Tuesday 31 December 2013

Fare thee well

Twenty thirteen has almost dragged itself across the finish line. Previously, I've marked the passing of another year with a report card.

This time around, however, I lack both the energy and the time to do so. This year has been absolutely knackering and although there have been more good days than bad, it's time to throw a cloth over 2013 and move on. So instead of the usual in-depth post mortem, this year you shall have the once over lightly version.

Things I loved:
  • Winning the Cathay Pacific NZ Travel Writer of the Year Competition
  • Media trips to Seoul and Singapore
  • A visit to the parentals in Oz 
  • Two crazy awesome day contracts
  • Lots of interesting commissions to write the shizzle out of
  • One giant leap forward for financial freedom; two more years and we should be able to get the hell out of Dodge
  • My fire-engine red Kitchen Aid 
  • A new book reviewing gig and three new magazines to write for
  • Red wine
  • Running; it may be a bit optimistic to put this in the 'love' category but it keeps me sane and helps with the lard-arse management   
  • New friends, old friends and my two favourite boys.

Things I didn't love so much:
  • One contract that made me want to chop off my head
  • Work that didn't make my soul sing
  • Bitchy, arsey editors who treat freelancers like something stuck to the bottom of their shoe (I'm convinced there is a special place in hell for these women)
  • The winter, which seemed to go on for 873 days
  • Shitty, inconsiderate neighbours and their shittier stereos. When I am Mayor, sub-woofers are the first thing I will outlaw.
Movies I laughed and cried at, and then watched over:
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • The Kings of Summer
  • Flight
  • Gravity
  • Paranorman
  • The Butler.
Books I adored (of the 30 I managed to read this year):
  • The Lowland by Jumpa Lahiri 
  • The Newlyweds by Nell Fruendberger
  • American Wife by Curtis Stittenfeld
  • The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
  • Drown by Junot Diaz
  • A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon.
Unmissable tee-vee:
  • Breaking Bad (you are sorely missed)
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Orphan Black
  • Homeland
  • Suits
  • Scandal
  • The Killing (the Danish one, not the American version)  
  • The Newsroom
  • Top of the Lake
  • House of Cards.
The soundtrack to my year:
  • City and Colour
  • Bon Iver 
  • Lana Del Ray
  • Lorde.
What 2014 has in store: 
  • A media trip to Hong Kong and Europe in Feb/March
  • A visit to Mum and Dad's new house in May  
  • More interesting contracts and freelance work (she says, crossing everything on her person that it shall be so)
  • The ability to say 'No' - to things that don't interest me/that eat away at my soul/that feel icky - and mean it
  • More doggy meet ups
  • Rediscovering my love of running via the running group
  • Learning to finally make my peace with GST, ACC and all the other bullshit that goes with being self-employed 
  • Another rental property/lifestyle property/investment of some sort
  • Letting go of the crap that doesn't matter and embracing that which does.    
Happy New Year y'all. Hope 2014 is everything you want it to be. 

(Pic credit: Tumblr) 

Monday 30 December 2013

This blog needs more cake

And so today I whipped up this frothy concoction of sugar and chocolate and all things nice. And our friends Rachel and Neil, and their gorgeous dog Peggy (Bristol's favourite girlfriend) and Rachel's sister Emma and her partner John, who were down from Auckland, came over to help us demolish it. Happy days.

Sunday 29 December 2013

The cull

Back when Michael Jackson was wearing his own nose, I was a Girl Guide. And a pretty good one too, as I recall, doggedly and competitively amassing a clutch of, in hindsight, pretty useless badges.

One summer holidays my troupe made the journey to Ruapheu for a week; the only thing I can remember from that trip is being awarded the 'tidiest guide' award.

Being tidy is both a blessing and a curse; the Animator often rolls his eyes as my obsessive compulsive behaviour, while I love to wrap myself in the blanket of smug that comes from having a spotlessly clean home/handbag/hard-drive, etc.

Regular readers will know that I got totally slammed by work this year: I said yes to too many assignments and evenings and weekends - prime cleaning times - were spent chained to my laptop. An intervention was long overdue.

Today, I managed to tackle some of my dust demons and spent more time than was strictly necessary cleaning kitchen cupboards, drawers and anything else that looked like it needed it.

The fallen soldiers of this cleaning frenzy included the many and various plastic containers and mis-matched lids that I've collected over the last two years. I blame our local Thai takeout (damn you Mt Vic for your proximity to such culinary greatness) and my insane desire to give the leftover containers a home.

This is only a fraction of what I chucked today. What's the bet that by this time next year the collection will have once more grown to dangerous proportions?

And yes is the answer to the 'do you realise how sad you are' question.


Friday 27 December 2013

The flip side

January's North & South Magazine runs my piece on Wellington burger guy, Mike Duffy (click here to read).

Thursday 26 December 2013

Christmas the easy way

Yesterday started with these cute sugar mice from our neighbour, Tom (aged eight or so).

It was followed by a walk with the doggie meet-up crew on a beach about an hour up the coast. And then bubbles and egg-nog back at one of the members' lovely farmhouses.

Before we raced back to ours for a relaxed barbie in the scorching sun with our friend Andy. No family arguments, no angst over presents and defo none of the crap that usually keeps company with Christmas. It was simple, easy-going and one of the best I've ever had...  

Tuesday 24 December 2013

An expensive way to say Merry Christmas

I can count on one hand the number of items I bought from John Lewis during the six and a bit years I lived in the UK.

