Monday, February 28, 2005

Where I've been

With thanks to On the garden wall

Create your own visited countries map

Hoping to add many more countries to my map, including Argentina this August to visit some of The Trouser's relatives, if all goes according to plan!


Mmmph. Having a crap day at home and am sulking about it.

Usually I'd use part of my unexpected day off to blog about my lovely weekend I had, complete with several trips to the Lantern Festival. But since I'm grumpy and feeling sorry for myself, I'll content myself with complaining that I can't find a decent knitting pattern anywhere.

Despite being a keen knitter, I've kind of hated everything I've ever knitted for myself. Luckily, my mum is either less discerning or much too kind (or both), so she has a nice selection of knitted items courtesy of yours truly. Now that I'm finally sick of blobbing after work (it was blissful for a while after finishing study), I'm quite keen to take my needles up again. But with limited space chez Trouser & Skirt, I have to make sure I don't knit myself any more dud items.

Anyone have any idea where you might find a stylish knitting pattern?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Lovely lanterns

Yay! The Lantern Festival is upon us once again!

I've walked past and through Albert Park several times during the past few days, and have marvelled at the transformation that was slowly unfolding.

Only an hour ago, all the food stalls that line Princes St were being set up. Pearl milk tea and chicken satay, o joy!

Of course, the transformation isn't really complete until the park is so full of people that you can barely breathe, let alone walk.

We're going tonight - taking a friend of mine from work. It's her first Lantern Festival, having lived in Toe-ragga for most of her life - and I'm looking forward to showing her a good, Auckland Asian time.

High on the agenda tonight are: scoping out the food and drink stalls we like the best (red bean-anything for The Trouser, and the most delicious pearl milk tea for us both); and finding Albert, who does **the most delicious** chicken satay, Malaysian curries and roti. I highly recommend him - not only is the food delicious, but he is a lovely, lovely person.

Anyway, we plan to eat dinner at the festival every night. The Trouser has a huge and unholy love of food that is sold on the side of the road, and this is one of the few times in Auckland when it happens. They call it the Lantern Festival, but we think of it as the yummy Asian food festival located conveniently close to home!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Some reasons why I love The Trouser

1. When I am too tired to cook and he's home late (like last night), he'll bring me Subway for dinner.

2. He'll unwrap my sub and put it on a plate, so it looks like he made it.

3. When I am too tired to pick up after myself, he'll do it for me.

4. Usually he won't even mention it, but if he does it is not in a mean or lecturing kind of way.

5. He looks extra-cute when he gets all serious with his glasses on.

6. He makes the most delicious Indian food that is not made by an actual Indian person.

7. He is very good at finding and buying the most delicious Indian food that is made by actual Indians.

8. He is great at painting toenails.

9. He is usually available to moan to on Messenger.

10. He is also usually available to moan to in person or on the phone, too.

11. He gives great hugs (I can't go into any more salacious details - I'd blush!).

12. He will read by torchlight when I am falling asleep, even though a lamp wouldn't bother me.

13. He is the cutest boy in the whole world.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The importance of getting a good night's sleep

Ooof. I had just over 2 hours' sleep last night, so forgive me if this post is less than completely coherent.

Although I've always known that sleep is good, it's been a really, really long time since I've had to survive on very little. Sure, in my student days I'd regularly get maybe 5 hours in between university, work and carousing - but it's been awhile.

Yesterday was such an otherwise-splendid day that sleeplessness was totally unexpected. Although the much-desired brioche baking didn't get off to an optimal start, due to the vagaries of yeast, The Trouser and I had a great time with our new neighbours. The "drink" ended up being a companionable couple of bottles of wine. I do love our new neighbours.

Anyway, in case my earlier trip to the library and supermarket hadn't worn me out, I baked the brioche (some plain, but most with lime marmalade and dark chocolate, yum!) as The Trouser slumbered peacefully. I was pleasantly tired and ready to sleep when I rolled into bed.

