Sunday 26 February 2023

Little Miracles


When something has been lost for a long time and then is discovered again, I always feel like a Little Miracle has occurred.

Only a Little Miracle because it has little or no importance to anyone else but the person involved.

Many years ago, I remember my widowed mother being devastated when she mislaid her wedding ring.  It was over two years before it was found tucked into a crevice in the floor of the pantry.  Who knows how it got there, but she was delighted to have it back again.

Several weeks ago, Son lost a prized dress ring and all searches proved fruitless.  Yesterday, he went to pick up a bag of potting mix and there was the ring sitting nestled into a fold of the plastic bag.  To say he was happy is an understatement!

This last week I have had my own Little Miracle happen.  Around forty years ago, one of my brothers (now deceased) gave me a pretty china lady. 

Nothing incredible in itself, but something I really loved.  Then, about fifteen years ago, she disappeared – presumably I had disposed of her during the muddle of down-sizing to live in a caravan.

But I missed her, and after my brother died I missed her even more.

As they say, it is no good crying over spilt milk and my life moved on without my lady.  So, imagine my surprise and elation when Son unearthed her from an old box stashed in the back of his garage. 

The box contained a few cooking utensils, a couple of books, and some table placemats – as well as a large nest of ants!

A good wash in soapy hot water and my lady is as good as new.  I am so thrilled to have her back 😊



Friday 24 February 2023

Fruit From The Garden


Thankyou everyone for your kind comments on my last post.  I have now had a good rest and am feeling much more the thing!

Yesterday I even managed to do some gardening.  Son has been helping me get my small potted flower garden sorted out.  Too many overgrown plants, too many weeds, simply too overwhelming to even start tackling a clean-up job, so I’ve been very grateful to have his help.

Our weather has been settled the last few days but we had some rain come in late yesterday, and I only just remembered to gather some fruit before it arrived.

The grape, which was so severely knocked back in an unseasonally cold spring storm, came away again and is giving us a plentiful supply of grapes.  Nothing tastes quite like a sweet grape picked direct from the vine!

The blackberries are in full season, and we are getting a small bowlful from them every couple of days.  They are now quite sweet, unlike the early fruit which were so sour they left your mouth puckered up.

The strawberries, however, are at the very end of their season and the fruit is small and pickings are slim.  The bird netting has been removed from the beds so that the birds can enjoy some of this last harvest as well.

And now I had better leave my computer and go and do some dishes.  Son is wanting to bake a fruit cake later, and it is difficult to do any kind of cooking in a kitchen that contains a pile of dirty dishes!

Have an awesome day, wherever you are and whatever you are doing 😊



Wednesday 22 February 2023

Being Social


Strange how sometimes things can seem to get too much to cope with.

This past week I have entertained visitors, gone visiting myself, had morning tea in town with an old friend, and last night was able to meet up with some Australian relatives I’d not seen for several years.

Each event has been enjoyable and I wouldn’t want to not have done any of them, but this morning I am feeling so tired.  Probably just a reflection of the state of my health, but I am feeling I shouldn’t ignore it.

So, today, I am doing nothing!  Going nowhere.  Seeing nobody.  I’m even seriously considering turning off my phone for a few hours.  Tomorrow will be a better day!

Time to put the kettle on for a nice hot cup of tea 😊



Thursday 16 February 2023

My Ancestry


As many of you know, last year I finished working on my Family History story. 

For the last fifty years (my goodness!) I have been gathering information about my children’s ancestors, and finally got it all put together (with sources) and a copy given to each of my children.

It was a mammoth task and I decided it was time to end my research.

However, my children keep telling me that I need to publish it, so others can also benefit from my work.  The cost of doing this is prohibitive, so I’ve not really felt like that was an option.

There are other family members who also do research, and I have been aware that most of them use as their go-to place to build their trees – mine has all been done on my computer, using Word but no other programme.

Yesterday I visited a sister-in-law who loves her genealogy hobby, and she got me interested in looking at and what it could do for me.

