sis birthday dinner

sisbday201603

Dinner with Sis, G and Mum for Sis’ birthday. We were all going there separately so sis decided on Jamie’s Italian, so it’s easy for all to go to.

We got there early for happy hour. Not a great discount (less than 20%). We started off with cranberry soda, so unlike us to go for something non-alcoholic. Fear not, pretty soon we moved onto wine.

Some of the starters were at happy hour prices too so we ordered a plank (because Jamie) and arancini. For mains we had pasta (truffle for G, prawn for mum, crab for me) and sis had the garlic prawn starter. The pasta, we all agreed, was slightly overcooked. Next time we’ll make sure we say al dente. Too full for dessert.

The place was packed for a Thursday night. Okay, granted it’s the night before bank holiday. It was a great evening, very very happy with the chance to gather with family.

getting ready for the con

luggage201606

Finished packing. Only bringing the duffel this time. More than half is occupied by stuff I’ll leave behind: 2 bottles of wine, empty whisky bottle, loads of tim tams, picnic, silent auction stuff.

Enough clothes for a week, so I’ll need to do laundry once or twice. Not bringing anything special for the awards ceremony or evening events, it’s not worth using up precious space for something I’ll wear for 3 hours. It’s different for people driving or flying domestically with 2 bags.

homeless in New York

I fly on sunday, so I thought I’d reconfirm with the airbnb place in NYC. Argh! The host replied that she is being kicked out by her landlord so she has to cancel my booking. When was she going to tell me? When I show up in 2 weeks’ time and find myself homeless?

airbnbchelsea

Regardless of whether this was a real reason or not, the fact is I have to find an alternative place to stay. It being so last minute, there are very few available places left at a reasonable price. May need to resort to a hotel. Not ideal.

kickstarter chef’s knives

bulatknife

Been looking for a chef’s knife for a long time to replace the Le Creuset one I’ve had for more than 20 years. Even looked at them in Japan, but too expensive. Spotted via giz is a kickstarter for bulat knife.

Quite tempting. $100 is a reasonable price point, especially if the knife is as good as it says.

kytchoknife

An alternative is the kytcho knife, which looks less elegant / more space-age and is half the price at €49.

Decisions, decisions.

chenin blanc rhino

tussockjumpercheninblanc

Not a white wine drinker at all. Been buying a bunch of Tussock Jumper wines because of the cute labels and thought I might get this one for Sis. But I don’t know if she’ll like it. The only solution, try it out myself. Hahaha, any excuse.

The difference between red and white wines is that there are some whites that are really tasteless. Chenin blancs have been described as

rather bland, off-dry wine suitable only for the bottom end of the wine market

Ouch. This one is from South Africa, hence the rhino label. I find it crisp rather than bland. Acidic though not chokingly so. Pleasantly drinkable. A little bit of peppery aftertaste.

Sis tends to drink chardonnays so I think she might like it. I’ll see if the store still has its 30-40% sale. Otherwise I already bought her a prosecco and a malbec.

credit score

ficoscore

At the end of a week when $2tn (that’s 2 with 12 zeros after it) was wiped off the global markets I got an email, likely automated, from BoA about my FICO score. Probably not very good timing, BoA.

I never pay attention to my credit score, I know it’s a huge thing in the US. I remember my landlady doing a credit check when I started renting in Chicago and saying to me that she found records from New York. I said, yeah that’s when I was in the US last. I put my car on a loan deliberately to get some credit history and I always pay my credit card bills in full.

creditscorefactors

This is the first time I’ve seen my credit score. From what I can gather, it’s a good score. It also comes with an explanation of the factors that affect the score. Since I’ve kept my US account and I use my credit card a) when I visit the US; and b) to buy books, I’m guessing the regular use makes the bank happy.

brexit: what have we done?

