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Archive for the 'Home Front' Category

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?

Bread and Sugar Paste

I’m visiting Maria Zannini today where my post is about Cinderella Breaking Bread.

My cupcake course was a bit different from what I’d thought it would be. I don’t know why I thought I’d be piping icing. The lesson was with sugar paste and was lots of fun—sort of like reverting to childhood and dabbling with play dough.

Sugarpaste Materials

These are my materials. I’ve rolled my sugar paste into pea and marble shapes ready to make my snowman.

Sugarpaste Figures

Here are my final creations. I have a snowman, a pine tree and two roses and a leaf on the cupcake. An octopus on the biscuit. A fish that looks a bit like a tadpole Smile and my cake pop hedgehog. You need to use your imagination with the hedgehog. The photo didn’t do it justice!

I hope to see you over at Maria’s blog.

ANZAC Day

Tomorrow it’s ANZAC day (25 April) where New Zealand and Australia remember those who fell at Gallipoli during World War 1.

A few years ago, Mr. Munro and I visited ANZAC Cove and Chunuk Bair in Turkey. We walked from ANZAC Cove up to Chunuk Bair. It was sweltering hot and we were exhausted by the time we reached the top. We didn’t have packs. We didn’t have people shooting at us. I don’t know how the soldiers managed during the heat of battle.

Every year they hold a special service at ANZAC Cove where Australians, New Zealanders and the Turkish people remember.

Here are a few photos. (They’re scanned so the quality isn’t as good as it could be)

Trenches_ANZAC Cove

This is taken from Chunuk Bair and is of the view out toward ANZAC Cove. You can see the trenches in the foreground.

Chunuk Bair

This is the New Zealand memorial.

ANZAC Cove 

This is ANZAC Cove (click to enlarge photo)

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

From Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, written in September 1914

Please take a moment to remember the fallen from past battles. Without their sacrifices our lives would be very different.

A Lesson in Cheese Making

I stepped out of routine last weekend. After packing my handbag with necessities, including my camera, I went off to be a Cheesemaker for a day at the New Zealand Cheese School.

There were about ten of us on the Dairy course, and we learned how to make milk ricotta, sour cream, cultured butter, yoghurt, quark and mascarpone.

We listened and learned. We made our own cultured butter and milk ricotta. We tasted samples of every type of dairy product.

It was so much fun.

One of the people who ran the course owns her own cheese company. She took a course much like this one back in 2000 and loved it so much, she started her own cheese company. We tasted several of her cheeses (ranging from cow and goat brie to a tasty blue) for morning tea.

Since the course, hubby and I have made our own yoghurt and some mascarpone. I like making things from scratch. They don’t necessarily turn out cheaper, but I can control what goes into my products, they taste good and I get satisfaction from making something myself.

As a side benefit, I have the perfect occupation for my next book—a cheesemaker!

Here are a few photos from my cheesemaking adventure.

Greek Yoghurt

Here we’re straining yoghurt to make it thicker – the consistency of Greek Yoghurt. When this is done commercially, milk solids (i.e. milk powder) are added back into the yoghurt to thicken it. This is why most thick Greek yoghurts purchased in the supermarket are higher in calories.

Cultured Butter

This is cultured butter that we made from sour cream. When I was a kid, we used to separate the cream from the cow’s milk in a machine called a separator. (Funnily enough!) The milk would come out one tube and the milk out another. When we had a lot of cream, we’d make butter in the butter churn. Both the separator and the churn were of the manual variety and used a lot of energy. I remember churning the butter—not an easy chore! The butter above was made using a kitchen mixer. So much easier.

Shelley_Milk Ricotta

This is me in my cheesemaking outfit – an apron and hairnet. I’m in charge of the milk ricotta. The curds have lifted to the top of the liquid, and I’m placing it in molds. The milk ricotta reminded me of scrambled eggs when I tasted it.

I enjoyed this course so much, I think I might go back at a later date and learn how to make feta and some of the molded cheeses like brie and blue cheese.

Are there any cheesemakers out there? Cheese fans?

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

Bella Hot, Hot, Hot!

It’s definitely summer here in New Zealand with higher than normal temperatures scorching the country. Bella has taken to cooling off by lying on her back with all her feet in the air. I call it her hot, hot, hot! pose.

Later today I’m visiting Not Your Usual Suspects blog where I’m talking about Scarlet Woman—the little book that could!

What are your favorite tips for cooling down during a hot summer?

Merry Christmas

Pohutukawa tree

Pohutukawa flowers

This is one of our native trees – the pohutukawa tree. It’s an evergreen and bears these gorgeous scarlet flowers around Christmas. Our local council has planted these trees all down our street and in some of the neighboring reserves. They make for a pretty picture.

I wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas. Enjoy your day.

Animal Antics – A Report from the Home Front

A report from the home front today.

Bella, our puppy, continues to challenge and delight us. She’s an active wee thing and loves to help out with jobs around the house. We’ve trained her to carry some of the recycling out to the bin, and she also enjoys toting the mail from the mailbox to the kitchen. Sometimes she likes the mail so much she refuses to give it back and a chasing game ensues. Most of our mail arrives in the kitchen complete with teeth marks.

Here’s a photo of Bella on recycling duty…

Bella

I had breakfast with my father and sister on Saturday and talk turned to some of their animals. My father hand milks his house cow every morning. Donna is a rangy black and white cow, and she and Dad have been a team for many years. These days—at twenty years of age—Donna’s eye sight is failing and her hearing is going, but she still kicks up her heels and charges through gates. My sister says if you see Donna coming it’s best to stand back.

But the funniest thing is that Donna goes to sleep in the middle of milking and starts snoring. Evidently the snoring is very loud. Who knew that cows snored?

