It's my sister's 21st today. Happy Birthday, Sis! Hope today goes fantastic for you, with lots of happy memories. She's already got herself a new pair of shoes and a new top, haha. There's a cake (or possibly two!) in the waiting, some small gifts, some big sisterly advices (wonder if she will even take them to heart - yet), some floating colourful things, some many small dishes, and one big prize present for the year. Hopefully everything will go to plan, haha. We will see! :)
C and I are long time loyal members of this shop. We love going in for a 'browse', fully aware we will come out with at least one treat each. We have spent an amazing amount of money for their chocolates here, an incredible amount that is actually quite worrying, because of, you know, that saying, 'you are what you eat'?
Haha, here is one of the culprits for my winter fat! It sure is getting colder around here. I was at work today and couldn't feel my toes, even inside two pairs of socks!
I took the day off (work) to follow friends (working) to Whangarei today. Whangarei is a town of around 70000 people, 2 hours North of Auckland. P and T were auditors going up to meet up with a client, and I was just tagging along to see C, because I'd never visited the town before. The boys dropped me off at Otaika, where C then came to pick me up.
My favourite part of Whangarei was the Marina Basin. It was a pretty place with many cafes overlooking the parked boats.
The weather, for the most part, was sunny. With intermittent bouts of rain and wind.
Next to a huge playground where C and I were savouring our very sweet fudge-cchino (fudge hot chocolate drink with coffee), there was this small art gallery house.
This is where we got the hot drinks from. Mine was Baileys fudge, and C chose the Russian Fudge.
Back in city centre, listening to buskers.
This cute tissue box and cover was by my side all day, due to the wretched cold I have been forced to be with all week.
Some other views of Whangarei:
After a rain, there always appears a rainbow to make you feel better.
Apparently tonight is the ball night for C's old high school. Happy Ball night, high schoolers. Enjoy, but behave!
The uni exams period have truly ended yesterday. Yay?! I am still working part time and looking for a full time work. Hopefully soon. My younger sister's 21st is approaching rather quickly, and I hope I will be able to make it a worthwhile day for her, at least. I have been a little unwell over the weekend, feeling feverish and sick. Must have been something I ate. Argh. But am feeling much better, so don't worry :)
Lunch today was sausage in a sandwich bread with greens with cheese. Sis says the house smells sausage-y. Haha.
This is not the first of Gary Hustwit's documentaries that I have watched. Last month I watched the first of the trilogy, Helvetica. Unfortunately the second in the series was not available at uni, so I had to move onto the third and last of the trilogy: Urbanized.
As the title suggests, the 85-minute documentary is about urban design - the design of cities, how it impacts the lives of its citizens, and, in turn, how these residents influence the design, as well.
As my home town Christchurch is planning to rebuild its earthquake devastated city, I have naturally become more interested city planning. Despite the current sad state of the city, I am optimistic about the new opportunities Christchurch will gain as a result. Maybe it is in naivety and idealistic nature, and I hope I won't be disappointed with the end result... Which will not be in the too near a future...
What kind of a city would I like Christchurch to re-liven up to be?
A walkable and compact city with connected, close-knit communities. I loved how in Paris I was able to get around everywhere on my feet. It was healthy and enjoyable. Unfortunately I don't get the same pleasures in Auckland, where everything is so spread out.
As well as being able to walk between places, my ideal city would be bike friendly, even for beginners like myself. I have not been biking for a long time because I am just so scared to share lanes with cars. It's tiring for my legs because I always feel like I have to compete with their speed! But some of my biking experiences have been the most memorable adventures ever. There should be more bike only lanes in place. Apparently in Denmark, the bike lanes are separated from the cars by parked cars in between. I'd definitely feel safer with the added barrier and distance from the fast moving cars.
I'd still very much like my home town to live up to its title as New Zealand's 'Garden City'. It'd be nice to have more green spaces in the city centre, farmers' markets, and more community garden projects. There are a few here in Auckland, and I know there are already existing ones in Christchurch as well, but more of them, please!
Also, more of: cool cafes and restaurants, nightlife, music and cultural scenes, children friendly places, old people friendly places...
As would be ideal in any cities. I found that most of these ideas have already been taken into account by the council. Which is good news! The only downside is the money and time needed...
There's an ice skating rink at Aotea Square! It opened earlier this week. How exciting! With loud upbeat music, a Merry-go-round, a Teacup-and-saucers, another I-can't-remember-what... It's almost like I'm back in Europe, and it kinda feels like winter!
