Monday, 31 December 2012

Pop, Fizz, Clink; Thanks 2012, here's to 2013

2012 is done and gone, and what a year it's been. A highlight for me was our trip to Europe- a resolution from last new years that came true.

Another highlight was finishing my degree, and starting to get fit. Matt and I have both been learning to cook and eat healthier too (although the Christmas period has seen us eat far, far too much bacon to be considered healthy anymore).

I've loved 2012, my second year of marriage, my second year living in Wellington. In both I have felt more settled and more comfortable.

I'm excited about what 2013 will bring for us. Matt and I would love to save enough to buy a house. I want to get a big chunk of my MA done. I'm orginising a big conference (with help from a lovely lady) for mid year, and I want that to go well too. We have other plans on our horizon too which might shake things up a bit in 2013. I feel like 2013 is going to be a big year and I'm scared really excited.

Thanks 2012, you've been great. Here's to 2013.

Here's to my readers- a big thank you. Hope 2013 is all you wish it to be.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sparkly Nails with Stripes Tutorial

With the New Year quickly approaching, and work still a few days away, it's time for party nails.

1. You will need: 
  • A base colour (I used an Orly sparkly white/silver)
  • A top colour (I used a Rimmel 193 Black Cherry)
  • A top sparkly coat if desired (I used Kiko Sparkle Touch- an Italian Brand)
  • A top coat
  • A sticker or tape
  • Scissors to cut sticker/tape
  • Nail polish remover and cotton buds to remove any mistakes
2. Cover your nail's with the base colour, about 2-3 coats and leave for at least 30 minutes, or until its completely dry

3. Cut very thin strips of stickers or tape and place firmly on your nail as desired

4. Paint on your top coat, quite thickly

5. Carefully but quickly remove the strips, in the opposite order to the way you put them on

6. If you wish, top it all off with another sparkly coat of colour (go on it's party season!). Cover with top coat

I just did it as 'accent' nails, but do it to as many nails as you wish.

Enjoy and party on xo

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Couch to 5k: Weeks 6-7 (the super hard weeks.)

After my last physical and mental victory, of running 20 minutes, I was on a high...
And then that very afternoon I became violently ill.

Oh yes, tummy bugs are only pleased if they visit me at least once every 4 months. My time was due. And it wasn't pretty.

So, I put my running on hold for a week, to fully recover, and started week 6 a week after I finished week 5.

Week 6 day 1 should have been pretty easy after the last 20 minute run. It's a 5 min run, short walk, 8 min run, short walk and 5 min run. I thought I had it in the bag. Turns out I wasn't as recovered as I thought I was, or a week off had taken its toll, and I really struggled through. I had to stop briefly in the 8 minute run. In the cool down I was dizzy.

Day 2 was two 8 minute runs, and I found it a bit easier than the previous run. But in my cool down I was so dizzy I had to stop and sit down several times.

How I felt.

I wasn't sure if I should repeat the start of week 6, or continue. I decided that because I had completed the first two runs, I should at least give the third (a 25 minute non-stop run) a try. So I did, and strangely enough it was the easiest of the week. I must have been fully recovered. To be fair, I was going snails pace, but to me actually running for 25 minutes was more important than going far- I aimed to improve on that in week 7.

Week 7 is just (well not *just* hahaha) three 25 min runs. It was Christmas week, so I was running in a new place (near my hubby's parents house) with our weird Christmas weather. The first run was a piece of cake, as I went very slowly again. On the second run I tried to take it up a notch, only to be set back by the heat and I ended up walking a bit.

The third run I was back at home, and I enjoyed being on the route I knew again. It means I can easily see my progress. On this route I went another 1/2 k further than I had run before. Seeing how much further you can get before the halfway warning is quite encouraging. Even though I went further and faster, I did need a 30 second walk when I was going uphill with the wind pushing against me. I've decided not to take the occasional short walk as a failure, because I am still getting further each time.

So I'm now running 4-4.2km each time, so I am not too far off the 5k mark. I will be off in more weird and wacky places over the next two weeks (the last two weeks of the program), and I'm not sure if that will hinder or help me, but here's hoping I can make it to 5km!

How are you doing in your couch to 5k training?

(all photos linked to original source.)

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Castle Cake Tutorial

My niece turned 5 last weekend, and I was asked to make a castle cake for her princess themes birthday party. I modelled the cake off the classic Women's weekly castle cake:

I wanted to step it up a notch, so I googled for cake ideas. Many were too hard for me, but I took a lot of ideas from a lot of different cakes, and designed my own. I found drawing a sketch helped my planning too.