I have a review for The Zombie Always Knocks Twice (seems to be free at Amazon at present so grab a copy) posting on 25 Sep, but apart from that I’m taking a blogging holiday. Hubby and I are off to Europe, so I’ll see you when I get back at the beginning of November.

Shelley’s Tip for Lazy Zips

I love my jeans. During summer I enjoy wearing shorts. Unfortunately most of my jeans and shorts end up with the same problem—a zip that keeps falling down.

The last thing anyone needs is to walk into a room with their zip at low mast. Who knows what people will see?

Maybe it’s the fact my puku sticks out—that’s Maori for stomach—but whatever the reason, it’s totally frustrating.

Then, a brainwave!

Jeans

Instead of struggling to replace the zipper or paying someone to do it, why not find a cure? This is the answer to my lazy zips.

Paper Clip

The humble paper clip.

I chose one of the feet paper clips because I liked the funky look. I hooked it into the zipper tag.

DSCF1497

 

I pulled up the zipper and hooked it around the stud/button thingie.

 

Jeans and Paper Clip

 

Then fastened the button hole over the top of the paper clip.

Tamed Lazy Zipper

Result: One tamed lazy zipper!

You could probably make a loop with a piece of waxed string, but I think the funky paper clip looks better. I can remove it easily when I want to wash my jeans.

What do you think? Do you have clever tips to share?

Want to win a print copy of Summer in the City of Sails? Check out my giveaway at Goodreads and enter the draw.

Summer in the City of Sails

Summer in the City of Sails – Goodreads Giveaway

The Mystery of the Mesclun Salad

Mr. Munro planted a tub of Mesclun salad not long ago. The tub sat outside our kitchen in a nice sunny spot. I even remembered to water it each day, and we’d started harvesting the leaves, eating them for dinner.

Then I arrived home to find this…

Squashed Mesclun Salad

Flat Mesclun salad!

At first I thought it needed water, but water didn’t help. I’d come back from a day out to find the leaves looking sick and limp.

Something clicked and suspicion started to bloom.

Bella, the puppy suspect!

This was my main suspect – Bella, the puppy.

Then on Saturday, I caught the suspect in the act. The first sun of the day shines on the tub of mesclun salad, and Bella was using the plants as a comfortable bed. I let out a shout, unfortunately before I snapped a photo to prove the crime, and she jumped off.

Oh, yes. She pleaded guilty. Her low, tucked tail wag was an indication of complete guilt.

Another crime solved by Shelley Munro.

Adventures in the Coffice

Coffee and Cake - dreamstimefree_216999

During the last few months I’ve been attempting to complete three different manuscripts. When I’m at home it’s easy to become distracted. Too easy! There’s all the housework, the Internet, my email, the puppy wanting to play and the phone, just to mention a few things likely to derail my writing day.

Since I know myself well, whenever I can, I leave the house and work in one of my favorite cafes. I’ve posted about the benefits of a coffice before (coffee shop/office), and for me writing in a cafe really works. For instance, I’ve completed the first draft of a 50K manuscript this month, writing the final words today.

But there is an interesting by-product to working in a cafe. I meet some entertaining people.

Most people are attracted by Rufus, my pink netbook. They stop to chat about the cute pink computer and want to know what it does and where they can get one.

At one particular cafe, a group of retired men and women meet after doing a twice-weekly walk. Usually, I get there before them and gradually become surrounded by their group who range in age from early 60s to 80s. They’ve started chatting to me and discovered I was a writer. I received the normal questions about research, along with a few smirks. I told one man that writers who write about murder don’t go around killing people therefore it wasn’t logical to assume I participated in all the kinky stuff he was smirking about. I heard him repeating my words verbatim to two elderly women about two weeks later. The lecture must have sunk in.

One of the elderly ladies in the group wanted to know if I’d speak at her book club. I asked what sort of books they read. “Oh, we’re very relaxed,” she said, waving an airy hand. “Each month we have a theme. This month our theme is color.”

“That’s a good idea,” I said.

“Yes, I’m reading 50 Shades of Grey,” she said. “The first bit was all right, but I’m not sure about all this bondage stuff and tying people up. How am I going to explain that to my book club?”

Yesterday, I was in my cafe around eight in the morning and was busy tapping out my words.

“Excuse me,” the man beside me said. “I’m sorry to bother you, but could you tell me a word to describe addiction.”

I must have looked a bit blank because he said, “This is my sentence.” And he read a sentence about how his gambling had overtaken him, causing him lots of problems.

“Oh,” I said, and I gave him a suggestion.

Wondering just what he was scribbling about in his notebook, I went back to my writing.

“Excuse me,” he said. “Could you spell…” He proceeded to ask me how to spell about half a dozen different words.  “Thank you,” he said politely once I’d finished.

I went back to my words.

“Excuse me,” he said.

I was starting to get the drift of what he was writing, and I was a bit nervous about what was coming next.

“I need a closing paragraph to read out to the judge. I’ve been very stupid,” he said. “I’ve done some bad things, and if this letter doesn’t work, I’ll have to go to jail.”

“Oh,” I said. “Okay, how about something like this? Your honor, I am truly sorry for my actions and have learned the error of my ways. I want to be a role model for my children. I’ve worked hard, gone to rehab and done everything required of me to turn my life around.”

He nodded, scribbled my suggestion down, adding a few words of his own. After a few minutes, he said, “Excuse me.”

I smiled politely and wondered what was coming next.

“Thank you for your help. I’m going home to shower and change now.”

“Okay, good luck,” I said.

He nodded and left. I watched him get in his car and drive away before going back to my words.

Life is never boring at the coffice!