Saturday, 29 November 2008

Café Chick turns 1!

It's been a year since Café Chick started blogging. On 28 November 2007, in a moment of weakness, I set up a blank canvas and wondered what I could write about, and whether I'd be able to maintain anything I started. Still slightly hungover from the pressures of blogging in my professional life, I decided this blog would be different: totally self-indulgent, and simply about things I like, dislike, or just felt like blogging about. And so, Tales from a Café Chick was born and Café Chick said hi.

During this past year, coffee buddies have come and gone; some pop in for the occasional sip, while others regularly join me for virtual coffee dates. I started my 101 in 1001 project and have enjoyed connecting with others also working towards achieving their lists of goals. Tales from a Café Chick has found an international audience, and I have never failed to get excited by the buzz from finding another little red dot appear on my Clustr map. Here's how my map looked at the end of last week:


The map was archived over the weekend; my lovely little red dots have all disappeared and now I have a blank slate once again. It's the start of a new blogging year. I hope you will continue to join me on my blogging journey and help repopulate my Clustr map. It's been great to have your company, and to also get to know so many others all around the world via glimpses into your own blogging lives. Here's to the blogosphere - long may it continue to connect people around the globe!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A stitch in time

This goal was a 'must do', rather than a 'want to do', and it's no surprise that a stitch in time might have saved the nine I did tonight (so to speak). We didn't go dancing, and for some reason I felt the desire to attack the minor mending pile. (Similar to my urge to purge last week, I'm guessing.) Here's what I fixed tonight:
  • a ribbon on a keyhole top (not for the first time either)
  • the cuff on a pyjama top (which I won't be using again until next winter, but at least now it's done)
  • various patches on my wheat pack (ditto)
  • a flowy chiffon skirt, which fell apart after only washing it a few times
  • a negligee strap (ok, technically I did this one last week). I had only worn it a few times, too!
Here's hoping that's all for now, and that more items of clothing don't mysteriously fall apart in the next week while. Yay for goal #41 - Fix/sew up my clothes that need minor mending.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Paul McCartney - In Red Square

I've been loaned some music DVDs and am in the process of putting some onto my iPod, whenever Handbrake behaves itself.

One DVD I have particularly been looking forward to watching is Paul McCartney - In Red Square. Paul has always been my favourite Beatle (everybody's got to have one), although I firmly believe that The Beatles were strongest when they worked as a single unit, instead of as a group of individuals. Tonight, I sat down with Paul and was transported to the excitement of Russia, beneath the former Iron Curtain.

Wow, what a concert. Not only was it a wonderful celebration of Beatles and McCartney music, with the band staying faithful to the original keys and solos, but the commentary in between each song genuinely added to the full concert experience, rather than serving as a distraction. Despite the hype, there is no doubt that the influence The Beatles had on Russian youth rebellion was phenomenal, evident in the huge crowds at the concerts in Red Square and St Petersburg.

Nineteen songs are included in the first concert, with eleven played during in the second. Naturally, "Back in the USSR" made some repeat appearances, but I was also pleased to hear some of my favourites: "Penny Lane", "Got to Get You Into my Life", "Get Back", "Live and Let Die", and a rare performance of "She's Leaving Home".

Really enjoyable, if you're a Paul fan like me. I've added him to the list of musicians I'd try to see even if they only came to another New Zealand city.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Value every minute

I love this poem. It's so true and incredibly inspiring. The author is unknown, so I'll plagarise it here:
To realise the value of one year: Ask a student who has failed a final exam.
To realise the value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realise the value of one week: Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realise the value of one hour: Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realise the value of one minute: Ask the person who has missed the train, bus or plane.
To realise the value of one second: Ask a person who has survived an accident.
To realise the value of one millisecond: Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.
Time waits for no one.
Treasure every moment you have. You will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special.
OK, enough of the sentimentality. Café Chick's motives here are actually quite cheeky ...

Yesterday, I experienced a twist to this poem. I was invited to a friend's daughter's christening. It wasn't exactly something I was looking forward to; their first daughter's christening had its share of family dramas, which I'm thankful are mostly resolved now, but that's not the reason I was hoping to wrangle out of the invitation.

