Miscellaneous

See you in September Book Review

See You In SeptemberSee You In September is Charity Norman’s latest novel. I’ve been waiting for this book to be released for, ages. Now, just in case you missed the memo: I’m a BIG Charity Norman fan and I’ve been checking out stalking Charity’s Facebook page, so eager I was for updates on her writing process of her latest book! I knew that when See You In September came out I’d get it – and write a book review.

Oh. It was worth the wait. I loved See you In September.  It was gripping in a way that was, I must add, slightly disturbing, upsetting, heart-in-the-mouth, captivating, kind of way. Mum read it before me. She enjoyed it too, noting she also used the word ‘disturbing’ to describe it.

But first, some background. I fell madly in love with Charity Norman’s work when I read her cracking book, The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone. If you haven’t read this… Do. It’s the best book I read last year and, funnily enough I had a Facebook message from blog follower Emily, who is currently sunning it up on holiday in Fiji. Emily took The Secret Life of Luke Livingstone with her, on my recommendations. She’s been ignoring her family. She reckons the book is fab too. 

My Review – See You In September

See you in September is the tale of Cassy, a young and intelligent English girl, who is heading on a short break to New Zealand with her boyfriend Hamish, before returning home for her best friend’s wedding. Meanwhile, temporary escapism beckons for Cassy, who feels the the weight of her Dad’s expectations on her shoulders.  Cassy’s Dad Mike, who has his heart in the right place, simply wants the best for his beloved daughter and he is relatively forceful in his ‘encouragement’ of Cassy to achieve a high-flying law career.

Cassy, meanwhile, usual story: Has other hopes and dreams for her life and resents her Dad for putting his sticky beak in, because, you know: What does he know?  A tiff unfolds about this difference of views in the car, en-route to Heathrow Airport. Meanwhile Cassy’s Mum, Diana,  takes on the role of peacekeeper. Diana, incidentally, would do well working for the UN.  Scene set: Tension is rife as Cassy farewells her loving family as she boards the plane bound for En-Zed.

Cassy blew a collective kiss at them. ‘See you in September,’ she said. A throwaway line. Just words, uttered casually by a young woman in a hurry. And then she’d gone.

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Chicken Pie with Herby Cobbler Topping

I’ve been making this Chicken Pie with Herby Cobbler Topping recipe for so long, I’m struggling to count the number of years to tell you exactly how long I’ve been making it for.

I used to make it for my ‘first family’ which was the family in Wellington that I nannied for when I was at Uni.  It was a crowd-pleaser back then (read, no empty plates) and it still is now: I’ve been dishing this up to my own family (which has the grand sum of three people in it) for 15 years or so (well, hubby and I have been eating it that long… The Boy is only 10). Yeah, it’s an oldie but a goodie this recipe. It’ll be one that’ll go in Lou’s Cookbook on my death bed (in the event anyone is interested…).

This recipe has been pumped out a fair bit lately, as I’ve been doing #shopmypantry. Miss that memo? This was basically a life event (not a first either, I hasten to add).

What is #shopmypantry?  We ran out of cash in our everyday account… Well… I had some time-off due to a bereavement which means = no income (oh, the joys of self employment!). Then, I got paid, which was pretty meagre and then, Ed Sheeran tickets came up for sale.  “Stuff it I thought”. I got tickets.  After that, I realised funds were much lower than desirable, i.e. nearly at zero!  When it came to grocery shopping, I decided “No! Fark using our savings for that, or buying food on credit cards”…. So I did no grocery shopping at all.  None. Zilch. What did we do? We literally ate what was in our pantry and freezer, as it turns out, I’ve got hoarding tendencies and… There was enough food in there to feed us for a week past when I’d have ordinarily gone to the supermarket. I wittered on about this on Facebook and it seems, I inspired others to just eat what they already had.  Excellent!   For the record, we did #shopmypantry last week as well, but I didn’t witter on about it, least my faithful audience thinks “this again? Hasn’t she got new tricks?” (more…)

Avokado Bra Shopping – Gamechanger

avokado bra

Got big boobs? Been bra shopping in Newmarket, Auckland at Avocado? It’s a game changer. 

Such a game changer, one of my dear friends from my Rotorua neighbourhood posse waved a finger at my girls and asked “What’s up with those girls?” My girls, FYI, were proudly on display (if I do say so myself) underneath a particularly clingy t-shirt. Of course, I whipped up my t-shirt, flashed her and said “I’ve got a new bra and it’s ah-mazing”. I’m that kind of friend. No holds barred. No shame. I’ll show you my boobs.

But first, the background. Despite being a shopaholic, the notion of tog, jeans and bra shopping fill me with dread. Togs, nuff said. Jeans,well,  as a 5”1 curvy lass, finding something that fits my smallish waist, yet snugs my large ass whilst allowing me to sit down, and finish at the ankle sans hem amendment, was next to impossible (until JeansWest rescued me with their curve embracer range).

Bra shopping though, that’s next level soul-destroying. You seen I have big DD boobs, a small under-carriage, and I’m on an endless quest for bras with straps that aren’t ‘nana wide’ i.e. that don’t dig in and cause dented shoulders. Also, as someone who had a boob reduction, I have an overhanging bit of, erm, flab, under my arms. This, clearly, needs containing. Then there’s the bra trying on process: To be blunt, witnessing, first-hand my flabby tummy in full flight, knowing I should have gone for more early evening summer walks and turned down that second BBQ sausage… Yeah it’s not fun. Most of the time I’m content with my #inbetweenie* size, eyeballing my jiggly tummy at close range though: Not fun. (more…)

#shopmypantry – A worthwhile experiment

Who’s seen this?  Agh, the irony. Just as I come out of my May spending freeze, Farmers gets fully into bed with MAC: Now you can buy their goodness online. And I find this out in the same week that Kmart go online. Goodness. What a week for retail in NZ.  All we need now is Ikea and Aldi. Why go shopping in Melbourne for a weekend? 

