Tuesday, July 31, 2012

[bookclub - 'night']

Edited to add:  

Welcome to this months Mrs. Readalot's bookclub!  Grab a bikkie and a cuppa or a scone and some cream and lets share some ideas.  

This month I'm drawing on the ideas of some other great bloggers, and the theme for this month's bookclub is 'books that inspire you'.  
Books that inspire or create emotion for travel, to be a better wife or to parent better, to try a new craft, to remember history.  I've chosen a book that inspires me to do just that - to remember a time in history that I fear may otherwise soon fade away.

the review...
History, in its essence is about remembering past events - particularly as they relate to people, races and places.  If I'm honest, I've never found history particularly interesting.  I find it hard to relate to places and peoples I know nothing about and have never experienced - facts just don't stick in my head.  My Guy, on the other hand can recite facts about aeroplanes, wars, deaths and weapons right down specific wars and even battles.  I guess when things are interesting, or feel relevant to us we tend to remember them more.

I think there is such sadness in forgetting things that happened to whole nations, races.  I suppose it happens a lot with wars - the people that lived them can't speak of them and the people that came afterwards can't possibly understand.  

That's why I think books like these - emotive books that speak of times gone by that we would otherwise let slip away - are important.  They inspire us to travel, to converse, to keep the memories alive.  Brave men like Elie Wiesel - who wrote the book I am reviewing this month - help us to hang on to these memories and hopefully to learn from the past so as not to repeat it.

"Night"  Elie Wiesel.

Available here on Amazon
Here at book depository

'Night' is ultimately part of a trilogy - 'Night', 'Dawn', and 'Day', which takes us through the story of a Jewish boy who survives a concentration camp.  'Night' is the book that tells us about the actual concentration camp, and how the Jewish boy survived.  

'Work makes one free.'

 As bystanders, we reflect with sadness on what we know of as 'the holocaust'.  We know that millions of Jewish people died at the hands of an evil dictator who for some inexplicable (or non-understandable anway) reason felt the world would be a better place without them.  We know they died in gas chambers, and that some were even beaten.  We lament at the unfairness and the unjust way that they died.  We even despise Adolf Hitler for his choices - we judge him and wonder how the world would be different had he not been born.

The holocaust was an unthinkable tragedy, a turning point in history, a wedge driven between nations and races.  As bystanders we may stomp our feet in fury, even shed a tear or two but I don't think we can really and truely feel and know the extent of what went on.  And so we read.


We read books like 'Night' to broaden our minds, to expand our emotions and to keep the memories of these times alive.  I'm certain that many people wish with all their might to forget what happened in the holocaust, but surely forgetting is to dishonour their memories?  Surely by forgetting we don't learn and grow?

Elie Wiesel is one of many brave souls who did make it through the genocide that was the holocaust. There were many brave souls that did not survive.  He speaks with candour of his and others' experiences in concentration camps, and in doing so helps us to remember.  He writes simply, in short sentences and with beautiful words that help us to grasp in some small way, the horror of what he experienced.

(Memorial in the National Holocaust museum, Washington D.C.  Originally a bible verse - Deuteronomy 4 vs. 9).
'Only guard yourself and guard your soul carefully, lest you forget the things your eyes saw, and lest these things depart your heart all the days of your life, and you shall make them known to your children and to your children's children.
Here lies earth gathered from death camps, concentration camps, sites of mass execution, and ghettos in nazi occupied europe, and from cemeteries of American soldiers who fought and died to defeat nazi Germany.'

So why would I choose to review this dark and troubled book?
Well, I'm interested in reading and the way it helps us to feel.  It helps us to understand cultures we would perhaps otherwise not (The Help), to relate to times we wouldn't have otherwise crossed paths with (The Bronze Horseman).  Reading inspires us to travel to far away lands (Under the Tuscan Sun), and it brings us closer to God (The Atonement Child).  It also, as I mentioned earlier helps us to parent better and be a better wife (Growing Great Marriages).