Only I didn't sleep. Instead I stared at the ceiling and the view outside; had a snack; read a trashy novel. Only by my second trip to the couch at around 5am did I manage to finally nod off. Not so crash-hot when you need to get up at 7.30.

It did make work more interesting today - veering wildly between fatigue and weepiness certainly does liven up your internal monologue. I managed to get through the day without any tantrums - though I did complain bitterly to a colleague and quite seriously contemplate quitting. Sill, I made it through awake.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming desire to take a nap strengthened significantly once I left work, but I'm determined not to mess up yet another perfectly good night's sleep (wooliness at work one day is okay - but to in a row means I'm making a habit of it. Plus I might fall asleep and drool all over my keyboard...)

So here I am, on the world's comfiest couch, trying desperately to stay awake while I await an important work email, with only Frasier to keep me company (The Trouser is working late again). Sleep is very, very important. I can understand why insomniacs get grumpy, and how people can get addicted to sleeping pills.

And after all that, the brioche not as great as they were last time (tho' the marmalade and chocolate were a great combination). Bugger. No sleep **and** heavy brioche.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck

As I was meandering home today (it really was a bit of a meander - must remember to pay more attention when crossing busy streets, as not everyone will wait for me to finish), I saw something really, **really** disgusting.

This - this - this *person*, walking in front of me and talking to his friend, pauses briefly during their conversation, casually turns his head, and hoicks a great big fat loogie on the pavement, then turns his head back and casually saunters on, continuing the conversation.


There is never, ever an excuse to spit in the street. Not for runners, not for children, not for people from different cultures where it is common to spit, not for people who need to get rid of something yucky-tasting.

People, they are variously called rubbish bins, garbage cans, or trash receptacles. They are pretty much everywhere in my neighbourhood.

There are no valid excuses! NO SPITTING IN THE DAMN STREET!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Long time no blog

It seems like aaaaages since I last had a chance to sit down and blog, even though it hasn't really been that long (a week, I'm figuring - since the stroppy rant was written at work).

I really look forward to this part of my day - the day's (paid) work done, I walk home as most of my colleagues continue to toil (ha, serves them right for getting in so late), where I have the place to myself for a while. It's the ideal time to sit on my favourite couch, pull my laptop out from its bag, and indulge myself in a bit of blogging.

I could do many other things - laundry, dishes, yada yada - and indeed, some days I do. (I'm learning to appreciate tidiness, even as I subconsciously rebel against it.) Recently I've had so much on that I feel I've barely had a chance to do the basic things I need to do to keep us going, let alone blog. Family stuff, mostly.

Of course, in between all the obligations and miscellaneous tasks o' life, The Trouser and I managed to fit in some quality time. I really feel for couples who don't have much time for each other anymore - with kids, careers, etc. We really don't seem to get enough time together now, but we're probably swimming in it compared to them.

In many ways we're really spoiled - we work semi-flexible hours in workplaces quite close to home; no kids to distract us from each other; no flatmates to get in the way of some together time.

To be fair, we do work and pay for it all. It'd be a damn sight cheaper to flat with other people somewhere - but we like our privacy, and I am crap at flatting. I'm not irresponsible or anything - far from it - I'm anal about flatmates not keeping up their end of the bargain. Except I'm always far too shy to actually say anything, so I get all worked up over silly things.

Though to be fair, it is not unreasonable to ask flatties to lock doors, pay their share of the bills and rent, and flush toilets. You'd think so anyway...

On a brighter note, The Trouser gave me a fantastic bouquet of flowers for V-Day. It was very cheeky of him - we'd agreed to simply spend the night together at home without external intrusions like phone calls, but he confessed he'd planned to buy me flowers all along. At least I'd come to the party with a couple of small gifts for him - I would have felt quite embarrassed otherwise!

