Friday, 19 December 2014

I wish I was a speed-reader

Ever wondered what super power you'd want if you could choose?  I don't want a super power, but I would like to be able to speed-read.  There are just so many books I want to read, and the list keeps getting longer.  Not to mention it would make studying a whole lot easier...  There is never enough time to read it all.  So I guess, in a way, it seems a little silly to be doing what I'm doing right now.  Every December the Auckland Central Library sets up a stand covered with bundles of five books tied together, with a tag attached to each giving a brief description or genre.  The idea is that you grab a bundle that takes your fancy, borrow the five books and read something you wouldn't ordinarily pick up off the shelf.  The incentive, aside from new reading material, is going in the draw to win a prize hamper full of goodies.  Every year (that we've lived in Auckland) I've looked at that stand of books, browsed the tags, then decided against it since I already have so much on my 'must read' list.  This year?  I decided to just do it.  I picked up a bundle that was full of murder mysteries written by authors I'd never heard of, entered my name for the prize (although that was never the draw card for me) and wandered back home with the books.  I've been reading the first book on the little pile over the last few days and I have to say, aside from the obvious cheesiness - a hotel manager with the surname Steward, a cook called Mrs Hubbard, several alliterative names, and a central character that appears to have no inner monologue - I actually found it quite interesting.  This book, and a few others in the bundle, are firsts in series.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing... ;)

I have finished the Christmas baking, wrapped all the presents and packed them in boxes ready for our departure to Hawkes Bay on Monday, and now I just have to pack.  I knit the boys each a pair of fingerless mitts as requested, but since I STILL don't have a phone (grrrr) I couldn't snap any finished pics.  I also finished the pair of socks in bamboo yarn and have started another pair.  Hopefully I will have a whole, working phone again soon and I'll be able to post pictures of them all.  For now, you just get my rambling text.  I know how much y'all love that, lol :)  Sure, I've been told by a few people that I 'talk' too much - for example my dad just gets the 'highlights' from mum and scrolls through the pictures (so these posts will be of no interest to him at all) but how else am I supposed to remember how exciting and glamorous my stay-at-home-mum life is if I don't document all the fascinating details?  You're welcome ^_^

Here's something interesting for you to look at, in case you were bored.  I'm always astounded and awed by what people can do.  Here's a compilation of some of the crazy/amazing stuff that happened around the world this year.  Enjoy.  Oh, and Merry Christmas :)

Monday, 15 December 2014

Curve balls

Sorry, sorry, sorry.  No, I have not disappeared off the face of the earth, I have just been busy while not actually being busy.  If that makes sense.  Probably not...

Just when you think life is starting to come right, it throws you a curve ball.  While nearly recovering from it, BAM!  Here comes another one.  It's been one thing after another for the past few weeks, and to be honest I'm a little bit over 2014 now.  I think the boys are too - they've been sick a lot in the last six weeks, all starting with the vicious head cold that took us down one by one in early November.  Then T got pneumonia, and X has been sick the last week and a half as well.  I did not get to reap the benefits of the last couple of weeks of school getting last minute things done while they enjoyed slow-paced Christmas crafting and fun games.  No, instead I got a day here or there between one or the other or both boys home.  I'd feel bad about them being sick, but they are just a little too happy about getting to lounge on the couch all day with a computer or X Box in their face.   At least during that time I managed to get all the Christmas shopping done.  We're just waiting on one more gift to arrive in the mail, and then we are good to go.  This week is all about the Christmas baking - shortbread, gingerbread cookies, and peppermint bark are on the to-do list.  Now, where did I put my motivation...?

I have been without a cellphone since last Tuesday which has been very irksome.  I try not to be too materialistic, but damned if that thing isn't useful.  I have fallen into the habit of using it for just about everything - looking up information, organising my calendar, texting and phone calls (obvs), social media, photos, keeping track of random bits and pieces (and, y'know, the time) - I'm trying to be patient and wait for Deane to finish fixing it as I know he is very busy, but I'm starting to get beyond irritated to the point where shouty kreachr is about to rear her ugly head.  I went for a lovely run on Saturday through the Pararaha Valley, up the waterfalls and stream (which included some mildly terrifying rock-climbing and shimmying along very narrow ledges with only jutting rocks to hang on to and a rocky cliff below), waist-high stream crossings (I slipped and dunked myself twice - oops), beautiful bush surroundings, a giant fishing spider, and the usual amazing bird song and west coast views that the Waitakeres are famous for.  But of course I have nothing to show for it because I didn't have my phone/camera :(

