‘Tastes like a bonfire of recalled Barbie Dolls’: a family Japanese KitKat tasting…

My friend Emma recently went to Japan and she gave me a big bag of Japanese snack-sized KitKats she bought back. KitKats come in manifold flavours in Japan. Emma said there were whole shops which just sold KitKats!


Over a game of Carcassonne, Fraser (42), Willoughby (13) and I (41) had a KitKat tasting. (Magnus was in bed, so he missed out. It sucks being nine.)

I took comprehensive tasting notes. Fraser’s favourite was Wasabi, mine was the Brown Rice Tea, whereas Willoughby, he liked the ‘cheesy’ ones.** The least favourite flavour with no competition was Red Bean Paste.

Here are some of our tasting notes. I’ve also noted the colour of the KitKat. (If I have any of the flavours or names wrong, I apologise, but I can’t read Japanese so was guessing/trying to remember what Emma had told me/using the pictures as guidance.)

((I have no idea how interesting this is.))

** I suspect the cheesy ones taste a bit like breast milk. Sorry. TMI?

EDAMAME, light green in hue

H: Smells like chocolate farts; grassy note to the flavour.

F: White chocolate mousse smell; flavour tastes like staleness.

W: It smells and tastes like white chocolate, only less yummy.


H: Smells like Parmesan cheese! Tastes like fatty, cheesy white chocolate.

F: Smells like shoes. Tastes like a cheesy lemon-crisp biscuit. Feral, but nice.

W: Delicious! A cheesy-perfumed chocolate bar.

GRAPEwhite   (Errata – Emma has since informed me this is RUM AND RAISIN) 

H: Smells like Sultana Bran. Has a bubble-gum flavour which is off-putting.

F: Smells like cheap supermarket soap. Lolly-ish flavour. Extremely sweet.

W: Ooh, fruity-fruity! Smells like Grape Hubba Bubba but tastes like fruity Tic-Tacs.


(Disconcertingly the picture on the front looks very much like mince on toast.)

H: (sniffs) Oh God! Smells like an ash-tray! Tastes like dirt with a plasticky after-taste.

F: Tastes like last year’s Easter Egg which you hid under the flax bush and then found a year later and then ate. No, it’s worse than that. Tastes like a bonfire of recalled Barbie Dolls. Aged, smokey chocolate, in other words. Has a sour finish.

(The taster drank a large glass of water after this sample).

W: Euw, dirty Easter Egg chocolate. The worst. Negative 5000 out of 10.

RICE TEA, brown

H: Distinctive rice tea/Mirin smell. Strong rice tea flavour with a savoury after-note. I like it a lot!

F: Smells of seaweed. A sour Oolong flavour. Notes of iodine and heather.

W: Smells like that seaweed that is on sushi. Fresh, clean flavour. I like it! I have never drunk tea so to me it tastes like seaweed. I’ve never had sushi either. Why have I never had sushi? Can I try sushi? Like, soon? Like tomorrow night for dinner? *

(* Taster has not eaten sushi because since the age of about two he has consistently reacted with horror when offered sushi, despite many attempts by his parents to get him to try sushi. His sudden interest in eating sushi is both baffling and frankly, irritating.)

UJI MATCHA,  a unique khaki colour

H: Smells and tastes of tea, but not as strongly as the last one. Very sour and fatty aftertaste.

F: Looks like Brut Faberge soap. Not much going on in the flavour department, a slightly astringent aftertaste.

W: Smells like white chocolate. Tastes like white chocolate. Just eat white chocolate for god’s sakes! At least proper white chocolate isn’t GREEN!


H: Vanilla-ish in smell and flavour. Nice.

F: A spicy note to the smell, yes, wafts of stale old cinnamon.

W: White chocolate with a hint of random.


H: Oh dear, it’s like a strawberry cheddar-cheese smell. Not a good combination. Tastes like synthetic strawberry with cheese.

F: Oh god, remember that time we were driving home from Taupo and we stopped at the petrol station and the children chose drinks and Magnus chose strawberry Up’n’Go and then an hour later, we were just out of Hunterville, remember? He threw up all over the back seat? That’s what this reminds me of, strawberry milk refluxed. Euw.

W: What are you on about? This smells delicious! Smells like fresh cream cheese, but tastes like strawberry. Hmmm, this is my favourite.

WASABI, pale green

H: Oo, it does SMELL like Wasabi! How unusual. Sweet wasabi. Weirdly it warms the nose like normal wasabi does, but there is no heat in the flavour. That is freaky. In a good way. I think.

