Wednesday, 23 January 2013


I've been reading an interesting review of Mark Sisson's new book, The Primal Connection, by Alison Golden at Paleononpaleo.

I've looked at this online at Amazon, and it's one of those I'm tempted to buy, because it extends the whole idea of Paleo/Primal as a lifestyle, not just as a diet.

To quote Alison:
"Here was someone who had a sensible idea, backed it up with science, was moderate and reflective in his thinking and responses, didn’t rant and rarely judged, and affirmed, all in one place, thoughts I’d gathered over years of reading about nutrition and health."



Monday, 14 January 2013

"Angel" Mixed Media Art Workshop with Monika Welch

I left work early on Friday afternoon to drive to Kerikeri to take part in Mon's art workshop.

It’s definitely longer than 2 ½ hours to get to Kerikeri – left at about 1500: The drive from Henderson to Wellsford went quickly - 1 hour to Wellsford (1600) (packed full of traffic – rush hour!), then 1.20 to get to Whangarei (1720), and then nearly another hour to get to Kerikeri (1800). The last part seemed to take for ever. Vast swathes of open countryside, and no towns. Alternating between overcast and sunshine.

The most spectacular sight was a giant sculpture on top of a hill ridge, standing like the rib cage of a giant whale or dinosaur. Stopped and got a photo.

Stopped in Whangarei to have a pee, but no shops were open, so never got a chance to get a snack. By the time I got to Kerikeri I was starving – over 6 hours since I’d last eaten. MacDonalds and Subway, a restaurant called ‘Fishbone’, and a takeaway bar that only sold greasies. Had to drive round the one way system twice to find anything open! 1 piece of fish and two scallops. Nom/yuck. Ate it as I drove the final part of the journey.

Sights and smells – Auckland area is really dry – lots of brown paddocks, while Northland is fairly green. Dry paddocks, green paddocks, pine trees, fragrant flowering exotic plants, diesel and petrol and hot tar. Fields being irrigated. Llamas, dairy cows, sheep. 1 Hawk. Where have all the hawks gone? Maybe too early in the afternoon for them to be hunting? Nice smells, some not nice smells. Usual traffic – some going too fast, some too slow. But not an awful lot. I suspect it will be busier going home Sunday afternoon – all the holiday traffic going back to Auckland.

Arrived at the Staples’ house just as they were about to leave to go have a drink and get dinner. Got a quick tour, and invited to join them. They have a black dog called Tank, who’s only 4, but acts really old. This is the view from the back patio - quite literally right on the waters' edge.

Phoned David first, but then ran out of credit! Got myself organised. Drove back to KK to the Stone Store, and found the Pear Restaurant. That was when my stress levels skyrocketed. Damned if I could remember what Lynda (or her husband) looked like. Wandered thru, looking (I suspect), like a lost soul, about to burst into tears. Finally found them out the back – yes, she had been wearing a blue top! They were with two friends – I was the 5th wheel. Too nervous to say much, and just so not fitting in. Had one glass of wine – a Riesling (Shaggy Ridge?), and headed back, while they went to find curry. Sat in the car and cried first – while the wine loosened my tongue, it didn’t help much. Too overwhelming.

Went for a walk up the road, and by the time I got back, they had too, and the four of them were sitting round the table eating. Had a shower, felt much better. Arrgh – the house is shut up like a drum because of the mozzies! I can’t have the window or door open! Only a fan on – and it must be about 26 deg! So hot.

This was the view out of my bedroom door:

As an aside - I'd tried to buy an e-reader before Christmas, but the seller didn't reply for 11 days, then had to complain to Trademe to get her to actually send it - 21 days all up. In the meantime, I'd bought another one (brand new), which arrived on Friday (phew). My intention was to use it to read the books I'd bought on Amazon. 

E-reader frustration! It won’t recognise the Kindle books! Just doesn’t see the damn things – must be proprietary software! – so although I managed to load them, the reader can’t see them to read. Such a bummer. I can only read them off the laptop!!! The wireless code Lynda gave me also doesn’t work, so no interwebz! The Acer software says it needs to be a certain number of digits!

