It’s a long weekend for us here in New Zealand because tomorrow (Monday) is Labour Day. Which to me sounds like either everybody should be working really hard or having a baby (ya, no thanks). But quite to the contrary, it’s a day off. Huzzah! Too bad the weather hasn’t really cooperated – yesterday was pretty good, but today was dire. And tomorrow looks like more of the same, which is annoying, but I won’t lie – there is something satisfying about waking up to the sound rain on the windows when you know you can stay in bed a little longer.
So my Sunday Smiles for this week are:
- Are you on Pinterest? I am, but only sporadically – I’m not sure how I feel about it. So much of it seems… superficial. Perhaps it’s just that I’m not particularly crafty or creative or something. So this
rant article about Pinterest made me laugh – there’s a fair bit of truth in it (and some swearing, too).
- Fact: life is short, and sometimes it’s also terrifying. These ecard thingies are all over facebook, but this one really made me laugh: (Cartoon source)
- Julia Gillard (Prime Minister of Australia) has been getting a lot of flak from the leader of the opposition, and this week she snapped and gave a rather vitriolic speech labelling him as a misogynist. Apparently the speech wasn’t all that well received in Australia because of the context of the debate, but as a stand-alone speech dismantling her opponent, I take my hat off to her, regardless of her politics.
- I came across this dialogue between a chemistry professor and his 3 year-old daughter. Makes me feel better about not always understanding chemistry…
- Oh my gosh, check out this video of lightning, filmed at 7,207 frames per second and then slowed down so that the 33 second video is actually about a tenth of a second of real time. Anyway, I just think it’s totally awesome. I may have watched it 5 times…
- And finally, it’s been the ITU Triathlon World Championship Grand Final this weekend here in Auckland. The women’s race was yesterday, and the men’s was today. I shared the pool earlier with some triathletes who were warming up (great way to feel super unfit by the way – needless to say, I stayed well away from their lanes). You know that dire weather that I mentioned? Ya, I got caught in an utter deluge on my way home, which took me along part of the cycling route, so I took shelter under a convenient building awning and watched most of the cycling (didn’t help much with the whole feeling unfit thing…). I’m obviously a total expert on the triathlon after London 2012, so it was pretty exciting to watch, as was the sprint finish between Brownlee and Gomez right at the end of the race (which I watched on TV). I have no idea how they managed to bring out a sprint finish at the end of an exhausting race (Auckland is built on volcanoes, so there are plenty of steep hills all over the place – great fun to cycle/run up, obviously) in horrid weather conditions. I can only conclude the triathletes are bonkers (in a good way). Gomez won the actual race by 1 second, but Brownlee ended up winning the overall championship. Go Team GB! Here’s Jonny Brownlee leading the cycling pack in the pouring rain (the other Brownlee brother wasn’t competing):
What made you smile this week?
I spent most of this week rather wiped out from the tummy bug that ambushed me last weekend – an entire day of vomiting and not eating much for two days really does floor you. I didn’t have enough energy (nor the desire) to cook something more complicated than plain pasta until Tuesday evening, and even then my energy only extended as far as chopping up some kumara and roasting it in the oven… and then adding it to pasta. Being ill is miserable. And if I barely had the energy to cook, I certainly didn’t have enough energy to bake. No baking for an entire week. Sad times. Luckily, in an unusual fit of organisation, I had this week’s blog posts prepared, and there were quite a few things that brightened up the week.
Here are my Sunday Smiles for this week:
- The third season of Downton Abbey has started! Huzzah! Yes, it’s rather ridiculous, and yes, some of the plot points are dubious, but it’s utterly addictive and I’m hooked. I won’t give anything away in case you haven’t watched it, but it looks like Season Three is shaping up to be just as addictive as its predecessors.
- I’ve heard whispers that strawberries are very nearly in season here… I’m beyond excited. I adore strawberries.
- New Zealand offered the perfect antidote to any Olympics and Paralympics withdrawal symptoms this week with the Gold medal ceremony for Valerie Adams (women’s shot put). The original winner from Belarus was caught doping, so Valerie Adams, who also won Gold in Beijing, was upgraded from Silver medallist to Gold medallist. After some delays with getting the Gold medal back (apparently) and further delays whilst Valerie Adams was participating in other competitions, an official medal presentation ceremony was finally held on Wednesday evening here in Auckland. The Sky Tower was lit in gold for the occasion.