I thought about it overnight, and today I am going to subscribe and begin transferring my information into that format.  What a great way to publish my Family History so that a wider audience can access it.

This is me (a few years ago now!)

I’m happy to report that we have been in touch with all our family and friends in areas so stricken by Cyclone Gabrielle.  The devastation has been terrible, but it has been a relief for us to know people are safe.  It is going to take some time to rebuild again.

Margaret 😊


Tuesday 14 February 2023

A Fire In February


February is normally the hottest driest month of the year, but not so in 2023.  It wasn’t cold last night, but it was certainly dismal and dreary and we welcomed the sight of our log fire as we hunkered down for the evening.

Cyclone Gabrielle (now classed as an ex-cyclone) has been causing devastating damage, equivalent to (if not worse than) that caused by Cyclone Bola in the late 1980s. 

The government has now declared a National State of Emergency, only the third time in the country’s history for this to happen.  It means that local Civil Defence centres can now officially be helped by national resources.

Many rivers have burst their stop-banks.  Roads are closed.  Landslides have been frequent.  Trees are down in every area.  Thousands of residents are without electricity.  Many others have been evacuated from their homes.

I doubt there is anyone in the North Island who does not know somebody who has been impacted in some way, and for many places the situation is still worsening.

Hamilton itself has escaped the worst, with most damage being caused by trees coming down in the strong winds.  We went to sleep last night with torrential rain and howling wind, but by 2.30am the rain had stopped and by 6am the winds had died down as well.

This morning we have even had some sunshine, although the clouds are still black and there is the occasional strong gust of wind.

Our TV is on and we are watching extended coverage from around the Island.  It is sobering – more so as we are still waiting to hear that certain friends and family are safe.

Sending arohanui (much love) to all those affected by this storm,



AN UPDATE (2pm):  We are hearing of so many communities that are now totally isolated, places with no communications networks available, areas where electricity may be weeks before it is restored, people being rescued from flooded homes, others who have lost everything.  Also, reports that Napier has received three months' worth of rain in 24 hours. This really has become a major disaster for our little country.

Sunday 12 February 2023

A Plate Or Two Of Pottage


With Cyclone Gabrielle making its way onto the country, many people are hunkering down and expecting the worst.  For regions already sodden with the heavy rain of two weeks ago, more heavy rain could spell disaster.

Red warnings for gale-force winds and torrential rain have been issued for the top of the North Island and the Coromandel Peninsular, but it appears all the Island will be impacted by strong winds.

For us here in Hamilton things are not currently looking too bad.  We missed the worst of the last storm, and so far we only have an orange warning for strong winds over the next couple of days.

Today we have overcast skies and the wind is steadily rising.  There has been a little bit of rain at our place but nothing worth noticing, although that is meant to change in the next hour or so as we head into the afternoon.

I don’t normally make soup in summer (in seems wrong somehow), but this morning it felt like a great idea.  It was!

Son and I enjoyed our hearty pottage soup for lunch – it warmed the cockles of our heart, it did (what a funny saying that is).

I call this soup pottage because it doesn’t have a set recipe.  It is a sort of chuck-in-whatever-is-around type of soup.  In this case it was a shin bone, carrot, onion, leek, celery, pearl barley, mung beans, yellow mustard seeds, seasoned with turmeric, salt, and pepper, and boiled up for a couple of hours in some water.

Very yummy 😊



Saturday 11 February 2023

CT Scan Done


I went for my CT scan yesterday.  It was an experience! 

I’ve never had one before and this one came with an IV injection of contrast (dye) to show up the heart and blood vessels more.

I was warned what to expect – feelings of heat, and a metallic taste in the mouth.  Also a feeling like you want to have a pee, only I felt like I already had!  I hadn’t, of course, and the feeling only lasted mere seconds but it was certainly strange.

