RECIPES

Sunday 31 December 2023

New Year Resolutions

 

Making New Year resolutions has never been a big thing in my book – perhaps I instinctively knew that it was extremely unlikely I would keep any of them!

But the start of a new year, like the turning of a page, does seem to be a good time for starting off on new ventures and making new plans.


A sunny day at Raglan 

Perhaps I might have more success with making resolutions if I followed the advice of Bishop John H. Vincent and reminded myself of them every day.  He was a Methodist minister who died in America in 1920, and in 1909 the Chautauqua Press published this prayer by him in one of their calendars:

“A Resolve for Every Morning of the New Year

I will this day try to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity and self-seeking, cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence, exercising economy in expenditure, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust and a child-like trust in God.”

I wonder how well he succeeded?


The dawn of a new day


Mittens and I wish you all a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and a great year in 2024 ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret.

  

HEADER PHOTO FOR JANUARY 2024

I took this photo in 2008 while on holiday at Papamoa beach in the Bay of Plenty.  It shows the walkway we followed through the sand dunes to reach the white sandy beach and the blue ocean beyond.

 

Thursday 28 December 2023

Gladioli and Grass

 

I woke early this morning and decided to write this before I got up.

Butterfly Gladioli have been flowering in my garden.  They have such pretty colours and frilly edges and don’t grow as tall as normal gladioli, so are perfect for my little tub-garden.




I seldom pick gladioli for the house, preferring to watch them as they gradually bloom all the way up the stem, but yesterday I decided to pick some of the tops and bring them inside.

This one brightens up a little spot beside the kitchen sink.




When I also brought a bunch of grass seed-heads indoors, my son thought I was a bit balmy.  But now he agrees – they really do make quite an attractive picture when you look at them.

The grass was growing wild and I have no idea what it’s name is, I just liked the look of it!




Hope everyone is enjoying this holiday season ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret

 

Sunday 24 December 2023

The Joy of Happiness

 

Happiness is a personal choice.

Have you ever stopped to think what a simple pleasure Happiness is?  It seems to me that it is so easy to fall into the trap of saying “I will be happy when ….,“  instead of appreciating the moment right now and taking joy in it.

Even when things look bad or when one is struck down with illness, there are still moments in life when we can choose to feel happiness.

A decision to find happiness and gratitude for at least one thing every day, along with a smile on the face, can help alleviate even the worst of personal suffering.  It doesn’t remove the problem, or make a situation any better, but it certainly makes things easier to endure when you cultivate a happy and thankful mindset.




The world we live in is a beautiful place.  Yes, awful things happen all the time, but that is not an excuse for us to stop seeing the beauty in our lives.

A baby or small child, sweet in all their innocence.  The chirping of birds, or the glow of a pretty sunset.  Patting a purring cat, painting your fingernails, the smile of a friend, the sound of rain on a tin roof, the scent of an unobtrusive flower – all these and so much else can bring happiness into our life if we allow it.




The Bible says “Seek and you shall find.”  It was speaking about our relationship with God, but the principle behind it remains valid when we consider choosing to be happy.  Seek out the joyful parts of your life and let them put a smile on your face.

May you blessed with a Happy Christmas this 2023, as you celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Saviour ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret.

 

Friday 10 November 2023

Taking A Break

 

After several months of ill health, I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually end up in hospital.

I am back home now, after a battery of tests and two abdominal surgeries, and facing six weeks of convalescence with orders to do little or nothing for most of them.

I have decided to take a little blogging break during this time.  Hopefully, if things work out alright, I should be back again around Christmas or New Year.

Keep smiling (the best way to face adversity, and it gives you less wrinkles than frowning!),

Margaret ๐Ÿ˜Š xx

 

Thursday 19 October 2023

Firsts

 

It was a first for this coming summer season – we put the umbrella up out on the deck.  The sun was almost too warm to sit outside in, and I appreciated being able to sit beneath the shade of the umbrella.




