Friday, 31 October 2008

Friday's Foto Finish Fiesta ... From Halloween Past

It's Friday and it's a Fiesta !! At least it is, thanks to Candid Carrie ! :-)

My granddaughter , Sacha, in 1999 . It was the first Halloween, where she actually went up to the door by herself ...

Okay, so you knock on the door and then stand and wait ....

Then someone comes say 'Twick or Tweat' (we spent hours teaching her that!)...looks at you and says 'Ooohhh cute' ...than hands you candy...

Then you climb down the stairs and head off to the next house with Mum and Grandma in hot pursuit. You got the idea, after the first two houses, that knocking on front doors gets you candy.

Time for a pit stop !!!!

Mum decided it might be a good idea to remove some of the treats .... sort of, out of sight and out of mind !!

Unfortunately the night came to an abrupt end, when we went to one house, that was very nicely decorated. However, when Sacha knocked on the door, this Alien (looked like one of those from Area 51), appeared. Sacha took one look ... let out a piercing scream ... dropped all her candy ... and took off running. When we asked her if she wanted to go and knock on any more doors, we just got a loud 'NOOOOOOOOOOO' in response. Poor kid, but it was quite funny at the time...

As to this Halloween and why I've been MIA for the last week or so......

There was yards and yards of black net .... oh, and yards and yards of teal fabric ..

And 14 sleeve petals ....

Plus 15 waist petals ...

A corset with boning, sequins, etc ....

An under dress ..

Which , eventually, all came together to look like this..

A Halloween costume for my friend's teenage daughter !!!

I'm quite pleased with the way it's turned out. :-)


Saturday, 25 October 2008

Fallin' Off Yer Bike ....

Considering my propensity for nearly falling off my bike or actually falling off it ... usually due to some idiot motorist thinking that he/she does not have to yeild to me, when I have the right of way, at driveways and intersections ... this course might be just the ticket for me !! :-)

My normal modus operandi in those situations, is to jam my brakes on and use my feet as a power assist to my brakes. This usually results in a less than elegant near, or full on, introduction to the tarmac, while mouthing unprintable things at the clueless driver.

I rather like the idea of being able to gracefully leap off my bike, like the NZ bobby (police officer), pictured below, is doing.

Yup ... can just see me doing that :-)

RUN FOR IT: Sergeant Mike Fitzsimons uses a tactical speed dismount technique to catch course instructor Marianne Draijer during police cycle training in Nelson.

Bicycle Cops Leap At Opportunity
By STACEY KNOTT - Nelson | Saturday, 25 October 2008

Nelson police officers now know how to fall off a bike.

Cycling coach Marianne Draijer has been putting police through their paces, teaching them how to dodge cones, do repairs, and something Senior Constable Garry Dunn likes to call "speed and tactical dismounting" or, in Mrs Draijer's words, how to fall off a bike.

They have had two practice sessions so far, which police must pass in order to use new bikes that were introduced in August.

Police currently have one bike in Nelson which is equipped with flashing lights, a loud siren, first aid kits and ticket books, and plan to eventually add another three for Stoke and Nelson.

"It's twofold --we will use them to enforce cyclists' behaviour and for covert and overt urban control," Mr Dunn said.

Yesterday police completed their bicycle training at Saxton Field.

During an earlier training session, while practising how to "tactfully dismount a bike at speed" around the Nelson courthouse, Mr Dunn "played the bad guy" while Senior Constable Hamish Blanch learned how to jump off a bike and tackle the role of pursuer.

After dismounting and chasing Mr Dunn around the grounds, Mr Blanch "got a bit carried away with the enjoyment of it", and tackled him to the ground, Mr Dunn joked.

New uniforms, essential to complete the bobbies on bikes look, are awaiting approval. So far, it's cycle shorts with police polo shirts and the police logo on the helmets. Mr Dunn said the look was important because "the policeman's authority comes from the uniform he wears".

However, the bike officers would also be "an approachable face for the public", he said.

The new bikes had already been used to catch a bike thief and school truants who would not have been caught if the police were in a patrol car, Mr Dunn said.

The bikes give officers a better view of what was going on on the streets, such as pedestrian behaviour, he said.

Eighteen officers signed up for the training, with seven completing it so far.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Friday's Foto Finish Fiesta - Awwww , They Grow Up Too Quickly .... and GORGEOUS GOWN Giveaway Link ..

It's Friday and it's a Fiesta !! At least it is, thanks to Candid Carrie ! :-)

My youngest grandson, Xavier, proudly showing off his new school uniform and 'Speed Racer' shoes !

