September: Meals, Miles, Books and Looks

I really feel like time is running away from me this month.  The clocks have just changed for daylight savings and the weather has become quite warm all of a sudden, but also my Facebook is full of Christmas countdowns and people making an early start to their shopping.


I've been having some fun with the pressure cooker this month, and have made a couple of nice stews, including a vegetarian coq au vin but too often I've been forgetting to take pictures!  I love that I can cook big chunky carrots in about 5 minutes in the pressure cooker but I was surprised to find that my shallots had completely disintegrated into one of the stews I made.  More experimentation required!

Here are some of the meals we made this month that I did remember to photograph:

1.  Leek, mushroom and vegetarian chicken casserole served with potatoes and mixed vegetables.

2.  Creamy leek and salmon pie topped with colby and parmesan cheese.

3. Pickled herring, rye bread, potatoes with dill sour cream, boiled eggs and cucumber.

4.  My first attempt at French onion soup topped with a crouton of baguette and melted cheese.

1.  Vegetarian sausage with fried onions and condiments on a baguette.

2.  Macaroni and cheese with broccoli and carrots. I have been experimenting with my pressure cooker and can get chunky carrots cooked super fast!

3. Home made pizza with capsicum and corn, one slice has sardine and one has pineapple since I didn't know if they would go together.

4.  Tuna niçoise salad: seared tuna steak, potatoes, egg, green beans, olives, tomatoes, cos lettuce and I made a mustard vinaigrette too.

Miles: 16km

One training run, one road race and one trail race - I don't know what happened this month!

It was the last race of the trail series which is sad.  I have really enjoyed this series and I'm planning on doing it again next year.

I've got two races coming up next month, one of which is a relay race with friends.


I finished one book this month which was The Girl on the Train.  I missed out on reading Gone Girl before I saw the movie and bought the hype that was the new Gone Girl.  I don't think it was, but I still enjoyed it and after I read it I was still thinking about how women are treated and perceived.

//Image from Goodreads


This months looks are of my new furniture!  You know you're getting old when you get this exited about new furniture but I don't care I <3 my new stuff.

I'm not too thrilled that the cats have taken to playing with each other on my new chair though.  Daily claw trimmings may be in order. 
This is my new dining table and chairs.  The table is more dressed up now with a vase of white flowers and I'm on the lookout for a lazy susan.

Currently in ... September

September is rushing by far too fast, I can hardly keep up!  Here's where I'm at right now:

Reading: Quiet by Susan Cain, it's about being an introvert in an extroverted world.

Watching: The Rugby World Cup!  We all have rugby fever here in New Zealand.  I'm also watching Continuum, which I think is on its last season and I'm eager to find out how its going to end!  We watched the first few episodes of season 2 of Community and I've watched a couple of movies lately.  We did an Evil Dead and My Name is Bruce double feature, then last Thursday we watched About Time which was laugh out loud funny and heart warming.

Feeling: Happy that my new furniture arrived and looks amazing. Also, I'm feeling pleased with myself that, after weeks, I finally sent the 3 blocks of chocolate to family and didn't just eat them myself :)

Thinking: About a costume for the Ekiden relay race in a few weeks.  We have 2 teams of Heroes and Villains.  I think I'm going to go as Susan Storm from the Fantastic 4.

Anticipating: The spring equinox, because then I know that my days are getting longer and summer is just around the corner.  I also love seeing all the autumn and winter things that the Northern hemisphere people get up to.

Listening to: Starr Struck Blog podcast, I'm on the last episode of season 1 so I'm almost up-to-date.

Planning: I have 3 big projects on my mind; the garden, the office, and removing wall paper and repainting all rooms.  It's a bit overwhelming, so I'm trying to figure out a course of action.

Working: On my housework routines with the end goal of having a clean and tidy house on autopilot.  I've reached a sweet spot where the house is always surface clean and tidy so I'm ready to start adding in more tasks.

Wanting: To cycle more than using the car.  I did my first night time cycle at the start of the month to my Lions club meeting.  As I started out there were a couple of flashes in the sky and after I arrived at the hall it really started with the thunder and lightning and it poured down.  My cycle home was very wet which I was ok with, but I wasn't quite prepared for how cold it was!  The past two weekends we've cycled to do our weekly grocery shop and run errands and I love it.

Needing: To get my skates sharpened!  It's almost end of term so I'll get them sharpened before the start of next term.

Loving: How light it's getting in the mornings, but daylight savings will be kicking in this weekend so we'll lose those lovely light mornings again, for a few more weeks anyway.  I'm also loving seeing all the baby ducks around my neighbourhood, (I worry for them too, with the cars and peoples pets), they are so small, fluffy and cute.

Wishing: That the aforementioned plans of garden and decorating were already done!

How's your September going?  What are you currently anticipating, planning and/or loving?

Race Report: Blackmores XTERRA Race 7 - Hunua Ranges

Race Website: Blackmores XTERRA Race 7 - Hunua Ranges

The last race of this trail series fell on Sunday and it was a brilliant event to finish on.  I'm so glad that I did this series and I'm planning on signing up for next year.  I think I'll do a separate post to talk about my first experience with trail running and what I've learned and sum up this series, but first on to the race report.

