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The Chef’s Table

Thursday Thirteen

During our recent cruise we were lucky enough to dine at the Chef’s Table. My husband has always wanted to attend a chef’s table and was really excited when we were able to book our places.

Our dining experience started when we met the rest of the guests and donned white coats for our trip the ship’s galley. After washing our hands (they take hygiene very seriously) we were introduced to the Head chef and given glasses of French Champagne, which went nicely with our canapés.

After a quick galley visit we were escorted to our dining table and enjoyed lots of delicious food and wine.

Chefs Table_Chef

This is the chef and a shot of our table and fellow diners.

Thirteen Things on Our Chef’s Table Menu

1. Canapés: Ceviche of Chilean Sea Bass and Ginger

2. Foie Gras Terrine on Brioche, Stone Fruit Jam

3. Bistro Mini Quiche Provencale

4. Steamed New Potatoes with Sour Cream and Caviar

5. Entree: Porcini Mushroom Risotto

6. Strawberry and Cracked Pepper Sorbet

7. Main course: “Double Impact” Surf and Turf

8. Lobster Tail, Diver Scallops, Beef Filet Mignon and Lamb Rib Chops

Chefs Table_Main

Chefs Table_Shelleys Meal

This is my dinner since I don’t eat meat. I had this huge fish steak. Very yummy!

9. Rosemary Juice, Lemon Butter Fondue, Mustard Hollandaise Sauce

10. Market Fresh Vegetables, Roasted Chateau Potato

11. Cheese: Potted Stilton with Port Wine and Walnut Bread

12. Dessert: White Chocolate Mousse with Mix Berries

Chefs Table_Dessert

13. Coffee or Tea with Homemade Amaretti and Biscotti

The dinner was delicious and hubby and I went for a walk afterwards!

Have you ever been to a chef’s table or a degustation dinner?

13 Quotes About Love

Thursday Thirteen

This week I’m talking about love.

Thirteen Quotes About Love

1. Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. ~ James Baldwin.

2. Love is the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering that she looks like a haddock. ~ John Barrymore.

3. What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork. ~ Pearl Bailey.

4. Love will draw an elephant through a key-hole. ~ Samuel Richardson.

5. He gave me a look you could have poured on a waffle. ~ Ring Lardner.

6. Art is love. ~ William Holman Hunt.

7. What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork. ~ Pearl Bailey.

8. I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world. ~ Muhammad Ali.

9. Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come. ~ Matt Groening.

10. Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not. ~ James Joyce.

11. Mother’s love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved. ~ Erich Fromm.

12. Love is metaphysical gravity. ~ R. Buckminister Fuller.

13. Love affairs have always greatly interested me, but I do not greatly care for them in books or moving pictures. In a love affair, I wish to be the hero, with no audience present.

Source: Advanced Banter by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson

Which one is your favorite? Or do you have another quotation about love that you’d like to share?

13 Quotes About Ideas


I’m about to start plotting a new book and my mind is spinning with ideas. Ideas are the inspiration for my 13 this week.

Thirteen Quotes About Ideas

1. The best ideas come to me when I polish shoes early in the morning. ~ Johannes Brahms

2. Why is it I get my best ideas in the morning while I’m shaving? ~ Albert Einstein

3. Two ideas are always needed: one to kill the other. ~ Georges Braque

4. No man can describe how an idea comes to him. ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

5. Ideas come from space. ~ Thomas Edison

6. There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them. ~ George Orwell

7. Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen of them. ~ John Steinbeck

8. I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones. ~ John Cage

9. Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats. ~ Howard Aiken

10. An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all. ~ Oscar Wilde

11. It is not once nor twice but times without number that the same ideas make their appearance in the world. ~ Aristotle

12. If the idea is not at first absurd, then there is no hope for it. ~ Albert Einstein

13. Queen Victoria was like a great paperweight that for half a century sat upon men’s minds, and when she was removed their ideas began to blow about the place quite haphazardly. ~ H.G. Wells

I get my best ideas when I’m walking our dog or while having a shower. I have particularly brilliant ideas while showering.

Where do you get your best ideas?

Source: Advanced Banter, The QI Book of Quotations by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson

13 Teeth and Dentist Facts


This week I had a long overdue visit to the dentist. Certainly inspiration for this week’s Thursday Thirteen.