Which books are emotive to you, and why?
Link your post up to the linky below, or comment and let me know your thoughts!

(Grab Mrs. Readalot's button here to pop on your post!)


Sunday, July 29, 2012

[monday memorandum...]

Monday Memorandum again - sheesh, are Mondays getting closer together or what?!  Here are a few things to give a snapshot of my life lately.

: :  skype...  I skyped my bestie on the weekend.  She is a super cool cat, and I'm so pleased for skype so that I can see her and talk trash (good trash) together.

: :  olympics...  You may have heard about a wee festival called the 'olympic games'.  Cripes, London has been taken over by Olympic fever.  I think people are divided into two camps - those who are excited about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and those who are annoyed they have to leave half an hour earlier for work so they just decide to work from home for two weeks instead.  Me, I think it's fun to be part of and I'll be keeping my eye out for tickets and checking out the sights around town.  Fo sho.

(side note:  have you seen the guys play table tennis?  I thought they were showing it in fast-mo - they are so quick!)

: :  rich choc-caramel self saucing pud...  Yes, it is as good as it sounds, and looks.  Maybe I'll post the recipe soon.  Drool.

: :  british barbeque...  Not quite the same as a bbq down under, but it was so nice to have some sausages in bread in the backyard - what a treat!  They use coal here too, and it gives the sausies a real smokey flavour (also I burned them so that may have contributed to the smokiness, but who really knows?).

: :  movies...  Went to the movies to see the Batman one this week.  Weirdly (and perhaps another entire post), I fall asleep everywhere.  I'm concerned about narcolepsy.  I had done a night duty the night before and not slept much but really - who falls asleep in the movies?

: :  tunnel...  I like this tunnel I walk through on my way home from work.  It's a nice stroll home in the morning after a night duty - if you squint hard enough you may see the canal that we live on.  It means I'm almost home.

: :  pancake stack...  When I get home after walking through the tunnel, I'm met with this mini pancake stack My Guy made me - drenched in maple syrup.  I'm a lucky gal.

: :  changing...  The canal and the river are changing so much.  The ducklings are growing, and there are new plants floating around.  We are so blessed to live in this part of London.

: :  berlin...  Off to Berlin this week - woot woot.  We didn't do a lot of travelling for the first six months we were here and it was a bit poo but also a bit necessary.  So we better get our travel on now and we've got a few plans in the pipelines.

Life is good, and it's good to appreciate it in the moment instead of just looking back and remembering its goodness.  I like where I am right now.  How about you?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

[things i'm loving...]

I haven't been particularly well lately, but this week has been a very good'un for a few reasons...

person...  This person is home.  I know I already showed you this picture but its just that I like him so much, and I like it when he's home.

 growth...  Something about watching these plants grow from seed is so reassuring and peaceful.  The coriander (ew) is growing so fast - in just two weeks it has gone from seed to this!  But what I really love is that they lean towards the sun, as if they just know they need it to survive and flourish.  There is probably some kind of metaphor in there for life and such and such but I don't feel like getting deep.  Let me know if you figure it out.

(The best presents you give are the ones you enjoy yourself...  hehe)

british sun...  It's as if this country hasn't seen sun in years (I don't think it has), and so this week when the temperature almost hit thirty (eeeek!) there was maximum bikini action and men with their shirts off in every part of town.  Undies, undies, undies, togs, togs, togs.  The city soaked up sun as if it thought it may never be back (and chances are it won't be...)

(Later in the day I saw multiple half naked bodies on this piece of grass).

elderflower...  It's something I never saw at home, but sweet moses this drink is yummy.  I love the bottle too!

comedy...  I told you we were going to Rhys Darby this week, and we did.  I was made fun of by my pals for laughing so loud, but he was so funny!  I like laughing.  I should do more of that.

A weird shot of the inside of the theatre at Shepherds bush where the show was.

So all in all, a good week in my world!

Linking up with Meghan from MNM's for:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

[pancake cake...]

