Always remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee

A professor stood before his philosophy class with an empty mayonnaise jar sitting amid other items on his desk.

When the class began, he wordlessly proceeded to fill the mayonnaise jar with golf balls. He then asked the students if they thought the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

He then poured a bag of pebbles into the jar. As he gently shook it, the pebbles rolled into areas the golf balls couldn't fill. He asked the students, again, if they thought the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

Next, he poured in the bag of sand which settled into even more spaces.
Once again, he queried the students and they agreed the jar was full.

Silently, he poured two cups of coffee into the jar. The students laughed.

'Now I will explain this experiment,' the professor said.

The jar is your life.
The golf balls are important things like family, children, health, friends, passions. If you lost everything but these things, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are other things that matter like your job, the car or your house. If you lost these things, you could still go on.
The sand is everything else--the small stuff.

Now, if you put the sand in first, there is no room for anything else. As in life, if you spend all your time on the 'small stuff' there is no room for the really important things.

So, take care of the golf balls first. Set your priorities.

Play with your children.
Get medical checkups. 
Enjoy the garden.
Have a quiet dinner with your partner.
Nap on the couch with your kids in your arms.

The rest is just sand. There will always be time to clean the house or talk to online friends later.'

After a few moments of thoughtful silence, one of the students raised her hand and asked what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and answered simply, 'It just goes to show that, no matter how full your life may seem, there is always time for a cup or two of coffee with a friend.'


Christmas at our house

We had the kids a few days before Christmas, so we surprised them with our gift-hunt in the yard garden on Christmas Eve morning. [I don't know how they did it, but both managed to miss one present that I found later!]

We had pizza on the beach in New Plymouth on Christmas Eve, where we saw some kite-surfers and kayakers having fun on the water. We then went to Pukekura Park to see the lights that are really fun every year. (See Hubby's The Reluctant Photographer's photos for pictures.)

I thought this sleigh in the Begonia House was adorable, even if Santa looks a bit frightened.

We opened our other gifts on Christmas morning and I made omelets for brunch. Afterwards, we went to Opunake so the kids could swim. There were lots of people having cook-outs and just chilling.

Here's my favorite view of Opunake Beach.

When we got back to the house, Hubby cooked Christmas dinner for us. [What a prince of a guy!] We had turkey, veggies and Connie's Sweet Potato Decadence (which is SOOO aptly named) Thanks, Connie!

All in all, a great time for all of us. And still weird without snow.


Merry Christmas!

May you enjoy love and peace with family and dear friends at these Christmas holidays!


being older than dirt and other stuff

It's very  seldom that I tell anybody my actual age because it's just a number and I really don't want to be judged by it. I have always told the children that I am 'older than dirt'--which makes them titter and satisfied with my answer. Well, before we moved, we took some flowers to our neighbor. On the way back, Otterboy and I were walking down the drive and he looks at his dirty hands. Then he smiles and holds them up for me to see the dirt and says, "Here ya go, Peachy (that's what they call me). I have some of your first friends."

I'm not sure why I never bought brown eggs in the US. I saw them in stores, but never bought them. There is no choice here. All the eggs in the store are brown. I guess they have different colored chickens here.

When I say the number '2500' aloud, I say 'twenty five hundred'. Here it is 'two and a half thousand'.

I still think it's weird that, in the words 'fillet' and 'debris', all the letters are pronounced. And 'cafe' is pronounced 'calf'.

I ordered some earrings from LuShae Jewelry. I can't say which ones because they are for a birthday present but was very pleased when I got them. The quality is something that impressed me (and that's not an easy thing to do!). Everything about them sparkled! The order didn't take long at all, even for being shipped to New Zealand.  Head on over there and check them out! Just click here.

So far,in our town, the water is paid for yearly by the home owner. They are slowly but surely putting in individual meters, but looks like it will be a while before that system is complete.

Funny how brand names are used on the same items. In America, a permanent marker is a 'magic marker'. Here it is a 'vivid'.

Any drink with lemon in it is referred to as 'lemonade' here, whether it's Sprite or the kids' drink Raro (Kool-aid).

I find it confusing when US and BBC programs use both metric and imperial measures. Mostly, it's metric here, but why don't they sell eggs by 10's instead of dozens? And photos are printed in 6X4 or 5X8 or 8X10.

I'm still willing to sacrifice something huge for Italian sausage for a pizza.