In the end, my vote wouldn’t have mattered. Westminster voted 69% for Remain. But that’s where the good news ended. The rest of the UK, outside of London & the Southeast, Northern Ireland and Scotland (and Gibraltar), mostly voted to Leave.

brexitmap

It’s the biggest event in the UK for several generations. The bbc map and analysis shows a country divided. The analysis also showed that by and large:

  • young people voted Remain; older people voted Leave with the crossover point at around the mid-40s years old, the same age range as our EU membership
  • people with higher degrees voted Remain; non-graduates voted Leave
  • people who self-identified as English voted Leave

I was watching the live results. It was a big shock as constituency after constituency returned Leave. A little respite when the first of the London results came in for Remain, but it was shortlived.

brexitmarket

Even though the European markets were closed, 24/7 trading meant it was possible to see the moment when the world realised Leave was going to win.

brexitfx

The £ dropped to a 30-year low. I’d bought some last week, when it was around 11.01 against local$, and when I checked my bank it was 10.75. Even as I typed in the online order it dropped to 10.62. Texted sis and mm, mm was able to get some at 10.55.

My FA texted. We were going to sell off one of my GBP accounts anyway, and she wanted to put the order in as soon as the markets open. I said it’s the worst time to sell, since there’d be lots of panic selling and the indices will be sure to fall. It’s not like we were desperate for the money. FA was more pessimistic than us, she thinks the markets will fall further. In the end, we set a line, if the drop is less than a certain % then sell, wait and buy back when it’s still cheap. Otherwise sit tight.

If I weren’t flying to the US next weekend for the conference, I would have dragged mm to London so we can go house-hunting. House prices are expected to drop, even though the top end of the property market will probably go up because of the cheap £.

I sound like one of those detested bankers! Taking advantage of a horrible chaos to try to make money.

markets20160624

And chaos it was. I turned on the tv to bloomberg to watch Cameron resign, and the markets go crazy. Interestingly the FTSE-100 only dropped 4% compared with the CAC and DAX. World markets closed for the weekend with red everywhere. One of my uni friends on our whatsapp group joked:

Brexit to be followed by Grexit, Departugal, Italeave, Fruckoff, Czechout, Oustria, Finish, Slovlong, Latervia, Byegium until the EU reaches the state of Germlonely

And still the recriminations continue. I try to understand where the Leave voters were coming from, which boils down to:

if you’ve got money, you vote in; if you haven’t got money, you vote out

It was all voting from the heart, coming from resentment of a government that has failed the entire country whilst lining the coffers of their one-percenter friends. There is no excuse from the government, but let’s vote them out at the next general election and not use the EU referendum as a temper tantrum.

There was a lot fearmongering about immigration too, that the heart listened to. I get it. I saw my own neighbourhood change when I was back in London after more than a decade away and it wasn’t for the better. It’s true, many people who come to the country didn’t bother to assimilate, but Britain is also the country where a hijab-wearing woman whose parents come from Bangladesh can win the most popular baking competition ever and goes on to bake a cake for the Queen’s 90th birthday. That’s British identity, not Nigel Farage’s stupid poster.

The heart that voted for Brexit didn’t listen to the head and forgot about consequences. How leaving the EU will affect pensions, mortgages, job opportunities, the economy and, closer to home, making their Costa del Sol holiday even more expensive now.

And we’ll have to be British about this. Apologise to the world about the mess we created. Make the best of the situation. Europe already wants us out. Best case scenario, our politicians (and please do NOT elect Boris Johnson) salvage some of the EU benefits and we become like Switzerland or Norway. Worst case scenario…ugh, that’s a bottomless pit.

What have we done?

EU referendum didn’t vote

euballotpaper

Results are starting to come in for the EU referendum. Despite me being a good citizen and registering to vote, I did not get my chance to vote. Why? Because I didn’t get my ballot paper. I have no idea why or what happened. I received a confirmation from Westminster council, which I duly filed away. Then waited and waited and waited. Most info and articles were geared towards people in the UK. It’s hard for people outside to find instructions. I wonder if I should have registered for a proxy vote, but I don’t know anyone in Westminster.

So that was the tactic then? Not send the ballot papers or send it so we get it after the event. I wonder how many of the millions of overseas voters got their voting card on time and had their vote count.

What’s this about #yourvotematters? Clearly mine didn’t matter.

A bit mad, to be honest.

p.s. for the record, Remain.

#60: tiny but intense chocolate cake [recipe]

Task #60 of 101.1001 is to open a cookbook to a random page and make whatever comes up.