My running has been going well in terms of knee issues - there aren't really any now.  But it's going bad in terms of there hasn't really been much happening.  I have become lazy again, and it's bugging me.  However, that irritation is not enough to get me out of bed for an early morning run, despite my love of early morning runs.  Nor is it enough to get me off my butt to do a workout.  Nope, instead I just end up eating all the food in the house, and hunting out delicious treats elsewhere such as the vegan cream doughnuts at Tart Bakery in Grey Lynn.  Yes, that's right.  VEGAN CREAM DOUGHNUTS.  I drove out there this morning to get one for breakfast, and despite my trepidation about the coconut-based cream, it was delightfully scrumptious and I did not suffer any ill effects from it.  I think I shall have to never return to that bakery, for fear of consuming far too many of these delights and growing to the size of a house.  Oh, and did I mention that Il Buco has no less than six different vegan pizzas on their menu?  They are a 10 minute walk from our place of residence.  Although I am overjoyed at the increasing availability of vegan options throughout the Auckland region, it is becoming very dangerous in terms of healthy diet, because I want to go and try ALL THE THINGS.  Vegan junk food - just as bad for you as normal junk food, but without the ethical dilemma.

I think I'll just see this year out and then get my ass into gear for 2015.  Two more weeks of slovenly behaviour and bad eating habits, then back to the grindstone - exercise, healthy eating, and back to studying my degree.  This house could do with a really good clean too...  I've never been one for New Year resolutions, but I guess this comes pretty close to one.

What are your plans for 2015?  Do you have any?  Or is it just too early to start asking that question?

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The end of an era...

T turned 10 on Sunday.  I no longer have any children in the single-digit age bracket.  I'm okay with that (see this post).  It's time to move on from the 'young children' mentality and on into the pre-teen and teen years.  ::deep breath::  Sadly, he spent all of last week at home with bronchial pneumonia.  I think he was quite happy to live in pajamas for the week and not have to go to school to be honest...

I mean, really, does he even look sick?  He looks too happy to be sick.

Helping out with my 'oh no, I'm running out of yarn' photo

He'll be having his birthday sleepover this weekend.  There are three kids coming to stay.  Considering I barely made it through X's sleepover with my sanity intact, I'm a little nervous about it, but this is what we, as parents, do for our children - endure hours of noise, rough-housing, potential furniture/window/house breakages, things flying everywhere, food all over the place...  Right?  I think I might just take them to the park and wear them out on the playground.  Fingers crossed there are no injuries...

With all that extra time on my hands, confined to the house (Deane was in Wellington for most of the week) I got plenty of knitting done.  I finished the sweater:

Not the best photo I know, but I don't really want to attempt a proper modelling session ;)  The sweater was knit in fingering weight cotton - the natural colour was given to me by a friend, and the green was an exchange with another friend that I made in order to be able to knit this sweater.  The pattern is on the beach by Isabell Kraemer, one of my favourite Ravelry knitwear designers.  I knit the small size, and the only mods were omitting the faux side seams.  The sleeves could have been a little longer, but otherwise I'm happy with it.  I'm hoping the rolling edges sort themselves out, although I'm not holding my breath.  I could try blocking it, but I'm not sure you can block cotton, can you...?

I also knit a doorstop.  Yep, that's how bored I was.  A freaking doorstop.

Wow.  Exciting. ;)  I filled it with popcorn kernels.  Deane thinks they'll go rancid and awful.  I guess time will tell.  I was joking with the kids about how it could be the secret popcorn stash, in case we ever run out and need some for movie day (which is usually every Sunday).  The pattern is from The Knitter's Year by Debbie Bliss, a book given to me by my friend KJ some time ago.  I actually like the doorstop, and we did need one, but it was probably one of the most boring knits ever.  Luckily it only took a couple of days - could've taken one but I couldn't bring myself to continue past halfway on the first day.  I had to go do something else to relieve the monotony.

