What I Saw on my Walk

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 15:36 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Virtually every day during my lunch hour, I like taking a walk along the water front.  While walking, I try to take some interesting pictures of things that catch my eye.  Here are a few of today's pics.

Interesting Bicycle

Park Exercise
Ok, Shirtless and a Toque
"Aw Come On!"

Moms in the Park
Push the Button

Vespa Warrior Completion

Monday, August 30, 2010 20:00 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Vespa Warrior
I've completed my contest entry for Wacom's Create Your Original Monster contest.  The one on the left isn't exactly the same, as I added a filter in this one that kind of punches up his dramatic quality.  The original submission is simply the Vespa Warrior himself.

I also had to change a couple things on the character in order to ensure that it met with the contest rules such as changing the logo on his top right (your left) chest plate as the original version had a stylized V, which was remarkably similar (coincidence eh?) to the Vespa logo. This change was required as it would have infringed on copyright restrictions.  In addition to this, I had to change a bit of the detail on the armour itself as well as changing his name from Vespa Warrior to Waspa.

One final change was that I chose to remove the spear that was in his hand as the contest submission guidelines mentioned that they don't condone the use of violent imagery.  I'm pretty sure the spear would have been fine, but I thought it would be better to be safe than sorry.

I encourage you all to check out the contest submissions at Wacom.  Some are quite cute, some are quite dark, and some are just plain cool.  My favorite submission are Nejo, is The Sockmonster and The Eyes.

Evidently We Have Barking Cats

15:41 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Sun Bathing Puppies
Last night Kristie and I rearranged our living room as we want to purchase a dining room set to have in the same room.
Our living room is huge, and our kitchen isn't too big, so we thought it would work out better in the living area.  Anyway, we moved the couch right by the window, and just like it was when we were in Edmonton, Walnut and Angus have started using the new couch location for sun bathing.

Angus on the Road to Recovery

11:55 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Angus looking at me with contempt.  Which is pretty normal.
Angus has been on his medication now for two days and is already starting to feel better.  He isn't shaking his head like he was with the infection, and he is smelling much better too.  (The yeast infection in his ears was quite pungent)

He also seems to have a bit more energy than previous days, despite having antihistamines as his medication regiment.

Mini Break

Sunday, August 29, 2010 12:33 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

Last weekend Kristie and I took an extended weekend to celebrate our 12th anniversary.  We booked a bach (NZ's word for a cottage) outside of Levin, which is just off the Kapiti coast.

The place we rented was a gorgeous little bedroom loft with a completely stocked kitchen, wood burner, walnut and hazelnut grove outside as well as a lemon tree.  The bach was kind of rustic, but also very modern in its conveniences.  In addition to just providing the accommodations, they also provided food for your breakfasts free of charge, including Muesli, Free-range-organic Bacon & Eggs, Coffee and Tea.  They also included fresh produce, OJ, and a bottle of wine.  They also had freshly made hazelnut fudge as well as home roasted walnuts.  These were all the freebies.  They also had a fully stocked larder with tonnes of food, both frozen and packaged that you could buy if you wanted to stay inside the whole time.  Added to all this goodness, they allowed pets too!

The mini break kind of started for us on Saturday when we were making all the preparations for the trip.  We made a batch of our famous (at least in our house) spaghetti sauce, we baked a batch of chocolate-hazelnut cookies, and also brought along a frozen batch of our pumpkin soup.  We bought a few things to bring along as well such as pesto, sundried tomatoes, and a can of tuna for a great panini that we like making for road trips, some corn chips, salsa and chili beans for some hot nachos, as well as some fruits and veggies and some pop (fizzy drinks for the NZers).

We left in late morning on Sunday, when we packed up the car with groceries and our furry friends, and drove the approx. 100 km to Levin.  (See, that's me locking the door).

We stopped at Paekakariki for a walk along the beach and picnic.  While there we saw lots of dogs (and their owners) out for beach walks as well.
After a nice long walk along the beach we headed back for a nice picnic in a little sun trap called the Pickle Pot in Queen Elisabeth Park.



