February: Meals, Miles, Books and Looks

I'm so glad that I set a goal at the start of the year to find some balance between activity and rest because by the time these end of the month recaps come around I'm feeling really good about the things I've achieved without freaking out at time moving too fast, which was an all to frequent feeling last year.

I was treated to a beautiful city morning on Friday I couldn't resist sharing.
// Auckland


Most of our clubs and classes have started back this month and we've been trying to settle back into a meal routine when we're more restricted on time.  I've been reading lots of cook books this month to get ideas and inspiration for fast and slow cooking.
// February Meals
1) Tofu triangles in a red thai curry sauce with rice
2) Lentil and potato curry with rice
3) Baguette pizza with rocket
4) Sweet corn egg flower soup 

Miles: 47km

20 km less than last month oops!  I've had 2 really good 10k races this month but my confidence in training and running a half marathon is wavering somewhat.  I'm still working with my online running coach but our focus lately is on a very hilly 8k that's coming up next month.  Perhaps I should just focus on the race in front of me and worry about the half marathon later :) 

I've also been working with a personal trainer twice a week during February and I've been seeing some strength gains.  My trainer is away for the next month though so I'm on my own again, she's left me a program and I just need to be disciplined enough to do it!


I finished Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan and I really enjoyed it.  It's a science fiction detective noir style story.  There's sex and violence and action.  I heard it's being made into a TV show and I think it would make a good one - I'd watch it.

// Image from Goodreads
I've also been reading lots of cook books for slow cookers and for pressure cookers.  I made a lentil and potato curry in 10 minutes in the pressure cooker (5 minutes to cook, 5 minutes to depressurise).  This is perfect for when we come home after ice skating and want something ready quickly.  It also makes leftovers that can be frozen for other quick meals on the go.  I haven't tried slow cooked porridge yet but I love the idea of waking up to ready cooked breakfast.

// Cook books


The first photo is from the Hawaiian themed night at my Lions Club and the second is from Kane's Citizenship Ceremony.  Both dresses are starting to get a little loose on me now.  I'm pleased to be losing a little weight, but also sad that my favourite clothes are getting baggy.  I can't wear two of my favourite work pants anymore for fear of them falling down.

// Looks
Of course these bright pink tights I bought this month are in no danger of falling down.  I've worn them 3 times now.  I'm definitely feeling a bit braver with the bright pants in public!


Kane's Citizenship Day

On Monday 15th February Kane became a New Zealand Citizen!

He applied for citizenship at the end of last year and was accepted, the last step is the citizenship ceremony where we would take an oath or affirmation and he just needed to wait for a letter informing him where and when it was.

Along with other important details, the letter contained some dress code instructions and encouraged the wearing of traditional dress from your country of origin - so for Kane that meant the kilt. Every man looks good in a kilt but, and perhaps I'm bias, Kane looks especially handsome!

A quick selfie and then we were out the door and on our way to the Fickling Convention Centre which is where our local ceremony was taking place.

// Quick photo before leaving the house
There was a little bit of a queue when we arrived and in front of us was one large family who were all going through the ceremony together - how special for them!
// Kane outside the Fickling Convention Centre entrance
// Signage
Once inside we were separated as Kane had an assigned seat and I had to sit in the area allocated to guests.  I'm already a citizen by birth, but my parents who had emigrated to NZ years before decided to return home shortly after my birth so until Kane and I moved here, I had never actually lived here.

// Kane in his seat waiting for the ceremony to begin
The ceremony began with welcomes in Maori and English, introductions of the ceremony officials, and blessings in Maori and English.

// Officials
This was followed by a cultural display of music and dance.  It was really lovely, inspiring and uplifting.

// Cultural performances

// Poi
After this the oaths and affirmations were recited en masse and then everyone went across the stage individually to receive their certificate and to greet the officials with a hongi and/or a handshake.

// Kane on stage receiving his certificate
// Kane and his official certificate
Once everyone had their certificates, we watched a video presentation that made everyone super proud to be New Zealanders.  One of the things mentioned in the video is that NZ gives permanent residents the same rights as citizens, so by making the choice to become a citizen you are showing your commitment to New Zealand.

Then we sang the National Anthem and before closing, the compere called all the countries of origin represented that day and the people stood up and gave a wave - it was so awesome!