Have you ever heard of a 'green prescription'? Well, it's a weird (voluntary) thing set in motion from the nurse in the clinic. On a regular prescription pad, they 'prescribe' that you should exercise for health and weigh loss [this paper you should keep on the fridge]. Then, they turn your name in to a local group who calls to give info on all the activities you should be interested in (but you're not, really) and discuss your limitations and suggest things you can do (but probably won't). Maybe I'll get motivated after everything is put away.


hawera push bike pub crawl 09

I had never heard of a pub crawl before I got here--the things I learn! The Hawera pub crawl has been in the newspaper for a couple of weeks now and I find it quite fascinating.

The Hawera push bike pub crawl is an annual even that started 32 years ago with a few friends and has exploded to nearly 2000 participants this year.  It's so big that the powers that be want to shut it down as a traffic hazard, but it has a life of its own. Nobody legally takes responsibility for it any more, so the Police don't have much recourse. There were 4 South Taranaki police cars and one paddy wagon in Normanby along with lots and lots of official people stationed along the route.

I stood by the road for about an hour and took photos as the crawlers pedal powered between Hawera and Normanby.  I saw Snow White, escaped prisoners, Ghostbusters, fairies and bees. I even saw Santa and ET!

Yes, this is pedal powered!


Easy, peasy Christmas traditions

In case you missed some of my very first posts (I'm sure that includes everyone but one friend in the US!), we started some great Christmas traditions here.

First of all, we do not give clothes or other necessities as Christmas gifts (unless it's something super-special). I recall too many Christmases when there was nothing fun, only clothes. I know my folks didn't intend to warp me with their 'Christmas', but I have no intentions of passing those feelings on.

Hubby and I now decide during the year what our Christmas gift is (when we buy it) and I just wrap up some candy or something small to unwrap with the kids on Christmas Day. 

Missy thoroughly enjoys getting a 'certificate' to go shopping with me at some point after Christmas to buy some special clothes or CD's or whatever she really wants and have a 'just us girls' lunch out. I'm glad she's so easy about this since we all know teenagers are so hard to buy for. 

Otterboy does enjoy his trains that Hubby built for him, and our newest model we are building is N scale. So, we buy cars and accessories for the layout during the year. 

I don't remember how it got started, but, since it's summertime here in the southern hemisphere, we now have the tradition of having an outside 'gift hunt' instead of putting gifts under the tree. They are just silly things like bath soaps and pencil sets along with drawing paper and silly string and other things from the $2 shop or the Warehouse (NZ's answer to Wally World). They find all the hidden gifts then bring them inside to unwrap. And, gladly, these are also things that can be collected throughout the year.

After the gifts, we go to the beach and usually stop for ice cream.There are definite advantages to having a sunny, hot Christmas! 

But, it's still a bit weird.


Everything's moved

Now, I just have to figure out where it all goes!

And, as anyone who has ever moved in their life has said, I didn't know we had so much stuff!

Our first move was just after I got here when I only had three suitcases of stuff and Hubby just had 3 tiny rooms of bachelor stuff. I must say that three years changes all that!

Patheticat, AKA Bubba, did not like the move at all. We got him to the new place and he promptly spent 24 hours under our bed. Then when he did--neurotically--venture out, he spent another 24 hours gone. I don't know if he was punishing us for changing things or was just too afraid of the neighbor's chihuahua to get back home. The good news is, he is pretty much accustomed to the new surroundings and I am thrilled with everything in the house.

The keys in the picture below are from our old house and our new house [before we asked to have the locks upgraded]. Now, I can't remember the last time I saw any keys like these in use in the States. If you have used a 'skeleton key' lately, I'd be pleased to hear from you in a comment.

In discussing this with Hubby, who knows a LOT of stuff about NZ, I found that the districts were allotted 12 different keys for houses way back when. It seems that if you knew what you were doing, you could make a master key by filing one just right. Now, if that doesn't make you feel a bit insecure, I don't know what does!


