Books Read 2020

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Capitol Reef NP, Utah

Today is my 200th post (I am still a Baby Blogger!) and to celebrate I thought I would do a photo essay.  

My daughter took my husband and I to visit Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, USA,  in July 2014, and we loved it. 











 We visited one afternoon between thunder storms, and there were very few people around.  It was a magical and enchanting experience, with changing atmospheric light and the beautiful colours in the landscape. 

I recall it as being one of my favourite places that I have visited J 

Margaret.


Friday, 29 May 2020

Our First Home

Our first home was an old tiny rental cottage on a farm about ten minutes’ drive from the nearest town.  I drove past here last year and the place has now been demolished and replaced with paddock.



The cottage was small – it had a tiny kitchen with a bathroom off it, two very small bedrooms, and a living room with an open fire.  Attached to the house was a porch area with a wash-house and toilet.  There were no locks on any doors, even the external ones. 

The chimney used to leak every time it rained, and occasionally I would find toadstools growing in the carpet beside the hearth!! 


 

But it was our first home and we loved it.  We planted our first garden, both vegetables and flowers.  Along the fence line we had dahlias – the best display of dahlias we ever grew. 

We also got our first pet, a Chinchilla named Misty, who loved water.  When we watered the garden, she would lie in wait behind the lettuces and dive out at the spray of water.  Here she is sitting beneath a dripping tap.



We lived here for eight months before moving on.  We were young and life was an adventure.  We were happy there, but now I like to have a bit more comfort in my life! 

Keep smiling J 

Margaret.


LINKED TO Timeless Thursday


Thursday, 28 May 2020

Social Distancing

I am rather enjoying Social Distancing!  Going shopping this morning, it was a pleasure not to be jostled as everybody was maintaining the correct distances apart – generally two metres, but in some places only one metre was required.

It was a lovely morning to go out shopping.



My first stop was K-Mart department store, and there was an entrance door and exit door and a few arrows on the floor to show the direction to walk.  At the check-out there were colourful footprints on the floor to show how far apart we needed to stand.  

I bought a pink fluffy blanket for my youngest grand-daughter as it is her seventh birthday this coming weekend.



Next stop was Paper Plus bookshop.  I particularly wanted to go here as I know they are locally owned and I wanted to support them.  They only have one doorway but it was marked out with lines – in one side and out the other.


  

I bought ballpoint pens, a birthday card, some wrapping paper, and a really pretty notebook.




The last place on my outing was Pak’n’Save supermarket.  No friendly lady giving out gift vouchers today!!  

I bought my groceries and a few bits and pieces for the Birthday Girl, and was home again in time for lunch.



I saw a few people wearing masks and most were following social distancing rules.  Overall, my shopping experience felt almost like it used to and I felt quite safe.

And I did enjoy not being squashed and jostled!  J

Margaret.


Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Dunedin Railway Station


Dunedin Railway Station is a magnificent structure worthy of a visit if you are ever in the Otago city of Dunedin.


Dating back to 1906, the Station was built in the Flemish-Renaissance style.


The white Oamaru limestone facings on black basalt rock give a dramatic appearance, causing some people to liken the edifice to a “gingerbread house.”


The inside of the building has a rather grandiose appearance.


There are embellishments to be seen wherever one looks.


The floor is a mosaic of around 750,000 Royal Doulton porcelain tiles, many being arranged to depict different railway scenes.


Although the railway still operates, the passenger terminal is seldom busy.


There are lawn and gardens in the front of the Railway Station, making a pleasant spot to wander and sit awhile.


I love visiting old buildings like this.  The craftsmanship is often something to marvel at.

Hope the week is going well for everyone,
Margaret J




Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Life As Normal


After 24 hours of drizzly rain, the skies have cleared and we have brilliant sunshine and a few clouds floating around.  Not what was forecast at all.

The Iceland poppies have survived quite nicely.


I ordered a lowboy for my bedroom, to replace a blanket box that wasn’t really very suitable.  Target Furniture told me it would be a two week wait, but the drawers have arrived after only ten days – I am very happy J


The drawers are a great excuse for a bit of a change around, and Mittens decided to sit on the pillow and watch me (don’t you just adore that big fluffy tail?).

I think she thought she would be safe there, out of the way of everything happening but she could still keep an eye on it all.


