Tag Archive: books

Feasting for winter

“...your kitchen looks like a bear came in search of honey.”
- Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Right now I am buried deep in boxes after the truck came and dropped off all my stuff from Auckland. SO exciting! I am impatiently waiting for M to find something to prop the front of my bookcase up on (the floor is uneven) so I can unpack all my books. Impatient might be an understatement...

Anyway, a couple of weekends ago we invited M’s parents and sister round for dinner which was an awesome excuse to get my hands dirty doing some fun cooking. I really wanted to make bread from scratch which is something I haven’t really done before (apart from making pita bread once which is pretty fun). I had a recipe from my old flatmate which I was keen to try out so on Saturday afternoon I found myself elbow deep in flour! But it was all worth it because the bread came out divine.

I also really wanted to make corn chowder so I had a array of different ingredients I thought might possibly go in it but no real idea of what I was going to do. This seems to be a common theme of my cooking! I had browsed various recipes but nothing was quite what I wanted so I just made it up as I went along. There is onion, pumpkin, potato, celery, corn, coconut cream, veggie stock, sundried tomatoes, various spices among various other ingredients I can’t remember now. It all seemed too chunky for my liking once it was done though so I bizzed it up a tiny bit with the stick blender so there were still plenty of lumps but nothing too ginormous.

It ended up turning out delicious and served with the bread I was quite impressed with myself! We ended up eating way too much and getting super full...always a sign of a successful meal. But of course you have to have dessert. I had a whole lot of rhubarb in our freezer which M’s Mum had given us so I stewed that up with some apples and raisins and made a delicious crumble. So all in all it was the perfect winter feast.

Since then it’s got steadily colder. In fact they reckon there might be snow down to sea level tomorrow...I hope they are wrong! But now I have all my books so I guess it could be worse!

Oh my, it's white chocolate paradise!!

Doing anything or going anywhere with Black Dog required superhuman strength. If Black Dog accompanied me to a social occasion, he would sniff out what confidence I had and chase it away.
- I Had a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone

In New Zealand it is estimated that up to one in five women and one in ten men will become depressed at some point during their lives. Apparently that's about 12.6% of the population (statistics from the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand). I don't know about you but I find that figure positively frightening. I did want to write more here but I discovered I'm feeling a bit lost for words...

I Had a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone and Living With a Black Dog by Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone (both expertly illustrated by Matthew Johnstone) are two exceptional books that give a unique insight to what it is like to suffer from depression and what you and those around you can do to try and help.

If you are suffering from depression or know someone who is, these books are exceptional. There is something about the simpleness of the language and the expression in the illustrations that struck me right in the core. I have never seen anything quite so honest, simple and real on this topic before, something that could make depression not such a mystery for those around it's sufferers.

Anyway, today has vastly improved from the morning. I was on my way home from visiting work and decided to go get some vegan cheese as a surprise for J since he's never tried any. Although it's practically just across the road from where I live I've hardly ever been into the SAFE Cruelty Free Shop in St Kevin's Arcade but I remembered they were one of the few places round here stocking Cheezly cheese. But until today I didn't realise they had a whole range of Sheese cheeses. They've probably been stocking them for ages but I've just never noticed! I got the mozzarella style cheese to try and I'm real excited about it although I have no idea how I'll use it yet!

While I was at the counter paying I noticed this:

Dairy-free white chocolate!! So naturally that had to be bought too. I could barely wait until I got home to try some (lucky I'm so close by...or perhaps not so lucky for my stomach because it's really good and I'm likely to buy some more and devour the whole lot!). I'll be very interested to see what J thinks of it when he gets home.

Ooo, I do like Fridays!

Cyllan saw what lay ahead of her, saw the whirling chaos of black light and impossible colours that tore the world apart beyond the Maze. She glimpsed the tortured crags of the mountains twisting in on themselves, moulded by the Warp to hideous illusions, and in terror she flailed at the gelding, struggling to stop its headlong flight before it was too late.
- The Outcast by Louise Cooper

The Outcast, for reasons unknown, is probably my all-time favourite book. Well, favourite fantasy book anyway. My lovely cousin and I were both entranced by it on the first read. The interesting thing is that it is the second book in a trilogy and yet the first book that either of us read from not only that series but also by Louise Cooper...at quite different times and quite apart from each other. I have since become a Louise Cooper fanatic. Her books are notoriously difficult to find as they are mostly out of print and many of the libraries no longer hold copies as they have become so old and worn but that's not stopped me from managing to source almost all of her adult fiction. Anyway, that was just a random aside!

