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Archive for February, 2010

A Post of Random: Olympics, Chocolate Creme Eggs, Books by Theme

I’ve been watching the Olympic games and enjoying the mens’ speed skating plus the downhill skiing. Nice suits, that’s all I’m saying. :mrgreen:

How do the sports announcers manage to get their tongues around some of the contestants’ names? Talk about tongue tangling. Just as well I don’t have the job.

The little widget on our computer says 45 days to go until our holiday. I can’t wait to head out for our Pacific cruise, but I keep thinking about all the things I need to do before I leave on holiday. Lists are good!

I’ve added some new photos of Britain and New Zealand to my website photo album.

I’ve also added a new books by theme page to my website. If you enjoy certain plot lines, such as reunited lovers or menage a trois, or settings such as small town or cities, check out this page for easy reference.

Mr. Munro and I have been watching Nestle Hottest Home Baker, a local reality show to choose the best baker. Last night they baked scones and pavlova. The great thing is that there’s one guy in the final lineup. I predict I’ll be trying out some of the recipes in the future.

And finally, the New Zealand public are in an uproar because Cadbury have changed the recipe for their Cadbury Creme Eggs. The eggs are now being made in the UK and imported to New Zealand instead of being produced here. They taste different, and I’m not impressed. Last year they started using palm oil in their chocolate (they changed this after adverse publicity) and they’ve discontinued a lot of our old favorites. Cadbury – this is the reason I purchase Whittakers chocolate now.

Notes on Thinking

I do my very best thinking in the shower. I think about my day. I think about my current work-in-progress and plotting problems. I think about my goals. The only problem with doing my thinking in the shower is that I can’t take notes. By the time I get out of the shower, some of my brilliance is forgotten. So, imagine my excitement when I saw Stepcase Lifehack’s post on Productivity PrOn: 5 Unusually Useful Nightpads and found a mention of some special notebooks.

Here they are — Aqua Notes – the waterproof notepad.

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I wonder if they ship to New Zealand because I want some!!

Where do you do your best thinking?

Does My Bum Look Big In This?

Camera Critters

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I took this shot of a sun bear at Wellington Zoo. They’re called sun bears because of the creamy round sun shape on their upper chest. (You can’t see it in this shot) They come from the Southern Asia region.

Visit Camera Critters to see more animal photos.

Easy Ice Cream.

One of author Jenyfer Matthews’ resolutions for 2010 is to try a new recipe each month. I thought it was a great idea, so I’m doing the same thing. This is my recipe for January—easy and healthy ice cream.

Easy Ice Cream

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Ingredients: One banana per person (not over ripe), berries (blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries, red currants etc), yoghurt or a little milk.

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Peel and chop the bananas into pieces, place in a container with a lid or a ziplock bag and place in the freezer. I leave them overnight but around three hours in the freezer should do the trick.

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Take bananas out of the freezer and place in a food processor. Add berries. I’ve used frozen blueberries and with this batch I used frozen mixed berries. You can also use fresh berries.

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Blitz the bananas and berries in the food processor. It will be noisy for a little while. At this stage I use one to two tablespoons of plain yoghurt to help the ingredients bind together. I think you could actually use milk or soy milk at this stage, but I haven’t experimented with this.

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The final product will be like thick soft freeze ice cream. Serve and eat straight away. You can actually freeze it, but you need to give it another blitz through the food processor so it isn’t hard and icy to eat. It really is better to eat the ice cream straightaway. :grin:

Do you like to experiment with new recipes or do you stick with the tried and true family favorites?

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Thursday Thirteen

I watched a program on the Living Channel this week about some people who purchased a Victoria-era property. The show covered the renovation of the property and also detailed the interior decorating the owners did to keep with the Victorian theme. They mentioned mirrors and hey, presto I had a topic for my Thursday Thirteen.

