28 August 2008


On Wednesday morning we headed to the west coast to visit Fjordlands National Park. It's only about a four-hour drive to get to Te Anau, and then from there it is about an hour and a half to Milford Sound itself. Here are a few photos for you to marvel at. Perhaps now you will come and visit us! We promise to take you to the Fjordlands if you'll come!

This is Lake Te Anau, which is quite large and beautiful. Maybe next time we go we'll get to kayak on it!

Here I am in a glacial valley on the way to Milford Sound.

Here's a photo of Mirror Lakes. Pretty awesome, isn't it?

This is Eric with a Kea, the only parrot to live in an alpine climate. An entire blog post will be devoted to this bird at a later date.

The sites on the way into the Sound are just phenomenal. Definitely the prettiest place I've ever been. It put the Tetons to shame.

And here's Milford Sound. We were there in late afternoon, so our photos aren't stellar, but this one is pretty good. The mountains rise straight out of the water. The tallest is Mitre Peak. (Mitre rhymes with "biter" not "beater"). It is 5560 feet tall.

We took a two-hour "cruise" around the Sound, and it was worth every penny. The fjord is absolutely gorgeous and completely stunning.

25 August 2008

Review: Lamingtons

When I first started teaching seminary I really wanted the kids to be more familiar with the books in the Old Testament, so we sang the song a number of times. Pretty much every time we got to Lamentations, one kid would sing "Lamingtons." And then would say, "Oh man! I did it again. I just can't remember that it's not lamingtons." I didn't think much of it, but a few days later the kids were talking about how yummy lamingtons were. "What are lamingtons? Like a lamb burger or something?" The kids proceded to laugh and laugh and laugh at me. Apparently lamingtons are a dessert. That day I got online and found this recipe, which I finally made today.

I mixed the batter in plain view of Eric while he fiddled on the computer. Then I popped it in the oven. While the cake was baking Eric ventured into the kitchen and saw the mixing bowl. "What's this?" he asked. "It's the batter," I said. "How'd you make it?" he wanted to know. "I mixed the ingredients together and stirred," I told him. "You didn't use a box?" he queried.

I guess that just goes to show you that baking is really not my thing.

It's the last week of Whip it Up! I've enjoyed participating, but I'm definitely ready to be done with the obligation of finding, trying out and blogging about a brand new recipe each week.

With all that said, here are the basics:
  1. The recipe was quite simple to follow. Nothing tricky or confusing about it. However, it is a bit laborious as you are meant to slice the cake then dip each bit in the icing and then roll it around in coconut. I decided from the get-go that that was too much work and merely iced it and then sprinkled with coconut.
  2. It was yummy.
  3. I'm not really crazy about baking, so probably not.
There you have it, folks. Eight recipes in eight weeks. I don't think I'll be trying anything new for quite some time.

24 August 2008


I made this scarf! The end.

23 August 2008

I Like Sunny Dunedin!

I do not like cloudy/rainy Dunedin.

Fortunately, we have had lots of sun this week, and it has been really, really nice. Unfortunately, we've also had lots of rain this week (and the preceding weeks), and the farmers' crops are flooded, so fresh produce is sky-high. Gah! Remember tomatoes and lettuce? Me neither.

Anyway, it was sunny yesterday, and as Eric and I took a walk to the grocery store we decided to swing by Matthew and Makereta's to ask them if they wanted to do something outside. They agreed that it was a perfect day for doing something outside, and we agreed on a picnic at the beach.

It was really, really lovely! After, we decided to go by the newly opened Chinese Gardens. We waited in line for a while, and then decided we should find out if there was an admissions fee before we waited in line any longer. There was one, and it was $8 so we all decided to go home. But not before we took a picture of ourselves outside the gardens. Maybe we'll go back some time, but yesterday was not the day.

Following our day out we took a two-hour nap and then spent the evening watching the Olympics. I've decided I'm not as happy with the coverage as I was at first, but all is well. We did get to see a lot of good things even though we never saw a single American men's basketball game.

20 August 2008

Review: Shrimp Scampi

It's another shrimp recipe! As you may recall, we loved our bag of shrimp so much, that we bought another, and I decided it would be worth our while to make a yummy shrimp dish of it.

