Tuna Patties

Do you ever have those crazy/busy days when 5.30pm rolls around and you still have NO clue what you’re going to make for dinner? Not only that, you haven’t remembered to get any meat out of the freezer and you are faced with the prospect of eggs on toast unless you can think of something better at short notice. Maybe that doesn’t happen to you, but it happens to me, and on the off chance that it might happen to you in the future, I thought I’d share this recipe that I made up on one such night. Add some lettuce, quartered tomatoes and slices of capsicum and you have a very quick and easy meal. And they taste really good!

Tuna Patties

400g tinned tuna, drained
1 packet Uncle Ben’s Mexican Rice (we LOVE this flavour)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
salt & pepper
parsley, chopped
oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce

Cook the rice according to packet instructions (2 minutes in the microwave). Allow to cool.
Mix together tuna, rice, eggs, seasoning, parsley and breadcrumbs. Shape into balls and then flatten with the palm of your hand. Heat oil in a frying pan and cook patties on both sides until golden brown. Place on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Mix together mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce. Serve with the tuna patties.

Makes 8 patties

Puzzle time!

So we just told the kids that we are going to Fiji by giving them this puzzle …

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We’re not going until October, but just the thought that we will be on a tropical island sipping cocktails by the pool in a little over 3 months’ time may be the only thing that will get me through the rest of this miserable winter. We’re currently 4 days into a hideous winter storm, with gale force winds and constant rain. In the school holidays, no less. It’s only been a month since the last bad storm, and apparently there are more to come. NOT COOL.

But now there is this to look forward to. And oh my word, I am looking forward to it. I. CANNOT. WAIT. Fiji, baby!

Learning hero

At the start of this year, Tyler came home and announced that he had been chosen to be the very first “Learning Hero” of his class. A note came home explaining what was involved:

You have been selected to be our “Learning Hero” this week. This is quite an honour. During this week all the other students in the class will write a short description telling us what they like about you and what they think you are good at.
I would like you to bring in a number of your favourite things to share with the class on Friday. These might include:
*3 interesting facts about yourself
*favourite books
*collections
*photographs
*best artwork
*certificates
Good luck and congratulations on being chosen as our “Learning Hero”.
All of B1 looks forward to you sharing your favourite things.
Mrs O’Brien

He went along to school that week with his box of special/favourite things to share with the class.

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The teacher made up a poster with Tyler’s photo in the middle, and all the notes from his classmates were stuck around the outside. The poster has been hanging on the wall in his classroom for the past few months, but today he brought it home. I decided to put it up on the wall in the kitchen for a little while.

His classmates described him as kind, friendly, funny, helpful, “absorbed in his work”, and 15 different variations of “GOOD AT SPORT”. Oh, and apparently somebody thinks his smile is “very beautiful”. I have to agree! :-)

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Catching up

Last weekend I spent the whole day catching up with two lovely friends, Robyn & Juliette.

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We all started working together around the same time, 15 years ago. Juliette stayed for a few years, and Robyn for a bit longer. And I’m still there! There were a few others in our “gang” but the 3 of us have been the best at keeping in touch over the years. Both Robbie and Ju did stints overseas; in fact, Robbie’s is still going. She and her partner have just been living in Canada for 6 months, and prior to that they were in the UK. After spending some time in their home country, they’re heading to Japan for a few weeks, then back to the UK. And who knows where after that?!
Since Robbie was in the country, it was a good excuse for us to get together. I’d mentioned something to Robbie about wanting to do a wine tasting at a vineyard, and she was keen to do it with me. Ju was a willing participant, so the plans were made to head up to Matakana and check out the Farmers’ Market, before spending a few hours at Brick Bay Winery.

At the markets, Robbie tried her first ever whitebait fritter. I’ve had the ones from the markets before and they are so yummy. We weren’t sure if it was the right season, but then we saw the stand … it was meant to be. I also bought some yummy Gouda to take home and share with Rob, and some oh-so-fancy “doggie biscotti” for Buddy!

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When we arrived at the vineyard, we did a wine tasting. Brick Bay is a small, family-owned, boutique winery and at the moment they only produce 4 wines. One white (pinot gris) and 3 red. All very nice! After the wine tasting, we decided to do the Sculpture Trail that the winery is becoming well known for. We were told it would take about an hour, but that some people did it in 30 minutes. It took us 1 1/2 hours! But that’s because we actually stopped at each sculpture to read the information in the guide, laugh/comment/admire … and in some places, take a few photos!