Because of differences in terminology and how ingredients are measured, I never use American recipes. For the longest time the only American food website I visit was simply recipes because of the old MT-loyalty thing. Gradually I added smitten kitchen, especially after Ms Perelman added proper measurements to her recipes. I bought her book when it came out, even got an autographed copy.

tinychoccake01book

So when I decided I should start cooking again, as in not just day-to-day cooking, I grabbed the book and opened it up. There, on page 250, is a recipe for tiny but intense chocolate cake. Looks divine, and very simple to make with easy ingredients. Can’t find it on her website, but it was on house and garden. I love the description:

In the short list of recipes I think any baker should have – or simply any person with friends, who delights in making those friends happy – is a chocolate cake to be thrown together just because I… Well, actually I did not know today was your birthday. Of course I am free tonight!

85g butter – the book says 85g, online recipe says 115g
115g chocolate
3 eggs, separated
65g sugar – online recipe says 45g
vanilla extract – i made it myself
pinch of sea salt
pinch of cinnamon

Melt the butter in a small saucepan until almost brown. Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted. Let the mixture cool.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon until smooth. I only used about 10g sugar because I was using toblerone instead of 70% chocolate. Add chocolate mixture. Whisk egg whites separately until stiff peaks, then fold into chocolate mixture.

Bake at 180ºC for 15-20mins until skewer comes out clean.

Remove from oven, allow to cool inside tin. The cake will deflate and come away from the side of the tin, at which time it’s okay to take out.

tinychoccake04top

The recipe says to use one 15cm/6-inch tin, but I only have the standard sized ones so I used even smaller 12cm/5-inch tins. Yielded 3 cakes.

Very, very light! It was like biting into air. Flourless cake, that’s why. I used barely any sugar so it wasn’t too sweet. From start to finish, less than 1 hr and it took that long because I couldn’t be bothered to get the electric whisk out and whisked the egg whites by hand.

Excellent last minute recipe and definitely worth making again.

do as zuck does

mbatapecamera

A story about instagram getting 500 users turned into something more interesting.

People noticed that Zuckerberg put a piece of tape over his webcam and loudspeakers at what looks like his desk at work. Seems like this is something people do regularly to prevent unauthorised / accidental access. It’s probably overly paranoid but no harm in doing it. I can’t remember the last time I used the camera, probably to skype when I was still in London.

Anyway, put a tape over your camera, cover your hand when typing in atm pin, lock your doors, check your windows at night. It’s all good practice.

bbmm new watering hole

coedobeer

Went to the japanese brewery for happy hour with mm. I hadn’t noticed before, their own beers are a free upgrade at happy hour whereas guest brews are discounted around 20%.

I knew what I wanted because I had their flight last time I visited. Usually when there’s an amber ale, that ends up being my favourite so my choice was beniaka. The staff were also nice enough to let us have a taste, mm described what she liked and the staff recommended an amber lager from Taiwan. It was very crisp, yet with a depth of flavour. I asked to try a sour beer from Denmark, it was more like a sparkling wine than beer.

Nice place, mm took a pic of their storage fridge and called the place our new watering hole.

After happy hour we went to a korean ayce bbq place. Relatively quiet, it’s a weekday. Didn’t eat as much as we used to but still quite a lot of beef, lamb, chicken, tongue which we wrapped in lettuce. We were there quite a while, it was 9pm when we left and it felt like 8pm.

father’s day

ams182oosttrees

Father’s Day. Mum and I went to church, then quick lunch at a food court. Met with Sis and G to visit Papa. Very hot day, 33ºC and feeling hotter. It was cooler and there was a light breeze up on the hill though. Sis brought a little pot plant.

I thought, with all the ads about father’s day gifts, father’s day food recipes and waking up to a stupid fb gif about father’s day, that I’d suffer from trigger warnings. But I didn’t. I haven’t been feeling much of anything. Not even numbness. I went about my day, cooked dinner, watched tv, read a book. That’s pretty much how most days are.

It doesn’t feel like it hasn’t sunk in. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop but I feel like my brain has super turbo processed it all and that’s it. Some emotions have gone missing, the world seems even further removed than before. The thing is, I’m not bothered by it. Intellectually I know I’m compartmentalising; all I can muster is a shrug.

welcome home Major Peake

After a 6-month stay at the ISS, Tim Peake came back to earth.