Millie and Mittens enjoyed being outside with me.




The garden is also showing signs of First – this is the first time my iceplant has flowered for me.




The first of the strawberries are beginning to ripen.




And the first of the grapes are beginning to show themselves.




I am still struggling with health issues, so my apologies for not visiting blogland very much. It takes so long to get to see a doctor these days (unless you are a medical emergency and can call the ambulance), and I still have a week to go before I get to see mine again.

At least the sun is shining ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret.

 

Sunday 8 October 2023

Te Parapara

 

Last Wednesday, when I went for a stroll through Hamilton Gardens, I mentioned I visited a few of them.  One was Te Parapara, the Maori kumara garden.

This was the entrance gate to the garden.




Outside the enclosure was this building.  It is a pity that there is not more signage around, as I would have liked to have known what its purpose was meant to be.




This building, built to sit above ground, looks like a storehouse for the kumara when it is harvested.



The ground is currently being prepared to be ready for kumara planting time, when that arrives.




This photo, taken in 2020, shows what the kumara look like when they are half-grown.




I’m not sure what this building represents (it may be another type of storehouse), but it is obviously tied up with fertility!




These carvings look to me like they are there to protect the crop.




Around the outside of the garden there is a planting of native plants.  I believe these are to represent the food that was gathered from the wild, as opposed to what was cultivated.




Our weather today (Sunday) is misty drizzle.  Hopefully, this coming week will bring some more lovely sunny days with it.

Stay happy ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret.

 

  

Thursday 5 October 2023

Chinese Scholar's Garden

 

It was such a sunny day yesterday that I visited the Hamilton Gardens for a walk. 

I especially wanted to visit the Chinese Scholar’s Garden (also known as the Garden of Retreat-in-Flowing-Happiness) so I could see the wisteria in bloom.

This garden follows the Taoist tradition and portrays a miniature of the cosmos (mountains, lakes, cliffs etc), where scholars could relax, meditate, write poems, play music and so on.




A short walk leads down to the Blossom Court where one can enter the Arbour of Lingering Fragrance.  Jasmine grows freely over the arbour frame and the scent can be heavenly.




Exiting from the Arbour through a Moon Gate, the Moon & Lily Lake and the Wisteria Bridge come into view.




Unfortunately the wisteria was not in bloom, although it was in other parts of the garden.  I am wondering if perhaps it had been severely pruned this last year and was still in recovery mode.

I found this photo, taken in 2019, to give an idea of what it can look like.




The walk continues over the Wisteria Bridge and on to the Island of Whispering Birds (don’t you just love all the names?) before crossing the Willow Bridge and entering the Bamboo Walk.




At the top of the hill, can be found the Celestial Turtle of Taihu Lake, presented to Hamilton by its Chinese sister-city, Wuxi.




Nearby is the Golden Pavilion, a great place to stop for a while before heading back down to the garden’s exit.




I also wandered around a couple more gardens, but those can wait for another day ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret.

 

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Morning Tea For One

 

Crackers with cheese and some kind of relish.  This has become my standard mid-morning snack (sometimes I add a piece of fresh fruit as well) and seems to be doing the trick.

My doctor wanted me to eat smaller meals more frequently and so that is what I have been trying to do.  It isn’t easy!

Old habits die hard, and I have found it difficult to eat less for my main meals and increase my daytime snacks.  But the results are showing the effort is worthwhile, and my digestive system is coping much better.

Not that you want to hear too much about my digestive system!!




Our weather continues to be typical springtime.  From gale force winds and rain overnight, today it is much calmer and the sun is even shining at times.  Tomorrow morning, they are forecasting near-frost temperatures for us.

Nature takes it all in her stride.  The birds continue nesting (the sparrows have fledged now) and the plants and lawn are growing apace.

Keep smiling ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret.

