2010

I thought 2008 was hard. I was certain that 2009 would bring resolution but all all all it has brought is more of the same holding pattern.
2009 was hard.

One year ago today I wrote of dreams for 2009. I had magnificent plans to backpack around Europe on my way to living in London again, of spending a white christmas in London and then New Years in Edinburgh.
Instead Craig and I are still holding on and waiting to hear about our last chance hope to live in London, we didn’t backpack around Europe, our Christmas was most definitely not white, and we are in Auckland, New Zealand for New Years.

We did, however, manage to save a lot of money this year, money which will make either moving back to London or a longlong backpacking trip much more attainable, we moved into Park Place and while it is furnished with seconds and old old bits and pieces, I think it looks lovely. We have bought a car, the first car Craig has ever really properly purchased (the two cars he has driven have been hand-me-downs and then there was the project car but that one doesn’t really count) and it is little and red and has a turbo and Craig adores it. Which is completely adorable in and of itself. We have jobs which we do not abhor and mine (WHICH I DO NOT DISCUSS ON THE INTERNET) is taking an interesting and potential career type path. And we did manage to travel. There were trips to Auckland, Dunedin, and Christchurch, as well as (of course) Japan.

2009 Resolution Roundup
x Project 365 lives anew! – Success! 364 photos taken
x Project 52, take 2, electric boogaloo. – Success! – 52 self portraits taken
x Celebrate my wedding anniversary. – Success! Picnic in the park where our wedding photos were taken.
x Acquire at least two new tattoos before June 15th 2009 and hopefully 3 by December 31st 2009. – Hmm. 1 in March, 1 in August (not before June!), and 1 in December. So sort of a success.
x PhotoBooks! – Oops. Forgot completely about this one.
x Dress up more! – Success! I love the way I dressed in the second half of this year.
x Quality over quantity. – Success!
x (as always …) Try to be happier. – Hard to gauge.

It’s funny, this was the first year where I did not include some allusion to weight loss or being healthier in my resolutions. And, know what? I’ve lost 16kg (35lbs) this year, I no longer add salt to my food (this should startle my family), and I exercise regularly.
I have gone from a size 14-16 to a size 8-10-12 (depending on the store & clothing) and I feel 110% better about myself.
Suffice it to say that I will not be including it in my 2010 resolutions either.

And so, I’m not going to make sweeping or specific declarations about what 2010 will hold.
It will hopefully include travel, hopefully a decision about London, hopefully much happiness. Hopefully hopefully hopefully.
Perhaps next Christmas will be white. Perhaps it will be in New Zealand with a my-mother’s-side-of-the-family reunion. Perhaps perhaps perhaps.

New Year Fireworks

2010 Resolutions
x Project 365 continues (and aim for 365 this year)
x Project 52 again. Try to be more adventurous/imaginative with self-portraiture
x Wear lipstick more often
x Budget to make it to the movies, in an actual theatre, at least once a month.
x Be nicer to my hair & skin
x PhotoBooks – starting with 365 in 2009.
x Pay off my credit card.
x Quality over quantity. – Save for and purchase the B for Boleyn necklace by Wendy Brandes.
x (as always …) Try to be happier.

The future is still a wonderful thing.

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Week Fifty-Three

The Week in Photographs

Sunday: Mount Ngauruhoe
Sunday
Craig and I drove the 658km from Wellington to Auckland.
Mount Ngauruhoe emerging from the clouds.

Monday: Opulent Bendon Lingerie Dressingroom
Monday
Spending vouchers in Bendon, the faux opulence of their dressing rooms always amuse me.
This one was like a Harem.

Tuesday: Rex!
Tuesday
Craig’s brother drove us down to Hamilton so we could pick up the new car.
It is very very red.

Wednesday: Goat Island
Wednesday
An afternoon of sun and snorkelling at Goat Island.

Thursday: Opposite the City
Thursday
Wine and BBQ with friends then parking across the harbour from the SkyTower to watch the fireworks and see in 2010 with Sir C. The first really good New Years Eve I’ve had in years.