more of NZ trivia

  • Rumor has it that the first European to see the country was Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1642.
  • There are more golf courses per capita than any other place in the world.
  • Less than 5% of NZ population is human.
  • Australia has Vegemite; New Zealand has Marmite.
  • Almost 1/3 of the country is national parks.
  • Little Blue Penguins visit NZ from other Oceania waters. They come ashore at night.
  • The Tohunga Suppression Act of 1907 made it a crime to mislead Maori by professing to possess supernatural powers.
  • Tourism accounts for 10% of Wellington's annual income.
  • John Butler was the first ordained clergyman to settle in NZ as a missionary. In 1820, he supervised the first plowing of NZ soil.
  • There is a city called National Parks.
  • People have been admiring the glow-worms of Waitomo Caves for over 100 years.
  • Although an area of the country, a pass and a river are named after him  (although spelled differently), James McKenzie's date and place of birth are unknown, as is his ultimate fate. It seems he served time for sheep rustling in 1855 and served time, but escaped twice. After being recaptured and serving 9 months of his 5-year sentence, he was pardoned and never heard from again. It is believed he went to Australia.
  • NZ has more bagpipe bands, per capita, than Scotland.
  • Frying Pan Lake, in the north island, is the world's largest hot water spring.
  • Election day is not a set date. The PM decides the day for each election.
  • Legend has it that the Beehive, the legislative building in the capital city, was actually designed on the back of a cigarette pack as a joke and was never intended to be built.
  • The only place in the world where two different sea levels can be seen at the same time is at French Pass, on the northern side of the south island.
  • Hokey Pokey ice cream is a national favorite.
  • In 1868, the Battle of Addisons Flat never happened.
  • Initially, NZ was a dependency of New South Wales. When Australia formed the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, NZ declined to join and became independent.
  • The Buzzy Bee was originally made in NZ.
  • 'Dancing sand' can be seen, only by permission to dive, at Waikoropupu Springs, the world's largest freshwater springs by volume.
  • In 1969, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 20. In 1974, it was changed to 18.
  • The city of Auckland has the world's most privately owned boats of any city in the world.
  • William Pickering was born in Wellington. He became director of the Jet Propulsion Lab in California, which produced the first successful US earth satellite.
  • Baldwin Street in Dunedin has the steepest grade of any street anywhere.
  • The last time a prisoner was put in irons in NZ was in 1897.
  • John Pawelka was a very elusive prisoner, having escaped from custody on several occasions. His last escape was from Wellington's Terrace jail in 1911 and he was never seen or heard from again.


Not something you see every day

In fact, it only happens once a year. It's the annual collect for the Salvation Army!

Volunteer firemen drive the trucks around town with the sirens blaring as people walk along and pick up the parcels that have been left by the mailboxes letterboxes. As we watched this truck go by, we actually saw cars slow down and hand bags of goods out their car window to the runners.

It kinda brings a little tear to your eye to see the smiles on the runners faces as they jog by.



Blazing glory

The kids and hubby decided I needed to watch out for Blaze, since they wanted to see what it's like to have a dog. Of course, they didn't think past any of them not being here, so guess who got stuck for a week?

She's not bad, if you like needy, pathetic dogs. Of course, her neurosis has it's uses, since I know she won't run away--she can't do that and be touching me at the same time.

Having her for a week while I am trying to pack up so we can move next week, attending end-of-year school functions, ATC mess dinner, awards prize-givings, bake cakes for the Scouts fundraiser (which I will NOT be involved more than that) and do all the daily stuff that needs doing--laundry, dishes, cooking...and, I was just reminded that Hubby and I both forgot our anniversary in all that was going on!

...yeah, it's a breeze. [Where is that sarcasm font when you need it?]


hairy hot dogs!

Hubby found this recipe on the internet somewhere and the kids loved making their own!

You just stick uncooked spaghetti through hot dogs (they are 'frankfurters' here) and boil them until the spaghetti is cooked. This is what the process looks like:

Here is one of Otterboy's 'mohawk' hairy hot dogs!

Here is one of Missy's hairy hot dog masterpieces!

They were fun to eat!


Baby experts give bad advice

Sometimes, people think waaay too much. And, I bet the people who came up with this idiotic idea don't even have kids. 

Before you read the portion of the ignorant story, please know that my philosophy is:

Kids need parents to make decisions because they are not developed enough to make them by themselves.

Expert: ask baby before changing nappy 
By CATHERINE WOULFE - Sunday Star Times
Parents should be treating babies and toddlers with more respect, a visiting academic says, and that means talking to infants as if they are adults, never putting them in high chairs or leaving them in car seats, and steering clear of many popular toys.
From day one, early childhood expert Polly Elam says, parents should also consult their baby before picking them up, changing their nappy or taking them on outings. That means talking the baby through what you are about to do, before you do it – and waiting for their response.
If parents skip this consultation, they should later apologise to the baby and explain why they acted hastily.
Critics say the strategy, called Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE), is a waste of time for busy parents. But Elam says it leads to confident, happy children with high self-esteem who can solve problems....

I cannot imagine speaking to a toddler like an adult. What sort of reaction is s/he going to give me...a fart? ...a burp? ...a two-minute diatribe about why s/he doesn't want to be picked up?

I believe it was a very slow news day....


For my American readers

I got this in an email today and thought it was a really great idea!

