Wasabi Mashed Potato

I made wasabi mashed potatoes for the first time last night and it was delicious if I do say so myself!

I don't have a recipe for this as, with most of my cooking I have an idea in my head what I want to achieve and most of the time it works out to something edible!

I used the last of my mashing potatoes, peeled and cut up into quarters or smaller and then boiled up in salted water.  Once they were easily breaking apart when stuck with a fork I drained them and mashed them with a potato masher.  I added a bit of spread and some soya milk and then used my new trick - an electric beater to get them light and fluffy.  I added in some more soya milk and then about 5cm of wasabi paste and whisked up again.  When I tested the flavour, there was a definite taste of wasabi but not overpowering or any spicy heat.

It was a hit, with hubby going back for an extra helping.  Now I need to think of things that I can serve with wasabi mash - I'm thinking of trying to make some kind of bean burger.

Labour Weekend Gardening

image by Janet Groat All of New Zealand plant things on Labour Weekend and garden stores are pretty busy.

Kane got started on Friday and filled in the raised beds ready for his chillies and capsicums and planted a few of them out.  I got my tomatoes in the ground and also planted some pumpkin and watermelon seeds on that side.  The leeks and rhubarb are looking good and with them I planted some carrot, onion, turnip and radish seed.

Over on the section I had earmarked for my herb garden, I got some compost and vege mix put down and then planted some lettuce, mesclun and rocket as well as some chives, basil and oregano.

Along from the herb section is where I planted raspberry and gooseberry bushes.  The gooseberry doesn't seem to be doing much but the raspberry bush is doing well and is producing fruit - just have to wait for them to go red.

Meanwhile on the balcony, the passion vine has started to produce flowers and they are quite amazing looking!  The strawberry plants are thriving and we are looking at a nice small crop this year - again just waiting for them to turn red.


One of my favourite things about working in the garden is the friendly wildlife. This is a Tui who came to inspect our work - they have a lovely song.

Another of my favourite things is that all good hard garden work should be celebrated with a beer - even if it is only 11.30am!



I have been an erratic (at best) yoga attemptee for many years.  I love the idea of yoga and I imagine myself in the future being the kind of person that wakes up early to do their daily yoga practice.  I'm a big ball of tight muscles and bad posture and I believe that yoga will really help me.  It's just that when it comes to the crunch - 6am: warm bed for a few more minutes or exercise - I forget all about the health benefits and my goals.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about yoga.  Specifically, what to learn and how to learn.  There's a lot of variation when it comes to yoga and in the past I've tried gym classes, Dru yoga, Bikram yoga, Youtube videos, yoga DVDs, a yoga book and an iPad app.

I found this fun little quiz on Yoga Journal to help me decide on what yoga practice to investigate and I've been looking around online at local classes, private teachers and how to practice at home.

Most classes seem to be about $20 for a casual visit but offer discounts if you purchase a 10 class pass.  Private yoga tuition is about $70 per hour.

One of the places I came across that appealed was The Loft.  They are $19 per casual class (10 class passes are available at $170) and include a dinner.

And by coincidence, my friend had sent me a text inviting to me this yoga class only a few days after I had seen it.  It seemed like an obvious opportunity to give it a try.

I entered into a long room that was tastefully decorated with plenty of dining tables and a food counter at one end.  There were shoe racks at the door and once I had popped my shoes on there I noticed how nice the carpet felt.  I paid the lady my money and she pointed out where the toilets, changing room, water cooler and studio was.

Once my friend had arrived and we caught up a little, we headed into the studio and picked up a mat from the mat box.  I had forgotten my mat so I was glad that they had some there and that I didn't have to pay extra to rent one.  I noticed that most people used the studios mats.

The room was pretty basic, with a light wooden floor, off-white brick walls and a large window with lots and lots of greenery outside.  There was a communal changing area off the back of the studio where you could leave your bags and next to this was a bookcase with blankets.

This was an Ashtanga class so we started with centering ourselves, doing some breathing and a long OOOHMMMM before we moved onto sun salutations and then the fundamentals and a lot of the primary series before doing some of the shoulder stands in the closing sequence and then the closing postures.

Here is a link to some PDFs that show all the postures in the sequence > Ashtanga Cheat Sheets 

I personally found it hard work and I definitely worked up a sweat.  I found I was unable to get into some of the postures and sometimes my muscles shook and I had to take a break but it didn't put me off because I was just doing what I could and I know that all that good stuff comes with more practice.

Once we were in corpse pose we covered ourselves up with a blanket and just relaxed for a little while and then it was time for some tasty food.

I had a delicious meal of salad, rice, cauliflower tempura in cranberry sauce and roast vegetables followed by an apricot muffin - yumm.

The next day I was a bit sore so I knew that muscles had been worked!  With the dinner included I though it was probably one of the best value for money venues in the city and obviously a 10 visit card would be even better value.  I would certainly like to go back, probably on a monthly basis if I can work out transport.

Sunday Morning Pancakes

I love pancakes and I look forward to Sunday morning pancakes all week!