I really wasn't looking forward to facing the judge, jury, or any other members of the So have you sorted your life out yet? No? Well, you should just ... otherwise it's all your own fault Squad. This honorary society was formed a number of years ago and is made up of mostly school-friends, along with a collection of other acquaintances, some of whom know my family (and barely know me), but each have in common one or more (or a clean sweep!) of the following (none of which I have):
  • a husband
  • child/ren
  • a picket fence and matching lifestyle in suburbia.
I had already planned to get my sweetie off the hook by saying he was at motorsport that day. (I actually thought he was going to be, but kept to the story even after we realised he wasn't.) I was trying to manufacture a way to put in an appearance, then leave as soon as I could after the service. My 'reason' turned out to be genuine; I was all set for the christening at 3.30pm.

Except it started at 3pm. Arriving at what I thought was ten minutes early, I gritted my teeth and prepared myself to walk into the onslaught, only to find everyone vacating the church and heading downstairs to the hall for afternoon tea. The service had finished; apparently it went well. Hmm, now what to do?

I was naughty. I popped downstairs, chatted briefly to various people from the squad (as well as the baby's parents and grandparents), then said my goodbyes and quietly slipped out. So far, I don't think anyone realised I missed the actual service; they just seem to think they didn't see me at the church because I was sitting at the back, or something! Talk about the value of twenty minutes ...

And that's the way it's going to stay. ;-)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Tag!

I saw this on Sab's blog Seeds of the Heart and thought that she did a cheeky job at tagging by saying "If you read this, TAG! You're it!". But, Café Chick is a sucker for quizzes and things like this, so here goes.

15 things I'm not afraid to admit
  1. I don't iron clothes unless I really really REALLY have to. I even buy clothes that don't require ironing especially.
  2. I don't own a hair dryer. I don't care about hair products. Or makeup. I brought makeup away with me on holiday and forgot to use it. I often do that.
  3. I love all things Disney. I don't care if it's for kids, or immature, or over-commercialised. To me, Disney is magical. (BTW, I always wanted to be Tinker Bell when I was a kid.)
  4. I hate roller coasters or any speed/whoosh/spinny/whirly kind of ride at theme parks. I hate them.
  5. I love ABBA, Michael Jackson, The Bee Gees, and feel-good disco music. I had a 70s disco theme party for my 30th and had everybody dress up for it, then danced the night away to music from the era.
  6. I do cross-stitch embroidery of Victorian women/angels/fairies when I have the time. I have completed 20+ (not sure of the total) designs from the Mirabilia range.
  7. I hate capsicums. Even the smell of them makes me sick. Red, green, yellow or orange. Euw. I can even taste when they have been included in a dish and then removed, so no use trying to sneak them up on me!
  8. I love the colour purple. Always have, always will.
  9. I had not one, but three imaginary friends when I was a kid. Shalagessy, Shack and Catha were great mates.
  10. I am a huge Muppets fan. I have their wallpaper on my phone and Animal sings my txt ringtone (Mah Nah Mah Nah). Muppets rock!
  11. I am an unashamed coffee snob. I don't drink coffee for a quick caffeine fix. Instead, I'd prefer to enjoy a really good cup of coffee occasionally, rather than settle for something cheap and nasty in the name of "needing a coffee". You don't need that crap; learn to be discerning!
  12. I gave up drinking alcohol a few years ago. I will have an occasional glass of wine, cocktail, or sip of beer (once or twice a year), but don't miss alcohol at all. I'd never drunk much before then anyway. You can always count on me to be the sober driver!
  13. I'm a night owl by nature, but have to work hard at establishing a sound sleeping routine so I can get up in the mornings for work. It's only marginally easier to do this in summer.
  14. I always have a song doing the rounds in my head. Sometimes it's a good thing; often it's incredibly annoying having that earworm cohabiting my grey matter. The songs, or song fragments, change but certain ones have been known to visit over and over again. And again.
  15. I like the idea of lists, being organised, devising systems, keeping papers in files, etc, but in reality admin bores me silly. Hence, I really need to be in the mood to devise a system and also need that mood to revisit when it's time to update/revise/add to it. After beating myself up about this personality trait for years, I think I'm finally getting over it; it's just who I am.
"Tag - you're it!"
(Hmm, will any coffee buddies take up this quiz on their own blog now?)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Give old clothes to charity

For a week of every year, I go through a phase of wanting to purge stuff. Anything will do; clothes, books, 'junk', work stuff, resources, etc. This phase usually lasts for one week, and one week only, often in January (during our summer holidays) and once that week is up, it's back to accumulating 'stuff' again until the next phase hits.

