Friday, 30 April 2010

Andrew's farewell party (30th April 2010)

Today was Andrew’s last day in the office – after years of slogging in his role at Telecom, my friend and former manager has decided to take on a new job in sunny Brisbane that will be taking him places, with Chile being his first destination. I think it’s about time that Andrew takes on a new adventure – he’s been working too hard and long hours, I do not recall him having a life outside work! He’s a great guy, always kind at heart and I have him to thank for getting me a foot in the door at Telecom. Thanks so much, Andrew! Best wishes in your future endeavours and keep in touch!!

And as the nice guy he always is (and a Brazilian trapped in a Kiwi man’s body), he threw a Brazilian-themed farewell party after work today – a loud, colourful and memorable exit for him as well as to boost the team’s spirit. The morale of the team has been down due to the changes happening in the company; it didn’t help that we were all told today that we may potentially lose our jobs and/or have to contend for new positions created. Not exactly how I had hoped to start my weekend knowing I may not have a job next week AND we only find out the outcome on Tuesday! But there’s nothing we can do till then so life continues on as usual, even though I’m sure many are struggling to continue work without a niggling worry at the back of their heads.

Andrew had Brazilian friends Andrea and Roberta dressed up in carnival costumes dancing samba at the main Telecom Centre foyer, accompanied by 7 senior members from Wellington Batucada playing in the background. What a crowd we had downstairs – we had our team members wearing colourful wigs and masks, some of us taking photos and best of all, seeing Andrew dance! That has got to be the highlight for me because Andrew, as Brazilian as he is, just shies away from any dancing at events. And I’ve got photos to proof!

After an hour of dancing and music, we all headed back to the office for nibbles and drinks. I ‘donated’ my 2 bottles of cachaça for Ashvin to make caipirinhas and boy, can he make a mean drink! Said my goodbyes to Andrew and left the office for home around 6pm. Photos taken at Andrew’s farewell party: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157623871297379/detail/

Spent the rest of my evening packing up the first lot of my stuff into boxes and moving them over to Jono’s place in Newtown. About 2 weeks ago on a Sunday chilling out at his place, he asked his usual “Guess what?” question (he would ask me to guess what he’s currently thinking about and chances are I would not get the right answer but I just play along with his game) and very casually went "We should move in together". What???? “We should move in together,” he repeated and then continued on saying that I can think about, no pressure, take my time etc, probably worried that I might just run out the door at his suggestion. He added that he had been meaning to tell me about it a week ago but I was already stressed out with the Miss Burlesque NZ competition so waited till it was over before bringing it up (he’s so considerate!). I was just so surprised no words came out from my mouth and he must have noticed my shocked look. Oops! I guess I hadn’t seen it coming – I mean we’re very happy in our relationship but I didn’t think 6 months into the relationship and the fact that he hasn’t said the L-word would bring up the moving-in discussion. “Of course I do love you – I wouldn’t have asked you to move in, would I?” he grins. Aww… :) Well, I suppose my answer is a YES!

Since then, we’ve tried looking for a place of our own within Wellington inner city but have not found any that suited our needs and budget so decided that I would move into Jono’s flat for now. I’m looking forward to this new phase of our relationship (and of course, a little nervous too because it feels like a big step) – there’s going to be quite a bit of change, including me learning to take the bus to and fro work. Like our 5-week trip overseas, it would be a good test to see if we do live together well. Exciting!

