Tuesday 28 March 2023

Staple Consumables


I did my usual weekly grocery shop this morning and realised that I nearly always have on hand a few basic staple fresh consumables.

There is always (well, nearly always, as I sometimes run out!) a supply in our pantry of potatoes, carrots, onions, apples, lemons, milk and eggs.  Seven staples that I would not like to be without as I use them so much in my cooking.

Of course, we purchase other fresh things as well plus all our normal grocery items. 

Both Son and I make individual trips to the supermarket as we like different things.

Our dinner meals, though, we do take together – he buys all the meat and I buy all the fruit and vegetables.  It works out quite well and we seldom double up on things.

Not that many years ago (or maybe it is!), hubby and I grew most of our own vegetables and a good amount of fruit. 

Son and I grow a few essentials like silverbeet and lettuce and a few herbs, but I must admit that I do now find it easier to simply buy what we need.

Have a happy day 😊


Oops, I just realised I forgot to photograph the onions – you will have to imagine them sitting there!


Saturday 25 March 2023

Froggies In The Garden


I am house-sitting this weekend, keeping my old friend Rusty company while his humans attend a wedding.

Rusty escorted me on a wander around the garden, and I thought these two Froggies made a pretty picture sitting together.

As children, we would catch tadpoles (and the occasional frog) in the cow’s water trough. 

It was fascinating watching them grow legs and finally turn into little froglets that we would then release back into the trough.

I seldom see frogs these days, although sometimes they can be heard – usually in overgrown / under-developed areas beside lakes or a river.

I am so thankful I had a rural upbringing 😊



Wednesday 22 March 2023

Out For Lunch


I think if I was left to my own devices I could easily become a hermit, so it is just as well I have friends who occasionally invite me to join them for lunch.

I always enjoy it, so I’m not really sure why it takes so much effort to be more social.  Perhaps I am getting into a bit of a rut – and that is no good at all!

Today I joined an old friend at a quiet café and we happily passed an hour together chatting about this and that and nothing in particular.

I ordered Macaroni Cheese and it came with token salad and a decorative drizzle of sweet sauce.  It went well with my lemon and ginger tea.

The afternoon was quiet and I had a little snooze on my bed in the sun.  It made Mittens very happy – she loves having me in the bedroom and seems to think it is her Cat Duty to keep an eye on me when I am there.

Lately she has been developing a new habit – if she thinks I haven’t come to bed at a reasonable hour, she will come and butt her head against my leg and then sit and frown at me (yes, cats can frown) until I make a move.

How can you not love an adoring moggy?

Margaret 😊


Monday 20 March 2023



Several months ago I sowed some carrot seed in one of my trough  gardens.  They germinated and then struggled and didn’t grow very well, so imagine my surprise when I went to remove them and discovered carrots beneath the surface of the soil.

Not a great many carrots, but enough for a couple of meals and a sample of what fresh carrots really taste like.

Our nights are slowly growing cooler but the days are still reasonably mild and warm.  I took advantage of that this morning and hand washed two fancy tablecloths that need to drip dry – I’m not keen on wringing out old fabrics or ones with lots of embroidery on them.

Some silverware also got polished (not my most favourite job) and a cupboard was organised – so I feel like I have had a productive morning and can now sit outside with a cup of tea and enjoy the afternoon.

Stay happy 😊



Saturday 18 March 2023

A Visit To The Cemetery


It would have been my dear husband’s 70th birthday today, so I went over to the cemetery to say hi to him.  (I did a lot of talking, but he was pretty quiet!).

There was a carpet of acorns beneath the oak trees

My parents are also in this cemetery and I spent some time wandering around reading headstones and recognising many of their friends.

One thing that struck me though, was that most of them had lived well into their 80s with quite a few making it into their 90s.

I knew a lot of these people.  Many of them were heavy drinkers (mostly beer), a lot of them were smokers.  They ate lots of red meat and had pudding after their dinner.  I don’t recall any of them worrying about how much water they had drunk that day or what exercise they had done. 

They lived their lives to the full and laughed a lot.  When things went wrong, they simply picked up their shovel and carried on.

I wonder if there is a lesson for us in there somewhere?

Margaret 😊


Friday 17 March 2023

Ginger and Pickles


A friend and I went to Cambridge yesterday and visited some thrift stores while there. 

I haven’t done this activity for quite a few months now, and was surprised (and mildly horrified) at how much prices had increased. 