I'm not really a fan of the "V-Day is a bunch of commercial bollocks" way of thinking. Sure, lots of businesses benefit from it, but people embrace it nonetheless. NZers seem to spend an awful lot of time complaining about the Americanisation of holidays (and the adoption of holidays and customs from the US), but it's a bit stupid really. As my mother would say if you can't say something nice, don't say anything.

Plus, it's not like you see anyone really enjoying and fully celebrating any other holidays here, do you? Waitaingi Day is either political hot-potato or a non-event, and you can't (nor should you) really cheer up Anzac Day. It's all very well to make a constructive comment, but the out-and-out criticism is just plain petty.

And anyway, any excuse for some extra happiness and romance in people's lives - most of us can do with it!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Grrr stop interfering!

There are people who like to be in charge of projects, and then there are those who just kind of end up in charge of them, often because the projects are kind of thrust upon them. (There are other kinds of people too, but these are the relevant kinds at the moment.)

I can handle this in my life as long as I am not always in the latter group (though it is increasingly so). However, I can only handle my projects in the hands of the former group when they are competent.

Why is it that projects I initiate (and am fully capable of managing, I might add) are so frequently snatched up by incompetent gits who can't manage the project or even understand it??

I suspect it is because although my work is not always considered important, my different perspective (young, female) has led me to suggest a number of really rather good ideas. Seriously - I have had some good ones that have made sense and saved money and time. And dumb-arsed incompetent gits can't think of improvements in their own area, so the only way to get kudos is to try to take over someone else's initiative.

Even when they don't understand it at all.

The long and the short of this rant is that 2 really excellent projects I managed to sell people on, and get agreement on, are now in limbo because an officious know-it-all incompetent git (who is not my boss, praise the lord - it was a close call!).

Unbeknownst to me (who has continued to massage egos in order to tee things up) he has been touting "his initiatives" around the place and has managed to undo a whole lot of my good work. It's gone pear-shaped, so he decides to tell me. Oh and BTW, he disagrees with my approach. he doesn't understand the aims of initiatives - nor is it his area to be involved - but he disagrees and thinks I need to come around to his way of thinking.

I work hard and have gained the respect of my colleagues, the big boss and my new boss-to-be - at least, I think I have. This poor behaviour makes me want to scream a big potty-mouth word, then burst into tears, threaten to leave, and run out of the office.

Instead I plan to talk it over with an equally concerned colleague and then leave early to play in Paperbag Princess. As I've learned in the past few years while working here, relieving high frustration levels is more important than doing a full day's worth of work.

(I really, really hope I will be brave at leave at least half an hour early. The will is strong but the annoying sense of obligation is often stronger!)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Lots o' blogs, plus a techno-rant

The world o' blogs is quite large really, isn't it?

I've been researching other blogs in my area of work to see if they exist - and if so, how they work, what the pitfalls are, etc. After a few weeks' idle googling it has become clear that there aren't any that are great and/ or successful, but there is definitely the potential there, as long as people become engaged.

Engagement is always the problem though, isn't it? Whereas (in my little world, anyway) people used to make plans in advance, commit themselves to deadlines, etc. it seems that last-minute organisation and "slippage" are now commonplace. I blame technology.

Don't get me wrong - I lurrrrrrrrve email, the Web, cellphones... the list goes on. I even love The Trouser's Xbox (it was free and lets us play DVDs, yay!). But it's easier to fob people off via email than it is on the phone (tho' caller ID is great for that too!), and people with cellphones seem incapable of planning a week ahead (even if there is a swish calendar function in there too).

I know it is really people who mess things up, not technology per se. But it bugs me. I'm an old-fashioned kinda gal who likes invitations in advance, so I can plan my week and make sure I'm awake enough to enjoy important social events. And when I set a deadline, I really can't be arsed rescheduling my whole life because someone else was disorganised or slack. Grrrr.

Ok, so I can get a little uptight at times. But as I was saying, engagement is key, and I'm not yet convinced that the contributors or the readers would be willing to engage sufficiently for a work blog to be really great. Which is a crying shame, because I'm enthusiastic enough to do a lot of the work, and it would really be a great example for others to follow (real modest, huh?).