&

Writing Resolutions
Writing Resolutions

500th Post

How appropriate that my 500th post on this darling little site would also be my last post of 2009.
We will go forth into 2010, the fourth year of my darling marriage, the fifth year of this darling site, and the tenth year of my life with Craig as of post 501 (FIVE HUNDRED AND ONE).

Here are twelve of my favourite favourite photos from 2009:

January

Magnolia

February

No more moustache

March

Thursday: Brighton Beach

April

So. Freaking. Beautiful

May

Gemstone Dispenser! Crazy & awesome.

June

Thursday: GHD burns

July

Wednesday: Anniversary Flowers

August

Tattoo with Brunch Sleeves

September

Claw foot Tub!

October

Sir C & Me

November

Origami Cranes

December

Champagne Flutes

Week Fifty-Two

365 in 2009!

Ostensibly the final week of 2009 as darling little 2010 begins on a Friday.

Sunday: Finally saw Ghostbusters
Sunday
I finally finally saw Ghostbusters. And it was as funny as I’d hoped it would be.
And I have a retroactive crush on Bill Murray.

Monday: Cupcake decorations from Kat
Monday
Confusion with a parcel from the UK. My darling Kat had posted it just after my birthday but the Royal Mail held on to it for so damn long that, combined with her packing material of tinsel and cupcake tree decorations, I thought it was a Christmas present and felt a right twat for not getting anything over to Scotland for her.
But no, it was simply a belated (grr, Royal Mail) birthday gift.

Tuesday: Empty Train
Tuesday
As Craig was a Gentleman-of-Leisure this week I had to go back to public transport and take the train in to work every morning. This, combined with the change of address, meant that I got to take a completely new (ancient & rickety) train, from a completely new station. And it was pretty much empty every single morning.

Wednesday: Laden
Wednesday
Last minute Christmas shopping rush, plus work, equals no time to take a photo so the lens cap ends up in the shot.

Thursday: Midday!
Thursday
Work done, desk cleared, phones diverted, instructions left for the cleaners, and we were out of the office by 1pm on Christmas Eve.

Friday: Antique silver at Christmas Dinner
Friday
Antique silver for Christmas Day.

BTW, after the infamous year of the pink tool kit? this year Craig bought me an external hard drive.
Admittedly, it is the Mac Time Capsule one I’ve had my eye on for months but it is still very utilitarian.
I gave him half a plane ride (a voucher for skydiving!).

Saturday: Au Revoir Gingerbread House
Saturday
Extended family came around to Trinity for a Boxing Day BBQ slash leftovers feast. When it came time for dessert the children fell upon my gingerbread house and it was gone within minutes.
My Japanese Christmas Cake and Summer Berry Trifle also disappeared rapidly.
I seem to specialise in quick, easy, seasonal desserts.

&

NOT a scowl
The first time this year I needed sunglasses everytime I stepped outdoors. From 6:45am to 6:45pm.

Day Four: Kyoto to Hiroshima

Buying tickets
By day 4 we didn’t even need to look for the “English Assistance” button on the ticket machines.

Blythe doll as advertising for a University?
We were catching the train to Inari. Blythe dolls were advertising a University. Kinki University. Seriously, check the bigger version!

Off the train at Inari station Craig and I followed a group of Japanese people wearing backpacks, and a few other tourist-y looking people. A few metres down the road we stopped as we hadn’t seen any signs directing us to Fushimi Inari.
I think we had all been following students.
A Spanish lady, a Swedish couple, and a Japanese couple were also lost. A lovely little old Japanese lady who was passing directed us back up the road where there was a GIGANTIC Torii if only we had turned left out of the station instead of right.

Fushimi Inari

Raining
It was raining. Which meant that it was actually quite quiet. And lovely.

Wishes, Prayers

Poor Sam
Poor Sam.

Origami Cranes

Beautiful paintings
Okay. That’s enough of the prayers.