I missed my annual purge this year while I was travelling around the South Island, and simply didn't have the desire for it once I got back and into the swing of things at work. For some bizarre reason, I think I'm about to enter this phase early (or perhaps long overdue). It may be due to my contract not being renewed next year, and me needing to get things in order before I can move on. It's more likely related to the fact that I got to sleep at 5:15am today, after fretting the night away. Either way, I've made a small start on a few of my goals which relate to this 'phase'.

Today, I went through my wardrobe and filled a bag with clothes I no longer wear but are still in really good condition, ready to give away to St Vinnie's. I could probably do better, and may go through my drawers in a bit more depth, but it feels good to have made a start. I've put some items on TradeMe and might even tackle some of my bigger 'sorting' goals soon. But, in the meantime, that's another one done: #88 - Give old clothes to charity.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Update my CV

I have just found out that my contract will not be renewed in 2009. This is something which I knew might be a possibility, and is the reason why I set goal #97 - Keep CV up to date. Regardless, keeping a CV up to date is something I believe is important for everyone to do, even though my is never usually ready for that magical, overnight, 'million dollar offer' that might miraculously come along. Well, no time like the present!

I dug out my old CV and was quite surprised just how much I had on it, especially in comparison to some others. It's still really strange to see several years' work reduced to 3-4 lines each, and to summarise such a big part of one's life in just a few sentences. Hopefully there's enough substance there to grab a few bites and move me forwards in my career. Becoming quite specialised in a national position has many benefits, but also some pitfalls; where does one go from here?

So, now it's time to start door-knocking (virtually, of course) and hopefully capitalising on the professional networks I have built up in recent years. Who knows what the future holds?!

I sound braver than I am.

Monday, 17 November 2008

High Society

I am in a nostalgic mood tonight. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the moon, or something in the water? ;-)

I'm sitting at home watching High Society (1956) on TCM - something which has surprised even myself. I've started watching this movie before, but never finished it. I used to watch old black and white movies with my grandmother when I went to her house on Sunday afternoons as a child. I never really enjoyed them, and to this day can't remember one we watched, but very occasionally I feel like in the mood to reminisce and watch something from this era. I guess tonight's the night.

High Society stars Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly (in her last movie), and Frank Sinatra, all in their prime. There are some great musical interludes by Louis Armstrong and his band (playing as themselves). I didn't realise that this movie featured Cole Porter's song "Well, Did You Evah", sung by Crosby and Sinatra, so that was a nice surprise for me. It turns out the song was added at the last minute, once it was realised that there were no duets featuring the two artists singing together. Very enjoyable.

All in all, a pleasant and nostalgic evening.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Lie in a hammock

We got back from our holiday on Friday night and had a very lazy day on Saturday. Temperatures here are about 10 degrees Celsius lower than on the Gold Coast, but summer is definitely on its way. :-)

We went to a friend's housewarming barbeque last night. It was quite windy and cool, so we gave up eating outside. After dinner, my sweetie and our friend challenged each other to a swingball dual on the back lawn and, as the wind picked up even further, I discovered a piece of heaven in a sheltered corner of the back yard: a hammock tied between two branches of a big old tree. So, I achieved an impromptu goal tonight: #74 - Lie in a hammock. Ahhh. 15 minutes of bliss. :-)

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Escape

Yesterday, we bought an Escape Pass. This allows entry to two theme parks over three days (a different franchise to Dreamworld). Both days started out the same way: cool and raining. I wasn’t too thrilled with either state, even after we stopped to buy cheap umbrellas. Rain and sun hit us sporadically over the next two days, quite different to the 32 degree heat we experienced during our first day on the Gold Coast.

Sea World
I really love Sea World in San Diego. (I should stop comparing, but I just can’t.) Sea World Gold Coast is a teensy tiny version of the real thing and probably takes about half a day to fully explore. Of course, we don’t have kids, so that could be part of the problem.

The underwater aquarium was great, and we shot a few movies. Here is a great one of a school of fish who constantly swam back and forth along the window from one end to another - it would make a great screen saver.

video

We also enjoyed watching a polar bear playing in the water with a stuffed toy:

video

The highlight of the day was the dolphin show, where five dolphins strutted their stuff and put on a fabulous display. If I had thought or known about it when planning our trip, I would have loved to book a session swimming with the dolphins; hopefully another time.

(BTW, we checked out Jupiter’s Casino tonight – finally! – and gave ourselves limits of $20 and 1 ½ hours each. After 20 minutes, we were ready to leave, with my sweetie blowing a full dollar on the 2c slot machines and me not finding the right change to do the same. Instead, we invested $2 each on a monorail ride and enjoyed overlooking a beautiful calm night in Broadbeach. We’re obviously not cut out for the gambling business, lol!)