I had a good cry – too much frustration, and being on the outside.
Woke about 0300 to go to the loo. The temperature had definitely dropped, and the sky was full of stars – the overcast had finally cleared. Managed to get back to sleep fairly quickly, which was good. Woke at 7.30 – the house faces east, and the sun comes streaming in – quite pretty. It’s an old weatherboard cottage that’s been done up – refaced with board and batten, and tidied up inside. The shower is creepy – only about maybe 6’ high, if that.

The view from the deck, looking north:

The place is long and sprawling, right on the edge of the water. There’s strange plopping sounds coming from the water – I think some of it may be mangrove seed pods falling in, others might be fish, and others might be birds diving – but I never see exactly what makes the noise. I can see a fish fin directly in front of me, just beside a little stump! Going to stand up and see if I can see its owner. It’s a ‘big-as’ parore! How cool! Yes, the main plopping sounds are the mangroves. And the splashing out in the channel are jumping mullets! Stoopid fish! Here's the parore:

And then the tide went out ...

Tummy isn’t too bad, but smells of dead things – the first time in ages – is that the wheat flour?

One of the things I learn last week is that Metformin, that I take for glucose control is known to cause panic/anxiety attacks, depression, mood swings and diahrrea. I’m not sure whether knowing this is a good thing or not. I kind of feel that at least I have a reason, and maybe an excuse for not coping. Class starts at 9.30, so I’ve got over an hour to go. 

Lynda’s just come in and asked about breakfast – pears, apples, bananas, pawpaw – argh. I think I’ll just have some protein. It’s so hard to explain, and I feel like I’m being ungrateful, and being perceived as such. Ok, I suppose I’d better go think about breakfast. Or maybe wait till the ‘noises off’ have died down. TV is back on. Background noise-o-vision? No radio. It’s lovely and quiet otherwise.

I’m wearing my brown ¾ pants, and the yellow turtle t-shirt – I’m almost certainly underdressed, but I’m a mucky child, and if I’m going to be playing with paint, I know I’m going to get it everywhere.

Breakfast – 3 fried egg yolks – fed the whites to Tank – nom he says. Lynda has just showed me the art she’s done with Mon. Washes, stencils, lace, tissue, serviette images, PVA glue to make raised stems. I can do that! Quite bright colours – that will be a change from my usual. I’ll try and take some photos of her work.

These were my favourites of Lynda's work:

I seriously need some veges, but except for a (sealed) bag of lettuce in the fridge, there’s NOTHING! Well, unless you can’t onions, which I don’t. Hope there’s some greenery at Mon’s. I’m sitting in the shade - the sun is too hot already. Dear Lord, I’m nervous, and just a little teary.

1645 Saturday: class finished at 1600. Had a shower, feel better. Bit disappointing. As usual, there’s one ‘needy’ one, who hogs the teacher’s attention, and is alternatively LOUD and then WHISPERS! 

My small canvas is very ‘grunge’. I think it’s looking better – no sign of any angels tho! The original image was of a girl in a red dress, climbing between two trees - very dark. I'm not sure about the wolf. Needs a lot more work. It's sort of 'Little Red Riding Hood' ...

Monika has a great paint, fabric and paper selection, and a HUGE magazine collection. Everything gets photocopied. Then we did image transfers, then paint. I’d like to do some stenciling on the little one, but Needy keeps interfering. The big canvas hasn’t got far – 3 image transfers which still need cleaning up, and a b/g painted. I didn’t get too mucky. The other two ladies are quite nice – both poms. The other woman is French, I think.

Ok, going to do some digital art, since I can’t make the interwebz work, and can’t read my kindle books on the e-reader. Shit that’s annoying! Still can’t connect to the internet either, it wants a longer password than the one Lynda has provided.

Digital art turned out quite well. I’m quite pleased with these.

Had to give up on the offer of fresh fish for dinner about 9.00 and had some chicken, lettuce and cucumber, with the meat juices poured on it – yum! Lynda’s husband and his friend eventually got back from their fishing trip at 2200! They didn’t eat till nearly 2230 – far too late for me – I went to bed!

Woke at 0300 and 0730 again. Went for a short walk in the neighbouring paddock – the high tide has all sorts of mank in it. Thanked everybody and left about 0915.

Sunday was a much better day. ‘Needy’ had a series of tasks, so was kept occupied, which meant the other lady and I got a look-in. One of the ladies was too ill to come, unfortunately. 

