Sunday, 30 November 2014

November 29th Let's Light Up Our Xmas

Well I am a sorry state of affairs aren't I?  Tonight our Xmas lights were turned on. I took photos of the house, a photo inside - more comprehensive photos will follow, but then realised I didn't take photos of our Switcher Onners!  How rude am I? It has become a tradition that Rob, Jo and Raewyn turn on our lights. Raewyn - a welcome recent addition, as there are 3 main switches to be flipped, and George gives the countdown, and I supervise (someone has to have a supervisory role?)

I am going to share with you today (so be prepared for a novel) the history of our Xmas lights, and why they are important to me (and just about kill my poor darling George, installing them).  My younger years were spent as a Jehovah's Witness - which meant no birthdays and no Xmas.  In my very late teens, I suffered an allergic reaction to that particular religion, and left - before they officially booted me out.  That is neither here nor there, but explains my manic obsession with Xmas. Another obsession I have is Bling. I often think in a past life, I must have been a Magpie. If it is shiny, and glistens and sparkles I want it.

So now let's go back a few years not long after I had married George. We were shopping one Xmas, and saw Xmas light decorations. I said to George, how I loved Xmas decorations, and wouldn't it be nice to have just a few outside decorations (note the use of the word 'few').  He said well why don't we? My counter argument was that we live up a steep driveway, tucked away from the world and no one would see it. His counter counter argument ... well who would we do it for, for us or for others. So I did one of my excited jumps and waved my hands in the air and said why not, let's do it. So we bought just a few. Got home and George installed them immediately. Well thank goodness for late night shopping, as in that one night we made a further two trips back to the shop to purchase more. And then the after Xmas sales followed so we got more.  And from there it grew.

Now we have a massive Xmas light display. I pretty up the lounge and decorate the extra trees on the outside deck. George does the outside.  There is a competition for the first time this year, and we have NOT entered it.  Our mutual decision is that we do this for ourselves, and for family (especially two grand daughters who had a sneak preview), friends, neighbours and word of mouth. Yes we get strangers who come up to see what is going on, and they are welcomed. Our Xmas light display is done with love.  And as my son said to George today... "You don't do this for anyone else do you, you do it all just for Mum".  Aren't I the blessed one.  So my early years were spent pining for Xmas bling and decorations (never mind the presents, I don't care about those), and from now until Xmas, I just look in wonderment at the beauty surrounding us, and that I can share it with loved ones. Oh and thanks to technology - with you all as well.  Here's wishing you all a wonderful and festive Xmas season. 

Love Irene xxxx

The lounge mantelpiece

Saturday, 29 November 2014

November 28th Xmas, Xmas!!!

It's beginning to feel a lot like Xmas
Everywhere I go
Our lights are just about ready
to set the neighbourhood aglow
We may be stymied by wind,
but we don't have to worry about snow

Time to do the beauty checklist
which goes just like this
Hair at it's most Pink
Eyelashes you can feel when you blink
Nails adorned in gold
let the season unfold.... 

Friday, 28 November 2014

November 27th A Blog Not About The Photo

Today's blog is about India.  What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of India? Noise, crowds, traffic and what you have seen depicted in movies?  Which is what I have thought. Even though I am a Travel Agent, India is one country that I have not visited.

As a Travel Agent, we attend various evenings put on by either tourism boards or wholesalers selling a particular country or product. Tonight it was India's turn and I decided to attend. If I could learn something new - all well and good

And I did learn something new. Regarding the stunning beaches and majestic mountains there. A national park where Bengal Tigers still roam free? There is so much more to India then a frantic city, the Taj Mahal (still a must do of course) the Golden Triangle etc etc. I was that impressed that when I returned home I said to George, what about putting India in our future travel plans?  I have to confess we have been discussing where to next and it was going to be the USA  Now India is in contention with the States. I am not sure who will win, because our next jaunt won't be for a while. Therefore you will have to watch this space

Coincidentally I was stuck for a photo of the day. Before heading out for the presentation I decided to take some photos of the colour explosion in our garden. When I got home, I thought how fitting that was for my photo of the day - as it matched the colour explosion of India.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

November 26th Murder and Mayhem!!

I came across a murder scene today, however there was not a drop of blood in sight. At first glance, I thought this was a crime of passion, but on closer inspection that didn't appear to be the case. Possibly a case of a violent ending to what may have been a peaceful life?  Where is Sherlock Holmes or even Hercule Poirot when you need them!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

November 25th Oh Crumbs!!