F: Unusual, unexpected smell and flavour, but very nice! Has a compelling sweet/savoury character.  Refreshing and palate-cleansing. The perfect flavour to end on. I like this one the best by far.

W: What’s wasabi? Why is my nose all cold and weird? What the hell is this flavour? Is this what sushi tastes like?? Euw! Just, …no.


So, there you go. I should add that Emma had previously given me a box of cinnamon Kitkats and they were delicious.

Thanks, Emma, for letting us share in your travel adventures through our noses and taste-buds.

If anyone else wants to send us random foods to sample, feel free. We will happily give it our very very close attention.









yoga ruins your life

I saw a little video the other day about how ‘yoga ruins your life’. It is about how after you get on the yoga path, your world view changes. You check-out of the stress-rat-race-wheel, you become more interested on your inner-life than accumulating stuff and status, and you kind of live in yoga-time, which is a slower, more considered pace that that of the rest of the world.

You can see the video HERE, it is only three minutes long, but **be warned – the poses shown are ADVANCED ASHTANGA YOGA POSES. This is not the kind of yoga happening at your average yoga studio and it is certainly not where I am at with yoga, so don’t let the advanced poses in the video put you off if you are contemplating a yoga class. I share it with you for the ideas rather than the yoga shown! lol! ** 


Yogis are ‘ruined’ for normal western life, but in a really good way….no longer prepared to accept bullshit or pointless stress.

In four weeks time, I finish my yoga course! – it’s been an intense couple of years and I have learned so much about myself during this time. So, I’m feeling in a reflective mood…and proud of myself, too.

Here’s a bit of a recap of my yoga experience over the last coupla years.

I started teaching one class a week as a student-teacher last March. I blogged about my nerves regarding starting to teach HERE. Oh man, was I nervous! & after I started, I used to spend Mondays feeling physically sick about teaching that night….thankfully, I don’t anymore. I am now experienced enough to not think about class until I’m getting ready for it. You can see my Zing teacher profile HERE.

I have taught almost 100 classes. (In yoga, achievements are measured in 100s, I’m not sure why. So my course is a 200-contact-hour course, and reaching your first 100 hours of teaching is big achievement.) After you do a 200 hour course, you can ‘upskill’ to a 500 hour course.

But the truth is with yoga, that it is a life-long learning practice. You can never know enough, you can never know it all…….and you have to re-learn things through life lessons. Sometime yoga will dump you on your ass, if you need to learn something quickly.

I’ve been on a couple of yoga retreats, which were both amazing. Blogged HERE and HERE.


I have an essay in Anna Guest-Jelley, of Curvy Yoga’s ‘CURVY VOICES’ – an e-book of essays by ‘curvy’ (FAT!) yoginis. You can request it for free from HERE.

I have covered classes for three other teachers, two at my own studio and one a weekly public class at an art gallery. It is HARD covering a yoga class. People get very very very attached to their yoga teachers and every teacher has a different style. Sometimes you walk into a class you are covering and people glare at you, not because you have done anything wrong, but just because you are not their teacher, they are stressed and want to sink into yoga and because of you they are having to cope with something different, something potentially stressful, and boy, do they hate that!  I’m glad I did it though, good learning experience!


I also have to cope with a lot of skeptical glances, people judging my body and raised eyebrows when people who don’t know me very well find out I teach yoga.

‘Suuuureeee, you do’ I see in their faces. People still have the delusion that a) yoga is all about the body (in fact, physical poses are merely one strand of EIGHT yogic practices), that only thin bodies are strong and fit, that a plus-sized teacher would teach an easy, unchallenging class.  (My students will tell you this is not true!)

I am fat and flexible and STRONG. These things co-exist in my body! I am also skilled in helping students look inward, breathe, find calm – important yoga teaching skills.

Sometimes it is hard to take and it gets to me, sometimes it runs off me like water – it just depends on how I’m feeling that day. The important thing is that I keep returning to my mat, and then anything anyone else thinks disappears.


My fellow student-teachers and yoga teachers are a wonderful, eclectic bunch. Some are further down the spiritual end than others. Being part of a yoga cohort has meant that I have received spontaneous energy healings, gifts of flower essences, food gifts left on my doorstep, plant gifts, visitations from beyond, cranio-sacral healing, tarot readings, massages….and so much more! Once you step into a yoga community, you step into a river of healing and inner-work! You never know who is going to come at ya’ with an offering next!


