Books Read 2020

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Rhubarb and Weetbix

 

Weetbix (wheat biscuits) would have to be New Zealand’s most iconic breakfast cereal.  There would not be many homes around that don’t have a packet in the cupboard.

I grew up eating the Classic Breakfast – two Weetbix with milk and brown sugar.  I don’t eat it very often now, but the makings are always waiting in the pantry just in case.




What I do like, for a change from muesli, is to have Weetbix with some stewed apple or rhubarb on top (instead of the sugar).  I cooked up some rhubarb yesterday for breakfast this morning – and then ate it before I remembered to take a photo!!




I once met a lady who ate her Weetbix with a smidgen of boiling water – just enough to soften it – and nothing else.  My mother sometimes enjoyed hers sliced in half and spread with butter and Vegemite.

So it seems there are many ways to enjoy our classic Kiwi breakfast food.

On a different note, I waited and watched to see our full moon rise the other night but the clouds would not give way.  However, the silvery edges to the clouds were pretty in themselves, so I still went to bed happy.

The photo is little blurry (well, maybe, very blurry) as my phone is not keen on night-time photos, but it gives you the idea.




We have a lovely summer day today – blue skies, sunshine, little wind – and expecting high temperatures again this coming week.  The hanging baskets are going to need more watering if they are to keep looking great.




Enjoy your weekend 😊

Margaret.



Thursday, 28 January 2021

Supermarket Woes

 

It pays to check your supermarket docket!  This morning I was double charged for one item, and incorrectly charged for another.

I bought peaches and was charged for nectarines, which were dearer, so I questioned it.  But the poor check-out girl couldn’t get the item off the docket as every time she weighed my purchase she got a different weight.  It varied between 705g and 830g – not a good look.

In the end the supervisor offered me cash equal to the estimated difference between the peach and nectarine prices, which I accepted.

A quick check through the docket revealed one item had been charged for twice.  As this was a $7 item, I was glad to have it removed!




The supermarket was extremely busy – many more people packed into the shop than when we are under lock-down restrictions.  One woman I spoke to said people were stocking up on things as we have now had three positive cases confirmed in the community in the last few days.

It must sound strange to countries suffering severe hardship because of Covid, that three cases can send so many people into a panic, but so it is.

However, added to the crowd were undoubtedly shoppers preparing for the long weekend ahead.  Monday is our Auckland Provincial Anniversary Day so everything in the upper half of the North Island will be closing down.

With the hot temperatures we have been having this week, I imagine a lot of families will be heading for the beach!

Stay happy and keep smiling 😊

Margaret.



Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Our Endangered Kakapo

 

I have been enjoying a weekly programme on TV called Modern Dinosaurs, dealing with unusual creatures found only in New Zealand that are believed to be descended from dinosaurs.




Tonight, the programme was primarily about our critically endangered Kakapo.  This large flightless parrot (double the size of a chicken) is believed to have descended from therapods and lived throughout our forests until around 800 years ago, when humans first arrived here.  

Since that time they have had to contend with men (they made easy food, early settlers describing them as being so common that they “fell out of the trees”), rats, pigs, stoats, cats and dogs, and by the mid-1990s there were only around fifty birds left.




An intensive conservation effort was started and now there are at least 150 birds living on the predator-free Codfish Island (there are other areas in the programme as well, but this Island has the greatest concentration of birds).

Every kakapo on the Island is chipped, named, and carries a radio transmitter for location purposes.  Each bird is captured every year to give it a health check and to change the transmitter battery.




Kakapo may be flightless but they can use their large beak to help them climb trees in search of food.  They are vegetarian and their diet changes seasonally.

During mating season, the loud booming of the male can be heard for up to a kilometre away.  Modern technology is being used for DNA testing to help combat inbreeding (about a third of all eggs laid are infertile).




I am glad we have such dedicated conservators to care for these unique and beautiful birds.

Take care and be kind to your environment,

Margaret 😊

 

These photos were all taken from the television programme mentioned above.



Sunday, 24 January 2021

Getting Back On Track

 

For several months now I have been muddling through my household chores, not really knowing what I was doing.  Now my depression is beginning to lift, I am getting back on track and starting to follow my old system again (of doing certain chores on certain days).  That way I don’t suddenly find a week has slipped by and something important hasn’t been done.

