Merry Christmas

Thank you for another great year of blogging!

me in a pohutukawa tree!


chocolate cream cheese fudge

  • Chocolate Cream Cheese Fudge

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pinch salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 4 cups  powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4 oz dark cooking chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add salt and vanilla, then add powdered sugar l little at a time. Add nuts, if desired.

Butter an 8 x 8 pan. Press fudge into it,

Cool for at least one hour. Cut into squares.


It's a feeder not a nester!!

Hubby built this bird feeder years ago and a lot of birds have found a meal here. Apparently, we are too good at feeding them because, for the past two days, one bird has been trying to build a nest inside! I sure hate to disappoint them, but they're going to have to move out!


I've been told I have an old soul, but this is ridiculous

I admit that it's been quite a few years since I've had joint banking accounts before I got to New Zealand but yesterday made it seem more like centuries.

I felt old and out of place when I called two banks to see why they hadn't changed our address on our account. I mean, it's been five months since we moved. Hubby has stopped in twice that I know of to let them know but our statements were still going to the old address.

In an effort to get things straightened out, I called both banks. I was totally shocked by what I was told. The first thing that both ladies asked me was, 'Is this a joint account?' That should have been the tip-off, but my only thought was that they were making sure my name was on the account.

After all the security questions and after giving them the correct details, I was informed that they need both account holders to request a change of address.

This is the moment where I felt like I didn't belong in this century at all. I belong back in the time when the word of one person on the account was good enough to speak for both of the account-holders. It never occurred to me that they might think I was trying to pull a fast one on hubby. That's just not where my mind goes.

I don't know if I'm just behind the times or if my new homeland is so paranoid that they think they have to be super-cautious. Either way, I needed a cup of coffee and a nap after the experience. 

Btw, one bank said they would send out a notice for Hubby to sign and return--just a formality, she said. I don't know how the other lady will explain it to her boss.


My favorite FB status

This is my husband's Facebook entry last night:

So I'm waiting to check this week's lottery numbers online, it's Saturday night and I'm pleasantly full of home-made pie. I'm sitting here in boardies and an old tee, looking out of the window at my lovely wife taking pictures of another glorious red sunset through the macrocarpas, with the cat following half a step behind her.
A thought occurred to me. Winning the lottery doesn't matter that much tonight. I have a great wife, a great home, and a great job. I'm winning already.

I am one smiling wife.


another new experience

I never thought I'd ever see the local fire truck backing into my yard garden without the house being on fire!

Our water tank was discovered mysteriously empty yesterday morning and  this is the man who drove the fire tanker to refill it. That's Hubby keeping him company.

Hopefully, we can figure out why it wasn't full in spite of the rain that we have had lately.

Thank you, Eltham Volunteer Fire Department for the 13,000 liters of water--even if it only filled it about half way!


The truth about Halloween?

There are many versions of how Halloween came to be but most of them agree that the Celtic Druids gave it an evil start.

Halloween is by definition "All Hallow's Eve" meaning the day before (eve of)  "All Saint's Day".  Now, the thought of a day for celebrating all the saints sounds quite holy (hallowed) and that would be the complete opposite of what pagans believe; so, what are they to do? They would celebrate their socks off the day before.

On this day, the souls of the dead were suppose to revisit their homes. It was a time for the living to placate the demonic supernatural powers that came with the dead souls with lavish displays of food. While the dead wreaked havoc on the living, they did so with masks and disguises to keep their identity a secret.
Another version goes like this:
In Ireland especially, people thought that ghosts and spirits roamed after dark on Halloween. They lit candles or lanterns to keep the spirits away, and if they had to go outside, they wore costumes and masks to frighten the spirits or to keep from being recognized by these unearthly beings.
Trick-or-treating has its roots in Druid history, too. The Druids (pagan priests) would use a candle in a gourd to light their way when they went to ask for materials for their great bonfire or food. If you gave them what they wanted, the priests would be on their merry way. But if you didn't comply, they would leave the gourd on your doorstep and someone in that house would die before the next Hallowed Eve. That sounds like fun, don't you think!

There are many versions and opinions about this holiday. Churches have alternate parties on the day. Some churches hand out tracts instead of candy. Are they right? I don't know.

I can only tell you my opinion, which is based on the contradictions of the Bible vs the holiday. God's laws concerning witches is very clear.
“You shall not permit a sorceress to live." - Exodus 22:18
He wants us to rely solely on Him--that means not knowing what tomorrow will bring or what dead relatives have to say. Witchcraft is about knowing the future and changing what you don't want; diametrically opposed to what God wants.
As far as I am concerned, this day we dress our children up as characters that God wanted struck down, has nothing to do with Christianity, no matter how you spin it.

Disclaimer: This is my blog and my opinions. You are  allowed to disagree with me but I will not publish comments that are not civil.


back to what I like...

I was reluctant to change to Google+ but I thought I should 'keep up' with the times.

With all the controversy over the new policies--which I don't think would affect me since I don't socialize a lot on the web--I think I will also give up Google+. 

It's a bit confusing when bloggers post all the comments they make on other blogs, so I will go back to what I'm comfortable with.

I will still follow your blogs (from the old 'join' gadget) and it will be one less thing to worry about. 


LocalSquare website

I got this email and thought it was worth passing on to my New Zealand readers. It's a competition for a new free classified website called Local Square.