Thirteen Things About Teeth and Dentists

1. Humans generally have two sets of teeth during their life time.

2. Baby teeth, which number 20.

3. Adult teeth, which number 32. (This includes wisdom teeth)

4. Not flossing means you missing cleaning around 35% of each tooth.

5. Long ago dentists used to advertise their profession by hanging strings of rotten teeth outside their premises.

6. Dentist began experimenting with implants back in the 18th century.

7. Teeth were taken from dead people and implanted into mouths of those who could afford to pay the required price.

8. A set of teeth cost up to 5 guineas. (Not sure how much this equates to these days)

9. Teeth donors sometimes passed on more than their teeth. Diseases such as syphilis and tuberculosis were also passed on from infected donors.

10. Back in 5000BC people thought tooth worms caused decay.

11. Drilling teeth isn’t a new thing. It’s said that ancient dentists were very efficient at drilling…without pain killing drugs. Ouch!

12. During the Middle Ages, monks usually acted as dentists.

13. In the early 1700s, dentistry came under doctoring, but by around 1750, dentists were a branch of their own.

I’m terrible when it comes to dentist visits. I have a healthy fear and I put off visits as long as I can. My visit this week was the first one in three years!

Do you fear the dentist?


The History of Dentistry, Namibia Dentist Association

The Rotten Tooth: A Brief History of Dentistry

Thirteen Sandwich Fillings

Thursday Thirteen

When I went to school and later when I was working, I used to make my lunch every day. Sandwiches. There is nothing worse than boring sandwiches…well, maybe soggy sandwiches are worse. I tried to keep my lunches interesting, but alas there were days on end where I ate cheese and pickle between two slices of bread.

I was flicking through a cook book the other day and came across a list of interesting fillings for sandwiches.

Thirteen Filling for Sandwiches

1. Mashed avocado, a little lemon juice and sunflower seeds

2. Egg mayonnaise and cress or lettuce

3. Dahl with tomato and cucumber slices

4. Ham and mustard

5. Roast beef, horseradish sauce and salad

6. Cold omelette with celery pieces

7. Chocolate spread and mashed banana

8. Cream cheese and lightly crushed strawberries

9. Hummus, tomato and celery

10. Cheddar cheese, chutney and lettuce

11. Meatloaf and salad

12. Avocado and vegemite/marmite

13. Chopped dates mixed with lemon or orange juice, chopped brazil nuts and celery pieces

Did you or do you make packed lunches? What are your favorites?

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?

Thirteen 18th Century English Resource Books

Thursday Thirteen

I’m busy researching in preparation to write a new historical romance series. My chosen time period is 18th century England, and here is a list of my current reading.

Thirteen Non-Fiction Books on English History

1. Great Houses of London by James Stourton, Publisher Frances Lincoln Limited

A book featuring some of the great houses in London with lots of great photos.

2. Georgian House Style Handbook by Ingrid Cranfield, Publisher David & Charles

Features the different interiors and furnishing of a Georgian building. Also a little about architects and the styles of house.

3. London in the Eighteenth Century by Jerry White, Publisher The Bodley Head.

This book is full of great info on the people, the city, work in the city and culture.

4. The London Square by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Publisher Yale University Press

A history of residential squares in London.

5. The Golden Age of Flowers by Celia Fisher, Publisher The British Library

Botanical illustration in the age of discovery 1600 – 1800

6. How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore, Publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Georgian Britain’s most ineligible bachelor and his quest to cultivate the ideal woman.

7. Mid-Georgian Britain by Jacqueline Riding, Publisher Shire Living Histories

How we worked, played and lived.

8. Vauxhall Gardens by David Coke & Alan Borg, Publisher Yale University Press

A history of Vauxhall Gardens

9. The Secret History of Georgian London by Dan Cruickshank

How the wages of sin shaped the city.

10. Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen

A guide to nine walks that Jane Austen enjoyed.

11. Georgian London: Into the Streets by Lucy Inglis

A guide to 18th century London.

12. The Amorous Antics of Old England by Nigel Cawthorne, Publisher Portrait

All sorts of interesting snippets on courting.

13. Daily Life in 18th Century England by Kirstin Olsen, Publisher Greenwood Press

A book full of social history details.

Are you a big non-fiction reader? If so, what is your chosen topic?

Thirteen Favorite Scents


Scents are so evocative. They bring back good times, bad times, memories of childhood. Here are some of my favorites—the good memory kind.

Thirteen of My Favorite Scents

1. Popcorn

2. Fresh peaches

3. Mulled wine

4. Peppermint

5. Mown Grass

6. Warm bread

7. Cinnamon

8. Sweet peas (the flower)

9. Gingerbread

10. Tomatoes on the vine

11. Hay

12. Peppermint

13. Coconut oil

Do you like any of these or do you have another scent to add to my list?

