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Archive for the 'Home Front' Category

Fishing in the Hauraki Gulf #travel #NewZealand

A favorite activity – for hubby, at any rate – is to go fishing. We’re blessed with many choices of fishing spots in Auckland. Usually hubby tags along with his brother and they go fishing somewhere in the Hauraki Gulf.

Fishing

Here are some friends that decided to tag along.

Fishing dolphins

They like to play and take a good look. Must be a spectator sport…

Fishing scenery

When they overnight on the boat, they tuck into sheltered bays near one of the many islands in the Hauraki Gulf.

Fishing mooring

Lots of neighbors to chat with…

Fishing Allen

Then there is the fishing. The ones that got away…

Fishing Paul

And the ones that didn’t.

Do you like to fish? If so, where is your favorite fishing spot?

The Case of Bella and the Chicken… #pets

Hubby loves roast chicken, and his favored way of cooking one is with the barbecue. He sticks a beer can (half-full) and herbs inside the chicken, and as it cooks, the chicken absorbs the moisture from the can.

Chicken

Bella loves to know everything that is happening and watches proceedings with interest.

Chicken Bella

Close interest…

Chicken Bella Window

Close, close interest…

Chicken Lick

Luckily, hubby rescued his chicken before Bella moved near enough to nibble. A close call!

The Ladder for Spirits

At the very top of the North Island of New Zealand is a point called Cape Reinga. This is a special site in Maori mythology. According to the tales, an old pohutukawa tree grows on the cliff, and it is said that the roots of this tree provide a ladder for spirits to descend into the tumultuous waters and the final underworld below.

A non-stop procession of spirits travels through the far North to reach Cape Reinga and the ladder path to the underworld. The northern Maori tribes used to hear the rustle and passing of countless people and especially after a big battle when many warriors were slain.

All the ingredients for a fictional novel, I think!

Cape Reinga Lighthouse, New Zealand

This is the lighthouse at Cape Reinga. The ladder for the spirits is supposedly on the cliffs beyond.

Source: Favorite Maori Legends by AW Reed, revised by Ross Calman.

The Lost Moa

The moa is a flightless New Zealand bird that became extinct around the arrival of Europeans. There were several types of moa, the largest of which was taller than a full-grown man.

They had long necks, big sturdy clawed feet, an ostrich-like body and soft brown feathers that were almost like fur.

Moa in Auckland Museum

In 1993, three trampers reported seeing a moa while hiking near Authur’s Pass in the South Island of New Zealand. They walked around a corner and came across a large reddish-brown bird. The bird ran off but former British Army Commando, Paddy Freaney took photos of the bird and the footprints it left.

The sighting made world headlines. The three trampers were questioned and their stories were identical. The photos were blurry and not positive proof of a sighting. Some people thought the sighting was a hoax to attract customers to Paddy Freaney’s nearby pub. Paddy died in 2012 and never admitted to a hoax.

I love the idea of big birds wandering the plains of Canterbury and other locations in New Zealand. There are still occasional finds of moa bones and sometimes rarer moa eggs. Visitors can learn more about the moa in our museums.

My fascination led me to use these birds in one of my House of the Cat books, Hunted & Seduced. My characters Ellard and Gweneth meet the giant birds while they’re in the jungle on the planet Narenda.

What do you think of the trampers’ report? Hoax or not?

Time for a Break

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The last six weeks have been full of family stuff, which has taken up much of my time, and today, hubby and I are going on holiday for a much needed break.

While I’m away I have several releases. The first two books in my Alien Encounter series – Janaya and Hinekiri  will become available. Last Wish, a paranormal story about a genie will also go live. All three stories are rereleases with new covers.

Oh, and a reminder – Captured & Seduced, the first book in my House of the Cat series is still free, so grab your copy from your favorite online retailer.

Have a wonderful month.

Happy reading,

Shelley

A Weta House in a Rimu Tree

We visited relations during the weekend, and one of them keeps a weta house in their garden. She says it’s so the wetas don’t jump out at her while she’s in the garden.

Rimu tree

This is a native rimu tree and where the wetas live. The rimu tree is very cool. You can’t tell from this picture but the leaves are actually long green strands, sort of like coarse hair.

Weta House

This is the weta house, perched in the branches of the rimu tree. Hubby took it out of the tree and opened it for me to see the wetas inside.

Weta House Open

You can see the wetas inside. When hubby opened the house, one fell out. We picked it up on a stick, took photos and then returned it to the house.

Weta

And this is a close up of a weta. They’re very cool and quite big. The weta is native to New Zealand.

What do you think – cool or totally gross?

Recipe: Tomato and Pesto Tart

Hubby and I like to test new recipes, and this is our latest—a Tomato and Pesto Tart. We found the recipe at our local supermarket on one of the leaflets they give out to customers.

Tomato and Pesto Tart

Ingredients:

750 grams tomatoes

1 sheet of puff pastry (defrosted)

1 Tablespoon pesto

1 Tablespoon butter

Salt and Pepper

 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/428F

2. Cut the tomatoes in half.

3. Melt the butter in a pan. Place the tomatoes cut side down in the pan. Add salt and pepper and cook over a medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.