We are running a competition in October and thought your visitors may like to know about it. LocalSquare is a New Zealand free classified website, and throughout October we are counting each new advert listed on LocalSquare as an entry into our competition draw.First prize is a $100 gift card for The Warehouse store in New Zealand.
We are also offering four runner up prizes of $50 gift cards.
To be in with a chance of winning you need to add new listings to LocalSquare during October. Each new listing will count as an entry into the competition draw, so the more listings you add, the more chances you have to win.
Looking to get rid of some old clothes or furniture? List it for sale on LocalSquare for your chance to win in our October competition! You can list baby clothes, cars, electronics, DVDs, events, and loads more on LocalSquare.
We were hoping you could let you visitors and members know about this competition.
Many thanks


springtime is flourishing...

It's definitely time for nesting around here. I hear sparrows chirping out the laundry room window every morning, and they fly out for bits of grass, so it's a fair guess that they have started a nest in the eaves or roof over the back porch.

Starlings have been collecting dry twigs and grass and then disappearing beneath the edges of the house and the garage shed. Along with the thumping of their feet and wings on the roof and in the ceiling, I'm rather sure they are making themselves at home at our home!

I had noticed the swallows (they are 'welcome swallows' for those keeping score) hovered in the back yard garden a lot and today I found out why. They were being watchful of predators before they darted into our wood room on the back of the garage shed. I'm not one for a lot of assumptions, but I think it's a pretty fair bet that the two I saw go in are starting a nest inside.

I can imagine the cacophony that will eventually come with all the little ones demanding to be fed! It should be interesting, to say the least! But then, I  suppose that's what we get for living in the only house within shouting distance of the dairy cows in the pastures that surround us.

It's all nice and natural, but there are two concerns I have. One is: what kind of mess will they make? The other thing is, I'm thinking about how I can get some pictures of the new arrivals!! We'll see what happens.


unique love note

Last night, I left Hubby a reminder to empty the dehumidifier before he went to work. It just said, 'Dehumidifier'.

When I got up, this is what I found--a unique way to say 'I love you.'

I guess you can make a love note out of anything!


cream cheese danish in a pan

I adjusted a recipe from a FB friend to create this scrumptious dessert or snack.

For an 8 x 8 (20 x 20 cm) pan of goodness, you will need:

2 savory pastry sheets (or crescent roll dough) cut to size
1 8 oz (250g)package of cream cheese
1/2 c (125g) sugar
1/2  t vanilla
1 egg

1/2 c (125g) powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F (170C) and spray pan with oil.

Mix cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg until smooth.
Layer one pastry sheet in pan; spread cheese mixture on top.
Add second pastry sheet.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until top is golden. Remove from pan and cool for 20 minutes. Top with glaze. Cut with pizza cutter.


the things I learn

I have learned a lot of things since I've been blogging. Really.

I enjoy posts that have gorgeous photos and then a bit of historical facts to go with them. 

I love it when bloggy readers help me out with identifying flowers. 

And I enjoy  seeing places that I will probably never see for myself unless I win the lottery.

What I never expected was what I learned at the doctor's office yesterday. I went in about my back. Again.

All three times I called the clinic for an appointment about my back, they were backed up with patients because the doctors were out of the office for some reason or other and I had to be squeezed in.

The first one I saw was not my regular MD. He got me started on my way to recovery, but I re-injured myself at the end of the second week and saw my regular doctor the second time for a repeat of meds.

Well, I seemed to almost be well and I thought that time would make it all ok. But it didn't. I seemed to get worse.

So, I made a third appointment. Again, they were all backed up and I was asked if I wanted to see a Locum (which is British for temporary replacement). I wasn't particularly fussy so I agreed.

And, that's when the lessons began. He actually knew my history and connected some dots for me. 

1. I had thyroid problems about 20 years ago and take daily meds for thyroid hormone replacement since. Now, in retrospect, I know my lower legs lost strength because of this problem. For example, if I sat on a seat that was lower than my knees, I could not stand up like everybody else. I had to re-position myself so I could use my arms to hoist myself up. I've never had a doctor tell me this was true, but I know for a fact that my thyroid caused this problem.
And I felt a bit like the Lone Ranger in this knowledge until I saw the Locum. He knew that thyroid problems caused muscle problems! Yay! And so he suggested that maybe that was part of my back problem.

2. He noticed that I am taking Methotrexate for psoriasis. Apparently, my case is quite severe since the dermatologist told me on my last visit that he was worried about me when I first came in. That's something you want to hear. Not. But I digress. Anyhow, the Locum informed me that psoriasis is one of several diseases that can lead to arthritis. Neither my regular MD nor the dermatologist mentioned this possibility. Because of this, the Locum said that if this medication doesn't help we should take xrays of my back.
The prescriptions that he game me are for the same pain and anti-inflammatory that I had before but in different dosages. Even after a day and a half, I feel a lot better. Weird, huh? But, I'll take it!

As Bette Davis said, 'Old age ain't for sissies.'



Ah, spring!

Spring technically arrived in New Zealand on Sunday. The weather has been leaning toward springtime for a few weeks, so I'm happy that it's 'official' here in the southern hemisphere.

I don't understand the fiddly details of the making of seasons and how they progress through the heavens between the sun and the earth and beyond. I do understand the earth's tilt and the earth's orbit and how they affect our world. But, I have no clue what  makes one day more officious than another. I understand warm, hot, chilly and cold. That I get. It's logical--I feel warm for a week, it shouldn't be winter. Makes perfect sense to me.

