… 52 resolutions.

High Tea

During the month of January I said that for #30 Visit somewhere new (full list is here) that it was actually somewhere I had been before but not really visited. This is what I ment.

A very good friend of mine, Zac, was visiting from Christchurch and we decided to do something a little different while we were having a catch up. We went for High Tea for two at the Camellia Tea House

High tea for two at Zealong

High tea for two at Zealong

Well what a beautiful setting. I had been out to the Zealong Tea Estate once before for a look but at that point they still had buildings going in and the gardens were still being established. I didn’t stay for tea on that visit so I don’t really consider that a proper visit. Not having tea at a tea house seems like a non visit to me.

This proper high tea was such a lovely experience. It is very peaceful overlooking the plantation and the food was even yummier to eat than it was to look at. I forgot to take a photo of the full afternoon tea but did get one of the toplevel. The tea itself was such a treat. We got to pick our flavor (which is basically different degrees of roasting) and had a little table side burner to keep the pot hot. The tea you infused yourself and it only takes a minute. Well we were so busy talking we forgot and had an overly strong first cup. My only complaint is that maybe they should supply a little egg timer so you can time the infusion. I only really mention this as we sat and watched giggled as other groups sat down and had the same problem with timing the tea.

Zealong Plantation

Zealong Plantation (photo via http://www.zealong.com/en/Camellia-Tea-House)

Also while we were there we had a little stroll along the path and checked out the neat bronze statues they had depicting various parts of the tea making process and a very impressive looking dragon made from tea pots and tea cups. (Note to self: this would have made for great novelty photos… must do next time I am there.)

I throughly enjoyed the experience and am keen to do it again. It also ment I got to spend a lovely time catching up with one of my favourite people in the world.

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The Tale of 2 Movies

Number 24… Watch a new (to me) movie once a month.

I put this one on my list because frankly I am lazy… and cheap. We never go to the movies, no date nights or anything. I think the main reason we stopped going was it just got so expensive. For the price it cost to go we could buy it on DVD as a new release. We don’t do that either. Unless it is a very special DVD we are usually strictly bargain bin people. (I can’t believe how sad and boring we sound.) I tend to watch the same handful of movies over and over. They are like my ugly worn out trackies or comfort food… always reliable, know how to make me feel better and what I need to hear. My mood will dictate the movie but it will usually be one of these: Pride and Prejudice; Desperately Seeking Susan; The Breakfast Club; The Pick of Destiny; The Fast and the Furious- Tokyo Drift; Top Gun.

 
The Breakfast Club

So I thought that in making myself watch something different might be a nice change. There are often things that I say I’d like to see but then never do.

Last month I excelled myself and saw 2 new movies, one so new it was a preview screening at the movie theatre. Both movies couldn’t be anymore different if I had tried.
 
Now before we go too far, I am not; a reviewer, an expert, renowned for amazing taste in film. I like what I like and am unafraid to say I have not gotten round to seeing Avatar or that I did not like the Lord of the Rings. *gasp* A new Zealander that didn’t like Lord of the Rings? Shocking. If you want a break down on the actual movies maybe using the IMDB links would be best.
 
 
 
We had free tickets to this from The Rock radio station for the preview screening. I went along with very low expectations and was only really there because it was free. I even asked a film buff friend on the way in how bad he expected it to be and he informed me that it had a 13% rating somewhere (sorry I really should pay more attention but I was quite focused on my choc top and popcorn) already.
I was actually surprised that I didn’t hate it. I even sort of enjoyed it. Now I did have issues with the whole invisible electricity aliens and the way they killed off a couple of victims but it wasn’t the worst thing I have watched. I did think the 3D was pointless and added nothing to the movie and the script was at times quite cheese laden, particularly near the end with a Independence Day-esk speech complete with gate wide open for sequel. The acting was generally watchable, no Oscars to be won but fairly consistent throughout. Early in there was a patch that dragged so much that it made me turn to my friend next to me and actually complain I was bored. That part passed and I then got over it. Like most females I took issue with costuming, well mainly one characters shoes and lack of.
To me it is the kind of B grade late night movie that is fine for some light entertainment. In that capacity I would definitely watch it again if I stumble on it but I wouldn’t be going out of my way to watch it.
 