He starts at RUSSLEY School, in two weeks, when he turns a grownup 5.

In New Zealand, kids start school on their fifth birthday, irrespective of where that birthday falls in the school year. He will be starting school, about a month or so, before the year ends. The school year , over there, runs from February through to December.

Judging by the photos, I suspect that he is pretty excited, wouldn't you say ? :-)

Congratulations on starting school, Xavier. You have a whole, new and exciting world ahead of you !!!

Isn't this the most gorgeous gown that you've ever seen ???

Can't you just imagine a little girl proudly wearing it on Halloween?

Pop over to KATHLEEN'S
and enter her giveaway to win this FABULOUS gown. You'll need to be quick as it ends today. I've been sick, so hence the delay in posting the link and info. :-(

Her site itself is worth visiting and bookmarking for future visits, especially if you love sewing, like I do :-)

Oh ... YUCK !!!

I've not been feeling the greatest over the last few days as I've had an upset tum, due to eating lunch meat that was a bit off.

There was no warning, that the turkey breast was off, as far as smell or anything like that went. It also tasted okay, so I passed off the way I was feeling as perhaps a bug that I'd caught at school.

Then I went to make a sandwich on Tuesday, after I was feeling a little bit better and found this on the slices that were in the center of the packet. YUK !!! No wonder I got sick...

Took it back up to Walmart, as I wanted them to know that they may have some off lunch meat on their shelves.

I'm now convinced. more than ever, that possessing brains is not a pre-requisite for working at Walmart .... and yeah, I do know that there are some intelligent people working there. It's just that I seem to always get the idiots !!!

According to the associate that I spoke to ... 'This wouldn't make anybody very sick at all, as the meat had to be really whiffy before you got ill' .

Hmmmm...really ??? Wonder what cornflake box she got her medical degree out of !!!!

Speaking of Walmart and in all fairness it's not only them that is doing this ... but what's with all the Christmas stuff being out on the shelves before Halloween is even over????

These photos were taken a couple of weeks ago. Stores like Micheal's, Ross's, Costco, etc, have had their Christmas stuff out for over six weeks.

Seems to get earlier and earlier , each year !!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Me, Myself and My Accent.

Here in the US, as long as I don't open my mouth, I blend in quite well with the rest of the natives.

On the occasions that I do open my mouth, I can usually guarantee on at least one of the following happening...

1 .. People try to encourage me to keep talking as apparently they 'love the accent'. Men are the worst for that. Not long after I got over here, I was offered a job as a sex-line operator. Actually, I was offered that job a number of times. Apparently there are a lot of male sex-line owners in this town.

2 .. People misunderstand what I'm saying. Those computerised phone menu thingies are the worst. They NEVER understand me. I've been known to yell unprintable things at them.

Earlier this year, I witnessed a domestic incident outside one of our local fast food joints. Things were getting a bit physical, so I called 911.

The Police dispatcher had a few problems understanding me ...

PD ... ' Whereabouts are they? '

Me ... ' They're right outside Wendy's '

PD ... ' Where , Ma'am ?'

Me ... ' Outside Wendy's. '

PD ... ' Outside Windy's ? '

Me ... ' No! Wendy's on the corner of Virginia and Gentry. '

PD ... ' I'm not showing any Windy's there, Ma'am. Could you spell it please. '

Me ... ' It's WENDY'S. W_E_N_D_Y_S .'

PD ... 'Oh, you mean WENDY'S. I thought you were saying Windy's ! '

Gee, lady, I'm really glad I wasn't calling to report that the fryers had caught fire Because Wendy's would have burnt to the ground, before we got that one sorted out !!!

Apparently my 'e' can sound like an 'i' and my 'i' can sound like an 'e', to some.

Which probably explains why, when I once asked someone to buy a 'TIN of baked beans' from the supermarket, he brought back TEN cans of baked beans...

Judge for yourself. Does it sound like 'tin' to you or 'ten' ?

Mind you, I am speaking a lot slower and more precisely there. My normal speaking voice, when I forget I'm speaking to Americans, is a lot faster and the accent is a little heavier.

Found this one on YouTube.

I sympathise with my fellow Kiwi. This illustrates exactly what happens to me, when I try using voice recognition software on my computer or try talking to a computer generated menu on the phone!!

Do any of you often get misunderstood on the phone or by computers? Do you think you have an accent ?

Saturday, 18 October 2008

CUPCAKES !!! Oh Yummy !!!

Okay, what to do after hosting a couple of hundred fellow bloggers on Thursday???

Get up Friday morning, at 5am and make five dozen cupcakes, of course !!

The reward ??