This is a relatively new tradition for us and I can't believe we didn't think of weekly pancakes before now, and its also relatively inexpensive at under $2 per batch of pancakes (if you leave out the blueberries and switch maple syrup for jam).

I use a slightly modified version of this recipe: Blueberry Pancakes on Parsley Soup

I leave out the soya flour and sometimes the vanilla essence if the soy milk I'm using is a bit sweeter.  Blueberries are for special occasions and if I have maple syrup then I use it otherwise I spread a little jam on the hot pancake.

Last Sunday we decided to try out a new thing - putting the batter into a clean squeezy bottle.  This worked out really well as there was more control of the batter so the pancakes were a better size and shape.  It would be possible to keep the pancake mix in the bottle in the fridge for quick pancakes on the go, but as usual we made the whole batch!

A Very Foodie Birthday

As has now become tradition on my birthday, I woke up and put on the birthday tiara :)  I read some lovely birthday messages on Facebook, then took a lovely picture of myself to send to hubby who was cooking me delicious birthday pancakes. 

Birthday breakfast was blueberry pancakes with maple syrup - my favourite yumm!!

After breakfast I opened my cards and presents and received some lovely gifts and messages.  Then it was time to bake a cake.  I decided on a ginger cake and we found a recipe and started baking.

As birthday girl - I got to lick the spoon at the end - gingery cake batter!

The finished product was delicious warm, but it was actually better a little later on when the top started to get proper sticky.

We had a fairly relaxed day and just after lunchtime we had some cheese and wine and then had a nap!

Soon it was time to get cracking on dinner and I had decided that I would like mushroom and spinach wellington for birthday dinner.  Which was served with my favourite side dish - roast vegetables.  The roast veges were kumara, carrot, beetroot, red onion and yams.

We both completely forgot about the bubbly chilling in the fridge!

After dinner we had some more cake and tea and cuddled up to watch some TV before bed.

A delicious day.

Like a jawa

Laser cat will find you

A Spanner in the Works

Well my plans for Tuesday and Wednesday were cancelled because I have come down with the cold :(

But I'm feeling much better today so will be going to the Auckland Knitting Group tonight.  I still have a sore throat and I hope I don't infect everyone there!  I've been working on a blanket, but I haven't done anything with it for a couple of weeks so I really need to get going with it again.

I'll report back later!

Happy Canada Day

So, Kane and I headed out to the Canada Day quiz at the Clare Inn yesterday run by the Canadian Club of New Zealand ready to test of Canadian knowledge and meet some cool people.

We arrived and already there were plenty of people there having some food and chatting in groups.  I introduced myself to Cary Young, the club president and he was very welcoming and friendly.

We got a couple of drinks and then chatted with a nice couple, Erika and Graeme.  Amusingly, it turned out that Graemeis Scottish and moved to NZ a while back.  Erika was quiz mistress of the night so we found ourselves a team and tried to answer some questions.

I was pretty happy that my studying had paid off and I was able to answer some questions and Kane was happy that he remembered the name of the explorer John Cabot and got 10 points for that bonus question.  In the end our team came third and we won a goody bag from Marthas Backyard and an awesome trophy.

Kane and Graeme swapped numbers and everyone seemed fun so I hope to go to another of their events at some point in the future.  Good times :)

A Week of Being Social

Last week I was driven to get out of my comfort zone and meet some new people so I researched and signed up to a bunch of clubs and events.  This week has come round and as I look at my full calendar I have the fear and want to crawl back under the duvet.

I oscillate between feeling very brave with a let's do this! attitude to feeling very insecure and maybe it's safer to stay in and watch TV.  So to help trick my brain into feeling more confident I'm looking at this weeks events as a blogging challenge.

The first event is a Canada Day quiz with the Canadian Club.  I am not Canadian so of course I have the fear that they will wonder why the hell I'm there and despite my studying efforts and reaching out to my friends and relatives in Canada for some study pointers I'm not confident that I'll be able to answer any questions correctly - but the point is to try and meet some nice people.

I shall report back later!

My Day Just Got Better

I think I've found the way to cheer myself up!

Arnold Schwarzenegger Soundboard - AbcArcade.com

Clip for Bobs Burgers

I don't watch this show, but I see this clip on TV and it always makes me laugh - I don't know why!

The Road

Almost 7 years ago I visited the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand for the first time.  It’s a lovely cave and half way through you get into a boat and sail through the pitch black, but above you are glow‑worms.  They are quite something to see.  Glow‑worms are the larvae and they glow to attract insects that get captured in their sticky threads and become glow‑worm food.  Once the glow‑worms mature, they become flies without mouths their purpose is to mate and make more glow‑worms.  This is the most depressing thing I have ever heard.  Born – Eat – Mate – Reproduce - Starve to death.  How pointless.  Then I started to think, well I suppose this is what all life is about really and this sent me to a dark place.

