Tuesday 31 January 2012

My poor baby

is not happy.

He has a skin irritation and today underwent the indignity of having his tiny pink belly scraped with a scalpel. We're not sure of the cause, but he has meds and we'll be doing everything to ensure we get this nasty issue under control.

In the meantime, he will be cloaked in more love than he can possibly handle.

Monday 30 January 2012

Scenes from a 21st

Yesterday the Animator's niece, Brigit, had the third of three celebrations to mark 21 years on this planet. This one was an afternoon tea for family and it was lovely.

And I don't say that lightly; I'm usually in the camp that yawns itself half to death at large family gatherings. But, jacked up on sunshine and sugar, it was an exceedingly pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Present wrapping

Found this English sheet music - from the 1921 Royal College of Music Pianoforte Examinations, no less - in a cool vintage store.

Re-purposed it into wrapping paper for the Animator's niece's 21st pressie.

Yes, I am turning into Martha Stewart in my old age (but without the jail time, obvs).

Saturday 28 January 2012

If the stereotype fits...

It's been a fair wee while since I've woken up on a Saturday morning with a head full of marmalade. Last night's meeting of the Mt Vic Vixens went so well I have somewhat of a hangover today.

Managed to drag myself to the hairdressers and do some freelance work but now my brain has made a break for the border. Instead, I shall leave you with this incredibly funny piece from the Guardian where the six nations in the Europa project were asked to assess how accurate national stereotypes of each other are. Enjoy...

Friday 27 January 2012

Mt Vic Vixens

Tonight is the inaugural meeting of the Mt Vic Vixens, an eclectic group of sassy, funny, loud women who all work in PR and who, more through good luck than good management, have found themselves living within a five-minute radius of each other (in the inner-city suburb of Mt Victoria).

There will be wine, chat and gossip galore. Which is exactly what the end of the working week is begging for.

Last night I made this cannellini bean dip, which turns the garlic factor up to 11.

And this red-velvet influenced cake which has so much red wine in it, I won’t be serving it to kids any time soon (because ya’ll know how I’m in the habit of spending time in the company of children). The smell as it baked was so divine I almost clawed off the oven door. It might not look like much but I hope it tastes as good as it smelled...

Thursday 26 January 2012

He's been Gok'ed!!



This is what time at a doggie day spa will do.

His Cinderella-like transformation has now gone to his head: along with his rock-star demands for only green M&M's and a dressing room filled with out-of-season lillies, he's now insisting the haircut become a regular feature. He's also telling anyone who'll listen that it's tough being so beautiful.

I have created a monster...

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Goodbye old friend

There are things going on in the world - Obama is trying to silence all those nutty Republicans with his State of the Nation address, the European economy continues to melt faster than Arctic ice, and Egypt does some navel gazing a year on from its historic revolution.

However, in my little corner of the globe, the most significant thing that happened today was my Neal's Yard moisturiser finally ran out.

When we lived in Bristol, there was a divine Neal's Yard store a stone's throw from the Slum (if you threw a stone like a shot-putter). Obvs I was drawn to this emporium of loveliness and exchanged many, many pictures of the Queen for creams, potions and general girly-ness.

Sadly, there is no Neal's Yard in NZ and nor do they ship here.

So I shall have to go back to Clinque, with whom I cheated on my first love, Clarins. Alternatively, there's a gorgeous Kiwi brand, Antipodes. I've interviewed the founder/owner for magazines several times over the years and she's as lovely as her organic products are.

Already planning a visit to Neal's Yard when I return to the UK later this year.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Why I hate FaceBook

There are oh, around 874 reasons but I've got limited time and we've all got lives to get on with, so I'll just mention one..

I stumbled across this story today on, of all things, the horrid Daily Mail (don’t ask what I was doing visiting!) which illustrates just one aspect of why the Book of Face is such a (insert expletive here) construct.

The tragic events took place in the UK last year when a depressed woman, Simone Back, left a note on her FB page saying she was going to commit suicide. Not one of her 1,082 online ‘friends’ bothered to help and, in fact, some of them even posted cruel messages saying she was a liar, that she wasn’t a child, that it was her own choice.