By the way, remember my job seeker Rosette that I’ve been helping as part of my voluntary role as a job mentor? She has got herself a permanent job! SO happy for her :) We caught up at Deluxe Café yesterday so she could give me all the details about her new job and update on her life. It has been a wonderful journey helping her find this new role that suited her level of experience better than her current role. You’ll have to tell me how it all goes when you start, Rosette! With Rosette now moving on and no longer a job seeker, I’m now taking a break from being a job mentor for the Job Mentoring Service. Mum’s going to need me as her job mentor when she turned up in a few months. This doesn’t mean it’s the end of my relationship with Rosette; we’ll still keep in touch as friends :) Might look into getting myself another job seeker once Mum’s all settled down.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Simon McKinney: My Time as a Talking Fish (27th April 2010)

The office phone has been ringing non-stop today with the people I’m working with on a Commerce Commission enquiry ringing me every 5 minutes! I’ve got too many projects having tight datelines at the same time, still on a crap administrator’s pay when I’m doing data analysis work (I’ve heard enough of my manager telling me “oh, Telecom’s going through another restructure” or “it takes time” – it has been over 6 months since I was first told this for god’s sake!); I’m moving out of my place and into Jono’s flat in 2.5 weeks; Mum’s coming to live in NZ for 6 months in June and I have to find her a place to live and work; I’m living on $40 spare cash a week, and struggling to catch up with sleep, keep fit, eat well and still have a social life. It is getting all TOO MUCH!! I just want to dig a hole, jump in and hide from everything and everyone. ARGHHHHHHHH!!!!

Caught up with Jono for dinner at Nando’s on Courtenay Place around 6pm before heading to a comedy show tonight. It has been awhile since I came to Nando’s, a casual dining restaurant franchise originating from South Africa that specializes in chicken dishes with either lemon and herb, medium, hot or extra hot peri-peri marinades. The smell of flame-grilled chicken and smoke fills the busy restaurant - hungry! I had a ¼ grilled chicken with a side of garden salad meal for $10.90 while Jono had Classic Chicken Wrap Grande Meal with chips and a drink for $13.90. Hmm, the serving size of my meal as it was rather small and the salad wasn’t very nice – perhaps some peri-peri sauce would help!

At 6.45pm, we headed to The Garden Club on Dixon St to see Simon McKinney’s stand-up comedy show, “My Time as a Talking Fish”, one of the many comedy shows in town as part of the 2010 NZ International Comedy Festival currently on from 23rd April – 16th May. Claus and I had been to Simon’s show last year and were had a great time laughing at his funny impersonations so I thought it would be fun to check out the new show. Frankly, after a crazy long day in the office, I think a beer and a good laugh would do me good!

Cost us $25 per person for the 1-hour show that tells us the story of Simon’s time as the voice of Hamish, the animated fish on TV2’s children's television show, Squirt. Some of his funny stories included telling us the time when he and the Squirt crew received an angry letter from a parent informing them that her kid has been accessing a porn site (kid’s typing error using .com instead of .co.nz and as you can imagine, the horror when the parent saw them accessing the .com site by accident), receiving weekly fan mail from a man in prison who critiques about the weekly shows, and his character as a Scottish talking fish. Lots of voice impersonations as expected and still managed to get me laughing with tears though I thought Simon was funnier in his show last year, “Simon McKinney Tells A Bit Of A Yarn”.

The show ended at 8pm and Jono suggested we head over to Kaffee Eis on Courtenay Place for some ice-cream and hot chocolate. My baby sure knows how to keep his girl happy *hugs* I’m having a scoop of pistachio ice-cream on a cone please! He’s so sweet :)

Friday, 23 April 2010

Roast dinner at James' & The X-Ray Catz (23rd April 2010)

I had planned to have a quiet Friday evening on my own but James convinced me to head over to his place for roast dinner with him and friends – he got me at the mere mention of food!

Headed over to James’ around 6pm. Grace was already there and James had a large chicken roasting in the oven. Hmm, the whole house smells like roast chicken – yum! Not surprised we would all smell like it too after dinner! I brought along a whole pumpkin and helped cut up veggies to roast. James is an awesome cook and dinner’s going to be amazing!!