I used pettiance icing, which is the same as fondant. I started by colouring about 1.5kgs of it pink and about 250g green (leaving 250g white). The reason you want to do the whole lot of one colour at the same time is so you don't end up with different shades of that colour throughout the whole cake (you will never match the shade perfectly again.) When you have coloured your fondant (tutorial here if you don't know how to do that) make sure you wrap it well in glad wrap/plastic wrap as it dries very quickly.


You can do the turrets a few days in advance, as there is no cake in them, so they won't go off. You will need

- your coloured icing
- 5 toilet rolls
-plastic wrap
-5 small waffle or ice cream cones.
-a knife
-a rolling pin
-icing sugar
-water and a small brush
-tooth picks

Start by covering the toilet rolls in plastic wrap (for hygiene reasons). Then roll out the icing colour on a bench which is well dusted with icing sugar (so it doesn't stick to the bench.) Wrap a toilet roll in the fondant and cut off to shape. Use water on a brush to wet one edge of the fondant, so the other side will stick to it. Use your fingers to shape it. (remember to put un used fondant straight back in the plastic wrap.) Use the back of a knife to lightly draw a brick shape on the fondant before it sets. Repeat this for each toilet roll.

For the cones, use a different colour. As before, roll the fondant out. Brush the cone with water and roll the fondant on and cut it to shape. Use your fingers to stick it to the cone. Repeat for each cone.

Use a little water to stick each cone to a covered toilet roll. I used some white icing in the turret shape (as above) to help stick them together, and to hide the gap. Roll out some white icing, cut into shape, and wrap around the join from the toilet roll and the cone.

If you want flags for the top of each turret, cut these out from the white icing. Stick half a tooth pick as the post in each flag. Leave for 24 hours to set, then place carefully in the top of each cone.

The cake

You will need to bake 2 big square cakes (any flavour). And one loaf tin sized cake. Leave until completely cool.

Level the two big cakes and fill and cover with butter cream frosting. This is your cake base. Now you will need to roll out your big lot of coloured icing. Remember to use a bench with icing sugar on, and turn over the fondant frequently. You will want it to be about 80mm thick. When it's big enough, cover the square cake with it. See a tutorial here for how to cover a square cake with fondant.


When the cake is covered, you will want to put the turrets on straight away, so they will harden and stick as the fondant hardens. Put one turret in each corner. You may need to use toothpicks to help them stick.

When the turrents are there, you can see how much room there is for the middle cake. Cut the loaf tin cake to size, and cover with icing, then fondant (as above.) Stick this to the middle of the cake with a little frosting on the bottom. When this cake is in place, place the final turret on top.


This is the fun part where you can be creative. Make windows and doors out of fondant. Stick them on using a little water. Make a mini princess, make whatever you feel like. Its the perfect time to use any extra fondant up, and add your own flair. I also added a paper banner with my nieces name on it.

Watch them be amazed, and enjoy

Monday, 10 December 2012

Couch to 5k: Weeks 4-5

Woooo! I completed weeks 4-5! I'm pretty excited.

Yes, these two weeks I needed inspiration like above. A whole lot of positive self talk got me through.

So week 4. Each day you run for 3 mins, walk 1.5, run 5, walk 3 then repeat. Running 5 minutes was  a mental barrier I had to push through. But I made it and each day I got a bit faster. Going further and further before the halfway turn around mark made me feel inspired and proud each time.

Week 5, the dreaded week. Week 5 starts off on day one with three 5 minute runs with small walks in between. It was ok, as I had run for 5 minute intervals in the previous week, so I knew I could do it. Day two it was run for two lots of 8 minutes with a 5 minute walk in the middle. It was ok, but towards the end of the 8 minute blocks I was so ready to stop and just had to push through.

So week 5 day 3 jumps straight into a 20 minute run, no breaks. This day was the worst mentally. I had the whole morning free, but I kept putting it off, doing other things. Then I had to give myself a pep talk and just get on it. So off I went. I kept my pace steady. It was fine. Challenging though. About minute 13 I was so ready to walk, but I just became my own cheer squad in my head (Jenn, you're doing so great, just keep it up, when you finish this you will be so pleased, not much further.)

And boom, before I knew it, 20 minutes was up! One month after I could barely do a minute I did 20.
(my super excited, bright red face after the 20 minute run.)

I know running for 20 minutes is easy for many people, but for me, it was an achievement. But even running 5, then 8 minutes was an achievement too. 

The good thing about this program (or other one like this) is that it builds you up slowly, but you can look back and see how much you've improved. It's very encouraging.

Another thing I am finding, is that my recovery time is getting shorter and shorter. When I started I had to lie on the bed for a while to recover after each run. Now I just need to sit down and have a drink and something to eat, but there is no excessive rest time needed. Do others who have done couch to 5k find this?