 

Sunday 1 October 2023

The Orchid Show

 

The National Orchid Show (named Orchids & More) has been here at Hamilton this year, so I took the opportunity of visiting it.  

Orchids may not be my most favourite bloom, but I was impressed by the variety available and the richness of so many of the colours was amazing.

Each individual Orchid Society had their own display – some of them quite impressive – and there were also stands selling plants and pots and fertilizers etc.





















It did not take me very long to see everything, but I will say I really enjoyed my visit.

Margaret ๐Ÿ˜Š

 

HEADER PHOTO FOR OCTOBER 2023

Wairere Falls has the distinction of being the highest waterfall in the North Island (153 metres) and is found in the Kaimai Ranges near Matamata.  It is visible for miles around, and after heavy rain can look quite spectacular.  There is a track that leads to the top, involving a steep flight of steps at one stage.  Although the walk is quite picturesque, it can also be quite challenging for the unprepared.  The views from the top are what makes the trek worthwhile.




Thursday 28 September 2023

Night Raider

 

Look who I caught in the act this morning when I pulled my curtains. 

Mr Snail (or was it Mrs?) was making a quick getaway after a night-time raid on my strawberry patch, which sits immediately below the window.




With the warm damp weather, the snails and slugs have been out in force the last few days.  I know they are part of Nature, but why do they have to munch so much?

I can see I am going to have to resort to some slug bait to control the invasion or I am going to end up with no garden.

I remember one year, a while ago now, going out at night and “harvesting” snails and feeding them to the hens the next morning.  The chickens eventually got tired of their snail diet and I had to drown the things instead.

I’m afraid I’m not so organic anymore – these days it is much easier to use slug bait and be done with it.

Do you have a favourite method of getting rid of these slimy little night raiders?

Margaret ๐Ÿ˜Š

 

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Pile Driving

 

Construction has begun on a new industrial building back behind our place.  We were notified last week that work was about to begin, and we have been left in no doubt that it has!

The Pile Driver has been working away, hammering in the long steel girders needed for the building to be able to rest on stable ground.  It has been quite fascinating watching it at work (what we can see of it), and the power/force of the machine involved is quite incredible.

Our house gets the shivers and shakes each time a pile is thrust into the ground, a result of our soil being so sandy (we are next to the river).  But it is taking me a while to get used to the noise – it reminds me of the low jaw-shuddering grinding whine that the old dentist’s drills use to have (thank goodness technology has replaced them!).




We are having typical spring weather at the moment.  Sunny one day and rainy the next, but the temperatures are definitely getting warmer and we seldom light the fire in the evening anymore.

May your day be filled with serenity and cheerfulness ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret.

 

Thursday 21 September 2023

Fifty Years Ago

 

Fifty years ago this week, I got married.  If my husband had survived (he died 5 years ago), it would have been our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

It is difficult to know whether one should celebrate such an event alone, but getting married changed my life (for the better!) and I have chosen to celebrate it.


Arriving at the Church with my father


My new husband and I cutting the wedding cake


My wonderful children have been amazing.  I received beautiful flowers (with heavenly-scented stock amongst them), and taken out for a celebratory dinner.


Dinner at The Helm


Tears of Happiness


I feel truly blessed – and totally spoilt!

Cheers,

Margaret ๐Ÿ˜Š

 

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Searching For Health

 

My life has not always been a healthy one.  I almost died from meningitis as a toddler, have experienced cancer twice as an adult, and had various other health issues that have generally been more persistently annoying than life threatening.

Over recent years I have struggled with arthritis, high blood pressure, being overweight, several digestive issues (why are they all given different names as they all deal with one body system?), adverse side effects from medications, and lately a viral infection of the liver. 


Carrot and Celery Juice has become a staple in my diet now

I am soon to enter my seventieth decade and the thought that I may live another twenty years (as many of my ancestors have done), with less than good health, is a thought that fills me with an odd kind of dread.

