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Archive for April, 2009

A Wellington Trip

Thursday Thirteen

I mentioned last week that I was off to Wellington. I’m posting photos this week.

1. We left from Auckland Airport.


2. It was raining in Auckland, but we had wonderful weather in Wellington. There were quite a few unaccompanied children on the flight, flying home after school holidays. They cracked me up with their shrieks of joy each time we hit turbulence.

3. We caught the cable car from the inner city to the Botanic Gardens.


4. There were great views out over the harbor.


5. It’s autumn here in New Zealand and the trees are changing color.


6. It was ANZAC day and there were wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


7. We had dinner at the Backbencher pub, which is opposite our Parliament. Very yummy food.


8. The pub is known for its caricatures of our politicians. This is Helen Clark (a recent Prime Minister) and Winston Peters (very colorful is the kindest way to describe him)


9. And this is Jenny Shipley who was the Prime Minister prior to Helen Clark. She looks remarkably like the fairy godmother from the second Shrek movie.


10. This is the Buzzy Bee. Buzzy Bee is a well known childrens’ toy and is considered a NZ icon.


11. This is me at the rugby stadium, also known as the CakeTin.


12. The next day we went to Te Papa to see the Monet exhibition. I also wanted to see the colossal squid. The squid didn’t photograph very well, but it was very interesting.


13. This is me outside Te Papa. The Monet exhibition was crowded, but very good. My favorite was the painting of Monet’s wife Camille and their child. My hubby loved the one of the Haystacks.


And that’s me for this week. I’m off to Samoa tomorrow. I hope you’ll pop back during the next few days to check out my Samoan photos.


Hubby and I fly out to Western Samoa on Friday. Hubby is packed. Even his golf clubs are packed and ready to travel. I haven’t started. Whenever my husband makes a comment, I tell him I can’t pack until Scotty goes to the kennels. She doesn’t like a change in her routine. Where hubby is concerned, that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

The truth is I don’t like packing. I always put it off until the last minute.

Which camp do you belong in—the organized packer or the last minute panic packer?

Enjoyable or Horrid?

A lot of people love visiting museums and art galleries. They can spend hours wandering through the various displays and visit a different museum each weekend.

Not me.

I visited Te Papa this weekend, New Zealand’s big museum in Wellington. I checked out the colossal squid exhibition (very cool) and the Monet art exhibition in one of the private galleries of the museum. I also enjoyed this very much, but that was enough for me. I was ready to leave.

I’ve always been like this with museums. An hour or two is my limit. Knowing my limitations, I tend to pick the galleries that interest me most and head straight there. I loved the historical costumes in the Victoria & Albert Museum. The bog man in the British Museum and the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum in London all attracted my attention.

Any exhibitions that have things I can touch make me want to linger. I went around the colossal squid exhibit touching everything we were allowed to study at close quarters. A little girl followed me and we touched squid beaks and tentacles, grinning at each other the whole time. It was great fun. I didn’t touch any Monet paintings—all the guards put me off, but those “do not touch” signs really made me want to touch.

Do you like visiting museums? Do you have any favorite museums or things you love to see?

Upside Down Tomato

Today I have a gardening post about how to plant an upside down tomato, courtesy of Mr. Munro.


What to do with that old paint pot or unwanted container.

It may seem strange to plant a tomato in an UPSIDE-DOWN container, but there are benefits. Very little soil related disease as the plant and its leaves have minimal contact with the soil. Roots easily absorb the nutrients as gravity provides a constant flow. Regular watering is crucial as gravity not only feeds but drains – there are larger than normal holes at the bottom of the container.


To make an UPSIDE-DOWN PLANTER procure a suitable vessel. A 10 liter (2.5 gallon) pail is ideal. Whether it is a new or old paint container, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that it has a lid and a handle. The lid can be adapted from anything but it must be able to retain the soil / potting mix once the container has been inverted. You are now wondering why we are turning the container upside-down. Think about it, it is an UPSIDE-DOWN PLANTER!


We are getting ahead of ourselves. Before inverting the container we have to fill it with suitable material, potting mix would be preferable with a slow release fertilizer. Put the lid on and turn the container upside-down. Cut 3 x 30mm (1&1/4inch) holes in the bottom, which is now the top!! A 10 liter container should be able to cope with 3 plants, smaller containers perhaps only one plant. Now plant your seedlings in the small holes.


After a week or two the plants should be established and able to cope with the next procedure. This entails the container to be raised up, turned over and held by the handle, discard the lid and hang by the handle. The plants are now hanging from the bottom of the container but will soon head outward and upward.



Enjoy your UPSIDE-DOWN PLANTER suitable for any sized garden or apartment.

I know some of you are gardeners. Do you grow your own vegetables? Do you prefer to grow flowers? What do you enjoy most about gardening?