13 Things to do in Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday Thirteen

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. It’s big in terms of population (32% of NZers live here) and spreads from Waiwera and Kumeu in the north to Runciman in the south. Auckland is also my home.

Here is a list of Thirteen interesting places to visit in Auckland.

1. Sky Tower – the phallic-like tower dominates the inner city skyline and can be seen for miles. This is an excellent place to get a view of the city and the braver people can bungee jump off for a quick descent. One of the restaurants at the top of the tower is a revolving one, and there are also displays about making the tower.

2. Mt. Eden – this is one of the dormant volcano cones within the city. The 360 view from the summit is gorgeous. From the top you can also look down the steep slopes of the almost perfect crater.

Mt Eden, Auckland

3. The Auckland Memorial Museum – the museum sits within the Auckland Domain. If you’d like to learn about New Zealand and the Maori people, this is the perfect place to start.

4. Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World – building the aquarium was a labor of love for Kelly Tarlton. He purchased old sewage tanks and turned them into an underground aquarium. The large Perspex tubes that you can walk through to look at the fish, and are now common in aquariums worldwide, were first used and designed here. Along with fish you can also see penguins.

5. Rangitoto Island – This is the “youngest” volcano in the Auckland region and it erupted around 600 years ago. Catch a ferry over to the island to explore the lava caves and walk to the summit.

6. Waiheke Island – Beaches, vineyards, walks and relaxation only a thirty-five minute ferry ride from central Auckland.

7. Devonport – a small village that’s a 10 minute ferry ride across the harbor. There is a nice beach, shops, cafes, lots of art galleries, more extinct volcanoes and walking tracks.

8. Waitakere Ranges Regional Park – Get out into the wilderness. Native trees, walking tracks and it’s not far from the central city. See some of our mighty Kauri trees here.

9. Beaches – The city straddles both the west and east coasts. In the west we have beaches with black sand and big breakers. (Tasman sea) On the east we have white sandy beaches and the Pacific Ocean.

10. Viaduct Harbor – This is a waterfront area full of restaurants and bars. You can sit with drinks and a meal and watch all the expensive boats. An excellent place to people watch. The Maritime museum is here too.

11. Coast to Coast walk – This walk is 16 kilometers long and goes from one coast to the other, crossing parks, passing volcano cones and going through the different suburbs.

12. Cornwell Park and One Tree Hill – The park donated by Sir John Logan Campbell for the use of the people of Auckland. Have afternoon tea and climb up to the obelisk at the summit of One Tree Hill. It’s also a working farm and during the spring you get to see all the lambs racing around. Very cute!

13. Go wine-tasting. There are several regions close to the city: Henderson, just north of the city, on Waiheke Island or visit the Villa Maria vineyard in Mangere. (not far from our international airport) Time it right and attend one of the many concerts that are held at the vineyard or just taste some of their wines and eat at their cafe. The cheese platters are good.

If you were to visit Auckland, what would you want to see first?

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Thirteen Pieces of Advice for Aspiring Writers

Thursday Thirteen

I’ve been in a writing mood recently, which is great from my point of view. Today, I wrote “the end” on my current work in progress. Since my mind is in the groove, I thought I’d give some advice to aspiring authors.

1. Sit down and write every day. Make writing into a good habit.

2. Join a writing group, either a chapter or an online community for support.

3. Read and read widely. Analyze books that work for you and those that don’t. Use them as a learning tool.

4. Make a point to learn about websites and social media.

5. Enter writing competitions to help yourself improve and also to give yourself a writing deadline.

6. Research markets, agents and editors to familiarize yourself with what publishers and agents are looking for. This will help you narrow down who to submit your book to. If you’re thinking about self-publishing learn as much as you can about the process.

7. Keep a record of how much you can comfortably write each day. Knowledge of your possible output will help you once you’re published and facing deadlines.

8. Take online classes and attend conferences to learn as much as you can. I’ve been published for a while now, and I’m still learning!

9. When it comes to actual plotting, try all the different methods. Plotting, pansting and in between until you find a method that works for you.

10. There is no right or wrong way to write a book. There is only your way.

11. Find a critique partner/s to help critique your work and critique other writers’ work. This is a learning process too.

12. Once you’ve completed and polished your book send it off to your chosen publisher or agent. While you’re waiting, start work on your next book. If you’re self-publishing, complete the publishing process and start work on the next book.

13. Celebrate each success because writing is a difficult business and plain hard work.

Do you have any suggestions to add to my list?