Thirteen Things About Mirrors

1. A mirror is basically a sheet of glass with an aluminiun or silver coating, which produces a reflection.

2. The history of mirrors is an old one. Early men saw reflections in water and thought they were evil spirits.

3. Most ancient mirrors were sheets of metal, usually in a round shape. The backs of the mirrors were often highly decorated with precious stones.

4. Glass mirrors were invented by the Romans. Those Romans were clever people!

5. It is said that glass mirrors disappeared during medieval times because religious people said the devil watched through mirrors.

6. In the 12th century handheld mirrors were very popular and most well dressed ladies used them. They also used them like jewelry, wearing small ones on a chain around their necks. These were all highly decorative and pretty.

7. King Henry VIII used to be an avid collector of mirrors.

8. These days most people have mirrors in their house, either in the bathroom or bedroom. Some people have decorative mirrors in their living areas.

9. Because of its long history, mirrors have lots and lots of superstitions attached to them.

10. Breaking a mirror is meant to be bad luck for seven years. If a mirror falls off a wall then someone is meant to die.

11. Vampires and witches don’t have a reflection in a mirror because they don’t have a soul.

12. Opinion seems to be mixed on the best thing to use to clean a mirror. I’m slowly using up all my chemical cleaners and going natural so I’m suggesting a “green” way to clean glass or mirrors. Use equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Clean off with a soft rag.

13. Interior decorators use mirrors to make a room seem lighter or larger than it really is. Mirrors are also used to reflect a wonderful view so the house inhabitants get double the pleasure and lastly, they’re used as decoration.

Do you like mirrors? Do you have any tips or factoids to add?

Ordinary Superheroes with Fiona Jayde

My special guest today is Fiona Jayde who has a new sci-fi romance release called Cold Victory. Fiona Jayde is a space pilot, a ninth degree black belt in three styles of martial arts, a computer hacker, a mountain climber, a jazz singer, a weight lifter, a superspy with a talent for languages, and an evil genius. All in her own head.

In life, she is an author of kickass, action packed, steamy romances, possesses a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and blue belt in Aikido, a web developer, scared to death of heights, loves jazz piano, can bench-press about 20 pounds — with effort, speaks English and Russian fluently, and when not plotting murder and mayhem enjoys steamy romance novels, sexy spy thrillers, murky mysteries and movies where things frequently blow up.

Today Fiona is talking about superheroes. Over to Fiona.

Cold Victory by Fiona JaydeVampires or hot-shot pilots. Werewolves or sexy super spies. Genetically altered humans or humans with larger-than-life lives. Supermen and kickass women.

My favorite books or movies or TV shows tend to feature superhero type characters. There is something about a larger than life character experiencing the same pull of love, lust or loss as us ordinary folks do. There is something about being able to step into a superhero’s life and be surprised that internally they can bleed just as much as we do.

With the explosion of the paranormal subgenre in romance, our choices for larger than life characters have expanded to suit every fantasy. Angel lovers, demon villains (or vice versa!), dragon shifters, you name a fantasy and there are books ready to cater to it, with various shifts on various subgenres. Blood vampires, energy vampires, psychic vampires… Werewolves, werecats, weredragons… One of my favorite paranormal “superheroes” are motorcycles from the series Driven To The Limit by Alice Gaines. The concept is so originally brilliant – motorcycles (which to me has always been a symbol of sexy man power) are built to shift into a man.

And yet, under the chrome, or leather, or scales, or teeth or Adamantium infused bones (gotta love Wolverine) we still have regular men and women who need an emotional connection, something or someone to believe in.

In Cold Victory, my superhero is Galen Stark, commander of Battlecruiser Victory. He possesses various technological enhancements such as an ocular implant which allows him to see vitals of a person, communication implants which allow him to “telepathically talk” to members of his crew, or nano-controlled fibers in his body which let him easily adapt to swift changes in gravity. And in that sexy tech-enhanced bod, pumps the heart of a red blooded male who has a duty to his crewmates and an insatiable desire for one of his pilots who shouldn’t even be on his ship.