Anyway - technology and people misusing it to mess us around - silly irritation or a real problem? Your thoughts?

Monday, February 07, 2005

Oh, yeah, Waitangi Day

Due to a voluntarily imposed real-news media blackout on the weekend (I don't much care for the newsreaders, don't buy the paper, and couldn't be arsed reading the paper online) I kind of forgot all about yesterday being Waitangi Day. Oops.

I did remember that it was someone's birthday - and her partner's, for that matter - but didn't quite get around to giving them a call. Whoops, e-card from it was then. (And a very funny one - check it out!) Sorry, guys - I will be better next year.

Llcoffee blogged a bit about how Waitangi Day isn't really a national holiday. I have to say that I completely agree. Being born and having spent my early years in another country, I don't really consider myself a "proper" NZer. I guess it has a lot to do with not really identifying with the "culture" here - sport and outdoorsy stuff not really being my thing.

At any rate, it puts an interesting spin on Waitangi Day and the like. To me it basically comes down to this: instead of a national day, we have a media circus. I'm all for the media usually (they keep me entertained, bless 'em!), but it irritates me beyond belief when they create unnecessary drama.

Anyway, we filled our "national day" up with some supermarket shopping and a visit from The Trouser's parents. They hadn't been here for some time - not since we'd moved in, almost - so there was plenty of new stuff for them to see. And although my plans to bake a delicious cake were thwarted (damn you people who can't plan a day in advance!), we had a lovely orange syrup cake from Pandoro. Not as good as the one I make, but not bad.

Actually, I must confess that I am not entirely thrilled with the current state of affairs re: baking. I love to bake. However, both The Trouser and I are trying to slim in a vague and indirect way, mostly by cutting out unnecessary treats - which means baked goods are not entirely welcome.

Since I was feeling poorly this morning (tired mostly!) I thought of taking a sick day. As I contemplated a sick day, I briefly toyed with the idea of making brioche. Not just any brioche - the reicpe from the fantastic (if dodgily-named) Fannie Farmer cookbook. (I'd link to the recipe but I can't seem to find it, sorry!) You need a full day to mess around really, leavening the dough 3 separate times, but it is fantastic, and completely worth the effort.

Anyway my conscience got the better of me (I felt a bit better after my shower) and I went to work. Result: no brioche and unfulfilled baking desires.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Shopping frenzy, or where did all my self-restraint go?

So it's been a bit of a wild shopping time here in Skirt-world. During the past few weeks I seem to have devoted most of my leisure time to shopping.

Now, this is not necessarily bad or wrong - in fact, many people would say that it is entirely normal, and they would be right.

What makes me feel ever-so-slightly guilty is that I suspect my shopping frenzy has resulted in me exceeding my allocated budget. The budget that I demanded we set shortly after The Trouser and I finally entered the scary world of mortgages and joint finances.

He is naturally a spender, and has superb and generally expensive tastes. I like quality - but also quantity - and am willing to spend time hunting for the perfect item, and a bargain price. Having worked in retail, I know that the mark-ups can be huge. Plus, I think there's some Scottish blood in me, so spending wisely is important to me.

The budget was intended to give me security that we'd save enough, and permission to spend a certain amount per month, even though I thought it was unlikely. It was intended to give him an upper limit on the spending, so I didn't stress out that we'd be poverty-stricken. Yes, I am the one with all the hang-ups about money - I'm very into saving up for things etc. - whereas The Trouser has always just kind of had money when he's needed it.

Anyway, a few teething problems aside (is a budget an upper limit or an amount that should be spent?), it had gone well until a few weeks ago, when my love of shopping returned with a vengeance.

