Monday, October 31, 2011

The Other Queen

Philippa Gregory
This is the last in the Tudor series written by Phlippa Gregory. I didn't find this quite as consuming as her others but still a good read. And like all her books it gave such in insight into the history of that time that I feel a little more educated and interested in the monarchy of England.

The story is told through the eyes of the three main characters, Queen Mary and her two "jailers," George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his wife, Bess (Elizabeth Talbot) of Hardwick. This gives you a bit more understanding of their own position in this time of captivity.

The plot:
The Other Queen begins with Mary Stuart, cousin to Queen Elizabeth, arriving in England after having fled her country, expecting Elizabeth to restore her to the throne of Scotland. She has lost the love and support of her people by marrying the man believed to have killed her previous husband. Elizabeth, however, puts her in the custody of George Talbot and his wife Bess of Hardwicke as a result of Mary's repeated attempts to claim to English monarchy for herself. Mary is indignant at the captivity, repeatedly stating her claims to royalty, and is upset when she is given some of the reigning queen's gowns to wear, saying that they are "hand-me-downs." She is unafraid of punishment for any reckless or insulting behavior she makes to her cousin, believing that one would never execute a fellow monarch. Most of the novel centers around the first few years of Mary's Stuart's imprisonment, during which time she makes several failed escape attempts and almost immediately begins to seduce the earl. George slowly begins to feel his loyalty to Elizabeth fade, replaced by a strong attachment to the captive queen. This results in marital problems with Bess, who ultimately separates from him.

For an excellent book review, The Tudor Book Review site has in-depth article.

This website is excellent at listing and reviewing books of the Tudors and other books of history.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011

The desire for a competition to determine the pecking order in world rugby was realised following the International Rugby Football Board’s (IRFB) approval for an inaugural Rugby World Cup to be held in New Zealand and Australia in 1987.  

The final proved a match too far for France with New Zealand, who were unquestionably the best team in the tournament, emerging the 29-9 winners to allow captain David Kirk to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

The Rugby World Cup is now established as the third biggest sporting event behind the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup, having achieved its goal of merging the traditional powers with new and emerging nations to make it a truly worldwide sport. 

Every four years the Rugby World Cup 2011 is held and this year it was in New Zealand.
Now I am not a rugby fan and the first rugby game I ever watched was with Harry and his father before we were married. We lived in Upper Hutt and went and saw the local rugby team play a game.
I sat and froze in the stand while Harry and his father cheered the team on yelling "Hutt, hutt, hutt!" along with the other supporters. It all seemed a bit odd to me.

Harry and I are now married and he is still a big fan of rugby but I still don't watch the game.

For over a year New Zealand has lead up to the Rugby World cup with countless news items and urging that the whole country get behind the event and our team, the All Blacks.
There were twenty counties in the running and games were held around the country.

And did New Zealand get behind it all?

You could not get away from it!

At first I just wanted to leave the country, as we were inundated by it all, but in the end I couldn't help but get caught up in it all and be impressed by the way New Zealand embraced, not so much the game and the All Blacks, but all the countries visiting and playing.

In fact in the end although I didn't watch any games (I still can't understand why grown men will fight over a ball!) I felt nervous as the All Blacks played; triumphant when they won and proud to be a New Zealander in the way we all joined in with the whole tournament.

And result?...

Sunday October 23 Full Time

New Zealand
T. DusautoirTriesT.Woodcock

PenaltiesS. Donald
F. Trinh-DucConversions
5Scrum Wins7
15Lineout Wins12
0Line Breaks0
850Pack Weight899
4Handling 3

Our Town of Tirau, although small, didn't lack in the festivities either.

Everyone seemed to have flags on their cars or fences.

Shops in Tirau had flags and supported a country.

And one farm on SH1 just south of Tirau won the prize in my heart.

With each game the All Blacks played they added more to their display. And wasn't the only one stopping to take photos.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BreastScreen Aotearoa

BreastScreen Aotearoa is a free national breast screening programme for eligible women aged 45 to 69.
It checks women for signs of early breast cancer by using mammograms.

Mammograms are the only proven way for finding breast cancers early enough to reduce your risk of dying of breast cancer. Regular mammograms reduce the chance of dying from breast cancer among women aged 45-69. But the benefit is greatest for women aged 50-69.

Today I have had my third two yearly mammogram. As I waited the lady next to me asked if I had had one done before. "Yes" I replied.
"Is it really painful?" she asked.

Now there is an open question!

I answered that I didn't think so. Yes it is uncomfortable but if you relax your shoulders and really lean into the machine it lessons that a bit. I hope I put her at rest.

I realised that I had felt like that the first time.