A Weekend in Wellington

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Wellington and my upcoming weekend.

1. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and is about an hour flight from Auckland.

2. It’s always very windy in Wellington. I’m hoping we have reasonable weather for our weekend since we’re intending to do a lot of walking and outdoor things.

3. We’re going to visit the Botanic Gardens and ride the red cable car to the top of the hill, walking back down through the gardens.

4. There’s also a teahouse. I’ll probably need a cup of tea to warm up since we’re heading into winter down here in NZ.

5. We might wander past our parliament buildings, also known as the Beehive because of the round shape.

6. There’s a pub near the Beehive called the Backbencher where they have 3-D puppet heads of NZ politicians on the walls as decorations. We’ll probably stop by for a drink.

7. We’re going down to see an exhibition of Monet paintings at the Te Papa Museum.

8. According to the Te Papa site we’ll see twenty-seven stunning paintings by Claude Monet – including works from his Water Lily, Haystacks, and Rouen Cathedral series – plus works by Impressionist masterpieces by Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Pissarro and others.

9. While I’m at Te Papa I’m looking forward to seeing the giant squid that they dissected last year. They broadcast the proceedings on the Internet and people watched around the world.

10. We might fit in some shopping and definitely some eating.

11. On Saturday night we’re off to the rugby at the stadium on the waterfront. It’s affectionately called the Cake tin because of its shape. Wellingtonians are big on nicknames!

12. It’s ANZAC day, the day where Australians and New Zealanders remember the battle at Gallipoli and our fallen soldiers. The curtain raiser match is NZ Army v Australia Army.

13. The main match is a Super 14 game (the tournament where NZ, Australian and South African teams battle it out) and the ACT Brumbies are playing the Hurricanes. (Australia team v New Zealand team) It should be a great match. I just hope it doesn’t rain!

What are you doing this weekend?

Horse Pills

I had to go to the doctor this week, and I arrived home with a bottle of large pills. I know the pills will make me feel better, but I want to know why they have to make them in a size that’s more suitable for large animals. I choke and gag and stress out every time I have to take pills of any description. I’ve always been like this and remember having an ear infection when I was a kid, and my father becoming exasperated with me. In fact, he told me I’d go deaf if I didn’t take my pills. I’d frustrated him that much.

I’ve passed my dislike on to some of my characters. This is Kate from Playing to Win.

The nurse returned, handing her a glass of water and two white tablets of a size suitable for horses and other large animals.

Kate eyed the water with welcome but not the medication. “Don’t you have injections?”

The nurse shook her head and stood her ground.

Kate looked at the pills again and decided to do without.

“Katherine Giovanna Sophia Merryweather Alexander,” the nurse warned, her voice tart as a Meyer lemon, but a smile lurked in her brown eyes. She turned to Lane and Jamie. “Children are much better patients.”
After rolling her eyes at Kate’s muffled protest, she turned back to her patient. “I’ll help you sit.”

Kate clenched her jaw and allowed the nurse to assist her. When she pushed a button on the control unit, the bed rose so Kate could sit. She accepted the glass of water and took a sip, ignoring the pills. The nurse coughed and Kate held out her hand to accept the horse tablets.

A snigger escaped Lane. Kate noticed even Jamie smiled. She took a big breath and choked the pills down one at the time.

“Ugh.” For one awful moment, she thought the second pill would make a return visit. Her eyes watered as she swallowed in panic.

The nurse chortled. “There now. That wasn’t so bad was it, dear?”

“Thank you,” Kate said, with just a trace of sarcasm.

I’m with Kate all the way. Pills are not made for human consumption or at least our consumption!

How are you with taking pills?

I Want My Book Fix Now

My special guest today is friend and fellow New Zealander, Tessa Radley. Tessa and I were aspiring authors together. In fact, Tessa and I had a competition where the person with the least rejections by the end of the year had to buy the other lunch. It was a contest to make sure we both sent lots of submissions to editors and agents. I won. I forget how many rejections I received, but it was a lot! The lunch was very tasty. :grin:

Over to Tessa…

Tessa RadleyShelley, thanks for inviting me to guest blog today!

I’m Tessa—and I write for Silhouette Desire. I’m going to confess that I’m a bit of a dinosaur. I don’t have an e-reader…but I’m thinking of getting one. But there are so many choices…it’s enough to do my head in. So if any of you have any advice, feel free to tell me which e-reader you prefer.

