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Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
A Wii Fun

Hubby and I have discussed getting a Wii for a long time, but kept putting it off. During the weekend Mr. Munro rang me up and asked if he could buy one. I couldn’t think of a single reason why he couldn’t and he arrived home with a Wii. Our theory is that it will be good exercise during the colder winter months. We purchased the basic one that comes with the sports and have spent most nights playing a few games of tennis and baseball.

My favorite is the tennis. I luv tennis. In real life I’m not a good player. I have enthusiasm but no skill. With the Wii, I like the way I can serve and always get the ball in the right place. Not so much in real life.

I have a problem with my right arm and have to baby it along, even when it comes to writing. Playing on the Wii hurt it so I’ve switched to playing with my left hand. Strangely my tennis has improved. I now know what I’ve been doing wrong all these years!

I’ve heard that the fitness Wii is very good, especially the new Personal trainer. We’re thinking we might get that next. I like to cycle and walk, but don’t get much upper body exercise. Hopefully, the Wii will cure that problem.

Do you have a Wii? Do you like it? Do you have the Fitness program, and if so, do you like it? What is your favorite type of non-Wii exercise?

Saturday, June 13th, 2009
Rhino, Chitwan National Park

Camera Critters

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This week’s photo for Camera Critters is a rhino mother and baby, taken in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. We rode elephants into the park and were able to get quite close to the one-horned rhinoceros, which is an endangered species. I badly wanted to see a tiger, but we weren’t lucky enough on this trip. We did see a sloth bear, which was very exciting and seeing the rhinos was amazing. They’re a bit weird in appearance and look as if they’re wearing a suit of armor.

Friday, June 12th, 2009
#8 Wire

Number eight wire is a gauge or thickness of wire used for fencing. In New Zealand it’s also a term used to indicate a can-do attitude. A number eight wire mentality means that a person can turn their hand to anything or will attempt to do anything even though it seems impossible. This term comes from the fact that #8 wire was used to repair almost everything when a better alternative wasn’t available.

I like to think I apply #8 wire mentality towards my writing. I try to never give up, no matter how many knockbacks I receive. After a rejection, I dust myself off and leap in again with both feet. Insert wry grin – I’ve had a little practice at this recently…still ticking along…

Here’s the link to a Tim Finn song called Couldn’t Be Done which always cheers me when I hear it. It’s a song about doing the impossible. (Note – for those who think Tim looks familiar, he was in bands Split Enz and Crowded House)

Recently this new Toyota ad has started playing on our TV screens. It’s a cute look at the New Zealand can-do attitude.

What is your favorite inspiration for times when things are a bit tough? A saying? A favorite book? A movie? A person?

Thursday, June 4th, 2009
How To Get Rich.

Thursday Thirteen

I was thinking this morning about the ways in which people are rich. Here’s what I came up with.

Thirteen Ways to Get Rich

1. Money – that’s the obvious one, not that money necessarily makes you happier as a person. Money makes life easier.

2. Family – people who stand in your corner and love you no matter what mistakes you make.

3. Friends – people who will stand with you and protect your back. Friends are people who you don’t have to pretend with, who know you’re hurting and are ready to help. Friends take the good and the bad times and share them with you.

4. Pets – lead a richness to life that is under estimated. All my little dog wants is food, shelter and a pat. She makes me laugh even when she’s just had an accident on the floor.

5. Children – they’re your chance to make a mark on the world, to carry on your name and make you proud. They can also come in handy when you’re old and need looking after.

6. A lover – there’s nothing better than strong arms to hold you close at night.

7. Shelter – it doesn’t need to be fancy, but a way to keep warm and dry.

8. Good health – so you can enjoy the small things.

9. Food – to survive, and if your larder includes chocolate all the better, I say.

10. Music – to bring a beat to a celebration, big or small.

11. A sunny day – it’s winter in New Zealand. A little sunshine always makes a good day better.

12. Freedom – this should be a basic right. Every person should have room to fly.

13. Books – to enrich the mind. Hey, this is my list, and I think a book is priceless.

What do you think makes a person rich?

Thursday, May 28th, 2009
I Like Vegetables

Thursday Thirteen

When I was a kid there were quite a few vegetables I didn’t like. My parents, however, had rules. If my brother, sister and I didn’t eat our vegetables, we didn’t get dessert. It was as simple as that. I learned to slog through cauliflower and parsnips, very grateful for cheese sauce, which helped make the vegetables go down easier.

These days I eat a mainly vegetarian diet. My tastes have changed and some of my childhood hates have faded.