But the technicalities of equinoxes (or is is equini? I'll have to look that up later) and all that stuff to determine the time of year--that makes my brain hurt. I suppose it's because there's so many different things that are involved and I need to understand each part to understand the whole concept. I'm all about logic and simplicity. It makes me feel secure.

And, so NZ is earning points with me when it comes to seasons. They We are just plain logical. Four season--each get three months--thus:
  • Spring - September, October, November
  • Summer - December, January, February
  • Autumn - March, April, May
  • Winter - June, July August
Now if I could just find a handle on that metric system....


my happy place

It's been almost two months since we moved and I can only hope that every house from now on is as peaceful as this one.

Hubby put a bird feeder in the middle of the front yard (at my request) and we have tried several different food items to see if there are preferences for any of the birds. So far, all the birds have eaten all that we put out! The black birds eat side by side with the sparrows and finches; the starlings/grackles and waxeyes and thrushes eat together with no problems. It's marvelous to watch. The occasional, tiny rifleman shows up for a meal but keeps its distance.

There is a pair of fantails that live in this huge bushy, overgrown thingy in the yard. At first I thought it was a tree that had been taken over by a vine or something and I had planned to dissect it in the summertime, but on closer inspection, I see that it's not--I don't know what it is. The fantails eat bugs, so the 'thing' can stay as it is.

A pair of swallows briefly stopped by for a rest on one of the power lines the other day which surprised me. I love to watch them drop like stones from the sky before they pull up at the last moment and fly off. And watching the plovers protecting their nests from the one hawk that haunts these parts is a bit loud but it's still an amazing air battle to watch.

I look forward to getting some photos of all these gorgeous creatures, as most of the birds are very comfortable in the strange but interesting trees that are against the fence. It appears that some of them might be making nests on the paddock side.

The only traffic past the front gate is milk tankers to collect from the cows and very occasional trucks for various farm things (whatever those are), but I just hear a slight noise as they slow down to make a 90-degree turn to enter the farm.

And then there is the rumble of the trains across the paddocks. At the city crossings a few miles kms away, they are accompanied by the toots of the horn but that is so distant, I don't hear it if I'm concentrating on something else. The amount of cars, of course, determines the amount of rumble and I find myself guessing how long the trains are and which way they are going.

All in all, I will enjoy being here for as long as  it lasts.


country living

I was awakened in the night by what I thought was the cat spazzing out and running through the house like a tornado, as she is prone to do from time to time. When I got up the next morning, there was a dead rabbit in the kitchen floor. Ick. But, I couldn't help but be impressed at her hunting skills.

While Hubby and I were getting our coffee, he came up with the idea of putting the dead body out to lure our neighborhood hawks close enough to photograph. I was impressed with his thinking. It beats my original thought of luring them by spearing a pork chop on a stick out in the garden.

Anyway, it worked like a charm! Click here to see the shots on my photoblog.


A giggly idea

I am so enjoying the peace and quiet and very darkness of living away from any urban setting, but after sundown, you can't  see your hand before your face without some light. Well, I heard a bit of scurrying the other day from Hubby and wondered what he was up to. I figured he'd tell me in his own time and, eventually, he led me to the hallway where he had strung up some Christmas twinkle  what are referred to here as 'faery lights' along the hallway!  

Yes, I giggled out loud when I saw them on! He put them on the same wall as the bedroom door so they just sort of glow when we're in bed and the cat decides to come in. 

made with photoscape animated gif maker

I am impressed, once again, at what goes on in that mind of his. Thanks, Hubby!


Stepping back in time

When we moved to this house, it seems to me that we took a step forward and went back in time. The step forward was getting away from feeling uncomfortable in our own home--no direct sunlight except 2 hours before dusk, yapping little dogs, howling big dogs, music and noises through our thin walls, fences with prying eyes, foot traffic past the house that didn't make sense. For the record, we only moved there because we were put in a huge, immediate financial bind. It was an affordable roof over our heads and I am grateful for that.

The step back in time is a whole 'nother story! The house is probably 60 years old or more, but it's solid. The windows are modern (most of them, anyway) and the sun can actually shine into them all day long.

The only real 'noise' is a train in the distance several times a day, occasional tractors and other farm vehicles, the wind whistling through the hills, cows lowing now and then and birds chirping in the trees and fields. Such wonderful rural bliss!

Being that we don't live within any city limits, our mailing address is 'RD'--rural delivery--which usually brings to mind the old show 'Mayberry RFD' whenever I see it on an envelope. (So now you can think of me when you watch the old shows!) And, for the first time since I've been here, I have to have a night light on for my nighttime potty runs. It's pitch black without it. I love it.

We have a fireplace for heat in the living room lounge which shares a wall with our bedroom so we get the maximum use of it. Hubby taught me how to tend it when I need it during the day--hey, I was brought up outside Chicago, we had central heat--and it certainly saves on the power bill. I'm kinda enjoying keeping it going during the day and watching it at night. I can't imagine having it as the only heat source, but I guess you'd get used to it. Frankly, I think I'd have to sleep beside the fire in winter if that's all the heat there was!

The land agent told us that we can pay for a 'rubbish run' if we need it, but I don't think we will. I'm very happy to have the compost, recycle and trash burn stuff all organized separately. The only other thing to consider is cans that are not aluminum but the farm-share managers take care of that.