It's $20 for adults to ice skate for 90 minutes, including skate hire. The other rides are $6.50 for adults and $4.50 for children. Not the cheapest, huh. Still, people were having fun, and I bet it'd be more beautiful at night with the lights. If you're keen, better get there while you can, because it's not going to be there for ever.
Pannacotta with M at Delectable Desserts in Elliott Stables in Auckland CBD was really nice. Not too sweet, but with strawberry and kiwi pieces, just the right amount of sweet hints to satisfy us both.
Pannacotta is an Italian dessert M had been wanting for quite a while. Well, we finally ticked that wish off :).
It's made with cream, milk, sugar and gelatin, and doesn't seem too hard to make, so I may give it a go one day.
Next on the list is Mexican food in 'Mexico'... Soon...
Pecan and date brioche, orange poppyseed cake,
Date with A this morning/afternoon! It's been so long since I last saw her, or even talked to her, such a busy lady that she is. But every time it's still so comfortable to be in each other's company. We went to this Sheinkin cafe on Lorne Street, where I had been once before.
They have a clean white interior and is a popular dining option for the professionals working in town. Their lunch menu is satisfying, but we were keen to try out their sweet selections in the cabinet for a 'light' eat.
We chose two and shared, and I loved both of them so much. Unfortunately we were short on time so it was more a storm catch up session than a relaxed coffee and cake event, but no matter.
I will see you very soon, hopefully, in another few months' time, sweetie. Have a great rest of the stay in Auckland! Bisous! xx
Sis asked why I haven't already finished the bottle of red wine she gave me on my birthday last month. Um.. I was saving it?! Savouring it?! She seemed disappointed that I haven't enjoyed it as enthusiastically as she'd hoped. So I used some of it into making tonight's dinner.
Of course I left some behind so I can still drink when in need of a wind down... Probably this weekend...
No pictures sorry because I was too hungry to take any pictures... I found this pretty blog post about it though, from where I got the photo. My one looked similar, though not as pretty. I also opted to have my coq au vin with rice, not vege skewers. Such a filling dinner, I'm so happy right now :)
Donde estas? I went to Mezze bar after the last exam of the semester thinking I will be able to practise a bit of Spanish to find that our favourite waiter had the day off. Ah, well. To celebrate the end of uni for another semester C and I had sangria, which we gulped down in happiness, and baklava.
For dinner I had my lamb tagine, and C a small patatas bravas. My meal was way larger than C's, and I am still very very full because of it. We made friends with more waiters working at the bar. Haha. Not sure who I will frequent here with in the next month, now, since C is leaving town to go North on a job placement. I also need to look for another job, too...
Mum and I had a girly day on Friday. We had lunch at a sushi place then went shopping, and getting our nails done, then rested ourselves a bit at Theobroma's in the Riccarton Westfields shopping centre in Christchurch. It has been our local mall for.. forever. Did you know Christchurch has the largest shopping space to person ratio in New Zealand? I bet it's even more so now, since after the earthquakes and people leaving the city.
Theobroma's is one of my sister's favourite places in Christchurch and I am sure she will be jealous for us having come here without her. It's actually a chocolate boutique, popular for its thick chilly hot chocolate drinks, but Mum and I decided on pots of tea each on this occasion. With a small selection of chocos, of course ;)
The weather in Christchurch this week has been cold and pretty grey, to be honest. I tried to keep busy and move about so as not to get too cold. One of the things I wanted to do during my week here was to bake these rainbow cupcakes, an idea I got from one of my friends.
It was fun playing around with food colourings and icings, which I don't usually both with. I added a blue and a red one to my vanilla cupcake mixture, and gosh they came out BRIGHT!
I had made a special trip to the local dairy for the rainbow strips. Childhood memories :) I don't think I will be presenting them to anyone (which had originally been the plan) because they are less than perfect, but it was a fun experiment.
Hope your weekend will be full of colour and smiles!
Bon week-end xx
One night while studying for the exams, feeling quite hungry and deciding to treat ourselves, away from the stress, C and I came here for dinner. It was my first time and I wanted a bigger feed than at the usual hang out across the road, on High Street, Auckland.
C got a chicken pasta and I a vege pizza. It was enough for us both, and I really enjoyed the friendly service we got here. :)
The cake is so called because it only takes 5 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes to bake, a quick and easy recipe to whip up when an unexpected visitor calls. I saw a picture on Pinterest and it led me to this blog post where I got the instructions.