  

Mao's Last Dancer (film)

 I did ballet as a child so anything dance related I am usually keen to see. I really enjoyed how this movie was all put together with having his life as 2 timelines running side by side almost. It flowed so well which I was impressed by as when movies have flash back type scenes it usually breaks up the story for me. I was also fascinated by the concept of the communist regime manufacturing artists. How the basis of anything can be taught but without the talent or the passion or the understanding and feeling it can not be complete or convincing. I guess it is like a lot of things in life, either you’ve got it or you don’t.

This movie was a very compelling watch. I knew that I was most likely going to enjoy it but I was surprised that Frosty was glued to it the whole time too. He found that he couldn’t even pull himself away to make a cuppa. I enjoyed this movie so much that I have added the book title to my list of books to read at some stage.

Oh and Happy Valentines Day to all. I hope that you all know that you are loved regardless of your status. 🙂

 

JAI 103 Challenge

This weeks Just Add Ink challenge was to just add: red and white. As soon as I saw it I thought “no way, too hard!” Then an hour later an idea hit me and I had to have a go. This is what I came up with.

 

Now it isn’t how I imagined to start with, as my “great” idea managed to not work for me on several levels. After several rounds of tweaking it looked ok. I showed it to Frosty, feeling like it wasn’t amazing but considering the hiccups it wasn’t bad. Well the response was luke warm at best. The words weird and an oddly squeaky “it’s ok?” were uttered. Hmmm… so in bed last night it hit me how I could rework it to be less “weird”. So today in between vet trips and clingy kitty cats I managed to made it into something fit to share.

The front is acetate (what a headache to photograph) which I embossed with my cuttlebug and then lightly sanded to give definition.

I also stamped on to the acetate with white staz on ink. (I love that stuff.) I pinched the top layers together with a tab and a brad.

The stamps used were SU life definitions, sprinkles, punch bunch and the little with love phrase is from a Tatty Teddy freebie set from a DoCrafts Magazine.

After all the issues I had with this card I am glad I stuck with it. It will make an appearance later in the year for a friend’s wedding anniversary.

January Report Card

create calenderI have been thinking about how exactly to moniter my progress. I have decided to test out a report card/grade sort of  system (which no doubt will need some sort of tweaking).  There are also a couple of areas I shall allow some wiggle room. For the grading I think I’ll work with a percentage as I made sure from the outset these were all quantifiable goals. So here’s the breakdown:

Daily

Plastic bags                                              3/0                            0%

2l Water                                                     10%                           10%

Weekly/fortnightly

Blogging 3x per week                          6/12                           50%

Marathon training                                4/12                           34%

Sew Weekly                                              0/4                             0%

RAK card                                                   2/2                             100%

(In the month not so much of the fortnightly, yet)

Wear a dress                                             7/4                            100%

Monthly/Bi-monthly

Bike ride                                                     0/1                             0%

(we started to get ready to ride then I remember I had a busted helmet and the one I had been using was out on loan)

Dinner guests                                           1/1                              100%

(Fish n Chips totally counts)

Read a book                                            in progress                 10%

Enter challenge                                       1/1                               100%

Girls night out                                          n/a                                  n/a

New recipe                                                 1/1                               100%

New movie                                                 2/1                               100%

(two reviews in progress)

Somewhere new                                       1/1                               100%

(it was somewhere I had been before but I will explain in a future post)

Clean Polly                                                 1/1                                100%

Scrapbook page                                        0/1                                 0%

Other

Gallery/museum                                      0/6                                 0%

Year of cards                                              6/80                              8%

32 assorted others                                   0/32                              0%

Total average score: 46%

Well it’s not a great mark. It’s not even a pass but I think if you start low you can always go up, right? I have learnt where I am going wrong in a couple of places but I will have to be more strict organised if I want to start achieving some pass marks. I think though that generally in my life I’m missing that anyway and I’m hoping that other areas of my life will benefit from this too.

If anybody is wondering, the calendar at the start of this post is one I made at a Stampin’ Up workshop with Kristine. Check out some of her other lovely creations here.