I have been Home Alone this weekend, with granddaughter at her mother’s and son away at a games tournament.  It has just been me and the cats and the rats – very quiet and rather relaxing.




I have been back to see my doctor and he is very pleased with my progress.  Apart from going through the final stages of my grief process (there is no time limit on this, it just happens), he also feels that my depression may be related to the bad concussion I received when I fell in late 2019.  I have never heard that idea before, but it makes sense.

The doctor was also happy to see my blood pressure (with the help of meds) has now reduced from 180/110 to 130/70.  No wonder I am beginning to feel alive again!

It is overcast this morning, rather dull with frequent showers, but it is not cold.  I slipped outside for a while to deadhead some of my flowers, and discovered my asters are beginning to flower.




Tonight, my dear brother and his wife have invited me around for dinner.  Something to look forward to.

Take care and stay safe 😊

Margaret.


Thursday, 21 January 2021

A Morning Out

 

It was a bit of a shock to the system this morning to wake up to 9 degrees (48F), but it soon warmed up again. 

We have blustery wind and frequent showers today, but I thought I would still go for a walk at the Lake in the centre of the city.




However, I had only taken several steps when the heavens opened and sent me scuttling back to the car!  The ducks had the right idea, sitting in the grass with their heads down.




A lot of pukeko live around the Lake – but they have absolutely no road sense at all.  One of them sat on the road in front of me (I stopped) and then proceeded to wander the long way across the front of the car to reach the side of the road.




From the Lake I headed into town and filled my car with petrol before going to the supermarket.  For my treat this week I bought this New Zealand made block of chocolate.  I have had this before and enjoyed the delicate taste of coffee mixed in with the cocoa.




I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with blog visiting this week, but I hope everyone has been keeping well.

Take care 😊

Margaret. 


Sunday, 17 January 2021

Today's Weather

 

I woke this morning to 100% humidity and the sun streaming into my room through a chink in the curtains.  I knew we had a thunderstorm watch for the afternoon, so I thought I’d keep an eye on the clouds.

This is what they looked like at breakfast time.




By lunch time the humidity had dropped to 55% and it was 26 degrees (78.8 F) and there was little sun around.




Move onto 3 o’clock and it started to rain, but no thunder.




Now, it is two hours later.  The rain has gone, it is mostly cloudy but the sun shines through occasionally.   Humidity is now 77% and our temperature is 22 degrees (71.6 F).

Mittens is not impressed!




I am planning on garlic prawns and noodles for dinner tonight – easy and fast to cook in the wok.  I suppose I should really add some vegetables as well LOL.

Keep smiling 😊

Margaret.



Thursday, 14 January 2021

No More Rain Fade

 

At long last, yesterday morning, we were able to have a new television aerial installed.  The technician also put in a splitter box, so both our televisions receive the signal at the same time (no more ‘sound echo’ if they are both on).

For months, every time it rains the television signal disappears – usually just when it is something you want to especially watch.  It has been very frustrating but other things have taken priority.  However, it is done now. Yay!!




I had a very pleasant day yesterday visiting with my brother’s wife (another of my sisters-in-law!).  We had a simple lunch of homemade sandwiches and sat and gossiped all afternoon.  Another friend called in as well and we had a very enjoyable time together.

My sister-in-law in hospital is having a rough time with her chemotherapy.  I was hoping she might have been one of the lucky ones and not have too many side effects, but it seems not.

Our weather this week has been hot, too hot for me to be outside after about 9am.  I just wilt in heat like this – which made me unappreciative when Mittens decided to curl up beside me in bed last night.  She was SO hot!! (she never got a chance to stay there very long LOL).

I hope your week is going well 😊

Margaret.


Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Lazy Days

 

And so another lazy day slides by.  Maybe it is summer lethargy, but I haven’t had much energy for doing anything in particular.

I get up in the morning, have a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, do my chores – and then sit down to my computer, usually with Mittens keeping me company.  A very mundane existence!


Waterlilies take it as it comes, maybe a good lesson for me to learn


However, life still goes on.  I currently have one sister-in-law (I have nine altogether) seriously ill in hospital.  She is in her late 70s and has been told they cannot do more for her than hope to keep her comfortable.