The first UK astronaut to spacewalk; the second astronaut to run a marathon (London, which he completed in 3.35). I’ve been following him on the news, on twitter and flickr. He’s safely back on earth now, but not before a final tweet from space:

Beautiful pics on his flickr feed. Aside from the marvel that is seeing the Earth from space, there’s his keen eye too. It’s good to be reminded of how beautiful our planet is.

The Earth:
Planet Earth

Aurora over Canada:
Aurora masterclass

Sunlight reflecting on a Himalayan lake:
Stunning colours

p.s. all pics copyright Tim Peake ESA/NASA, from Tim’s flickr.

too hot to go out | market and snacks

It’s so hot that it’s not worth doing anything. Sis asked if I wanted to go to happy hour and I declined. Imagine, I said no to alcohol. I didn’t want to get out of my shorts and put on outside clothes. As it is, I’m changing my t-shirt twice a day and showering twice a day already.

Okay, I did get out of my shorts at the end. But nothing exciting; mum and I went to the market. Had tea at a ramen place first. It’s a chain and specialises in Sapporo ramen, which means we expect a rich miso soup. Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of flavour in the soup and the ramen was so-so.

pockyorangecoconut

We bought pork to make soup. 4 mini watermelons and some apples. Also, snacks. The chocolate orange pockys that I saw at a shop yesterday that I resisted buying because they were double the price of normal pocky were available at 759 supermarket at a lower price. Plus 20% off. Unfortunately, not worth the hankering. The chocolate-orange part was a sickly artificial orange colour and tasted artificial too. Disappointing.

poppingcandy201606

Also bought some popping candy. One each of apple and watermelon flavour. Haven’t tried them yet.

jo cox

sg013temple

What an awful week. Still reeling from Orlando. And now Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen.

Like most people, even in the UK, I haven’t heard of Jo Cox before. But reading all the tributes, watching her maiden Parliament speech, she was just one of those politicians who are what we want from a politician: hardworking, bright, working for her constituents and her country rather than blagging and hogging the spotlight with empty promises.

She achieved so much. Head girl, Pembroke College, Head of Policy at Oxfam. A

tireless campaigner

for Syrian refugees.

She even lived on a houseboat! She left behind her husband, Brendan, and two young children.

What is the world coming to? Awful, simply awful. There are eyewitness reports that her attacker shouted “Britain First” and although it’s not confirmed the fact that organisations like Britain First exist in the first place is a terrible reflection of how the world has become.

This quote from her maiden speech sums up how we should carry on her legacy:

we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us

We simply must do better.

keep calm and eat more ice cream

icecream5scoops

We’re all in need of some good cheer. From thekitchn: tell us your favorite ice cream and we’ll tell you your age.

My top 5 ice cream flavours:

  1. sesame
  2. green tea
  3. tofu
  4. vanilla
  5. mango

I’m not taking the results of the article too seriously. For a start, they don’t have 4 of my 5 favourites. As for vanilla:

Vanilla Ice Cream: You’re 21 Years Old

You’re an adult. Full stop. You’re finally comfortable admitting to yourself that a good scoop of vanilla really isn’t boring. In fact, it’s downright delicious when done right. When you’re feeling really fancy, you might even add on some sundae-esque toppings, because why not? You’re an adult!

Arrr, I’m 12 not 21. The closest to 12 years old is strawberry and I hardly ever order strawberry if there are other choices.

Strawberry Ice Cream: You’re 13 Years Old

Life can be hard and complicated when you’re 13, but when it comes to ice cream, you don’t even need to think twice. This pink ice cream filled with strawberries is so sophisticated and adult.