Simone passed away on Christmas Day. Not one ‘friend’ bothered to check up on her.

Somewhat ironically, a survey out today showed that while young adults have a lengthy roster of social networking friends, many have little confidence those friends will support them in times of great need. The poll, by Macmillan Cancer Support, of 1000 people aged 18-35 in Britain found the respondents had an average of 237 Facebook friends. But 61 per cent said they could only turn to two friends at most for support in a crisis.

Thirteen per cent of those surveyed felt they did not have even a single friend they could turn to for support when faced with a serious problem. Among men, 16 per cent had no friends to turn to, while for women the figure was 12 per cent.

Social networking sites could even sometimes have a negative impact on friendships, with 18 per cent of those who used such sites saying they saw or talked to their friends less often.

I work in communications, I understand the importance of social media but seriously, people...the Simone Back story has made me feel queasy all day.

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Monday 23 January 2012

A Bank Holiday Monday

There are a number of ways to spend Wellington Anniversary Day.

Because the Animator is at work and yesterday's visit to the farmer's market yielded oodles of fresh fruit and veges, I chose to spend some of it with the divine Yotam Ottolenghi. You'll have heard me rave about this London-based culinary genius here, here and here (keep up) but I swear, if I wasn't married and he wasn't a celebrity chef who lived 12,000 miles away, I would definitely be a starter.

Today, after a welcome sleep in and breakfast with my beloved copy of Ottolenghi's Plenty, my furry chef de partie helped me douse kumera (sweet potato) wedges in cumin and chilli, bake them and serve them with a generous dollop of yoghut and tahini. I may have forgotten to add some finely chopped garlic to the dipping sauce, but it mattered little.

Later there will be a doggy walk, some face time with English magazines like Elle and Red (yes, Wellington Library is still running its freebie Thursday magazine loans) and yoga.

Saturday 21 January 2012

RIP to a legend

I've never been the kind of girl who wanted a big, fat white wedding. Don't get me wrong - I love dressing up and attending them, but convention and I have never been close and a wedding stage managed to within an inch of its life is just something I've never wanted for myself.

Which is probably why I got hitched in Vegas for a magazine story (hey, it was free!)

I don't regret it for a nano-second, but if I'd ever travelled the traditional route then the song I would have chosen for the first dance would have been At Last, by the legendary Etta James. Classic, soulful and oh so classy, I think I've been in love with this song for as long as I've drawn breath.

Yesterday when I heard the news of James' death, I found this clip on YouTube and played it over and over.

Sing with the angels, Etta. At last, your pain is over.

Today was made of....

  • Sunshine
  • Morning coffee and a Kodak moment in Kelburn, our former hood
  • A visit to my old mate Annie to strategise when she can wave her grooming wand over an increasingly shaggy Mr Bristol
  • Cake and vodka-based cocktails in the garden with three lovely peeps whose mean landlords (ie us!) won't let them keep pets. Instead, they signed up to the Bristol fan club.
  • The entirely accidental discovery of a soooper cool second-hand shop where I found three books for the grand sum of $20. I could have spent hours in there and probably will very, very soon.

Friday 20 January 2012

Dinner with the cuzzies

One chocolate banoffee pie to take to the Animator's sister's house for dinner. The occasion? His cousin and partner are over from London.

Expect lots of laughter, fun and gallops down memory lane. I'm not the biggest fan of families, but am eternally grateful I married into a nice one.

Thursday 19 January 2012

When one door closes....

Last week I received a random call from an airline asking if I'd be interested in a media junket to Tasmania. Duh, that would be like asking Nicole Kidman if she'd like more Botox.

But this week it transpired that my timing is off and the junket coincides with a series of roadshows I've organised for the day job which, of course, I'm obliged to attend. So no free trip to Tassie for this little girl, then.

On the other side of the ledger, this morning I received an email from my gorgy florist mate Gina from Bristol who is coming to NZ for a few days in March! It's hard to be sad when one of the loveliest people on the planet will be living under your roof. And yes, it has occurred to me that if I'd gone to Tasmania then I wouldn't be able to take time off work when Gina is here so it's all worked out for the best, yada, yada.