I picked this shrimp scampi recipe because it met my usual requirements: I had all the ingredients and it sounded yummy. The basics:
  1. The recipe was very easy to follow. They are simple instructions, and there's not a lot to do, so this is a fast meal.
  2. This dish was fine. A little salty and a little too strong on the garlic.
  3. We might make this again. Overall, the flavor was nice, but it was a bit too strong. However, it was a really, really fast meal. I think it came together in about 20 minutes, and that was awesome.
In the future I would cut way back on the broth. I think you only need about 3/4 cup of chicken broth. I'd also cut down on the garlic. Hopefully the next time I make this tomatoes will be in season, because I think diced tomatoes would have been a perfect topping for this nice dish.

19 August 2008


They say you've lived long enough in one place when you start dreaming in that place's native language. New Zealand's native language is pretty much the same as mine, so I don't know how much that applies to me.

However, two nights ago I dreamed about driving. I drove on the left side of the road.

A few weeks before that I dreamed about driving on the left side of the road, but also on the left side of the car. That is, I was in an American car on a New Zealand road (and we got rear-ended, I'll have you know!).

A couple of weeks ago I wouldn't have been able to tell you that I'd fully adapted to Kiwi life because I was still dreaming in American. I guess I can now, though.

15 August 2008

Review: Louisiana Shrimp Casserole

It's Week #6 of Whip it Up, and this is my first non-vegetarian meal. I chose this shrimp casserole primarily because I had the ingredients on hand. Yes, I had shrimp on hand! A while back we bought a bag of pre-cooked frozen shrimp, and we have decided it was an excellent buy. It lasted us three whole meals! (Shrimp-fried rice, sun-dried tomato cream sauce with shrimp on pasta, and today's Louisiana shrimp casserole).

Let's get the basics taken care of:
  1. The recipe was extremely easy to follow. There were only a few steps, and they were all very simple. Nothing tricky about this recipe.
  2. The dish tasted great! We thoroughly enjoyed it.
  3. We will definitely make this recipe again. As soon as we buy another bag of shrimp we will get right on it. Definitely a winner.
Our Adjustments
We didn't have mushrooms, and cans of mushrooms are a bit pricey here, so we nixed them. They would have been absolutely delightful, so maybe we will add them next time.

I added garlic and green onion as one of the comments suggested, and I was really glad that I did so. Next time I'd like to add broccoli per another person's suggestion. I only didn't because one element was being used for the rice, and other was being used for the sauce, so I didn't have any room to make broccoli too. I rarely feel limited by my tiny kitchen, but today was one of the times that I did. Also, per many of the suggestions I used cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of shrimp soup. What in the heck is cream of shrimp soup?

Eric thought it was a little strong on the sour cream, but I think he was wrong.

As far as healthiness goes, this recipe is not very. You could certainly help that by purchasing low-fat options. I find when those sorts of things are all mixed together you can't taste a difference anyway. My mom would disagree, but this isn't her blog!

12 August 2008

Important Update

I just wanted to let you know that William (Matthew and Makereta's baby) can say my name. He cannot say Eric's name. He won't even try to say Eric's name.

This just goes to show you that never saying "no" to a child will not necessarily endear them to you. Or make your name any easier to say.

11 August 2008

Summer Olympics

I love the Olympics.

I remember the first time knowing that the Olympics were going on. It was 1992, and it was during the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. My mom watched them quite a lot, and I remember her telling me that the Olympics only happened once every four years, so I should definitely watch them. I'm sure I watched more than a few events at the time. Of course I could recognize the American flag, and I absolutely loved being able to cheer on my country. I think that was the time that I also fell in love with gymnastics.

I think it was that year that they did the switch from hold the Olympics only once every four years to once every two years. I remember being at a Mexican restaurant with my family and discussing with my mom and brother how much better it would be that way.

Anyway, the point is, OLYMPICS! We bought a TV antenna so we could get reception on our TV in order to watch the Olympics.

On Friday night we stayed up until 4:30 on Saturday morning watching the Opening Ceremonies. We thought they were wonderful and mostly worth staying up for. (Actually, we pulled out our couch bed and contemplated just sleeping there instead of moving to the actual bed. It was an awful lot like a slumber party, so that was entertaining!)

We were told the coverage here would be quite bad, but I've found that it's been excellent. Unlike the American coverage, which is very American-centric, the New Zealand coverage is not Kiwi-centric. This is partly because there just aren't as many Kiwi athletes who are likely to win their events as there are American athletes who are likely to win their events. Of course, that is expected from a country of only four million people, as opposed to America's three hundred million.

