Fall is just around the corner

 ...and we could wake up with the weather turning ugly any day, so  I thought I would post some of the last blooms of the season.

As you may know, we inherited the garden when we rented our house.  It just took a little TLC to bring it to life and we are still stunned by it's beauty.


This cactus dahlia is so big we have to stake individual stems.


This is the result of a yellow daisy and this flower (a daisy hybrid of some sort) being cross pollinated.
We are always making plans for the garden, although we both prefer the 'English garden' look for most of our beds.  I never thought I'd enjoy gardening so much.


continued newness

I have learned many interesting points and many new uses for words since I was in Kansas.  You can read about 'new' stuff I have already posted about here  and  things I have learned about New Zealand here.

I'm sure the list will be never-ending, so I consider this a continuation of the list....

Where 'vacuum' is a verb in the US, they use 'hoover' here.

The dot at the end of a sentence here is called a 'full stop'.

I find the made-up word 'mugwump' very amusing.  It means, well, nothing specific really.  I asked what a bird on a fence was called and wonderful, understanding Hubby told me it was a mugwump. Never having heard of one before, I asked if that was a native of New Zealand.  He shrugged and said "I don't think so.  Any bird that sits on a fence with his 'mug' on one side and his 'rump' on the other is a mugwump."  [He was treated for minor injuries at the Emergency Room and released.]

Over 1/3 of this whole country is set aside as land reserves.

'Trainers' are not people who help you exercise here.  They are athletic shoes.
I guess that's not any stranger than calling them 'tenny-runners' when I was a kid.

All the rolls of kitchen things like foil and waxed paper and saran wrap come as plain rolls.  They don't usually have boxes much less any cutting edges built into the box.  I have learned to tear them rather efficiently.

Pound cake, chili, home-made mac and cheese were all new to my new family.

I still can't get a decent saltine cracker.  We have one brand, but they are way too thick for my liking.  Hubby thinks they are fabulous, though.  Interestingly enough, there is a NZ brand called Jatz that tastes exactly like a Ritz. And they sell Ritz crackers, too.

The small towns all roll up the sidewalks early and don't bother to open the shops on weekends. Just the hardware/garden centers and maybe a couple other stores on main street ('High Street') are open on Saturday mornings. Liquor stores, the video shop, convenience stores and some of the many owner/operated 'dairies' are usually open.  There was a poll taken by the newspaper concerning weekend-shopping and it has been the front-page news for the last 3 weeks.  Yes, that's how small this town is.



Lightning Fast Peanut Butter Fudge

OK, this recipe is not quite 'lightning fast' but it's really, really quick! It's one of those things that you can make (and eat) way too much of and want to make more!
It's from the Eagle Brand website (link is below), and goes something like this:

In heavy saucepan (or whatever kind of pan you have), heat:

1 (14 oz, or 395g) can of condensed milk and
1/2 c (125ml) of peanut butter
until just bubbly, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in 2 (6 oz) pkg (400g) of white chocolate bits.  Stir until smooth.
Immediately stir in 3/4 c (350g) of chopped peanuts and 1 t (5ml) of vanilla.
Spread into waxed (cooking) paper lined 8 inch ( 20cm) pan.  Cool.  Cover and chill for 2 hours or until firm.  Turn fudge onto cutting board; peel off paper.

Sprinkle with additional chopped peanuts, if desired.  Cut into squares. Store leftovers (if there are any!) in refrigerator.

Below is the link to this recipe on the Eaglebrand.com website.  They have all kinds of other goodies, if you have never checked it out before.


Tennis Court size hot pool

It may not be what you imagined, but this is the place I mentioned in my previous post, Waingaro Hot Springs. It is all naturally hot-springs fed, but it is treated so that you can swim and splash and not worry about contracting some strange diseases. There are 3 pools, one for kiddies, one for swimming and one for relaxing (that's the hottest one).

This is a quaint little place that reminds me of a scene out of the 60's or 70's. Kinda like 'Dirty Dancing' with water! 


US vs NZ list

I was thinking the other day about things that I never  would  have done if I hadn't moved to a whole new life on the other side of the globe.  As I wrote them down, Hubby reminded me of more.