One of the great things about this weekend was the fact that although the weather was supposed to be rainy (at times heavy) the whole weekend, it seemed that the further north we went, the better the weather got.  On the beach, we could see the clouds encompassing Wellington, but it was quite sunny directly overhead and the sun seemed to be expanding further north.

Here you can see Walnut and Angus reveling in the sun at another beach stop along the way in Otaki.  Here in Otaki, we took another long walk, and then headed back to the car to fetch our beach blanket to lay out on the sand and enjoy about a half hour of reading.

We stopped in the town of Otaki for a short walk along to look in the shops, but we didn't spend too long, and bought nothing.

After packing it in at Otaki, we continued on for the short drive to Levin.  We got lost (not really lost, but misdirected) from Google Maps.  Thank you Google.  We only went off a couple kilometres, so no big deal.

We arrived at the bach at about 4:00 pm and unloaded the car.  Here are a couple shots of the bach:
After settling in, that night we made our first dinner of famous (at least at our house) spaghetti.  We accompanied the dish with some whole wheat bread and L & P (A famous drink in NZ).
After dinner we washed up and watched a miniseries that rented here in Wellington called State of Play.  This miniseries was the basis of the American movie of the same name.  Based on the fact that we've now seen both, I would have to say that the miniseries was much better than the movie.  If you get the chance, I would totally rent the movie.  Actually, we did, so there you go.

While watching the movie, we enjoyed a plate of our homemade chocolate hazelnut cookies as well as a bunch of the walnuts provided by our host.  We watched three of the six episodes and then went to bed.  Oh, by the way, wood burners, totally rock as opposed to fireplaces.
The next morning we made a breakfast of fresh eggs and bacon, as well as a side of muesli, before we headed off to Waikanae for another day at the beach.

After a few hours of meandering on the beach, where a I got a bit of a sunburn, we went back to the cottage for lunch and some reading.  The dogs also took a bit of time to relax and smell the flowers:


Later that night we headed off Kimberly Reserve, where we went for a walk along the river and through the fields.  I took some wonderful pictures of birds in flight, but the birds were blurry.  My camera work was fine, but the birds were blurry.  Also, it seems that the Kimberly Reserve is built on a slope or something, because I appear a bit crooked.
When we got back to the batch that night we enjoyed a meal of pumpkin soup and toasted cheese sandwiches.  We also capped off the evening with the final three episodes of State of Play.
The final day, instead of making eggs and bacon again, we had a breakfast of freshly made BLTs  Only we didn't have any L, we had A as in avocado.  They were quite yummy!

That day, on the drive home we stopped at Kuku beach which didn't hold too much interest for us as it seemed more a place where the water met the fields than an actual beach, so we continued on to Waikanae again.  After one final walk along the beach there, we stopped once more at the Pickle Pot for a final picnic lunch of our toasted paninis.
That pretty much summed up our trip.  Here are a few more pics of spots along the way:


Vespa Warrior

Friday, August 20, 2010 20:58 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
I was online yesterday looking for some pen-nibs for my Wacom tablet pen, when I saw they had a contest for Wacom users to create an Anime/Manga monster.  There are three prizes of new Wacom tablets so I decided to enter.

I came up with an idea of an alien like creature that uses Vespa cowling for armor.

Here is the rough draft so far.

Let me know what you think.

Fuzzification of FlopZee

Tonight I finished up the fuzzification of Floppy Zebra (aka FlopZee).

In addition to fuzz factor, I also started to add some shading onto FlopZee's body.  The next, and final part, will be to add some shading onto the surfaces such as walls and floor.

Here is the current rendition of FlopZee.

Garlic Soup

07:53 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Last night Kristie and I made 44 Clove, Garlic Soup for dinner.  While the recipe was easy enough, it actually took quite a long time to make as you have to first bake a bunch of garlic for 40 minutes before you can start making the soup, but the recipe itself was pretty solid.