Having wrapped myself in the cloak of positivity today, I realise that missing out on the trip isn't the end of the world. But please let me have my moment of sadness, of railing against the Gods of Timing who sometimes really, truly SUCK.

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Molly rocks!

Thanks to Doug who sent us this video of the Mollster at play on a San Francisco beach. You have no idea how good it was to see the feisty old girl in action.

In other canine news, there has been a slight incident with Mr Bristol and a meat pie. Hilarious.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

What's in a name?

Regular readers will know that my first job in Bristol was a tedious affair editing financial documents for Attila the Boss. Because it was miles from the city, I used to catch a ride with the Animator and every morning we'd drive through a down-at-heel part of Bristol - the kind where shop owners are overly intimate with security bars and padlocks the size of dinner plates.

Such was my despair at the day that lay ahead of me that every morning, I'd laugh myself stupid at the name of a rundown fish and chip shop we'd pass - In Cod We Trust. It still makes me smile.

As did this list on the Guardian website. I do believe my new favourite is New York's A Salt & Battery.

(Pic credit: The Guardian)

Monday 16 January 2012

A cool invite to an even cooler wedding

This plopped into the Animator's inbox today.

I do love me a good knees up - especially when it's an unstuffy, non-traditional splicing. And scattered with oodles of flair, as it's bound to be when the two participants are animators/graphic designers. They've even created this well cool website.

The only issue is, what the hell am I going to wear?

Sunday 15 January 2012

Got 35 years to spare?

You know the game you sometimes play when you're facing a deadline and the Muse is having a long lunch? You start wandering around a few blogs/websites and bam! Before you know it, time has evaporated.

The upside is unearthing all sorts of gems - like this abstract model of San Francisco constructed by artist Scott Weaver using 100,000 toothpicks over the last 35 years (that is NOT a typo).

The work, entitled 'Rolling through the Bay', also doubles as a marble run: ping pong balls dropped on several ramps at the top of the model follow several 'tours' through the city. They pass matchstick replicas of sights such as Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge and the city's trademark terraced houses on steep hills.


Saturday 14 January 2012

Ingredients for a perfect Saturday

Tedious housework mountain already climbed - tick.

Sunshine - tick.

A long overdue catchup with my dear friend Andrea - tick.

Beautiful flowers from aforementioned friend - big fat tick.

Today Andrea and I spent a marathon five hours catching up on the last 20 months. We talked of travel, of careers, of love, hopes and dreams.

Friendship, I've decided, is a bit like the little girl with the curl - when it is good, it is VERY GOOD.

Letting the side down was this little guy who thought he'd help himself to cake.

Friday 13 January 2012

How cute is this?

Not sure how old the Animator was in this pic but Joyce, his lovely mother, ferreted this gem out for me as we're currently reprinting some black and white shots for the new house.

Whilst it was a no-brainer for us both to remove our genes from an already overcrowded evolutionary pool, I'm so glad that Joyce and Pat decided otherwise, else this wee cutie wouldn't walk amongst us. Seriously, that bow tie is rocking. And don't even get me started on the corduroy waistcoat....

Wednesday 11 January 2012

A never-to-be-repeated opportunity

Yeah, I know. But enjoy the sight, because Shazzy isn't in the habit of hanging out with anyone shorter than herself.

Yes, this friend's bubs was cute - but is it wrong that I was more interested in the brand of his teeny-tiny jeans?

And so endeth another lesson on why I should stick to kids with four legs...

Tuesday 10 January 2012

How to turn a sh*te day into a good one

Get your wardrobe guardian angel to send you three care parcels.

It was better than Christmas when I arrived at work to find the latest booty from the UK's Car Boot Queen: one gorgy red coat (so divine I had to take a closeup of the ruffled collar), one quilted black jacket, a stunning grey dress, a black waterfall cardigan and, whisper it quietly, a Diane Von Furstenburg black and tan wrap dress. Seriously. I was almost overcome by the vapors and had to sit very still, drinking green tea and staring into the middle distance for some time.

The second day back at work was even harder than the first, but this mana from heaven (or, Gloucester, actually) turned this little girl's frown upside down.

Monday 9 January 2012

And so it begins...