- But that’s not all. This was the first ever Olympic Gold medal ceremony to be held on NZ soil, so the Kiwis went all out and ended it with seven minutes of fireworks simultaneously in Auckland and Wellington. Can you imagine if NZ actually hosted the Olympics?! It would be amazing. Not to mention hilarious – my favourite part of the ceremony, which I must admit resembled more of a school prize-giving than the very official London Olympic ceremonies, was the part where the “MC” thanks Auckland’s mayor for having an easier to pronounce name than the Tongan royals present. I kid you not. You can watch the ceremony here in case you missed it or just want to listen to Kiwi accents (there are several speeches at the start, so the actual medal presentation part starts around 31:30, and the Auckland fireworks at around 45:00). I bundled up warm and went down to the Waterfront to watch the fireworks, which were beautiful.
- On a more sobering note, I heard about Operation Sugar this week, which aims to provide birthday cakes (baked by volunteer bakers) for critically ill children in NZ. I think this is a fantastic idea, although from what I understand (I need to read the information email properly) cakes need to be able to feed 40 people which might be a little past my abilities, so I’m not sure whether I can really commit yet. But I absolutely do want to spread the word!!! So if you’re a baker in NZ and you’re interested, head over to their facebook page for more information.
- The iPhone 5 and the new iOS release seem to have been the big tech news this week. I haven’t upgraded to iOS 6 yet (I was going to but then got distracted and forgot about it), but from what I’ve heard the new Apple Maps app is dreadful. There’s a whole tumblr dedicated to it (of course): The Amazing iOS 6 Maps. Whilst very amusing, I’m not sure how keen I am to update because I use the Google Maps app a lot.
- You may have noticed that I have a slight Instagram addiction… If you also share my over-enthusiasm for Instagram, you might appreciate the Instagram song which Craig sent me this week.
- And finally, this meme made me laugh about 56 times more than it should have… Don’t judge my sense of humour. Thank you Emma for brightening up my week no end – alpaca lunch next time we go for a picnic. In the meantime, I think I’ll be printing this out on Monday and pinning it next to my desk. (Not sure of the original source)
What made you smile this week?
I got all excited last week about spring finally getting here and all, but apparently the weather had other ideas. Despite managing to eat lunch out in the courtyard twice this week (but solely because it’s sheltered from the cold wind and it happened not to be raining on those days) the weather has been very changeable and the weather this weekend has been positively autumnal – rainy and awfully blustery. And not excessively warm either. Brrrrr. Thankfully I’ve got a batch of apple spiced camomile and honey cupcakes in the oven smelling fabulous and warming the apartment as I type (and if they taste as good as they smell, they’ll be showing up in a blog post soon).
Here are my (not particularly concise) Sunday Smiles for this week:
- Firstly, I finally finished watching the Paralympics Opening Ceremony. I loved it. I’m always going to be enthusiastic about something that features so much science. The Large Hadron Collider was even mentioned, and involving Stephen Hawking was a stroke of genius. Sir Ian McKellen as Prospero was also fantastic (though that’s hardly a surprise) and I loved that he was involved right the way through and even partook in some awkward dancing at the end. And of course Boris Johnson seemed to be having the time of his life, no matter how bored some of the other dignitaries looked. I’ve also been watching some of the Paralympics, but not as much as I’d like since I’ve been buys and it’s not on a continual loop on mainstream TV. But at least most of it is available online for free on the Paralympics channel (the Olympics should take a lesson from that) so I’ve been able to choose what I watch. Although bizarrely, the live stream isn’t available in NZ, which isn’t too much of an issue since the time zones are inconvenient anyway.
- The only good thing about this week’s ridiculously changeable weather (I don’t know how many times I’ve simultaneously required sunglasses and an umbrella) is that we’ve been treated to plenty of rainbows. I spotted this double rainbow over the university as I made way home the other day. I love rainbows. They never fail to make me smile.
- At the same time as the rainbows above, this was the view in the opposite direction. Sunshine behind the Sky Tower, but pouring rain in front of it. I really like this photo (even if it meant that I was getting rained on):
- I came across these completely amazing hand paintings the other day. I’m always in awe of anybody with artistic talent. And maybe a tiny little bit jealous, too.
- I discovered Pyrenées, a French deli, last weekend, which sold some of my favourite cheeses. Cheeses that I haven’t had since I moved to NZ seven months ago, which is a big deal for me since I am a total cheese fiend… So I obviously couldn’t leave without buying any, despite the rather astronomical price. I’m considering them an early birthday present to myself in order to ignore that. I’ve been happily nibbling way way through some morbier, comté, brie de Meaux and munster this week.