As I mentioned before, we (by that I mean Hubby) are getting bulbs planted for some springtime color. I can't wait! It's so nice to be able to work, or even walk, in the yard garden without feeling someone is watching. Sometimes, there are birds watching and an occasional rabbit, but that's ok. I imagine we will spend many a relaxing moment outside and planning for the next season of color!

Hubby and I are both quite content here. It's only 4 km to work for him. I can see us being here until he gets promoted to another part of the country.



For those of you that have been kind enough to ask, I am safe. Thanks for asking.

The morning quake yesterday, near Seddon, merely woke up Hubby and me. Apparently, there were several quakes during the day.

Then about 5pm I feel the couch vibrating. Then the rocking chair started rocking and the wee wind chime that I had just hung inside the window started to sway.The shaking seemed like a looooong time--I know it was probably just 40 seconds or so, but it seemed so much longer!  And then it was over.  The quake itself is reported to have only lasted for 20 seconds.

Here's a map of the major fault lines in NZ. As you can see, I am not in the path of any, but I have felt a few over the last 7 years. The quake yesterday was the second time the earth couch moved for me :)

Even though Christchurch isn't sitting on top of any major faults, that's where the devastation was done in 2010. Some folks are still battling the insurance company and the government to be in a suitable house once again.


Happy dances all around

As I sit typing and watching to birds at the bird feeder in the front garden, it seems that lots of things are finally getting back to our normal routine now. There is no sign of the wind and rain that took out power lines about 20 minutes away yesterday. The sun is shining and the fireplace is just ticking along nicely as the sun streams through kitchen, living room lounge and study windows--something that couldn't happen at the last house. *happy dance*

My back is a lot better and I just have some dull aches left. But after three weeks, I am happy to be past the ordeal of anti-inflammatories and having to eat something and drink a large glass of water each time I took one. I have never been a breakfast person and I have to say that I resented having to eat when I wasn't really hungry three times a day. And, getting out of bed with a sore, hurting back three or four times a night was no fun either. Grrr. But, thank God that is in the past. *happy dance*

And, some more good news--I have decided to act a little bit more age appropriately from now on--I shall let someone else do the lifting and moving :) If you haven't gotten there yet, your turn will come!

Just yesterday we finally got the landline and internet sorted out. We had internet since the first week. It was slower than we wanted it to be, but I just chalked it up to being so far out in the boonies. We just assumed that the phone was installed as we hadn't given anyone the new number and had no reason to use it. But when, Hubby tried to call the doctor for me, we realized it wasn't connected. So, the next week, the duel began.

It all started out when the rental agent gave us the wrong house number. The property manager's drive cuts off the road just before our driveway, so they are 256 and we are 258. The first phone guy came out and connected us to the neighbor's internet and, when I corrected the house number, they thought it was the manager putting in a second line but they didn't have permission, so they didn't do anything. Duh.

So, I finally talked to Dave at TelstraClear (big shout out to Dave!) who spelled it out slowly for Vodafone (who just bought out TelstraClear) and Chorus (who subcontracts the work for Vodafone). Dave even called me on my cell to walk through Google maps with me to make sure he had the right directions to our house. (I love you, Dave!) The only bad thing about this conversation is that our internet was turned off for the weekend.

TelstraClear texted me that a tech would be out between 12 noon midday and 5pm, so I was watching for him all day yesterday. When I saw bits of a truck sticking out through the high hedge by the road, I went out to the porch and yelled through the rain, 'Are you the phone guy?' (I certainly couldn't let him drive away, could I?!!). He smiled as he walked up the drive and said, 'I just need to clarify your number.' so I explained it all again and voile we are hooked up with much faster internet. *happy dance*

I will post photos over at my photoblog when I get some better shots but Hubby and I have some cool photos including trains and cute birdies--plovers, chaffinches, and hawks, and those are mostly shots out the window! I love this place *happy dance*


I hate it when I realized I need my own advice

For those of you who don't know, I have a blog where I use my own photos and put quotes and inspirational sayings and scriptures on them. It's called Incidental Imagery and I mainly use it to practice editing my pictures with Picasa or Photoscape. They're just there if somebody needs to find them as they google on the internet.

I don't get many views or comments on that blog, but that's ok. (Actually, since I changed over to Google+ and more people get to see them, I'm getting a few more than I expected.)

One of the few post over there that have some comments lately is one that smacked me in the face today. It's this one--
'do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not'.

As you may know, I hurt my back while we were moving two weeks ago. It still has a ways to go to be healed but it's certainly better than it was. It hurts the most when I get up from laying down. That shouldn't be too much of a problem, but the meds I got from the doctor require large amounts of water and I have to get up 4 or 5 times a night. Not fun at all.

Needless to say, morning are pretty achy and I don't get around too fast, even with my walking cane that Hubby bought me last year.

This weekend I kinda lost it because we still have unpacked boxes everywhere and the closets are just stuffed with stuff to get them out of the way. All the things that are 'my' job are not done and I'm slower than molasses in January getting around the house and can't lift to boot. I just couldn't get things done.

And then it hit me. Duh. Do what you can when you can do it and it will all eventually come together. There's no reason to believe this is a permanent back problem--I just want it better NOW, but that's not gonna happen, so I just have to wait for God's timing to be healed.

I know there are many of my own bloggy friends who are going through much more than just a pulled back and I pray for them often. But, it's good to know that He cares about me, too, and any prayers would be appreciated.

For the record, we do have the basics together, like the bedroom and pots and pans and plates thanks to Hubby *kissy*. He cooks and does dishes, and he says he doesn't mind, so I just trust that it will be ok soon.