Now a cute kitten photo to finish with. My two little boys (who are growing very fast) playing in a box and having a cuddle. So cute I just had to share.

kitten cuddle

JAI 102 challenge

I have been reading and watching the challenges at Just Add Ink for a while now but have never been brave enough to give one a go… untill now. This also means I can tick #15 for January off my list. (A reminder of my list is here.)

This week was: Just Add Kathy Tanner, one of the design team members at JAI. I went and had a look around her blog and this is what she inspired me to make.

JAI 102 entry

I drew my colours from this one and I loved her reoccurring themes of squares and ribbon flowers. I wanted my card to be postage friendly however so I went for a flat flower (SU triple treat flower stamp) but still managed to work in one of those fabulous SU antique brads. (Those that know me well will know I lusted after these brads for a very long time but have been very miserly with using them. “I’m saving them for good!”)

It also gave me a chance to play with lots of different embossing folders while using up some scraps. I will admit I am a hoarder and throw out very little when crafting. I feel pretty pleased with the result but I do need to work on the photographic skills so I can actually do these creations justice.

A new recipe.

Ok so cooking has never really been my strong point. I can bake pretty well but cooking is a job that has always fallen into Frostys’ domain. I can hear a collective gasp “a husband that cooks!” I know, pretty lucky right? Well I have always just deferred to him citing reasons like “if it’s up to me we’ll stave” or “I don’t enjoy cooking and he does” and so it has been for the past 10 years. Well in the pre-Frosty years I cooked, ate and survived but I have never been a confidant cook, unlike my parents. Dad is an awesome cook and mum… well can anyone ever beat a mums home cooking? As the years have ticked by I have become less and less confidant to the point I ask dumb questions when preparing anything harder than 2 minute noodles or toast.

Toast, toasted

I have decided now is the time for change! It has never been that I couldn’t cook, I just didn’t. With pushing myself into 1 new recipe a month I figured it would get me up and running in the kitchen again and also build up not just my skills but the choice of meals in high rotation in our household. I guess most people suffer from it but it is never really spoken of, the dreaded meal rut. Eating the same thing week in and week out because it is easy and doesn’t require too much thought.

Well I did it. I started off little but I have started. A Nigella Lawson recipe even. Marmite spaghetti. Here is the recipe and video.

Nigella Lawson at a Borders book-signing

I saw this on TV the other week on her show and it peaked my interest. I kept wondering what it actually tasted like. I finally gave in and googled it and had a go. Frosty claims it is his new favourite meal and can’t wait to have it again. I personally LOVED it. Total comfort food perfection.

Now a small confession, although the sauce has a whole 3 ingredients I still managed to muck it up and take 2 goes to get it right. My mistake in just reading the recipe and not watching the video ment I did not have a hot enough pan or put my water in fast enough. Lesson learnt.

Other things learnt was that next time I will use more Marmite (Vegemite in this house). It says a teaspoon I used more like 2 next time I will use more like a tablespoon. Also we did not have the parmesan to go on top but I doubt it really needs it so I would not rush to have some especially. One other thought on it all is that I should have taken a photo of my effort butas I haven’t here is one someone else took of theirs.

Overall the new recipe was a success and I now feel brave enough to try something more daring out next month.

A furry distraction

Well nothing in the past week or so seems to have gone to plan. We went to look at kittens just considering the possibility and came home with two new additions to our family.

kittens at play

These two wee boys have certainly kept us very busy but it is such a joy to watch them explore, learn and play together.

Meet Maverick.

Maverick

If he were a human he would be described as the type to dive in without thinking. Act first, think later would be his motto. Full of energy but unable to take the hint when his little brother doesn’t want to play.

Meet Goose.

Goose

He is very thoughtful and it is almost like he puts alot of thought in before he does anything. A real snuggle puss and a hit with the ladies.

We got these two little angels through Paws 4 Life. I must recommend Rach to everyone and if anyone in Hamilton needs a kitty she is the lady to see. She has been a god send answering these anxious new parents questions.

Mummys bag

These little guys are already leaving paw prints on our hearts. Each night Frosty and I rush home from work excited to see our boys. We now just need them to stop stealing our pillows in the night.

stop it we are trying to sleep

Will update you all on my  resolution progress soon, but I believe for now there is some string that needs chasing.