Tonight for dinner we had crumbed fillets of fish. George got to have his whole snapper the other night, and today's dinner was my turn to indulge and eat fresh crumbed fish.

But one dilemma I always have when crumbing the fish. No  matter how hard I try, I always have insufficient crumbs and/or an over abundance of flour left on the plate.  Now if any of you are used to crumbing, you will know that once you start this mission there is no going back. You are left with huge globs of sticky crumbs on your fingers and under your nails. And you can guarantee that when you run out of crumbs, there isn't another human in sight to get some more dry crumbs for you from the pantry. Only Minnie is at your feet and she doesn't want to help unless it means there is a reward for her!! So you have to wash your hands, dry them off and get more crumbs - all for the sake of one or two fillets of fish.  However, without fail everytime there is always more then enough flour left on the plate, that gets consigned to the rubbish bin.

One of life's mysteries - maybe one day I will write about the Case Of The Missing Sock. They go into the washing machine only for one to never return.  That is another blog however, and here are my crumbing efforts, all crumbed and ready to go in the frying pan.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

November 24th Checking Out The 'hood

Today Minnie walked me, as she always does. She chooses the route and I follow. Occasionally, as happened today, Minnie will decide on a route that is out of the ordinary. I don't know how in our little corner of the world, every now and then she will come up with a new route.  It will be something we have seen before of course, but for instance instead of her normal let's cross the road and go straight ahead, she will decide to turn left. Or she will decide to join two separate walks into the one. Today was one of those days.

This was an unusual find at a letterbox. I don't know if the residents within haven't realised that Halloween is over or they are just getting in early for next year?

Onwards we went. It always strikes me as ironic that at some homes - ie the types of houses where there is more garbage stored in the yard and on their deck then in the whole neighbourhood, there is usually some little point of beauty and normally found in an overgrown garden. In our travels, we have one such house and their Feijoa tree on the roadside, was in full bloom.  The blooms always look so pretty.

Monday, 24 November 2014

November 23rd Warning - Irene Is In The Kitchen

Yes, today I was in the kitchen. Unusually everything went to plan. My Feta, Cumin & Rosemary biscuits were very, very nice. I mean very, very nice. My new Rolling Pin made it's debut and did not disappoint either.

Finally I finished my day in the kitchen with something very fishy. Yes, I cooked this whole Snapper for George for his dinner.  Whole fish with bones in them, really do not appeal to me. Especially when I have finished roasting it, and find a perfect white circle in the bottom of the pan - Roast Fish eye anyone? I will stick to my Fillets of Fish (but not in a burger bun, unless I am desperate thank you).

November 21st and 22nd Wicked Whitianga

We were very spoilt Friday and Saturday and treated to a weekend at Whitianga, thanks to Chris & Judy Johnstone. The boys from Johnstone Manufacturing + George were treated to a night and full day's fishing. Which left Judy and I pondering what to do  - as if!

November 21st:

There Be Pirates - aboard Braveheart. Oh ye, six of the blaggards bid us wenches farewell, as they set sail for the high seas. The blaggards were under strict instructions not to return unless they could provide us with some fish. Be off with ye blaggards, and plunder some fish - of the appropriate size -from the vast blue yonder

This was not before a bit of a Shag - made a surprise appearance!

And then they did sail away

November 22nd:

Enough of that Pirate speak, as the new day dawned and now only us two wenches were left.  I enjoyed my morning coffee on the balcony with this lovely view

I had an unexpected guest - who wasn't inclined to chat. This did bug me!

Then it was time for some lady pampering at The Lost Spring Thermal Pools and Day Spa. 

Beautiful thermal pools in wonderful native bush surrounds

Time to head off for our massage and facial

Finishing off with this wonderful view. 

If you are after a day of pampering and losing yourself in wonderful surrounds, head over to Whitianga. A day here is a day spent in heaven!

Friday, 21 November 2014

November 20th The Last Temptation of Irene

I can only some up this photo with the following verse:

When it comes to Fuschias and me
We do not agree

Well we do agree, I think they are such a pretty flower. Old fashioned but there are such a variety available. We have several varieties in the garden, and the front of the house is adorned with Fuschias in hanging baskets. They are such a pretty, flowering display.

So why are they a temptation? Have you ever 'popped' a Fuschia. Oh the pleasure - the sound, the feeling, it is pure pleasure. And just like my Mother did, George tells me off when I pop. And we have a garden full of them - and I can't pop.  Just look at all the popping potential in this photo. Aaaarrrggghhh life is so not fair!!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

November 18th Love At First Sight - for Minnie

I guess you all read yesterday that we are heading into Year 5 of a Photo A Day, and this Blog. I am sure you all realise that that milestone would not have been reached without my input. I have the brains and the beauty, and she, well she, she has fingers? What else can one say?