In the peaceful Garden of Retreat in Flowing Happiness (Hamilton Gardens)

The scanning machine got cranked up, sounding like some sci-fi thing out of Star Wars or something, and the lights started whirring around on the inside of the tunnel.  I can see why some people feel nauseous – I had to shut my eyes!

And then it was all over and I was back out in the other room, until the IV tube could be removed and I was allowed to head home again.

Now we wait a few weeks for the results to come through 😊



Thursday 9 February 2023

Back In The Groove


When Son bought our home in 2019 it came with a dishwasher.  For eighteen years prior to then, I had “survived” without using one.

Back then there was only two people to do dishes for, and I would rope in visitors to help if they had made more! 

When I came to live with Son his daughter also lived here, so there were at least three to do dishes for (often more – teenagers always seem to have friends over) and the dishwasher was a real help.

When granddaughter moved in with her mother I still continued using the dishwasher – until it stopped working a short while ago!

We rented a skip to remove accumulated building rubbish

Now I am getting back in the groove of doing dishes by hand (I am chief cook and bottle washer around here, although Son always helps when needed), I am remembering all the good reasons for not using a dishwasher.

No more expensive dishwasher detergent to buy.  Dishes are always available for immediate use (and we don’t need to have as many).  The satisfaction that comes from washing and drying dishes and putting them away (no deferred “have to put the dishes away”).  The ability to add disinfectant to the water if anyone in the household is sick (although I doubt if any germs could survive that harsh detergent).  I don't have to remind others not to put my crystal bowls or special gold-rimmed cups in the dishwasher.  I get to listen to some favourite music while standing at the sink.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not knocking using a dishwasher.  For a family or in a commercial situation, a dishwasher can be invaluable.  But for one or two people, doing dishes by hand can be quite satisfying.

How do you normally cope with your dishes?

Margaret 😊


Tuesday 7 February 2023

The Cheese Barn


I have been searching for a source of organic cow’s ghee to use in cooking instead of oil.  Ghee, an ultra-clarified form of butter, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

It contains medium chain fatty acids which aid in the faster digestion and absorption of food.  It also helps to stimulate the satiety centre of the brain, helping to control appetite (and promote weight loss!).

As with my butter rationing, I don’t intend to go overboard in using this.  Just sometimes, though, it is nice to make a pie crust or a fruit crumble pudding (I don’t make cakes etc any more, unless for a really special occasion), or I may want to grease my non-stick skillet. 

The ghee will be better to use than butter (I dislike using oil for these things as it always seems to go sticky and thick and yukky).

I found a place called Milkio, that claimed to be based here in Hamilton itself – only every avenue on their webpage that I explored came to a dead end.  When I discovered a different brand with an almost identical webpage (called Gold Leaf), I decided the whole lot was probably a scam.

Then I discovered a source at Matatoki, near Thames, called The Cheese Barn.  They were quite open about who stocked their product and also that they had their own shop (with address and hours) inside their cafe.

It was quite pleasant to drive over there this morning (even though it took 90 minutes each way) and enjoy the green countryside.  There was still some evidence of the recent floods, but nothing to hinder my travels.

I purchased my ghee with glee, and am looking forward to using it to grease the pan tonight when I cook up my Bean Burgers.

May your smile always be the right way up 😊



Sunday 5 February 2023

Purple Potatoes


Do you remember when I planted a pot of purple potatoes last year?  I talked about them in my blog dated 16 September 2022 (called ‘Rugby and Potatoes’).

The plants grew well and I kept adding soil around them as they got higher, until the whole pot was full.

The potatoes flowered at Christmas and have now died off, ready for digging up.

The pot was much too heavy for me to deal with, so Son found an old tarpaulin and tipped the pot out onto it so we could lift out the tubers we found.

I was quite happy with what we got, but wouldn’t say it was worth growing these financially (much cheaper to buy them!).  

However, there is always something nice about your own home-grown produce that makes the effort worth while.  

We have cloudy skies today, warm and humid again (although so far not as bad as yesterday). 

