Sunday, August 29, 2010

Internal travels

A well know fact about internal travel is that it's actually faster to fly to Wellington than to drive to Auckland airport. I allocated 1.5 hours to make the journey and yes we made it on time (just), but the traffic is so unpredictable that every halt on the motorway was, In my mind, a delay dooming us all. Cursing my husbands every navigational decision, sometimes out loud and often in my head, it was a wonder our marriage survived the journey. I have "being late" anxiety issues. Lucky for me my husband has faith that the crazy will end once we reach our time critical destination.

Self check in with Air New Zealand is awesome, no queues, looks futuristic (this is important, its 2010!!!!!)  and super fast so it removes all my fears that we will get stuck at the end of the line and miss the flight. Also its ridiculously easy to use so even if you've been sitting in the bar for the last hour, getting your boarding pass should go smoothly. Hopped on the plane and got to watch the new  rugby safety video, it makes me cringe and proud to be a New Zealander at the same time. Just like Rhys Darby. Actually he should do the next video.

In New Zealand being famous means jack shit. So you're on TV, what else can you do? There are very few personalities that are endeared to the public just for being on TV. So no one Bats an eyelid when Mike King or Kevin Milne takes a seat. I didn't see either of them waiting at the gate so the bastards probably have koru lounge memberships. I'd flash some air nz exec my boobs to get a membership, but that's as far as I'd go... probably. They have free booze y'know.

If you ever go to Wellington use the Airport Flyer (a bus) to get into town, they use the bus only tunnel, its faster, cheap and they have free wifi. It runs through the heart of Wellington and can get you pretty close to most hotels. I made my husband book the Duxton. Its central and the room came with bubbles and breakfast for 2 @$199. Duxton makes you think its a flash hotel, its nice, but fairly dated. Bathroom is nice though.

Of course you are NEVER, ever, EVER allowed to check in early. Even if they have clean rooms available. So we went to absorb some local culture at the art gallery and eat down at the waterfront. Macs beer bar for a antipasto platter and a pint, a good way to spend an hour.

The whole purpose of the trip to Wellington was Beervana. Organised by the brewers guild it is an evening full of win. Once again my favourite beer was the organic Green Man Celt. Such a perfectly balanced beer. My favourite festival beer was the Mata Hangi beer. The flavour was smoky and sweet with hints of kumara and roast pork, was I imagining the pork flavour? Maybe, but a brief glance before moving on to the next booth tells me the ingredients were roasted in the ground with a hangi, awesome. I also tried some barley wine, which was not to my taste. Back again to the Green Man stand I tried their tequilla beer, very good. I'm not adverse to a fruity beer and wedge of lime complimented this beer rather nicely.

After many many more beer tastings we stumbled back to the Duxton, barely 100m away (location of your accommodation is extremely important in vacation planning). Of course it was then the best time to enjoy the complimentary bubbles and after that (being in no state to leave the room) the hotels excellent room service. Well excellent tasting, not excellent prices. Actually it was pretty salty. But the lamb was good and tender and lots of it.

Hardcore that we are we still managed to wake up in time for a cooked buffet breakfast. Mmmm  bacons. Chilled out reading the paper and then back on the airport flyer making it in plenty of time for our flight.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Growing winter greens.

Over winter I grew a few salad greens in containers on my front deck, this was surprisingly successful. With all the rain no watering was needed and I could pick salad greens any time. Winter also means almost no pests! Well certainly no aphids, there were a few brave snails. These can be dealt with by hand no nasty chemicals needed.

I bought the plants as seedlings on sale at kings plant barn.( I suck at growing things from seed). While they were pretty slow growing at times I still got plenty of value. This is my corn salad, a mild small leaf green. I planted six of these. Occasionally I'd pull a whole plant but mostly just cut off bunch of leaves as needed.

And this is the mizuna, its just going to seed. I should have grown this in a bigger pot. This is often sold in the herb section, but it grew well over winter.

I also planted some perpetual spinach, which I hope will perpetual all over the place saving me from buying any more. As long as you pick the right types of plants you can have fresh salad all year round. Its easy as bro!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

HRV - installed, home value increased?

My house is old. 1960 old, well, er, *cough* thats not that old really. erhm. Anyway.
This winter the condensation has been particularly bad and the amount of mildew and mold growing in the place has just been a nightmare. Washing the windows and net curtains is like an exercise in level 1 decontamination.


So I went hunting for a dehumidifier, they were expensive and power hungry. Just like me! I can barely afford me let alone a dehumidifier as well, so resigned to weeks of saving I went home to dream about my fantastical dehumidifier.