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“You’ll follow standard protocol aboard this ship.” Stark knew his voice had dropped, was furious that he couldn’t control it. Images of skin and sweat and tangled limbs flashed through his mind as his pulse shuddered with accelerated rhythm.

She looked at him now, those exotic amber eyes empty of feeling. “My apologies, Commander. I’ve been on civ div far too long.”

Heat wouldn’t let him breathe. Despite himself, Stark engaged his ocular implant, watching the waves of red surrounding her form, her body temp spiking, her blood vessels pumping overtime. If not for the pink, delicate flush over her face, she showed no outward appearance of being affected by same beast that clawed at him.

“You’re dismissed.” He didn’t know what the hell had happened, couldn’t understand why an impersonal touch charged him with a sexual awareness he had no business feeling. He simply knew he had to put her out of his reach. “I suggest you find a standard uniform.”

Cold Victory © Fiona Jayde

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To the readers: who or what are some of your favorite super heroes or heroines?
(Fiona will be giving away a $15 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky commenter at the end of her tour. Details of Fiona’s full tour are available here at Goddess Fish Promotions)

Cold Victory by Fiona Jayde

Intergalactic warfare has not been kind to humans. Convicted pilot Zoya Scott has the chance to avenge her family, redeem an act of desperation with that of sacrifice. She’ll end this war if she betrays the man whose touch burns through her soul, the man whose ship and crew she must destroy. The man who is her bloodmate.

Commander Galen Stark never expected the convicted pilot on his ship to be anything more than a good looking inconvenience. A small brush of their hands grips him with vicious lust, a need he can’t control. She is his bloodmate–a biological reaction burning through his veins.

Except his bloodmate carries an explosive. And Stark may have to give the order to destroy them all.

Purchase Cold Victory from Loose Id
Visit Fiona Jayde’s Website

Snapshots of Auckland

Shelley is busy with edits, so here are some photos of places she’s visited during the last two weekends.

Sky Tower

This is the Sky Tower, taken from the Auckland Domain.

Auckland War Memorial Museum

This is the Auckland War Memorial Museum. I came across some people practicing playing their bag pipes. This shot is also taken from the Auckland Domain.

Marina and Paratai Drive

My brother-in-law has purchased a new boat, and we went to check it out. This is the view of the marina from his boat. The houses at the top of the hill are on Paratai Drive. This is the most expensive and exclusive real estate in Auckland with views over the harbor and Rangitoto Island.

Don’t forget – The Scarlet Woman tour continues at Amberkatze’s Book Blog. I’m talking about both Scarlet Woman and leopards and giving away a download from the Middlemarch Mates series.

Time for a Drink

Camera Critters

We came across these mountain goats on the side of the road near Mt. Rushmore. Hubby and I were more excited about seeing them than the president’s faces. The animals ignored us as they took a drink from the water that trickled down a rock face.

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To see more photographs of animals visit Camera Critters.

Fun on the Winter Snow

Thursday Thirteen

The 21st Winter Olympics commences in Vancouver on 12th February. I can’t ski, and I’m terrible at skating, but I do enjoy watching the events on television. If I’ve counted correctly, there are 21 different events for spectators to watch. Here’s a list of the ones that interest me most.

Thirteen Winter Olympic Sports

1. Downhill Skiing – the object is to ski down a hill as fast as you can.

2. Slalom – the skier weaves in and out of poles, aiming for the fastest time possible without missing a turn.

3. Figure skating – this event comes in pairs, women’s and men’s figure skating. It’s dancing on ice with jumps and turns and wonderful costumes. There is a compulsory part of the event plus a free skating program.

4. Snowboarding – it’s a combination of skateboarding and skiing. There is a slalom event plus the trick event, which is done in an area called a half pipe.

5. Crosscountry skiing – as the name suggests, the skier navigates a course of up to 50km long. It’s sort of like running on skiis and is very physically demanding.