With all that said, I think it really frees up the Kiwi broadcasters to show whatever events with whatever participants they want. In some ways it is frustrating because I am not really interested in who will win the basketball game between Iran and Russia. At the same time, I think it really gives me a feel for the entirety of the Olympic games instead of it being, "Wow! America is the best at EVERYTHING! See? America rules! Go America!" The Olympics are supposed to be about celebrating international competition, and the Kiwi coverage does that nicely.

That's not to say that I want America to lose. I really, really, want America to get more medals than China. Because I'm pretty sure that by "One World. One Dream." they mean "China's World. China's Dream." I'm just a little leery of China taking over the world.

09 August 2008

Butterfly Day

Are you familiar with my friend, Angela? She is awesome. A far better writer than I am, which, frankly, doesn't say a lot. Today we had an activity at the Otago Museum. (As you may recall, I went there a couple of weeks ago with Makereta, but I only took pictures of the toilet seat.) The museum has a really cool butterfly exhibit going on, so we went there for our branch Relief Society Enrichment meeting. Good times.

I would write about it, but Ange has done a far better job than I could ever hope to do. Complete with loads of pictures. (In case you were thinking of NOT going, I will let you in on a little secret- her post is done in Seuss style. Like I said, Ange is awesome).

08 August 2008

Problems Solved-ish

Mucho lots of thanks to Kayla and Erin! I still don't think the colors quite suit me, but at least they look decent. Right? Don't they look decent?
As far as my bullet point concerns, I have the solutions. As Kayla mentioned, I just needed to upload a photo for my header and fix it in the settings as she instructed on my previous post. Easy enough.

Now, with the problem of my words being right up against my margins. For that, there was a solution! Erin mentioned playing around with the coding and putting in numbers and just kind of figuring out how things changed when I put in different numbers. I tried that, and I tried, and I tried, but I just couldn't figure out where to change things. Long story short, the necessary code is:
margin-left: 2px;
margin-right: 2px;
Just put that in anywhere that it talks about the header or the body of the text. Truthfully, I put it in LOADS of places so now none of my words press right up against the edges of the boxes they are in. And now I can sleep better knowing that. If you want bigger margins, just put in bigger pixel sizes.

The color scheme. Eh, I'll keep playing with it. Actually, changing the boxes behind the text is one of the easier parts of the process.

The problem with the date line not going straight into the post.... Eh. I just can't be bothered to figure that out. If anyone knows, please let me know. It's really not as frustrating to me as those other things I whined about.

I'm really glad I learned how to do this. HTML really is basic stuff, and I've felt for quite some time that I need to get a grasp on some of the essential things. While I'm certain that I will never need to code anything in my lifetime, it is nice to at least have some basic design ideas. And I like that my blog design is not shared by any other bloggers. Probably.

05 August 2008

New Look

I've been wanting to change my blog design for some time, and I finally have. Only problem is that it looks awful. I wish I knew HTML. I also wish I had an eye for design.

Here are my main complaints:
  • I don't want the title to be in the center of the header box. I want it to be in the bottom left corner, but I can't figure out how to move it.
  • In my side bars, I want there to be more room in the boxes on the left. The titles of the widgets are right up against the edge of the purple boxes.
  • The color scheme. I like the background. I like the purple with the background. I like my picture with the background. But I do not like my picture with the purple. And any other colors didn't really thrill me either. I generally prefer bright and dark colors and rather dislike pastels, but I am torn because I really want to use the photo in the header.
  • I wan the little purple box that the date is in to mesh with the purple box that the post is in. Only I'm pretty sure I don't want purple boxes at all. Gah.
Any help? Any suggestions of color combos? I know that I could go to a website that would give me a design, but those designs don't really thrill me, and almost all of them have a very scrapbooky feel that isn't really me.

Feel free to comment with suggestions or offers to help.

Review: Cream of Pumpkin Soup

This week for Whip It Up, I had a little help from Eric who suggested I try to make a pumpkin soup like we had in a restaurant once. The particular soup we had was technically a butternut squash soup, and it would be best described as liquid pumpkin pie. That may sound odd, but it was divine, and Eric's been wanting some more ever since.

I tried a recipe for butternut squash soup once, but it wasn't really what we were hoping, so I went with this recipe for this go-round. It was a hit! In fact, Eric said it was one of the best things I've ever made. And now let's get the necessary three questions answered:
  1. The recipe was very easy to follow.
  2. The dish tasted great!
  3. I will definitely be making this soup again. And again. And again.
I did alter the recipes a little bit by adding some brown sugar to the soup and using fresh pumpkin. I do not have a food processor or blender here (I miss my kitchen supplies in Utah!), so I cooked the pumpkin in chicken broth, then I drained the broth and mashed the pumpkin. Then I added the broth back and stirred quite a bit to fix the consistency. Because I don't have a blender or food processor, the onions weren't processed, and that was the weak point of the soup.