As we head into Year Five, I insisted that I start off the year. I think that is only appropriate. The weather in our part of the world lately, has not been very conducive to happy times and getting out. Talk about gale force winds, and of course rain, and gale force winds and rain.  Fortunately today was fine, so Her and I headed off on one of our walking expeditions. The wind played havoc with my natural curls. They were blown here, there and everywhere. I looked a right mess  And then across the park our eyes locked. He was so handsome, somewhat short in stature, but that I can live with. Oh what a handsome fellow!  I tell you it was love at first sight.  We smelt each others butts. Humans often wonder why we do that.  Well the reason why I have a slight sniff of their nether regions is to check their hygiene habits.  If it is a bit wiffy, I will not go there.  It doesn't take long for a couple of licks to clean the nether regions, and if they can't do that - well they will not occupy a place in my heart I tell you! A girl has to have standards.

Anyway back to this mysterious stranger whom I locked eyes with. I didn't even get his name, or find out where he came from. He was just there, and had the most becoming shy smile. He was from elsewhere as his owner was sitting in one of those motor home contraptions. He is obviously well travelled and a dog of this world. My heart melted.  I don't know if our paths, or paws, will ever cross again  However  for one brief, fleeting moment I felt love. With apologies to Monty, my neighbourhood beau, I hope he doesn't read this and find out that for today, my heart was lost to another. Until next time, my beating heart bids you woof woof.

Monday, 17 November 2014


Today, November 17th, marks the fourth year that I have been posting a photo a day. Initially I was part of a group which was set up on Facebook to take a photo each day.  That group folded after something like 3 months, but I kept taking and posting a daily photo.

Then it was suggested to me to set up a blog. If something was missed on Facebook, where I initially posted, then people could just bring up my blog and look at my photo of the day.

Things evolve, and as you no doubt have noticed, now it is not only my photo of the day that gets an airing on this blog. I have also shared my thoughts, poetry, travels - both local and overseas, and when permission is given, my friends and family share the spotlight as well.

It has been a wonderful four years. I never anticipated I would last this long. But I have kept going. I have quite a little band of followers and to each and every one of you I would like to extend a huge thank you.

No birthday cake for the blog, but George did come home with a cupcake for me. The only decent one he could find apparently had a fish on it. What is wrong with these bakers?  Don't they know that all cupcakes should be adorned with elephants, and elephants only I tell you!! Anything else, as I keep saying is Irrelephant.

So here's to the past four years and I hope many more (if I can find things to photograph that is).

November 16th Sunday Nana

Love when I can catch up with the kids and Grandies.  Today was at swimming. Here is our little pink mermaid - not a very clear shot unfortunately (my photographic skills slipped).

 And here is the cheekiest monkey in the world. I asked her to give me a hug. You could see her contemplating it, but I got a very verbal no. But when I asked for a kissy kiss - she was happy to.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Saturday, 15 November 2014

November 14th They Were Polar Opposites

Twas the meeting of the clan
The bears said well I'll be damned
You look just like me
Actually we aren't two, we are three

So this means we can play a trick, or two, or three
shall we hide under the Xmas tree?
Or maybe if we can find some snow
We can blend in and no one will know

I really think I am the most handsome one
you two aren't alike, look at the size of your bum
I think if you didn't eat so much Xmas Dinner
you two would actually end up a lot thinner

Friday, 14 November 2014

November 13th Let There Be Light

There was lots of chuckles in the house tonight. But I have to go back a couple of weeks to explain. At our last Xmas light display, we spent quite a lot of money on solar net lights that draped over a large boundary hedge. They looked very impressive and of course didn't require a power source. We have always been fairly anti solar powered devices as they really don't appear to last and their life span isn't that long. However an exception was made for these solar net lights.

November 2014 arrives and we start unpacking all the various light sources. A bone of contention was these solar net lights. They did cost us a pretty amount, and as expected, they weren't working. Bah Humbug. We grumbled to each other and said that is definitely the last time we trust solar. Grumble, mutter, four letter words, grumble mutter four letter words - to each other.  We purchased replacements - that connected to a power source this time.

Yesterday we were doing our display bits. George had left these solars out as he was going to attempt a repair if possible, before consigning them to the overflowing garbage dumps of this world. Next minute I heard George calling himself all manner of names and wondered what on earth was going on.