I made a few adjustments - orange zest instead of the lemon, walnut pieces instead of almond slices. Worked just as nice, and I am satisfied with the outcome! Perfectly in time for afternoon tea :)
In a bowl, pour 1C sugar, and orange zest. Rub to flavour the sugar. Whisk in 2 eggs, one at a time. Add 1/4t salt, 1t vanilla. Next comes 1C flour, and 8T melted and cooled butter. Into the cake pan, sprinkle the nuts and sugar. Bake for 25 minutes in 175 degrees Celsius.
Simple as that :) Welcome home, mum, look what I made!
Dad and I had a bit of a wine session in my room while Mum entertained her friends downstairs last night. We had a tasting selection of three red wines, and caught up on each other over fruit and other snacks.
After Dad had picked me up from the airport that afternoon we headed straight for the supermarket to get ingredients for German currywursts. I had loved them when I visited the country last year, but Dad had not been able to try them because he hadn't had the time to sought them out.
We got 6 sausages, cut into bite sized slices, heated them on a pan with a dollop of butter. Added 1cup tomato sauce, 1T curry powder, 1t paprika powder, 1/2t sugar, 1/4t onion powder... then simmered for around 20 minutes. Sprinkled more curry powder on top.
The curry was strong and it would have been more authentic had we fried some chips on the side as well, but we were in a hurry to get upstairs before the guests arrived, haha.
It's so good to be back, even though the weather is definitely much cooler than the North Island. There are still bits of snow left from earlier this week, and I got woken by a rumble of earthquake in the early hours this morning. Ah, yes, the earthquakes. There is also another warning of snow for today, so better be careful on the roads!
Sorry I haven't been blogging a lot lately. I have been busy with exams and end-of-the-semester assignments! It's been crazy times. But, most of them have finished now, only one to go in a week's time, so I took the opportunity to come down to my parents' place for the week.
So, there are some catching up to do! Sunday morning I went for a walk to get a morning coffee downtown, and on the way I spotted a shooting in process, or rather, in preparation. I'm not sure what the group of red people was for though. An ad? A film?
Espresso workshop takes pride in having award winning baristas among its team. Gold medal winners! It has a clean interior and an array of baked goods as well.
I treated myself to a smooth latte with a hint of bitterness. Lovely warm waking cup to a day that was, all in all, pretty happy. As well as having finished my essays, I also got a cute message from a friend from the other side of the world that brought smiles to face :) :). Also ended the day with a long stay at my favourite hang out, too. It was a wonderful Sunday spent!
It is Saturday night and I am at uni trying to write up one last essay that is due on Monday. How sad. I have tried to write it at home for the past two nights, but instead of using my time up wisely I kept finding myself wasting time on various blogs looking at beautiful pictures and listening to funky music and reading up book and news excerpts. Now the due date is approaching, on which day I am also due to catch a flight down to see my parents for a week - so exciting! - I decided to drag myself to uni to write in the quiet. At least I am not the only one here. It is exams time at the moment and so plenty of fellow students are keeping their head down in stress cram mode. Even on a weekend night. Only 1200 more words to go...
Last night I dreamt of an impressive museum in white marble blocks. It seemed like those hotels, actually. In the rectangular courtyard the vines climbed the surrounding walls. On one corner was a large Egyptian animal figure holding an urn of water, with the fall from its shoulder to the well in its feet. In my dreams this was a mourning place of the death of both Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, the two great musician kings. Weird. It was night and there was no light, so I was having trouble seeing. I don't think I was wearing my glasses. Thankfully the night wasn't chilly. It must have been late spring or early summer. At one point an official looking car was chauffeured into the courtyard through the big black iron gates. Some important person was guided into the safety of the building, cloaked in the still quiet darkness, save for their quick feet. As the high entrance doors were closing another side door opened on the left hand side. An elderly butler waved me inside and hurried me into a room through a glass set of doors. A classic styled sitting room, unlit but still warm from the dying heat of the evening party...
My meal today was inspired by this picture from this blog. I wish I had a sandwich grill at home. Hmm..
It's snowing heaps in Christchurch today, apparently! Schools and workplaces closed, for some. People in the airport waiting for their planes to take off again. Yikes! Hope the weather clears again soon, I am planned to go down after the weekend!
Happy Queen's birthday! It's not really her birthday, of course, but she's been the head of the Commonwealth for an awful long time now, and she is still healthy as! Good on her! Hope you have a good day off work (to whom it applies) :)