I'm sure it will lengthen as time goes by, but for now, here's the list of things I never thought I would do:
  • pull weeds
  • worry about balanced meals
  • buy brown eggs at the store
  • snuggle on the sofa (I didn't own one in KS)
  • be chased by waves
  • watch the Simpsons
  • dust
  • recycle
  • hang clothes out to dry
  • consider myself responsible for wild ducks
  • grow my own tomatoes
  • see dolphins swim alongside a boat
  • take a zillion pictures
  • grow flowers in an old work boot
  • do the 'titanic' pose on a ferry boat
  • do the 'titanic' pose on a charter boat after my wedding vows
  • hike through woods to see a waterfall
  • stand on the beach at midnight
  • wonder if flowers need moving for more sunlight
  • check homework
  • look 200 feet straight down while standing on a window 
  • compost
  • turn a plot of grass into a flower bed
  • watch BBC programs
  • search for John Deere tractors
  • buy furnishings from the internet
  • see sea anemones up close
  • read the back of a seed package
  • text proficiently
  • sit in a tennis-court size hot pool
  • chase trains
  • kick a soccer ball around
  • hear about--much less actually see--glowworms in a cave
  • ride a train for pleasure
  • learn some English history
  • buy Swan plants to attract caterpillars
  • drink instant coffee on a regular basis
  • have a pet cat
  • call the bush beside the pond 'George'
Looking back over this list, it seems I was saved from a life of boredom.


Handy hubby

I have a very handy hubby.  He has a strange sense of humor (if you remember how he named 'Dougie') but he is very clever in the shed (garage, for my yankee friends).
The first pictures are of Otterboy's train bed that was built in 2007, with no formal plans at all.  The bed is on top with lots of storage below, but Otterboy's room doesn't seem to stay tidy.  Go figure.  I painted a sheet to hang on the wall so it looks like the train is just coming out of a tunnel.  The white doors open and the bottom removes to become a desk.

Here is a mailbox he made years ago.  It was put in a display of some sort and when a lady wanted to know how much it cost to buy, Hubby sarcastically said $300.  She bought it.  It still collects mail by the side of the road outside of Palmerston North.

About 10 years ago, this one was built as a flowerpot display.  It just got a bit of refurbishing this spring and adorns our back patio.

Here is the dollhouse he built for Missy a few years back.  It has very English details inside and out.  I crocheted a few curtains and we found some put-together furniture that fit great!

This playhouse was originally attached to a friend's back porch for her three girls.  I believe Hubby has become their very favorite visitor of all time.

Meet 'Woody'.  He is older than dirt, but still finds time to fish in our goldfish pond.

And, this is what he made for me.  In a former life, I worked in a casino and, as a supervisor, was required to look the part, so I have lots of jewelry that doesn't get worn much.  It does, however, have a nice, safe place to hang out.

Yes, there is a theme of trains through it all.  But it makes both the boys (Otterboy and Hubby) happy, so it makes me happy.  This is a portion of the train track he put up around Otterboy's 'other' bedroom (at his mum's).  It runs all the way around the room and through the 'tunnel' that goes into the closet.

I think he's rather clever, making most of this stuff without any plans except what rattles around in his head. And all the recepients are happy with their hand-made goodies.  My hubby.  I think I'll keep him. *wink, wink*


Mokau, Taranaki

On a return trip from Waikato, we stopped at Mokau for a bit of fish and chips at the beach before our last bit of journey home.  As we watched the tide and the waves (and from a warning sign for swimmers and surfers), we realized that there was an interesting rip tide that kept sweeping past us from right to left.  It looked like someone was pulling a toy on a string straight across our path causing the water to spray upward. Click on the top picture to see it more vividly.

Just a bit to the left of where the first photo was taken, we noticed that there were two sets of waves moving in perpendicular directions. This was due to the river feeding from the extreme left.  It made an interesting pattern on the water's surface.

I don't think I will ever get tired of watching the ocean!


Castlepoint holiday

We recently took a short holiday to Castlepoint (also called Lion Head point) in the Southeastern part of the north island.  Some of the pictures on my photo blog are from there, but I wanted to share a couple of special photos.

Here  is the point that the area was named after.

It was a great opportunity when we saw the moon over the lighthouse long before sundown.

Missy climbed all the way to the top of the point (much to my panic, as I try to let her go!) and took this picture.

This is the strange lava-formed beach at Mataikoma.