But, as usual, their Christmas campaign to buy more crap you don't need, or can't afford, is a sweetie. It's also kind of criminal that it cost about seven million quid to produce but apparently obscene advertising budgets are okay if they get the tills ringing.

Still, I had a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat when I watched it, so it might be time to put the cynicism back in its box (at least until after the fat man in the red suit has been).

Watch and enjoy and have a fantabulous day no matter where in the world you are...

Monday 23 December 2013

How to avoid spending too much time in the kitchen

When life hands you a sunny day - and the need to make something sweet/Christmassy for drinks with friends - you can't go past quick and easy rocky road.

That, Nicola's madeira cake and red wine made for a fun afternoon.

Saturday 21 December 2013


Was an intoxicating mix of canines, laundry and research on Dublin pubs (for a travel piece I'm doing to coincide with Paddy's Day. And yes, I realise that's three months away but most magazines have stupidly long lead-in times and it's one of the many stories I need to write on my two-week "holiday").  

On the good side of the ledger:

  • a long overdue freelance payment plopped into my bank account  
  • two new commissions (okay this happened yesterday)
  • an invitation to contribute book reviews to a major national magazine. Given the time it takes to digest four books each month, and the fact I've decided to focus more on corporate writing next year (it pays more and editors aren't such arses), I'm going to do it on a trial basis. But it was flattering to be asked and free books are never a bad thing.
  • my friend Donna came along to our Saturday morning doggie meet-up group; great to catch up on the gos. It's just a shame that Bristol took such a homo-erotic shine to her dog Billie.  
The not so good:
  • notification of my first provisional tax payment for 2014. Ta for the Xmas present, IRD.
  • too many mince pies
  • a half-arsed work-out
  • general exhaustion. One day I am going to wake up, look in the mirror and realise I have no need for concealer. I predict that day will come sometime in 2030.     
Today visuals are c/o this morning's meet-up group:

Friday 20 December 2013

Look Ma, no hands!

Or, in this case, two hands. Back in October, you may recall, I was a hand model for the company I'm currently contracting to.

Today I saw evidence of that shoot - in a brochure that, incidentally, I also ended up writing which will be used in NZ, Australia, the US and UK. My hands will be famous in five markets; I have truly peaked.

My dining room doesn't look too shabby, either.

Yet another dip in the pool of random that is my life...

Thursday 19 December 2013

This made me laugh today

A colleague, knowing the marketing team's enduring love of Breaking Bad, spiced up the work kitchen with this:

Yes, the middle canister is labelled Blue Meth. It's actually coloured sugar. He also went to great lengths to source the exact same canister. Genius.

Meanwhile, this table, which you can only see a fraction of, holds the entire contents of my breakfast. And lunch.

I am eternally grateful the corporate slog is over for another year; me and my waistline can no longer cope with the calorific overload. The time has well and truly come for a sugar/alcohol/carb intervention.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

This made me cry today

And wrap the Brizmeister in even more love, hugs and kisses than he usually gets.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Sunday Magazine

Yes it's two days late, but on Sunday the SST ran my Christmas letter to my bottom. And no, that is not a typo. Click here to read.  

Monday 16 December 2013

Friday's Christmas party

One of the joys of contracting in the private sector is the generous Xmas party. As these photos show,
Friday's party included all kinds of alcohol-inspired hilarity (especially involving the photobooth).

Unlike some, though, I was home at the respectable time of 10pm; stories around the watercooler this morning reminded me why I no longer have the desire, or the capacity, to watch the sun come up whilst marinating my liver in the entire contents of the bar.

But it was a lot of fun - and I got to bust out the gold sequins. Any day you get to wear something that's surely visible from space is a day to give thanks.


Sunday 15 December 2013

Today's Chrissie party

Was with the doggie meetup group. We started with a walk on the South Coast and then repaired to the glorious Rogue & Vagabond pub where we drank Pimms, ate pizza and marvelled at how,  when the sun shines and the southerlies are off bothering someplace else, there is no better place in the world to be.

Btw, if you should find yourself in the vicinity of Glover Street, pop in and say hello to the pub's resident bulldog, Bruce.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Keeping an eye on what we see

Today's Canvas Magazine (NZ Herald) runs my profile of Dr Andrew Jack, NZ's Chief Censor (click here to read).

Friday 13 December 2013

Putting my party pants on

I hope this isn't how I feel tomorrow. Or Sunday. Or the day after that.

I have three Christmas parties in three days, kicking off tonight with my work soiree. I have lined my stomach, raided the bathroom cabinet for Panadol and girded my loins for seasonal madness.

Let the marathon begin...

(Pic: Google Images)  

Thursday 12 December 2013


I'm not about to embrace the idiocy that is Twitter (and its equally insane hashtag protocol), but even I have to admit this photo of tonight's dinner - fish vindaloo made from my father's recipe - is not the least bit Tweetable or Instagrammable or any other ridic channels ending in 'able'.

It did, however, taste bloody good, so in your eye crazy digital world!

A shout out also to Papa Bear Stephenson for sending me the recipe; it's the first time I've made it and I'm guessing it will become a regular fixture in mi cochina.


Wednesday 11 December 2013

One year

A year ago today we got the news - that Ms Molly's San Francisco vet had found a tumour on her spleen and sent her to doggy heaven.

So much has happened in that year: good things and not so good things, belly laughs, tears and the full colour wheel of emotion. But not once have we forgotten the wee scrap of black and white fur we brought home from the Wellington SPCA so many years ago.

You brought much joy into our lives Mollmoll, and I'd like to think that you're celebrating your first anniversary in heaven with as many schmackoes and belly rubs as your heart desires. Go well, sweet one...



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