I recently watched a movie called “The Road” starring Viggo Mortensen, adapted from a novel by Cormac McCarthy.  Its set after some undisclosed disaster has happened to the Earth and is about the Man and his son, the Boy.  They are travelling south to the coast where they hope it will be warmer, but since all animal and plant life have died out and even the trees are dying, they are starving.  Many families have committed suicide, others have turned to cannibalism.  The main dangers are starvation, exposure, or being captured by a gang and eaten.  I haven’t read the book but I did read that it is more graphic and bleak than the movie.

In this movie human life has been reduced to trying to survive in a dying world.  There is not much eating, mating or reproducing going on, it’s just straight to starve to death.

For 2 days now my mind has been busy contemplating these things.  I’ve dreamt about it.

Today I remembered Viktor Frankl.  He wrote “Man's Search for Meaning” based on his experiences as a Jewish slave labourer in a Nazi concentration camp.  He believes that meaning can be found everywhere, even in extreme suffering.

Perhaps then the life of a glow‑worm is a happy and purposeful one, controlling the insect population and giving New Zealand tourists something to wonder at.  And perhaps the love between a father and son is reason enough to not just survive but to seek out a better existence despite the unimaginable dangers and to cling on to their humanity.

A Story

I heard this story yesterday. It made me laugh out loud in places and made me think too. A very good story indeed.

 It's called Adams by George Saunders, and here is a link to its publication in the New Yorker> www.newyorker.com


Blanket in Progress

I'm making progress with this blanket, it's the first time I've tried cabling :)

Inspiration for my house

When we were looking for somewhere to live, dear hubby and I made up wish lists.  I always wanted to live somewhere like the holiday park in Dirty Dancing.  I loved the lake, trees and the little chalets.  When I saw The Simpsons episode, "You Only Move Twice" (the one with Hank Scorpio), I really wanted to live at Homer and Marge's house in Cypress Creek!

Ceiling Completed

Whilst I was away for a lovely girls spa weekend, dear hubby had painted the ceiling.  It's a skillion roof we have so in our upstairs rooms it makes up a sloping wall.  It was great to come home to a nice white ceiling.  Some parts had needed up to 5 coats of paint! 

I also got some very nice chairs from a friend of mine and they look fantastic in what is becoming our reading room, although I think I may have to fight the cats for space!

So here is white sloping roof and new chairs.  Still to do: flooring and shelving.

Home Improvements in the Planning

We have been in our house for about 9 months now and finally inspiration has struck! I have a plan for how to decorate and have been gathering stuff to make it happen.

We bought some wallpaper and paint and ordered up some new furniture items and I'm quite excited about how it's all going to look when it's finished. However, there is a lot to do before that happens and the following weeks are going to be pretty busy!

For amateur decorators like ourselves, I think the whole project will be challenging and we might need to call in the professionals for some parts but I'm quite keen to give it go.

The first two jobs are to strip off the wall paper and to paint the ceiling. The ceiling is cathedral style with wooden beams so that's going to be fun!

2012 Retrospective


1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Ran round the Bays and the Sculpt 6k and played Munchkin

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

As usual, I didn’t quite succeed in them all, but I still want to achieve them so they’re back on the list for 2013.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Kane’s sister had a baby girl called Beth.

4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What places did you visit?

I actually left Auckland twice and went to Hamilton and Waitomo. I saw glow worms, native birds and a Kiwi bird.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Gardening prowess!

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

My new Niece Beth was born, my parents and Kanes parents both came to visit

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year

I was accepted as a full member of the Institute of IT Professionals

9. What was your biggest failure?

I didn't achieve the level of running fitness I wanted.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yeah, I pulled a muscle in my calf and reinjured it twice so I'm now in physiotherapy.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A House!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

I have awesome friends

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

I avoid the news!

14. Where did most of your money go?

Buying a house and then buying house related stuff like ladders, lawn mower, leaf blower, lampshades etc

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

iPhones. I bought a house at auction

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Code Monkey by Jonathan Coulton - it's my ring tone

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

b) thinner or fatter? Same

c) richer or poorer? Poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?


19. What do you wish you’d done less of?


20. How did you spend Christmas in 2012?

With my parents and Aunty Betty eating, drinking and then watching movies

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

My new label maker

22. What was your favourite TV program?

New Girl, Castle and the Mentalist

23. What did you do for your birthday in 2011?

I saw the ballet Cinderella

24. What was the best book you read?

I listened to a whole bunch of management and work related audio books and there were 2 quite good ones but I can't remember the titles

25. What did you want and get?

iPad and my own home.

26. What did you want and not get?

A fitter body!

27. What was your favourite film of this year?

Judge Dredd - I met Karl Urban! Skyfall, Bourne Legacy, The Avengers

28. Did you make some new friends this year?

Yes, a good bunch at the Auckland Star Trek club

29.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Getting fitter without getting injured all the time!

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?


31. What kept you sane?

Sims 3

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Karl Urban - I met him!

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

The American elections

34. Who did you miss?

No one really.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

I ran a race on 2 weeks training and while I did finish, I really injured myself and now I'm in Physio. I guess the lesson is that there are no shortcuts. You need to put in the time and effort to get the results you really want.