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Archive for the ‘Hobby’ Category

Thank you Kellogg’s! You have restored my faith.

Am sure most people will agree that we have become so jaded, that we do not expect to win or receive gifts from major companies doing a promo. I also admit, albeit sheepishly, that I have also accused them of arranging for “someone on the inside” to win the promo or hogging the promo gifts.

In this day and age, good old Kellogg’s has proved me wrong. They ran a fun promotion where one can claim a free book from a list of 30 titles (***while stocks last), if we can show proof of purchase of two Kellogg’s products. 

I even faced technical difficulties on my IPad whenever I tried to go into the claims page. Pays to try a different device – my hardy android phone.

I sent away my claim with all the hope of recovering a stone in the well. I was told that the “book is on it’s way “!!! Yeah right and Big Ben will strike 13!

The eternal optimist that I was, not believing for a second it was getting sent, I was surprised by an email from them last week that it was despatched. 

Yet again, the cynicism coloured my reaction to the email. I thought to myself – ” Nah they are lying….it’s either they kept it themselves or NZ Post was going to lose it conveniently”.

But voila!!!! Guess who got their book! So thanks again Kellogg’s. Here’s to more small surprises in life.

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If you are into book reading you most likely would have come across this name – Scholastic. For the less wise they are a publisher especially of children’s books world over not just here in New Zealand. They are all about keeping the charm of the written word alive and run events and promotions from time to time. These drives are to promote reading amongst kids and nurture the habit of reading daily.

On one such occasion Scholastic NZ ran a 2 day event. When I read about this event on my Facebook I knew I just had to go. Having had my newborn son Svojas recently, I wanted to build his book collection for our bedtime story sessions. “What better way to stock up”, I told myself!!!

Again this idea of the book fair in itself was a stroke of brilliance or should I say a “box” of brilliance. The event was “All you can fill in the box” for $20 (NZD).

Set date, time, venue. People queue up, pick up box, go into the Scholastic book warehouse. Pick up available books of interest. As many as you can. Only catch – as many as you can fit in the box without the overflow or bulge. Then you pay and leave.

I tell you the place is a haven for bookworms. And for someone like me, I was like a kid in the candy store only this was a book godown. I so underestimated people’s interest in these kind of events. The queues were milling right through the Scholastic property and on to the road till you saw the queue blur into the horizon. I didn’t manage to take pictures but I clicked a few pics of our salvaged treasure after coming home.

I just had to share about this awesome event and appreciate Scholastic’s efforts within the community encouraging kids to read and also giving me the opportunity to enrich my son’s personal library.

Scholastic you are fantastic!!!!

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The Weeper

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The Weeper is a woman who cries. She cries because her heart brims with unspoken hurt, feelings and emotions she wants to express but can’t.

Why one might ask? Because she is an  epitome of a woman harboring strength and courage. Out of respect, out of compassion, out of gratitude. A woman who lives for the greater good by sacrificing her rights, her ego and herself to accommodate the greater egos she faces in life.

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The Santorini Dream

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Another one of my Samsung Sketchbook creations. I definitely want to sketch this into this reality. Basking under the balmy heat, gazing at the endless blue sky, eyes feasting on the the burst of magenta haze of the bougainvillea and the muted greens of the  luscious olive groves…..stuff Santorini is made of.

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I feel absolutely cheated! Short changed! Furious!

I absolutely loathe book publishers at this point who kill a brilliant series all for the sake of numbers. Bah!

So here I was following this bloody brilliant and highly imaginative book series by author Victoria Laurie called “Oracles of Delphi Keep”. I was too into the series, a good 3 books deep. And frantically scouring book websites and the Internet to check when the next instalment in the series was out. And guess what I found, a teensy note from the author that there won’t be a fourth and final book because her publisher said so. And now you know why I am absolutely livid with the aforementioned parties.

What happened to good old “wanting to know how it all ends”… what of the value of the written word…what about putting readers and avid fans out of misery….oh the fallen justice…publishers have mercy.