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All that walking in the beautiful sunshine had worked up an appetite, so we sat down to enjoy lunch at 2pm. We ordered a tasting platter — and more wine — and followed up with dessert and coffee/hot chocolate.
It was such a lovely way to spend a sunny winter’s Saturday. Catching up with friends, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of our beautiful surroundings, sharing delicious food and good wine, talking and laughing, and just spending time together! :-)

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Six-Tea

Last weekend my lovely Mum turned 60, and my sister Leah and I organised a “high tea” birthday celebration for her. Her favourite colour is lime green, so we went all out with the green decorations and even green food and drink! I made the invitations using all my green scraps of patterned paper! Each one is unique.

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It was a lovely opportunity for Leah and I to use our special china teacups from our Grandma, along with some of Mum’s special ones from her mother. We had all kinds of tea available, special coffees and hot chocolate. Leah made lime & pineapple punch, which was delicious! She also organised the candy bar, and everyone loved being able to take home a bag of treats.

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The food was served “high tea” style, on fancy tiered plates. All petite size — mini cupcakes, muffins and quiches, small sandwiches and slices. I even made some cute teabag shortbread biscuits, and we had fruit & marshmallow “cups” with toothpicks.

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Most of the party was spent chatting, eating and drinking, but I had also organised a few fun games. I made up a Word Find, with lots of words relating to Mum and her birthday! There was a quiz, and the questions related to some of Mum’s favourite things: chocolate, Scrabble, books, TV crime shows, The Beatles, soccer, rugby and good grammar! We also played “The Price is Right” where everyone had to guess the prices of all the things necessary to have “high tea” (teapot, cup & saucer, milk, sugar, tea bags, shortbread, tea tray, teaspoons, serviettes, etc). There were points on offer: 3 for the exact price, 2 for being under but closest, 1 for being under and 0 for being over! It was heaps of fun, and most people realised that they didn’t pay enough attention to how much things cost! ;-)

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Leah had also made a really cool playlist on her iPod, featuring all of Mum’s favourite music. We started the playlist while we were setting up, and it finished 4 hours later as we were packing up! Perfect.

Mum had a wonderful time catching up with special friends, and she received lots of beautiful gifts. Little Bonnie (age 4) helped her open her presents, which was so cute!

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The next day was Mum’s actual birthday, so we went out for lunch as a family. She needed a bit of help to blow out her candles (actually, she has been sick for the past 3 weeks so decided it was best if Rob & Ethan blew the candles out). We had a yummy lunch and played several rounds of “Chinese Whispers”, which resulted in so much laughing that our eyes were watering and our chests were actually hurting! Good times.

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stuff.

My new job involves writing full-length articles for medical journals. I spend most of my days writing, writing some more … followed by, you guessed it, writing. Hence, my ability to string together coherent, well-structured, grammatically correct sentences is limited to working hours only. BULLET POINTS ARE GOOD.

* I am tired.

* Despite the tiredness, I am gradually adjusting to my new routine (and so is the rest of the family).

* My sister and I organised a 60th birthday high tea party for our Mum last weekend. I have photos on my camera that need to be edited. I promise I will share them when they are done!

* I am waiting for my tax rebate from IRD. It is late. This annoys me.

* This morning I played cards with the boys before work/school, as we were all ready 20 minutes early. Great way to start the day.

* My hair is getting long. I’m growing it for he-who-prefers-me-with-longer-hair. Much to my hairdresser’s dismay (don’t worry, I’m still having regular cuts, but she no longer gets much say in how much gets cut off).

* I am looking forward to spending Saturday with 2 very good friends, exploring Farmers Markets and a winery. Eating, drinking, chatting and catching up on lost time.

* The school holidays are coming up, and I am looking forward to taking a little bit of annual leave to spend with my boys, doing whatever we want.

* My husband is a good cook. He cooks at least 3 times a week now, and he does a great job.

* Winter sucks.

* I have lovely friends who send me cards in the post “just because”. So kind and thoughtful.

* Rob & I are going on a date night next Saturday. I won movie tickets months ago, and the Entertainment Book vouchers all expire at the end of June. We’ll be using as many as we can on our date!

* There is a definite sports-mad atmosphere in our house right now. What with the All Blacks and the FIFA World Cup, it’s all on. Love it.

* Both the boys have parent/teacher conferences coming up, and mid-year reports are due out soon. I think they’re going to be goodies. My boys have been working super hard this year.

* I miss running. I need to get more exercise. But I am just so. so. tired.

* On that note, I’m off to bed. At 9.40pm. Sad, sad, sad.

I love this kid!