A gas leak has affected a major pipe line in the upper North Island of New Zealand, so hospital laundries (along with many other consumers) are not working so I was asked to use my own cardy. This was a pleasant result as mine was thick and warm so I felt more relaxed.
The actual positioning of the breast and 'gentle' coming together of the plates for the x-ray only took about 30 seconds. There are four x-rays taken and I was in and out of the place in 15 minutes. This included filling out a form, chatting, stripping to the waist and redressing.

For me this is really important especially as my mother has just had a mastectomy because of a lump she found.

October is breast Cancer awareness month so my appointment was quite appropriately timed.

I know its a thing that is joked about but it isn't as bad as they may say for we wouldn't go back for another!


Many women are afraid of their first mammogram, but there is no need
to worry. By taking a few minutes each day for a week preceding the
exam and doing the following exercises, you will be totally prepared
for the test and best of all, you can do these simple exercises right
in and around your home.


Open your refrigerator door and insert one breast in door. Shut the
door as hard as possible and lean on the door for good measure.
Hold that position for five seconds. Repeat again in case the first
time wasn't effective enough.


Visit your garage at 3AM when the temperature of the cement floor is
just perfect. Take off all your clothes and lie comfortably on the
floor with one breast wedged under the rear tire of the car. Ask a
friend to slowly back the car up until your breast is sufficiently
flattened and chilled. Turn over and repeat with the other breast.


Freeze two metal bookends overnight. Strip to the waist. Invite a
stranger into the room. Press the bookends against one of your
Smash the bookends together as hard as you can. Set up an
appointment with the stranger to meet next year and do it again.


AND, just a thought for all the women out there........

MENtal illness, MENstrual cramps, MENtal breakdown,

Ever notice how all of women's problems start with men?.........And

When we have real trouble it's HISterectomy!!!!

Send this to all women to have a laugh AND, don't forget to have a

A Friend Is Like A Good Bra....
Hard to Find
Always Lifts You Up
Never Lets You Down or Leaves You Hanging
And Is Always Close To Your Heart!!!

MEN, please don't take this personally... we still love you all!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Banoffee Pie

I have never made this before but Jennifer requested Mumma Burgers and Banoffee pie for her birthday tea the other day.

Hmm I thought this may need a bit of prep, so I searched my cookbooks and couldn’t find a recipe. It must be a recent invention, so I sought the internet for instructions and the best way to make it.
The first finds were so straight forward I couldn’t believe it. How come I had never made this before.
Then I discovered different flavour combinations.
I stuck to something I could easily make using a combination of a couple plus my own addition.
So this is my recipe.

I x 200g packet of chocolate wheaten biscuits.
100g butter.
1 tbsp instant coffee

1 x 395 g tin of condensed milk
4 bananas
300ml cream
Dark chocolate

Place the can of condensed milk in a pot of water making sure it is COMPLETELY covered with water. Bring it to the boil and let it simmer for three hours with the lid on the pot and checking it to make sure it is always covered in water.
Be warned - if it is not covered with water it will explode.

Crush the biscuits finely. I used the kitchen whizz but you could pop them in a sealed zip bag and crush with a rolling pin or put them in a deep bowl and use a glass base to crush them. My mum used to do it this way using a small cream bottle back in the days when milk and cream came in glass bottles.
Add the coffee and mix.
Melt the butter and mix into the biscuits and then press into a lined tin.
Cool in the fridge.

I used a spring base tin so that I could remove the pie easily. I lined the sides with baking paper so it was folded out to the outside of the tin. I then inverted the tin the right way up and put the base in making sure the base didn’t ‘catch the paper. (I had the spring catch open then closed it once the base was in place.)

The pics on the right show the tin upside down and then looking in from the top so you can see how the paper comes out the bottom.
This means when you are removing the pie from the tin to serve there is as little mess as possible.

I greased the base then pressed the mixture in letting it come up at the sides slightly.

Open the COOLED can of condensed milk VERY CAREFULLY and spread over the base. Warm the opened can slightly to spread if is it is too thick.
Cool in the fridge.

This can all be done sometime before the meal.
Peel and slice the bananas. I cut them in half then sliced them lengthways in to thirds and placed them close together over the caramel.
Beat the cream until soft peaks are formed but not too stiff.
Spread carefully over the bananas so they don’t move.
Grate chocolate over the top.
Remove the spring tin and paper and slide off onto a plate to serve.

Now the reason why I have typed in capitals in the making of the caramel is because I had a nasty burn.
I opened the can of condensed milk after I had boiled it, too soon after taking it from the pot.
Now I was concerned it might explode so I made sure the tear tab on this can was facing away from me. I used a towel to hold it as I carefully used the handle of a spoon to leaver the lid open.
Just as the first bit opened up shoot a spout of caramel like a fountain.
And plop it landed on my hand and my head and shoulder.
Silly me quickly wiped the caramel off my knuckle only to take the skin with it.
I held it under the tap for a while but the removing of the skin had done the damage.
Needless to say it is going to take a while to heal and will probably scar.
So be warned don’t open the can while it is hot.