The excitement on the faces of thirty, or so, second graders when they see what was in the big box that Mrs HK brought in. The school is in one of the poorer areas, so the kids don't get a lot of homemade treats.

The hugs,thank yous and the smiles on little chocolate smeared faces.

Plus the young boy who came over to me, gave me hug and said 'Mrs HK, those are the best ever cupcakes I've ever tasted. Even better than the ones from the store!!'

These cupcakes are really very good. They are quite moist and the frosting is delicious.

They have a can of lycopene rich tomato sauce in them, which sounds strange. However you can't tasted the sauce and it's the ingredient that keeps them moist. You use a boxed cake mix. Next time I make them, I think I'll forgo the cake mix and make them completely with my own ingredients..

I didn't take photos of the whole process, as it was early and I kept forgetting...

I also doubled the recipe below ..

Triple-Chocolate Cupcakes (From Oct 13 issue of 'Women's World')

3/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cups dry milk powder
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup butter (room temperature)
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 package (18.25oz) Devil's Food cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
1/3 cup melted butter (you can use oil)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Chocolate sprinkles

In a bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk powder and cocoa, until smooth.

In another bowl, on high speed, beat the butter until fluffy. Beat in yogurt mixture until combined. Reduce speed to medium and gradually beat in sugar and vanilla. Increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Frosting will be soft. Chill for 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Prepare cupcake baking tin by putting paper cupcake liners in the holes.

I a large bowl, on medium speed, beat milk powder and water until powder is dissolved.

Add eggs, tomato sauce, cake mix and melted butter. Beat until fluffy

Stir in chocolate chips.

Fill paper cups about 3/4 full.
Bake 20 -25 minutes or until pick inserted in the middle, comes out clean.

Place on rack and let cool completely.

Spread with frosting and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.

Chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Friday's Foto Finish Fiesta - Random Stuff

WOW !!!!!!

What a day yesterday was!!! I'm really feeling the bloggy love. :-) Thanks to one and all. I'll be thanking you all personally, over the next day or so.

Just one thing. I found this under the couch when I was cleaning up this evening. Did anyone see anybody limping down the driveway, wearing one red shoe? Just curious ...

I can't say it enough SITS rocks as do all of you !! Hugs and Smooches and many thanks. :-)

Now, on to my Fave Fing to do on Friday !!

It's Friday and it's a Fiesta !! At least it is, thanks to Candid Carrie ! :-)

Snapped these today, while taking Taylor to her karate lesson. My camera's battery went terminal on me yesterday, so I took these using the hubby's camera. Still finding my way round his.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to push this plow behind an ox or a horse? Farm work, was definitely work in those days...

I used filtered Black and White for this photo. I rather liked the effect it had on all the shadows. That saw looks as if it must have been wicked sharp !!!

Amazing to think that it was probably crafted by hand..

I like the old fashioned look that sepia gives this pump and wagon wheel. If it wasn't for the car passing by, you'd almost think this was taken way back when...

They really must have had well padded derrieres in those days. Just imagine bouncing along a rutted road on one of those seats.

Not sure what this is. It appears to have a seat in front. Some type of covered box in the middle and a seat sticking out behind.

There were actually seven old bathtubs sitting in a row. These are just two of them.

They're kind of cute, in a faded way..

There is something aboutthis photo that appeals to me. The shadows ... the marking on the stones ... the colour of the grass....

Have a great day all, and go check out the rest of the participants at CANDID CARRIE'S !!:-)

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Welcome SITSTA'S !!!

Welcome and come right in. Feel free to take a tour of my humble abode.

Watch out when you enter the spare bedroom though. That big yellow sign, on the door, saying 'BEWARE OF FALLING BOXES' is there for good reason. The stacks became a little unstable after our last earthquake....

We do have two Furbabies.

Meet Sparky on the right and Meesha on the left.

Believe it or not, they are half brother and sister. They share the same Mum, but obviously not the same Dad. They love attention, so as you can see, they're waiting impatiently.

I've been rushing around madly, getting ready, as I didn't get too much warning that you'd all be descending on me. However, that was a good thing. It didn't give me anytime to procrastinate. :-)

Once you've finished the tour, come on back to the Dining room, where I have a taste of good old Kiwi hospitality set up for you. We are big on Morning and Afternoon tea over there. Something I kind of miss, here in the US.

There are scones, topped with jam and cream. Very delicious.

Sponge cake sandwiched together with jam and cream, Also Pavlova, a wonderful meringue like concoction ...

Plenty of tea and coffee ....

The table is fair groaning with food ... so eat, drink and be merry !!!

