Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Love Triangle

This morning as I flumped about in bed, rolling from one side to another and trying to snuff out my dull churning mind, I realised that the battle to get to sleep was not going to be an easy one. I’ve heard that in these frustratingly unending bouts of insomnia, it is often a good idea to get up, do something for a while and then have another crack at getting those Zs. So last night, I did just that and shuffled out to the TV where I found Ma doing just the same!

It was quite cosy really, sitting together at 1am with the white flicker of the TV the only illumination on our soft and saggy faces. Ma made us Chamomile tea (something I refused to subject myself to for the last 7 years and found only last night that I can quite enjoy!) and we switched over to the ABC for their late movie- always a black and white British number with plenty of tweed and good manners. And what do you know? It was “Mary of Scotland” starring Katherine Hepburn!

Now, it just so happens that my favourite Monarch in history is the great Queen Elizabeth I of England. I’m fascinated by her character, her success and all those slightly creepy paintings of her that make her seem a little supernatural.

My aforementioned favourite starlet, Cate Blanchett actually truly came to fame for her stunning portrayal of Queen Elizabeth, the archenemy and cousin to Mary Queen of Scots.


Most recently, I saw her as another of my favourites, Katherine Hepburn, in “The Aviator” and now here is Katherine Hepburn playing Mary Queen of Scots to a strained and unfortunate looking Queen Elizabeth on my early morning movie!

Well I thought it was cool anyway…

Monday, February 21, 2005

She Crush...

She's just so beautiful!

The Professor and I stepped out the other night and saw "The Aviator".

While my school girl crush on DiCaprio did not make it past his time on Growing Pains, my current fascination with the Aussie luminary grows every time I see her perform. Add the striking character of Katherine Hepburn, the glamorous trimmings of the1930's and I'm sold on Ms Blanchett! Too sexy.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

My New Old Hardware

Yes, be afraid.

Not because Franky has acquired a state-of-the-art torture tool complete with the capacity to switch between 14 different levels of horror with a quick change of sinister attachment. No, accounts payable has not yet driven me close enough to the warped state that would have me rolling up white sleeves and snapping on the laytex gloves.

Instead, with thanks to my Nanna, I shall be inflicting endless batches of biscuit experiments on my dieting friends and family, churning out dozens of mal-formed, sugar loaded cookies, now that I have been properly armed with my very own vintage biscuit gun!

On Ma’s recent trip to Perth, I sent a batch of homemade Melting Moments biscuits I made, first squeezing the dough out into un-appetisingly crooked little piles using a piping bag, then rolling soggy, blobby little roundish shapes with my fingers, once the piping bag had burst open.

Upon receiving the sorry batch, Nanna, yoda of my baking world, remembered her old gun she’d once used to turn out tray after tray of delicacies when she ran a beach side kiosk in South Australia. After a little foraging, she produced the 40 year old contraption and it’s fittings and home they were sent, to be delivered straight into my hot little hands.

Baking, John Wayne style.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Nigella's Chrissy Cakes

Always a sucker for pretty little cakes, I could not resist popping a pic of these little beauties up- I baked them for a Christmas party a friend threw on the weekend. (Yes, better late than never...)

The recipe is one of Nigella Lawson's and produces distinctly Christmassy flavoured cakes- a cross between ginger bread and speculuus. They were well received after a course of turkey and ham, vanishing from the serving plate on the first trip round the crowd.

Nigella's Christmas Cupcakes:
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp ground mixed spice
100g soft unsalted butter
160g brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tbs sour cream
75g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tsp instant coffee

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir dry ingredients together (excluding coffee) and add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture followed by 1 tbs of sour cream. Repeat twice more with remaining flour and sour cream. Melt chocolate with 1/2cup boiling water and coffee in a small pan till just soft. Fold through the batter gently. Pour batter into 24 little lined cupcake tins or 12 lined muffin tins.
Bake at 200 degrees C for 10-20 mins (depending on size) until firm and moist.
Allow to cool before icing with royal icing and decorate with a glazed cherry. (Nigella also cut sexy little green holly leaves from ready to roll icing but I didn't have a cutter to do so with.)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Not Lost

Now. I am back on the big brown island once again and full of energy for 2005, I can give you all a little rundown on my "choice" kiwi holiday, eh.

Firstly, may I point out that I took my old fashioned camera along, so no digital evidence of our wonderful trip exists. It just so happens that other people have been to the same places before me, so that I have been able to borrow some of these pictures for my tale...

In order to cut my gloating short, I shall give you a few highlights:

Scenic & Wildlife:(In chronological order)

1. Royal Albatross colony at the Dunedin peninsula.

I LOVE albatross. This is the only main-land albatross colony in the world and it was great to sneak up on them and have a peak at the teenagers flirting and playing house. With wingspans of around 3m, it's pretty spectacular watching them glide above then swoop in for a graceful landing.

2. Milford Sound

We took an early morning cruise on the sound as the mist was rising and waterfalls gushed down the steep rock faces. We pootled past lazy seals sunning on rocks after a hard nights fishing and had a pod of dusky dolphins breakfasting right under our bow.

3. Waiatoto River Jetboat Safari at Haast

We caught brilliant samples of rugged West Coast wilderness from the water.

4. Fox Glacier day walk

We spent a whole day with a guide who lead us through the temperate rainforest onto the glacier, then we followed in the ice footholds he carved for us as we forged up the south side to the spectacular unstable section of jutting ice. Jelly legs that night...

5. Seal swim, Kaikoura

Now I may have said before that these were in chronological order, and they have been. Earliest to latest. However, there was a clear number one highlight in my trip and this was it! I LOVE seals. Throughout our trip we had loads of great opportunities to stare down onto rocky outcrops and see mother seals watching their pups romp in the water or see lazy adult males soaking in the sun. If the Professor thought the gurgles of delight I uttered then were something, he should have heard the noises emanating from my snorkel as magnificent New Zealand fur seals swam up to me to investigate, to try to engage me in swimming games, tumbling around me and eventually realising what a fat useless seal I am and showing off all their best diving moves to impress me. I was in freezing-water heaven. I was. End gush.


Enormous and juicy green lipped mussels from Havelock.
Sweet and tender crayfish from Kaikoura.
Marlborough wine.
All manner of goo-ood Kiwi beers. (Did they learn from us?)
Cookie Time Cookies!

Special Thanks to:

Princess Billie Bay- Our hard working little red car who did not let those steep winding roads put her off.
NZ Sandflies- You really taught me the value of head to toe clothing and strong insect repellent.
James & Marion- a couple who drove in the opposite direction to us. Some good laughs with them in Queenstown where we met for beers.
Mreen- the old school friend of mine who battled Christchurch public transport to meet us for a farewell beer before we packed to come home.

Lastly and most importantly, to my lovely Professor who turned out to be the perfect travel partner. I would recommend his skills at driving, navigating, tent pitching, camp stove cooking, emergency tea making, beer choosing and sulky girl cheer-uppering- but I want to keep them for myself. Find your own.