This was the first time catching up with Grace in person post-Miss Burlesque NZ competition and it was lovely to revisit the events of the evening, laughing together as well as get some constructive feedback on the do’s and don’ts as a performer. I’m really happy for her win – she’s my new Queen! There’s some talk about the top 3 winners doing a NZ tour. I’ve not heard from the organiser (other than the fact it was posted on the website) – guess we shall soon find out…

Dan (Grace’s partner) and Cilla joined us shortly and the 5 of us had a wonderful meal together in great company over rosé and Sheridan’s. Ooo, those Sheridan’s shots are evil, James – goes down so easily AND makes me tipsy! Grace, Cilla and I were discussing cultural norms and how women view their bodies/themselves and somehow the conversation went to dominatrix lessons. Mischievous Grace looked up the internet and found a local ‘mistress’ that teaches such lessons. “Let’s find out how much it’ll cost us,” said Grace and off she went writing an email enquiry to the teacher. I reckon it would be interesting to check it out (not really to be used to ‘tame’ our partners) but just learning moves/skills that can be incorporated into our burlesque routines. Maybe even learn to be more assertive in our relationships?

Around 9.00pm, we headed over to Southern Cross Bar and Restaurant to have a few swing dances with rockabilly (a mix of rock ‘n’ roll with country music) band The X-ray Catz. It was a free event and the dance floor was packed with swing and rock ‘n’ roll dancers. Even people who were not part of these dance scenes were shaking away to the music! The X-ray Catz was a fun band to listen to and watch. The lead singer and guitarist Antony "Mad dog" Maddock dressed up looking like Elvis Presley and walked about the dance floor as far as his guitar cable could go to mingle with the crowd, Johnny Flash has a double bass with a flame job design and all the band members seemed to be having a ball on stage as they entertained the crowd. I had a few swing dances with the boys but as usual, there were more ladies than men so one has to be quick to grab a guy to get a dance! Photos taken at Southern Cross: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157623988490870/detail/

Left the gang around 10.30pm for home – they were still burning the dance floor when I left. Have fun you lot and thanks for the lovely evening!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Minsky Malone's burlesque workshop (16th April 2010)

The whole week’s been a whirlwind trying to get myself sorted for the Miss Burlesque NZ competition. Just one more day to the event, ONE more day and all the dramas and stress would be over and done with! I’m a SURVIVOR and WILL SURVIVE another day of struggle!!!!! ARGH!!!! And you wouldn’t believe what I agreed to do when the organiser rang me up today – I’ll be attending a burlesque workshop after work tonight taught by international VIP performer and judge of the Miss Burlesque NZ event, Minsky Malone…AND I’m not even finished with my dance routine yet!!!!

To be honest, if the competition wasn’t tomorrow, I would have no qualms booking myself on the workshop – I was just concerned I would be too worried and stressed out about my performance and not fully participate in the workshop with Melbourne-based international burlesque performer Minsky, who is also the founder, creative director, choreographer, stylist, costume maker and performer of House of Burlesque. Cost me $50 for the 1.5-hour workshop and I also got a free general admission ticket (normally $25 for the standing ticket) to the Miss Burlesque NZ event, which was a really good deal. Plus I may just learn a few moves I could incorporate into my routine – wish me luck!

Turned up at Pole Dance Aotearoa on Edward St at 6pm for the workshop. I never knew there was a proper pole dance studio here – cool! Must come by to check out their free introductory class another day. There were about 7-8 of us girls in the class including me, Grace and pole dance instructor Shirley. The studio itself was dimly lit to create the mood with theme song from Pink Panther playing in the background.

Minsky was all dressed up in a sexy dress, her bob hair in jet black and smoky-eyed make up with gorgeous red lips and high heels to suit. On first impression, you would think this gorgeous woman was powerful enough make men weak in the knees just with her eyes – her persona was strong and confident, even I felt a little shaken and intimidated yet there was something attractive about her, making you want to ‘worship’ her. Hmm…

Our 1.5-hour class ended up being 2 hours long with the majority of the class listening to Minsky’s words of wisdom on burlesque and stage performance. The world of burlesque has long been tainted by strippers and today seen as yet another strip performance and less an art/dance form. I agree with Minsky that burlesque is an art of teasing and how a tease move when done too quickly or incorrectly can easily be seen as sleaze. We need more TEASE and less SLEAZE, that’s for sure!