SITS rocks and so do all you SITSTA'S !!

I_N_D_E_C_I_S_I_O_N .

So, did everybody enjoy the Blogathon yesterday?? Wasn't it so much fun !!

A big SHOUT OUT and THANK YOU to those BONZA SHEILAS over at SITS and SAUCY EATS . I'm talking , of course, about HEATHER and TIFFANY .

You totally ROCK, ladies. Take a well deserved bow !!

RHEA , over at TEXAS WORD TANGLE , recently did this POST about INDECISION .

It started me thinking about the subject, as some posts often do. As I was writing my comment to her post, I had one of those UH HUH moments, that sometimes creep up on you unexpectedly. More on that moment, later..

Indecision can sometimes play a part in the BIG and the SMALL decisions that I make in my life.

When faced with a big, life changing decision, I either research it and make a choice or I take a deep breath, hold my nose and take a flying leap into the waters of life. I think that's my Sagittarian coming to the fore. Not sure how much I believe in Astrology, but there sure are some traits that fit me !!

It's usually the smaller decisions that have me dithering about. Ask me to choose a place to go for lunch ? Good Luck !!! The friend, whom I lunch with most often, is as bad as I am. Sometimes I'm mildly surprised that we eventually pick a place...

Now, back to that EUREKA moment I had while commenting on Rhea's blog.

As some of you already know, I'm a KIWI . I've also been talking about moving home to NEW ZEALAND for awhile now.

I'm a trifle homesick and in many ways ready to go. There are some practical things that are holding the move up, the biggest one being the green stuff or lack of it. Moving household stuff and two dogs, not too mention two humans, is not cheap. However, that's surmountable, eventually...


Why am I dithering around about returning to ....




I think I came to a little bit of an understanding, when I read what popped out of my brain while I was making that comment on Rhea's blog. Below is what I wrote ...

Karen said...
Yeah ... whether to stalk Johnny Depp or not ... and ... IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT !!!!!

Usually, I'm a kind of hold your nose and jump kind of gal. I either drown or I float...

Funny thing though, the biggest decision that I'm struggling with right now is going back to NZ.

I really, really want to go, because all my family is there. However, I've also become comfortable here. This is now my comfortable and known place.

In the end, I know in my heart, that I will be going home ... but it's going to be really hard to leave home to do that.

There has been a lot of tears over this decision. One good thing though, I can take SITS with me and everyone that I've met here , will only be a mouse click away...

October 14, 2008 8:54 AM '

I think that's it in a nutshell. I've been here in the US for almost a quarter of my life. It now feels familiar. It now is home.

There are people here that have become family and good friends. Leaving them, is going to be as painful as leaving my family in New Zealand was.

I really will be leaving home to go home...

Realising all of that, doesn't mean that my indecisiveness has magically disappeared, but I think I'm starting to feel a little more at peace with the decision.

I'm aiming for next year :-)

Monday, 13 October 2008

SITS, How Do I Love Thee???

Let me count the ways.....
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height...
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight....
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace....
I love thee to the level of everyday's...
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light....
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right...
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise....
I love thee with a passion put to use...
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith....
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose...
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath...
Smiles, tears, of all my life and, if God choose...
I shall but love thee better after death....

(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Ummmm ... after reading some of the comments, I need to clarify something. I didn't write the above poem. It's one of my favourites from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I just added a word to it, hence my apologies to her :-)

It really does sum up my feelings about SITS.

I found SITS in June of this year. Until then I'd been sort of floundering in the sea of blogging, not really knowing what I was doing or where I was heading..

Can't say that I'm all that wiser about where I'm heading as this blog is sort of an ongoing creation...

However, through SITS and many wonderful bloggers that I have met on there, I'm getting a better idea of what I'm doing. I have a better grasp of HTML, I've figured out how to add colour to my posts and lots of other fun stuff...

I feel as though I am part of a community of women, with diverse interests. I can and have learnt from them and I think that maybe they have also learnt things from me..

I love their sense of humour. The obvious love they have for their families. The way they are ready to share their themselves, their quirks, their strengths and little known facts about themselves ...

Amongst those women are...




Mrs 444 :-) from HALF -PAST KISSIN' TIME

Debbie from THIS IS THE LIFE

There are so many others though ... HEATHER TIFFANY LULU LORI RHEA JEN JEN B TRESSA IM

They have all enriched my life in one way or the other...

So have a great BLOGATHON today, everyone. There are some wonderful prizes to be won.

For those that want to get in on the actin, the rules can be found HERE !!!

Sounds From Kiwi Land ...