Now, it's not like I'm spending loads of cash on anything silly - we're talking reasonably-priced items of clothing that I will inevitably keep and wear for at least 5 years, plus a few household items. But my desire to get a winter wardrobe in order (planning ahead again!), take advantage if the sales and cut loose a bit has resulted in the aforementioned shopping frenzy. Bugger.

And the really guilty part about it is that we've planned an important trip to see far-flung bits of my family, so I'd intended to cut down on my spedning dramatically in preparation for the shopping I'd planned on the trip. Oops. Why did my good intentions and self-restraint suddenly disappear simultaneously after 26 years?

On the up side, I have some lovely new things in my wardrobe, including some great vintage stuff that I have carefully (if inexpertly) altered. And now that I've been to the Smith & Caughey's sale (not as brilliant as last summer's, but still very creditable), I feel I can avoid "real" stores altogether, which, due to their close proximity and sheer numbers, are my real downfall. I really do prefer the thrill of the hunt - and it's a damn sight cheaper than a lot of th new stuff I crave. Might be time to get my grandmother's sewing machine fixed, just in case I'm inspired (and develop sufficient patience to actually *follow* a pattern)...

Friday, February 04, 2005

Another fast food report

Due to the overly-conditioned air, my throbbing head and I decided to take a break from our scheduled work activities to bring you this scintillating fast food report. (See, I could've been a newsreader, really!)

After yesterday's disastrous salad experience I almost gave up - but a leap of faith (and the insanely close proximity to Smith & Caughey's - more of which later today) saw me back at Wendy's for the old faithful - a side salad - and their luscious chicken nuggets.

Now, the McDonalds nuggets have a more delicious coating, but they are not all chicken, and they are bad for you. However, their sweet and sour sauce is delicious. The Wendy's nuggets, on the other hand, have a less delicious coating, but are all chicken, and quite yummy, even if they are only available in a serving of 5. The Wendy's sweet and sour sauce, though, is a scary red-pink goop that could do with improvement.

And on the salad front, my side salad was as crisp, fresh and delicious as ever. Bless you Wendy's, for your lovely, reliably tasty food (s&s sauce aside), and for your cute little advertising front-man, who is very short, very polite, and has tiny man-feet (I sold him a pair of shoes once).

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Why I can't be bothered with the flame-grilled feeling

Many, many years ago, I dated a boy who liked Burger King. As a result, I ate there on occasion.

(As you can tell, my taste in men is like fine wine - it improved drastically with age!)

My favourite burger was the bbq bacon cheeseburger. It was a bit fatty at times, but delicious with all the lovely cheese and bbq sauce.

In a fit of nostalgia (and desperation to get some lunch and hoof it back to the office quick-smart) I tried one of these burgers again a month or so ago.

BIG mistake. Although I liked that it didn't drip with fat, it had insufficient bbq sauce, and thus was almost bone dry. I could actually taste the meat, instead of a cheesy, bbq-y goodness.

So today when my friend grabbed her lunch there, I eschewed the burgers in favour of a side salad. I am a big fan of Wendys' side salads, and had been thinking of comparing the 2 varieties for some time.

Again, it was a BIG mistake. Although you get to choose your dressing (avocado & garlic for me, yum), there's no point giving you a choice if one of the dressings tastes foul with the salad. Also - you want fresh, crisp lettuce, not limp and floppy stuff. Ditto tomatoes - fresh, not sad-looking with wrinkly edges. All that limpness for $2.35? No thank you.

So while I give the salad a big ups for including cheese - additional protein always welcome (it must suck for vegans, but I guess they'd rather starve than eat there anyway?) - it was a nasty, nasty experience otherwise, and will not be repeated.

In contrast, Wendys delivers a delicious side salad minus the cheese, plus some onion, and with only one kind of dressing (which is delicious and goes well with the salad), for only $1.95. Why o why Wendys are you so much further away from work?

The worst bit of all, though? I was hungry by 3pm, and so I started eating biscuits (all I have to hand that doesn't require reconstitution). Damn. There go all the supposed benefits of a healthy lunch.