? Absolutely!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Water fight!

Given that we live half a block from the beach we rarely visit (perhaps once a year, if we're lucky), it would seem ironic that we have just come back from a weekend with friends involving a two hour drive to reach our destination, another beach. Himatangi Beach is the location for an annual weekend away with friends from Wellington during summer each year. Previous trips have involved plenty of relaxation and a thwarted attempt at a bonfire. With a somewhat diminished group this year (14 instead of the usual 40ish) and a total fire ban, we had to come up with another form of entertainment. Bring on the water fight!

Water guns of all sizes were dug out and purchased in anticipation of the big event. A few got carried away planning the ultimate water fight strategy and water balloons were also bought, but most of us settled on one really big gun each. 4.30 arrived and the battle began.

Apparently we were meant to have been divided into two teams. Those who were aware of the teams kept quiet and the rest of us just fired furiously at any human target we could reach; it seemed to work just fine. Then, we realised a couple of people were noticeably dryer than the rest of us, who were already totally drenched. Something would have to be done about that.

After an hour or so, the troops were tiring and thoroughly drenched but we had acquired quite a group of spectators. Little kids from surrounding cabins and big kids (their dads) were searching around the campsite for tools to join in the fight. Some emerged with water bottles before a few of us nobly handed over our guns for them to play with. We ended up trying to avoid being shot by our own guns as a second battle took over from the original one. Amazing fun!

We had originally intended regifting one of our monster water guns to my sweetie's nephew for his sixth birthday this week. After this weekend, I suspect he may be out of luck. Both our guns are going into storage before the next big battle, probably when we go away again next year but hopefully sooner. Bring it on!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Musical quiz

This morning on the Blog on the Tracks blog, Simon Sweetman posted a Welcome to 2011 reader questionnaire. I started drafting some responses then came back to it later at several stages through the day. This is my last piece of 'work' for the day before going away for the weekend. Here goes!

1. What do you consider to be the greatest record released in your lifetime?
Probably Thriller by Michael Jackson.

2. Name one band you were sure you'd always hate but as time has gone on has got better and better - become one of your favourites.
Well, if Simon is allowed to say The Carpenters (good choice - but not entirely perfect), then I'd add KC and the Sunshine Band. So cheesy, so cliched, so disco, sooooooo good.

3. Are you or were you ever a Chris Isaak fan?
Not even remotely. He is the Coldplay of the 90s. *shudder*

4. What was the first international live act you saw?
The Jeff Healey Band, 1991, St James Theatre in Wellington. Blew. Me Away. I was instantly hooked on the live concert experience.

5. If you could own one rare gem of a song on an original 45, what would it be?
In the Ghetto by Elvis Presley. Pure magic in the most haunting kind of way.

6. Do you have any signed memorabilia that you are particularly proud of? (Maybe you're proud of the story behind it or just because of what it is that you have signed.)
None, except maybe an ancient poster of Al Pitrelli signed at a guitar clinic he held at the James Cabaret circa 1992. Memorabilia like this just doesn't float my boat.

7. Who is your favourite guitarist who never seems to make it on to Best Guitarists lists?
This really got me thinking. I'll freely admit I'm stumped - when I think of 'best guitarists', everyone who comes to mind would easily make it onto The List. I might come back to this one.

8. If you had to name one song - possibly even of guilty-pleasure status - that you think is a masterpiece and others need to hear, what would you pick?
Sooooo many to choose from. A quick skim through my iPod and my pick (for today) is Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles.

9. Who do you think is New Zealand music's greatest songwriter?
Probably Dave Dobbyn a la DD Smash era. I trawled YouTube but couldn't find a link to my favourite song of his, Magic (What She Do) from back in 1985.

10. What is your favourite TV theme music? And what is your favourite movie theme?
Undoubtedly, The Muppet Show followed by Hill Street Blues for TV.

I don't know if I have a particular favourite movie theme but I'm a fan of John Williams' scores. Perhaps it's because I'm a child of the 80s but I have a soft spot for the flying theme from E.T. (1982).

Your turn?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Daily quiz

I enjoy trivia quizzes of all types. I have a reasonably photographic memory (admittedly it's fading these days) and a knack for retrieving minutiae or trivia that others just wouldn't bother with.

Each morning, I'm ready to start my work day once I've finished the Stuff daily trivia quiz. My results usually vary between a pitiful 6/15 (today) and occasionally reaching up to around 13/15. I've yet to hit the jackpot of 15/15 but there's always tomorrow ...