Warner Brothers Movie World
We got to Movie World early, where my sweetie could be first in line for the Batwing Spaceshot and before most of the shops opened. Again, I found it really hard to not feel underwhelmed. (OK, I didn’t do so well with this today, but am trying to get over it.) The whole park is about the size of one ‘land’ in Disneyland or Universal Studios area. There are six rides (apart from the kiddies’ ones), and one was closed for refurbishment with another unavailable for part of the day. Being mostly speed/thrill rides, I found I had plenty of time to explore the whole park several times over. And over. Oh well. We enjoyed the Shrek 4D Adventure show, though.

Upon reflection, we think we did the theme parks in the wrong order. We’d recommend going to Sea World first, then Warner Brothers Movie World, finishing with Dream World. (We didn’t go to Wet 'N' Wild or Whitewater World, so can’t really comment.) And, most importantly, make sure you do the Gold Coast theme parks before hitting Anaheim/LA or Florida etc; it’s hard to not come away feeling underwhelmed.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Dracula's

Last night, we went to Dracula’s. Definitely worth the hype, cost, and time to book in advance, this show and dinner package was amazing. The current show is Beasts of Burlesque, featuring the weird wonders of circus life and freak shows. The costumes, makeup, comedy, and dancing are excellent.

The show takes place in two one-hour sections after a three course dinner. After a set entrée and choice of six mains, the highlight is, naturally, dessert: Death by Chocolate. There is constant table service and a great cocktail menu, with all of the waiting and bar staff also dressed up as Gothic freaks. The in-house trio played clever jazz arrangements of a whole range of music, and also joined the show later on. There was plenty of audience participation, and I’m just glad that we were sitting one table back from the centre catwalk, as that’s where most of the audience ‘victims’ were selected from. Hilarious!

If we’re back on the Gold Coast again, or in Melbourne, this is something we’d definitely go back to and also recommend to family and friends. Plan to make a whole night of it; this is 5+ hours of outstanding entertainment.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Tourists for a day

Today we were tourists, armed and ready with cameras, credit cards, and discount vouchers from travel guide books, but without the matching track suits, walk shorts and golf caps. ;-) We decided to knock off all the Surfer’s Paradise attractions in one go. First stop, though, was Pancakes in Paradise, especially for my sweetie, who is a pancake boy. $A8.95 for all you can eat pancakes and maple syrup and my sweetie was in paradise, managing to devour eight buttermilk pancakes before we moved on. My lemon and icing sugar crepes were divine, and I even manage to prise one of my sweetie’s buttermilk pancakes off his plate to try for myself.

We wandered around Surfer’s Paradise centre for a bit. There is a lot of construction work going on in and around the centre of this suburb, with luxury resorts as far as the eye can see and more on the way. It was quite overcast today and the cooler temperature was a welcome relief. We quickly popped into the Hard Rock Café to look around. There was a small range of memorabilia, with quite a few Australian artists (as expected), but nothing quite like the Melbourne or Los Angeles cafes I’d been to. We spent a couple of hours with someone trying to sell us luxury accommodation for the next 30 years in exchange for a ludicrous sum of money, all in the name of claiming a free week’s accommodation on the Gold Coast which we had ‘won’. (We’re still deciding what to do with this offer – it would be great to come back for another week.) No deal.

The highlight of our afternoon was Infinity, the home of optical illusions. The time sped by as we explored room after room of mirrored optical illusions, each time looking for the door to the next room. Very clever and lots of fun. Directly across the road is the Haunted House, run by Dracula’s. Five stories of scares and thrills and very clever special effects. The strange thing is that neither of us actually found it scary, even the Dare Doors, which were supposed to house the scariest features of all. Maybe we’re getting a bit too cynical (or technical?) in our old age?

A friend had recommended Cold Rock for ice cream. This is where you get to pick the flavours you want, add some ‘mix ins’ (which could be chocolates, confectionery, fruit, nuts, biscuits, or fudge), then watch the staff smash it all together on a ‘cold rock’ to make your very own flavour of ice cream. We tried English toffee and cookies ‘n cream ice cream with a Kit Kat and Tim Tam ... yum!