The lawn is loving the warm moisture, and has gone crazy in its efforts to reach the sky.  Son was able to go outside last evening, as things began to cool down slightly, and mow the lawn back to a respectable level.

Walking on the soft green grass in bare feet is a little luxury I always enjoy 😊



Friday 3 February 2023

Butter Rationing


Ever so slowly, I feel I am creeping towards working out a new lifestyle of eating for me.  Because we are all unique individuals, with different needs and desires, it has been confusing sifting through piles of nutritional advice to work out what will work for me as an individual.

One food item with contentious connotations is good old butter.  Yes, it contains saturated fat and a fair share of calories, and an excess is certainly bad for you.  But it also contains vitamins A, D and E, as well as being a good source of calcium. 

For good health we need to have fat-soluble vitamins in our diet, and it seems to be generally recommended that a person has 1-2 servings of fat each day (most people have much more than that).  

My conclusion is that butter, in moderation, can be a healthy part of my dietary plan.

(photo taken from Mainland web page)

Being a great fan of butter (and eating far too much of it!), it is not something I wish to give up completely. 

There seems to be two alternatives open to me: severely limit how much I eat and/or mix it half and half with a cold pressed vegetable oil.  I may try the latter during winter, but for now I will restrict the volume I eat.

A standard serve of butter is 1 Tbsp (14g or about ½ oz).  By cutting the block of butter into six portions, then each portion into six pieces, I can get 36 serves of butter out of one 500g packet – it will last me longer than a month!

This afternoon I divided up the butter and wrapped each portion in tinfoil before freezing it.

There is one thing I think I will change next time, and that is to use unsalted butter.  Salt consumption is something I also need to keep an eye on and I would rather add my own salt as needed, so I can better control exactly how much I eat.

As an aside, I was nearly thrown out of bed at 2am this morning when we had a reasonably strong earthquake (4.8).  It must have lasted nearly a minute, and everything in my room rattled loudly – it was rather unnerving!

Stay happy 😊



Wednesday 1 February 2023

Lots Going On


It has been a busy two days.  Yesterday I went to the supermarket and then visited an old friend that I had not seen for many years.

She is 89 years old and still as bright as a button.  It was a joy to spend a couple of hours with her, discussing all that had passed in our lives since we last met fifteen years ago.

And then today I spent most of the day visiting one of my sisters-in-law.  I am finding that being a bit more social is so much nicer than just sitting at home all day!

I also had a doctor’s appointment this morning.  We had to meet to discuss the hospital informing him that they were turning down my cardiac referral because there is still a six month’s waiting list – I’ve already been on the list for four months.

But there is a matter of mis-communication somewhere, because I actually have an appointment next week for a CT Scan, authorised by the hospital cardiac department.

My doctor was so nice about it all – so nice in fact, that he refused to charge me any fee for our consultation.  He has endorsed my desire to lose weight, and accepted without question my concerns that all of my current health issues have only arisen since I had the covid-19 vaccines.  Who knows?

So sad to hear the Chateau Tongariro is closing its doors
And so happy that I got to stay there last December

We have had unsettled weather here today, with rain, wind, sunshine, and a little thunder.  A lady in the doctor’s waiting room was telling me her family in Auckland had just received notice that their house has been red-stickered (uninhabitable) and were coming to stay with her.

I have been able to catch up with most of the family and friends I know who have been affected by this weather.  They are all okay, but a couple of them are living in towns that are still cut off from the rest of the country.  One said they would be good as long as food deliveries were still able to be made to their local town, which at the moment isn’t possible.

This storm really has been unprecedented in its severity and the number of people it has impacted.  The obvious cause is Climate Change, but the Tongan volcano sending 10% of the earth’s moisture into the atmosphere must also be having an impact.

What goes up, must come down!

Margaret 😊


My apologies.  I got my information slightly wrong - the Tongan volcano increased atmospheric moisture by 10% 


This picture is one of rural countryside half-way between Te Awamutu and Waitomo.  The photo was taken in 2008 but I doubt the scene has changed much since then.