A lot of people tout the health benefits of garlic saying that it will keep you from getting sick.  I think the reason behind that is because no one will get within a 10 metre radius of you when you eat a bunch of garlic.  Even the ones who are sick and can't breath through their nose will be like: "Dude!  You stink!"

The original recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen, and we omitted the lemon, but everything else remained the same.  Here is the recipe if anyone wants it.  Actually, I'm going to post the recipe whether you want it or not, so there!


44-Clove Garlic Soup with Parmesan Cheese
Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 1999

Serves 4

Ingredients

26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 1/4 cups sliced onions
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
18 garlic cloves, peeled
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
4 lemon wedges

Method

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add roasted garlic and 18 raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add chicken stock; cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; add cream and bring to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide grated cheese among 4 bowls and ladle soup over. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve.

Do ahead: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

The Evolution of Floppy Zebra

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 20:59 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
After dinner tonight, I spent about one to two hours tidying up Floppy Zebra.  The outlining and the inking took over an hour, and the fuzzy bits of fur surrounding his head took about a half hour.

I still have to add fuzziness to the rest of his body, and then add some lighting/shading.  I also have to fix up where his legs meet the body.

Here is the current iteration of Floppy Zebra.  The previous version can be found in my previous blog post.

Working on Another Character

07:50 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments

This morning, over breakfast, I started working on another character for the book.  Here is the rough draft that I have created so far.

He is based of a stuffed toy that is owned by a friend's daughter.

Writing a Book Will Take Forever

Monday, August 16, 2010 19:22 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Today, I got to focus on drawing for a large portion of the day, that is until our faucet in the kitchen started spouting water like a park fountain!  I was baking a batch of muffins, and then while cleaning up afterwards, I turned off the faucet, and the water started spouting out the top of the tap.  Being the first household emergency, I had never actually found out where the water main was, so it took me quite a while to find it.  Guess where it was?  Under my neighbour's house.  Seriously!  We live in a duplex, and the two water mains for both houses are under her house.  Weird!

Anyway, back to the book stuff.  I was doodling away on my Wacom (wow does that sound dirty), and came up with an idea for a character in the book.  Even though this character is very simple looking, it took hours to get him to the point where I thought he looked presentable.

Part of the reason behind how long it takes, is that I'm still not 100% when it comes to using GIMP (the online graphics program that I use).  Another reason is that I suck as an artist.  I tend to focus on the former rather than the latter.

Judging by how long this single character took, means that writing a book, where I do the illustrations is going to take forever!

What a Wonderful Day

Today was one of those wonderfully relaxing days that you just don't seem to get enough of.

We woke up this morning at about 7:30 ish, and sort of milled about in the kitchen for a while, but not really doing anything in particular.  We didn't make breakfast, we didn't make coffee, we just sort of did a whole lot of nothing.  After about a half hour of this, we asked each other if we wanted to make breakfast or coffee, and neither one of us really wanted to do either.  So we went back to bed!

We turned on the electric blanket, and read in bed for a while.  About a half hour later, we decided that we could probably nap without any issues.  So we did!  We napped for two hours.  It was wonderful!

After we woke up, we finally made breakfast and coffee.  Afterwards we took the dogs to the Botanic Gardens for a walk.  We generally go to Wadestown, but it had just rained last night, and we thought it would be way too muddy.  In the gardens, we met up with 4 or 5 other dogs, and just enjoyed a cloudy, but warm and non-windy day.

After our walk, we got home and decided to make a late lunch.  Quite late actually, we didn't sit down to eat until about 3:30 pm.  After eating and cleaning up from lunch, guess what we did?  Yep!  We had another nap!  We slept for about an hour to an hour and a half longer.  It was awesome!

After this nap, we decided to go do something a bit more productive.  We went to Petone to do some grocery shopping.  After that, we took the dogs for another walk, this time along the waterfront.  After getting home from the waterfront it was getting a bit late (8:30 pm), so we decided to make a quick and easy (and late) dinner of porridge and toast.

Finally, after dinner, we made a crustless blueberry pie for our dinner tomorrow.