And, finally, we crossed over to the Wax Museum, the largest wax museum in the southern hemisphere. With memories of the now closed Movieland Wax Museum in Anaheim, I’d looked forward to this. Some of the characters were quite life-like; the others were less realistic. One of the models was one of three created by the famous Madame Toussaud of herself. We were surprised to be allowed to take photos in this area as we tried to overcome low lighting and glass panels. We then went down to the Chamber of Horrors, an historical tour comprising the only display of its kind and featuring human torture and cruelty through the ages, right up to modern day genocide. I found this quite disturbing. I contemplated leaving at several stages, all the while finding myself disgusted at the cruelty of humankind. Unbelievable.

We still haven’t made it to Jupiter’s Casino yet to gamble away our $20 limit. Maybe tomorrow?

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Dreamworld

We spent yesterday at Dreamworld, one of several theme parks on the Gold Coast. Dreamworld is essentially a tiny replica of Disneyland, with a very similar layout and features. The rides all seemed to be short and sharp, which helped shorten queues.

My sweetie was having the time of his life going on one thrill ride after another. You may have guessed, but that’s not my thing at all. He was determined to get me on a roller coaster or three; I wasn’t having anything to do with those plans. I conceded with one that I thought didn’t look quite as bad (Mick Doohan’s Motocoaster), but it was. He thought it was hilarious that I didn’t enjoy it. At all. Still not funny, sweetie!

Here are some cute pics of the tiger cubs sleeping, taken by their trainer, shortly after the midday Tiger Island show.



I love this warning by the crocodile pool; very sound advice:


The heat slowed us down a bit today; it was kind of a relief to hear from people who have been here for a while that it was one of the hottest days they’ve had (32 degrees Celsius), but makes us wonder what the weather has in store for us during the next week. We checked out our hotel pool when we got back from Dreamworld and before heading out for dinner.

Something we find really strange about Burleigh Heads is how early shops, restaurants, and other food places close at night. Two nights in a row, we tried to get to an Internet café which says it closes at 9pm, but its doors were firmly shut at least an hour before then. We tried to eat at three different places around 8pm only to be told they were closing or closed, yet there were so many people around outside looking for places to go. Doesn’t seem to make much business sense in a tourist town.

We’re mapping our next week and have a few exciting things planned - a combination of theme parks, sight seeing, touristy stuff, shopping, and relaxing. Seeing as we’re only one block from Burleigh Beach, we figure we should walk down there and check it out sometime. A supermarket shop this morning should see us set up with breakfasts and lunches for our trip. We’re off to Pacific Fair for a bit of retail therapy shortly, but in the meantime it’s nice to be relaxing inside with the air conditioning pumped up.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Gold Coast

Yesterday, I achieved half of one of my ‘big’ goals. My sweetie and I are on Australia’s Gold Coast for a week, and so I have a new stamp on my passport! I guess this means I’ll be writing a travel blog for the next week, whenever I can get Internet access to upload each post. More likely, I’ll upload all my posts after the event, once I arrive back at home.

It’s been 18 years since I was last on the Gold Coast, and things have changed a fair bit. Firstly, there’s an airport; we used to have to fly into Brisbane and hop on a bus or train south for an hour or so. There are new buildings and apartment resorts everywhere, but it’s the palm trees, greenery, and warm evenings that I’m loving so far.

Queensland do not observe daylight savings, so we are three hours behind New Zealand time. We were amazed at how quickly and early it got dark last night. The upside, I guess, is that the sun came up incredibly early this morning and, since our body clocks are running on NZT, we were awake and ready to go from around 6am (9am NZT). Of course, nothing is open here yet ... I knew there was a reason why we are not morning people!

Our apartment has a pool in the shape of Australia ... not quite as tacky as it sounds, and we’re keen to check out Tasmania (the spa pool) tonight. We are staying in Burleigh Heads, about a block away from the beach and five beaches away from all the action in Surfer’s Paradise. We have a couple of activities planned and are starting to make bookings, but need to wait until the office opens and work out buses, tickets etc.



So, Café Chick and her sweetie are on holiday!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Stevie Wonder - Song Review

I'm still on a high from the Stevie Wonder concert last week. It just goes to show that experiences like this are worth all the time and effort (not to mention, money) that it can take to get to them. This feeling is priceless.

As promised, I have now started listening to Stevie Wonder's Song Review (1996) again now. This is a great collection of some of Stevie's best music. I say some because I think there are a couple of glaring omissions (see below), even though this is the single CD version of this compilation. So here's my two cents worth.