She taught us a short fan dance routine to the Pink Panther theme song. The steps were easy to follow but holding the huge ostrich feather fans weren’t! The fans were huge enough to cover my whole height minus my head and they were heavy, digging into my palms and I found it hard to keep the fans fully opened. Hmm, I think I prefer my small peacock fans better…We also learnt how to interact with the audience with Minsky coming up close to Grace showing us how to slowly caress the face and arm, ending with a naughty slap on the wrist. Haha, brilliant! The last trick she taught us was how to peel the gloves off smoothly. It was a fun workshop though I didn’t really learnt much for use in my dance routine. I reckon that Minsky should come to Wellington again for a full day workshop – 2 hours just ain’t enough!

Minsky was very encouraging, telling us (I think she was really talking to me and Grace but addressed the whole class) that we were all winners for just joining the competition and that it was all about having fun. Yes, I’m just going up on stage tomorrow and not think about it as a competition (well, I haven’t enough experience to compete with the other contestants who have been performing for years) – I’m just going to have fun! But for now, time to head back to Webb St Studio to finish up my routine. 2 more hours of dancing and a final crack at completing the routine. God, I’m so hungry right now but will only be able to have dinner at 10.30pm :(

Friday, 9 April 2010

Curtains - The Musical Comedy Whodunit (8th April 2010)

I'm going to see Curtains - The Musical Comedy Whodunit tonight!! Was given 2 complimentary tickets to see musical this evening at Porirua Little Theatre by Jono last week. This is another musical that my baby is performing in playing the saxophones and I'm looking forward to see the show :) Jono has had several rehearsals at the theatre located in Titahi Bay over the last couple of weeks so I've heard quite a bit about the musical. He even played me songs from the musical from his iPhone during our drive to Palmerston North last week - need to put faces to the characters singing those songs on stage AND give my support to Jono of course!

Poor Jono hardly has many free nights during the show's season so I offered to cook him dinner tonight instead of him pulling out another pre-prepared meal from his freezer. "Any preference what you would like for dinner?" I texted him yesterday and his response was "Surprise me!". Ok...hmm, will have to dig out my cookbook to see what I could cook for him...Ah-ha! I've always wanted to try Scott's Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes recipe and today would be a great opportunity to test it out :) Bought 2 lamb shanks and had them slow-cooked for 2 hours with herbs and spices - hmm, the whole house smells Moroccan...Scott's recipe was easy to follow but I think I might have put in too much water to cover the meat so the meat wouldn't be as full-flavoured as I would have liked. Ops, sorry Jono - this was my first attempt! Had the meal planned and prepared to suit his schedule since he had a show on tonight so that it would be ready when he walked into the house at 5.30pm from work (I'm not known as Miss Super-Organised for nothing haha!). Was watching Jono's expression as he ate, trying to gauge if my tagine dinner served with couscous and fresh salad was any good. The meat literally falls off the bone...nice...tasted pretty good too...The boy seemed to enjoy it, polishing up his plate really quickly - yes, he likes it! I'm taking it as a good sign and thumbs up to the recipe but note to self to reduce the amount of water used to cook the meat on my next attempt. Lamb tagine, yum! Thanks Scott for sharing the recipe :)

Headed over to Jono's at 6.30pm for him to get changed (looking real sharp in that black pin-striped suit we got made in Sri Lanka!) and picked up his instruments then went to pick up another saxophone player, Richard, and Chris who was accompanying me to the show. Richard plays the baritone sax and it was too huge to fit into the car boot so Chris and I had to prop the carry case on our laps as Jono drove us all to the theatre. Opsie, hope you don't mind Chris...Arrived at the smallish theatre around 7.30pm. Jono and Richard headed to the band pit via the side entrance while Chris and I walked over to the front entrance to our seats. Break a leg (or reed), baby!