BTW, this is on top of a skin problem that has plagued me for almost a year.


new house, interrupted for a bit

We finally got moved and are starting to settle into the new country home. It's rented, but that's what we like--no huge responsibilities if we decide on a change of scenery. I think we both might just enjoy it here for a long while.

In the process, I majorly pulled my back muscles and immediately came to realize that I am not as young as I think I am. :( I went to the doctor and he gave me meds for inflammation and pain and, as of now, about 3 days into the happy pills, I don't think I have much pain. I do, however feel quite achy and I am still moving quite slowly.

I realize that this is a very temporary setback and things will be better soon, so I will stop whining because I know that there are many, many folks who are dealing with more permanent and more devastating things than my little aches and pains.

But, back to the house....There are some great scenes around here that I never saw in town.The farmland is so green with rolling hills and tree-lined ridges. I shall be happy to learn about a native hawk (that is technically called a harrier falcon) that has its territory in the immediate area. My first photo of him can be found on my photoblog. Just click here. There are also some water birds that are new to me that I hope I can shoot along with many birds I hope to lure to my feeders that Hubby put up for me.

There is a train track if the distance that carries products from Hubby's factory. I can hear it and see it from the back porch between the trees.

We have lots of sunlight into the house that we didn't have before. This house is out by itself so there's no other buildings blocking the sun--I'm so stoked about that!

We are working on the garden, too. Missy put my succulents into a corner of the back yard garden this weekend and we have more bulbs to plant when we figure out more about where the sunny spots are.

I can't wait to put our own touches on the place. Of course, I will post photos when I'm a bit better. But I'm still constantly thinking of what to put where. This might take a while!


packing up

We are in the middle of moving house. I will be back with pictures soon...


We'll try this again..

We found another house! This time, it's through an agent, so I don't think there will be a problem with keeping it.

I admit that I was attracted to the 'other' house because it was shiny and new (less than 20 years old), but the fact of the matter is that we're just not 'shiny and new' people. The bottom line is this: we don't really care what things cost or look like or what others think about where we live or how our home is furnished.

It's better than the 'other' house in a lot of ways:

  • it's not so 'new' that I would be afraid of getting things dirty
  • this place is smaller so it's easier to heat
  • it's so close to Hubby's work that he could ride a bike if he wanted
  • I like the layout of this house better
  • we can pretty much do what we want to 'improve' the house
  • rent is quite a bit lower 
  • the landlord doesn't live a stone's throw away
  • in fact, nobody lives a stone's throw away!
See the red circle around the house? It's surrounded by pastures paddocks and that's a milking shed to the left but there are trees blocking it from our view.

(thanks, google maps)

Don't worry about me being lonely when Hubby is at work. There are many photos just waiting for me to find them down these dirt roads!

We will be moving in two weeks! Yay!


What a difference a day makes

Yesterday, we went to see a possible rental house. The house was one that the owners built on their property to live in while they restored the homestead--that took about 3 years. We loved the house immediately. It was in our price range, with 3 big bedrooms; it had a new stove, gorgeous carpet, and an attached two-car garage with power so Hubby could do his wood working magic. It seemed perfect! It also seemed a bit underpriced, but we thought the rurality of the place and a driveway that was a tad difficult to use were the reasons for the price.

Even though we had an appointment to see another place on Tuesday, we decided we wanted this house and the owners seemed glad to have us because we gardened and were quiet, mature people. The guys shook hands in a 'gentlemens agreement' until we could get paper work done on Friday. And we giggled all the way home :)

Today it all fell apart when the owner called and told me that there had been a family emergency of some kind and they needed the house for the family to live in.

It's been a bummer of a day and we will start looking again tomorrow. I know in my head that there's a reason this happened, but my heart is still sad.

What a difference a day makes.



This was out backyard this morning.

It is one more time that proved Hubby wrong when he told me that it only snows every 12 years or so here! I don't really mind it because it was gone soon after this was taken.

In actuality, there have been 4 snowfalls since I've been here (almost 7 years) but only one that lasted longer than noon.

So where's that warm global warming?



I have never been one to try to 'dress to impress' or make sure my makeup and hair are done 'just so' when I go out. I don't wear makeup but I do make sure my hair is combed and my clothes are clean and presentable (as my mom used to say). 

I have always believed that I present myself as a bit more than 'average' when I am out in public, complete with smiles and manners. But that changed today.

We went to a rental agent in Hawera to inquire about housing in that area, as we are thinking of moving. We walked into the office where there were two ladies--one was a content, large lady and the other was an older crusty sort. I assumed one was the receptionist and one was the actual agent, but I hadn't a clue which was which because I know that I suck at jumping to conclusions. 

They both regarded us with no particular interest. Until Hubby announced our intentions and informed them that he has been at the same company for 14 years. When that bit of information was revealed, the crusty agent perked up and even managed a smile. She led us into her office and we conducted our business.

On our way out, Hubby said, 'Do we look homeless or something? She sure wasn't interested in us until she figured out we had money from a job!'

I try hard not to judge people by the way they look, but I'm old enough to know that the world does it all the time. I just didn't know I gave them that little to work with! 

Oh, well. I think we looked pretty good. Maybe she has just become so crusty over time from having been exposed to many 'less than average' folks.