Then we had some morning tea refreshments and finished up about 11 am.

// Morning tea in a room full of new New Zealanders
// Feeling patriotic
We took some photos in and around the convention centre and then headed out to Soljans wine estate for a celebratory lunch.

// Kane and his lunch
Lunch was delicious!  I've been to this winery a few times for wine tasting at the cellar door and have always fancied checking out their restaurant and today was the perfect time to try it.

We had 3 courses and they were all delicious I would certainly recommend it.  Of course the star of the show at a vineyard is the wine and we both went for the chardonnay which did not disappoint.

// Soljans Chardonnay
After a lovely and very filling lunch we headed home to get changed, rest up and then head out to the Air New Zealand exhibit at the museum.  Kane loves all things flight related and this seemed like an on topic thing to do.

// Old flight adverts
There was a mock cabin from the 60's which may well have been like the plane my parents flew out on.

// Me in an 1960's cabin
I recognised the wall design instantly as my parents had quite a few of these swizzle sticks in our kitchen when I was a kid.  I wonder if they still have any?..

// Swizzle stick design
To finish the day off celebrating being New Zealanders we got some fish and chips for dinner and opened the bottle of champagne we bought at Soljans.  A very good day.

Race Recap: Albany Lakes Series Race 2


I wore my bright pink tights, love heart sunglasses and ran a 10k for Valentines Day.  It was also my friends birthday and she did the 5k then we met up with others for a well deserved brunch.

Official Stats:

Distance: 10 km
Time: 1:11:20
Pace: 07:08 min/km


Saturday night was spent hanging out with a good bunch of people.  We had a barbeque and then watched a movie so it was quite social but chilled.  Due to it being a barbeque, Kane and I had vegetable skewers and a salad for dinner followed by watermelon and a muffin.  It was very tasty but I don't think it was quite enough for racing the next day.

I was being careful to make sure I stayed hydrated, but I need to also watch the fuel intake for the next race.

On The Course

0 - 5 km

The first half of the course was pretty steady.  I felt really good and I was surprised at how quickly the first 5k went by.  I was deliberately taking my time because I knew I had another 5k to go, but I ended up doing this 5k 20 seconds faster than the 5k race 3 weeks ago - oops!

//Image of Kane from Running Events Facebook Page
5 - 10 km

I can't think of another race where I've had to do laps before so I think this is my time.  It didn't actually feel too terrible to run away from the finish line as I was mentally prepared for this.  However right on queue my sun glasses - which were love heart shaped glasses for Valentines day - started to fog up and I had little pools of sweat gathering around the points.  I gave them a quick wipe and considered taking them off but decided just to go with it.

Then as I climbed up a small incline away from the finish line I started to feel quite fatigued.  I struggled to get my breathing under control but then it was a nice long flattish downhill and I was able to gather myself.

The struggle truly began at the 7k point and I really really wanted to walk.  My legs felt tired and tight, my lower back started to hurt and my body just wanted to hunch over, breathing was difficult to control.  Alex (from Moxiee Running who I've blogged about before) was running the second half with me and he would not let me walk, not even for a second.  He kept me distracted, gave me good pointers about when to take on water and helped me get my breathing back under control when I needed to but there was no way he was letting me walk.  Walking is the enemy apparently.

Somehow I managed to keep going and get up the hill towards the end that seemed easy 4km ago and then it was a nice downhill and long flat to the end and I managed to get a tiny bit of power and speed back.  However, I made a mistake with how much I had left in me and gave a burst of speed that lasted about 10 seconds and then I felt like I was going to throw up and I still had 400 metres to go :(

I struggled on and managed to look smooth going down the finishing straight.

//Image of me from Running Events Facebook Page

Post Race

The last 2 km of the race felt so difficult and I felt so sore through my back and legs that I was really surprised at the finish how quickly I felt absolutely fine.  I felt like I could manage a few more k's!  Even the following day I didn't feel any soreness at all.

It was my friends birthday brunch and she had gone to cleaned up prior to the prize giving but I needed some time to stop sweating before getting cleaned up and then we went and had some good food and conversation which was a great way to finish up the morning.

What's Next

The third and final race of the series is another 10k with a slightly different route where we run inside the QBE stadium and through the Westfield shopping mall and that's in 2 weeks time.  I'm hoping to improve on my time, but more importantly I want to get the fuelling and race strategy right.