Everyone performing in the show was given 2 free tickets (normally $27) to which their family members or friends could redeem via iTICKET and select your seats in the cabaret seating venue. Tonight was the second show of the season that runs from 7th April - 1st May and had a full house mixed crowd of the general public and friends of the cast/crew/band. It was a BYO drinks and nibbles event so Chris and I came prepared - I brought us a bottle of Shiraz and chocolate Easter eggs while he brought us a box of biscuits to share :)

Haha, you wouldn't believe where Jono's seated - right next to me! Our table was one of the tables closest to the stage and exactly next to the pit. Could see him and the rest of the band busy organising their instruments and scores, playing music scales or passages from the scores to warm up before the musical officially started at 8pm. There were other people sharing our table; most tables seat 6-8 people and unless you have a group of such numbers, it is guaranteed you will be sharing the table with others.

From the creators of Chicago and Cabaret, Curtains is a hilarious musical with a murder twist that takes place on the stage at Boston's Colonial Theatre in 1959. The theatre was staging a new musical, Robbin Hood: A Tale of The Old West, where one after another, the members of the theatre gets murdered - first their ever forgetful leading lady dies, then the theatre director, followed by the stage manager. Lieutenant Frank Cioffi (played by Robert Hickey, the same man who played detective in event Death By Chocolate I attended last year) arrives on the scene, has all the theatre cast house arrested until the murderer was found and in the midst of investigation found himself falling for the leading lady's young understudy, Niki Harris. Awe-struck by the 'show people', Cioffi too gets involved in the theatre, giving his insight on how to make the show a hit.

The musical was 2.5 hours long with a 15-minute interval. Jono and the band went outdoors to stretch their legs for a bit - the band played very well together and it was great acoustics in the small theatre. Borrowed the $3 programme that Chris bought at the entrance to read up on the cast during the interval. Ah, so the woman playing the role of Georgia Hendricks, the lyricist and replacement leading lady, had previously starred as Grizabella in CATS in 2008 which I had seen. Joanne Hodgson was fantastic as Georgia, singing and acting beautifully. And Kirsty Justice, who played the role of director Chris Belling was equally amazing despite her role's sarcasms and the pompous English accent! It was quite obvious from just watching Act One who were the seasoned performers and who needed more work on either their singing, acting or performing skills (the chorus singers/performers need to work on their facial expressions and those glazed-over eyes). I don't think it's easy to be a musical performer - one has to be multi-talented and able to juggle singing, acting AND dancing at the same time! Not a simple feat!! I take my hat off Robert - not only has his role as Lieutenant come with loads of speaking lines, he too has to sing and dance (and he's not that young a chap...), which I'm sure required plenty of practice and repetition. Occassionally some glitches here and there with his lines but he was very good at keeping the flow and you wouldn't realise it was a mistake.

The show ended at 10.30pm and both Chris and I thoroughly enjoyed the musical. Very cleverly twisted plot and as the act continued on, we discovered more clues but not enough to accurately pinpoint the murderer. I suspected it was Miss Harris, after all she was SO helpful, presenting death notes and the gun used by the murderer to the Lieutenant but no, it wasn't her..."Then who was the murderer and what were the motives behind killing those deceased cast members?" you ask. Ah, now that's for you to find out when you watch the show. My lips are sealed - you have to see it for yourself because that's the whole point of the show!

Waited for Jono and Richard to pack up their instruments and started drop-offs from 11pm. You were awesome, babe! I watched Jono swapping his saxophones (soprano, tenor and alto) and played them with such smooth transition during the show. Can't help but feel bubbling sensation of pride and just so proud of him. Yes, THAT guy on the sax is MY boyfriend :)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Attract More Success, Money and Abundance workshop (6th April 2010)

Back in 2008 when I went to visit Sharon in Melbourne, I took the opportunity to read the book The Secret which she had at home over the weekend I was there and on return to Wellington, did a search to see if there was a community group in town who got together to learn the teachings of The Secret. I’m quite fascinated really, why one would pay tonnes of money to be on a course to learn the principles of the book (an idea some person thought of and sells it for money) and thought it would be interesting to see and hear the experiences of Wellingtonians on how they applied such principles to their lives and achieved the things they desired. Unfortunately, no such group exist but I did stumble upon The Law of Attraction Centre website and found out that they were conducting a free Attract More Success, Money and Abundance workshop in town. Yes, F-R-E-E. So I thought “Why not?” and signed myself up to the free workshop (normally $99) last year. The workshop had since been postponed a few times due to lack of numbers – FINALLY on tonight!