Songs I totally love:
Master Blaster (Jammin'). From the first drum roll. Wow.
My Cherie Amour. Perhaps the most romantic, summery song ever. Guaranteed to put a smile on my face.
For Once In My Life. The ultimate feel-good song. Great orchestration and a superbly tight rhythm section. Can't wait to play this song with my next band!

Songs I grew to love:
Isn't She Lovely. My mother never liked this and for some reason I listened to her. Now it's up there with the best, especially the variations on the bass/drum runs at the end of each verse, and the killer harmonica solo.
Lately. I never really knew this song before. It has to be one of the saddest songs ever, and those long phrases "always start to cry --" are so superbly executed. The orchestration is laid bare and minimalist; a perfect package.
Living For The City. I love how the timing changes to 3/4 during the instrumental break.

Songs I don't think needed to be on this album:
I Just Called to Say I Love You. Yeah yeah, it was a big hit, but a bad one. I didn't mind the funked up version he played live, but still can't warm to this.
Redemption Song. Aiming for a big finish and never quite making it.

Songs I think are missing:
Sir Duke. One of the best tribute songs written. I totally agree with all the musicians he admires, and the way he paid tribute to them. Really tight rhythm work, too.
Ribbon In The Sky. Beautiful phrasing. A really well-constructed song.
There's a Place In The Sun. Perhaps not his best work, but a great representation of how he was writing and performing at the time.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Dancing the night away

Last Sunday night, we went to the ball. It's taken me a while to blog about this, but I thought that an event like this needed time to get it right. I had bought the dress, planned my afternoon so we would make it in time for pre-ball drinks at The Brewery next door, and then we were ready. The theme was A Night at the Oscars and the venue was Te Papa, overlooking Wellington's waterfront.

What a night. There's something really special about getting dressed up to the nines and having a night out with friends. The food was pretty good this year, with a selection of lamb, chicken, and venison dishes and salads, then tiramisu for dessert. Being a dance event, it was so lovely to have continuous music and a big dance floor which was constantly full.

Now, I am about to solve one of life's mysteries. Men have long asked the question to which there is apparently no answer: "why do women go to the bathroom in groups?". Well, guys, although we ladies lead you to believe otherwise, there is an answer and, luckily for you, today I am going to break the code of silence and share it. The reason women go to the bathroom in groups is because there is a mega help centre there, and I used it on the night of the ball. I was in the midst of a Bad Hair Night and set off to see if I could remedy it. As I stood in front of the mirror randomly pulling out hair clips and wondering what to do with the resulting mess (and no hair products available), an angel spoke to me. "How about a French twist?" she said. "I don't know how to do one," I replied. Before I knew it, the angel had my hair clips in her hands and her fingers performed a miracle; within 30 seconds I had a stunning French twist. Voila!

We danced the night away and afterwards ended up listening to a jazzed up Irish band from Brisbane playing at Hummingbird until 2am. Thankfully, the next day (Monday) was Labour Day so we could sleep in and take it easy. This was a goal I was really excited about and looking forward to for a while: #29 - Dance at a formal ball.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Trick or treat

Our friend had a Halloween party last night and we gave him a helping hand. Literally. (See pic below.) Halloween is not a big tradition in New Zealand, but parties and dressing up are popular, so this year we went all out. Here are some pics from around the party crypt. Can you spot my sweetie?




The few trick-or-treaters who ventured up the zigzag path said this was the coolest house they had been to. ;-)

My role in this was making the punch. I also decided that it was time to tackle a goal I'd been looking forward to: #64 - Bake and decorate cupcakes.

First of all, the punch. I came across a cool recipe for witches brew. I had great fun making and freezing two hands, one with strawberries (below) and the other with raspberries. We couldn't work out how to make the hand sit upright in the punch bowl, like it was supposed to, but decided that it looked just as freaky to have it floating in the drink, especially once a few fingers had fallen off. We still have the raspberry one left and might take it to the next part in a couple of weeks time.


And now onto the cupcakes. These took absolutely forever to make, even with baking them the night before. I wanted to make Halloween spiders but couldn't find liquorice straps anywhere - every other variety, but not these. A rethink was in order. My cupcake recipe book gave instructions for using melted white and dark chocolate to create spider webs and, with help from my sister-in-law, this is what we set out to do. Upon discovering that each miniature cupcake would take several minutes each to ice, a bit of creative thinking and a quick Google search saw us come up with these: spiders and miniature jack-o-lanterns.