Can I have a drumroll, please?!

It's time to announce the winner of the giveaway I mentioned a couple of weeks back! I wish I could send a gift to each of you, as I am truly in awe of your faithfulness, but there can only be one winner.

I considered using one of those on-line randomizer thingies to pick the winner after I had assigned a number to each commenter, but my problem with that sort of thing is that, of the few that I have seen, the first or second person was never picked. So, I did it the old-fashioned way and wrote each name on a piece of paper and coerced asked Hubby to pick one.
And now, without further ado......

the winner is.... Wandering Wren!  

Please email me your address at tenfootheart (at) gmail (dot) com and I will get your gift to you as soon as I can.

Thanks again to all of you lovely bloggers who stop by.

BTW, I have to mention that she was, amazingly enough,  the very first commenter, :)

caterpillars in autumn

I have enjoyed seeing all manner of birds in the garden: to name a few, pukekos, plovers, starlings, magpies, swallows, the occasional kingfisher or two and the latest being a wild pheasant. 

I have, however, noticed the distinct absence of butterflies. In Hawera, just 20 minutes away, we have seen trees covered with them in the park and bushes covered with them at a public walkway. But there has been only the occasional single monarch fluttering past the house.

When I mentioned this to Hubby in early spring, he suggested we plant a 'butterfly garden' with lots of hebes, as the walkway signs suggested. I doubted his wisdom, but he sarcastically quipped, 'If you plant them, they will come' and commenced digging. 

We considered planting swan plants, but the ones we planted in Stratford were chewed to their death in a matter of weeks by the lovely little caterpillars. So we concluded that we would need to cover them the first  year in order for them to be hearty enough for caterpillars and decided against them.

All spring and summer the hebes bloomed but there was no increase in  butterfly activity even though the bees loved them :)

Then, in mid-summer, Missy showed up with two swan plants for my garden and I decided to plant them and wait to see what happens. I waited. And waited. It grew some lovely green leaves and flowered beautifully. And one day, I noticed that one single monarch started to drift by almost daily. Some landed on the swan plants and some didn't.  Then, even though it was already getting into the autumn months, much to my surprise, I noticed one fat caterpillar!

As of today, there were 10 caterpillars of various sizes and the swan plants don't seem to be any worse for wear!

I am delighted beyond belief with the success of  attracting the beautiful butterflies! Of course, I plan to get more swan plants next summer and see if we can change the courses of monarchs in Taranaki!

Blog stats and a giveaway!

I started this blog in December of 2007 with no idea that it would end up where it is today:  with  over 260 followers and almost 250,000 pageviews!

As you can see, a post from 2008 is still going strong after all this time with over 16,000 views. The internet is a strange place.

My photo blog started in 2009 and has 385 followers and over 400,000 pageviews!

It seems that last January was a good month for my blog with 15,000 pageviews. Amazing!

All these number just boggle my mind and to show my gratitude, I am having a little give-away. It's not much, but I want you to know that I appreciate my faithful followers and those that pass through occasionally. 

I'm giving away a silver fish hook necklace that has a paua inset. The fish hook is a Maori sign of good luck  and the swirl on the side is a sign of life.  It hangs on a long, adjustable black cord but you can put it on a chain.
For your chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post. I will let you know the winner in two weeks!

Hubby's plans are the best

When we travel, Hubby does a lot of research and gives me many choices to make as to where we go and what we do. He is very efficient and I think he would be a very good personal travel planner :)
On our SILDI (screw it, let's do it) trip to the south island, we were reminded why Hubby's plans are always way better than being a part of a tour.
For the Doubtful Sound trip, we took an hour trip across Lake Manapouri by boat then through a road pass by bus to the jetty at the Sound. Personally, I wasn't impressed with the trip as both boats were extremely loud and gave me a headache. The bus driver in between was the highlight as he was quite informative and funny. 
As far as I'm concerned, the captain took us out too far into choppy water.  I was not happy with the boat rocking quite hard back and forth just to see the seal colony at the mouth of the sounds--not my idea of a 'cruise'. I would have been happier if he had stayed within the Sound. At least, they had free coffee and tea aboard.

The Milford Sound trip was much easier to get to as we just drove to the Milford Sound Visitor's Center to board the boat. The visitor center was quite busy as there were several cruise check-in counters and many tour buses but it was fun to watch the people scurrying about.
The cruise boat actually had a Pita Pit store and a coffee shop aboard so I'm glad we brought our own lunch. This captain turned around as soon as he hit some bad water, so I was  impressed with that.
I have to mention that an Asian lady insisted that I take one of her family's umbrellas as we waited in the rain to board the boat. I was quite touched by her concern.

All in all, the tours were nice, the scenery was  awesome (even in the rain) and the people were mostly well-behaved but I think I'll stick with Hubby's tours. They are made specifically for me and him!!