Also in the series: Albany Lakes Race 1

How was your weekend? Did you celebrate Valentines Day?

Currently In ... February

Happy February!

Life seems to have picked up a little speed this month with Lions club and figure skating classes starting back.  There are a few more social events on the calendar for this month but I'm being mindful of my goal to keep the social commitments to a maximum of 3 per week.

Reading: The Makers of Scotland: Picts, Romans, Gaels and Vikings by Tim Clarkson, it's very interesting.

//Image from Goodreads

Listening to: the audiobook Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan.  It's a scifi detective noir style story.  It's a bit raunchy in places, maybe too raunchy to be listening to on the bus! but hey, no one else can hear it :)

//Image from Goodreads

Watching: The X Files.  I was a fan of Mulder and Scully back in the day but I had my doubts when I heard about this new season but so far I'm loving it!  The Rhys Darby episode is funny and silly and reminds me of some of the fun ones they used to do like Bad Blood with Luke Wilson and Dreamland where Mulder switched bodies with one of the Men in Black.

Feeling: Sore, but good sore.  I purchased 12 half hour sessions with a personal trainer to help me start strength training and see her twice a week.  I'm mostly a weakling and tricep dips are the worst!

//Image from Google
Thinking: About hosting a clothes swap party in a month or so.  It's just an idea I'm mulling around right now.  My wardrobe needs a cull so I'll be clearing out stuff anyway and then I'll be looking to get a few new pieces for the new season. Since I'm not a big fan of shopping anyway, a swap party seems like a good idea.

Anticipating: There are lots of good things coming up this weekend but the star of show will be Kane's citizenship ceremony.

Planning: a celebratory lunch for after the ceremony and then a trip to the Auckland museum to see the Air New Zealand exhibition.

Loving: the bright pink running tights I bought for the 10k race on Valentines day.

They are so pink!

Grateful: for my health.  I was chatting with a class instructor at the gym who's been collapsing, it sounds like its been happening her whole life, and she has to wear a heart monitor for the next 4 weeks as part of an investigation into her heart function.  I feel guilty and mad at myself for abusing my own heart with too much food and not enough exercise but also grateful for the opportunity to change this.

Wishing: everyone a happy Valentines day :)

My First Kayaking Adventure

This was our second public holiday Monday in a row - woohoo long weekend!  On the Sunday I went to the SciFi book club where my friend Kelly and I got talking about kayaks and she invited me to go kayaking the following day.

So, on Monday morning Kane and I headed over to Kelly's place and helped to load two kayaks onto her car.  She's recently got a new car and had bars installed on the roof so it was quite straight forward loading up the two kayaks, although we did try a couple of different configurations first!

Since Kelly still had the foam blocks she used with her old car, we stuck them on my little vehicle and secured the third kayak to my roof.

Loading Kayaks
Then we were off!  I've never driven with anything attached to the outside of my car before so I was a bit nervous about it.  Driving didn't feel any different which only made me more worried that I had dropped the kayak on the road and not noticed!  I kept checking in my mirrors to make sure nothing was left behind.  The scariest part was crossing the harbour bridge.  On the way back it was a bit windier and the ropes made loud vibrating noises but still it was all fine.  It was an interesting experience!

We parked up at the marina and I pointed to the boats in front and asked Kelly if that's where we were going, and she told me no and pointed behind us.  I could only see a grassy slope, beyond which was the motorway, so I was curious as to where we were going.  It turns out that on the other side of the slope is St Mary's Bay, which is perfect for the beginner kayaker.  We carried the kayaks onto the beach and launched into the water.

St Mary's Bay
I walked into the water a little with the kayak and managed to slide onto it and sit comfortably first time.  I was surprised at how stable it was.  All 3 kayaks were slightly different and we took turns in each one and they were all easy to get in and out of.

We took a paddle around the bay and my rowing technique needs a lot of work!  I managed to splash myself with my paddle a few times.  Sometimes it was a bit tricky to steer but I managed to avoid crashing into anyone or anything!  I also didn't capsize which was a concern of mine, but even in the smaller and narrower kayak it didn't feel likely.