That night we received a mysterious phone call around dinner time, the universe had heard my call for a drier home and had sent the HRV telemarketer! We agreed to let them look at the house and two weeks later we have a ventilation system. Top number is roof temp, lower number is house temp, bottom number is kept high to make sure any available heat is pumped into the house. Of course when its cold in the roof it just switches to ventilation mode so we don't freeze our nubins off.
 It cost a packet, but they have a payment plan. First item we've bought on credit since ...since.... our car the one we had before this one? Anyway. Here we are indentured to the man. But our home is dry and awesome. As a nice bonus everytime the roof temp gets above the house temp it pumps all the warm air down. It was a balmy 18 degrees in our house today!  Breakout the short short and TANK TOPS!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Anyone Can Buy Shares! Its Not Expensive or Elitist.

The other day at work I mentioned that I got a voucher in the mail for some free KFC, it had been years since I've tasted and I was moaning that the Potato and gravy wasn't as good as I remembered. Someone asked where the voucher came from and I mentioned that I was a shareholder and it came included in the annual report.
So one of my co-workers scoffed, "How can someone who claims to be poor own shares?"
While I do find our finances tight due to large mortgage repayments and child support this is no barrier to owning shares, its a lot cheaper than you think.

My Restaurant Brands shares were purchased for $304 dollars. (They are now worth $468 due to KFCs increased profitability woot!) You don't have to buy thousands of dollars worth however you can't buy just one share either. In New Zealand we have minimum buy numbers which mean depending on the value of the share you have to buy a certain amount.

Number of Units Price (both figures inclusive)
2,000 Where the price does not exceed 25 cents
1,000 Where the price exceeds 25 cents but does not exceed 50 cents
500 Where the price exceeds 50 cents but does not exceed $1.00
200 Where the price exceeds $1.00 but does not exceed $2.00
100 Where the price exceeds $2.00 but does not exceed $5.00
50 Where the price exceeds $5.00 but does not exceed $10.00
25 Where the price exceeds $10.00

The only problem with buy small amounts of shares is the brokerage fee. Minimum brokerage is around $30. If you only buy $200 worth of shares the brokerage is quite a high proportion of the investment. It takes a while for return on the investment to cover the cost of buying the shares. Some companies have a dividend reinvestment program, you dividends are automatically used to buy more shares at no cost to you. Currently my Auckland airport shares have this feature. Its the only good thing about them, under-performing bastards.
ASB and National Bank have very easy to use online share trading accounts. There is a very short learning curve and you can be buying shares online before you know it.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

See all Gallery Photos on Trademe with Firefox and Greasemonkey!

I like browsing Trademe for cool stuffs, like this.

Recently Trademe has upped the Gallery price to $0.75, this means a lot of awesome $1 reserve items like the one above are being listed without a photo.No photo's until you click through to the auctions makes for slow tedious trademe hunting. You'd be surprised how many "awesome" and "retro" things are just crap and ugly when you click through to them. So in an effort to save time I've installed a neat little script that makes every listing a gallery listing. This makes browsing trademe AWESOME. No more little grey cameras.
Here's what you do

1. Use Firefox. (You are already....right!?)

2. Install greasemonkey addon, found here:

3. Install the TradeMe Photos script to greasemonkey. Get it here:

Super easy.

I call him Henry

I rescued him from trademe, he was being sold as a green owl. But I think he's a Kakapo.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Bruichladdich Whiskey Tasting

Bruichladdich produce some very interesting whiskies. The other night we got to try 6 of their new releases.Two stood out for me.
1)The quadruple distilled 3YO. Legally you can't call it whisky until its three years old, so this is the earliest they can sell it as a whisky (visa-vie a grain spirit). Its the closet to how whisky would have tasted hundreds of years ago. It was 63.5 % alcohol and practically evaporated on the tongue, it was greatly improved with a bit  of water. Fresh, light, hardly any wood flavours, its all grain.
2) Black Art 19YO unbelievable colour and flavour. At first I could only describe the flavour as confusing, its difficult to wrap your head around what you are actually tasting, its like you don't quite believe it. Eventually it was revealed that this whisky is aged in wine barrels (A old traditional method utilised during times of peace between England and France) and everything becomes clear. Its a cask strength whack so at 51% it packs a punch. Overwhelming number of flavours in this bottle, a memorable mind blowing tasting experience. If only I'd had a spare $180, I would have bought a bottle. I predict this will become a highly collectable bottle, if you can afford it, buy two. One for drinking and one to sell in a few years. Whisky investment! lol.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Flasher

My electronics exploits with the Funway kit from Dick smith. Now I need a magnifying glass cause the labels on the transistors are soooooo TINY!

Can't stop my consumer ways

Damn it, winters approaching and The Deal has to go and announce a sale on faux possum winter throws.