4. Place a little of the juice from the tomatoes in an ovenproof dish. Gently remove the tomatoes from your pan and place cut side down in the ovenproof dish. Place as close together as possible.

5. Spread the pesto over one side of the pastry. Place the pastry over your dish of tomatoes with the pesto side down. Fold back any excess pastry.

6. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.

7. Loosen the edges and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Place a plate on top of your dish and turn your tart out so the tomatoes are on the top as above.

8. Serve with a green salad.

This tart was simple yet so, so delicious. If you’re a fan of tomatoes, you’ll love this dish.

The Little Black Dress

The subject of clothes has been on my mind recently, since I often think of clothing during the polishing stage of a manuscript. I’m working on Seized & Seduced (Jannike’s story) and Jannike has spent most of the story wearing the same blue tunic and black trews with boots. She does have a set of lacy red lingerie that she picked up during her vacation on Earth, but that’s it when it comes to the clothing stakes. I’ve been thinking she needs an occasion to wear a little black dress.

In Captured & Seduced the women of the Indy get new dresses to wear to a ball. Here’s a short excerpt to give you an idea of what I’m dealing with when it comes to Jannike.

The gowns were the same style although different colors to suit their complexions. They required a base garment beneath to yank in their waists and force their breasts upward.

“What was Ry thinking?” Jannike wheezed. “I can’t breathe. How the devil do I fight in this?”

“I don’t believe you’re meant to fight,” Mogens said in his dry way. “It’s a ball. You’re meant to dance.”

“We can always poke out eyes with our fingernails,” Kaya said cheerfully.

“Or stomp on people’s feet,” Camryn added. “Although maybe one look at our hands will do the trick.” She held them up for inspection. “I scrubbed for half an hour and couldn’t remove the dirt.”

“True. My fingernails might work.” Jannike lifted the skirts of her long hunter green gown to inspect one shoe. “The shoes don’t look robust enough for kicking. I’ll need to stick to stomping.” She scratched the back of her neck, unused to the ornate hairstyle as much as the unaccustomed finery.

“This is a dance,” Ry said sternly from the doorway of the hotel room they’d rented. “There won’t be any need to fight.”

It’s said Coco Chanel was the instigator of the little black dress. In 1926 one of her designs for a simple black dress appeared in Vogue. Vogue said the dress would become a staple in every woman’s wardrobe—a black dress that would fit every occasion and make a woman feel good about herself. Something classic that a woman could dress up or down.

Karl Lagerfeld famously said, “One is never over-dressed or under-dressed with a Little Black Dress.”

Follow Shelley Munro’s board Little Black Dress on Pinterest.

I have a Pinterest board for Little Black Dresses, but the truth is I don’t have one of my own. When I was younger, I didn’t suit black. Now that I’m a little older, my skin tones have changed and I do sometimes wear black. I’m on the lookout for a little black dress and maybe one day I’ll find one I adore.

Do you own a little black dress?

The Amazing Onion Mum

Hubby and I went out for lunch with the family to a cafe that overlooked the water. A really pretty spot to while away a Sunday afternoon. Hubby’s brother is a regular at this cafe, and he ordered something called an onion mum. I’d seen the sign in the cafe advertising them and the fact that the cafe had sold 80,033 (plus one more after our order), but I had no idea what they were.

Onion Mum

Behold! This is the onion mum. The onion is sliced, bread-crumbed and deep fried. A warm dip was placed inside. The final verdict – yummy.

Here is a video that shows the method for making an onion mum. It seems that the dish has varying names – onion blossom, onion flower, blooming onion and onion mum (short for chrysanthemum)

Have you eaten or made an onion mum?

Puppy Tales and Newsletters

Bella Bone

The other morning we took Bella for her walk. We usually come across the “regular” walkers and say good morning.

This particular morning, Bella was off the lead and we met up with a local lady and her dog, which is a tiny thing. Bella is about three times bigger. This little dog is long-haired and you can scarcely see his face because he’s all hair. When he runs he looks like a flag fluttering in the wind. Whenever I see him, I put Bella back on the lead because she can be a bit of a bully with smaller dogs. Anyway, hubby said, “Leave her off the lead today.”

Bella behaved beautifully. The little dog just stood there with his nose lifted in the air while Bella sniffed him. She circled the little dog once, and then to my horror, Bella lifted her leg ready to pee on him.

I shouted, “Bella!” and she stopped at my horrified shriek, giving me an affronted look. I started laughing, and luckily, the lady thought it was funny too.

It’s obvious Bella subscribes to the dog rules: If you can’t eat it or play with it then you should pee on it!

Author newsletters:

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research about author discoverability and newsletters recently. Many of the “experts” suggest a pop-up for a newsletter signup, one that appears the second someone clicks onto a site. I find them annoying and usually click away from the site.

What do you think about pop-up ads on a website or blog?