A mum and a wife and sometimes just me

Tuesday 25 May 2010

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

Well I just can't do this book justice, it was like being back at school where I wanted to ask the teacher questions of what exactly is this trying to say. I feel like it went up and beyond me and I think it has a lot to do with the way it has been written or translated anyway. It actually took me a while to read and I had to struggle at times not to give up as I really wanted to grasp it's depth and meaning but at times I felt I was losing. So I guess I never really lost myself in this novel to fall in love with it.

Strangely though I know I have to recommend it. The story itself has many levels of different themes. At it's heart it is a murder mystery set in the late 16th Century but the question is why was someone murdered? On it's second level it's about the philosophical differences between European and Islamic art and a clash of cultures in times of change. There is a lot of discussion on art and it's detail is impressive so if this is your topic of choice it will probably have high appeal. Mingled in between are themes of love and identity. 

So its a bit slow and offers a challenge but it is an interesting read.

It's the little things

Let me introduce you to my new favourite thing. Yes it's my little clock radio. Ok it's not officially mine but belongs to the hotel where we have been staying for the past two months but we have grown so close over the past two weeks. It has started serving many little uses to make my life a little bit more pleasant. It is much nicer to wake up to it's soft musical tones rather than a ringing alarm in the morning. I can now listen to a little music at night before I fall to sleep and after I take my shower and getting ready to go out. It's great for those lazy Sunday mornings when you just can't be bothered to get out of bed!

It's all in the little things. It's such a nice distraction that I think I might have to get one when I get 'home'.

Monday 24 May 2010

Winter Warmer

Yes it is strange talking about it being winter at the end of May,but that is what you get when you live on the other side of the world. In Auckland there was actually a weather warning because of all the expected rain! Well I guess it can't be nice here all the time. The point is though when the weather gets colder I always feel for food that is going to warm me up. One of my favourites is a big bowl of soup...on the menu last night:

Pumpkin Soup

Most of the recipes I found doing my usual trawl through cookbooks and on line had similar recipe, mine was heavily influenced by Annabelle White and her presentation on the breakfast show which you can view here

I melted a lob of butter with some olive oil and added a large onion and 3 cloves of garlic both chopped obviously. Then I added a tsp of ginger and some coriander. Fresh is probably best but I was working with what I got which was ginger in a jar and dried coriander which ain't that bad to be honest. Then I added the pumpkin. Then I think my favourite bit which really adds a kick to this recipe is a tbsp of curry powder...heat and flavour galore! Once it softened I added a few cups of chicken stock, all depending really on how much soup you are aiming for. And no I did not make my own chicken stock but go for it if you are so inclined and it will probably make a huge difference. Then you let it simmer till the pumpkin is nice and soft. I am a fan of smooth soups but I do not own a hand held blender so out came the potato masher...hence the lumps in the picture ( hubby thought it was lentils....hmmm possibly an interesting addition?). At the end I lobbed in some parsley and serve.

Tada...a winter warmer that goes down a treat!

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Green Spaces, Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland is a city which usually gets harsh reviews from those who visit for short periods and I guess you can't blame them if you consider the experience of NZ as a whole. Auckland in comparison does not have as much to offer. What I have quickly come to realise though is that the experience of staying here for an extended visit and a holiday are very different.

I usually have a lot of free time on my hands during the week. This free time has given me the opportunity to explore this city of Auckland and the more I experience the merrier I am. What I have quickly come to realise is that you are always pretty close to a park and I love it. It is because there are usually kept pretty clean? Is it because you are not usually intimidated by local alcoholics or drug users? Or is it simply because even though summer is slipping away you still get so many beautiful days that draw you outside to experience them? It is great to know you don't have to go very far to sit outside for lunch in the sunshine...I am full of vitamin D!

Western Park, Ponsonby

Maungawhau, Mount Eden

Myers Park

Alberts Park

Western Springs

Auckland Domain

A small selection of my favourites...one of my favourite things...Auckland's green spaces!

Sunday 2 May 2010

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany

So it is not often that I ask my peeps on facebook to recommend me some books...actually the response was a bit dismal but at the same time it proved very effective as I got some interesting recommendations. That is books I had not yet read from authors I did not know. I loved the idea of heading into a new realm of literature that I had not experienced before. So I toddled along to the library in eager anticipation of finding my recommendations. Of course not only did I find the two books recommended to me but I also found a few more that sparked my interest. The challenge now of course is to read them all before they are due. So the reading list is as follows:

  1. The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany
  2. My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
  3. Children of the Revolution by Dinaw Mengestu
  4. Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui
So it only took like a week and I quickly made my way through the Yacoubian Building. I don't know what it is about finding out after reading a book that it has also been made into film but I think it has something to do with the fact that now I am blogging I am actually reading up a bit more about the books I am reading. Honestly not something that I usually do as reading for me is purely a personal enjoyment and bad reviews don't usually sway me if I have decided to read something.

A book about a myriad of lives in Egypt it in no way ever disappoints. An eye opener on the many different facets of Egyptian life, it's culture, it's religion and it's politics. It is full of sadness and also of simple joys which to me is a pretty good description of life. I don't know if it make sense to others when I say this but Al Aswany speaks the language of the people in this novel which draws you in and really makes you feel a part of the character's lives. It's depth is in its simplicity.

Highly recommended!
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