I love YouTube. One of my favourite places to hang out on, specially when I should be doing the dishes, or something...

These kids, singing the NZ National Anthem are just too darn cute. Their Kiwi accents come through clearly as well.

They sing it first in Maori, and do it pretty well, considering their age. I love the way there little chests all puff up as they start singing the English version.

Check out the little red head, in the third row, picking her nose 32 seconds into the video. Very expressive, especially the little nose wiggle before she starts mining for gold. :-)

One of the traditions, before an international rugby game, is for the All Blacks (NZ's national rugby team) to perform the Haka. The Haka is a Maori war dance/challenge.

This took place before the New Zealand v Tonga game in the World Rugby Cup. The crowd always goes wild when the AB's do the Haka, but they got a double treat this time, when the Tongans came right back with their own war dance.

Fair raises the hairs on your arms, it does !!!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

My Favourite Things Swap

KAT recently hosted a swap called 'My Favourite Things.'

Kat selected Becky at SLIPPING THROUGH MY FINGERS as my swap partner.

My other partner was Casey at WHITEAKER CLAN. Hopefully, the package I sent her, will be there by now.

It wasn't sent without a little drama though. Once I got up to the counter with the box, that I'd just packed in one of those flat rate cartons, I discovered that I'd forgotten my wallet !!! Thankfully, it was at my little, local PO, where they know me as I am a regular. They took the box and told me to come back later with the money. I love those guys!! :-)

Anyway, my package from Becky arrived on Thursday, while I was at school. However, the hubby forgot to tell me and I didn't see it till Friday, just as I was rushing out the door!!

I quickly opened it, with one eye on the clock, and took a quick peek. Was really excited to see what was inside. Have I mentioned before, that receiving good stuff in the mail is one of my favourite things!! I took two of the items to school with me.

Once I got home last night, I was able to look at everything at my leisure..

Becky sent me ..

A big cup that holds special and significant memories for her. Thank you for sharing them, Becky.

The cup was filled with some of her favourite things. I also love chocolate and Stride gum is one of my favourites too. That Burt Bees lip balm feels really good. It has permanganate oil in it and tastes nice as well !!

I use the reusable fabric bags all the time, when going to the supermarket, etc, so the big blue one will come in really handy. I also love the little Vera Bradley coin/ID holder. This will also get a lot of use, as it will fit inside the fanny pack that I wear at school. Just what I needed!!

A Sudoku puzzle book !! I love doing sudoku puzzles. I even have a sudoku game on my cell phone. Anything to keep my aging brain active!! :-)

This, along with the card from the first photo, was what I took to school with me. Jane Austen is one of my favourites and I have been thinking of buying her books to add to my collection, as I ad to leave all my other ones in NZ, when I moved over here. I'm already about a quarter of the way through the book. Thank you Becky, it's perfect.

There were also some lovely, Rooster themed recipe cards, with some of Becky's favourite recipes on them. These ice cream cup cakes look intriguing. I need to make some cup cakes for the kids in one of the classes I volunteer in. I'm thinking that I might try this. Triple chocolate cup cakes in ice cream cones, What kid could resist those?? :-)

Last but not least, some cards Becky made with a Rooster themed stamp on them. I really like them !! I love the way that Becky has combined one of my Favourite Things, Rooster themes, with one of her Favourite Things, card making. Becky also has some lovely penmanship. She has inspired me to practice mine, as currently, thanks to using a computer all the time, mine sucks!!!

Thank you so much Becky. I really enjoyed receiving some of your Favourite Things.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Friday's Foto Finish Fiesta - A Wandering I Go ..

It's Friday and it's a Fiesta !! At least it is, thanks to Candid Carrie ! :-)

The last two days have been beautiful, here in Reno. The sky has been a glorious shade of blue and the temperatures have just been right for wandering and taking photographs....

I spied the Stars and Stripes fluttering proudly in the breeze..

A neighbour has this butterfly, ladybird and daisy, nestled amongst her hydrangeas ..

The trees are glorious in their new Autumn coats. Such a wonderful contrast of colours out there right now ...

'Some say love it is a river that drowns the tender reed
Some say love it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed

Some say love it is a hunger, an endless aching need
I say love it is a flower and you it's only seed

It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance
It's the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance

It's the one who won't be taken who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun's love
In the spring becomes the rose. '
(The Rose - Bette Midler)

Sadly, these lovely roses may be about to meet the bitter snows as ...

The weatherman is predicting that we may have snow down on the valley floor by tomorrow.

As can be seen by this last photo, taken around 4.45 this afternoon, the storm clouds are already appearing over the mountains and a distinct chill is in the air..