Worked on the skirt – layers of tissue, pattern and fibre papers, but later realised it was too far over her back, to the right, and had to tear some off and shift it to her front. Used lace from a wedding dress for the bodice and the top left corner. Feathers for her hand, various fabrics ... lots of fun. I just want to do more work on the hair, and add some text in the ‘industrial’ image on the bottom left.

This is it:

Mon has a fantastic collection of fabrics, papers, lace, feathers, paints, crayons and anything else you can think of. I’m inspired to collect fabrics again – she goes to the op shops and buys fantastic pieces thinly disguised as clothes – I can do that! And, she stops and pulls the feathers off road-kill too! Phew, it’s not just me! We stopped at about 1700, and I was certainly feeling pretty burnt-out by then.

I stopped to have a look at the Hot Ginger gallery, but it was down a long driveway, and I wasn’t feeling brave enough to venture down. Got to Whangarei at 1820 – finally found somewhere that was open for dinner – Dickens’ Inn. Steak, mushroom sauce, salad with a knob of garlic butter! Nom nom nom – oooh, and a vodka – just a wee one! Back on the road at 1920. It was good to stop and stop thinking – just process the weekend. Wee break at Wellsford, and a petrol stop at Lincoln road – home at 2130!

Stopped and took another picture of the sculpture: 

And this is the real thing:

Despite nervousness, shyness and insecurity, I did enjoy myself, and would like to do another workshop.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Intermittent Paleo Blog and other stuff

9 weeks Paleo.

Friday night was ‘family night out’. Only Nando’s was open at Westcity. So we had chicken. And chips. Then we got tickets for Skyfall, with orange chocolate-chip, chocolate dipped icecream in a waffle cone. The only healthy food item in there was the chicken – barely. And yes, there were the expected results, in northerly and southerly directions. But SKYFALL WAS AWESOME!! With lots of shooting and explosions and fire and bloodshed, and semi-naked Daniel Craig. Ok, initially, I was pretty meh about him, as compared to Pierce Brosnan. But, then, upon reflection ... considerable reflection ... what’s to complain about.

Saturday was another sleep in. Oh yeah. Till 1100. Love those sleep-in’s! Then paddling. 

I had forgotten how much being on the water feeds my soul. Despite the rain during the week, the stream level had fallen, as can be seen on a couple of the photos, where there are lines of blossoms on the banks. 

I went in off Fitzwater place in Henderson, down the Oponuku stream past Pak N Save, and around past Westwave, to where it meets the Oratia stream. Then I went up as far as Westcity. I was out about 4 hours, which was lovely. I didn’t really want to come home. This last photo shows the rail bridge at the Great North Road/Henderson Valley Road intersection.

I had to get out about 6 times, to either drag the boat thru deadfalls, or over shallows. No deeper than my knees, thank goodness. While there are some fairly deep pools – maybe 4-5 feet, most of it is very shallow. It doesn't pay to get distracted, there are too many deadfalls just under the water. You’ll be cruising along quite happily, then THUMP, as you hit ... something ...

But then my shin got bumped as I balanced on a slab of concrete below the Great North Road bridge. The council, at some stage, thought it a good idea to dump slabs of concrete into the rivers, under the bridges. When one stands on these, they move. Oh yes, they do. If one’s other leg is UNDER the edge of said moving piece of concrete, it can really hurt. As it did. There was a visible dent in my shin. Fortunately the water was pretty cool, so it took a while before it hurt. Now there is a visible graze, and a not so visible bruise. I decided it was probably time to go home at that point.

I really needed a decent paddle, as well as playing about in the shallows, hence the extra distance. The water and stream bottom were an interesting green/orange. This is from the exudates from old landfills further upstream. Not sure how toxic it is, but don’t really want to be drinking or swimming in it. There are lots of shopping trolleys, street cones and signs, cans and bottles, and so many BALLS! This is where every ball in West Auckland goes to die! I tell you. I brought a gold Christmas ball back (which I unfortunately crushed when I emptied the water from the kayak), and an orange ball. Tara popped it on the first game. Sigh.

This is my first outing for a couple of years. A wonderful day.

