Saturday, 23 February 2008

BBQ again at Mike's on Friday (22nd February 2008)

So looking forward to the weekend and what better way to catch up with friends at Friday BBQ :)

Chris (Australian) has now become a regular Friday addition to the BBQ - welcome! We also had Lesith (Brazilian friend and also my Portuguese teacher), Anouk and her lovely 6-month-old girl, Amaya, join us for the BBQ this evening.

The weather was fantastic today - not too hot or cold. Anouk brought some samba music with her which we had playing in the background while we all hung out at Mike's front garden, chatting and enjoy being in the company of good friends. Photos of us today:

Brazilians Lesith and Helbert at the BBQ

Chris and Anouk listening attentively to what Mike was explaining

Baby Amaya sitting on mummy's lap - aww, so cute!

Time to eat everyone!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Samba de gafieira practice on as usual (21st February 2008)

Helbert was been away on holiday for a week in Perth so samba practice had been on hold for the week but it's back on again!

Had another couple join us tonight, friends of mine from salsa, Christian and Jessica - Jessica is from Brazil and already knew how to dance gafieira, and was teaching Christian the moves. And he learns quick!

"Christian, what is your profession?" asked Helbert, who was amazed how quickly Christian picked up the moves. He's a nutritionist by trade but we all have suspicions he wanted so badly to be a dancer...hehe....And not forgetting Ramnish and Stacey who are doing very well and learning new steps quickly too (oh, I'm so proud and happy for them!). Soon, we'll all be dancing at Latinos Bar :) Photos taken tonight:

Ramnish and Stacey practising the steps they were taught previously

Repeat offender Ramnish, always dancing with men!Here's Helbert testing Ramnish's way of leading the step

New couple in the practice group, Jessica and Christian

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Weekend with friends (15th - 17th February 2008)

Friday, 15th February 2008: Went to catch up with Hew and family tonight at her friend's BBQ in Mt Cook. Her friends were all Malaysians living in Wellington and I have to admit, it sure felt somewhat strange to be in the company of Malaysians who are in my age group. They were all attached and most have young kids, making me wonder if I was falling behind track. Well, I need to first find me a man! Any eligible men out there? :P

It was nice to hang out with fellow Malaysians and chat (yep, food was definitely one of the many topics of discussion). Thanks for having me there! And apologies for my lateness. I was late because I went swimming after work (I know, you must think I'm nuts to go swimming on a Friday evening but I've not swam since Tuesday and felt really guilty for being lazy) and did 20 laps for the first time today - yippee! I'm getting better at swimming, day-by-day :)

I decided to go to Latinos Bar tonight. Haven't been social dancing on a Friday night much and was itching for a few good dances. Carlos's band was playing tonight and most of the regular dancers should be there. Hew tagged along with me to check out the local salsa scene. It was her first time in a salsa environment and I was glad she had blast! She even had a few dances with some of my friends (Gordon taught her a few steps) and I think she might be hooked! Hehe...I had good fun tonight. Surprisingly not many people turned up thus there was lots of room to dance. I hardly had time to take a breathe before getting invited to another dance! Even had a cha-cha with my new Brazilian friend, Jessica - it was lots of fun dancing together :) Photos taken tonight:

Oh my, it was past 1am and Hew still didn't want to go home! Hey girl, about time you sign yourself up for a few classes and join us social dancing on Fridays. It was 2am by the time I dropped her home. Thanks for the wonderful night and we'll have to do this again soon!

Saturday, 16th February 2008: Couldn't sleep in past 9.30am today as I've got a busy day ahead! My morning was spent doing housework, checking out my emails, watching Sex in the City reruns and baked some muffins before heading out at 12pm to the hairdressers for a haircut. Oh, you have to try this muffin recipe I found on the internet - I could gobble up a few muffins at one go - yikes!


125 grams butter
250 grams caster sugar
2 large eggs (beaten lightly)
200 grams plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
100 grams sour cream
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
250 grams mashed bananas

(1) Cream butter with sugar till creamy.
(2) Add in beaten eggs and then the sour cream. Mix well.
(3) Add in mashed bananas and mix.
(4) Add in flour and baking soda. Mix well.
(5) Fold in chopped walnuts and pour into muffin tray. Fill the muffin cup till about 3/4 high so that when it bakes, it doesn't overflow.
(6) Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 40 - 45 mins or till cooked (remember the skewer test).