But I am in savings mode right now, plans are for a big midwinter party to celebrate Zed's (and my) big number birthdays. All up we're 80. So the big temptation is to have an 80's party. But costumes tend to freak people out, so maybe everyone can just RSVP with their favourite 80's song and I'll make a play list who knows. Just about narrowed down a venue, any last minute suggestions welcomed. Our house is far to small for the millions of people Zed knows. So where are the good venues for big birthday bashes?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Starling on Flickr hates life, and you especially.

superb starling, originally uploaded by Musicaltone.

Starling of disapproval disproves of your bird watching.

Funway Un-boxing, when do I get to solder something?!

I don't know anything about electronics and it fucking annoys me.

So in the weekend I went to Dick Smith and bought.......

Yeah, that's right. And some batteries, it says on the box that everything battery operated. I guessed AA batteries.You may think Funway is just for kids, but YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG. Its also for misguided 30 year olds who suddenly realise they've missed out on vital educations.

Here's whats in the box

Book of things to build, little bags of components, and bread board with screws. No soldering! Speaker, earpiece, resistors, a transformer, light detector, capacitors, leds, wires and shit. Oh and a connector for a 9volt battery. DOH. Luckily I have a few spares in the drawer for the smoke alarms. You also need a couple of other bits not included in the box. wire cutters, a small screw driver (Phillips) and wire strippers, or improvise with scissors, which are also good for cutting out the circuit patterns in the back of the book.

You begin by cutting out your circuit and putting it on top of the board. Then assemble the wires and components. Screws and washers are used to hold the connections together, its a little fiddly at first. But after some swearing you assemble the first circuit, a continuity detector.

Its quite a handy first project, you get to test all the provided parts to make sure they work and the run around the house seeing what conducts electricity and what doesn't. Oh the polystyrene board is really handy for sticking all your resistors in before you assemble the circuit. Keeps everything tidy and within reach. In the picture I'm shorting the circuit and you can see the LED glowing.

After that I deserved a beer.

Must Have New Infomations!

I love learning new things, that combined with my short attention span has lead to many half arsed projects in my life.

I can only go so many weeks of enduring mindless work followed by mindless after work house cleaning and TV watching. (which sometimes happens, swings and roundabouts, sometimes all I want to do is shut my brain off completely).

But when I want to hear about new things, this is place I go....

National Radio. This is the hidden gem of the nation. Honestly. No need to run to the transistor radio, you can listen online!

Music 101 on Saturday 2-5 loads of great music reviews, stuff that commercial radio wouldn't dare play is promoted on this show. Old shows are archived for you to download and listen to later. Or subscribe to the pod casts. Most radio NZ shows are availbel through itunes for free.

Media Watch. The closest thing New Zealand has to the Daily show. The past weeks news is picked apart for biased and shoddy research. Fantastic show.

Then any of the "magazine/interview" shows, like nine till noon or afternoons. Great quality guests, book reviews, media reviews, mini documentaries, current events, its all informative mind opening stuff. One of my favourite bits is This way up.

Go on have a taste - we’ve covered superstitions, the history of scrabble and monopoly, ethical tea, how deodorant works, fair trade chocolate, hitchhiking in Cuba, robot builders, jetlag, what’s in margarine, the laws of beachcombing, global butler shortages, tartan, the largest Swiss army knife, supermarket food labeling, homebrew, energy saving light bulbs, getting kitted out for the duck hunting season, the physics of toilet paper, why your urine smells funny after eating asparagus, how to buy a bra, the history of chewing gum, what makes camouflage so fashionable, using mobile phones on planes, things you’ll find on your keyboard and why people eat together……..and that’s just for starters!
The show's you find on National radio are better than anything you can find on TV. Another bonus is NO commercials.You may get the occasional promo for another National radio show but that's about it.

News. For radio news, National can't be beat. 5-7 weeknights is checkpoint. They ask probing hard questions, no namby pamby fluff.Its news how you've always dreamed it would be. And if you listen to the morning report you'll be better informed than any of you coworkers that listen to the 2 minute "news" break on ZM.

And for relaxation there's always The Arts on Sunday. 12-4 it has my favourite movie reviewer Simon Morris, and he doesn't just stink to the blockbusters. He's got a way of picking the indie classics as well. Also reviews of plays, art, sculpture, music etc etc. Again, there is nothing like this on TV. Best quality stuff, all free. Thanks New Zealand on air.........

Monday, March 08, 2010

Le French Martini

The french martini was invented by the good folk who make chambord, in an effort to popularise their liqueur. (Isn't strange how you have to enter your date of birth, just to read about alcohol on the internet).

Anyway, I don't require your date of birth, but your credit card details will be just fine.

Chambord is a raspberry and blackberry liqueur, its relatively low in alcohol (16.5 %) and is lovely straight out of the bottle or mixed into a cocktail.