The ones I don’t like on the list: pralines and cream (70 years old) because it’s way too sweet and coffee (52 years old) because I don’t drink coffee. Bubblegum ice cream (4 years old) is a bit iffy but I’ll try a bite.

greenteakitkaticecream

The other day I spotted a poster at a convenience store of a green kitkat ice cream cone. We’ve been missing mint choc chip (29 years old) cones they seem to have completely disappeared. On further examination and after I bought the cone I realised it’s green tea not mint ice cream. It was still very nice and the kitkat finger in the middle is like having a 99. Oh, TIL 99s have been called 99s since the 1930s. But on the question of why are 99s called 99s, no one seems to know the exact answer. More outrageous answers include:

  1. the roman numerals 99 is IC for ice cream
  2. the flake is 99mm long
  3. they were 99p
  4. someone claimed his grandfather invented it and named it after the address of the family’s shop at 99 Portobello High St, Edinburgh
  5. something about the number Italian (or Swiss?) guards guarding the king = 99 and Italians are most associated with ice cream (“just one cornetto…”)

Who cares? Summer is here. Keep calm and eat more ice cream.

accidental textures

blurrypavement

This was a complete accident. A blurry shot of the concrete pavement. Don’t even know where or when. The patterns and textures are interesting though.

taio056textures

Reminds me of this pic I purposely took while out and about with mum and greataunt a few weeks ago. It’s a few broken wooden planks against a brown tarp at the side of a house. Again, interesting patterns and textures.

Makes a change from my usual food instagrams.

orlando

cpride001flag

Not sure if I can articulate my thoughts about the Orlando shooting. Many others are doing it more eloquently. Most western news media outlets have lots of reports and opinions.

As the guardian said so many faultlines.

Discussion about whether it was terrorism or hate crime. Put the blame on radicalisation or lack of gun control. Anger at poliicians using a tragedy to push their own agenda. Censorship on r/news. Reopening arguments about immigration. Mental health issues. Still waiting for the day homophobia is no longer in existence.

Words.

I look at my other feed and there is nothing there. It’s as if my RL friends and family are a world away from what happened half the world away. It’s my perennial conflict, what happens in my community life has no overlap with my real life.

sunday lunch

oxtonguevermicelli

After church mum and I went to the noisy vietnamese place near the market. They were so short of staff that it was a long wait for tables, for someone to take orders, for food. That it was busy despite the slow service is a sign that the food is good.

We enjoyed our lunch, even though my iced tea came after I finished my meal and we had to share a table with a young couple. Mum had beef phở, she said the broth was very good. I had ox tongue bún thịt nướng: cold vermicelli noodles; I can drink that nuước chấm sweet spicy fish sauce like soup.

Made braised pork with mushroom and daikon at home. Did two loads of laundry. Sent out a bunch of gcls emails.

That was sunday.

bbmm happy hour

Happy hour with mm. It’s weekend so no happy hour discount really. Wanted to go to the Japanese brewery but was put off by this woman talking loudly. Why do people feel the need to put their voice volume on maximum? Went to hmv café but was horrified when the waiter said their alcohol licence has to be renewed and probably not until the end of the month. Someone must have screwed up at the office.

beercalamari

Decamped to wildfire. I had a weissbier and mm had asahi. Was peckish so ordered some calamari. Nice chat, catching up for the past week.

oysters201606

Stopped at a hole-in-the-wall place on our way to find dinner. They sell mainly handrolls, lots of variety like uni, salmon, salmon roe, scallop, lobster, lobster roe and so on. A good selection of oysters too so we picked a few. From top, two each: massé, canadian, coffin bay. The massé was the most expensive, our favourite was the coffin bays: sweet with bags of flavour.

In the end we took the tram a few blocks down and had dinner at a diner place. Found another bar that had happy hour for real. Only one other table there when we sat down at 8pm, friends of the manager it seems. Beer was buy 2 get one free. Plus a bowl of peanuts. Happy hour officially ended at 9pm but they still served us the one free beer at 9.30pm. The place started filling up around 10pm and it was time for us to go home.