What was going on is that when storing these net lights, the obvious thing to do is remove all batteries of everything in storage. This included the solar net lights.  So one battery later the below was the result. Is that an oops I hear? With our express apologies to the solar net light manufacturers of the world.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

November 12th Thank You Weather Gods

A few days ago we were basking in sunshine. It felt like a summer's day. But that was obviously just a teaser. Today we were hammered by rain and gale force winds, and bouts of sunshine. Followed by rain and gale force winds, and bouts of sunshine. Then to rub salt into my wounds, I found these poor wee chaps on the deck. Three Little Kaffir Limes will never get to reach adulthood.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

November 11th The Unknown Korean

I received the following in my work email today.  I can't even ring Korean Airlines and say ''Good Morning Madam/Sir, I am just ringing regarding the email received today. What does it relate to? Well I don't know. Maybe you can tell me."

If any Korean readers are our there, a translation would be gratefully accepted. Where's Kim Jong Un when you need him?

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

November 10th Arty-Fartiness

Today is one of those days where I did or saw nothing inspiring. A day of head down and bum up and make like a working ant.  On these days, I wonder what on earth I am going to take a photo of. George says a definite no. Minnie almost snarls, that is if she did snarl. She doesn't snarl, but moves her head from side to side. Our Dinner was a no, no. I made the Stuffed Capsicums again that I made last week. They were so delicious I decided to repeat the exercise. So taking a photo of them was a no, no.  Then I was standing at the stove, in a quandary and with beads of perspiration dotting my forehead, and saw the following. In a moment of arty-fartiness, I decided this was it. Allow me to present ...

When Christmas Meets Capsicums

Monday, 10 November 2014

November 9th Southern Hemisphere Santas

OK, OK. I know for everyone else it is early for Xmas. But we have a house to decorate, lights to put up and general unpacking of all things Christmassy.

Today was the most beautiful spring day imaginable. And I heard a few rumblings of discontent from the Santas. So I let them have the day off, and this is the ideas they came up with

Sunday, 9 November 2014

November 8th Babes In the Hood

It looks like we are going to have babies in the hood.  Two of our cacti possibly may have flowers.  If so, this will be the first time since we have had them - and both cacti were grown from cuttings and now well established. Fingers crossed for flowers!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

November 7th Age Is No Barrier to Travel

I am currently in the midst of booking a wonderful European holiday for a Gentleman. He has been an absolute treasure to deal with and now I know why.  He sent me his passport photo page today for the booking, and I noted his year of birth is 1927. This makes him 87 and by the time he travels next year he will be 88.

Who says age is a barrier to travel? Oh and in case you are wondering.. this is not the oldest customer I have booked holidays for.  My previous 'record holder' was 96 years of age. Lew was an absolute gem and his family came to inform me when he did pass away at 98. He would call in to see me all the time and say hello. Saying good bye to Lew was as painful as saying good bye to a close friend.

Thank goodness for diversity in customers and in life.

People come in to your life for a reason
It may be a long friendship, it may be for a season
but with each contact we make, we can take something away
and let the lesson learnt, last longer than a day.

Friday, 7 November 2014

November 6th Venerable Vietnamese

Tonight's dining is brought to you by the only Vietnamese Restaurant in the bustling metropolis of Hamilton - Banh Mi Caphe.  A good but basic selection of Vietnamese choices, and I finally discovered that Pho is pronounced Fuhh, which sounds like the English word fur. Yes, yes, and yes. I am a tad pedantic and like to say words correctly. So therein lies your  lesson of the day. Back to our dining.

When the evening started, even though we had a table booked for four, I almost felt like Irene No Mates.  George couldn't remember if he had locked the car (a recurring condition which often afflicts him and results in him having to walk long distances to check) and Alvin & Alicia were having parking problems. Isn't it funny when you are in a restaurant on your own, and I don't know if it is psychological but you do feel pitying glances. I almost felt like holding up a sign which read 'I AM NOT ALONE - AND THE WORLD IS NOT ENDING IN 96 DAYS'

 As the night wore on and tummies were filled, we were pleasantly surprised that a Yoda look alike joined us. Especially when she started quoting "Patience You Must Have - Your Birds Nest Roll Will Arrive" and "Feel The Force - that is the mystery ingredients in the Pho of Cinnamon and Star Anise"

For one so small, she was full of wisdom

Finally I will end our visit to Banh Mi Caphe on a Bum note. Eating my meal, everytime I happened to raise my head I had the following as my view. A Crack Up? Or maybe a Crack Down? There were no Butts about this one

Thursday, 6 November 2014

November 5th Minnie's Musings

Hello, hello my dear fans. It is I, Minnie, Wonder Pet, who is more human than dog. Well we have been back from our holiday for over a week now, and life has returned to normal. Well as normal as life can get in this slightly nutty household (that is just between you and me, and please don't tell them I said that).