It’s been hard getting used to my new job and the changes to our routine. I have been T-I-R-E-D. So, so tired. I have daily headaches (I think they are due to the artificial lighting at work; I am used to a home office with tons of natural light (and fresh air)).

Today I started early (7am) and finished early (3pm) but I had errands to run after work, and by the time I picked the kids up from Mum’s and got home, it was almost 5pm. I had dinner to cook and housework to do and a bunch of other things to sort out. There may have been an argument with the other child about folding pamphlets. Ahem. But I was REALLY tired after getting up at 5.45am.

After dinner, I was sent to my room. This is what greeted me.

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The note from Tyler says, “I love you so much and you should be able to have at least 25 min to yourself! Love from Ty xoxoxo.” On my bed, he had carefully laid out a magazine, a novel, the Bible and a verse to look up, a CD player and a mixed CD of my favourite songs. I dutifully put the CD and headphones on, looked up the Bible verse, flicked through the magazine (and posted a photo to Instagram).

Man I love that kid!! He knew just what I needed. Bless him!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Changes. New job, new office building, new location. Lots of “new” stuff this week.

I’m only 2 days into my new job – complete with commute – and I am knackered. My brain is about to explode from information overload, and I’m just. so. tired. The driving times have been better than I anticipated (only 30-45 minutes, with the exception of my trip home tonight which took 1 hour because I stupidly left at 5pm instead of waiting until 5.30pm). It used to take 30-45 minutes to get to the old office, which is technically closer to home. So I’m happy about that. Long may it continue.

But still, I am not used to driving for 1-1.5 hours per day. I am not used to having to learn ALL OF THE THINGS at once. I’m used to knowing my job inside and out. I could do it in my sleep. Not so now that I am learning how to do a new one.

Anyway. It’s tiring and new and it doesn’t feel easy right now. But I’m getting there. I miss my friends who finished last Friday. It’s going to take a bit of time before I get used to my new normal. In the meantime, enjoy these photos of our new building. It’s flash alright, and the views are AMAZING.

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And here’s my little corner of the world. Yes, the chair is pretty fancy and made from soy, apparently. This is where I’ll be sitting and learning and getting used to my new routine. Change isn’t always easy, but it’s often necessary.

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End of an era

Today was my last day in the job I have had for 15 years. It was also the last day in the amazing office building that has housed our company since the 1980′s.

It has been 7 months since I found out that I was losing my job. Since then, I applied for (and got) another job in the same company, but in a different department. One not affected by the outsourcing to India. I found out about my new job a few days before Christmas, but I was not able to start that job until now. Next Tuesday, to be exact.

So one job finishes today, and a new one starts next week. I’m still medical writing, in fact I will be doing much more writing than I currently do. I will be writing full length journal articles, and I will get my name published on them (finally). It feels very strange that it was 6 months ago that I wrote my cover letter, completed the test writing project, had my interview and got the phone call to say the job was mine. The waiting has been hard.

Sadly, many of my beloved colleagues also had their last day today, and will not be staying with the company. They are moving onto new challenges and opportunities, and I know they will find success and happiness, but I will miss working with them. Every single one of them has been an important part of my life, and many of them have had a huge impact on me as a person and a writer. Several of my previous team leaders and trainers who I have worked alongside for many years finished today, as well as newer friends I have made in the past few years.

Today wasn’t just the end for most people in my department, it was also a farewell to the quirky office building we love so much. The building (and the surrounding land) was sold last year, to AUT. The bigger company that owns our little company didn’t want us owning our own premises anymore, so we will now lease our (brand new) office space like so many others.

The new office is nice, and new, and there will be no dead insects falling from the ceiling onto our desks. But it is further away and it looks just like every other standard (boring) office building. Not like the old place AT ALL. Our building at 41 Centorian Drive was the most unique office building EVER. Shaped like a triangle, with a huge grassy lawn in the middle, a pool, a volleyball court, a gym, a petanque court, a full sized auditorium and all manner of staircases and weirdly shaped corridors and nooks and crannies. When I first started there in 1999, our cafeteria was a commercial one, selling freshly cooked hot food at lunchtime. Not to mention the best cheese & chutney scones ever. It was awesome!

So today I said goodbye to a building holding all kinds of fun and special memories. Quiz nights in the cafe, the Adis Band playing at our Christmas parties, dress up days with photos on the lawn, the polar plunge, Mr Whippy visits, Adis balls, many functions, lunches/dinners at all kinds of places (Hotel Du Vin, Auckland Zoo, LOTS of vineyards and more).