Want to have some fun this Christmas? Send the ACLU a CHRISTMAS card! 
As they are working so very hard to get rid of the CHRISTMAS part of the holiday season, we should all send them a nice, CHRISTIAN card to brighten up their dark, sad, little world.
Make sure it says "Merry Christmas" on it.
Here's the address:
125 Broad Street
18th floor 
New York, NY 10004
[Just don't be rude or crude.]
Two tons of Christmas cards would probably slow down their operations a bit because they wouldn't know if any of the envelopes contained contributions, but it's such a nice gesture to let them know you care.
So, spend 44 cents and tell the ACLU to leave Christmas alone!  You can also include the facts that there is no such thing as a 'holiday tree'--it's always been a Christmas tree!
Pass this on, if you like. We really want to communicate with the ACLU! They really deserve to hear what Americans really think!

For those of you who aren't  aware of them, the ACLU, (the American Civil Liberties Union) is suing the U.S. Government to take God, Christmas or  anything Christian away from Americans. They represent the atheists  and others in this war. Help put Christ back in Christmas!


Chocolate and sweet memories

Milo is the best selling brand of chocolate drink mix here in NZ. The brand was launched in 1934, although I barely heard of it before I moved here. It is owned by Nestles, [ which has its own interesting history, starting in Switzerland.]

Nestles Quik is also sold here and, while the kids were having some for breakfast this morning, I regaled them with my imitation of Farfel. Remember him?

So, I just had to show them the 'real' thing--as I'm convinced they think I have lost my mind and make up most of the 'facts' I shower upon them. This is the first video I came across...

After they left for school, I did a bit of research on good ol' Farfel and found out that he was created in the wee hours of the morning in Wichita, KS, when comedian Jimmy Nelson picked up a stuffed dog to entertain a rather small audience. His name came from menus from the Catskills (a type of noodle). [If you want the whole story, click here].

And that, my dear readers, is how a legend was 'born'.


More trivial things

Rangipo hydroelectric station is completely underground.

The Chatham Islands are the home to the taiko, the world's rarest sea bird.

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) was introduced in 1972. It covers all injuries except those that are self-inflicted or suicide attempts.

Pai Marire, a Maori religious movement, was based on the belief that Maoris were one of the lost tribes of Israel.

Kokako is a native NZ bird that seldom flies more than 100 meters at a time. It usually scampers up a tree then glides where it wants to go.

Moawhango tunnel on the Tongariro River is the longest hydro tunnel in the world. It took 10 years to build.

In Onehunga, in 1893, Elizabeth Yates became the first woman elected mayor of a municipality of the British Empire.

The katipo spider is the only dangerously poisonous creature in NZ.

Nightcaps, a coal mining town, is named after the conical hills to the north of town.

There is a pacifist commune in Lower Moutere, Atami Village in the Motueka Valley, that has been ongoing since the 1940's.

NZ boasts the longest place name in the world:
Click on the name for the story behind the name.

Maoris used the ash from burnt gum for dye for tattoos.

Annaliese Coberger was the first southern hemisphere athlete to win the Giant Slalom in the 1992 Winter Olympics.

A giant snail called the kauri snail, or pupurangi, is found on the Hen and Chicken Islands and nowhere else in the world.

Dunedin streets were the first in NZ to be lit by gas.

James Ward won the Victoria Cross in WWII for climbing out onto the wing of a burning Wellington bomber to plug a hole near the engine to keep leaking fuel from destroying the plane.

The first productive oil well in NZ--and the British Empire--was in New Plymouth.

Ferries leaving Wellington on the north island must travel north to get to the south island.

The only NZer to win a world title in boxing was Thomas Murphy in 1890. He was once expelled from school for hitting a teacher.

Mount Ruapehu is an active volcano that has seven small glaciers on its flanks.

General Motors opened a plant in Petone in 1926. It produced GM cars, including the first Holden in 1957, until 1984.

Musick Point, near Auckland, is named for Edwin C. Musick, the American who pioneered commercial air flights between the US and NZ.

Kate Evans was the first NZer woman to earn a BA degree.

The only residents on Little Barrier Island are the park ranger and his family.

For more NZ trivia, click 'NZ trivia' in my label cloud.


Whoda thunk, Mr. Wilson?!

I only remember "Dennis the Menace" as a TV series back in...well, a long time ago, but it looks like the Brits had an infatuation with him long before and long after the American version was done.

I was over at kiwi thoughts on life..... and there was an article that says that Dennis was based on a Kiwi kid! Click here for the article from The Telegraph paper.

Whoda thunk, Mr. Wilson?


A bit of maori...

When I lived in Kansas, I thought the few Native American names for places were interesting and I tried to do a bit of research on the meanings, but to little avail.