As I made the soup I kept tasting it, and I was really, really doubtful about it until I added the cream at the end. It is really, really crucial to add the cream to finish off the soup.

Also, as you may notice on the recipe, it calls for some brown sugar and cinnamon croutons. I considered not bothering to make the croutons, and I'm so glad that I ignored that thought. The croutons were DIVINE! And, not only were they easy to make and exceptionally yummy, I am now eager to make my own croutons for salads in the future. No more boxed croutons for us!

04 August 2008

My new loves

Not too long ago I was lamenting the fact that it is sometimes difficult to come by audio-books. Many libraries have at least a small collection, but it varies from library to library. I know there are places online where you can buy audio-books, but the problem with that is the buying part. If I'm going to buy a book, I want it in my hand, with the ability to turn pages, read passages over and over, tuck it snuggly in my purse for boarding the aircraft and to cuddle with in bed. I only buy tangible books.

I love audio-books for car-rides, for listening to while I do housework (as opposed to the radio or music on my mp3 player), and most importantly, for listening to while I do tedious work on a computer.

As I lamented the lack of audio-books in this world, I thought that it would be a pretty cool project for folks to work together to create audio-books for works that are in the public domain. That is, there are lots of books out there that can be re-printed in any form because they were published so long ago. (I think the law in the U.S. is 75 years.) People could volunteer to read books aloud, and then those files could be held by some large database so folks like me could listen online or download the mp3 files.

Then that thought left and didn't come back until Thursday. And it came to me that such a project probably did exist, and if I used Google properly, I would find it. A quick search for "free audio books" led me to LibriVox.org, which is exactly the project I just described. LibriVox, which means "Book Voice" is really awesome. I started listening to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde last week, but I wasn't really crazy about the guy's voice and the book wasn't as captivating as I wanted it to be.

Then, this week, I was listening to NPR and they did a quick piece on the one hundredth anniversary of Anne of Green Gables. The lightbulb went off in my head. I jumped over to LibriVox, found the files and began listening. I'm on Chapter 9 so far, and I can't wait to read more.

I'll write a full post about it once I'm done. Suffice it to say I love LibriVox. I love Google. And I love NPR.

03 August 2008

Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow...

Winter is slowly winding down here, and August is the southern hemisphere's February. That is, it's the worst month of winter. Sadly, though, our worst month is 31 days, not 28 (or 29). It's been extremely rainy here for days and days. I heard that on Saturday made the fifteenth day in a row with rain. Most of those days have been rainy all day long, not just a little bit of sprinkling here and there.

And that is why I took pictures this morning. THE SUN! IT STILL EXISTS! HOORAY!

01 August 2008

Review: Baked French Toast

After reading Janssen's post about yummy baked french toast, I decided to try it. Although, I went with the recipe from the second attempt, not the first.

Here's the basics:
  1. The recipe was easy to follow.
  2. It did not really taste good. Sort of, but not really.
  3. I will not make it again. Regular french toast for us, we say.
I made the batter with vanilla (per the suggestions), and it smelled really, really yummy. I used extra-thick white bread, which was a bit difficult to find because Kiwi bread tends to be EXTREMELY thinly sliced. In fact, what we would call "sandwich bread" in the States is called "toast" here, and regular sliced bread is even thinner than that. Frankly, I don't like it at all, but it's one of the things I've learned to deal with.

Anyway, we decided that we wanted to have the french toast for dinner, so I made the batter at home and then took it with the bread over to Makereta's so that I could use her baking pans and her normal-sized oven. Since the bread was thinner than what was indicated in the instructions, it only soaked for about three hours.

Makereta baked the bread following the instructions. The tops looked deliciously golden brown, and we were excited to pull the bread out of the oven. Only, inside was still ooey-gooey, and the bottoms were burnt black.

We ate the french toast anyway, but we were all rather disappointed with the overall effect. William (the baby) seemed to like it, but he also eats Vaseline, so what does he know?

I left dinner wanting regular french toast, and I was really unhappy that it didn't turn out as I'd hoped. In the future, it is very likely that I will add a little vanilla to my french toast batter, but I will probably just cook it the old-fashioned way and not bother baking it.