Headed over to St John's In The City (a Wellington inner-city Presbyterian church) at the corner of Dixon and Willis Streets around 6.30pm for the workshop held in one of their conference rooms. Upon entering the venue, I was greeted by the presenter, Chris Prime, and given my free Seminar Resource CD filled with eBooks, audio books, music etc. for us to take home, a worksheet booklet for participants to work through during the workshop and another booklet of testimonials from previous attendees of their successes. I sure hope I would be awake for the 3-hour long workshop – I’ve had a long day at work and was feeling rather tired. Yawn…

You know, the workshop actually turned out to be very interesting and it didn’t felt like 3 hours at all! Chris Prime was a fantastic presenter, using lots of visual tools like the whiteboard and his own body language, has a great sense of humour (obvious in his presentation) but most of all, making the workshop easy to comprehend. He started off explaining to us what the Law of Attraction is – defined as something you attract to your life, whatever you give your attention, energy and focus to, whether negative or positive. It is based on your current vibration (which is a mood or feeling) and the Law of Attraction works by matching such vibrations i.e. negative with negative, positive with positive. In other words, the more good/bad vibes you put out, the more likely you are going to attract the same vibes. A common example is getting to work late: your day starts with the alarm not ringing, you wake up and you realise you’re late (negative vibration). You rush to the bathroom to get ready for work and stub your big toe at the door (negative vibration). Then you run out to catch the bus and watch it leave as you run up to it (more negative vibration). And by the time you get to work, you boss tells you off (do I need to say more?). I think you get the gist.

So what do we do? Well, we first have to change the vibration so it becomes a positive one to attract positive vibrations. To do so, we need to rid 3 negative words from our daily vocabulary: “DON’T”, “NOT” and “NO”. Every time we use these words, we are actually sending out the opposite vibe e.g. when you say “Please don’t hesitate to call me”, you don’t really want to be called but instead get called lots. To correct this, we are taught to ask ourselves “So, what do I want?” in situations where we would use those 3 words and reword our sentences to a positive one. When you go from ‘what you don’t want’ to ‘what you do want’, the words change and when the words change, the vibration changes.

The workshop continued on with participants being taught the 4 key steps of the Law of Attraction:

1) Identifying your desires by using a T-tool (just a blank sheet with a large ‘t’ drawn on) and listing 50 items of things you don’t want and flipping them over to what you do want. This exercise helps you identify and be clear of what it is you do want. One T-tool per desire.

2) Give the desires attention. Do this by visualisation, talking about it, writing about it, whatever you can think of to give it ‘feelings’ and juice. Rid the little negative voice in the head by rewording your affirmations so that you are not lying to yourself. I thought the example Chris used was very clever. He got a lady from the audience to come up so he could prove to us that we all have this annoying little voice in us – she wanted to be financially free so he got her to tense her stretched out arm and say the words “I’m financially free”, then proceeded to push down her arm which he did easily. Then he got her to change the words to “I’m in the process of becoming financially free” and astonishingly, he couldn’t push her arm down (it didn’t seem like an act because he tested it several times with different examples and this lady was rather sceptical about the whole idea to start with).

3) Allowing/removing doubt. Find evidence or proof to remove doubt – ask good questions like “How can I?”, “What I can do?”, “Who can help me?” and “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid” to remove your doubt. And be grateful for what you have.