On occasion, I have been part of pub quiz teams. They attract an eclectic bunch of people with a huge range of specialist trivia topics encompassing all sorts of unimportant facts. While music is usually, naturally, my forte, I also seem to have a pretty good recall of trivia involving science I learned at school. This is strange as I haven't studied science for about 20 years and am not particularly scientifically-inclined but it just goes to show that we don't realise what we have stored away in the depth of our minds from years ago 'just in case'. Our teams sometimes win great prizes but most of the time we're just out to have some fun and feel smug about our collective knowledge. ;-)

A colleague at work has set up a 3 o'clock quiz, where whoever is available gets together to do the 5 minute quiz from the Capital Day section of The Dominion Post. It's a great few minutes out of our day and a good way to bring people together and create another body of eclectic, but ultimately useless, knowledge. It's also a signal to us that our working day is reaching the end!

Are you a quiz fan or phobe?

Monday, 10 January 2011

Back to work blues

It's the start of a new work year for me. I'd imagine many others who are starting their drift back from the summer holidays back into the working world are feeling like I am today. Perhaps it was a coincidence that I slept really badly last night, frequently waking up to check the clock with the one eye I could manage to prise open, all the while tossing and turning and thinking, "I have to get up in 5/3/2/1 hours"?

Being the start of a new work year, I thought I'd spend some time clearing my emails (I didn't expect many - after all, others have been on leave, too), catching up on some reading from my RSS feeds, then start attacking the long list of jobs I left myself as I sailed out the door at lunchtime on Christmas Eve. Having had a two-week break, I should be refreshed and eager to pick up where I left off, completing jobs in half the time (due to my renewed energy) etc ... yeah, right!

I said, "hello, how was your holiday?" a few times. I saw that I'd left my desk in a relatively tidy state, so that didn't need much doing to it. It took me less than half an hour to delete 16 emails. I read a few blog posts. I looked at the time: 9:06 am. I'd been at work for little more than an hour and was already bored but still hopeful that motivation might walk in the door at any stage and point me in the direction of my list of jobs to do. It's now lunch time and there's still no sign of it showing up. Twitter confirms my suspicions; nobody else seems to be on task today either.

As an aside, I can't decide whether it's completely random or meaningful that I've had this earworm stuck in my head for much of the morning:

How about you? Are you back at work or are you still enjoying the last of your break? Or, did you work through like my sweetie had to? Survival tips welcome.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Song list

I was listening to my iPod on shuffle today and randomly came across a song from my previous band's song list. It's been a few years since that band ended and I've only just started relistening to some of the songs we played during our seven years together.

As I explained in this post a few years ago, good covers bands don't play the songs they like; they play the songs you like. This often includes songs they hate. Here's a good example. Here's another. Sometimes they play songs they start out liking but quickly get thrashed to a musical death after playing them repeatedly night after night for several years in a row. Sometimes you get to enjoy them again a few years after you finish playing them, and luckily that happened with this song and this beautiful number, but it's not always guaranteed.

There are a handful of songs I've played over the years that survived this grueling process of musical destruction. They were songs I liked before we learned them, while we were playing them, and still love listening to now. I'd like to say there are more, but I was struggling to come up with five. It turns out I eventually found six - yay! Here are my picks:

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The eight irresistible princples of fun

Such a tempting title! A friend posted this link on her Facebook wall. I rarely follow links or watch videos posted on Facebook or Twitter unless they are accompanied by a compelling argument. Today, I'm glad I clicked this on link 'just because'.

We all know how to have fun and know who we are as individuals, right, just like we know what we want for ourselves? Wrong! I thought I was getting a pretty good handle on this during the past few years but now am having second (and third and fourth) thoughts.

Four years ago, I decided that my life needed some drastic changes. Making a career out of being a perfectionist and a workaholic only left two things: more work and no satisfaction. So I left a supposedly 'good' (ie stable but dead end) job in a career that was all I'd ever wanted to do and took a leap. It took quite some time but I let go of sooooo many self-imposed restrictions, as well as those imposed by others who had no right to impose them, and started doing things (or not doing things) just because I wanted to. I was the most 'selfish' I had ever been and life changed dramatically. I was genuinely happy for the first time in years!

A few months later, Café Chick was born. She had a lot of fun and allowed me to do many things that I had previously denied myself permission for. I tried new things, went out more, made lots of new friends and my lovely sweetie came along. I started my own 101 in 1001 project. Things were going great!

But Café Chick is only a part of me, not the whole me. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the 'old' me and her stress-making, workaholic ways to creep back up and start strangling the me I was getting to know. I managed to keep things in check for a while and get back on track. However, I'm not sure I know who I really am now, let alone what I want. Don't get me wrong: I've got a pretty good idea of who Café Chick is as well as who my work persona is. I know how a lot of people around me see me. I can usually work out how they want me to be and act accordingly. I just don't know who I am.

