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Archive for the 'Home Front' Category

J is for Jaffas

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A jaffa is a sweet with an orange flavored outer covering and a chocolate center. They are round in shape, and you’ll often hear jaffas rolling on the floor, especially in the movies. Their round shape makes them escape easily! They’re an Australian and New Zealand institution.

Jaffas

Each year Cadbury’s, the company that makes jaffas in New Zealand, releases 30,000 of their jaffas on Baldwin Street in Dunedin, NZ (the steepest street in the world). This occurs during their chocolate festival.

I like jaffas—it’s the combination of orange and chocolate that takes me back to childhood.

JAFA is also a slang term for an Aucklander. It is short for Just Another F****** Aucklander. I guess, by definition, I am a JAFA Smile

What is your favorite sweet?

I is for Idols

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New Zealand might be a small country, but our people think big. We’re high achievers because we don’t believe in the words, “I can’t.”

At least that’s my theory.

Today, I’m going to mention two great New Zealanders.

Katherine Wilson Shepherd, known as Kate, was born in Liverpool, England, but she migrated to Christchurch, New Zealand in her early twenties. Kate Shepherd was part of the New Zealand women’s suffrage movement, and she and her group campaigned to gain women the vote. In 1893 New Zealand became the first country to grant women the vote.

Kate Shepherd is depicted on the New Zealand ten-dollar note. In September we have an election, and I intend to exercise my right to vote, since Kate Shepherd worked so hard to win me that right.

Sir Edmund Hillary was one of the first men to climb Mt Everest, the highest mountain in the world. On 29 May 1953 he, along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit and spent 15 minutes before descending. His famous words, “We knocked the bastard off.” always make me smile.

Sir Edmund attended primary school in Tuakau, the small town where I attended high school. Sir Edmund spent a lot of time in Nepal and built schools to give something back to the Nepalese people. Sir Edmund Hillary is depicted on the New Zealand five-dollar note.

Which one of your countrymen or women do you admire?

H is for Haka

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The haka is a Maori war dance or a challenge, which is performed by males. The word haka actually means dance and in the past, women used to take part too.

These days, many of our sports teams do the haka. The All Blacks, our rugby team, do the haka before each game against another country. It’s a challenge to their opposition. Our Sevens rugby team perform the haka if they win a tournament. You might have seen them during do their haka after their recent win at the Hong Kong tournament. They take off their shirts and…

*waving face*

More about the Sevens later. Our defence forces sometimes do a haka at a funeral for fallen comrades or during other ceremonial times, such as when they ship out of a country–a kind of a farewell.

Below is a series of videos featuring the haka.

 

And it’s back to my favorite haka – the one the New Zealand Sevens Rugby team does every time they win a tournament. This is the haka they performed recently, in the rain at Hong Kong.

 

Have you heard of the haka before?

F is for Fishing

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New Zealanders love their boats and fishing. Fishing is a reasonably cheap activity since you don’t need a licence, except if you want to fish for fresh-water fish such as trout.

My husband’s family are all very keen fishermen. Me—not so much. I think the sport is cruel and I always feel very sorry for the fish. Not that my feelings stop hubby’s interest in the hobby. He goes out as often as he can. All of these photos were taken on the Hauraki Gulf, not far from Auckland.

Hammerhead Shark

This is a hammerhead shark, and it was released after this photo was taken.

Baby shark

Another shark—a different variety this time—released again after the photo.

Hubby Fishing

Busy fishing. The island in the background is the dormant volcano, Rangitoto. It’s an Auckland landmark.

Hubby with Fish

Hubby with some of his catch.

SIL Fishing

And my sister-in-law with her catch.

Do you like to fish?

A is for Auckland

I’m an A – Z virgin, and I’m looking forward to tackling this challenge. Since I live in New Zealand, I thought this would make a great theme for my posts. I intend to introduce you to my home country and also to some of my romance novels, which are set in my home country.

A is for Auckland

Mt Eden, Auckland

This is the view of the central business district of Auckland and the Sky Tower, taken from the top of Mt. Eden, a dormant volcano. In the foreground you can see the crater of the volcano.

Auckland Harbor Bridge

This is the Auckland Harbor Bridge that spans the harbor.

Sky Tower

Sky Tower can be seen from all over Auckland. It’s the largest tower in the Southern Hemisphere.

 

Six Things About Auckland

1. Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, although it’s not the capital. The population is spread out over a big area.

2. The city of Auckland is built on and around a field of dormant volcanoes.

3. It’s also known as the City of Sails since there are so many boats on the harbor and has excellent fishing.

4. Auckland is the gateway to the rest of New Zealand. Both cruise ships and planes arrive in Auckland.

5. No matter where you live in Auckland, a beach isn’t far away.

6. The Sky Tower in Auckland is the tallest in the Southern hemisphere.

Auckland is my home, and I’ve written several romances, which are set here. The perfect way to armchair travel to Auckland.

There’s The Bottom Line, Past Regrets, Summer in the City of Sails, Make That Man Mine and One Night of Misbehavior.