4) And the most important step of all, taking action. Opportunities will present themselves by the Law of Attraction but you need to step in and take action to see results. How does one spot an opportunity presented by the Law of Attraction? The action to take seems very, very easy.

The participants tonight vary in age and race, and have different levels of acceptance/scepticism towards the workshop (as I found out talking to some during our 15-minute tea break) – some really embraced it, actively participating in the workshop, buying the self-help books and signing themselves up for the following workshop, the Empowerment workshop (cost $395) while others tried to argue the Laws of Attraction – exactly how I expected the audience to be. And to make sure that what we learnt tonight didn’t ‘disappear’ after we walked out the door, participants will receive 6 audio emails over the course of the week from Chris with key points on what we’ve learnt. A very well-thought out workshop and I bet lots of attendees from the free workshop signed up for the Empowerment workshop. Pretty clever way to sell an idea, I say.

For me, a lot of what was discussed tonight were already things and/or tools I’ve been using to put myself into a positive frame of mind and strive to obtain the things I want in life so was more a reminder for me rather than learning something new (and just watching how other people react was highly amusing). These ideas and tools are things that we all know i.e. they are no secret. We just need to actively practice them – it all boils down to TAKING ACTION!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Colm's & Kim's joint birthday BBQ (1st April 2010)

It's April Fools - did you get fooled today? Chris texted me early in the morning to say that Mt Victoria was erupting. Haha, very funny, Chris...couldn't fool me!

Today was also the last day of the working week before the long Easter weekend. Busy day at the office trying to finish off one of my projects. In fact, it was a busy day since 5.30am, waking up early for a swim, had a hair cut during my lunch break, getting cake for Colm's and Kim's birthday party tonight as well as baking a gluten- and dairy-free cake to bring up to the Woolley's bach tomorrow. Rush, rush and lots of multitasking!

Chris came to pick me up around 6.30pm and we headed over to Flo's place in Brooklyn where the joint birthday party was held. This was the 3rd Colm 'n' Kim joint birthday party I've attended (Scott, are you reading this?? You had better get back this year by September so we can have our joint party too!) and this year, they hosted the party rather early because Kim's close friends were here visiting from the States, plus the fact that the birthday duo would be away in Vanuatu on their actual birthdays. This was also the last BBQ of the season at Flo's - daylight saving ends this weekend, which marks the start of colder temperatures and less sunlight. Summer is officially over :(

Dribs and drabs, guests arrived at the party. Lots of catching up to do with friends - I've missed so many BBQs hosted by this group of friends as I've been away and have Batucada practice most Sundays. It was nice to finally meet Kim's friends whom she had taken around the South Island for the past 2 weeks and they absolutely loved NZ. Listening to them re-telling stories of their travels and how at awe they were with the beauty and greenery, the exciting and fun things they did - it just made me feel proud to be a Kiwi and hear so many positive things about my country :)

Oh dear god, how much vodka did Kim put in these vodka jelly shots??? 2 jelly shots was enough to give you a real kick in the head and start feeling woozy. Luckily I'm not driving tonight haha! Everyone brought a plate, drink and/or food for the barbie so there was plenty to eat. Yum, loved that lamb Flo cooked - perfecto! Ooo, and I could see guests drinking Falling Water (cocktail mix of 42 Below feijoa, ch'i and a slice of cucmber)! I had better stick to my plain water after those jelly shots. Don't want to go falling!

Got Colm and Kim an orange ricotta cake for their birthday (de-ja-vu, we had the same cake at Rissa's party last week...) and candles with alphabets that spelt HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Unfortunately, it was rather breezy outside and Flo had such a difficult time trying to keep the candles alight as he carried the cake towards the birthday duo (the candles were burning very quickly too!) but we managed to get Colm and Kim to blow some lighted candles and cut the cake. Happy Birthday, you two! Photos taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157623646660315/detail/

Caught a ride with Chris back home around 9.30pm. I'm just exhausted after a long day but still need to pack up my bags for the long weekend away!