Fox

Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社?) is the head shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines.
Merchants and manufacturers worship Inari for wealth. Donated torii lined footpaths are part of the scenic view.
Inari is the Japanese kami (spirits, natural forces, or essence in the Shinto faith) of fertility, rice, agriculture, foxes, industry and worldly success and one of the principal kami of Shinto.
Inari appears to have been worshipped since the founding of a shrine at Inari Mountain in 711 A.D.

Kitten at Fushimi-Inari
Kitten!

Torii
Torii!

Fox and Torii

Wednesday: Torii

Anime Fox

Me and the Torii in the Rain

Craig in the rain
Oh lord, Mo-Vember.

Engraved Torii
And after a while the rain became a little too heavy and we headed back down the mountain.

It was magical and one of my favourite moments on our trip.

Happy Terrace at the top of Kyoto Station
We went back to Kyoto Station and visited Happy Terrace.

No Glowing Cubes
Where we had to leave behind our glowing cube. Not cool, Kyoto Station, not cool.

Skywalk. 11 Floors Up
And we wandered across the Skywalk. It was 11 storeys up and Craig took photos of the structural bits and pieces. Getting his structural-draughtsman-geek on.

We had lunch at Katsukura. I rolled my eyes at the other tourists taking photos of their food and now? I find myself wishing I had done the same. Naturally.

And then, the moment that Craig had been waiting for, the Shinkansen!

We rode this Bullet Train

Inside the Shinkansen

Things we noticed: there was very little blurring outside the window. We were travelling at 280km/h and yet? couldn’t tell at all. Also, there was no countryside to speak of, just varying levels of city/suburb.

View from Shinkansen

Sunset from the Bullet Train

The sun set while we were on the train and we arrived into Hiroshima in darkness.

Christmas Eve: Candy Cane Fudge

Step 22 - FINALE

My basic lazy-girl-baker idea of christmas baking is to take anything that usually comes as chocolate and add peppermint essence and candy canes. Because Chocolate and Mint is the best flavour combination in the world. THE WORLD.

Still, this slice is delicious.

Ingredients
250g butter, cubed
1 cup caster sugar
2 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp peppermint essence
4 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
2x 250g packet wine biscuits, finely crushed
Simple chocolate icing
10 half-size candy canes (or, I suppose, 5 regular size candy canes)

Ah, jeez. I JUST realised that I only used 1 egg in this recipe. Though it calls for two. And tastes just fine. Hurrah!

Step 1
Ingredients. Plus handy iPhone containing the recipe.

Step 2
Cut the butter. Don’t be terrified by just how much you use. Or at least, try to ignore it.

Step 4
Place butter in a saucepan to melt.
You can cut it in to cubes to help it melt faster but I prefer to not.

Step 3
Because it’s the perfect time to have a drink.

Step 5
Or to continue with the recipe.
Put the packets of biscuits into a plastic bag.
Also? I have no idea if wine biscuits are called anything else around the world. They are plain plain plain biscuits and I can only stand them in recipes like this.

Step 6
Crush the biscuits!
Yes, we keep a hammer in the kitchen. Why?

Step 7
Measure out the sugar. I love my measuring cups, they are ADORABLE.

Step 8
Add to the melted sugar and stir until dissolved.
Wooden spoon handle covered in electrical tape because I hate the feeling of rough wood. Makes my skin crawl.

Step 9
Remove from the heat, allow to cool for a minute (just a minute) then add the egg(s. Damn,) and stir. The egg might go a little streaky white but that’s just it cooking. DO NOT PANIC.

Step 10
Add the vanilla and peppermint essences. I add extra because I love both flavours.

Step 11
Stir in the cocoa.

Step 12
Add the crushed biscuits. Don’t panic if there are large chunks, you can crush them up in the next step.

Step 13
Stir and stir and stir some more. And then a bit more.

Step 14
Press into a greased 17 x 27cm slice tin.

Step 15
Refrigerate!