Sounds awesome, right?!

Well, it is pretty great.  Think pancakes, cream, chocolate ganache and raspberries.  I saw it on Jamie Oliver's BBQ special (he made it outside with a bunch of children which was cool) and thought I'd give it a go for my friend K's birthday.

There are a few changes I think I'd make.  I think I'd add some jam or something to sweeten it - particularly if it won't all be eaten immediately.  The next day it was a bit doughy.  Also I had a few executional issues I had but overall I think it worked out okay...

Well, I thought it did anyway.  Hehe.  The next day I took the rest to work and left a note telling my colleagues to help themselves.  They did - it was all gone by the end of the day, but no one really knew it was me that had made it.  While I was having my lunch I heard the raw, unedited version of the review of my cake.  There were many negative responses but I guess it's all good learning, right?!  Haha, and made for an entertaining lunch break for me... Too funny.

It's a pretty simple concept - pancakes, ganache and cream and layer them up.  
You can find the recipe here.
Thanks, Jamie!

Monday, July 23, 2012

[monday memorandum]

With My Guy away, I've felt a little lonely this week.  (Just a little.)  It's silly because he goes away for work a lot lately but this time seemed different - I guess because he was reeeeeeally far away in Australia.  I used to hate being alone, but now I quite like it actually.  I'm a lucky girl in that I have some super great pals who look after me.

: :  One super great pal made me tea for each of the three days I worked this week.  I had beef stew, then meat pie, then lemon chicken.  Also dessert each night.  Am I the most blessed or what?!

Some prettiness I saw on my way home the other day.

: :  I'm watching season one of 'Heroes'.  Ever seen it?  It's pretty sweet so far.  I'd be the girl who can't get injured I think.  Nah, maybe the guy who can fly.

: :  Yesterday was actually sunny - for the first time in what seems like the whole of the British 'summer'.  The winter was pretty mild, but oh to get some vitamin d!  The ducks in our lake were loving it (oh by the way, the ducklings are super huge now...)

Sun, actual, real life sun.  (And ducklings if you look hard enough!)

 : :  This week we are off to see Rhys Darby in concert.  Haha, I'm already laughing, and looking forward to some New Zealand humour!

: :  The olympics starts in five days.  It's going to be a bit wild I suspect - London is already a bit excitable about it all.  Rings everywhere and on Saturday I saw that an olympic god has thrown a javelin into the concrete outside the library.  I'm looking to get some tickets - gotta try and be part of it somehow, right?!

He came back.  Sigh.  (And evidence of toothpaste requirement - mentioned below)

: :  I have a big zit on my chin, and I put some toothpaste on it overnight - that works, right?  Anyway My Guy was very surprised to see me with white all over my chin when we woke up this morning and also the doorbell rang so I hurried to answer it with toothpaste face.  Luckily there was no one there. (Something weird is happening with our doorbell).  Ha.

: :  Yesterday I went to collect My Guy from the airport.  I left at 4.30am to catch two buses and a train.  Also it turns out (I've discovered lately) that I am a total douche when it comes to directions.  Me and google maps are arch enemies.  Anyway I made it to the meeting point (only went the wrong way twice) and discovered that London is a hive of activity at 6am on a Sunday!  Who knew?!

Early morning London - crisp and still, yet so busy in some parts!

: :  Tonight we are having a barbeque.  We are even having sausages and cider on the lawn, and I predict sun.  It feels like a real summer...  Can't wait.

That's enough of that.  Don't forget I'm hosting the book club next week so stay tuned for that.
Happy Monday everyone!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

[wordless wednesday]

This picture is from a while ago, but I think it encompasses the beauty and crispness of Austria.  We did a tour of six countries in eight days, and Austria was - in my opinion - the most scenic.

I  love how close these countries are to London.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

[monday memorandum...]

It's that time again - Monday time.  My Monday Memorandum - a few random trinkets from my week.