The peacefulness of lock-down is now well and truly gone.  We have planes flying overhead, traffic noise in the distance, and the noise of construction happening not far away.

I guess life is heading back to normal.

Margaret.



Monday, 25 May 2020

Cottage Pie


Cottage Pie is a traditional English dish that first came into use in the late 1700s.  It was peasant food, a pie made with any kind of meat in gravy and topped with mashed potato.  Cottagers ate it – hence the name.

Today there are many variations to be found but they are still basically the same dish.

I was sent this lovely sunrise photo by a friend 

My mother used to make Cottage Pie using finely chopped leftover roast beef.  I like to make mine using raw beef mince (ground beef), and made this up for my midday meal today.

After sautรฉing a finely diced small onion in a little butter, I added 300g raw mince and fried it until the red colour had gone (I mash it up during this time as I dislike large lumps in this dish).  Add one cup of beef stock (ready-made bought – I am not that good a cook!), and the mince was left to simmer.


I took one tomato and sliced up some of the flesh to keep aside for a garnish.  The rest was roughly chopped and added to the mince, along with quarter of a cup each of frozen peas and frozen corn kernels.


While the mince was cooking I boiled up a large potato and mashed it – I am not that keen on potato so I only look for a thin topping on my Pie, not the traditional thick one.

The mince was cooked for about 45 minutes and then thickened slightly with some cornflour in water, and seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce, before being poured into a small Pyrex dish.

Using a spoon, I dotted the mashed potato over the top and then my strips of tomato flesh.  Pop it into a hot oven (somewhere around 175 degrees Celsius works well) until the dish is hot and the potato has turned crispy – the time this takes will depend on whether you are reheating from cold or just finishing off a newly cooked dish.


I ate half of this Pie for my meal.  I never added any extra vegetables because it already contained them, but I may add some green beans when I heat up the remaining half tomorrow.

I like these old stand-by recipes.  They are easy to do, can be altered without any fuss to suit what you have available, and are (usually!) tasty and filling to eat.

Keep smiling J
Margaret.




Sunday, 24 May 2020

A Bit Under The Weather


The last couple of days I have been feeling a bit “under the weather” and not wanting to do much, but am thankfully feeling much better today.

Sometimes I think we just need a day or two to blob out and do next to nothing.  It is like the body needs to take a break every now and then, to relax and rest.

A kind of recharging of the batteries, perhaps to stop us from becoming seriously ill.


This morning has been good.  Son and I got the washing machine connected properly to the hot water and so I was able to do a hot wash of towels (cold water is okay, but sometimes I prefer to use hot water).

When they were hung out I decided to give the washing machine a thorough clean.  That didn’t take long as it wasn’t too dirty.

But the tub beside it!!  When we moved into this place it was obvious a previous inhabitant had used the tub to wash paint brushes as the tub was badly stained and had paint spots all over it.

I thought that we would eventually have to replace the tub (it looked dreadful) but then I read that it could be cleaned with steel wool.

I always thought steel wool would scratch, but nothing ventured nothing gained, and there wasn’t much to lose if it didn’t work.

Half an hour of hard scrubbing with a soapy steel wool pad and the tub looks much more respectable.  It still has more to scrub off, but I am very happy with the results I am getting.



After a week of frosts and sunshine we are now heading into a week of wet weather.  A lot of places are still needing rain, so it will be welcome.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend J
Margaret.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Delighted


I ventured out yesterday by myself for the first time in almost nine weeks – and discovered that I still knew how to drive my car!


It was a pleasant trip across the city to visit my sister-in-law and I enjoyed being out and about, and seeing the autumn colour on so many trees.  Many of the leaves have begun to drop now, and there were piles heaped up in places along the sides of the roads.

  
I also noticed that traffic islands were covered in wild plants all busy flowering and seeding.  They must have been loving the respite from being weeded on a regular basis.


This morning I dropped grand-daughter off at school (her father usually does this, but he worked all night) and then thought I would call in at the supermarket for a few things.

I had barely got inside when I was approached by a lady who said she wanted to “share her good fortune” and dropped a $100 gift voucher into my trolley!  I was so delighted – her wonderful generosity made my day J

Hope your day is going well too,
Margaret.


Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Visiting Mapua


Not that long ago, Mapua was a sleepy little village nestled on the edge of Tasman Bay between Nelson and Motueka.  Now a lot of people have discovered what a pleasant place this is to live in, and the town has increased accordingly.

There are now many shops and eateries built in the vicinity of the wharf.  This photo shows one end of the area.


The wharf still operates for small craft, and cafes in this area are a great place to sit with a cuppa and look out towards the sea.


The spot is shared with Hamish the Heron, a lovely wood sculpture.


Around the back of Mapua village is the Waimea Estuary, a safe harbour for launching and mooring small boats.


Next door to Mapua can be found Ruby Bay.  Whenever I visit this area, a trip to Ruby Bay is a must-do, and I always leave with a rock or two.


The whole beach is stones, many of different colours and frequently having streaks of quartz running through them.


Leaving Mapua and heading up into the apple orchards in the hills, there is a good view back over the Estuary.


The Tasman District, where Mapua is situated, is a pretty area to visit and well worth the time if you are ever in the area.

Enjoy your day J
Margaret.


LINKING TO My Corner of the World






Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Pottering in the Garden


It has been another sunny day here today.   Much too nice to stay indoors, so I spent the morning pottering around outside in the garden.

The weeding has been done, the paths have been swept, flowers have been dead-headed, peas have been sown – and I’ve sat and contemplated life while sipping my tea and soaking up the sunshine!

Autumn sunshine out on the farm 

Son has been cleaning up the tree prunings he made recently.  They have now lost their leaves and I grabbed some of the twigs to make a sort of fence to give my peas something to climb up.

If the peas ever grow, that is.  The last lot I sowed had a very poor germination, so hopefully the ones I have just sown will be better.

My pea fence

I have been sitting on the bed this afternoon with Mittens the Cat for company.  The cat has been sleeping, and I have been working on my Family History book.

It is son’s turn to cook dinner tonight so I am feeling quite lazy J

Hope you day goes well,
Margaret.




Monday, 18 May 2020

Mothballs


I love to place lavender sachets among my linen.  They leave a lovely fragrance and work just as well as mothballs when it comes to repelling insects.

Lavender ready for picking and drying

Years ago I used to use mothballs to stop insect damage in anything that was being packaged up and stored.  Naphthalene flakes were sprinkled beneath bookcases to stop silverfish infestations in the books.

My mother-in-law swore by the use of DDT for killing all bugs and used to sprinkle it around the skirting boards of her rooms.

My uncle and his father regularly used horticultural sprays without any protective clothing.

It is a wonder any of us have survived!


Lichen will only grow like this when it lives in a healthy environment

Schools are open again today after being “mothballed” for a couple of months.  Grand-daughter set off with some trepidation about what school would be like – some girls (she goes to a girls’ school) were wearing masks but most were not.  The school has asked only that each student carries their own bottle of hand sanitizer.

She was looking forward to seeing her friends again, in person instead of via a screen.  It will be interesting to hear what she has to report this evening.

A typical New Zealand country primary school

Stay healthy and happy, and have a great day J
Margaret.




Saturday, 16 May 2020

A Cosy Evening


The cooler evenings of autumn are now with us and the sun is setting earlier and earlier each day – it is, after all, only five weeks now until the Shortest Day arrives.


Most evenings we are lighting the fire.  The house is well insulated and the fire only needs to be ticking over to keep everything nicely warm and cosy.

I can sit in my favourite armchair and watch TV while soaking up the warmth of the flickering fire.



We had a lamb roast for dinner last night and I was going to photograph it – but was so hungry I ate it before I remembered!  With the lamb, we had baked potato, kumara, parsnip and swede, boiled silver beet (Swiss chard) from the garden, and homemade gravy.

No wonder I was happy afterwards to just sit by the fire!


There wasn’t much I wanted to watch on TV though – the programme I enjoyed most was one called Wild Britain, with Ray Mears.  When that finished I completed reading my latest book – The English Cottage Garden by Jane Taylor and Andrew Lawson (published 1994).

It is mostly a book to browse, with some gorgeous photos of cottage gardens, but also contains a brief and interesting history of cottage gardens in England.


A hot cup of Lady Grey tea and a small piece of Brownies that granddaughter made, and my evening was complete.


Nothing like a comfortable lazy evening to set one up for a good night’s sleep J
Margaret.