I believe in a Creator God who made our bodies so incredibly perfect that medical science is still trying to figure it all out.  I also believe that, given half a chance, the body has an amazing ability to heal itself from almost any ailment. 

Sometimes it needs help to get started on this journey, and this is what I am attempting to do now by transitioning from a typical “Western Diet” to a more natural one.

I am not interested in following any set “diet” plan, or sticking rigidly to an exercise programme.  These things may be useful to some, but I prefer to listen to my own body and make my own choices. 

After all, we are all different – we all have different needs, different beliefs – we are all individuals who can make our own choices in what we do.

God may control the quantity of our life, but He has given us control over the quality of life we have.

Let’s enjoy Life every day, as long as we can ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret.

 


Saturday 9 September 2023

Well Done, France

 

The menfolk in the family are not happy.  The Rugby World Cup kicked off today in Paris, France, and our All Blacks played the French rugby team and managed to lose quite convincingly.

I thought France played well, but the fact that we lost such an important game (after losing an equally important game two weeks ago to the South Africans) does not go down well with a lot of All Black supporters. 

I won’t repeat any of the comments I have heard made!


A scrum, at a time when we were actually ahead on the scoreboard


I enjoy watching rugby and will enjoy watching other World Cup games that are on when I am awake (the getting up in the wee hours to watch rugby is not my cup of tea). 

Every weekend the last several months I have watched Super Rugby competition games, and now have been watching the Provincial Championships (we have a SkySport subscription, so I can watch it all from the comfort of my armchair).

Rugby is about the only sport I follow, and, strangely, I don’t really mind which team wins.  It is more important to me that the game is not tainted with cheating or a biased referee (both of which happen at times).

Do you have a sport that you like to follow?

Cheers,

Margaret ๐Ÿ˜Š

 

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Magpie Treasure


Along our fence we have hung several hanging baskets that we (or, rather, my son) has filled with annuals.  They look so pretty when in bloom and give us lots of joy.

They make Nature happy as well.  Some of the baskets have a coir lining and the birds love the free nesting materials on hand.

The sparrows usually make good use of the wiry strands, pulling out each one before flying off with it.  But yesterday and today I have witnessed a magpie doing the same.

Only it doesn’t take individual strands – it pulls out tufts and keeps pulling until it has a beak full of nesting treasure before flying off into the trees.

I managed to take this photo through the net curtains.  I’m sure if it had been aware of my presence, it would not have hung around.  They usually fly off the moment they see any movement in a window.




Have a happy day ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret.

 

Friday 1 September 2023

Up, Down, And Down Again

 

What a bumpy month August has been, healthwise.  I’m sorry I haven’t been posting, or visiting other blogs, but I simply haven’t felt up to it. 

I’m still undergoing tests so not really sure what is going on, but it seems possible there is more than one issue happening at the same time.

Hopefully September will be a better month, especially as it signals the start of Spring.  Many birds around here have been getting quite territorial and amorous for a couple of weeks now, so no doubt it won’t be long before we start hearing little cheeps around the place (especially from the noisy sparrows!).

And this last week, our resident blackbirds have begun singing their Dawn Chorus.  What a welcome sound that is.




My little garden has been giving me much joy.  My first Iceland Poppy shyly opened its petals this morning, hovering over the Violet and Sweet Alyssum which have been scenting the air for some days now.

I love to sit out here when the day is warm and the icy winds are not blowing.

Welcome to Spring ๐Ÿ˜Š

Margaret.

  

HEADER PHOTO FOR SEPTEMBER 2023

September’s photo is of the Rangitaiki River in the Bay of Plenty.  This scene was taken from Thornton, where the river empties into the Pacific Ocean (this river is not to be confused with the Rangitikei River lower down the North Island).  In the background can be seen the volcanic cone of Mt Edgecumbe.

This photo was taken back in 2008 so no doubt the view has changed since then as the river has suffered a few floods in that time.