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Archive for September, 2013

Thirteen Details of Regency Life

Thursday Thirteen

I’m currently reading Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester, which I’m finding fascinating. Today for my thirteen I’m sharing a few of the details I’ve gleaned during reading.

1. People use the term Regency as a general cover-all term when in reality the Regency covers nine years from 5 Feb 1811 to 31 Jan 1820, the period when George, Prince of Wales was sworn in as the Regent until he became King George IV.

2. There was a strict social ladder, determined mainly by birth. It went Monarch, Royalty, Aristocracy, Gentry (country land owners and gentleman of property without a title), Middle Classes, Artisans and Tradespeople, Servants, Labouring Poor, Paupers.

3. The servants also had a class structure – The upper servants included stewards, housekeeper, groom of the chambers, butler, valet, head housemaid and lady’s maid.

4. The lower servants included footman, coachman, groom, housemaid, kitchen maid, scullery maid, laundry maid, stable boy.

5. The cook was often employed by the master or mistress and paid more than the steward. They were considered separate from the rest of the domestic staff and earned a high wage in the case of a male chef.

6. When a woman’s husband died, she regained the legal rights she possessed as a single woman. In many cases, she was better off as a widow.

7. Once a couple became betrothed and a notice was sent to the papers, it was impossible for a man to withdraw from the marriage without damaging his honor and reputation. He could also be sued.

8. Morning calls were generally undertaken in the afternoon. They did not usually last for longer than half an hour.

9. Galloping was prohibited in Hyde Park.

10. At a formal dinner it wasn’t the done thing to talk across the table. Diners only chatted with those on their left or their right.

11. It was acceptable to owe money to a tradesperson. It wasn’t acceptable to owe money to a stranger.

12. Servants were ignored at mealtimes.

13. It was acceptable to offer your snuff-box to those with you, but not the done thing to request a pinch of snuff from those in your group. Snuff is pulverized tobacco that is sniffed through the nose. There were lots of different blends.

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, as the title suggests, also discusses Ms. Heyer’s books in relation to the Regency period. Are you a Georgette Heyer fan?

The Love of Reading

Pelican, Sydney

This photo was taken during our river cruise from Central Sydney to Parramatta. We don’t have pelicans in New Zealand, so we always snap a photo when we see one. They’re such curious looking birds.

Today I’m visiting NJ Walters, and I’m getting back to basics. I became a writer because of my love of books and reading, so today I’m talking about reading and what books I’m reading at present.

The Mimic and the Coward

I think I’ve mentioned Mr. Munro has a new camera. He took these great photos of a tui, one of New Zealand’s native birds. The tui is very cool and is unusual as far as native birds are concerned because it has adapted to the changes in habitat and flourished. It’s not strange to see them flying around city parks or the local neighborhood, especially if there are trees full of blossoms. They feed on nectar and we’ve seen a lot lately, feeding on the spring blossoms.

The tui is a mimic, and they’ve been known to bark like dogs, copy musical instruments such as bagpipes. They have a whole rang of clicks and warbles and whistles. A tui that hangs out in my street has a different “vocabulary” to tuis that might live five miles away.





The tui has a distinctive tuft of white feathers at its throat. Maori legend says that this tuft signifies the mark of a coward. The Maori god Tanemahuta asked one of the birds to go to live on the forest floor to take care of the pests. The bird that volunteered would lose his colorful plumage and his ability to fly. The tui and the other birds who declined all received a punishment. The tui received the white feathers. And the bird that volunteered to live on the forest floor – that was the kiwi, of course.

Are you a bird watcher?

Nadia Lim’s No Knead Seed Bread

No Knead Seed Bread

This is a really delicious bread!


1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 cups boiling water

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon dry granulated yeast

450 grams/16 oz high-grade flour

450 grams/16 oz wholemeal flour

1 ½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons wheatgerm

½ cup sunflower seeds

½ cup pumpkin seeds

Extra seeds to garnish


1. Mix syrup, water and milk together. Sprinkle yeast over and stand for five minutes until frothy.

2. Combine dry ingredients and make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix together well. The mixture will have a sticky consistency.

3. Divide the dough into two well-oiled tins and sprinkle with pumpkin and sunflower seeds on top.

4. Put loaf tins in a cold oven, and turn the temperature to 50 C/120 F. Leave for half an hour for the bread to rise. Remove the bread and increase the oven temp to 200 C/390 F then bake for approx half an hour until top is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped.

5. Turn onto wire rack to cool. Bread will keep fresh for three to four days. It can also be pre-sliced and frozen in a plastic bag to use as needed.

Recipe from Nadia’s Kitchen by Nadia Lim.