Hubby and his baking

The other day, Hubby walked out of the computer room and asked me how much baking powder would be needed for two cups of flour to make it self-rising.
He just slowed down a little as he walked across the room while he waited for my answer (about 1 and a half teaspoons, just off the top of my head) and then proceeded a bit excitedly to the kitchen. Calling from the kitchen, the conversation went something like this:

Hubby: Are you sure?

Me: Why do you want to know?

Hubby: Ice cream bread!

Me: Ice cream bread?

Hubby: Yes, ice cream bread!

Me: You have a recipe for ice cream bread.

Hubby: Yes! Is this all the ice cream we have?

Me: Where did you get the recipe?

Hubby: On the forum! It has two ingredients!

And then there was no more conversation. All I heard was some hustle and bustle and then the blender was whirring.

Turns out, it's not bad. I think it's more like a cake than bread, but Hubby disagrees. But anyway, the recipe is as follows:

2 cups ice cream, any flavor
1 1/2 c self-rising flour

Mix, spray a loaf pan, bake at 350F (175C) for about 45 minutes.

If you don't have self-rising flour, use 2 cups flour with 1 1/2 t baking powder and about 1/4 t salt.

Hubby promises that the next batch will be better. I'll let you know.


It does your heart good!

New Zealanders can be proud of their generosity to a fellow Kiwi in his time of need.
3rd Degree (TV show) aired the plight of pensioner (retiree) Vernon Gardiner who was in a Filipino prison facing 20 years for a debt of less than $5000. He needed:
  • NZ$4982 to repay Vernon’s debt
  • NZ$2000 to pay Vernon’s overstaying fees and secure him a new passport
  • NZ$1000 to contribute to his rent, pay for new clothes and set him up on another island
The television show put up the first $1000 and donations covered more than the rest of his needs.
Sarah Hall, from the tv show, took the money to the town of Virac and Vernon was soon a free man.

Good on ya, New Zealand!

Please note: None of the money you donated has been used to cover any costs incurred by 3rd Degree. And 3rd Degree did not pay Vernon for his story.
As more was raised than was needed to free Vernon Gardiner from prison, we are donating the remaining funds to two New Zealand charities, the New Zealand Red Cross and Make A Wish NZ.



still adjusting after all these years

As I'm sure you could figure out (if you ever thought you had to) that an island country in the south pacific is quite small with very little manufacturing. Because of that, we have to import most things and they are, of course, more expensive than locally made items. 

I believe I am getting used to that fact--after almost 7 years, it's about time, don't you think?--but, I must confess that I was shocked at the price of this 16-oz-ish package of marshmallows that Hubby put in the cart trolley a few days ago. 

They are imported from Australia, our nearest neighbor, but they are made in China (which is about the same distance from here as the US). They cost $4.41. *pause until you remember the last price you paid for a pack of marshmallows*

I still think in 'american' sometimes: in all this time, I don't recall any car ads telling me that their car gets 'so-many km per liter'--spoken by a distinguished but enthusiastically disembodied voice. It seems that fuel economy is not a huge selling point here, it's more about the actual cost of the vehicle. But to let you know what price we pay to travel, keep in mind that

1 gallon = 3.78 liters

We pay just over $2/liter for gas petrol.*pause to let you quickly calculate a general idea of a price per gallon* I could go to all the trouble of figuring out our gas mileage--or is it kilometerage? no, it's mileage, at least it is in England where they measure in miles but buy in liters, but I digress. Anyway, we just try to limit our number of trips 'to town' (which would be Hawera or New Plymouth, each about a 30-minute drive) each pay period.

I have to admit that I miss all the different dollar stores in the US. I could visit four or five in Topeka in one day looking for cool stuff to buy for a dollar. When I first got to Stratford, we had a $2 shop. Stock changes all the time, so it's an adventure to buy one specific item. But most towns had a $2 shop so I could pop into each one I passed to look.
They are all now a '2n5' shops. *sigh*

I suppose I will be 'shocked' by prices going up in the future as they will all over the world, but I imagine my sentences beginning with, 'Well when I was in Kansas, I could buy that for...' will lessen eventually. But I don't think that the Kansan in me will ever go away.


Technology brings back Granddad's sea chest

 Brigid Borlase bought an officer’s cabin trunk on Trade Me which had belonged to her grandfather, Stanley Jervis.A cabin chest that carried the belongings of a World War II sailor all over the world has come into the hands of his granddaughter after she spotted it on an online auction.

More than 70 years after Stanley Jervis left on a Royal New Zealand Navy ship bound for Singapore, the Distinguished Service Cross recipient's trunk is now with Wellingtonian Brigid Borlase.
Lieutenant Jervis, who died 10 years ago, "absolutely loved the sea" and it was special to have a memento from his navy days back in the family, she said.
"My mother was really thrilled to see it again, and to see it was coming home."
Ms Borlase had vague memories of the chest from her grandparents' house, but the family believed it was somehow sold off with their other possessions when they both died.
It was by chance she stumbled on it in the antique section on Trade Me.
"The name on the top caught my eye. It was a total surprise. It's had a bit of an amazing trip."
She bought it for $850.
Antique restorer Nic Young found the battered chest at Trash Palace, in Porirua.
He said he "grabbed it" for $15, then began to clean it. "It was a real mess when I got it."
When crudely applied green paint scraped off, he found Lieutenant Jervis' initials and navy details inscribed.
A search on the internet revealed the man's illustrious naval career, including being part of the Normandy landings and rescuing troops from Crete.
"I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what have I come across?' "
Four years later and after trying unsuccessfully to sell it on Trade Me twice, he was happy to see the chest bought for $850.
When Ms Borlase called to say she was the sailor's granddaughter, he almost fainted. "It will probably go down in the top 10 experiences I've ever had in my life."
After, of course, his marriage and seeing his baby born, he said.