I don’t work on Fridays for a variety of reasons but that doesn’t mean I am not generally incredibly busy. One of the things I generally try to do in the day is visit the library. This is both wonderful and deadly as it is like a kind of heaven (books are my home) but I’ll always end up getting more books out than I expect and will have to lug them up the hill to my apartment.

The highlight of moving into the Auckland City zone was finally being able to join the Auckland Public Library system. Although I’ve always lived in Auckland it has actually been divided up into 4 main centres (the outskirts of Auckland are also divided up but not included in this list): Manukau City (South and East Auckland), Auckland City, Waitakere City (West Auckland) and North Shore City. Each centre has its own library system among many other things. As a student I’d visited the library and been incredibly jealous of the amount and range of books that the Auckland library system had but living out of zone meant I had to settle for my local library system which I often found a little lacking in depth.

This Friday wasn't the greatest of days so I called into my favourite vegetarian café, Raw Power Café on Vulcan Lane in the central city (Friday is the only day I can go there as I’m working Monday to Thursday and it’s shut during the weekends) to pick up some food to brighten my day.


I treated myself to a kumara sandwich filled to the brim with all sorts of veges and hummus. It was so fat I could barely get my mouth around it! I also got a slice of their extremely good vegan chocolate cake (although to be honest it's pretty rich so I felt a bit ill afterwards!).

I also finally got myself a new bike helmet. Isn’t it pretty?!

As the girl in the shop pointed out, it matches my camelbak](http://www.camelbak.com/) pack too! It also stops J from pinching it since he reckoned he wouldn’t be seen dead in it as it might ruin his manly reputation! Here are my random thoughts on girly things for tough sports: I like the contrast of pink and of flowers against the mud and rough terrain of the outdoors plus generally the other option is going to be blue and I’m not a big fan of the colour blue.

Traveling through the madness of Spin

This is a secret: sometimes I am glad when Henry is gone. Sometimes I enjoy being alone. Sometimes I walk through the house late at night and I shiver with the pleasure of not talking, not touching, just walking, or sitting, or taking a bath. Sometimes I lie on the living room floor and listen to Fleetwood Mac, the Bangles, the B-52’s, the Eagles, bands Henry can’t stand. Sometimes I go for long walks with Alba and I don’t leave a note saying where I am.
- Claire from The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I finally finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger late last night. It had me up late desperately clinging to the pages of the book as I moved closer to the inevitable end. It’s been a long time since I’ve managed to get engrossed in a book, and even longer since I’ve been moved so deeply by the words on a page. There is something about the characters in this book which touched me deeply. I felt their pain, their loss, their fear, their loneliness. But I also felt their love, their passion, their hope, their beauty. But I was oddly disturbed this morning to discover that the book is being made into a film...

So I didn’t get much sleep after finishing the book as I had to leave the house just after 5am this morning to get to spin class. I was thinking about the madness of spin (Peloton) class the other day. You have to get there for the gym opening at 5.45am in order to claim a bike in time for the class which starts at 6:05am. So when I’m staying at my parents then, well, I have to leave just after 5am. Madness! Plus the class itself is crazy. Crammed into a tiny, darkened room filled with about 30 of these stationary bikes we gasp for air, sweating like anything despite (or perhaps because of) the tiny open windows and 2 fans going at full throttle. Our instructor sits up the front on his bike barking out orders (his microphone has been broken the last couple of times) and instructing us to “add more dial” (read: increase resistance and therefore pain) and to “pick up that cadence” (read: speed up that peddling). He has to shout to be heard above the thumping music blasting out of the stereo even when he’s got a microphone. All the while we are grabbing at our towels to wipe the sweat away and cursing the discomfort of those bloody bike seats (and I’m trying to work out how many more tracks until it’s over!). We battle our own imaginary hills and sprint race against invisible opponents as if it’s life or death. So why do I keep coming back? It’s bloody addictive, that’s why!