Anyhoo, if you missed the memo, last month we were SKINT as a result of a bunch of unexpected bills and me needing to take nearly two weeks off work in late April, unexpectedly. I’m self unemployed: No annual leave, sick or, in my case, bereavement leave for me. No pity party: Life happened. Shit happens.

In terms of financial survival, I decided we weren’t going to dip into our (relatively modest) savings to live in May: Nope, we were going to live on what pingers we had coming in for the month. You know, like live with what we have got. Even though we all know that’s why God created credit cards. 

For me: I gave myself a stiff talking to: No clothes; No beauty (my two biggest spends); No trips for hubby and I to Liquorland  – a few bottles of craft beer here and there adds up, noting we are not pissheads, anymore. For the family: No takeaways, no coffees, no pub trips, no eating out. Thankfully, as it was hubby’s birthday last month, we’d booked and paid for a weekend away for just the two of us back in April and I had a small stash of cash for some meals out. We, cough, stayed in our motel room for the best part of 24 hours and had free entertainment, LOL. We had budgeted for dinner and breakfast out in Taupo. Dinner was shit (let’s not go there, I can’t even remember what it was called it was that bad) but breakfast was fantastic at the Paddle & Spoon.

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Mother’s Day: Presence not Presents

mother's day presence not presentsI was at the hairdressers this week for a Big Sort Out and, as usual, turned to Facebook to kill some time (my No1 guilty pleasure). Quickly though, my attention waned and I felt myself getting annoyed at all the adverts for Mother’s Day gift ideas. Buy… Buy and MORE buy!   So, in need of distraction, I ditched Facecrack and turned to the pile of magazines that had been left for my browsing pleasure.  Dumb idea: Enter pages and pages of Mother’s Day marketing – in every magazine.  WTF?  Has the build up to Mother’s Day always from the marketers always been like this? Or am I more sensitised to the day honouring a parent, given I lost my Dad last week…? (I sense the answer to the latter is affirmative!).

The thing is, when I think about Mother’s Day, I don’t think about what I want, I think about how I want to feel on the day. Thinking this got me curious: Is it just me?  Or are, in fact, Mums out there hankering after a Kitchen Aid/headphones/eyeshadow palette/car and I’m a bit, well, spesh?

This reflection lead me to do some crude research. I messaged fifteen friends and asked them “What would you like your Mother’s Day to be like?”.   I didn’t ask them what they wanted. I asked a much broader open question.

Their responses? Overwhelming they told me they wanted:

A sleep in. Breakfast in bed. Cuddles from the kids. A day of kids not arguing. A handmade card. To come out of my room and find the house has been cleaned by the fairies. (more…)

Flowers, Funerals and Curry

To say I’ve been overwhelmed by the messages received in the last day or two, would be the understatement of the year. Thanks so much to everyone who has reached out. We feel surrounded by love!

I can’t stop writing. I have this itch to write, write, write. I have no appetite to write about fluffy superficial matters. The same happened when my friend Kelly died last year.  It seemed utterly wrong to blog about lipsticks and recipes when the world felt like it had ground to a halt.  I will give in to the urge to write – I have no idea where it comes from, but you have to go with these things! The same urge was, after all, what lead me to start a blog! My blog is doing alright.

Yesterday, spent with Dad’s gorgeous partner Lenaire, along with The Boy, was frankly, one of the ‘strangest’ days of my life. On ANZAC Day we spent 11 hours at the hospital. Yesterday after Dad had passed we had nowhere to be and nothing really that we had to do. We organised Dad’s final outfit for his cremation. We slipped a comb and a toothpick into his pocket and we added personal notes too.  Then it was off to organise his ‘no bloody frills’ cremation (his orders). Ever the girl who wanted to make Dad happy, I rung around to get a good deal (!) and find the place that passed the ‘feels right’ test. Now, it’s all organised:  He’s getting cremated as I write this blog post.  We pick Dad up on Friday: He comes out in two urns, one for Lenaire, one for my brother and I.   My brother and I will go to Singapore, Dad’s favourite place. We’ll eat Dad’s No1 favourite dish, chilli crab, wash it down with Tiger beer and send our grumpy old Dad on his final way.  The other half of him will, I hope, go to Hobsonville Air Force base, another favourite place of Dad’s and where I spent the first few years of my life. Incidentally, does anyone know how we go about getting ashes scattered on the air field?!   Lenaire doesn’t fancy braving the barbed wire fence. (more…)

Jeanswest Curve Embracer Jeans

jeans west curve embracer

I did a shout out on my Facebook page on Wednesday saying I needed new jeans and asked:

“Where does a curvy midget go for jeans that a)  Won’t require taking up and b) Won’t require online shopping (poor track record)?”

I also relayed in the post that “I might end up at Jeanswest, again”, and that “I might get curve embracer jeans, again”. However, I also said I was open to new ideas. I was bombarded with brilliant suggestions! Thank you! Overwhelmingly though, I got told “go back to Jeanswest and get curve embracer jeans!”

I listened. I went yesterday. (more…)

Scrambled eggs with cumin feta and mint

scrambled eggs with cumin feta and mint I’ve been whipping up this dish, scrambled eggs with cumin feta and mint,  on the weekends for breakfast, or brunch, or lunch, for donkey’s years.  It’s quick, simple and doesn’t require any fancy ingredients. It’s got enough wow factor to serve up to guests. That’s my kind of kai: Low key, tasty and impressive! (more…)