Today I also said goodbye to colleagues who I will miss very much. Special people who I hope to stay in contact with in the future. I have made many wonderful friends at Adis who are no longer there, and I have kept in touch with lots of of them. I am sure it will be the same with the ones I said goodbye to today. Although it’s much, much harder farewelling 30-odd people at once, rather than one at a time. Yep, today was hard. Tears were shed, several times.

I am feeling all kinds of emotions right now. Sadness, anxiety, excitement, nervousness, anticipation, gratitude, nostalgia. They’re all swirling around in my head and making me dizzy. I have several big changes coming up … not only am I starting a new job on Tuesday, I am ending my “working from home” stint and will have to start commuting to/from the office daily after a 7-year hiatus. I am no longer going to be home after school for my boys, but I am so happy that Rob will be instead. And my lovely Mum will be helping out, and getting to have more time with her grandsons, too. Things will be very different, and it will take some getting used to. But I know that there will be good things, and new opportunities and challenges that I am ready for. I think. ;-)

But for now, I will relish the great memories I have of a place, and of people, and of a job that I loved. Memories are so special. My job and my colleagues and my office may have been taken away from me, but nobody can take away my memories and my lasting friendships. I’m very grateful for that. I apologise in advance for the HUGE photo dump coming up … but I loved this place and these people, so I want to preserve these memories. They are special ones …

41 Centorian Drive

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The Building

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The Pool

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Polar Plunge

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Quiz Nights

Word Nerds

Try Hards

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Dress Up Days

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All Blacks supporter day

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Fun Stuff

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The Adis Band

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Functions & Parties

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He is twelve.

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Wow, I feel old today. My firstborn, my baby, is turning 12. TWELVE. It’s hard to believe he has been in our lives for 12 years … but then it’s hard to imagine what life used to be like without him. And this is it. The start of the last year before we hit the TEENAGE years. I’m not too worried, as he is a great kid and doesn’t cause us any angst. I think he’ll be a pretty awesome teenager, actually.

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We started celebrating Ethan’s birthday last night, at a joint birthday dinner with my sister. He was born exactly 21 years and 1 day after her. We had dinner at Mum & Dad’s – Ethan’s request of lasagne, salad (with bean sprouts!) and garlic bread. Thankfully his Aunty was also happy with his menu selection! I made the famous “Kit Kat Cake” but used chocolate fingers instead of Kit Kats because it cost me $4 to buy the biscuits instead of $12 to buy the chocolate bars (no brainer). I wanted to do a “half and half” cake, with regular M&Ms on one side for Ethan, and the new pink/red/white raspberry flavoured M&Ms on the other side for Leah. Chocolate overload!! The cake was chocolate, too.

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This morning, Ethan was very obliging and let me take lots of photos of him. He even approved one for Instagram (and let me tag him). Winning!

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Tyler wanted in on the action. A few silly photos, and then suddenly, the planets aligned and they were both happy to smile nicely for me. Hooray, I have new (nice) photos of my boys to put up at my new office! Happy.

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When Rob gets home from work, we will give Ethan his presents. He graciously agreed to wait until this afternoon because Rob gets up for work so early now (5.30am, cough, splutter). Although Murphy’s Law dictated that today was the day Rob slept through his alarm and was late for work! But we’re still doing the presents tonight. We bought Ethan a penny skateboard (and we’re pretty sure he knows he’s getting it, especially after getting the new helmet and wrist guards from Aunty Leah last night). We also got him 4 new books. Love that he is getting into reading again. He particularly loves reading “real life” stories about famous people, athletes, etc. One of the books I chose is the kid/youth version of the Ben Carson story “Gifted Hands” … I think that man is inspirational!

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On Thursday afternoon/evening, we are taking Ethan (and Tyler) and 3 of Ethan’s besties to Megazone for a couple of games of laser tag, before coming back to our place for pizza, cake and ice cream. It’s a school night, but our weekends are so full of sport and other things that it was actually the best time to have his party. And they have $5 games on Thursday nights! ;-)

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I’m feeling quite emotional today, as I look back on the past couple of years (and the past year in particular), and reflect on how much Ethan has grown and matured. He’s having a blinder of a year at school — loving it and impressing his teacher (to the point where she emails us to tell us how impressed she is!) — not to mention giving his all to his chosen instrument (drums) and chosen sports (soccer and water polo). Just the other night, he was officially asked by the coach and manager of his water polo team if he would be captain. A huge honour and privilege. I am proud of him, and I know the experience will be really good for him and for his confidence.

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Happy 12th Birthday, Ethan Jakob Blair. You’re one amazing kid, and a constant source of joy in my life. I’m so very proud of the young man you are growing into. Love you! xx

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