Anyway, after December, I will be glad to have my Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons back, but I will also miss it, of course. After spending a lot of my adult life feeling physically inadequate and deeply unsporty, I have found and committed to a physical practice which nourishes my body and my mind and my soul. Yoga has helped me beyond measure and the only reason I teach it, is because I love to SHARE it with people and want to show people of all shapes and sizes and fitness levels that there is a yoga practice for them.

Next year I hope to increase the amount of classes I teach and also hoping to go on the road, offering some day workshops on the Kapiti coast and in Wellington.

Teaching more classes will come in a baptism of fire, when our head teacher, Nat Allan, heads to India for ten weeks in Jan/Feb and leaves us to run the studio without her. GULP!

I know the final month of class will zoom by. I am so proud to have overcome a lot of my fears, neuroses, body-angst and self-doubt to step over that chasm from student mat to teacher mat.

I also look forward to carrying on learning and practising yoga for the rest of my life.



mattresses – September

I noticed the other day that WordPress is now inserting ads in ‘free’ blogs, like this one, making a mockery of my ‘Ad-Free Blog’ banner. I don’t know what ads show on my blog at the viewer end, maybe if you see an ad you could let me know. I cringe to think. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that….maybe switch providers? But are there any ad-free no-cost blog platforms anymore? Possibly not.

Anyway, September was a terrific month for spotting vintage textiles on mattresses, which is one of my hobbies. Yes, I like to find, record and gaze at old textiles. I know it’s a little strange but it makes me happy. These ones were spotted around Palmerston North and the Wairarapa.

& If you’d like to join in the fun of finding and recording vintage mattress textiles, there’s a bunch of us over on Flickr HERE – you’d be most welcome! 🙂

matsep_17 matsep_15 matsep_14 matsep_13 matsep_12 matsep_11 matsep_10 matsep_9 matsep_8 matsep_7 matsep_6 matsep_5 matsep_3 matsep_2 matsep_1

magnolia walk (1)

On Friday the sun came out in that way it only does in spring, with a nip in the air but a novel brightness…

I had a squillion things on my to-do list, many things which have been on there for weeks and are now somewhat pressing….and yet….and yet….

I wanted to walk, and walk, and walk for the sake of walking and looking and soaking up the sun. It was like medicine I had to take right then. So I turned the pad with the to-do list over, grabbed my camera and took off on a magnolia hunt. I live in an old neighbourhood which has heaps of ’10s, 20s, 30s bungalows. Magnolia trees seem to go with bungalows, the way cabbage trees or wisteria porches go with villas.

The magnolias are really doing their thing right now. I found plenty and did some comical fence hopping and neck-craning to get the best photographs I could. (The last photograph is the one of the two magnolias in my own front yard.) Sometimes I could just see the top of a magnolia over a fence….so some athleticism was required to get a shot. I kept waiting for someone to come and demand what I was doing, nosey-ing around the neighbourhood but because I’m white, female and middle-aged, no one did.

& As you do when you go out LOOKING, I found some other cool things, too which I’ll share with you next time. In the meantime, enjoy these magnolias.

I don’t much like spring, it seems to emotionally screw me over EVERY SINGLE YEAR…but nonetheless, where I live there are manifold magnolias and they are magnificent. It would be most ungrateful not to take a sunny afternoon off to enjoy them at their best.

mag_25 mag_23 IMG_1749 mag_21 mag_20 mag_18 mag_17 mag_16 mag_15 mag_14 mag_12 mag_10 mag_8 mag_7 mag_6 mag_4 mag_3 mag_2 mag_1


Rob Thorne, Urban Shaman – how you can help him get to the Amazon


(Photo by Paul Moss)

I’ve known Rob Thorne for years now – since the early 90s. He has heaps of integrity, wisdom and does lots of great work in the community. He’s a top bloke and at the moment he’s a top bloke who needs a bit of help to achieve his dream of travelling to the Amazon to learn from local Shaman and bring that knowledge home. He’s been invited to go there and learn from some ancient Shamanic ceremonies. I interviewed Rob about his plans and hopes and just who he is and what he’s up to….