Part of the reason I’ve procrastinated about getting an ereader is the fact that I ADORE going to a real bookstore and browsing around. Last Saturday night we went to the city center and I persuaded my long-suffering family to indulge me…much eyerolling…and I visited Borders. Heaven! My family—very sweetly—scanned the shelves for my April release, The Untamed Sheik (if any of you have read my Saxon Brides series, this is Megan’s story). The Untamed Sheik

Yet I have to admit that my fetish for bookstores is probably more costly than buying on line—so often I go to buy a book that I want NOW. I want instant gratification. But when I get there it turns out that the one copy they had in stock actually can’t be found. And my eye alights on another title…oh, must have that! By this time a copy of the original book that I’m after has been sourced—at another bookstore. Sigh. But because I really, really want that book…now, today…I’m off. By the end of my spree it’s cost me the book I originally came to buy, the impulse buy, plus two books out the specials bin and half-a-tank of gas!

So why do I do it when online ordering is so much less stressful, less time consuming…and usually much cheaper? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it’s the outing. It’s certainly an event. And there’s still something about going to a brick-and-mortar store. Seeing the piles of books…and paging through them. I love it. And if there’s a coffee shop, then that’s even better!

So what’s your favorite way of getting your hands onto books…or your eyes onto print? Bookstores? Online stores? Ebooks? And if you read ebooks…let me know which ereader you prefer—and why.

Mistaken MistressI’m giving away 10 copies of Mistaken Mistress, Joshua Saxon’s story. So if there are 10 comments are less everyone gets a copy. Otherwise I’ll draw ten random names from the commenters.


A Contemporary Binge

During the last six months, I’ve read heaps of contemporary romances. I seem to have burned out on paranormals and have become really picky about what I read in this genre.

And of course, my love of the contemporary genre fits in nicely with the books written by the authors below. These three ladies are all wonderful writers and you can’t go wrong reading one of their books.

Do you enjoy contemporary romances, and what is the title of your most recent read?


Have you seen the YouTube featuring Susan Boyle? The judges took one look at Ms. Boyle, listened to her talking and decided she wouldn’t be able to sing. The music started, Ms. Boyle started singing and smashed apart every one of the judges’ preconceptions, showing true talent. The audience loved her. Millions of people have watched the performance on YouTube. I’m one of them, and I smiled the entire way through. Her performance was amazing.

It made me think about stereotypes when it comes to the romance community. Don’t authors lounge around wearing flowing pink dresses (sometimes with ruffles) and eat lots of chocolates while they’re writing about arrogant alpha males and quivering virgin heroines? And don’t romance readers wear thick glasses, fluffy bathrobes and stay at home with their fictional friends on a Saturday night, eating lots of chocolate while they’re reading their chosen genre?

We know these stereotypes are wrong. Lots of people don’t and accept the above descriptions (or something similar) because they don’t know any better. Well, the chocolate part might be right, but you understand what I mean. We’re all individuals who love the written word and reading/writing about love and romance. Stereotypes are wrong, and we should wait before judging anyone. First impressions aren’t always right, but we’re probably all guilty of judging or applying sterotypes at some time or another. I know I have.

A few days ago, Julia tagged me with a meme called Keeping It Real. I had to post a photo of myself taken without primping and doing ordinary things. The photo caught me on a day when I wasn’t wearing pink, but I’m in my second office i.e. my chair with my laptop. As you can see – no stereotypes here.


I’m meant to tag people, so if you’re brave enough, consider yourself tagged. Follow the Keeping it Real link above and scroll down to the bottom of the post. I have to say that Julia takes a great photo.

How would you describe a writer or a reader? (You can have fun making up a stereotype or you can do a truthful description of a writer/reader as you see them)


Thursday Thirteen

I’m feeling really tired today, and I can’t think of a topic for my TT. I decided to google “nothing” and this is what I came up with…

1. Nothing is something that doesn’t exist.

2. You can buy “nothing”. It costs US$4.84 here and is actually a vial of emptiness. They advertise it as the present for someone who has everything.

3. Director Vincenzo Natali made a movie called Nothing in 2003. Read about it here.

4. Nov 29 is Buy Nothing day, a strike against comercialism. I think my husband would approve!

5. Sinead O’Connor sang about Nothing Comparing 2 U

6. There’s a tattoo and body piercing place in Atlanta called All or Nothing Tattoo and Art. They’ve won awards.

7. My sales ranking on several of my books at Amazon this week was nothing. I’m glad they’ve fixed that!!

8. Tristan Campbell is a landscape photographer based in Harrogate. He’s posted some of his photos at his blog Absolutely Nothing. They’re amazing, and I wouldn’t have found them if I hadn’t googled nothing.

9. I found Nothing Bundt Cakes here. They look yummy even though I’m not sure what they are exactly.

10. And while we’re on the subject of food, I found Nothing but Noodles. Sounds good to me!

11. Shakespeare went on about Much Ado About Nothing

12. Nothing ventured, nothing gained – means if you don’t join in or start then you can’t achieve anything.

13. Nothing to crow about – there’s nothing special or to feel good about.

Do you think nothing is a negative or a positive word?

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