Shelley’s Notes:

1. In my oven 33 minutes is the sweet spot for cooking this loaf.

2. This makes great toast.

3. I make one loaf and use a muffin tin to make twelve bread rolls.

4. This has become my go-to recipe for bread. It’s easy and tastes great!!

5. My cut loaf looks a bit ragged in the photo. My fault – I was impatient to cut and sample the bread and didn’t let it cool. Open-mouthed smile

Following the Steps of Our Ancestors Up River

Mr. Munro and I like to explore our city, and yesterday we did a boat trip from Z Pier in central Auckland, up the Upper Waitemata harbor to the historic pub at Riverhead.The Riverhead was established in 1857 and holds New Zealand’s second oldest liquor licence. Incidentally, we visited the oldest one—the Duke of Marlborough in Russell, Bay of Islands—a couple of weeks ago.

Shelley at Z Pier

This is me, sitting on the top deck of the Red Boat and waiting to leave on our adventure. Central Auckland and the Sky Tower are in the background.

Harbor Bridge and City

Our boat traveled under the harbor bridge. Two New Zealand flags were flying on the bridge yesterday. The flags change often and honor different countries. For example on the US Independence Day the US flag will fly along with the New Zealand one.

Property on the way to Riverhead 

We traveled in the footsteps of our ancestors who used ferries and boats on the upper harbor as a means of transport to head north. Lots of gorgeous properties lined the harbor and this is one of them. A big lawn to mow!

Red Boat at Riverhead

This is the Red boat. It tied up at the jetty and we climbed up lots of steps to get to the pub. The view was gorgeous from the terrace and lots of people were dining in the restaurant. Mr. Munro and I chose some bar snacks, beer and wine and spent time in the public bar. The people watching was awesome.

Although children and families are welcome, the management like the children to remain under close parental supervision. They had these cute signs everywhere relating to children, and the one below is my favorite.

Riverhead Children Sign

We had a fun day, although we were tired out when we arrived home. I can’t wait for our next local adventure, whatever that might be.

What is your favorite way to spend a lazy Sunday?

Choc Orange Slice

The combo of orange and chocolate is delicious and one that I enjoy very much. The following slice recipe is a winner since it hits both notes. This recipe comes from the book Robyn Martin Bakes.

Choc Orange Slice


150 grams/5 ounces butter

1 tablespoon golden syrup

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup crushed Weetbix (4 Weetbix)

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons cocoa

Choc Orange Frosting:

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 cup icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa

1 tablespoon orange juice


1. Melt the butter, golden syrup and brown sugar in a saucepan. To save time and dishes use a large pot.

2. Take off the heat and mix in the walnuts, orange rind and weetbix. Add the flour, cocoa and baking powder and combine well.

3. Line the base of a shallow tin with baking paper and press the mixture into the tin.

4. Bake at 180C/350F for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Frost with the Choc Orange frosting.

Method for Frosting:

1. Mix the condensed milk, icing sugar, cocoa and orange juice until smooth. Spread over base and leave to set.

Shelley’s Notes:

1. The frosting is quite runny but it does set. Cut the slice once the frosting has set.

2. Eat and enjoy! The slice goes great with a cup of tea.

Matau, the Giant

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

Like most countries, New Zealand has myths to explain the formation of various lakes and mountains. This is the legend of how Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand was formed.

Renowned beauty Manata lived in Otago in the South Island of New Zealand. She was popular with neighboring men and many of them wanted to take her as their wife. Manata’s father didn’t consider any of the suitors husband material.

One of her suitors was called Matakauri. He loved Manata and she loved him in return.

One day a giant called Matau stole Manata from her home and carried her away into the mountains. Manata’s father told Matakauri that if he could rescue his daughter, he’d approve of a marriage between them.

Matakauri knew that the giant always turned sleepy when the wind blew from the nor’west, and once conditions were right, he set out to rescue his love. When he arrived the giant was sound asleep.

“Come with me,” Matakauri said. “I’ll take you home.”

“The giant has tied me to him with a rope made from the skin of his two-headed dogs. It is impossible to break,” Manata cried.

Matakauri tried to cut it, but to no avail. Manata started weeping and when her tears fell on the rope it dissolved. Freed, the lovers fled to safety.

As promised, the couple married, but Matakauri worried about the giant returning and stealing his new wife. When the wind blew from the nor’west again, he sneaked up to the giant’s home and found the giant curled up and sleeping on a bed of bracken. Matakauri set fire to the bracken and the giant suffocated before he regained consciousness. The giant’s body sank deeper and deeper into the ground until he created an enormous chasm many kilometers long. His entire body was consumed by the flames, except the heart, which kept beating.

Rain began to fall and it flowed into the new chasm. The heat generated by the fiery giant bonfire melted the snow on the nearby mountains. Soon the chasm was full of water and it remains as a lake to this day—a lake shaped like a giant who has drawn up his knees in sleep.

Meanwhile the giant’s heart still beats beneath the surface of the water, sometimes so hard that the waves thunder against the shoreline.

I didn’t realize we had giant myths in New Zealand, and I’ve been enjoying reading through Taniwha, Giants, and Supernatural Creatures by Aw Reed and Ross Calman. Do you have any local giant myths?

Today I’m visiting Lissa Matthews where I’m discussing Maxwell’s, the fictional club in Past Regrets. There’s a giveaway too.