Some weather observations

This is the first year that we have had a 'real' summer since I've been in NZ. Of course, it's been pretty much a drought all over the country, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the warm weather. It's the first summer I have not worn sweats track pants to bed every night; in fact, I've barely worn them to sleep at all.

Having spent a few days away from this mountain makes me realized that Mt Taranaki has so much to do with our weather, even though those that have been here all their lives disagree. I'm not sure how they explain that the countryside is brown everywhere except here, behind the mountain,  but the internet (and other dependable sources) simply explain how mountains take any sort of moisture and dump it on the other side as rain.

The tibouchina in the back yard garden is still blooming this year, as opposed to just blooming in the spring and summer last year and my begonias are still blooming at full speed. The dahlias are bigger than ever right now with such lovely pink blooms.

We had a little cold snap and I was sure that winter was on the way, but I'm still enjoying the warm as long as it will last. I know the farmers aren't enjoying it, but I sure am.


How to make photos larger on blogger

For those of you that would like to make your photos larger than the sizes offered by Blogger, here's a quick tutorial on how I enlarge the photos on each post.

Note: I don't change the template to make all photos larger because I don't always want them all larger. These directions must be repeated for each photo on each post.

Be brave! If you mess up, you can always remove the pictures and reload them onto your blog.

Here we go....

1. Load the photo as you usually do. This is what you get.

2. Click on the photo and you will get a row of options at the bottom in a blue box. Click 'X-Large' to get the size below.

3.Now click 'HTML' in the top left corner next to the 'Compose' button. You will see something like this. It will NOT look exactly like this.
It looks scary, but don't panic! You are only looking for two specific areas.

<a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lAtLucvh2Ug/USwN_dGgPvI/AAAAAAAAi-Q/CxJ4-Y2VYLs/s1600/IMG_1101.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="480" src="http://lAtLucvh2Ug/USwN_dGgPvI/AAAAAAAAi-Q/CxJ4-Y2VYLs/s640/IMG_1101.jpg" width="640" /></a></div>
4.Now, ignore everything else and look for the part that says 'height="480" and 'width="640", [highlighted in red above].

Change the numbers "480" to "640" and change the numbers "640" to "860". The photo will be correctly sized even if you have cropped the photo and the height is not exactly 480 and the width is not exactly 640.

5.Click 'Compose' in the upper left corner to return to the page where you are writing your post and your photo should be this big.

You did it!!


I'm a celebrity!

Well, maybe not a celebrity, but I was interviewed over at 

Blog Expat :)

You can click here  or the

Expat Interview medallion on the right to read it!


They are living our dream!

Hubby and I have both been fascinated by the old, abandoned dairy factories that are spread across the Taranaki region. We have photos of most of them that have any parts still standing, with one picture of just a generator part next to a plaque that is all that's left of one factory .

If we were to win the lottery, I wanted to restore a few of them and then give them to the various communities as function venues like weddings and such.

If we wanted to stay in the Taranaki region, I'm sure we might have looked into buying one and living there with some sort of side business at the premises. Alas, we don't want to stay here, but we found a young couple that are living our dream. They bought the old Okato Cheese Factory and have opened an art gallery along with several other services they provide.
They call themselves KM Sculpture and Photography and you can click here for their website. Here are a few photos of their recycle art they have for sale.

Their property has a river on two sides which makes for a wonderfully serene setting for their 'sculpture walk' of larger art pieces. I'm  sure they will do well.


A little senior humor

Yesterday, my daughter asked me again why I don't do "something useful" with my time. Talking about me "doing something useful" seems to be her favorite topic of conversation lately. She was only "thinking of me" she said and suggested that I go down to the senior center and hang out with the guys. I did this and when I got home last night, I decided to teach her a lesson about staying out of my business. I told her I had joined a parachute club.

She said, "Are you nuts? You're almost 72 years old and you're going to start jumping out of airplanes?"

I proudly showed her that I even got a membership card and she said to me, "Good grief, Dad! Where are your glasses? This is a membership to a Prostitute Club, not a Parachute Club!"

"Oh, no!" I said as I pretended to be shocked."I don't know what to do about this...I signed up for five jumps a week."

She fainted.

Life as a senior citizen is not getting any easier but sometimes it can be fun.


2 years after the earthquake

Most of the time, Christchurch could be a million miles away from Stratford. Like most of the world, we heard about the killer earthquake and any other newsworthy bits on the telly. You don't think about it if you aren't involved with anything going on there.

My outlook on the broken city was changed a bit after our holiday. Hubby's mother's sister lives in Christchurch and we stayed with her a few days while we were there. Her house was undamaged, but, since the earthquake and some counselling, she has turned her back porch into her bedroom. She was a bit apologetic about it, but I'm really glad that she found a way to cope with the stress and fear that was caused by the February 2011 shake.

As we drove through the countryside noting the wonderfully beautiful scenery of the Canterbury area, we stopped to take pictures of the churches, as we always do when we are out. The fact that many of them are fenced off due to quake damage is a bit disheartening. They seem to be randomly damaged with no other buildings close by touched.