The funny bit was that there seemed to be quite a stream of caramel come out of the tin and there didn’t seem to be all that much on me. However later that evening I looked up and discovered where the rest of it was!! Just shows you the force it came out at.

The ceiling above the sink!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Help

I went to the movies again this week with a couple of friends.
It's so nice to spend a day out with some girl friends, having coffee, catching a movie and chatting on the journey there and back.

This time we saw the movie The Help.

What a really good movie.
It brought one or two tears to my eyes (and some of those around me) and even more moving as you know it is based on a true story

The Help is based on the novel of the same name, by Kathryn Stockett .

Set in Mississippi during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, a southern society aspiring author returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends' lives -- and a small Mississippi town -- upside down when she decides to write a book detailing the African American Maid's point of view of the White families they work for, and their hardships they go through on a day to day basis. She tries to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families. Aibileen, Skeeter's best friend's housekeeper, is the first to open up -- to the dismay of her friends in the tight-knit black community. Despite Skeeter's life-long friendships hanging in the balance, she and Aibileen continue their collaboration and soon more women come forward to tell their stories -- and as it turns out, they have a lot to say.

This movie has made me put the book on my list of reads.
It certainly gave me an education into the lives of southern Americans in the 1960's I wasn't aware of.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Let Your Spouse Know

A few days ago one of the readings in my daily reading The Word for Today, was about husbands and wives.

We have been married for 33 years and we have had more than our fair share of ups and downs, in fact times when it would appear that the marriage was over but when it all boiled down to it there was something deeper than what we even saw that made us fight for who we are and to not let the marriage come to an end.
It didn't mean just ignoring and accepting what was pulling us apart but that we had to take stock on what we wanted and make the stand and get help to stay together becoming stronger after each near fall out.

Some people have not understood why we have stayed together because of what was going on (the last earlier this year) and seemed to suggest that they would walk away and would even support me if I did.
Now that is of some comfort but like every other time something deep was making me want to keep what was sacred - our marriage - and so with God on our side we have come through this dark valley.

The study said this:

Song of Solomon 8:7
7Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.

Marriage is God's idea, and it's a good one. But if you're looking for someone who can be everything, you'll be disappointed! When you marry someone you take on their weaknesses as well as their strengths. It's a package deal. By expecting perfection, you're asking for more than either of you are capable of giving. However, when you get into trouble you can count on your partner. Marriage is having someone to curl up with when the world seems cold, who's as concerned as you are when the children are ill. It's having a hand that keeps checking your brow when you aren't well, and a shoulder to cry on when they lower a loved one into the ground.

To the one you marry you're saying, 'When my time comes to leave this world, it's your face I want to kiss goodbye. It's your hand I want to hold as I slip into eternity. I want to look into your eyes and see that I mattered. Not what I looked like, or how much money I made, or even how talented I was. No, I want to look into the eyes of someone who loved me and see that I mattered!' 

If you've been too busy lately, or just forgetful, take a moment and let your spouse know how much you appreciate them.

This was part of what I felt deep down.
We all have our "crosses to bear" but in the end it is Harry who I want to have there for me and me for him, for the things mentioned above.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Corned Winter Stir Fry

I really like corned beef but the rest of the family aren't that keen so a piece lasts awhile and there are also always left overs

I make a corned pasta and this is another recipe with lots of veges. It has a lot of preparation of the veges but its all happening while you are cooking it.

You can vary the recipe to suit what ever you have or want to use. Being corned pasta there is no need to add any salt.

The vegetables are semi cooked so they retain their flavour and the chewing means you take longer to eat it and so get fuller quicker (yes that is right)

Olive oil
Tomato Paste
and of course the corned beef

Heat a large frying pan (I use my electronic frying pan) and add a little oil.

Start chopping the veges into the same size - about 1.5cm cubes.
Fry onion pieces first. Stir. (1 large)
Peel and chop potatoes. Add, stirring as you do. (3 medium)
Peel and chop pumpkin. Add. Stir. (about a cup fill)
Chop carrots. Add. Stir. (1 large)
Allow these 'slow cookers' to fry for awhile stiring them to stop them sticking and allowing even browning.
Chop meat and add. Stir. (about 1 1/2 cups)
Cut up celery and add. (2 sticks)
Chop broccoli and stalks and add. (about 1/2 cup)
Stir and cook for a few more minutes.
Add a good dessert spoon of tomato paste and stir in well to make sure it is dispersed through all the veges and not in 'clumps'.
Taste a little to test if the vegetables are cooked enough and the meat is heated completely.