Selling secondhand donated goods helps raise money for charities, but also helps those who can’t afford to buy things new.  Unfortunately, or so it seems to me, the emphasis has now shifted to the raising money part of the equation and I feel sorry for those who are struggling to make ends meet.

My friend and I both managed to find a couple of little things to bring home.  I liked the small white and blue china lady, and am always on the lookout for beads to add to my collection. 

I find many wine glasses today are too big, and these glasses are perfect for holding the regulation one-serve 100ml serving of wine – they are elderly glasses and have quite a different feel to them compared to today’s glass.

I especially loved this Beatrix Potter collectable.  It is a little shop that was operated by Ginger and Pickles (a cat and dog respectively) in one of the Potter books.

We have rain showers here today and are expecting thunderstorms tomorrow.  It’s a good day for puttering around inside and finding homes for my new little treasures.

Have a great day 😊


Wednesday 15 March 2023

My Favourite Season


I do love autumn.  Whoever wrote that it was a Mellow Season of Fruitfulness certainly summed it up correctly.

Harvest days are rolling to an end and most of the preserving is finished for the year (not that I do that much anymore).  The trees are starting to change colour as Nature quietly but inexorably prepares for the coming of winter.

It is probably my most favourite season for being outdoors. 

The days are still warm but not hot, the balmy air is usually quite calm, I don’t get as easily sunburnt, and there is a sort of sleepy heaviness that settles over everything.

Sometimes I love to sit outside and enjoy it all, without trying to do anything in particular.  I like to just sit and daydream – and have little Nana-Naps when nobody is looking!

I think we should rename our Deck Garden and call it the Garden of Peace, because it is so pleasant sitting out there under the blue skies.

I feel that taking time to sit and relax and enjoy our surroundings is something precious we need to cultivate.  It is the little things like that which make life more meaningful and enjoyable.

Margaret. 😊


Sunday 12 March 2023

Rat Babies


The newest additions to our household have arrived from the breeder.  They are about six weeks old and Son has named them Silver and Storm.

Silver and Storm in the nursery cage

They have a cage to themselves until the older rats get used to them.  The cages are placed beside each other and there is a lot of nose twitching and general excitement between the two. 

A couple of days eating the same foods and they will smell alike and the older ones will accept their presence and adopt them into their Mischief.

Silver investigating a snooze site

Son will still supervise them the first few times he puts the young ones into the main cage.  Rats are very communal and quite loving towards each other, so older ones seldom offer harm to young ones in the same group.

They are more like to get upset because the very active young ones are zooming around the cage and the older ones find it tiring just watching them (not so very different to grandparents!).

Son introduces Storm to me (as close as I got!)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend 😊




Friday 10 March 2023

Dodging Raindrops


We had a lot of rain showers passing through today, some of them very heavy. 

By dodging the showers, I managed to get my new seedlings planted out. 

Sometimes I thought the rain would flatten them, but, no, they all had their heads up when the sun tried to shine again.

As I said yesterday, Son and I are streamlining the pots so that they will (hopefully!) be easier to care for.  There is bracken growing up the back of the area, and we already had a couple of spider plants and some grasses in pots.

This photo shows half the garden area.

I planted succulents, violas, primulas, cyclamen, and three hyacinth bulbs (beneath some violas in the trough).  We are going to place large stones around the pots – we have a few already, but will need to get some more next week.

There are some hanging baskets that need attention as well.  I think they would look pretty with violas in them over winter.

Our weekend is about to begin here, and we are expecting the arrival of a couple of little rat babies.  I’ll keep you posted.

Margaret 😊


Thursday 9 March 2023

Yuccas Gone


I visited a dear friend today and discovered she had men in her garden!  They were there to cut down and remove three yucca trees that had grown too big for the garden. 

What sticky sappy things they are, with sharp points on their leaves, and I could see why a super-sharp chainsaw and thick gloves were the order of the day.

It took less than an hour to complete the job, and my friend was pleased to have them gone.

I also visited the garden centre and purchased some primulas and violas for a winter/spring display.  We have been reorganising our decking area and my old container garden is making way for an easier-to-care-for row of pots.

I will have to show a picture when the plants have been potted up.

Time now for a much needed cup of tea 😊



Wednesday 8 March 2023

Autumn is Arriving


The first of March is traditionally the start of autumn, but I think we were all hoping that was wrong after experiencing the wettest “summer” for many years.