Official Stats:

Distance: 6.2km
Time:  0:53:34
Elevation: 74m


We had, what has become our tradition, of a pasta meal for dinner the night before, but also we had tickets to see the opera Tosca which resulted in a later-than-usual bed time.  Thankfully these trail races have a much more social start time of 10.30am but usually require about 1 hours drive to get to the event base.

We woke at a good time, but too much dithering around meant that there wasn't enough time to make porridge, so breakfast was a fruity English muffin and a glass of orange juice.  Coffee was consumed in the car on the way to race.

We arrived a little later than I would have preferred as the race briefing had already started and I had to pay a visit to the port-a-loo while Kane went and picked up our race bibs and chips.  The briefing announcer was telling us that there was things that look like green weetbix on the course that is ".. poisonous to mammals, YOU are a mammal". 

New Zealand's native species are mostly birds (and they're often ground nesting birds) and we have no natural predators, certain things have been introduced either on purpose or by accident so sometimes these poisons are used in an effort to reduce introduced species in order to protect the native wildlife that are put at risk.  I really hate that this happens and I hope that they can come up with a better way.  But we made a mental note to make sure our clothes and shoes were kept away from our cats when we got home.

On the Course

So before we knew it we were off and on our way.  We had no time to check out the course map, elevation chart, or even to find out what the distance was!  Yes, not very well prepared at all.  All we knew was that someone who was doing one of the longer distances had said that it was really tough, so we were expecting the worst.

0 - 3 km

Caught in the pack, we started off running but this is not a good strategy for me if I haven't had a chance to warm up and the long sit in the car to get here meant I could use a little walking to get the joints and muscles to wake up so we eased into a walk and let all the runners pass us.  We kept striding it out for a few minutes until we heard the hooter go off for the walkers to start and then we started jogging. 

It was a long, wide and mostly flat gravel road that we ran along until we reached the water station, which was at 2.9 km.  We heard it said in the race briefing that there was an aid station at 2. something km, but we didn't know how far we had come.

\\ Image from Blackmores Xterra Trail Run/Walk Series Facebook Page

3 - 5 km

We had made a good steady pace for the first 3km but after the water station we turned off the gravel road and onto the trails.  The path was a narrow single track and was very undulating and twisty. 

One of my favourite parts was where you could either wade through the water or walk a bouncy narrow plank across to the other side.  Plenty of people plunged right into the freezing cold water, I chose the plank which still dipped into the water but my feet didn't get too wet.  A few people who chose the plank fell into the water anyway :S

Our course had merged with at least one of the other courses so there were lots of calls of "on your right" as the faster runners negotiated around people on the narrow trail.  We, an a good few others around us would run for a while and then take a walk break so we were constantly passing and being passed by the same people too.  I had a lot of fun on this trail and tried to run most of the up hills and take it easier on the downs.

\\ Image from Blackmores Xterra Trail Run/Walk Series Facebook Page

5 - 6.2 km

At around 5k we popped back out onto the road we had ran along in the beginning; the wide, flat gravel road.  So far this race hadn't been as tough as I expected and it felt quite short too, so I was half expecting some kind of cruel hill at the end like at the first event.  However, no such thing happened and we had a nice easy stretch to the finish line.  This is the first (and only) race of this series that we've finished in under an hour!  This was probably why it felt short to us, and I'm hoping that it's also a result of getting fitter.

Post Race

We grabbed some water and some energy drink and joined the beer and sausage queue.  An onion sandwich and tasty Speight's was had before we made our way back to the car and then home.

The weather had been very pleasant, with it being warm in the sun but cool in shade, perfect really.  On the way home it started to rain, and really heavy at times so I think we lucked out there!

Although I didn't see any poison, as soon as we got home all our kit got thrown in the washing machine just in case.  And then after a shower I spent the whole afternoon playing a computer game before it was time to make dinner - a day well spent!

Other races in the series:






Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 4 - Highbrook

Race Website: Run Walk Website

The fourth and penultimate race in the RunWalk series which was held on Sunday was the 7k event held at Highbrook business park.  I quite like this course because, being a business park rather that a residential area, its really quiet.  I imagine that through the week the place is bustling with people but on Sunday mornings there is hardly anyone around.

Official Stats:

Distance: 7 km
Time: 0:49:19
Pace: 07:02 min/km


Keeping with the pre-race pasta dinner tradition, we had a nice pasta bake for dinner that had a little spicy zing to it and then we watched the Evil Dead followed by My Name is Bruce - but we only managed about half of the latter before I fell asleep on the sofa.

I had a good sleep and got up made us porridge and coffee for breakfast.  Kane didn't sleep very well, but he assured me it wasn't because of the movie, it was his bruised and swollen ankle that was disrupting his sleep.

His ankle got kicked at indoor soccer, but it was able to bear weight and he was able to walk ok but he was having his doubts about running the race. 

On The Course

0 - 3 km

Kane decided he was going to run the race, but take it easy and if his ankle felt sore then he would just stop.  He went further up towards the start line and I placed myself further back in the race crowd and waited for the gun to go off.