Kelly and Kane taking a rest

Kane wore board shorts and a singlet, and Kelly and I wore gym gear - capri pants and racer back singlets.  They both went bare foot but I kept my jandals on because I don't like being barefoot in the sea but the only time I stood in the sea was getting in and out of the kayak.  And because you sit on top of these kayaks, water resistant sun block on the legs and feet is a good idea.

My upper half only got splashed by my own poor rowing technique but my bottom got a little damp, mostly from the smaller kayak.  Quick drying gym gear was the right choice here because I was already dry by the time we finished packing up.  I brought a change of clothes just in case, but I didn't need them.

We didn't have any life jackets and St Mary's bay is sheltered enough for us to have taken that risk, but if we were going anywhere else we'd need to buy or hire them and I had such a great time that I hope to do more kayaking in the future.

Me, trying not splash myself with my paddle
Afterwards,  Kane and I headed to the pub to spend the afternoon watching the rest of the Super Bowl.  All in all, a very good day.

Have you ever tried kayaking, or would you consider it?

January: Meals, Miles, Books and Looks

I'm so used to starting these monthly recaps with how quickly time passes that I'm quite surprised with how much time felt like it was standing still this month.  New Year seems like such a life time ago and I can't even remember what I did over that weekend now - was that when I decorated my home office?


Well I'm glad I took some food photos to share here.  I made vege lasagne which I haven't made for a very long time and I remember why - it's such a long process!  I also had a go at making aubergine parmesan which I hadn't made before and there seems to be so many variations on this theme I went with basic aubergine layered with tinned tomatoes and parmesan with parmesan and breadcrumbs on top.  I used a whole mango for the mango salsa and it made such a large amount we've had it twice and there's still heaps left.

Top Row
1. Salmon in dill sauce with potatoes and carrots
2. Vege lasagne
3. Aubergine parmesan

Bottom Row
1. Prawn taco with corn on the cob
2. Bean chili and rice
3. Salmon on spinach with mango salsa

Miles: 68.8km

I've been running with a group most Tuesday mornings and I have a good Friday routine and this Sunday we decided to try out a different route which has the potential to expand into longer distances.

I did one race this month which was a 5k - Albany Lakes Series Race 1 and did well for me.

Also, this month, I've had my first 2 sessions with a personal trainer who I've hired to help me get stronger.  I was pleased to find that I had good stability which I attribute to hot yoga, but as I already knew, my core and glutes are weak and I need those to be stronger to make my running better.


I read Death of a Christmas Caterer by Lee Hollis over the Christmas and New Year period.  I'm a bit of a sucker for these kind of cosy mysteries - the ones that have recipes, knitting patterns, snow globe making instructions and such like.  This one had lots of winter and Christmas recipes and cocktail recipes.  There was at least one slow cooker recipe that prompted me to get three slow cooker recipe books out from the library!

The story itself was a straight forward murder mystery with plenty of plausible suspects and the lead character was likeable.  The worst part of the book was a scene of office sexual harassment that the author failed to take this seriously and it wasn't necessary to the story so I don't know why it was written in.
//Image from Goodreads

The second book I read was The Method by Juli Zeh.  I read this for the February SciFi book club meeting.  This is translated from the original German and it's a dystopian novel likened to 1984 and  Brave New World.

I thought it was ok.  I liked the stories premise and the ideas, it was thought provoking, however it didn't feel gripping or entertaining enough.  I think this could be made into a really good movie though.
//Image from Goodreads


My looks for you this month is a simple photo collage of life this month.

We've been trying to make sure we get our 10,000 steps every day and because its been so hot during the day, we take an evening stroll to get those last few steps.  One of my favourite views is of the sea from the street at the top of my street.

I took the photo of me to brag to my sister about our lovely summer weather after she sent me a picture of her in the snow, but I didn't send it in the end.  It was like a sauna outside that day - humidity is nothing to brag about.

I love spending time in my home office now its mostly finished.  I still have to paint my desk but I'd have to move the cat first.  I love having furry company, I should have got more chairs.

Lazuli doesn't normally rest his head on the coffee table but he does get into some uncomfortable looking positions sometimes, however last night he look so comfy curled up at the base of my pillow as I went to bed, I had to sleep in the middle of the bed and put up with him kicking me in the back as he stretched out more and more.  I am such a pushover for these cats!