Thirteen Vegetables I Like to Eat

1. Potatoes. (follow the link to visit an earlier TT on potatoes)

2. Carrots – both raw and cooked. They contain vitamin A, iron, calcium. Great in stews, soups and salads.

3. Spinach – in lasagne or risotto. Contains vitamin A, calcium and iron.

4. Cauliflower – nice with a tomato based sauce or cheese sauce.

5. Mushrooms – we eat mushrooms with almost everything. Not strictly a vegetable. Vitamins B2 and B3.

6. Peas – frozen peas are an excellent standby when the vege crisper is almost empty.

7. Sweetcorn – microwaved with butter.

8. Pumpkin – great in soups, cold in salads and roasted.

9. Kumara (sweet potato) – roasted. – contain iron and vitamin C.

10. Broccoli – with cheese sauce. – contain vitamins A, B, and C.

11. Beetroot – yummy served hot with horseradish sauce.

12. Green Beans – in a salad or boiled as a side dish. A rough chopped tomato type sauce goes well with beans.

13. Brussel Sprouts – they go with chestnuts very well and a little butter. Contain Vitamin A, B and C.

Which vegetables do you enjoy most? Which vegetables did you hate as a child? Do you still hate them? How did your parents get you to eat your vegetables?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
We All Scream Ice Cream

Mr. Munro and I watched a food documentary about the history of ice cream during the weekend. It was fascinating, charting the history of ice cream in Britain and giving us a glimpse of Walls, the ice cream people.

It’s said that ice cream was first invented by Roman Nero when he combined ice and fruit toppings. In China they combined milk and ice, and it’s thought that this method eventually made its way to Europe, the harbinger of our modern ice cream.

A lady called Mrs. Marshall invented an ice cream freezer. She was a famous cook, along the lines of Mrs. Beeton, and wrote four cookbooks. She also invented the edible ice cream cone, the recipe published in an 1888 recipe book. A very clever lady.

Check out this link for making Asparagus Ices. They look amazing and the recipe is from one of Mrs. Marshall’s books.

During the documentary they said that worldwide the favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla. Personally, I only eat vanilla if it has chocolate sauce with it. I much prefer a flavor such as hokey pokey or something with chocolate or fruit in it.

Do you like ice cream and what is your favorite flavor? What did you think of the Asparagus Ices? Would you try them?

Friday, May 22nd, 2009
Women on the Move!

Our local council runs a program called Women on the Move. Each month they organize a day trip to help women get out in the great outdoors, exercise and have some fun. I took a day off writing today and joined their day trip to Tiritiri Matangi.

Tiritiri Matangi means “looking to the wind”. It’s an island sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf, not far from Auckland. Not that long ago Tiritiri was farmed and the original forest cut down to make way for grassland. The Department of Conservation took over the island and hundreds of volunteers replanted native trees to reforest the island. All pests such as rats, cats, mice and stoats were eradicated. Once this was done some of New Zealand’s rarer birds were introduced to the pest-free sanctuary.

Before we arrived at the island by ferry we were asked to check our shoes and remove mud etc. We also had to check our bags and remove any rats or mice or other pests we found. Luckily I was all safe on that score!

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The weather has been horrid for the last couple of weeks but today it was a gorgeous morning. We walked through the bush, stopping regularly to check out the birds we saw.

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Today we saw:
Kakariki (a green parakeet)
North Island robin
Kokako (very rare)
Wood pigeon
Tui
Bellbirds
Stitchbirds
Whitehead
Saddlebacks
Takahe (thought extinct and rediscovered in 1948)
Fantails
Pukeko

They have kiwis on the island, although they’re nocturnal so we didn’t see any. They also have tuatara but the winter sun wasn’t enough to entice them out of their burrows.

It started raining just as we headed to the lighthouse for lunch. There’s a takahe called Greg. He’s 16 years old and is very bossy and cheeky. He hovered under our tables and tried to grab our sandwiches if we held them within his reach. He wandered inside the coffee shop, much to the amusement of the group of school kids and tried his luck in there before one of the ladies shooed him outside.

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After lunch we explored a little more, checking out the birds at the feeders before we headed down to the wharf to catch the ferry back to inner Auckland. I really enjoyed my day on Tiritiri.

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This is what a normal takahe looks like. They normally graze on grass not sandwiches stolen from lunch boxes.

Thursday, May 21st, 2009
Amorous Antics

Thursday Thirteen

I mentioned earlier this week that I’m doing some research into Regency England. What started me on this path? I picked up a copy of The Amorous Antics of Old England by Nigel Cawthorne when I last visited the library. Reading it sparked a story idea.

I give you thirteen tidbits from The Amorous Antics of Old England.

1. Dating agencies are not a new thing. Matrimonial clubs were set up as early as 1700 where members aided each other to make a good match.