Recipe: Beetroot, Feta and Pistachio Muffin Slice

I often bake a batch of muffins, and when I saw this recipe in Robyn Martin Bakes I had to try it. The end result was delicious and I’ve made it a couple of times.

Muffin Slice


1 x can baby beetroot

2 cups plain flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fresh chives or spring onions

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 1/4 cups milk

100 grams feta cheese

1/2 cup pistachio nuts, shelled


1. Drain the beetroot and cut in half lengthwise.

2. Place flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Chop the chives or spring onion and add to bowl.

3. Beat the eggs, oil and milk together and combine with flour mix. Do this part carefully and don’t over mix.

4. Spread the mixture into a greased or paper-lined sponge roll tin – 20 x 30 cm in size.

5. Arrange the beetroot on the top of the batter, cut side down. Crumble over the feta cheese and the pistachio nuts.

6. Cook at 190C/375F for 30 minutes.

7. Cut into slices and serve.

Shelley’s notes

1. If you don’t like beetroot try other things such as sundried tomatoes, artichokes or other favorites.

2. I ran out of pistachio nuts and substituted pumpkin seeds. They worked well.

3. I didn’t bother measuring the beetroot, cheese or nuts. I just arranged and sprinkled to my heart’s content.

4. Like all muffins, this slice is best eaten on the day of cooking.

How Will The World End?

I’d like to welcome Hart Johnson to my blog. She has a new serial called A Flock of Ill Omens with the first part coming out today. Hart asked everyone who is helping her spread the word about her new release to say how we think the world will come to an end. Her suggestions ranged from Aliens, Zombies, Asteroid, A Giant Spaghetti Monster, or an Attack of the Interrobang!? Food for thought, right?

Once you’ve read about Hart’s serial, scroll down to see how I think the world might end…

Deadliest virus in a century, or a social experiment gone awry?

Every year they warned about the flu and more often than not, it amounted to nothing. Sidney Knight, a young freelance reporter had certainly never written on it. But a trip to Lincoln City, Oregon cut short by a beach full of dead seagulls and a panicked warning from her brother the scientist catch her attention. This batch is different. Deadlier. And the vaccine doesn’t seem to be helping. It almost looks like it’s making it worse…

A Flock of Ill Omens

A Flock of Ill Omens is the first episode of A Shot in the Light, an Apocalypse Conspiracy Tale about what happens when people play God for fun and profit. There will be approximately ten episodes, each the equivalent of about 100 pages.

Good Reads has a sneak peek posted. You can find the purchase link and more information about the book here. And if you want it FOR FREE, I will be offering it free on the release dates of at least the next two in the serial: September 19 and October 10.

Hart Johnson writes books from her bathtub and can be found at Confessions of a Watery Tart, though be warned. She is likely to lead you into shenanigans.



During the last two years, we’ve had a rash of earthquakes around the world and in New Zealand, my home country. While the majority of the quakes have occurred in the lower North and the South Islands of our country, we have a sleeping dragon in the Auckland region where I live.

The city of Auckland is built on a field of volcanoes.

Rangitoto, Mt Victoria, North Head

See the three peaks/mounds in the photo above? They’re all dormant volcanoes and there are hundreds more. The volcano in the far left of this photo is Rangitoto, which erupted a mere 600 years ago and is the “youngest” in the region. Mt Victoria (middle) and North Head (right) are much older.

Volcanoes within a field do not usually erupt again. Instead a new one pops up somewhere else, and scientists say that this could happen at any time. We’re due.

I think the huge number of earthquakes occurring worldwide is an early warning, and New Zealand is in the midst of the problem. One big volcano will obliterate Auckland for sure, but I’m thinking a super volcano. One that will cause earthquakes, maybe cause other volcanoes around the ring of fire to flare, trigger large tsunamis and send ripple effects across the globe.

How do you think the world might end? Do you go with my theory, Hart’s theory, or do you have one of your own?

Oops, I almost forgot – today I’m visiting Felicity Heaton where I’m discussing another thing unique to New Zealand—The Terrifying Taniwha! I hope to see you there!

Step Back With the Pharaohs

Donkey Ride, Valley of the Kings, Egypt

When we visited Egypt a few years ago, one of the things I worried about most was the excursion to the Valley of the Kings via donkey. I’d never ridden a donkey before and my concern was that I’d fall off! The donkey ride from Luxor up into the hills and down into the Valley of the Kings turned out to be the highlight of my trip. It certainly beat the coaches that took most of the tourists to the site. My donkey was called Michael Jackson and that’s us in the middle of the photo. The other two girls were part of our group.

The donkeys ambled on the way there, but on the journey home they trotted, setting a brisk pace. We arrived home in time for lunch after exploring several of the tombs which once housed the royals. It was a fun excursion, and I loved it.

Today I’m visiting Mari Carr. I’m talking about the friends to lovers trope and there’s a giveaway. I hope to see you there!

It’s our wedding anniversary today. Thirty-one years of married life seem to have flown past in the blink of an eye. Happy anniversary, Mr. Munro!

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