But the signs are all pointing to the arrival of autumn:

We can see a stand of poplar trees in the distance and they are definitely starting to change colour.  Even the oaks down one of our streets are beginning to turn a dusky brown.

The nights are growing cooler and we begin to think of lighting the fire in the evenings (although we try and put that off as long as possible, or else the winter feels too long).

Some of our mornings are thick with fog, which thankfully so far has been clearing away to quite nice days.

When there is no fog, the air is calm enough for the hot air balloons to be up and cruising through the skies.  I caught sight of this distant one out my window this morning.

Add to all that the urge to tidy up the garden and give the house a good clean.  The general tidy-up before winter is not as well recognised as the urge to spring-clean, but it is there nevertheless.

Not that we will be having any traditional bonfires of fallen leaves – we don’t have enough leaves, and if we did the Council would frown on us if we did start burning them!  All our green waste heads to the local composting station – one of the results of city living. 

For Mittens, life goes on as normal.

I love the balmy days that often accompany Autumn, and this year hope to be able to get outside and enjoy them.

Have a great day 😊



Sunday 5 March 2023

Fig Jam


Much as I adore fresh figs, I have to confess that I love fig jam even more. 

After being given fresh figs the other day I decided to weigh them and found there was a fraction under 500g – just enough to make a couple of pots of jam.

After cutting the stalk end off, I chopped the figs into small pieces and left them to soak overnight with the juice of ½ lemon (abut 2 Tbsp) and 175g of white sugar mixed through them.

This morning I measured out 50g preserved ginger, diced it finely, and added it to the figs. 

The next step was to make up a syrup of ½ cup hot water and 175g white sugar in a big saucepan.

Once the sugar was dissolved I tipped in all of the fig and ginger mixture, stirred well, and brought it to the boil.  A rapid boil of 15-20 minutes and a lot of stirring (it was beginning to stick to the pan), and my jam was setting.

My recipe said boil for 30-40 minutes, but because I had halved the amounts I didn’t expect it to take that long.  However, I’m not sure 15 minutes would be long enough to preserve it properly – but then decided it didn’t really matter because the jam won’t need to last very long (both sons love it as well).

I ended up with two and a half 250ml jars of jam.  As you can see, I recycle my jars.  Sometimes labels come off quite easily, but not these ones! 

The jam still tastes good, regardless of the label 😊



Saturday 4 March 2023

A Happy Birthday


My youngest son turned 44 years old yesterday.  As a family, we don’t normally do a lot for birthdays other than having a special family dinner, but this time Youngest Son was rather spoilt.

He and I travelled out of city and visited one of his uncle and aunt’s for lunch, and she had made him a birthday cake!

We came home with a bag full of fruit – apples freshly picked from their trees, blueberries, fresh figs, and a couple of late peaches. 

This couple have made the utmost use of the land around their house, growing fruits and vegetables as well as flowers in their cottage garden. 

Down the back of the section are four hens that keep them supplied with eggs.  A pet rabbit keeps the hens company, but decided to hide from us yesterday.

Their little cat did not hide, although she normally runs away when strangers visit.  Youngest Son seems to have an affinity with cats (he likes them but does not have one of his own), and they always seem to gravitate to him.

What I loved was seeing a crystal vase being used as her water dish – what a great way to make something utilitarian into something unique and beautiful.

It was a lovely day, filled with talking and wandering around their productive garden.

Margaret 😊


Wednesday 1 March 2023

Winter Silverbeet


One vegetable I love to have on hand over winter is silverbeet (Swiss chard).  It is so handy to be able to go to the garden and pick a few leaves for dinner a couple of times a week (remember our winters here are very mild, none of that being snowed-in stuff!).

To get the plants well established by winter, I’ve usually found it best to plant out seedlings in January.  Usually I go for Fordhook Giant as I like the dark green leaves, but this year we are trying Ironman as well.  So far, it is looking great and growing much faster than the Fordhook seedlings.

Son wasn’t around last evening to feed the cats, so I got the job.  They were not impressed!  Cats are so much creatures of habit, and they know from experience they never get fed by me.

I wasn’t going to put down their jellymeat until they would eat it (too many flies around), and it was nearly an hour after normal feed-time before they decided they were hungry enough to come when I called them.

Here is Mittens after her meal.  I always wondered where the expression “lick your chops” came from!

Wishing everyone a happy day 😊





This idyllic scene was at a small bay near Russell in the Bay of Islands, Northland.  The photo was taken in 2019.