I was trying to explain it to David later, why I had needed to do this. I’m going away next weekend on an Art Workshop in Kerikeri, staying with strangers, to meet a bunch of people I don’t know, in an unfamiliar place, and learn how to do something new. A lot of the stuff we do, we do together. Yes, I go to work by myself, and shopping, but that’s all familiar territory. When we go out socialising together, it takes me a while to integrate, even with people I know well. I just feel too far on the outside.

So this trip to Kerikeri has been causing me some anxiety. A heck of a lot less since going back on the happy pills. (I stopped at the beginning of December, possibly the most stressful time of the year. I lasted till 20 December. The anxiety/panic attacks were becoming overwhelming!) Yes, I know, it’s all in my head, but I needed to do something relatively challenging, by myself, to prove to myself I could. Maybe it could be classed as ‘brave’ as one of my fb friends commented. And yes, I could do it, and have a whole heap of fun, all by myself. So now, I’m (almost) looking forward to next weekend!

I've had a lovely afternoon pottering. Yes, afternoon, because I had another big sleep in. Admittedly with the help of paracetamol. But I don't ache as much as I thought I might. There are some interesting bruises tho, lol.

David was out role-playing last night – GM of his own Traveller Game. Becca, her friend Eli and I made chocolate cupcakes (how much mess can two girls make????), then watched Bond movies – Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. This was because we’d gone to see Skyfall on Friday night. Oh yeah! Bond. James Bond. Becca is now hooked. It was a very late night. With lots of shooting, and explosions, and bloodshed, and fire. Oh yeah!

And suddenly, it was Sunday. So we slept in. Yes. Yes we did.

I've made a couple of loaves of Paleo bread. I think the best you can say for them is they will be edible. Darn husbands who want sandwiches for work. Oh, and expensive. 2 loaves for $25-ish. Because I used a whole packet of almond flour. Expensive almond flour. And it’s no different to the stuff in the bulk bin at Pak n Save.

I was working off Sarah Paleo Mom's recipe, which is for a breadmaker, but we know how that turned out. This lady has some great recipes!

So I looked at a couple of cookbooks for breadmaking hints. Edmonds (our constant friend), and a 1950's 'Everyday Cooking'. They, of course, are working with nice, gluten-rich white flour.

My concoction looked like a runny brown mess, so I added more flour (almond and tapioca that is). Then it became a windowless building.

So I walked away. Google is my friend, and a bit of research showed that bread made with non-gluten flours is just not going to do the 'elasticity' thing. 

Oh, I hear you say, you could add guar or xanthan gum, that will help. Oh no, I say. Xanthan is made from fermented corn syrup and husks (off the Paleo food list); Guar is made from a legume, and is a known gut irritant and has been indicated as a trigger of colon cancer. Nope, not going near that.

Evidently, according to pictures, it SHOULD look like a gooey mess. So I added more fluid. It spent some quality time outside, 'proving'. Yes, it has risen, so into the oven it went. Photo's to follow.

In the course of my googling, I found a ‘Gluten-Free’ bread recipe, (which is where I got the picture showing what mine should look like) that was more like a toxic soup recipe.

The basic flour mix contains: brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, chickpea or soy flour, xanthan or guar gum. Then in the actual bread recipe, egg replacement powder, agar powder, instant mashed potato flakes, sugar, soy or rice milk flour and more xanthan/guar gum. There were some golden flax seeds and olive oil. All in all, while it actually looked like ‘real’ bread, it’s not something I want to be eating. I've been reading Dr ? Davis' Wheat Belly book, and his blog, and this is the sort of crap he says people shouldn't be eating - I couldn't agree more.

So, in between bashing ‘bread dough’, I’ve tidied and typed up some of my new recipes, trying to turn them from American into English.

I now have a bread recipe, a couple of stock recipes (and about 5 litres of chicken/pig stock in the freezer), a  home-made coconut milk recipe, and the one for Chocolate cupcakes from Saturday night.

And it’s already 5.00pm on Sunday night. The bread is out of the oven, and it TASTES GOOD!!!!!!

As well as Sarah Balantyne's blog, George, the Civilized Caveman - an about to be ex-Marine, is a rather cute guy who makes some really awesome dishes, and a great read.


Amelia Earhart ATC's.