Photo of my yummy muffins:

Opsie, better finish up my cleaning later or I'll be late for my hair appointment!! I've been getting my hair cut at getfunkd on Manners Street with Warren for nearly 2 years now and he's wonderful - he knows what suits me and doesn't try to push me to buy hair products (oh, I've had previous hairdressers elsewhere that would yak non-stop - can be quite unbearable at times). I only see him every 4-6 months to tidy up my ends and thin my voluminous hair. Not sure if it's a blessing or a curse to have super thick strands of hair AND lots of it, mine is one that doesn't need a blow dryer to add volumn :)

The rest of my afternoon was spent having a quick coffee catch-up session with Ken, a 2-hour salsa practice and a quick trip home to shower and change before popping over to my Brazilian sister Rose's place to give her some muffins and quick catch-up. Phew, so many things happening, so little time!

At 8pm, I met up with Rosel in Courtenay Place and had dinner at Espressoholic. It was lovely to spend the evening with her and getting to know her better :) We chatted and laughed a lot. I had a great time - we have to do this more often, girl!

Wellington sure is a small place (either that, or I know lots of people here) - in a short span of 2 hours, I bumped into singer friend, Liva, Brazilian Riccardo (ops, did I interrupt your date?) and another friend from my previous place of residence, Aben. Wow...

Rosel and I then went to Jo's place after Espressoholic. Jo had invited a few friends over for a BBQ party but I guess due to the wet weather, not many people turned up. But that's ok - we had a few crazy dances in her living room with Lia and friends! What a laugh! The gang went on to town to party but I didn't join in as I was feeling tired after a long day. You guys have fun! Photos taken at Jo's:

Sunday, 17th February 2008: Today was a quiet day spent on my own cleaning up my mess in the kitchen from yesterday (oh-o, you caught me red-handed!), swimming, doing my shopping for the week and relaxing at home.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

More tortillas for dinner (12th February 2008)

It was my turn to prepare dinner this time. I was feeling hungry after my swim this evening so whipped up something quick and easy for myself and Helbert before our samba practice. Nothing too complicated - it was just heated tortillas covered with mozarella cheese and piled with fresh salad and leftover mince from Sunday's big mince cook. Photos taken tonight:

The chef of the day preparing dinner

Fresh salad, chopped olives and mince for the tortillas

Helbert devouring his dinner

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Pizza night at home (9th February 2008)

After a busy day of household chores, swimming and samba practice, I was feeling somewhat tired and decided to stay home for the night. Helbert was feeling much the same and suggested for us to make pizzas at home - there were tortillas (a kind of thin, unleavened flat bread, made from finely ground corn or wheat flour) leftover from yesterday's BBQ and we just had to pick up a few pre-cooked items for the pizza. This is the first time Helbert and I are making pizzas - should be quite interesting to see the outcome of our creation! And on tortillas? Hmm...

Helbert pretty much ran the whole show while I helped out as necessary, including providing the chef with continuous flow of beer to fuel him while he was cooking :P Mmm...the pizzas turned out great on the tortillas, making it crispy thin, and piled up with lots of toppings. Another successful cooking trial, Helbert! Hi-5!! Photos taken tonight:

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Wellington Sevens Weekend (1st - 3rd February 2008)

The Wellington Sevens or The NZI International Sevens is an annual rugby sevens tournament held in Wellington, New Zealand. The tournament, part of the IRB Sevens World Series, is played at Wellington's Westpac Stadium and is normally held on the first weekend of February.
Over 30,000 supporters descend on Wellington every year for the annual event to watch over 16 international teams challenge each other for the cup. This year, New Zealand won the Wellington cup - go Kiwis! Most of the people who go to the stadium however are not there to watch the rugby, but to have a good time. Though I've lived in Wellington for over 6 years, I have not yet been to the stadium to watch a rugby game or participate in the Sevens i.e. getting together with friends in costumes at the stadium. Something to add to my to-do list for next year!
It is always interesting to walk around town during the Sevens period and watch or join the crowd. The town is filled with people, energy, colours, costumes and a lot of alcohol consumption :P