The french martini has vodka and chambord with added pineapple juice (3:1:2).I'm sure those ratios are flexible and you can adjust to suit. The vodka seems a little strong,but the second one made with vodka 42 below passionfruit vodka was nicer. I'm not the biggest vodka fan but in a nice cocktail its tolerable.  I had mine shaken over ice (the pineapple juice makes it cloudy anyway) though you do get a little foaming. A sprig of summer mint with flower for decoration and you have the perfect accompaniment to an afternoons vacuuming.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

I'm Back!

I'm back!! Did you miss me? No? Well at least my cat did. I kept waking up in the middle of the night to loud purring and a cat snuggled up on my chest and the mouse heads on the stairs were obviously a welcome home gift. That's true love right there.

We left in a bit of a hurry and the place was a freaking mess to come home too, I've got a ton of cleaning and washing to do. BAH. Sadly I hurt my toe and can only hobble around the house. I'll have to get Zed onto the housework.

Meantime I'm already trawling the internet to plan our next holiday. A cold windy Scottish isle in autumn 2011. I better start saving again. Kiwi dollar doesn't buy many pounds or euros or anything for that matter!

Gold coast was very entertaining, but if we go back I think we'll head to the mountains, the hinterlands, the rain forest etc. We only spent one day on a random drive to Tamborine mountain, but it was lovely, lots of foodie places, B&B's, rain forest walks and spectacular scenery. Still we had the typical theme park fun

A couple of days with showers meant that the Aussies stayed home, we almost had Movie World to ourselves and were able to go on several rides over and over without queuing. Movie world was definitely the teen favourite, stunt shows and rollercoasters and short queues. Dreamworld is pretty good for all round family entertainment but my favourite was Seaworld, their shark bay exhibit is amazing and I got to see a baby dolphin frolicking about! Another bonus was that all the themeparks have bars, so once I'd had my fill of roller coasters Zed and I could sit and have a beer while the teens dashed about trying to get as many rides in the last hour as possible. Only low point was munting my toe at Whitewater world, but thankfully it was the last day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fairy Falls Track - Waitakere Ranges

Some friday nights you have some beers and don't want to get up too early the next day. So at 2 we set of for the WHY.TACKS. The hills were covered in mist, my ears popped as we climbed higher through the swill. At last we reached the Fairy Falls track. Step one, disinfect shoes. There is a nasty Kauri virus going round.

Step two, begin descent. Its a decent climb down to the falls, many many steps. The views and bush are worth every step, even in the mist you can appreciate the grandeur of the hills.My legs were a little wobbly when we reached the bottom. We paused to admire the falls and were rewarded when a curious finch decided Zed might drop some crumbs and proceeded to hop about his feet. Little blighter was far to quick to catch on camera. It then hopped up through some of the weaker streams on the falls, drinking and hopping about. Very cute.

After some nuts and a drink we began the arduous climb. This track is only a grade 2 (track is graveled the whole way, beautifully maintained steps and river crossing) but it felt harder, but the steep climb is only for the first half of the return, then it morphs into easy gradients with fewer steps. Before we knew it we were back at the car park. Great walk to stop and do on your way out to Piha. Zed had to get home for gaming though so we didn't linger. Next weekend I'm on call so have to stay close to home for that but the weekend after I'll be heading back to the Waitakere dam.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kayaking the Puhoi river.

An early tide meant a somewhat early start, but the calm reflective early morning waters were just reward for getting up with the birds.We spotted plenty of birds on the trip, Pukekos, Herons, Shags, Kingfishers, Tuis and ducks galore. When we got closer to the sea the slight onshore breeze generated a bit of chop, but overall its an easy trip. The river is tidal so the kayak hire place only ever book you going with the tide.
The river paddle starts just before the Puhoi township and ends in the estuary at Wenderholm park. Puhoi River Canoe hire provide the kayaks and will even pick you up after your 2 hour paddle down river and return you to your car.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Zed and I enjoyed lunch and walk around the waterfront yesterday. We walked from Mission bay back towards the city. It was a glorious day, sunshine, heat and an ocean breeze to keep us from overheating. And to top it all off, parked outside Kelly tarltons was the Sharkbus! I'd never seen it before so I took a photo.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Okura walking track

Just north of Torbay is the Okura Scenic reserve, a chunk of native bush along an estuary. The fool hardy can also undertake a 10km hike through said reserve and along a beach to visit a tiny historic brick cottage.

The Okura track is promoted as easy, and its not too bad apart from a couple of steep climbs which my calf muscles are still recovering from, but the track is in good condition and there are steps where necessary (yay thanks DOC!). A more accurate description of the Okura track can be found on the fatmandu blog.
I wouldn't want to do this track after any amount of rain though, looks like it would turn to mud in a flash.
The cottage has trees and shade a plenty to provide good picnicing spots, we took a lunch of apricots nectarines,boiled eggs,nuts and christmas cake. I felt very famous five.