I'm excited for week 6-7, which don't look as daunting now as they did a few weeks ago.

How are you finding the couch to 5k?

Saturday, 8 December 2012


Last week, after 7 years, I finally graduated with my Degree. I was excited!

We went to Palmerston North, and my lovely Husband and brother woke up at 6am so we could be there. They sat through the (mostly boring) ceremony, and I'm so glad they did!

BA in Linguistics- done and dusted! Now onto my Masters.....

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

My favourite running songs

When I first started running I just used my normal playlist on shuffle. I soon learned that slow, meaningful songs, or podcasts I normally love just weren't helping me run. (Trying to run to some depressing Adele song was not helping the pace.)

So I have to make a playlist that would motivate me to run- with both the speed, tempo and the lyrics.

Here are my top 5 running songs:

LMFAO: 'I'm sexy and I know it.'

Lyrics include: 'Look at my body, I workout!,' and "I'm sexy and I know it.'
I have a strong suspicion this song is a dig at people who think they are 'all that' when they work out, but I don't care, because this song gets me moving!

Kanye West: 'Stronger'

Lyrics include: 'That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger,' and 'Work it, make it, do it, makes us, harder, better, faster, stronger.' Good words to be hearing on that strong uphill climb!

La Roux: Bulletproof

Lyrics include: 'This time baby, I'll be, bulletproof' and 'tick tick tick on the watch, life's too short for me to stop.'

Matchbox 20: How far we've come

Lyrics include: 'let's see how far we've come.' (repeated a LOT). I love it when this one comes on at the end of a run.

Lady Soveriegn: So Human

Lyrics include: 'I'm so human, its ok, for me to, feel this way,' (good at the end of a run!) and 'doesn't it feel much better (aha) when you've had a better day then yesterday.'

Listening to these songs will get you itching to move - which is the whole point of a running playlist right?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Couch to 5k: Weeks 1-3

I've recently started the couch to 5k program, because for some crazy reason I decided to sign up for a 7k run early next year.

I know 7k's is nothing to my running friends. But, I have not done ANY form of cardio for years. Strength training yes. But cardio no. For two reasons. I (used to) lose weight easily, and I get bad reflux. But I realised these were just excuses. I could make sure I eat enough, and make sure I eat at the right times to control the reflux.

And so I downloaded the app and 3 weeks ago I became a runner.

It has taken me a while to work out a good route. I live in a very hilly area, and hills are just too much of a challenge for me right now- running alone is enough. This week (week 3) I have found a route that is mostly flat - apart from the killer 200 steps on the way back up. They are in the 'warm down' time, but I still need to stop half way to catch my breath.

Week 1 starts with 60 seconds jogging and 60 seconds walking repeated for 20 minutes. I'm gonna be honest- for me this was hard. I completed each day, but it was not easy. I was sweaty, out of breath, and just out of shape.

Week 2 increased the running tome to 1.5 mins, and I found I could handle this.
And something started to happen to me- I actually wanted to run. The crazy exercise endorphins kicked in! I have had to make sure to take rest days, as I don't wanna overdo it, and fall behind (and I'm still doing power/yoga/abs classes, so I do them on the 'off' days.)

Week 3 increased to 3 minute runs with 3 mins walking, then a 1.5 min run with 1.5 min walking, repeated. And, again, the first 3 minute run was a killer. So hard. But I did it each time, and managed to slowly increase my speed too, so I'm feeling good. I'm realising its as much of a mental battle as a physical one.

Looking ahead to week 4 and 5 I am a little scared! 5 min runs, then 8 mins then a 20 min run next week! This from a girl who barely managed 1 minute intervals 3 weeks ago. I've already decided to just take it slow, and not feel bad if I have to repeat days. But I can't wait for the day I can run 20 minutes solid!

I'll keep you updated on my progress. Wish me luck!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Interpreting: A love, hate relationship

Let's get this clear from the start.

I LOVE my job. The actual interpreting work is so interesting, challenging and fulfilling. I love building relationships with people I see a lot and learning from people with different life experiences than me. The variety my job brings is just so awesome, and I am so lucky to have that.

My shadow, interpreting


Being a freelancer, after 4 years of doing this, I am constantly frustrated at the fluctuating nature of interpreting work. There is just NO job security for interpreters here in NZ, and as such from about now till February, there is not very much work available.

In the 'boom' months, there is plenty of work, and life it good. But those busy 6 months of the year, are they enough to support the other 6 months? 

One thing is for sure, if Matt couldn't work, I would not earn enough to support us. No where near enough.