I kicked off my playlist and quickly settled into in a nice jogging pace.  The pavements were narrow, just enough for 2 people, but the crowd dissipated over the first 1.5 kilometre and by the 3km mark I had the same few people around me.

This first part has the best scenery of the race as you head out towards parklands and then you run next to open spaces.

3 - 6 km

My training runs are usually about 4km long, and at the 4km mark I could feel like I was done.  The consistency of my pace was waning but I still had 3kms to go!

And at this point the scenery was warehouses and offices so I decided to try and have a little fun with my pace.  I probably confused the people running near me as I would sprint off for about 20 seconds and then slow to a jog and then walk for about 20 seconds before sprinting off again. 

// Kane having a good race
6 -7 km

My pace had settled back down to a jog and I remembered the finish from last year so I kept it steady until I saw the corner, then I started to pick it up and as I rounded the corner I opened it up as much as I could to finish strong and more importantly, beat my time from last year :)

Comparison with Last Year



Post Race

I was fairly pleased with how it went in the end.  Kane was happy with his race too, he took it a little easier but he had no trouble from his ankle at all that was until he accidently kicked the kerb as we went to sit on a bench - ouch!

// Happy finishers
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, and I finally made the French onion soup I've been wanting to make for a little while.  Today, which is the day after, my quads are feeling a little tight.  I have hot yoga and then I'll do some foam rolling later.

The next race, which is an 8k will be the last in this series leading up to the 12k in November.  I also have the last trail race this week and then Ekiden next month.

Also in this series:

Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 3 - Devonport
Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 2 - Alexandra Park

A Birthday Staycation


My birthday week didn't get off to the best start when I got sick on the Thursday and didn't feel better until the Sunday.  We had thought about going away somewhere for the weekend as Kane only had the Monday and Tuesday off work, but being sick meant that we didn't go anywhere.

Kane did buy me some beautiful flowers that definitely helped me feel better.

Get Well Flowers and Birthday Cards

By Monday I was back to my old self so we went out shopping for a few things and I bought a Breville Fast Slow cooker, which is an electric pot that has a pressure cooker function and a slow cooker function.  And just across from the store where we got the fast slow cooker was The Cheesecake Shop and I got a delicious black forest gateaux to have the next day for my birthday.

Cakes and Desserts from The Cheesecake Shop
Instead of the usual birthday pancakes we had toaster sweet waffles and maple syrup - too good!  And then I got to open cards and presents :)
I had to go into town to pick up two library books and I got a couple more when I was there.  I was worried about reaching my limit as I already have 2 library books at home but the librarian told me the limit was 35!
We then had a big late lunch at Al's Deli which is a Montreal and Canadian style dinner specialising in bagels.  I had a bagel with Philadelphia cream cheese and tomato and we shared a small portion of poutine.  I was disappointed that they didn't have any Canadian beers, I think the Canadian club meet up the weekend before must have drank them all!  I did get to share a beaver tail with Kane, although it's called a moose ear on the menu.
Later, I had to go to my new a cappella choir and then make a dash at the end to get to the pub quiz.  I had missed the first 2 rounds but Kane was doing remarkably well on his own and had got full marks!  Clearly he is the brains of the operation, so I decided to have a drink or two.  I had such a fun night and to cap it off we won!

Guinness and Cpt Morgan's Spiced Rum - my favs
The next day Kane had to go back to work so it was just me and the cats.  I made split pea soup in the pressure cooker and then the slow cooker marinara sauce recipe I saw over at Budget Bytes and have been dying to try.  Then I made a сafetière of coffee, cut a slice of gateaux and started (and subsequently finished) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  The comforter was still on the sofa from when I wasn't feeling very well and every afternoon we would all have a nap snuggled up in it.

Rainy day, cosy cats and a book
The rest of the week followed a similar pattern and I just really enjoyed hanging out at home, trying out some recipes I hadn't made before, eating cake and reading books.

No Fella A Cappella

My singing background is probably quite ordinary.  In primary school we had harvest festivals and Christmas concerts and then when I was about 10 our school was part of a big Christmas concert at the town hall.  I also remember singing with the girl guides in retirement homes around the holidays.  In high school I took part in Calamity Jane when I was 13 and then South Pacific when I was 14.  I had exams to worry about after that so didn't take part in anymore and then that was pretty much the end of group singing until earlier this year when I joined a new community choir that started.

I've really been enjoying singing with the community choir and through that an opportunity came up to join an a cappella choir so I thought I'd give it a go and last night was the first meeting.  I've never done a cappella singing before and until joining the community choir earlier this year I hadn't sung harmonies before.

We sang a lovely Maori song called Te Aroha which only has 4 lines.  I've linked to a youtube video of the basic song (not sung by my choir).

We sang these lyrics three times, the first time all together, the second time as a round with the last line split into the main melody and two harmonies and then the third time all the lines where sung as a main melody and two harmonies.  It sounded fantastic!  I can't believe that only one hour after meeting people for the first time we were singing so harmoniously together!

My Sunday community choir has now merged with a Monday community choir which means I'll be singing on Mondays and Tuesdays now!