Today was my first day back at work for two weeks.

It was a little like doing backstroke in treacle. I had stuff to do, roadshows to organise, admin to adminstrate. I had, dammit, words to corral into articles and presentations.

Instead, all I wanted to do was be at home with this little guy, a pair of shorts and the sunshine, which finally decided to get out of bed.

Am hoping the return-to-workitis passes....

Sunday 8 January 2012

A good day

Today the weather turned bi-polar. We've had weeks of treacle-thick heat, of sleepless nights and the air con stuck on 'high'. But today it was back to wind and big, fat raindrops. For the love of baby Jesus, it's almost the middle of January, so why am I busting out the wet weather gear to walk Bristol?

The highlight of the day was a visit from my adorable mate Lil. We worked together years ago and even though she upped sticks to Auckland a few years back, we've stayed in touch. The last time I saw her was 18 months ago, shortly before I moved to the UK, when we sat in a Welly cafe for hours and laughed like drains.

Let's be clear, I ADORE this girl: she's smart, funny, a committed non-breeder and has the best attitude to life ever. She's not long returned to NZ from months of travel and while we drank green tea and munched a berry cake I whipped up, we dissected her plan to spend some time in Spain this year learning the language. Tempted to join her? You bet...

Saturday 7 January 2012

This is what too much time on one's hands looks like

The boy wonder now has his own blog

What can I say? These days, everyone thinks they can chuck a noun and an adjective together and become instant literary superstars.

I shall be watching him carefully.

Friday 6 January 2012

A thing of beauty

Molly's Dad Doug sent us some pics of our girl cavorting on San Francisco's Ocean Beach.

Which is saying something for a dog who turns 15 soon.

But Doug reports she's still sprightly, still loves her walks and adores her food (no change there, then). Look carefully and you'll see more than a sprinkling of white on her face and, apparently, these days she's a little shaky in the hind-quarters. But she's doing well and is happy in SF (who wouldn't be?) and for that we remain eternally grateful.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Another house to nosy around

More Your Home & Garden Magazine freelance work - this time a new build in Brooklyn (the one in Wellington not, sadly, the NY borough).

Guess what this little girl will be writing today?

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Dinner party conversation

So last night the Animator's colleague Daniel came over to break bread with us.

He'd not long returned from a visit home to the US and had great stories to tell of celebrity sightings. There was, for example, the party at which Scarlett Johansson was in attendance, the restaurant where he sat a few metres from Bruce Willis, the gig at which he rubbed shoulders with the cast of Star Wars. For a celebrity whore like me, it was heaven.

FYI, the cheesecake was delicious. And even better the next day for breakfast.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

It's not like a few more calories will make a difference...

It's just what everyone needs after the Xmas eat-athon, but a friend is coming over for dinner tonight so thought I'd whip up this chocolate cheesecake for him.

Another friend, who gave me the recipe, claimed it was the best cheesecake she's ever eaten. We shall see....

Monday 2 January 2012

Last year in pictures

JANUARY: We started the year in gorgeous San Francisco with the even more gorgeous Molly

FEBRUARY: A media trip to Liverpool was a lot of fun, despite the bone-chilling cold

MARCH: There was the work trip to LA - and a weekend tagged on so I could fly up to San Francisco to see Molly

APRIL: Another work trip, this time to Dubai

And, later that month, a glorious week in Malta

MAY: At the Aardman open day, we finally got to see why the Animator had dragged me halfway across the world

And we took the Animator's cousins, who flew over from Belfast for the weekend for the Open Day, to Bath

JUNE: Strictly speaking, it was the May Bank Holiday when we headed to beautiful Galway to see our friends Annette and JP

JULY: We said goodbye to these amazing folk in Bristol:

AUGUST: We lived in this flash hotel room for six weeks

And tried to avoid the snow, the first in Wellington in forever

SEPTEMBER: We bought this beauty

And, dammit, we missed the UK wedding of Anita and Gary

OCTOBER: Renovations swallowed our lives and our bank accounts

NOVEMBER: this wee chap swept into our lives and our hearts

DECEMBER: sunshine and Baby Bristol - I cannot think of a better way to spend the festive season


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