Great evening. Drank 1.5l of beer in total. Didn’t go anywhere special, we just needed a venue to sit and chat.

waffles for tea

Ran some errands with Mum. Around teatime we were tired and wanted to sit down somewhere. Headed to the small market where there are a few small cafés that opened recently. Fruit teas and waffles seem to be a trend.

waffleredbeanmatcha

We each had a tea set with waffles. I had red bean and matcha ice cream and Mum had mixed fruit and vanilla ice cream. Came with an iced fruit tea. The waffle was a bit dense and tasted like it was prepared earlier. Definitely not as good as Belgian waffles or the ones at the green waffle place we went to for Mum’s birthday.

drinks and dinner with sis

Drinks then dinner with Sis at the FCC. I probably went through 3-4 glasses of this Spanish wine, should have ordered a bottle to share. Sis had fish curry. I wanted one of their special items, poached lamb, but they were out. Went with the traditional calf’s liver and onions instead. One food I miss a lot is calf’s liver.

liverbacononion

It’s hard to take good pics of liver, so here’s one from great british chefs.

japanese water cake shingen mochi

Met my uncle and aunt for lunch. Took them to our favourite AYCE Japanese place, and they were impressed at the variety. I was in charge of selecting from the order sheets and we stuck mostly to sashimi, salad and grilled food. No tempura cos everyone didn’t like fried food.

raindropdessert

Ice cream mochi for dessert and today they even have something that is like shingen mochi, a clear blob of watery jelly that looks like it’s held together by specific gravity. Bland tasting, to be honest. There was a pretty edible flower embedded inside that gave some floral notes. Mostly, it’s something that looks extremely pretty without much taste. Definitely a novelty food item.

tomato shochu

tomatoricewine

I have this bottle of tomato wine we bought in Japan many, many years ago. Time to try it. Not a lot of information available, a reverse google image search gave me a bar located in Saitama that served this tomato shōchū 焼酎 at ¥380.

It’s a clear liquid that smells strong and reminiscent of sake. 25% alcohol doesn’t sound strong, but it certainly tastes strong and left a burning sensation as it travels down my throat. Small sips, especially drinking neat. Not a great deal of tomato flavour.

Distilled spirits, like grain alcohol, are not that memorable neat. I’ll try adding it to soda water and/or juice. In Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores there are lots of mixed shōchū drinks made with soda water and flavouring such as lemon, lime, apple.

Another method is to drink shōchū with warm water, a bit like hot sake.

lunch today: duck breast

duckbreast201606

Lunch today was duck breast which I cooked from frozen because there wasn’t enough time to defrost. I’m still not very good at getting the skin crispy although I managed to render a lot of the fat. Finished off in the oven for 10mins.

Served with leftover potato and carrots; added flavour by tossing them in a little duck fat. The green salad was fresh though. I added cherry tomato and cucumber.

from miracle to giving up seats on trains

It’s a different father who conducted mass today, Father James. First time Mum and I have been to his masses. He’s different. The other father, Father Peter (the parish priest) likes singing. We sing kyrie eleison, gloria and at the end of communion bless the lord my soul. He sings a lot of the prayers too but not Father James.

Father James’ homily was also much longer. He recapped the readings and then expanded. The first reading was about the prophet Elijah’s raising of the son of the widow of Zarephath and the gospel was about Jesus’ raising of the son of the widow of Nain. Two miracles that were completely parallel with each other.

Father James pointed out one exception. Elijah performed the miracle after being asked by the widow of Zarephath whereas Jesus performed his miracle when he came across the procession in Nain, without being asked by the mother.

priorityseats

Father James then did an odd segue. He told us that he observed that people don’t give up their seats on public transportation anymore, young people are too absorbed in their mobiles or are too self-absorbed altogether. Usually people have to be asked. So one of the lessons for today was to give up seats without needing to be asked.

It’s an interesting interpretation of the readings. In fact, it’s not the direction I expected him to take. I have now forgotten the rest of the homily, because the idea of resurrection miracle –> giving up seats on the train is a tad too surreal for my liking.

conference prep: silent auction, snacks

Everyone is getting ready for the conference in July. My research and reservations for the trip are done for the most part.