Now that I am in a country where the indigenous folks are not as suppressed, I find the native (Maori) language more accessible. It is, of course, related to the Hawaiian (Polynesian) language and has 20 letters, the 'wh' being pronounced 'f'.

This is just for fun and they are not an exact study of the language, so please take it for what it's worth!!
  • tai - coast
  • wai - water
  • ika - fish in general
  • kai - food
  • tau - you or spouse
  • ua - rain
  • pori - people
  • whare - house
  • wake - walk
  • naka- there (near you)
  • po - darkness, sunset
  • nui - big
  • taraki - land breeze 
  • rewa - mast, high
  • tau - age
  • aroha - love
  • hoa - friend
  • maru - gentle, sheltered
  • wanga - wait or bay
  • whanga - await
  • koura - shrimp, crayfish
  • tara - peak
  • wa - time, season
  • rei - pursue
The next time you look at a New Zealand map, you can figure out the meaning of some of the place names!

Many girls are named Aroha.


some observations

I find it totally cool how I can see the moon almost every night. It comes up over the neighbor's house and before I go to bed--which is rather late most nights--it has passed over the house and is shining on the pond. When it's full, it lights up the whole side garden and peeks through the glass on that side of the house.

I don't ever recall any rules about kids having sunhats before they can play at school in the States. But, then, I guess the pollution takes care of most if the sun's rays getting through. Here, the kids are required to have sunhats at school or they are not allowed to go outside to play.

When toast is involved for breakfast, the family serves it under the eggs. They think I'm weird to have it buttered and on the side.

I never would have thought that things like cheese or wine would have completely different names from one country to the next.

TV here is strange different. With MySky (tivo) we record things on a whim that we wouldn't ordinarily watch. Many times, we find a new program to look forward to.

Mythbusters, AFV and the Simpsons are on a LOT of channels. M/B is good but the Discovery channel started repeating the same program, as they did with Dirty Jobs.

The X-files finished the series and started over a couple months ago.

Dexter finally got to the next series.

Murder, She Wrote just started. Yay!

House is repeats, but I can deal with it since his clever sarcasm is the best part.

I guess it's good that I'm not a hard-core TV fan because I'm sure that some of the American programs that we get are old before they get here. But that's OK. I didn't have any TV (by choice) for about a year before I came to NZ, so I'm obviously not that picky!


The bees find a new home

A couple of posts back I showed you a hive of bees hanging off my rhododendron.  Personally, I was a bit worried about them because people would be passing close by. So, I called the council and such folks to see what our options were. It seems we'd have to pay someone to get rid of them if they didn't leave on their own, which would be a shame since bees in NZ are scarce.

Then my really smart Hubby said he was going to call the local apiary and see if they wanted them (and that's why I keep him around). The apiary said people were lining up queuing for hives and gave him a few names and numbers. He called some and the first one to answer said he would be here that evening to get them.

We were excited that we would be able to watch him in action, removing this dangerous  horde of wild bees!

Well, so much for the excitement. He just lowered the branch until the hive was in his basket, snipped off the branch and covered it with a sheet.

It was a bit of a let down that there wasn't more to it, but I'm glad they found a nice home where they can work for their room and board.


trivial things

  • Store being open for business on Sundays only started in 1989. Most small town places are closed up on Saturdays.
  • In the first 4 years that Te Papa, a large museum in Wellington,  was open, there were more than 6 million visitors.
  • 'Velvet Face', 'Minstrel' and 'The Herald' were three of the first recording labels in NZ. 
  • In 1938, a cloudburst hit Wairoa and 21 people drowned.
  • Charles Darwin was responsible for the first recorded cricket match played in NZ, in 1835.
  • In 1923, divorce was possible only after three years of living separately. Now it's possible after one year separation.
  • Experiments in aerial sowing of farmlands were made from a hot-air balloon near Blenheim.
  • NZ logged the first UFO encounter by radar and camera.
  • Car registration became compulsory in 1905.
  • The streets of the town of Stratford are all named after characters or places from Shakespeare plays. It is located on the Patea River, hence it calls itself Stratford upon Patea.
  • The first functioning electron microscope was set up in NZ in 1949.
  • NZer Lorraine Downes was Miss Universe 1983.
  • In 1869, prostitutes had to register with the police and were examined regularly for contagious diseases.
  • NZ had the first women police officers in 1942.
  • There were no radio broadcasts in NZ prior to WWI. After the war, NZ and the Falkland Islands were the only countries in the world where locals were banned from owning a radio receiver.
  • High winds blew a passenger train off the Rimutaka Rail incline in 1880, killing 3 children and injuring 21 others.
  • In 1906, basketball rules were misinterpreted and netball was born in NZ.
  • Trains crossing the runway of Gisborne Airport have to give way to landing planes. Only cars must give way to planes in Ohakea.
  • In 1942, Japanese reconnaissance flights were made over Wellington and Auckland.
  • Cecil Wood build NZ's first motorcycle in 1901. He also build the first motorcar that he drove around in Timaru.