Friday, 1st February 2008: I went to Mike's place and met up with the usual Friday BBQ boys after work but didn't stay till late as Jo had invited me to a party at Mac's Shed 22 Brewery located at the Wellington waterfront. Well, I kind of gate-crashed the party in the sense that it wasn't Jo's party - it was a party that her flatmate, Sam, was invited to, and Sam invited Jo who in turn brought a few more girlfriends along. We (me, Jo, Sam, Rose, Lia and Rosel) didn't stay very long though and headed to town to see what else was happening. The town should be packed with people dressed up in all sorts coming from the stadium.
Made a brief stop at the Four Kings, a newly opened sports bar on Taranaki Street but the night was still young (not even 11pm), it was pretty quiet so Jo ushered us all to Electric Avenue on Courtenay Place for a few drinks. A rather interesting place that plays retro 80s hits. Ooo, if you are a cocktail fan and love Midori, make sure you try their Blade Runner. Very nice! Sam shouted us a round of shots to start our party night out - 1, 2, 3, DRINK!
A few crazy photos, dancing to 80s music and drinks later, the gang headed over to Shooters Bar for more dancing. Hahaha, it was such a laugh and much fun to watch Sam, Lia and Rosel sing their hearts out the words to familiar pop songs!
"Where to next?" you ask? We continued on and headed to Wellington Sports Cafe a little further down Courtenay Place where the girls started dancing on the dance platform/stage! I joined them for a few songs and decided to check if Latinos Bar was open on my own. It was Clare's birthday and she had invited some friends to social dance tonight at Latinos but I had been texting a few friends in the salsa gang and none of them replied. Strange...
Turned out that Latinos was opened and everyone was on the dancefloor so they didn't see my text! Too much of a coincidence that Ramnish, Ken and Annie all didn't check their mobile phones...Happy Birthday to you, Clare! It was nice to catch up with everyone and have a few dances before heading back to join Jo and gang.
By the time I got to the clubbing bunch, they were already in Jet Bar! My god was the place packed and I was stuck outside in the queue for like 15 minutes, at the least!! I think I was only inside for 10 minutes before the group decided to make a move again back up Courtenay Place, making a brief stop at Electric Avenue before going to Good Luck Bar on Cuba Street. Apparently Good Luck Bar is the last place to go before heading home. Why? According to the others, this was the place that you can get 'lucky', if you get the hint. I see...
Guess who we met at Good Luck? Our Cuban friend, Mohe!! Now that's very good luck given that we met him and he shouted me and Jo each a glass of caipirinha (Brazil's national cocktail) - obrigada ('thank you' in Portuguese)! I didn't dance much at this bar as I was feeling somewhat exhausted.
Wow, it was 2am by the time I drove home. I've not been clubbing or club-hopping this much! And can you believe that I'm not able to keep up with the others? Sheesh! I've got used to just chilling out at home or salsa dancing on Friday nights - drinking and clubbing is something out of the norm for my system. Hey, but it's nice to do something different! Spices up your life :) Photos taken partying tonight:

Saturday, 2nd February 2008
: Got up around 9am to do some housework and headed out with Ramnish to do some shopping for our upcoming Tongariro Crossing trip scheduled later this month. Bought myself a cheap pair of hiking boots and waterproof pants - hope the weather will be good for a smooth and easy hike :)
Caught up with Helbert in the afternoon for swimming at the pool (by the way, he coaches me swimming). I'm getting better with my freestyle and have less fear of the water now. Still perfecting my strokes to swim efficiently. Rewarded ourselves with a nice lunch at Courtenay Central and coffee at the waterfront after the swim before heading to the movies to watch Death at a Funeral. You have to watch this British comedy - got me smiling the rest of the day when I think of some scenes in the movie!
We had a few drinks at home and around 10.30pm headed down to town. A section of Courtenay Place was closed to road vehicles for people to party and what a party it was! Streams of people in costumes flooded the streets (I wouldn't advise you to drive near Courtenay Place - too many people on the streets!). There was a live band playing and another huge screen put up with loud speakers for everyone to dance to the music. Bars were too packed and we decided not to queue to get in but stayed outside to breathe in the atmosphere and energy of the night. Photos taken tonight:

Sunday, 3rd February 2008
: Lia had suggested to go for a day trip to Somes Island today but not many friends turned up so her, Jo and I ended up spending a few hours in the sun at Oriental Bay beach. Photos taken at the beach:
I spent the rest of my Sunday at home and decided to bake a banana cake (had too many bananas at home and they were starting to turn brown). Tried the following simple recipe which I found from the internet:
180 grams butter
180 grams caster sugar
2 eggs
250 grams plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
220 grams mashed bananas
50 grams fresh milk

(1) Cream butter and sugar till light and creamy.
(2) Pour in eggs gradually and beat till creamy.
(3) Add in milk and mashed bananas, and mix well.
(4) Add in flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, and mix well.
(5) Pour into an 8" round tray and bake at 175 degrees Celsius for about 50 to 60 minutes or until cooked (use a skewer to poke through the cake - if it comes out clean, that means your cake is done).

Photo of the banana cake:

Anyone care to join me for some cake and coffee? I can't finish it on my own...