: :  toilet paper junkie...  It's official - I use too much toilet paper.  I think it's the fear that I'll get 'stuff' on my hands perhaps - although it's a little odd because I'm a nurse so that happens often anyway.  I just noticed that I tend to pull at the roll a few times before I rip it off.

: :  twilight series...  This week I watched the Twilight series.  I've read it before and never really understood what all the fuss was about.  Now I've seen the movies and I still don't get it.  I mean, it's okay but I wouldn't say it's anything to rave about.  (PS.  Team Jacob...)

: :  missing out...  Being so far away from home has the potential to be sad and lonely.  I've not found it too bad so far, for the most part.  On Saturday, the family gathered together to celebrate what would have been my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary.  My Pop died too soon almost six years ago, and I'd have liked to be there for the family gathering...  It's those times I feel I'm missing out!

: :  hibernation...  This weekend I've been hibernating.  My body feels worn out and run down, and in need of a long rest.  So I went to the library and got out some tv series' and I've been watching season six of House and the Downton Abbey Christmas special in my yoga pants.

: :  yoga pants...  As an aside, my yoga pants have never been used for yoga - or any other type of exercise.  They should be called 'lounging pants'.  I even went to the movies in them the other week.  When I go out in them I wear running shoes and a zip up jumper so I look like I've just come from a run.  Makes them acceptable.

: :  adoption hatch...  Interesting new trend - 'adoption hatches'.  It's like a post box for babies - usually attached to a hospital, for women who feel unable to keep their babies.  What do you think?  Read more here.

: :  my guy...  My Guy is in Tasmania for work at the moment.  It's a little lonely without him, and his bags got lost for a few days (and then found) but it's a good job.  And he got to pat a Tasmanian devil. Lucky duck.

: :  berry smoothie...  At work there is a 24 hour cafe which sells the best blueberry and banana smoothie.  They are so delectable, I keep buying them and it has the potential to get a bit expensive!

Anyhoo, that'll do for now.  What have you all been up to this week?

Friday, July 13, 2012

[high five for friday]

Here's my top five for the week.

The signets at the lake nearby my house are getting big and boy are they ugly. 

After a night shift, My Guy and our friend K made us a delicious breakfast.  My pal  E is singing a song about her teacup here - post night shift delerium has a lot to answer for.

This hunk went all the way to Australia for work this week.  Here we are having our last dinner together and he understandably isn't too keen to pose for a photograph.

Love these penguins at the zoo lates I went to this week!

Turns out a British summer is not as sunny as a New Zealand winter...  But here is the elusive sun peeking out to say hello!  Nice to see you, pal!

Linking up with Lauren over at 'From My Grey Desk' blog for her High Five for Friday link up!


and...  Meghan at MNM's for Things I'm Loving!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

[zoo lates...]

The zoo lates are a series of evening parties, set at a zoo in central London.  What a funny idea huh?!  They have street food, bars, cabaret and a silent disco.  

And animals of course!
Here are a few shots of our time there.

This guy loved paper, and stole some out of a ladies handbag.  I also think he might have been pregnant.

Two apes hanging around in a tree.

I call her Narla.  She was watching some baby ducks in a wee lake.

These guys were my favourites.  Waddle, waddle.

Some peeps were pretending to be in Shanghai.

Some were pretending to be eaten by a lion.

...or an ape...

Or comparing themselves to gorillas!

 What a fun night I had with my two best England pals.  I love these girls and we have such fun together.  A party at the zoo - how absurd.  I even saw naked boobs on stage, a man juggling and tap dancing at the same time, and a man eating fire! 

Where else can you get this kind of entertainment!

Linking up with Meghan at MNM's.  Love this series!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

[wordless wednesday]

This is a picture My Guy took before we left home.  This girl is on my parents property.  

What beautiful eyes you have, my lady.