The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun is fantastic and just what I need at this moment in my life. I'm sure I am not alone in this. I need to have a declutter, both physically and mentally, work out who I am then be that person instead of feeling ashamed of her. I have an elaborate history of being walked over and subsequently passed over personally, professionally and in many of my relationships. I need to work out how to stop this and not feel bad about it. Maybe this is what 2011 really has in store for me? I certainly hope so - how very exciting that would be!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Buttermilk pancakes

My sweetie has a tried and true recipe for pancakes that he uses over and over. They are the yardstick he measures every other pancake by. On the rare occasion I manage to drag him out to a café for brunch, he will inevitably order pancakes and then declare, "I make better pancakes at home". He's often right about that.

I had some buttermilk in the fridge left over from making spicy vanilla cupcakes before Christmas. I found a recipe for buttermilk pancakes in the Dominion Post on Christmas Day. It's a Ruth Pretty recipe so I expected it to be good. I can honestly say that these are the lightest, fluffiest and yummiest pancakes I have ever made! Although the recipe says it makes 21 small pancakes and feeds 7-8 people, two of us polished off six large pancakes smothered in maple syrup between us.

Ruth Pretty's buttermilk pancakes

  • 1 cup self-raising flour (140g)
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3g) baking soda
  • pinch table salt
  • 1 tsp (5g) finely grated lemon zest (I used a few drops of lemon essence instead)
  • 1 cup (250ml) cultured buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  1. Into a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add lemon zest, buttermilk and eggs and whisk to form a smooth batter.
  2. Add melted butter and whisk to combine.
  3. Lightly grease a frying pan with additional butter or baking spray. Place over a medium heat.
  4. Pour batter into pan. Turn pancake over when bubbles form evenly on the surface. Cook second side until golden brown.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Over the edge meme

A Sunday Stealing meme for a Sunday night. Feel free to steal as you please.
  1. What curse word do you use the most? Probably sh!t.
  2. Do you own an iPod? Two - a classic video iPod and an iPod touch.
  3. Do you still remember the first person you kissed? Vividly.
  4. Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture? Take the picture - I hate photos of me.
  5. Has anyone ever called you lazy? All the time.
  6. Has anyone told you a secret this week? I don't think so. If they have, it's safe with me as I don't remember.
  7. What is the first thing you notice about the someone that you are attracted to? Their body language/posture.
  8. What are you looking forward to? Lots of stuff! Mostly everything that the excitement of a new year holds.
  9. Do you own any band t-shirts? I don't think so - I'm too cheap to buy them at concerts.
  10. When is the last time you slept on the floor? It must have been a while as I can't remember the most recent time. I've recently recovered from a back injury so tried to avoid sleeping on floors these past couple of years.
  11. What did you do last night? Watched Shutter Island at home on DVD - great movie.
  12. Do you get along better with the same sex or the opposite sex? Opposite sex - I always have, for some reason.
  13. Who was the last person to make you mad? My sweetie. It's all ok now, though.
  14. Who would you want to be tied to for 24 hours? Actually, the thought of being tied to anyone for 24 hours makes me grimmace.
  15. T or F: All’s fair in love and war? It's usually how it happens, but doesn't mean I agree with it.
  16. What’s something you’ve always wanted? A purple car.
  17. Do you enjoy spending time with your mother? Sometimes.
  18. Do you want a bright yellow ‘06 Mustang? No, but a purple car would be nice.
  19. Where is/are your best friend(s)? Currently spending the holidays with her family in New Plymouth but she lives in Auckland.
  20. Would you rather swim in the ocean or a lake? A warm ocean.
Who's next?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Welcome to 2011

Happy new year! Buon anno a tutti! Welcome, 2011.

Here we are at the start of another year. So many options, so many possibilities. True, today is just another day like any other, but there is something so incredibly exciting about moving into a new year and everything it promises. I can tell it's going to be a good one!

We saw in the new year in quiet style, staying at the Bolton Hotel in Wellington overnight. We had been given a voucher from my sweetie's family and decided to put it and a bottle of Moët et Chandon to good use. Success!

Like any other year, 2010 had its ups and downs but overall was a great year for me. 2011 is going to be even better! Like every other year, there will be no new year's resolutions for me; I can choose to do something or change my life any day of the year, thank you.

My 101 in 1001 project is due to wrap up in a few months. I know I won't finish every activity on my lits before then but they are all things I still want to do so I'll see where things are at on 29 March and continue with my list until it is complete.

I need to start thinking about what I'm going to spend the money I have put aside after completing each activity on. Spending is not my forte. I had already decided when I first made up my list on 1 July 2008 that it would be spent entirely on something I want, and not necessarily need. I have a couple of ideas ... suggestions welcome. In fact, if I did make anything that resembled a new year's resolution, it would be to spend money on myself in 2011.

So, what does the new year hold for you? What are your hopes and plans? I hope 2011 is as wonderful for you as it is going to be for me.