6. Speed skating – this is like running a sprint race except the competitors wear skates. They wear tight suits – very sexy.

7. Curling – it’s sort of like bowls on ice. There is a granite stone that is propelled down an ice rink. Sweepers brush the ice in front of the stone to make it go either faster or slower in the hope it will reach the target at the other end of the rink.

8. Luge – a sport for a single person or two people. The person lies on a sled and travels down the ice track feet first. The object is to go fast and not crash.

9. Bobsleigh – Either four or two men push their sled to start and then jump in, trying to get to the bottom of the course as fast as they can. You might be familiar with the movie Cool Runnings made about the Jamacian bobsleigh team.

10. Ice Hockey – it’s hockey on ice. It’s played on an oval rink with two teams of six players on the ice at the same time.

11. Ski Jumping – the competitors ski down a steep ramp, then jump as far as they can. The skier with the longest jump wins.

12. Skeleton – it’s lying in a face-first position on the sled, and traveling down the ice track at high speed. The fastest time wins.

13. Biathlon – is a combination of cross country skiing and rifle shooting. It’s a timed event with a penalty given each time a target is missed.

I have to admit that I hate speed and prefer to keep my feet on the ground. Apart from Wii Fit, I haven’t tried any of these sports.

Have you tried any of these sports? Do you enjoy watching the Winter Olympics (on TV or in person)?

28 Days of Heart

Don’t Go Wine Tasting On An Empty Stomach

After our memorable Cook Strait crossing, we didn’t have much time to have lunch. We grabbed a Subway sandwich each and ate them on the way to our first stop on the wine tour.

There were thirteen of us, and we managed to cover a lot of the world with passengers from New Zealand, Australia, England, Norway and the USA. On the South Island side of the strait it was fine and sunny, so my brother-in-law got the weather right. The Marlborough region sees a lot of sunshine—usually grabbing the highest amount each year—so it’s excellent for growing grapes.

Our first stop was at Drylands, one of the larger vineyards with ties to Australia and the USA. We started with a welcome glass of sparkling wine and gradually worked our way through the list. I like wine, so I sampled most of them—both red and white. Most enjoyable.

The second stop was at Framingham. After another eight or so samples here, and I started to feel the wine. This tour was unlike the samplings I’d done before. Obviously it pays to go on a tour rather than turn up with just hubby. The people behind the counter were most generous with their samples, and we purchased a bottle of Framingham Marlborough Classic Riesling here. For those of you who enjoy wine this is a classic New Zealand, off-dry style wine with rich fruit and a juicy acidity. It has complex varietal characters of lemon citrus, mandarin and stone fruit with a long mineral finish. It’s best served with Asian style cuisine and seafood. Sounds good, right? I intend to have some tonight with my dinner.

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Our next stop was Nautilus Estate where Mr. Munro and I purchased a carton of wine. Nautilus is shipping it home for us. Our quiet bus was growing progressively noisier, and there was much more chatter and laughter by this stage. I was pacing myself, skipping the odd tasting, and I made inroads on their oil/bread samples.

Our final stop was Hunter’s. Hunters is an older vineyard and one of the first in New Zealand to take their wines overseas and scoop gold medals at the wine shows. Mr. Hunter died tragically early in a car accident (age 38) and his wife took over the running of the vineyard. Her name is Jane Hunter and she has received many wine awards, including the inaugural award for women winemakers, world wide. She also has an OBE.

I loved the Hunter wines. In fact there was only one I disliked. Yep, I admit it—I was decidedly tiddly when I left, but I wasn’t alone. We drove to our last stop, the Makana Chocolate Boutique, with the music blaring really loud Beetles and Queen classic hits.

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So, I leave you with a tip—if you intend to hit a wine trail, it’s a good idea to have a hearty meal first. Your head will thank you for it!

Have you been wine tasting before? Do you like wine, and if so, which one is your favorite?



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