Betcha don't have one of these!

Yesterday, I found this hanging from the rhododendron bush!

I'd never have thought that the center of a rhodo bloom would be a good place for a beehive! When I enquired as to what to do about it, it was suggested that they are only here temporarily and  will move on soon. I sure hope so, since it's next to the sidewalk footpath.Weird.


Look what the cat dragged in

The family keeps trying to tell me that 'Bubba wuvs me' but I still have my doubts. They say the stuff he leaves outside is proof. He has killed birds and mice and left them in the driveway or the yard, but this time, he brought this HUGE rat into the house and dropped it about five feet behind me then waited for me to turn around and notice. YUCK!  I'm just glad it was very dead!

Don't you wish you were so wuvved?!!


More NZ trivia

My first post of NZ trivia can be found here. I thought I'd give you a little more to wonder about marvel at from this strange interesting place.

  • NZ has about 600 museums and art galleries.
  • The first white women to arrive were escaped convicts from Australia in 1806.
  • 'Cervena' is the trade name for farm-raised NZ deer.
  • Prostitution was decriminalized in 2003.
  • In 1898, 'old age pension' was introduced in NZ, the first of it's kind in the world. 
  • The 'widow's pension' became law in 1911.
  • There are 30 species of fleas here.
  • NZ's first record-pressing plant opened in Wellington in 1948. The first record produced was 'Buttons and Bows' by Dinah Shore.
  • Leonard Deogood was a Charlie Chaplin impersonator who starred in several NZ comedies in the 1920's.
  • Color TVs came to NZ in 1973.
  • 23,000 NZers worked on the Lord of the Rings movies.
  • The international date line passes about 160 kilometers from Gisborne.
  • Gavin McCormick formed his own political party, called "The Pull Yourself Together Party".
  • New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote.
  • Pygmy pines grow in the alpine regions of NZ.
  • Kaimanawa horses are a feral breed that roam in the Kaimanawa mountains of the northern island.


Flashback time!

vibration 600 exercises
I would be curious to know of the vitality600 is being advertised in the US. 'They' (whoever 'they' are) say that there has been just oodles of research gone into this 'new' way to exercise. You can exercise every part of your body, apparently, as long as you can fold yourself up like a pretzel and still put some part of your anatomy onto the vibrating pad.

We have been seeing ads for this vibrating machine for a couple of week now and, every time I see it, I get a flashback to the '60s that looks something like this:

My problem with the whole thing is this: If vibrating your body without exerting any effort was such a terrific way to lose weight, why did it die in the '60s? *shakes head and walks away*


A new low

This post will probably not be of interest to you and for that I apologize up front. I am simply posting this sad commentary on NZ culture for posterity. And mostly, just to get my frustrations out about it.

I really am a nice person. I try to see the good in people and situations.

I also am anal and very literal. If you tell me something is blue, I expect it to be blue. Period. And, when our Scout Committee was told that everything we do or write has to be sent through the Pompous One (see this post for explanation), I took that literally.

As I told you a while back, Hubby is building a playhouse to be raffled off to raise money for the Scouts. It is sitting in our driveway with only decorations remaining to be added.We are very proud of his work and I know whoever gets it will be pleased.

The Committee has been working on having tickets printed. Pompous One informed us that Uber Pompous One (PO's superior in the Scout food chain, and UPO for short) does printing and will see what she can so for us to help us out. Now, what comes to mind when you hear the words 'raffle tickets'? Isn't it the little stapled booklet where you fill out the stub and you get to keep the torn-off part with your number on it? That's what I think of.

OK. The following are the emails we received.

First one from PO:

"Hi All
email from UPO.
Hi there PO, do you guys wanted in colour. I can do it if its black and white with no cost to you guys, but if you wanted in colour I can do it, but it will cost you guys a colour cartridge for a 1000 copy

let me know

Let me know asap so I can respond.  Thanks PO" 
We, of course, thought it was a waste of money to do color, so at least 2 of us, answering to PO, voted for b & w. She sends us a 'sample' of Hubby's mock-up as three 'tickets' on a sheet of printer paper (It's called 'A4' in NZ). I thought it was weird, but because we didn't plan to be part of the next Committee who would be responsible, Hubby and I didn't comment.