- Somebody has finally solved the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster. Manatees, of course! (Yes, yes, I know, manatees in Scotland, and in a freshwater loch to boot… It’s still funny though.) All those tourists will be gutted, I’m sure. (Cartoon source)
- And finally, Flight of the Conchords have written a NZ charity single for sick children which was released about two weeks ago (I think it’s part of the Red Nose Day for Cure Kids fundraising). Now I’ve heard it several times on the radio and been a little confused because it doesn’t really make any sense. It contains lyrics such as “kids need us to come together, we can make them better [so far so good], we can get them some feta [huh?]” and “John stop blowing all the money on couches,” there are made up words (“lospital” and “mospital” – to rhyme with hospital) and it’s called Feel Inside (and stuff like that) which also happens to be the chorus. (Actually, the first time I heard it, I thought they were singing “feeling sad (and stuff like that)” which would have made marginally more sense.) So I decided to look the song up on YouTube
out of procrastination as you do. And it turns out that there’s a whole sketch that goes with the song. And once you’ve watched it, the song makes complete sense, because Bret and Germaine visited a school and the lyrics are actually based on what the kids said. The sketch includes the interviews with the children (they start at 5:07) and ends with the song (sung by plenty of famous Kiwi artists, but I don’t know who any of them are, aside from Bret and Germaine). It’s 15 minutes that will brighten up your day, I promise.
What made you smile this week?
PS – Look what I accidentally broke whilst being removed from its mould… Woops. It went down as “quality control” (gutted, ahem) – scrumptious!
Huh? It’s September? Already?! Are you sure? Yes, it really is September. Normally at the beginning of September I’d be looking forward to the leaves turning pretty colours (which is pretty much the only part of autumn that I like) and very much not looking forward to the days getting shorter and weather getting colder and worse. But this year, September means that spring is on its way and after the snowdrops in early August, flowers are starting to show their faces in the parks and the days are getting longer. Yay!
Here are my very spring-oriented Sunday Smiles for this week:
- I was totally surprised to discover that there are magnolias here, and they’ve been in full bloom the past couple of weeks. I love magnolias, they remind me of Louisiana (which unfortunately got rather battered by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac this week – my heart goes out to you, Louisiana) and also of our house in Norway which somewhat bizarrely had a stunning magnolia tree in the garden. I particularly love the colour of these ones in Albert Park.
- The daffodils are also showing their sunny yellow faces, and it’s difficult not to smile whenever one sees them!
- My favourite bit of spring though, is baby animals. Specifically lambs. We went to One Tree Hill and Cornwall Park this weekend which includes a farm and it has lambs. Lambs!!! Oh my gosh, so cute!!! I only just managed to resist the urge to take one home with me.
- It’s difficult to move on from such adorable lambs, but in non-spring related news, the Paralympics have started! I haven’t quite finished watching the Opening Ceremony (but I’ve enjoyed it so far) and haven’t watched any of the events yet since I’ve been busy this weekend, but I’m totally excited about
procrastinating catching up. And discovering new sports to get distracted by watch.
- Viviane from At Down Under posted these stunning photos of Budapest this week. I’ve never been to Budapest, but it looks beautiful and these photos make me want to visit. A little impractical from New Zealand though, so that’ll have to wait!
- One of my best friends sent me this cute little shark cartoon, which made me laugh. Poor white sharks, so much pressure. (Cartoon source)
- Sticking to the shark theme, another of my good friends sent me a link to this Jaws-themed nail art. I find nail art a little odd – how do people have time to create such masterpieces? And how do they stop it from chipping??? – but these are seriously impressive (I love the swimmer). And I’m pretty sure the shark nail could be used as a mini weapon.
- And finally – a little bit of self-indulgence here (sorry!) – I was Freshly Pressed yesterday! Ironically, I hesitated to publish the post as I thought it might just be a bit silly to talk about the sound of gas cookers. Looks like I was wrong (or that people enjoy silly posts about gas cookers…) and waking up to that made for a rather smashing start to the weekend!
What made you smile this week?
I’ve already mentioned the post-Olympic void in my life. In fact I’ve had several search results this week for “the Olympics are over, now what,” so I’m clearly not alone. At least the Paralympics are coming up soon (hurry up already!). You might expect the Olympics Closing Ceremony to feature as one of my Sunday Smiles but if I’m honest I spent most of it somewhat bewildered and wondering what on Earth was going on (goodness knows what the rest of the world was thinking). Plus, it was the end of the Olympic Games.
So my Sunday Smiles this week, which contains a couple of Olympics withdrawal cures, are:
- First up, Dan Chung from the Guardian covered the Olympics solely using an iPhone (and a couple of extra lenses), which might not sound too promising, but he had to be pretty inventive for some of his shots and they’re actually rather impressive. I wish my iPhone photography skills were half as good. Seriously. Please refer to Instagram if you’d like proof.