Tell us about who you are and what you do….
I am a musician and an anthropologist and a 3rd Degree Reiki practitioner.  I am a direct descendent of Mokena Hou the Peacemaker, of Ngati Tumutumu from Te Aroha. I grew up in transient small town rural NZ, from East Coast Wairoa, to far north Hokianga, the son of educators. I have lived in the Manawatu since the end of the 1980s when I came here to attend Massey University straight out of school. I see my journey through life as one of identity and connection, for me it is all abiut connecting the dots, understanding and knowledge.
(HL – Rob makes and plays beautiful Nga Taonga Puoro out of natural materials like wood, bone, shell.)
(Photo by Kirsty Porter)
Why do you want to go to the Amazon? What are you hoping to learn there? 
The Amazon is a long time dream of mine. Ever since my early teens Ive wanted to go there. Something very deep has always spoken to me about this place. The vast ancient vitality of it all.
I am going to specifically partake in a set of particular ceremonial rituals. These rites have been performed by these people for thousands of years. I believe there is a strong chance that such rites were once performed by everybody, that they were part of what established our humanity, our consciousness, but over time these have been mislaid, misplaced by humans. The ceremonies are about connecting with a consciousness that has always been, the consciousness that we came out of. This connection then gives an understanding of the larger and smaller picture, how and where we fit into it all.
(HL – I will just add in here on Rob’s behalf, that he has been invited to be part of these ceremonies. He isn’t tourist-ing!)
Do you consider yourself a ‘Shaman’? (Or maybe a ‘Shaman-in-training’?) I read a definition of Shamanism the other day: ‘Shamanism is the universal religion of wild earth’ – what do you think about that definition? 
Shamanism is a belief that all things have life, from the earth and the rocks that live upon her, to the trees and the sky above them. With a recognition that all things live, and are sentient, one then operates in a universe where all things are connected and related, literally. Where the trees and the animals are our brothers and sisters, and the earth is our mother, from which we were born.
I only see myself as a shaman in that I seek to work with this truth, and in the process help others to develop their connections with it also. As a healer, my role is to bring greater connection, for myself, for others, for all. This is what brings healing.
How do you sustain your life as an artist (not just financially, but emotionally, spiritually…?) What keeps you going? Any words of advice for young artists on how to sustain a creative life? 
I do what I do because I have to, because I cant hide from it. I do it because I more than love it. It is what sustains me, not the other way around. The art, the music, the act of doing, is what brings connection and healing.
Do it because you love it. Not for others, not for money, or fame. If we do it for these things, at some point our intention, motivation becomes derailed by other peoples’ perceptions and desires and we lose touch with who we are and why we are.
Do it for yourself. Do it, and do it, and keep doing it. Develop it, work it, but keep doing it. Heal yourself. Let go of judgement. Let go of what you might believe other people think is important and do it because you know it is. That is when people will connect.
(Photo by Radinka Maru.)
Rob’s Pozible Campaign is HERE and it has just nine days to go, so if you can help in this way – please do it soon! He is really close to his goal, but just needs that last push to get him over the goalposts. (Remember with these campaigns – the artists don’t get any pledged money if the goal is not reached.) This amount just pays for Rob’s air-fares but not his expenses, so any money over the goal will help him with travelling expenses.
If you’d like to help with a donation, but you don’t have Paypal or don’t want to use Pozible, get in touch with me and I will get you in touch with Rob for an internet banking donation or similar.
If you are cash-strapped but would like to help, you could spread the word via social media or emails to any friends you think might be interested in helping, with a link to Rob’s Pozible Campaign.
Some Rob-related links:
(Photo by Jo Berry Loughlin)
Thank you so much! I know Rob will be reading this, so if you have any questions for him or want to wish him well, please do so in the comments.
Fingers crossed for you, Rob! Kia kaha, e hoa. 

porch sitting


It’s quite the year for foxgloves – they have self-seeded everywhere and are growing tall and pretty, especially around the front porch. 

People don’t seem to use front (street-facing) porches, but mine gets the morning sun, so I put a little table made from an old sewing machine base and chair there for morning cups of tea. Passers-by always startle if they spot me – as if I were lurking on my own property, ha ha! 

Sun has been a rare thing around here this spring and I’m despairing a bit at my vegetable garden. Seeds I have planted are not sprouting (could it be because we’ve had an unseasonal frost every week since September?) and the summer seedlings I’ve planted are either not growing at all or are withering. It doesn’t look like a November garden. 

But on the mornings a bit of sun does show up – I’m enjoying having the freedom (post-job) to drop tasks to sit in it for a while. 




My work is undergoing a significant restructure presently, and there is a lot of stress about. We are having to wait another five weeks before the restructure is finalised and we know what the impact will be on jobs etc. So….

….I made this (below)  into a little poster for some of my friends at work — it’s my approach to the worry that goes with a big restructure. Just to try to stay present and…try to focus on what I need to get done that day and not think too much beyond that. It seems to me that over-thinking about the future is where the anxiety arises…