Four days later, we get this email from UPO:
"Hi guys i need urgently for you guys to let me know,where your tickets are in black and white or colour. PO only have one respond apparently. Black and white I can print them either tomorrow or wednesday likely tomorrow if I get the go ahead if its black and white.
Do you get where the anal part kicks in? We told PO what we thought, but UPO, apparently,wanted to hear from all of us. So, silly, enabler that I am, I responded with:

 "I was expecting booklet-size tickets that would be easier to carry."
I swear that is all that I said. I can show you the email if you want.

And, now for the immediate, freaking rude Kiwi of the year response.
"Better tickets comes in booklet,but im not a mind reader to know what you guys after.I was asked if I knew of any one who could print it or suggest to you guys.I knew I could print in black and white without any cost to you guys.I can see,I am going to have an exchange email with an individual committee member and Im not going to have that.You guys should have had this kind of discus before looking for printing firm.I have printed booklets of ticket before for other scout group,I was after colour wise,because the colour of the ticket given was green.I want to make sure that,Im doing the right thing asking for confirmations.
PO sorry you guys have to find someone else to print your raffle ticket.Im too busy for this kind of communication.I have a commercial printer if any of you guys want to come and print it your self.


This is from the 'authority figure' our kids are suppose to look up to, to learn compassion and other adult things. She is speaking to volunteers that give time to the group--apparently, unlike PO and UPO who have Scouting as a hobby because they like the 'power'.  Is it just me that thinks she's being freaking stupid to tick off the person who is technically in possession of said castle? Sheesh!

And now you know why there will be no secretary present at any committee meetings until they appoint another sucker volunteer.

I truly do want to think that Kiwis are really much more courteous and caring than I do now, but it's not easy with unprovoked stuff like this.

There is still the hope that it's just Taranaki folk who give the whole country a bad image. I will keep you posted.



I was over at Stoneweaver reading her blog about the Kea and Moa that she encountered when I was reminded of another Moa (read more about Moas here). This one was pointed out by Chaddy, the captain of the boat, minutes before he married us out on the waters off New Plymouth.

If you look really closely, you can see him grazing on the cliff (not Chaddy, the moa). Or having a lie down.  Or maybe doing both.


3-D is not dead!!

We got a really cool blast from the past this week with the delivery of the Taranaki newspaper. It contained two pairs of 3-D glasses!

After trying to explain to the kiddos that 'way back when' some movies used to be in 3-D and you needed the 'special' glasses to see it properly, and after all the eye rolling and sideways glances, they dove into the paper and found it to be quite novel.

Being the cool kids they are, Missy and Otterboy agreed to pose for me in as 50's fashion as they could muster. (Hay, my mom told me about them! That's the only reason I know that! Yeah, right)


Quaint courthouse

This is the courthouse in Hawera. On 'court day' the doorway and open area are filled with people milling around and smoking.

The cage on the left is big enough for a van to drive into and lock for those transported from the jail.


Hubby's at it again...

This is a castle/playhouse that Hubby is building for the Scouts to raffle for Christmas. Don't you know any kid would be glad to have it to play in!! He does great work and we are very proud of him!
I will post another picture when the details are finished.


Manaia Bakery displays unmentionables

for breast cancer awareness

The window display at Yarrows' shop in Manaia looks more like a lingerie shop than a bakery.
It's Breast Cancer Action month and staff at the shop are hooking people in with their collection of bras, and it's growing by the day.
Three bras hanging in the window for the Think Pink display was how it all started at the beginning of the week but workers and customers alike seem to be flinging their feminine smalls at the shop.
"We even had one gentleman bring in his wife's bra. She had died of breast cancer," worker Shirley Smith said.
The number stands at 20 and the ladies are hoping to collect about 100.
They've decided that any not claimed back will be shipped to Samoa in a show of support for the tsunami victims.
And because so many have been donated by staff members the women might use them for a "guess whose" competition.
Even the lone male in the shop, Stuart Arbuckle, has been asked for his but it has not been forthcoming as yet, Shirley says, laughing.
They reckoned they even had a couple large enough to hold a cobb (large) loaf.
While they are having a laugh, breast cancer is an issue that has affected every one of the workers in some way.
Kaye Bird is one of the survivors working at the shop.
"She's part of the reason we're doing this," Michelle Koubaridis said.
"We all know someone who it has affected," Shirley added.
The brassiere collection has got everyone talking about the issue, which is what the staff wanted.
And it's not all about bras – there's pink icing galore and there are even biscuits (cookies) topped with marshmallow icing and a jaffa (orange and chocolate candy).
"You can use your imagination to work out what they are," said Michelle.
Money raised goes straight into the collection bucket, which is filling up nicely, Shirley says.
"We wanted to raise $1000 and we're more than halfway there."