I haven’t decided what to bring for the silent auction. I usually bring alcohol of some sort: last year was Nikka from the Barrel and a few years ago Writers Tears. May be I’ll bring one of the ice wines from my box of 12, or umeshu brandy if I can find it again, or one of the cute Tussock Jumper wines I saw yesterday.

glasspenletteropener

I have a beautiful nib pen and letter opener set handmade from glass that I bought in Venice a long, long time ago. Even the boxes are pretty. I don’t have use for them, hopefully they can fetch a good price.

dcplate

And since the conference is in Washington DC, I may bring this old fashioned souvenir plate. Mum and I found it when we were tidying up and it was originally destined for the charity shop. It belonged to my grandparents, so they must have bought it in the 1960s or 1970s. Does it count as an antique? May be someone will like it for the nostalgia factor.

snacks20160601

As for snacks I bring to give out. Carleen wants picnic so that’s a trip to the supermarket. Should I bring wasabi peas (lower middle of collage) again? I saw genuine UK cadbury’s (lower right) at a snack shop, may be that will appeal to some. Or kinder eggs, since apparently they are banned in the US. Hmm, may be not the kinder eggs, don’t want to risk being fined $2500 per egg. How ridiculous.

tussock jumper wines

tussockjumperwines

I was at the small supermarket getting sparkling water when I saw that they had a whole shelf of wine from tussock jumper. What caught my eye: the unusual name, the labels with different animals all wearing a red jumper and then the sheer variety of wines, from cab to pinot to malbec in the red department; sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling in the white deparment. Even a prosecco.

Never heard of the label before so I did some googling. The brand originated in New Zealand, with a label with a sheep wearing a red jumper. The company then expanded the concept, producing

labels with a striking animal character representing its country of origin and wearing the brand’s signature red jumper

Examples of labels: koala for the Australian shiraz, bull for the Spanish tempranillo, rhino for the South African chenin blanc.

tussockjumpermap

Their website shows 16 wines from 11 countries. Doesn’t include the prosecco so 17 wines. It’s one of the current wine trends, sourcing wine from different producers and slapping on an eye-catching label.

I deliberated on which to get. The cutest label is a penguin (Argentinian cab), but I don’t drink cab unless I have no other choice. Malbec from Argentina (beefy cow), pinor noir from France (boar) or the one wine I hadn’t heard of, touriga nacional aragonez from Portugal (donkey) were possibilities.

In the end I opted for the zinfandel from USA, partly because I hadn’t had zin for a while and partly because of the bison label. The tasting notes say

crisp red berry and currant flavors, a touch of spice and a smooth yet crisp finish

It’s fairly inoffensive, if not particularly special. Fruity on the nose and easy to drink without needing to air. A little citrus and a little pepper. Not too tannic, which I like. Enough of an aftertaste to linger on the palette.

Price-wise the collection is upper average scale. Definitely better than the cheap plonk at the larger supermarkets and the labels add recognition. I’ll probably try a few more and get some as presents for Sis’ birthday.

mbp recovery

macrecovery

Went to the apple store with mm, her mbp won’t startup. The genius booted it up using a recovery startup disk and it seems her hard disk is damaged. Ouch! To make matters worse: a) she doesn’t have a backup for her files and b) most of her files are not organised, she just dumps them on her desktop.

Luckily using the recovery startup we were able to access them. I’d bought an external HD for her in case we had to copy files. We had to do it folder by folder to avoid spending time copynig her huge movies and other unnecessary files. Still took a couple of hours at the genius bar.

The biggest problem was the damaged bits included her 2 biggest files: itunes library and iphotos. The genius told us the only solution was to remove the HD, put it in a casing and copy it to another machine. Then it’s a matter of replacing the HD.

At least there’s a plan of action. We decided to go away and think about it first. She has her lenovo to use for school work, that’ll be the focus for the next 2-3 weeks.

global running day

globalrunningday2016

5.0km 38.11min 7.38min/km

1 June is global running day:

a day for people around the world to celebrate the joys of running. Participation is easy—just pledge to take part in some type of running activity on June 1, 2016. It can be a solo lap around the block, a long run with friends, or even a game of tag with your kids. The key is to share your passion for the sport and inspire others to get moving

Brooks made a bib template to encourage people to participate in the event. I asked G if she can draw something for my bib. She didn’t use the template but what she gave me was a million times better. So cute!

running20160602

We’re under the first big heatwave of the year, temp up to 32ºC. Not wise to run during the day so I ran around the streets downstairs after dinner. Started faster than I’ve run recently, but then the heat got to me and I slowed down a lot.