Freelance work is great to fit in with other pursuits (study, having children, another job), but not so great if you want it to be your actual full time job.

A public interpreting job

And so there is the conundrum. A job I love, which excites and challenges me. And yet, a job which demoralises me in the quiet weeks, leaves me feeling down, unneeded, bored, poor.

I can only speak for myself really. For some interpreters work life is much better than this. But I see my situation repeated in many other interpreters lives. I understand why so many people leave the profession.

It looks like interpreting can never, will never be my 'one and only.' And that sucks after so much time (effort, money, energy) invested in learning the skill. It sucks when I see so many young keen people who want to go down the interpreting path. Things don't look so rosy work wise for them.

And so.
There is no magical answer for this situation. I know nothing will change overnight. So I am taking steps to secure my future income. Starting my masters for one thing. Going to learn massage part time, as another income source as another. I will continue interpreting, but I know it can't be all I do.

I can only hope that things will change in coming years.

But for now, this is the reality.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Monday, 29 October 2012

Peach and Blueberry Smoothie

I've been on a little bit of a health kick recently and have rediscovered smoothies.

I had a great smoothie recipe book collecting dust, but when I opened it again I couldn't believe I had ignored it for so long. Smoothies are so good cos they are tasty and often a full meal, while so packed with good things.

I'm going to share some of my favourite smoothie recipes soon on this blog (including a chocolate thickshake-esque one, chock packed with spinach of all things.)

Meanwhile, enjoy this recipe for a peach and blueberry smoothie (recipe by me, inspired by all other smoothie recipes.)

You will need:
- I can of sliced peaches in juice
-1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries (or other berries)
-A good dollop (About 1/3 a cup) of plain unsweetened yoghurt

Add all the above to your blender (including the juice from the peaches), and blend. If you're not using frozen berries, you might want to add some ice to make it a cooler drink.

Enjoy! x

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Conditional Love

The concept of (un)conditional love has been on my mind lately.

I am looking at it from a Christian perspective, but even if you aren't a Christian, you can probably relate to the idea that we all want to be loving people. Society admires Mother Theresa, we make heroes of people who risk their lives for others, we love to watch feel good videos of people helping old ladies across the street.

Some people think at the core of humanity is darkness waiting to get out. I like to believe the opposite; we are all good people at the core, with other things that crowd around and drown the goodness out.

I think we like the idea of being people who can love unconditionally, but I know for myself its become abundantly clear that my love is conditional.

What do I mean by love? I don't mean the gooey romantic stuff, or familial love, I mean the 'treat others how you want to be treated,' kind of love. Respect, understanding and patience towards others. Putting them before yourself (yes, I know this is insanely hard). Thats what I mean by love.

It's easy to love people who love us. So nice to chat to that person I get on with well. Nice to buy a coffee for my friend who cares about me. And easy to give time to people who give time back.

But its so hard to love people who drive badly, who are socially weird, who are not very nice, or who are shy and awkward to talk to. People who clog our streets smelling bad, or the colleague who makes cutting remarks.

I don't love those people. But how should I? How would I want to be treated if I were them?

I honk and roll my eyes at bad drivers, but if I do something stupid on the road I appreciate it when the other person just smiles at me, shrugs their shoulders. No aggression, just understanding.

I appreciate it when I am standing alone at a party or gathering, when someone comes and makes an effort to talk to me, instead of just going to their friends.

And when I'm in a bad mood and speak cutting words, I appreciate it when those around me forgive me and just let it go. I usually feel bad enough about it anyway.

It was recently pointed out to me by a straight talking family member that I'm not very patient. And I'm not. I have no problem rolling my eyes, shooting obvious glances at my watch, sighing loudly. But thats not love at all. Thats putting me first. And it's so hard to break a habit like that. I'm not saying I think I can anytime soon. But awareness is the first step in breaking a habit, right?

Love is more than just the big moments, its the small things too. The withheld sighs, the smile instead of a frown. It's making a cup of tea even though you want to leave. It's really listening to someone without just waiting till you can say your piece. It's giving up the chair on the bus, it's waking up early to make lunch for someone instead of sleeping in.
And not just to people who 'deserve' it.

All of those examples relate to my life, I bet you can think of many more related to you.

Just to be clear, I don't think we should be pushovers. But we can be assertive instead of aggressive and still be kind people.

To be honest I don't think I can ever love unconditionally, completely. No human can. Although we have good in us, we have a great skill at being insanely selfish too. But I can damn well try. And isn't that the best we can do?

(all photos link to the original source).

Thursday, 18 October 2012


I received this today and I am excited!