And now you can watch Elf, or cook dinner, or have another drink. Then move on to the icing. You can use any chocolate icing recipe you like but mine is as follows:

Ingredients
1 tsp butter
1 tsp cocoa
Water
Icing sugar

Step 16
Icing ingredients.

The most annoying part is unwrapping and crushing the candy canes. This is where I rope in my darling darling husband, or, like last year, my darling sister.

Step 17

Step 18

Step 19
Add the teaspoon of butter to a bowl and microwave for scant seconds to melt. Then add 1/4 cup hot water, the cocoa, and icing sugar.

Step 20
Continue to add icing sugar and water, alternating between the two, until you have a) enough icing and b) the right consistency.

Step 21
Spread over the slice and sprinkle with the candy cane shards.

Step 22 - FINALE

Enjoy!
It’s delicious.

Day Three: Kyoto

A full day in Kyoto

Beautiful Red

Craig and I followed a walking tour from our Lonely Planet. It was long and exhausting but comprehensive and we saw beautiful beautiful temples.

Wishes, prayers

Jizo.
Jizo
Jizo are small statues decorated with red aprons here and there in Kyoto, and especially at Kiyomizu. Each of these represents the soul of a dead child, often placed by a mother who aborted a baby. The apron is meant to keep the child warm in the afterlife, to atone for the death.

Purification

Kiyomizu-Dera

Dragon

V for Victory

Kyomizu-Dera and Kyoto Tower in the Distance
We were on a verandah that dated from 1633. Eesh.
(that’s the Kyoto tower in the background)

Otowa-no-taki, the lucky waterfall

Otowa-no-taki, the lucky waterfall

Information

Drinking for Health, Longevity, and Success
You drink for Health, Longevity, and Success.

UV Sterilisation

Jizo

Geisha

Geisha crackers?

Tanuki - A Racoon Dog
Tanuki – Racoon Dog
Statues of tanuki can be found outside many Japanese temples and restaurants, especially noodle shops. These statues often wear big, cone-shaped hats and carry bottles of sake in one hand, and a promissory note or empty purse in the other hand. Tanuki statues always have large bellies. The statues also usually show humorously large testicles, typically hanging down to the floor or ground.
The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absent-minded.

Yep. Those aren’t legs. They’re balls. Giant racoon dog balls.

Tanuki

Kannon

The Ryozen Kannon is a war memorial commemorating the Japanese who died during World War II located in Eastern Kyoto. The concrete and steel statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Kannon) was built by Hirosuke Ishikawa and unveiled on the 8th June 1955. The statue is 24 m (80 ft) high and weighs approximately 500 tons.
(I love big Buddha!)

Wishes, Prayers

Amazing Leaves

Carp!!

Heron in flight

Beware Duck, Carp are HUGE
Beware Duck, Carp are HUGE

Vibrant Red

Monk and the Moon? a Banana?

Striking Leaves

At Chionen Temple, where we walked on a Nightingale Floor.

Flowers at Chionen TempleFlowers and Chionen Temple

Bunny!

Craig found a model store
Craig found a model store. I stood outside (it was claustrophobic in there! (and boring))

Fanta Jelly! The obsession begins
The beginning of an obsession. Fanta Jelly.

Soy Sauce flavoured crisps

We collapsed back at the hotel (Soya Sauce crisps!) before heading out to the covered shopping district to hunt out food and … an umbrella.

Dentist sign?

Inglorious Basterds - Japanese Poster

The Inglorious Basterds poster looks so much cooler in Japanese.

A Conversation

Last night, Craig picked me up from work (he is a gentleman of leisure this week while I, lucky as I am, get to work right up until the 24th!) and we about to select a DVD to watch when he opened the drawer and said:

Craig: I … may have done something bad.
Me: Huh?
Craig: I may have done something a little OCD.
Me: What? Did you alphabetise them?
Craig: … maybe.
Me: Baby, that’s not OCD, that’s awesome. Ahh!

That poor poor man, my crazy is apparently contagious.