Now, just before sitting down to watch the movie we rented yesterday, I'm going to have a nice relaxing bath.  Today was the most relaxing day ever!

Taken Hostage on a Warship

07:20 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
HMSNZ Canterbury
Yesterday, on my lunchtime walk, I noticed that the HMSNZ Caterbury, which is a very large sea lift ship, was moored in Wellington Harbour.  As I got closer, I saw that they were offering guided tours to the public, and thought it would be fun to check out a real navy ship.  I still had plenty of time on my lunch, so I didn't think a quick tour would be an issue.

Oh how wrong I was!

Here is the issue: I didn't realize it at the time, but they weren't just offering one or two tours, they were offering several tours.  Now, because of the security issues, the tours had to be guided tours; let's face it, you can't just let civilians run around on a warship unsupervised.  As there were many tours going on simultaneously, once you arrived to a destination on board, such as the bridge or the hanger deck, you couldn't simply move on to another destination as it was occupied by another tour group.  Instead, you had to wait and wait and wait until the other tour (or tours) have moved off.

The entire tour, which I thought might take 15 minutes, took almost two hours!  I was stuck on board a warship for two frigging hours!  Don't get me wrong, learning about the ship was interesting, but being stuck in the cargo hold, or the ship's hospital for 20 minutes at a time, kind of got boring.

Luckily, when I arrive back at work and told my boss about my abduction, she was cool about it.  Still, I've got to make up the time later.  Fair is fair.

Pink

Monday, August 09, 2010 13:06 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
One of the bushes in our front yard are starting to bloom.
I just thought this looked nice.

Angus Never Learns

12:35 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
P1020479 Yesterday was supposed to be a pretty crap day weather-wise.  The Metservice had said that it would be raining the entire day.  Fortunately for us, Metservice wouldn’t know rain if they were in a torrential downpour!  So instead of the rain that was expected, we had gobs of sunshine!  It was wonderful!
We started out with a morning walk in the Botanic Gardens with the dogs, where they met up with a few other pups going walkabout.  After that walk we headed off to Brooklyn (no not New York), where we purchased a couple muffins to have as a snack later in the day.  From there we went to Lyall Bay beach, which is an off leash beach, where we met up with tonnes of other pups!  Angus had a bit of a run in with a nine month old, jumpy schnauzer, and totally went Donald Duck on his ass!
Angus doesn’t do well with jumpy puppies unless they are girls.  Angus will go total ape poopie on a jumpy boy puppy, but if they are girls however, he will totally take a butt kicking.  Angus tends to be into younger women.
After our time at the beach, we drove a little further on to Moa Point, where we had a picnic with the muffins we purchased earlier.  We found a nice quiet spot, threw down the picnic blanket and enjoyed the sunshine.
After the picnic, we came home and had a nap.
After the nap, we decided to go out for one more walk, and that is where it ended up going a bit pear-shaped.  We went up to Wadestown, which is one of our favourite walks as the dogs can be off leash the whole time.  It was a bit muddy, as it had rained yesterday, but it wasn’t too bad.  Angus is usually a wild card on these walks as he can easily get into trouble.  Today was one of those days.
He did pretty well on the walk up, but on the walk back, he veered off the main path and bolted up a side trail, up the hill.  After trying to call for him to come back down, I had to go and search for him.  I called and called, but he didn’t come.  I finally found him about half way up the hill, munching on the biggest mouthful of mud you’ve ever seen.  I tried to rush back down to him, I was a few metres higher than him, and ended up slipping and falling on my ass and getting covered in mud!
Needless to say, when I reached Angus I gave him supreme hell, and a bit of a spanking to boot.  Not a spanking with my boot, but he would have deserved it.  So he got yelled at, he got a swat, he got put on leash for the rest of the walk, and I pretty much ignored him for most of the remaining day.  After dinner however, I called him over to offer my forgiveness and it made him happy as a clam.
Angus tends to remember the good things and forgets the bad.  Which explains why he doesn’t seem to learn any lessons.