Now this is such an easy dish it just means working all the way while it is cooking but it only takes about half an hour

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jane Eyre

I am part of a group of over 50's ladies basically from our church but others are welcomed and do join us in our activities.
We are called the "Aunty Pearls"
Anything that one of us would like to do or go to is mentioned and the word goes out from one of the three Duchess's to invite us all to join in.
It could be a lunch, a charity walk, a movie, fashion parade or concert, but what ever it is we have a wonderful time of friendship and laughter.
One of the specifications is to wear our pearls

The latest event was to go and see the new movie Jane Eyre.

I had heard that this movie was one of the closest in adaptation to the time (1847)  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was written which made watching it quite enchanting with an insight into the secenery, props and costumes.

The film did miss some of what I would have considered crucial parts but it still was a wonderful movie, one I would like to collect on DVD. It is two hours long but you did not feel like it was dragging, however the parts near the end that I knew seemed to be missed though they are talked about.
As the reviewer I had listened to said it is a story that is best filmed as a series rather than trying to condense it into a movie.

The actors chosen for the parts did an awesome job portraying their character.

Mia Wasikowska - Jane Eyre
Michael Fassbender - Edward Rochester
Judi Dench - Mrs. Fairfax

Jane Eyre  flees Thornfield House, where she works as a governess for wealthy Edward Rochester . As she reflects upon the people that have defined her, it is clear that the isolated and imposing residence – and Mr. Rochester’s coldness – have sorely tested her resilience, forged years earlier when she was orphaned. Jane must now act decisively to secure her future and come to terms with the past, and the terrible secret that Mr Rochester is hiding...

I would definitely recommend viewing this if you are at all interested in classic movies of this era.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Orange Honey Muffins

We have been given a 4 litre container of honey and so although it keeps and Katrina and I are having it on toast and crumpets I am finding all my recipes to use it in.

This is from Alison Holst's Marvelous Muffins book with a adjustment from me

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
grated rind of two oranges
75 gms butter
1/4 cup of honey
1 egg
3/4 orange juice/milk

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the sugar and grated orange rind.
Mix thoroughly.
Melt butter and honey together. Don't over melt it. I remove this from the heat before all the butter has melted and let it finish melting in the heat of the honey. This allows it to cool a little before I add the egg.
Beat in the egg.
Measure the juice and with out mixing top up the amount with milk.
I use about 1/2 cup orange juice from the oranges and 1/4 milk. You could make it up with orange juice from a bottle if you wanted.
Add the juice to the melted liquids and fold into the muffins. (about 10 folds) then add the milk and fold about 4 more times, (some flour will still be unmixed)
Fill 12 well greased mediuim muffin tins and bake at 200°C for 10-12 mins, or until the centres
spring back when pressed.

These are best served warm.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Leota's Garden

This is the fourth book by Francine Rivers I have read. Francine is a writer of Christian books and her biography is here. One of my daughters has a lot of her books so I just borrow them off her when I need to have a read as you generally don't find them in public libraries.

Francine Rivers
Leota's Garden is a lovely story on relationships with a families and in the story, between an old woman living with secrets form the past that had not been shared so as to protect the feelings of some but it them meant that others formed wrong opinions and so then relationships with each other.

"Leota is 84, lonely and frail. She has a daughter and a son who don't even call her. When her husband was stationed in Germany during WWII, Leota was forced to move in with his parents, and her mother-in-law had deeply ingrained it into Leota's children's heads that their mother was selfish and didn't care for them. Anything Leota did was wrong. She worked six days a week to support the kids, but that was interpreted as thinking only about her career. She had a garden she loved to tend, which, once again, was viewed as a selfish pleasure, as time spent on herself rather than devoted to the kids. So the children, Nora and George, grew up believing that their mother was no good and didn't love them. Now they repay her by rarely seeing her.

Nora has two children of her own, Annie and Michael. From the start, she was determined to be the opposite of Leota, to be a “good mother” to them. That, to her, means being heavily involved in anything they do, controlling their every step, making choices for them – in other words, totally domineering their life. The slightest rebellion is viewed as horrible ingratitude. And, of course, the children are not allowed to spend time with Leota, their “bad,” uncaring grandma.

One day Annie rebels. She loves to draw and wants to become an artist, but Nora has chosen a different path for her. Tired of having her mother run her life, Annie packs her things and, instead of going to the prestigious college Nora enrolled her in, drives off to San Francisco where she intends to take art courses. After this first step towards freedom and self-establishment, Annie begins to wonder about Leota, her Grandma she had never gotten to know. Annie decides to meet Leota and see for herself what she is like."

Laura Southcombe, Resident Scholar

I really enjoyed this book and have learnt that we so easily form our own opinions on things with out fully knowing the whole story and I was challenged to not be quick to judge so to speak.