Water cooler: going crackers, chasing fruit & browsing Beervana

This week in the water cooler, we savour the new season grapefruit, say hello to Talking Tom and make the best crackers EVER.



We shared lunch this week, celebrating yet-another milestone, but we would never need a reason to sit down to Rebecca’s crackers. They were clear favourites on a table laden with delicious food. They are super-easy, quick to make and delicious on their own or with nearly any dip, cheese or topping.


1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup linseeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
7/8 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water (use only as much as you need till the mixture binds together).

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl to form a dough.

Roll out half of the dough thin between two sheets of baking paper. Roll the dough down to pumpkin seed thickness and place onto a baking tray.

Pre-cut lines into the dough as this helps the crackers break apart easily after they are cooked.

Repeat the same process for the other half of the dough.

Bake each batch separately at 180 C for 11-13mins (or until golden brown).

Let cool, break up crackers and store in airtight container.


– The trick is to roll the dough as thinly as possible and cook them until they are nice and golden (they should be nice and crunchy). I cook my mixture in two batches so that I can concentrate on one tray at a time and ensure the edges aren’t overcooked. As the edges are slightly thinner, they will cook faster than the centre; you may want to pull out the tray and take off the edge pieces and return the tray to the oven to cook the rest.

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–  Rebecca Needham
Art Director, NZ Lifestyle Block



Castaway actor Tom Hanks has created free apps, Hanx Writer, which simulates an old-fashioned typewriter to help children learn and engage.

The idea? The sound of the old-fashioned typewriter, keys hammering away and the bell dinging when it turns a line, gets children to become enthusiastic about writing (it has spell check too).

“I wanted to have the sensation of an old manual typewriter – I wanted the sound of typing if nothing else,” said Tom.

“I find it’s like music that spurs along the creative urge. Bang bang clack-clack-clack puckapuckapuckapucka… I wanted the ‘report’ of each letter, each line.”


Another app from a very different Tom follows a very articulate cat called Talking Tom. This cheeky puss listens to the kids speak and repeats their words.

Pick up the little icons to interact further, you can feed him chillis, and he’ll blow fire, and certain foods will make him fart.

He’s a great character and kids be warned your iPad maybe hard to get off the adults after they have a go too.


One final freebie app worth trying is Jigsaw HD. The game has pieces that click into place to create beautiful scenes like beach. You can keep reviewing the finished image to help piece to together.

– Yolanta Woldendorp
Creative Director, NZ Life & Leisure



This ISN’T a story about the cost of housing in Auckland though Lord-knows I have strong enough views on that to fill a book. No, this is a story about how much I love grapefruit and how it’s ripening on trees all over my city – unloved and unpicked. And then it falls to the ground, rolls into the gutters and stops at the drain covers where it glows and gleams like orbs of molten gold.

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Grapefruit rolling on the streets of Auckland from This NZ Life on Vimeo.

The first of the new season’s crop turned up at my local farmer’s’ market a weekend ago, but when the stallholder asked $3 for three fruit, I gulped and hesitated. Then I felt bad to be so mean, and I handed over the cash. He’d risen at sparrow fart, after all, to pack his van with fruit collected from trees on his Miranda farm and driven to the city. Next morning, on my commute to work, I pulled to the kerb and plucked two delicious fruit from the gutter.

Come on people, how about a HELP YOURSELF sign when your ripe and laden grapefruit trees are hanging over the fence? Or a grapefruit exchange Facebook page?

– Kate Coughlan
Editor, NZ Life & Leisure



The best time to plant trees, shrubs and other large landscaping plants is winter. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but winter seems to be near its end. My confused almond tree thinks winter is long gone as it has blossoms strewn over its branches.

One of my long-term activities is an annual planting of natives.This year’s order, to award-winning Treeline nursery started by the amazing Diane Coleman 20 years ago, is for beautification of my water and septic tank areas. Garden projects on a block are always big. You can’t get away with one or two here, one or two there. This year is one of my smallest projects – gossamer grass and cabbage trees – but I still require well over 100 plants.

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That’s why finding a good nursery like Diane’s, that sells in bulk and gives discounts as you buy more, is key. Then you need to be diligent and get the things planted before spring hits so the root systems have time to wind their way into the soil and suck up moisture. Otherwise, like me, you’ll have to spend hours this summer watering your investment.

–  Nadene Hall
Editor NZ Lifestyle Block


Anna Tai- Jamieson Lee-Anne Duncan

Anna Tait- Jamieson  and Lee-Anne Duncan at Beervana

This year’s Beervana event was the toast of Wellington. I bumped into NZ Life & Leisure writer  Lee-Anne Duncan about to refill her glasses at Liberty Brewing Co. We swapped notes – she raved about The Rocky Road White Stout from Good George Brewing. Meanwhile, I loved Tuatara’s Wild Pumpkin Ale.


I also caught up with The Beer Baroness Ava Wilson who is one of New Zealand’s few commercial women brewers and operates out of Christchurch. I loved her malty, raisiny brown ale, named Madame Brown.

– Anna Tait-Jamieson
Food Editor, NZ Life & Leisure.

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