My baby bwova, all growed up

Monday, 15 October 2012

Seeing New Zealand as a tourist

For six weeks we wandered around Europe, looking, eating, experiencing and generally taking in their way of life. So, when we touched back down in NZ last week, the tourist sheen didn't wear off straight away. I've been seeing NZ through tourist eyes, and damn, our country is AMAZING (and slightly odd- but aren't all countries?)

First of all, this is a view I see every day as I drive into town

Early morning Sunrise, own photo

This is the view from my gym/university at dusk:

Own Photo
And this is the type of sunset we get from our house:

Own Photo

I could go on, there is so much beautiful in New Zealand

Now I think I finally understand why people travel half the world to come here. I certainly wouldn't recommend NZ for its beautifully built cities, historic architecture or great shopping (we seem to have none), but the combination of nature at its best, along with our cities interesting vibes and cultures, makes NZ a unique place.

Along with the landscape, here are some other things I noticed:


Pic from here
English coffee was always scalding and burnt. European (milky) coffees were always luke warm and weak. (I can make no comment on European black coffee, because to be enjoyed it seems you must smoke 25 cigarettes with one espresso, an experiment I was not willing to try.) 

The first thing I did upon arriving back here was order a flat white, and OMG IT TASTED LIKE NECTAR FROM HEAVEN.

Our accent:

This was similar to my reaction for the first few hours back in kiwi land. What, we sound like...what? Are you joking....?

The tourist sheen has worn off now and my ears are now nicely numbed again to our flattened vowels and high rising terminal (where every sentence becomes a question? you know?). But, I'm still forever grateful with every cuppa Jo, and our view still gives me shivers.

Ka Pai, NZ, you're choice.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Thank YOU!

So I'm back. Right back in NZ after the BEST holiday. But so glad to be back too. Normal life has its excitement too.
I will be recapping our holiday a bit on here (but not too much... I know its not as exciting for other people huh.)

While I have been away there have still been a lot (a lot a lot) of you looking at my blog, so thank you for reading :)


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Au revoir, I'll be back

I haven't been posting much lately. Partly because I've been busy, partly because I often find it hard to articulate my thoughts in a blog worthy way, and partly because I don't just want to write a blog post 'for the sake of it.'

I know from my page views I'm getting a few hundred views a day (so humbling for this little blogger!), and the pressure can come on to write more because of this. But, to be cliche, I want to be 'true to myself,' and don't want to write things that I don't really care about, don't want to write when I don't feel committed to it. Hence the sporadic posts.

Anyway, another reason I won't be doing a blog post for a while, is that we're going off on our 6 week trip to EUROPE tomorrow! Wohoo!
For us little Kiwi kids, Europe is so far away, so foreign and so exciting.

So we've packed our bags, printed our boarding passes, and tomorrow we're off :)

Photo of Matt and I by Lavara Photography (Auckland)

I'll see you all on the other side 

Monday, 6 August 2012

How to wrap a present

Recently I had to wrap about 30 different presents. I had to think of a way to make them look good that wasn't too complicated

There is a really simple way. Just wrap with brown paper. Find some nice paper and put a thinner strip around. And tie with string

Brown paper packages, tied up with string. These are a few of my favourite things.

Happy wrapping!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


1) Bra shopping
2) Brunch/Bacon
3) This
4) Birth Control
5) Mascara
6) Satisfaction of a clean house
7) Sleeping in
8) Saving money on hair dye
9) Refunds from the IRD
10) Planning a flying outfit
11) A long hot shower
12) Handwritten letters in the mail
13) Weights classes

1) Bra Shopping
2) Forgetting to buy bacon
3) This
4) Pimples
5) Morning after panda eyes
6) Vacuuming
7) Forgetting work
8) Dying hair too dark
9) Letters from the IRD
10) Planning a flying outfit
11) Getting out into the cold after a long hot shower
12) Forgetting to reply to handwritten letters
13) Being too lazy to go to weights classes

Awesome/Awkward idea from here

Thursday, 19 July 2012

A funny to get you through to the weekend

Phew, its all been a bit busy at this end lately! But lest I become one of those people who complain about how 'busy' and 'important' they are, I will now shut up, and provide you with something so awesome you will need to watch it several times.

By the time you check out that he DID IT ALL EXACTLY THE SAME, it will be Friday afternoon - voila weekend! You can thank me later

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Dresses that never were

Since my wedding day was about a million years ago (ok only 18 months), I can share some photos of the dresses that didn't make the cut. 

I was never a one strap kind of girl

Bit too bohemian. Plus about 12 sizes too big

Not too bad- one strap again

not too disimilar to the actual dress
And the winner was.....

Ahh so pretty.... and straps optional ;)

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