First time hooking up to a new linky...!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

[book review : promise me this]

We are so lucky to have the lovely Meghan from MNM's hosting our book club this month.  Her book of choice (Cry, the beloved country) looks amazing, and I'm putting it on my 'to read' list.  I'm not sure if I'll have it done by the end of the month (I'm reading 'Game of Thrones') so I'm reviewing my most recent read and I'll catch up with Meghans choice asap.

Linking up for our bookclub - which I'm hosting next month.  Stay tuned because I'm following on from Meghan's theme with a book of my own.

Promise Me This
Cathy Gohlke

Rated : 6/10

This story is lovely and wistful and romantic in a way that only Christian romance novels can be.  With all the elements of faith and hope in the midst of tragedy, and triumph and heartache, we are left feeling content with the world despite the hard times.

The story is set around a brother and sister who met tragedy when their parents died and they were left in the care of an awful woman, their Aunt Eleanor.  As Owen grows older, he decides to save Annie by taking her to America to their Aunt and Uncle, where they will help with their failing nursery.  Owen needs to raise money to bring Annie over, so he decides to head over first and set things up, and bring her over later, and he sends her to a boarding school in the meantime.  Before he leaves, he meets a boy named Michael who has troubles of his own and takes him under his wing.  

I won't give too much of the story away.  Suffice to say that tragedy strikes again and the characters are left to trust the only thing they have left to bring them through - their faith.

I like the fact that Christian stories don't always have to be about happiness and joy and how nothing ever goes wrong for people that follow Christ.  It's just simply not reality.  The fact is that we all face hard times regardless of faith, race, culture - I just think it is our character and our faith that gets us through those hard times.

This is a nice book to read to remind us of these lessons that we sometimes forget.  It was a little cheesey in parts, but sometimes I like a little cheese in my books.  Get reading!

[monday memorandum...]

Bit of a busy week I've had.  Some of my best days are those when I'm alone in the house with chocolate and Downton Abbey.  You know, the ones where you get stuff done - the stuff that sits and waits for you until you have some spare time for you to get around to it.

: :  alone...  I live with four other people, and I have realised that although I like them (one of them is my husband!) very much, I need need need time alone to recharge or I get very antsy and grumbly.

: :  soleil...  Today I waited all day for it to get sunny so I could go to the supermarket.  You know, because I have to walk there and I have uber short legs so my pant bottoms get wet.  Then when I got home and sat down, look what I saw - me ole pal!

: :  juicy...  I found some new juice I like.  It's a local supermarket brand, and the flavour is cranberry and raspberry.  Delectable.

: :  amazon woman...  Confession time - sometimes I buy things off amazon because I can't be bothered going to the shop.  It's the epitome of lazy, but I just can't seem to stop.  Birthday presents, shelves, electronics, cake accessories - I buy them all.

: :  downton...  Any of my three readers watched Downton Abbey?  I'm watching it right now - season two and Patrick has just come back.  What a spanner in the works, what with Matthew in the state he's in.  Love it.

: :  birds...  I've come to enjoy watching the ducks, swans and geese.  We often feed the birds and I like seeing their funny waddles and fights.  We've had lots of babies too which is cute.

: :  fart...  Sometimes I wish it were appropriate to make funny status updates on facebook about farts and poos.  It's my favourite type of humour, and consequently I frequently don't have any status updates to make.  Ha.

: :  zoo lates...  My two pals and I went to the zoo to an event called 'zoo lates' which is like a big party at the zoo.  What a funny idea huh?  It was fun, but for us (we didn't do much partying!) it was more of just a look around at the zoo!  (post to come on that!)

: :  special cake...  Tomorrow I'm making a special cake for my friend whose birthday it was on Sunday.  I'll keep it a secret for now but post on it later!

: :  eyelash...  Do you think eyelashes get stuck behind eyeballs?  How many eyelashes must one person have behind the eyes?

Once again, too many boring old points but there you have it.  A productive day for me - I did washing, cooking, tv watching, movie watching, present wrapping, walking, and shopping.

And blogging!

I'm linking this post up to Simoney's linky this week...