I would love to go and visit her, but have been told to stay away – she is undergoing chemotherapy and the slightest risk of infection would be disastrous.  Thankfully we can still have phone contact.

On the home front, this morning I did clean out the pantry and sort things out a bit.  It seems to need it occasionally as things get put away hurriedly and in the wrong place.  And crumbs seem to appear in the most unlikely places and need to be wiped up.

It has been a good day for drying washing as well.  Cloudy but warm and a good breeze blowing – makes the dried clothes smell nice and sweet.

Remember a smile makes less wrinkles than a frown 😊

Margaret



Sunday, 10 January 2021

A Happy Visit

 

The sun was barely up when I left home this morning and set off for the other side of Auckland, a drive of about two hours.  I went to visit my youngest son, whom I’ve not seen for several weeks.

The weather was misty as the sun rose higher, but then the day turned out quite pleasant.  Even the traffic was not too bad – sometimes it can be horrific when trying to get across the Harbour Bridge.

There was little traffic on the road going up until I reached Auckland itself, and coming home now is all on a four-lane road so the moderately heavy traffic was not too much of a problem.




Youngest son and I had a lovely visit together, with lots of chatter and laughter.  It is so pleasant to be able to meet together, and I confess to dreading what it would be like if we faced the same lockdown issues that so many others are.

We have had several cases of the new covid strain at our borders – if it were to escape into the community I shudder to think what the results would be.  

We are getting a lot on our News about people beginning to be vaccinated (even Her Majesty The Queen, who is in her 90s).  Hopefully it will be the turning point for the world to return to more normalcy.

Take care and stay safe 😊

Margaret.


Friday, 8 January 2021

Lunch and A Kettle

 

With so much of the world in lock-down, I appreciate that we are still able to meet together.  I was able today to have lunch with one of my brothers-in-law and his dear wife, in a hardware store cafΓ©.

I ordered an Angus Beef burger, minus the bun (I never eat it) – the result looked a little messy but it still tasted good.  And, of course, the company was excellent and we shared much gossip and laughter.




It has been another hot day.  We had a lot of heavy rain overnight and the clouds are still looking threatening.  Everything is sodden and when the sun shines it is a bit like being in a sauna.

I had an Iced Chocolate Milk with my lunch to cool me down a bit.




The kettle we have been using is now several years old, so we have had a good run with it.  But the day before yesterday I lifted the lid to put water into it, and the handle fell off the lid!  At least we could put water in through the spout, but it was time for a new one.

I went looking around the hardware store after lunch and found this Sheffield kettle – and it was on special!  There was only one box left and it was right at the back of the shelf, so I had to ask an assistant to retrieve it for me – one of the joys of being vertically challenged!




We had a lovely birthday dinner last night.  It is the first time granddaughter has made a full meal by herself, and I thought she did very well.




I enjoyed going out for a while, but it is nice now to be back home sitting in front of the fan with a large glass of chilled water 😊

Margaret.


 

Thursday, 7 January 2021

A Birthday Trifle

 

It is my eldest son’s birthday today (he turns 47) – his daughter is cooking us all dinner to celebrate, and I was asked to make a trifle for dessert.

I know there are several different ways of making trifle, but this is the way I make it, and is also the way my mother made it.




I use a small slab of sponge-roll cake from the supermarket and break it into chunks in a crystal bowl (actually, any bowl will do).




Then ¼ cup raspberry jam is mixed with ¼ cup port and poured evenly over the sponge.

(I might have overdone the quantities here a bit - I was guessing!)




The custard is made next. 

Whisk up 2 cups milk, 2 eggs, 2 heaped tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch), ¼ cup white sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Pour into a saucepan and stir constantly over a medium heat until it has thickened.  Sometimes it gets away on me and becomes lumpy so I give it a good whisk to make it smooth again (remember, I am a home cook not a cordon bleu chef!).

Pour the hot custard over the sponge and use a blunt knife to help the custard seep down between the sponge pieces.  I like to have the sponge reasonably well covered with custard so that no large dry pieces are visible on the top or down the sides.




Leave the trifle to cool, then decorate as desired.  We will most likely have ours tonight with whipped cream and some fruit salad on the side.