Thinking About Writing A Children’s Book

10:49 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Some Guy's Head

I’ve been thinking about writing a children’s book.

A few days ago, I couldn’t sleep, which happens to me quite a bit.  During my bout with insomnia, I kept thinking about the first few pages of the book that I wanted to write.  As the evening went on, the more I thought about it, the more I got excited about the project.  The more excited I got about the project, the more I couldn’t sleep!  It was this whole positive feedback loop…thing.

I know that I have a history of starting projects and then letting them get all mouldy and dusty from neglect, but I’ve been thinking about doing something like this for a few years now.  I’ve never considered myself a great writer, but I do have a sense of humour that might be appreciated by children. In fact, some may say that my sense of humour is appreciated by no one else but children!  I think I can use that to my advantage.

In addition to this, I wanted to include my own artwork into the book.  Like my thoughts about my own writing, I think that my unsophisticated artwork could actually be a benefit to the book that I have in mind.  Sure there are tonnes of books out there with eloquent prose and artwork that could make you absolutely weep!  But do we really need another GOOD book out there?  Isn’t there room for at Chapters, Boarders, Amazon, etc. for both excellent books as well as bargain bin books?

The character to the left will be the protagonist in the book.  *scoff*  Not really.  I was just doodling and needed something to occupy a bit of space in this blog post.

Best Walking Day So Far

Yesterday I had a pretty good walking day.

We did our run this morning, I had to go to return a book to the library, I had a really good walk on my lunch hour, and we went for a nice walk with the dogs to the Botanic Gardens.  All-in-all, I managed to reach over 24,000.

Kristie probably did even better as she went for a run on her lunch hour as well as the morning run.  Except she forgot to wear her pedometer for both of the runs.

You can see my progress (because I know you're interested) on the Walking Log Page of my blog.

Seal By the Sheds

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 14:31 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
Kristie and I met for a walk at lunch today, and headed down Oriental Parade.

On the way there, we past the boat sheds where we saw a seal basking on the pedestrian walkway.

There were a bunch of people around it, taking pictures, but it didn't seem to take much notice of them whatsoever.

Apparently, there was a story a couple days ago, when a seal found its way into Watangi park, which is just a few metres from where we spotted the one today.

Missed A Couple Goals Yesterday

Monday, August 02, 2010 06:34 Posted by Leo Saumure 1 comments
In addition to walking a total of 10,000 steps each day, I also have secondary goals to reach targets for aerobic steps, aerobic walking time, fat burned, etc.

As you can see by the chart, I made my overall step goal on August 1st, but I missed my aerobic steps target.  As I had mentioned in the previous post, the weather yesterday was less than spectacular, so I should be happy that I made my 10,000 steps.

Tips to Make Your 10,000 Step Goal

Sunday, August 01, 2010 19:28 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
10000steps Nobody (that I know of) lives in a place where the weather is always perfect.  As the saying goes, into every life a little rain must fall.
I’m not a big fan of walking in the rain.  Even when I’m in rain gear, it is still pretty unpleasant; despite what Gean Kelly says (singing in the rain, my ass!).
Today started out well enough in that there was some wind, but it was pretty dry.  We took the dogs out to Wadestown for our regular Saturday walk, and made it back before the rain hit.  The Wadestown walk however is quite short of our 10,000 step goal.  And now with the rain coming down in buckets, we have no real inclination to walk outside, so what am I to do in order to make my 10,000 steps?
In situations like this, I like killing two birds with one stone.  Not literally mind you, as I can’t throw stones that accurately and those birds are pretty quick.  Anyway, since the weather is less than perfect, I thought getting the laundry out of the way would be a good way to kill some time.  So after washing and drying the laundry, I would take the loaded laundry baskets into the living room (basically the furthest point from our dressers and closets) and then, single piece-by-piece, I would bring them into the bedroom to be put away.
So imagine three or four baskets of laundry in the living room, and me walking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, from living room to bed room, until every single piece of laundry is put away.  It can literally take hours to put the clothing away in that fashion, but tonight alone, I added about 6,000 steps to my total for the day!