Our N-scale world

I married a family that has a great interest in trains. Any kind of trains. All kinds of trains.

Hubby had built Otterboy an HO scale track a few years back that they both enjoyed. Earlier this year, we decided to build an N-scale track as a family project. Hubby and Otterboy did the basic designs and construction.

Missy and I worked on the scenery details.

It's almost finished. There is some electrical work to be done and a few more cars and engines to be purchased, but we are pretty pleased with it so far.


I have a confession...

When the kids are at their mom's....

and Hubby is at work....

I cook American food.

Just for me.

Because they don't 'appreciate' Southern cooking as much as I do.

Remember my excitement over finding Bin Inn? Well, with the pinto beans and the corn meal I got there, I make me a Southern feast of beans and cornbread. I top that with a big ol' fresh, raw onion (don't knock it, I take after my mom!) and, sometimes a side of spinach--which is the closest I can get to collards or mustard greens--and I am in hog heaven. Yum!

Now, I don't want to give you the impression that my new southern-hemisphere family doesn't like my American delacicies. To the contrary, they have been well trained and will eat anything that I serve them. They just don't have that 'relish' for my favorites.

Of course, their do have their favorites that I make for them American style--my meatloaf (if you can believe that!) is one. They adore home-made mac and cheese. And they love fried pork chops.

Pie is one of the few things they actually request me to make--no, not the sweet ones for dessert after dinner pudding. They love meat pies for dinner  tea. I guess the fact that I take the time to put hamburger  mince in a dish and add stuff--especially cheese (got to have cheeeeeeese)-- and bake it makes all the difference in the world to them!

But, alas, no matter how I try, I cannot reproduce the wonderful taste of American food made in the good ol' USA. Since the meat is grown more healthily here, it just doesn't have any real grease when you fry it. It's just water that is left in the pan. And that makes me sad because you know that means no 'real' fried eggs and bacon. But don't get me started on THAT!


Too much 'loyalty'

The saddest thing happened to Otterboy the other night.

He has this friend, I will call Trouble, that has been his great buddy for many years--beginning long before the divorce. Even before they moved to our hometown. Otterboy is always talking about him and he often spends the night when O is at his mom's house. Well, I have never met him and, since school break started this week, I asked if he'd like Trouble to spend the night at our house.

O was excited to call to see if he wasn't grounded (which apparently happens quite often, hence the name) and ask him to spend the night  sometime soon. When Otterboy came back into the living room lounge, he had the strangest, puzzled look on his face.

Upon gentle questioning, it was discovered that Trouble's mom had said 'yes' to the overnight, but when she found out it was at our house instead of him mom's, she said 'no.'

Isn't that the saddest thing ever?


'The Cult' - new NZ series

'The Cult' is a New Zealand series that has a great NZ cast and is set in the beautiful northlands of the country. You can read a bit more about it here.

I recorded the first episode of the series and watched it earlier this week. It has 'big' names, as far as NZ actors go. I know the scenery will continue to be terrific. And, as far as the plot goes, I think it has a lot of potential for entertaining television.

The only thing that makes me curiously frustrated is the 'leader' of this cult. He is the only one in the cast with an American accent.

I assume that's because NZers believe that the 'only Americans' have such things as cults. Then, again, being politically correct is not a strong point here. Stay tuned.


It's Australia's fault!

It's been raining for several days now and our pond is full to overflowing. But when I looked at the pond today, it looked a bit strange. It was slightly murky. Just slightly. But thoroughly murky. That never happened before, as far as I can remember.

Come to find out, New Zealanders all over are having the same problem with ponds and pools. It looks like the Australian dust storm made it across the Tasman and has settled in New Zealand.

Strangest thing I have ever seen!


cream cheese cookies

Cream Cheese Cookies

·         1 cup butter
·         8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
·         1 cup granulated sugar
·         1/4 teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         1 egg
·         2 cups all-purpose flour
·         1/2 cup toasted coconut*
·         pecan halves or halved candied cherries
Cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add egg; beat well. Stir in the flour and toasted coconut. Drop cookie batter from teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheet then press a pecan half or cherry half into the top of each. Bake at 325° for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove cookies to a rack to cool.
Makes about 5 dozen cream cheese cookies.
*To toast coconut in the oven, spread coconut on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 325°, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Then and now

This is just a portion of our pond last spring.

This is the pond this spring.

It may not look like much, but at least I will get to grow some water lilies this year without the ducks eating them before they can sprout!! Today we had to shoo away two wild mamas with babies, but it's a far cry from last year!