2. Bundling was practiced widely until the 19th century. During the colder months when a household retired early, a young lover would go to bed with his intended. The young couple were expected to keep on their clothes. Sometimes the girl was sewn into a bundling sack so that things wouldn’t progress too far. Of course this bundling procedure didn’t always go according to plan!

3. In old Scotland a couple could get engaged by going to a nearby stream at night, washing their hands in its waters and then joining hands across it. Poet Robert Burns was betrothed to Mary Campbell this way.

4. Originally an engagement ring was three rings held together by a small rivet. Together they were called a gimmal. At the engagement, one part was given to the man, one to the woman and the third to a close friend who witnessed the betrothal. They would wear the three parts until the wedding, where the gimmal was recombined to make the bride’s wedding ring.

5. During Anglo-Saxon times, if a man had many daughters he was deemed rich because there were many women in his household to do the cooking and cleaning, raise crops and tend livestock. When he lost a daughter to marriage, he needed compensation in the form of a mund or purchase price.

6. In the north of England, young men who attended a wedding vied to pluck the garter from the leg of the bride as soon as the ceremony was over. The bride wore special ribbon garters, which were easily detached. She also wore them low on her leg to discourage over familiar hands. As part of the deal the bride was meant to scream and run away. Sometimes the young men knocked the bride over in the melee.

7. In old England, women wore charms around their necks to preserve their virtue. This meant both charm and virtue could be dispensed with easily!

8. If an Englishman was cuckolded, he advertised the fact. A ship’s captain found his wife in a compromising situation with one of his sailors. He had her stripped naked and put astride a mast with her lover on the other side. They were them bedecked with streamers and carried around East London. A band and a crowd of onlookers followed.

9. Wife selling was another way to deal with an adulterous or unsatisfactory wife. They were sold through small ads in newspapers. Sometimes a husband was disposed of in the same manner, although this was rarer.

10. Prostitution was big in London. It wasn’t necessary to pick up a girl on the street. A book called Harris’ List of Convent Garden Ladies was published with around 80 women appearing in each edition. The listings included their name, physical attributes, specialties and charges. Around 8000 copies of the book were sold of each edition.

11. In the 18th Century there were brothels catering to women as well. The owners would often cater to women of a better class who wished to amuse themselves with young male clients.

12. In the late 18th century, it was widely believed that the cure for venereal disease was to have sex with someone unaffected. This led to the rape of a large number of underage girls.

13. When James I came to the throne, he introduced sumptuous new fashions. He also passed an act requiring young women to be seen in public with their breasts exposed to the nipple. This was seen as a sign of their virginity. In the court of Charles II, women who weren’t virgins exposed their necks, shoulders, arms and breasts. This was condemned.

So, who wants to time travel?

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
The Vulcan Salute

There are some things my husband can do that I can’t, and it just drives me crazy.

One, there’s the Vulcan Salute. That’s the gesture Mr. Spock and his fellow Vulcan do as part of their greeting. There’s a photo and a description here. No matter how I hold my mouth and pucker my brow, I can’t do it! And speaking of open mouths, yes, I do that when I’m applying mascara as per yesterday’s Ever Wonder.

Two, I can’t touch the tip of my tongue to the tip of my nose. Now, there probably isn’t a good reason to actually do this. I mean it looks stupid. Hubby can do it and I can’t. Annoying because he gets this smug grin that drives me crazy.

I can, however, tongue curl. Not everyone can do that so there! Evidently, it’s a genetic thing.

Can you do the Vulcan Salute, touch the tip of your tongue to your nose or do the tongue curl?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
Holidays and Ever Wondered?

I’m so excited – no, I haven’t sold another book. In fact I’ve been receiving a lot of rejections, but I’m not talking about those today. No, I’m not. Hubby came home last night and said, “How would you like to go on holiday in September?”

“September?” I said. “I thought we weren’t going on holiday again until next September.”

He grinned at me and said, “How would you feel about Phuket in Thailand?”

My answer was yes. (of course!) and so long story short, we’ll be jetting off to Singapore and Thailand in September for 11 nights. I’m really excited since we haven’t been to Phuket. We’ve visited Bangkok and also Singapore, but Phuket is new territory.

A few days ago Sandra Cox posted the following called Ever Wonder? It made both hubby and I chuckle, so I thought I’d repost for your enjoyment.

EVER WONDER …

Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?
Why women can’t put on mascara with their mouth closed?
Why don’t you ever see the headline ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’?
Why is ‘abbreviated’ such a long word?
Why is it that doctors call what they do ‘practice’?
Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?
Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food?
Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes? –
Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?
You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff?!
Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?

I wondered recently what Samoan men wear under their lava-lavas. In fact, I’m still wondering because I didn’t like to ask…

What have you wondered recently?