Visit the A – Z Challenge blog

Gaudi’s Great Masterpiece

Of all Gaudi’s designs, I think the Sagrada Familia is probably one of the most ambitious and interesting buildings. It certainly dominates the skyline.

View of Barcelona

This is the Sagrada Familia as seen from a hilltop.

Exterior Queue

And here is a view of the Sagrada Familia from the other side of the road. All the people standing in front are in a queue to enter the building. The Familia is still under construction and tourist revenue is providing the funds to complete the building. As an aside, a New Zealander is responsible for completing Gaudi’s design and making any necessary adjustments during the building process.

We stood in line for an hour before we gained admittance. Hubby muttered a bit about the wait, but I stood firm. Everyone we’d met said how amazing the building was inside and I wanted to see with my own eyes.

Work in Progress

Exterior Figure

The exterior of the building is covered with carvings of people, animals and decoration.

Exterior near entrance

Here is some of the carving near the entrance to the interior.

Interior

The interior is full of marble columns. Some are pink and others are white. When I walked inside, I didn’t know where to look first. There are stained glass windows, dozens of columns and so much more.

If you’re ever in Barcelona, you have to put this on your travel itinerary. It’s well worth the wait to gain admittance.

Love and Weddings

Hubby and I attended a wedding over the weekend. We had such a great time. The weather was beautiful, the company great, and it was a gorgeous setting looking out over Karioitahi Beach.

 

Once in awhile,

Right in the middle of an ordinary life,

Loves gives us a fairy tale.

~ Anonymous

        Shelley Dressed For Wedding  Flowergirl

        View Karioitahi Beach  Cutting The Cake

Cute Wedding Guest and Rose Petals

How was your weekend?

Gaudi’s Casa Mila

Before hubby and I visited Barcelona, I’d never heard of Gaudi, but I challenge anyone to visit this vibrant city and leave without learning about this famous architect.

Gaudi was born on 25 June 1852 and died on 7 June 1926 after being struck by a tram during his daily walk. He’s best known for his design of the cathedral in Barcelona – Sagrada Familia. I’ll post photos of the cathedral another time, but today my photos are of Casa Mila, a building designed between the years 1906 – 1912.

This was a controversial design, as was most of Gaudi’s work, and it reminded me of the buildings in the cartoon, The Flintstones. In 1984 the building was declared a World Heritage site. It was built for a married couple, but the husband died in 1940 and the wife sold the building in 1946. The building was restored after being left to deteriorate and is now open to the public.

Casa Mila, Barcelona

Casa Mila, Barcelona

The chimneys at the top of the building are often photographed, and you’ll see them on many Barcelona brochures and postcards.

Chimneys

What do you think of Gaudi’s style?

Arc de Triomf – Entry to the World Expo

Arc De Triomf Barcelona

This magnificent arch is the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona. It was designed by Josep Vilaseca to celebrate the 1888 World Expo. The arch was the entrance to the exposition, and it’s built of red bricks.

I liked all the detailed carvings, and this one below is my favorite. I couldn’t find anything in my guidebook, but I call him Batman.

Barcelona Bat

A lot of travelers enjoy visiting museums, and I’ve seen a fair share since my first childhood visit to the Auckland War Memorial museum. I confess to a low boredom threshold when it comes to museums, and I pick my visits carefully. An hour is usually enough for me, and luckily my husband and I mesh when it comes to sightseeing in museums.

Are you a fan of museums? Do you have any favorites, and what types of exhibits do you favor?

Ginger and Pepper Biscuits

I found this recipe when I was flicking through a cook book by Allyson Gofton, a chef who used to be a familiar face on New Zealand television. The combination of ginger and pepper sounded interesting, and I decided to give them a try. The result was a crisp and moreish biscuit (that’s cookie to you Americans) that goes perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee. I’ll definitely be making this recipe again.

Ginger Pepper Biscuits

Ginger and Pepper Biscuits

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 teaspoons ground ginger

3/4 teaspoons mixed spice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

250 grams (8 ounces/1/2 pound) butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup of golden syrup or treacle

2 Tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon vinegar (I only had spiced vinegar in the cupboard so that’s what I used)

extra sugar for sprinkling

Instructions:

1. Heat the oven to 180C (350F)

2. Line two baking trays with baking paper

3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy then add the egg, golden syrup, fresh ginger and vinegar.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, mixed spice and cayenne pepper into the mixture, combine and chill the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Place the additional sugar in a small bowl.

6. Roll biscuits into teaspoonful size balls and roll in the sugar bowl. Flatten a fraction and finish the flattening with a fork.

7. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

8. Cool before storing in an airtight tin.

Shelley’s notes:

1. Ms. Gofton also suggests coating half the cooked biscuits with dark chocolate or pressing a piece of crystallized ginger or a hazelnut in the top of each biscuit before you cook them. You could also sandwich them together with frosting if you wanted to.

2. The biscuits are very gingery and have a slight “bite”. Hubby liked them as much as me.