- Somebody set up a tumblr (a tumblr? Is that correct?) called Mo Farah Running Away From Things, which is exactly what it says. My favourites are him running away from the Black Riders, the one below, and him running away from dinosaurs, because, you know, dinosaurs (= awesome!). Although don’t tell the Creationists, or it’ll probably end up in a textbook since
Photoshop this photo shows that dinosaurs and humans are both clearly alive at the same time and is thus conclusive proof that contradicts the theory of evolution.* (Photo source)
- In non-Olympics news, the lovely Camilla from Little Macaroon sent me a link to a shark-shaped laundry basket. Most fabulous laundry basket ever? Yes! My birthday isn’t too far off, so uhm, anybody wanting to get me a present… Ahem. *Cough* In the meantime, I wonder how difficult it is to sew large pieces of felt together… (Photo source)
- One of my labmates told me about Western Springs Park so I decided to investigate on Saturday afternoon since it was sunny and fairly warm. There’s a lake in the middle that you can walk around, with plenty of ducks, black swans (there were even a few cygnets!) and other water birds. But the most amazing thing is that the lake is full of longfin eels (Anguilla dieffenbachii), NZ’s only endemic eel species. There’s a bridge which they seem to cluster around and the water was teeming with them. It was so cool to see!
- The Sky Tower was all multicoloured this weekend to celebrate its 15th birthday. The colours kept changing and it was a little bit mesmerising to watch.
- And finally, something that I’m looking forward to next week: one of my friends from St Andrews is in Auckland this weekend and we’re going to the All Blacks vs. Australia match! SO excited!!!
What made you smile this week?
*The fact that there are kids being taught through a legitimately recognised school system that A) the existence of the Loch Ness Monster has been conclusively proven and that B) this means that the theory of evolution is balderdash utterly terrifies me, so I have to make a joke out of it to cope. As for the line about Apartheid, words actually fail me.
This has been a bit of an uneventful week. I had grand plans for the weekend but they were totally thwarted by my waking up yesterday morning with a throat so sore that I could barely swallow, which was suspiciously reminiscent of my previous encounters with tonsillitis. I feel a little better today, so I really really hope that it isn’t. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see, and my plans will have to wait for next weekend…
My Olympics-dominated Sunday Smiles this week are:
- One of New Zealand’s big, popular comedic talents are the Flight of the Conchords duo. They had a reunion tour around NZ a couple of month’s ago, and I kept hearing about them but didn’t know any of there work. This week I finally watched the first season of the Flight of the Conchords TV series. I wasn’t too convinced by the first few episodes, but it definitely grew on me and I actually found it rather hilarious by the end.
- As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I have a copy of River Cottage Veg Every Day from the library at the moment – I’ve tried a couple of other dishes in addition to the chachouka that I posted, such as the scrumptious mushroom risoniotto (look out for a blog post soonish). They all turned out wonderful, and I really like the book. I predict that there will be a copy residing on my bookshelves permanently in the near future.
- There’s a section of my blog stats that tells me what search terms have directed visitors to my blog. The last few weeks haven’t provided any funny ones, but this week the internet apparently thought that I’d be a good source of information on “the fear of running out of butter” and “accidentally gave 4 year old too much caffeine.” Both amused me. Sucks to be the second person though.
- The Olympics carried on this week, and although I’m not the biggest fan of athletics (I get bored of it after a while), since the coverage here is mostly highlights, I watched it anyway. I’m so glad that I was able to see one of Saudi Arabia’s first two female Olympic athletes compete in the women’s 800m (the other was in the judo, but I didn’t really watch it). She had to compete in full sleeves and leggings and headscarf, which can’t be terribly practical and must be boiling given that most other athletes are in little two-pieces and she went out in the heats (to an ovation from the crowd), but what an achievement for her. Although I’ve read that there has been a lot of backlash and criticism against the two female athletes back in Saudi Arabia, so perhaps it’s doesn’t represent as much progress at it may initially seem. I also loved seeing other “underdog” athletes, such as the rower from Ghana. I can’t be the only one who just watches events because they’re on without any actual knowledge of them. The other day I discovered the keirin. Seriously, have you seen it? It’s a cycling race where the competitors follow a motorised bike for several laps, which gets slightly faster each lap, then disappears and everybody cycles as fast as they can. Well, that’s my interpretation anyway. It’s the oddest thing to watch. Also, the motorised bike guy looks like he should be in a Tintin cartoon (just me?). Also what’s up with the race where there are two cyclists and they cycle along at a glacial pace and then out of nowhere put on a crazy burst of speed. Could anybody explain the tactics behind that one? Along the same lines of sports that don’t seem to make much sense, have you seen the canoeing where the canoeists (?) paddle whilst kneeling rather than sitting? Who thought that was a good idea? (Anybody have any stats on the number of people that fall out whilst racing? I spent the whole race expecting somebody to over-balance.) Also speed walking – who came up with that and made it an official sport? It looks so uncomfortable (and difficult not to break into a run). Less than a day to go before the Closing Ceremony… I don’t want the Olympics to end! At least there will be the Paralympics soon! (Photo source)
What made you smile this week?