We didn't go downtown and look at the damage that's still there, but I'm glad to know that there are container malls doing business, which I think is incredibly creative. And there was still evidence of damage along the road to Sumner. 

Today, the mayor of Christchurch declared that the 'red' area (the central business district that was most damaged by the earthquake) is now to be called the 'rebuild' area. I think that's quite healthy because the determined citizens are doing their best to get back to 'normal'--whatever that is. Good on ya, Christchurch.


Happy Valentine's Day

Waikari Tearooms

During our holiday in the Christchurch area, we stopped for a cuppa at Waikari Tearooms on Weka Pass Road.

The lady that runs the restaurant was very friendly and always had a smile on her face. She even had 'filter' coffee--for my Yankee friends, that's plain ol' drip coffee--which is hard to find these days when you go out.

The food was really good, but if you get down that way, you must try her custard slices. The are sooooo good! They are made with cream cheese in the crust and in the custard.

You can also pick up some souvenirs of the famous nearby Frog Rock at her store.

I don't like to take up too much space on each post because I don't like to read huge, long posts, so I will tell you about other places later. Until then, I have started to share some photos from our trip. Just click 'my photoblog' under 'my blog stuff' on the right.


Not much news

It finally rained today, for the first time in several weeks. The lawn and flowers are happy to get a nice, big drink of water.

It had been in the 80's and 90's 20's and 30's for most of two weeks (or more) and I didn't complain once, even if every other person I talked to did. I was thrilled to not sleep in sweat pants or use the electric blanket for more than just one night at a time and we had the windows open all day, every day. I thoroughly enjoyed the hot weather.

It's suppose to rain tomorrow and then clear up on Wednesday which is excellent timing because we are flying to the south island for a short holiday to see Hubby's mom and auntie. I hope to bring back some great photos and stories to tell.

It will be nice to see some different scenery. Catch ya later!


I turned out OK....mostly

I don't have any little kids around but I can't help but see articles on kids, from birth to teens on the internet--some are newspaper articles, some are blog posts.

They didn't have them when I had young ones around, but apparently, there are books that tell you what your child should be doing at any point in his/her life--how they relate to family at certain ages, when they discover their own sexuality, and lots of other things that I never thought about, much less worried about, when raising a baby. It never occurred to me that a baby would be 'finding his/her place in the family' at any particular age or discover the difference between friends and family at a different age. I'm sure that there is value in knowing some of these things, but I fear some parents tie their kid to the timetable in the book and that's a scary thought.

And, then there is the assuming that your kid does fit the book and you want to be the perfect parent and encourage at just the right moment. I can understand wanting to do all the right things and say all the right words and read all the right books to your children. But, come on, if you screw up--and you will because you're human--I don't think it would permanently damage any kid. If anything, kids are resilient and forgiving.  That's based on actual experience because my parents were not perfect and I didn't start a cult or go live in a cave because I was disillusioned with the world. 

Not long ago, I read a blog post about the possibility of confusing a little one about Santa Claus.  I'm not an expert by any means, but, I don't remember anything from being two. And I certainly never had any anxiety about confusing Santa with the neighbor or any other man as I grew up. I remember my phone number from when I was 3 (It was ATwater1-4346) and bringing home our puppy, Bruno. Other than that, most of my early 'memories' are based on hearing the family talk about the 'early days'.

I just feel that, sometimes, trying too hard can be more difficult for the parent than the child. Don't try so hard. They'll be ok.


Let there be ice

The first time I ordered a drink in a restaurant here, I was surprised that my drink had no ice in it. It was nice and cold, but without ice. I immediately thought of someone I grew up with that always ordered 'without ice' because he wanted his money's worth of drink, but I digress....

It seems that all drinks are served here without ice. In fact, in any store I've looked, it's not even easy to find ice trays for the freezer. They are available occasionally (like everything else) at the bargain store, and I bought a couple, but, I really didn't use them that much, so the ice ended up evaporating. 

To be honest, until this summer, there was never any weather 
warm enough to require ice in a drink since I've been here. 
Ice Cube BagsSo, on a whim, I picked up some Glad brand ice cube bags. It was mostly out of curiosity, and it seemed like an 
interesting experiment, even if Hubby did chuckle at me for 
buying them.

Come to find out, they are absolutely wonderful for the sun tea I make now and then. I'm not usually impressed with 'stuff' but these things are very convenient since you don't even have to lay them flat in the freezer for them to form cubes. And, then, to get the cubes out of the package, they easily squeeze out through the perforations, so you can use as many or few as you want without much fuss at all. I just use three or four for a glass and they throw them back into the freezer drawer until the next time.

It sure is a long way from those metal trays with the lever. Remember them?!


Bring up the past

In the last few days, I have had some comments on a post I wrote on the 29th of October, 2008, called
Rude Kiwis...again!  You can click here to read it if you want. I blogged about this subject on several occasions, mostly as a matter of cultural differences and have since moved on to other things to blog about.

This particular post has had 2051 views so far, so, obviously, there is a fair amount of interest in the subject matter. That makes me wonder why people end up on my blog. I know that a couple of my posts have been discussed on some forum boards, but I can't pinpoint any reasons for this one to be so popular.

Funnily enough, this was one of the first blog posts that I got a comment on, but I decided not to publish it because it was from a New Zealander (one of more than a few) who proved my point by telling me to go back where I came from because I'm not wanted here, anyway. Anonymously, of course--which is why I don't allow anonymous comments any more. Ah, the irony.