Speaking of monotony, I've been running all my runs on the treadmill of late.  I haven't run outside for a whole month!  And I haven't run on trails since the marathon in October.  I really need to get out.  I miss my sunrises.  So I'm going to set my alarm for 5am on Friday morning and head out for a 12km run along the waterfront.  That should do it :)  You have to get up pretty early to beat the sun at this time of year!  Next week, I think I'll head out to Okura - Deane has grudgingly accepted that the walkway is safe enough for me to run alone during the day.  Yay!!  Now I just need about three new pairs of running shoes...  My Brooks are nearing 1,000km, my Nikes are over 650km (and I vowed to replace them, like, a year ago), and my Inov8s are shot.  I had the inside heel linings replaced before the marathon, but that 43.5km chewed through them quick-smart.  Must be time for a trip to Shoe Clinic!  Sadly, there is only enough room in the budget for one pair at the moment.  Oh well, one pair is better than no pairs :)

I've been trying out a few treadmill runs lately, and have found one that really kicks my butt (I found it on PopSugar) - it's very challenging, but in a good way.  I'm going to keep at it until I can run the whole thing without stopping, and not have reduce the top speed.  I am no Usain Bolt - 13.7kmph is very hard to maintain for two minutes when your legs are as short as mine!!  On my first attempt I had to stop to catch my breath about three or four times, and the last top speed interval I had to drop down to 13.2kmph so I wouldn't pass out.  I had visions of tripping over and whacking my face on the belt, flying off the end and smashing the window behind me.  Yeah, I'm really good at visualising worst-case scenarios ;)  It helps that I've seen plenty of these videos.

I've had both boys at school this week, but it was raining on Monday when I was planning on going for a run, so being the wuss that I was, I ran on the treadmill.  But Deane and I did get out for a lunch date at least.  I'd heard about Al's Deli via Instagram (social media - it has its uses).  As soon as I knew there was poutine within walking distance of my house - poutine with actual proper cheese curds that I didn't have to make myself or order from the South Island - I just HAD to go there!  So we rocked on in at about 1pm.  I ordered the vegan falafel burger (seriously, how cool is that?  Vegan options are popping up everywhere!  It makes me very happy) and the vegetarian poutine, which Deane and I split.  He had a giant slab of smoked brisket on top of his (he compromised with the vegetarian gravy, bless him), and ordered a burger of his own.  The burgers were brought out first, but I waited very patiently until the poutine arrived, then proceeded to shovel about half of it into my mouth in about a minute.  Soooooooo good!!  The burger was amazeballs too.  I will most definitely be going back!  They had some good vegan sides as well, and some of their desserts, although obviously not vegan, would be something I would consider trying - I mean, really, who could say no to croissant bread and butter pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and salted caramel?  And they have moose ears!!!  Otherwise known as beaver tails, or elephant ears.  Essentially, a flat cinnamon sugar doughnut.  Yum!  I could be what is termed as a 'Paris Vegan' or 'Virtually Vegan'.

  1. The Paris Vegan – Otherwise known as the “Paris Exception” this diet’s poster child is the philosopher Peter Singer who describes it this way, “If you find yourself in a fine restaurant, allow yourself to eat what you want, and if you have no access to vegan food, going vegetarian is acceptable.” Translation? Eat vegan daily, but when you find yourself in a tough spot, don’t beat yourself up for going vegetarian.

  1. Virtually Vegan — This is the category of vegans that don’t eat meat and for the most part avoid dairy. They don’t buy eggs or milk, but if a trace amount of dairy happens to be in their favorite 12-grain bread, they’re not going to worry about it. They also aren’t worried about using honey. You know, if you think about it, honey is a very natural sweetener and bee keepers are very motivated to take good care of their bees. Virtual Vegans probably live a high percentage of their day avoiding animal products, but they’re not going to sweat the small stuff. (via 'Ten ways to be vegan' on Namely Marley)

It works for me :)  I occasionally indulge in ice cream, baked goods or milk chocolate.  Otherwise I'm all about the plant-based.  When your food looks this good, who needs meat?  Amiright?

Lunch plate, when I was in a hurry to eat and couldn't be bothered making something

Snow peas and soba noodles with a spicy miso sauce, and tamari fried tofu

Wholemeal spelt waffles with fresh fruit and maple syrup.  May have had one too many of these this morning...

Most of my yummiest meals get instagrammed.  Yep, I'm one of those people.  But you already knew that ;)

Time to go sort out some dinner and get a little knitting done - I've brought out the bamboo socks again.  I decided on a little darning (which is actually really terrible but I don't care because they're only for me and it's on the inside of the sock so you can't see it) so I didn't have to re-knit the first sock, and knit the ribbing of the second sock last night.  I'd forgotten what it was like working with tiny needles.

After that's done I need to knit a couple pairs of fingerless mitts for the boys for Christmas, and then I don't know.  This year is drawing to a close pretty quickly.  I'm cool with that.  I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to the Christmas baking :)  Enjoy the rest of your week!