This writers’ ability to make the readers live the story and be a part of the journey and adventure is mesmeric and powerful. And when something like this happens, you know what it feels like? imagine us going on full throttle on the highway and kaboom there’s no more road all of a sudden. And you are clueless on what just hit you!

Here we are witnesses to the talent being crushed underfoot without value for intellect, creativity or imagination. In this day and age of boundless talent shows and reality TV, where it’s all about nurturing talent and providing a platform, here is one of the instances of things going otherwise.

At this rate, that beautiful unique feeling of holding a book in one’s hands is going to be a thing of the past. I think when it’s all the more important to preserve the written word, we have snobbish publishers such as these telling their authors, ‘well this one won’t see daylight’.

Imagine how many manuscripts of worth, punctuated with hours of toil, thinking, imagining, missing plot lines, twining them together, linking the unconnected dots etcetera haven’t smelt the newness of unused paper. And I can’t even begin to fathom writers putting up with these outrageous decisions of their publishers when you have delivered a successful series so far, that too.

How many more such mass murders do I have to witness I wonder. More than outrage I think this blog piece is more a plea to all those brilliant writers out there to follow through and make your vibrant characters see daylight, act out what they were meant to, and put us readers out of misery because there is nothing more annoying than not knowing how it’s all gonna end. Even if your publishers do not publish, find another who understands your worth or better yet in such cases publish your own even if it’s only a small number of copies.

It’s all about how the story ends!

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When I first bought the bergamot herb, I bought it solely for its medicinal uses. A herb that belongs to the mint family which helps digestion and has a very calming effect on ones nerves. Great for feeling centred and balanced.

Biggest surprise for me was not knowing they had flowers. Was such a treat to find that they did and is such a gorgeous vibrant colour. And great for landscaping as well. I also found that both leaves and flowers are edible. Apparently the bergamot flowers can be used in salads and great to add that aesthetic appeal.

Thank you Mother Nature for your beauty and wonders.

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It’s forever been my dream to make pasta from scratch. The colours and flavours of Italian cooking has always been fascinating for me. Seeing a pasta maker on display on a window shopping trip was all the impetus I needed to delve into pasta making. After coming across an interesting recipe for a lemony gnocchi on Pinterest which by the way is my latest vice, I thought it would go very well and would be an apt choice as it was a far cry from your usual Italian staples of tomato and basil.

And with previous knowledge of gnocchi being one of the tough pastas I set about gathering the ingredients to make this much adored pasta.

Gnocchi is a kind of pasta that resembles the shape of pudgy soft dumplings each probably the size of a walnut. Now I normally go through a gazillion recipes before settling on one which I think I can trust. But today I pulled the first recipe that came up on google. Fortunately for me it was a family handed down recipe, tried, tested and perfected. What more could a novice ask for! The only thing missing was an Italian nonna talking non stop in my ear correcting me.

And thanks to Marie’s tutorial I found making gnocchi was less daunting and a real pleasure. The gnocchi turned out light and fluffy and melt in mouth yummy. It’s one of those pastas that can easily go wrong but if you followed the tutorial to the last word I don’t see how you could go wrong!

For the gnocchi recipe I highly recommend the below link.
http://foodnouveau.com/2010/10/destinations/europe/italy/how-to-make-gnocchi-an-illustrated-step-by-step-recipe/#

Sky is the limit in terms of creativity for flavour combinations for the sauce. The other recipe I was talking about earlier called for lemon juice, garlic and Parmesan. I tweaked it a bit to improvise.

Sauce ingredients:
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
3 – 4 cloves of garlic pushed through a garlic press
10 – 12 sage leaves
1/2 cup white wine of your choice
Butter/Olive oil 1 tbsp

Heat butter or oil in a saucepan. Add garlic and cook till fragrant and light golden brown. Throw in your sage leaves, lemon zest, lemon juice and white wine. Cook for a couple of minutes until the alcohol evaporates.

To serve:
Once your gnocchi is cooked as per the tutorial above toss it in your sauce and serve in individual pasta bowls, garnish with grated Parmesan and a sage leaf to finish. Buon appetito!

Verdict??? Hey man that’s easy. It was “molto deliziosa”.

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