I think granddaughter intends to make steak with a fancy potato dish and a salad.  Should be nice 😊

Margaret.



Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Strange Noises

 

We get used to the usual noises in our environment and often hardly hear them. 

At the moment, if I listen, I can hear sparrows chirping, the dull roar of traffic on the main road, a helicopter flying over, a neighbour’s dog barking, some faint distant music, and someone hammering timber – it is easy to tune out most of the time.

In the last 24 hours I have come across two strange noises, the most recent being similar to some machine being used behind the house.  I had to go and investigate – it was speed boats going up and down the River!

The other noise was a scrabbling during the night and then a thump and a bump – it was Mittens leaping up the outside wall of the house and squeezing through the barely open window of my bedroom.  She must have been desperate to join me for the night!


Even at low tide, it is pleasant to visit the beach on a sunny day


We have a hot day today, no rain so far but there are thunder clouds building up again.

I did my normal Tuesday thing and went and bought some groceries, as well as a pixel puzzle book to replace my codecracker book.  I like to do a puzzle or two when I cannot sleep, but get tired of doing the same ones all the time.

Years ago, I was told to always buy a little treat with the groceries as it stopped one feeling poverty-stricken when cash was a bit tight.  Most of the time I still do this, and today I bought a 300ml bottle of chocolate milk – Puhoi Valley Real Belgian Chocolate Milk.  It was totally delicious!

Sometimes we need these little treats to make life more pleasurable 😊

Margaret.


Sunday, 3 January 2021

The Hobbit Trilogy and A Prison Riot

 

Well, I have done it.  I have watched all three of The Hobbit movies on DVD.  I laughed, I cried, I got sweaty palms sometimes, but I did it.

I thought it was quite a good story (it must be 15 years since I read the book) although it seemed to drag out sometimes, possibly because I was watching the extended version.  The final battle dragged out for so long that it became tedious, but overall, I enjoyed my nine hours of viewing.

The three movies were 1) An Unexpected Journey, 2) The Desolation of Smaug, and 3) The Battle of the Five Armies.




Waikeria Men’s Prison has been the focus of a prisoner riot the last few days.  Waikeria is a large rural area south of Hamilton, with multiple ‘prisons’ for various category prisoners. 

The men involved say they were “protesting inhumane conditions,” and they are probably right.  I have heard that prisoner treatment is not always as good as it could (or should) be, and the building involved here has been classed as unfit for use but was still being used while another facility was erected.

However, the men have been using very violent tactics to get their message through.  Nearly the whole of their unit has been burnt down and dangerous threats were being made to staff, but I see on the News just now that the remaining 16 men have thankfully handed themselves over to the authorities.

We have had some heavy showers here today, with a lot of thunder crashing around over lunchtime.  When the sun peeps through the clouds all the steam rises off the house roofs and we open all the windows to try and catch the smallest bit of breeze to make the humidity more pleasant.

As I am about to post this we have had another mighty crash of thunder followed by the call of a pheasant and the raucous squawk of a blue heron.  I guess birds are no more fond of thunderstorms than the rest of us!

Have a great day 😊

Margaret.

 

Friday, 1 January 2021

Welcome to 2021

 

You have permission to think me a Very Boring Person!  I went to sleep in 2020 and woke up in 2021 – the new year arrived without any help from me whatsoever.  And, in fact, today feels very much like it did yesterday.


The highlight of 2020, for me, was our October Road Trip
(this is Castlepoint Lighthouse)


The weather starting off this new year could be described as “cloudy” although the sun keeps shining through and the temperatures are humid.  I believe we have a thunderstorm watch for the next three days so that would explain the humidity.

There was a pheasant calling when I woke this morning, and then I was able to spend time watching a hawk soaring on the thermals over the river.  They look like they enjoy doing this, and it always gives me a warm fuzzy to watch them.

Son worked all night (he works from home) and is now sound asleep.  The neighbourhood is quiet and still.  My household chores are all completed, so  I think I may go and watch a movie! 

Sitting on the coffee table is the complete set of The Hobbit movies.  I’ve always meant to watch them but haven’t got round to it yet – and if they are too scary, I will have to put them away again!!

May 2021 bring you much happiness and good health.  

Stay safe and keep smiling 😊

Margaret