My beauty sleep has  returned to normal hours. I like to stay in bed and not get up until at least 9:30am. I know, I know. That is a tad lazy isn't it, but I am getting on in years, and a beauty like me definitely cannot have large bags under her eyes from lack of sleep. So at least 9:30am it is. A long stretch, a jump off the bed onto a soft blanket placed for my comfort on the floor, and then I am ready to face the day. Ah, that is pure contentment.

I have to admit to being excited as well. The Christmas decorations and lights are starting to be displayed in the home and outside. There is one Christmas Stocking in this house - and guess who it is for? Yes for me, for me, the one and only me. Well I presume it is for me, as it has a picture of a dog on it (not as good looking as myself of course) and a large Woof Woof written on it. It is all very serious in the house, him outside climbing up and down and her inside, putting her silly little things where she thinks they will look tasteful. As for the Santas. Can I squeal here please - OMG. Yes, OMG! There are Santas galore. A guitarist, a drummer, and even a trumpeter. And I spied one on a train, and another on a reindeer.  Maybe it is a bit too much, but she has such a smile on her face, so I can't begrudge her that little bit of pleasure.

We have been walking. Oh it has been such a delight. The weather has been kind.I have to share this photo with you. I must tell you it certainly had me going at first. Look at this

Well when I first saw this, I missed the word Bag, and thought it read Doggy Poo Station. I wondered how on earth I was going to jump up there and poo at the same time. It was with some relief when she explained to me it was just poo bags. Oh and by the way I don't Poo, I Excrement - just to clarify!

And have I ever shared with you the following? It is the wonderful daily ritual known as 'The Removing Of The Socks'  On this truly glorious note, I will leave you. Until next time. Woof Woof!!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

November 4th And Every First Tuesday In November....

A nation holds it's breath. And across the ditch (which is fairly a wide expanse of Ocean), another nation holds it's breath. Yes, today was Melbourne Cup Day. Never has one horse race enthralled so many people. I can remember (yes some of the grey matter still works in little fits and bursts) when we lived in Melbourne, and the famed Flemington Racecourse, where the Melbourne Cup is held, was only a couple of streets away.  In Melbourne, Melbourne Cup Day is a Public Holiday - is there anywhere else in the world where a horse race is cause for a Public Holiday?  One year we decided to attend the Melbourne Cup. I can even remember the outfit I wore. Prior to living in Melbourne, a horse race was ho hum, dum de dum. But there is something magical about the Melbourne Cup. I never attended it again. Mainly because do you know what it is like to be of short stature, to be in the stands (and they are called the stands I presume because you have to stand), and then to have a little lady start telling you that she feels faint, right at the crucial moment of the race.  The one and only time I attended the Melbourne Cup, I did not see it to completion.

Subsequent years we had a much better idea. Watch it on TV. However before the race we would always start the day with a Champagne BBQ Breakfast. nibbles and then a BBQ Lunch, followed after the race by a BBQ Dinner - if we were still standing that is. Remember this wasn't last year, but a few millenium ago.

Now I have moved from one end of the spectrum to the other. Oh is it Melbourne Cup Day? Working at home on your own, you are not asked to participate in Sweepstakes or celebratory BBQs.  So what do you do? You make your own fun.

Here is my horse, who is racing every which way but the right way

 Finally he gave up and just wanted to have a sleep

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

November 3rd A Blog Of Un-Inspiration

Today's Blog I have to admit is a tad boring
I hope it won't have you all sleeping and snoring
I did get out and walk Minnie in the fresh air
But I dragged my feet and didn't really care
The reason for my general malaise
is some discomfort that came my way
Nothing is worse then a really bad tooth ache
I did not feel cheerful and just wanted to flake

Now I have you feeling sorry and receiving your sympathy
Let me share what I made for tea
I haven't made this for a very long while
The Capsicum looked great, and George had a smile on his dial

Monday, 3 November 2014

November 2nd Friends Are Like Flowers

I had a wonderful day today with Friends.  First meeting Chantal for lunch and after ascertaining (for my behalf) that we have known each other for 12 years now, it is a wonderful feeling that we can still laugh and have a good chuckle with each other.

Then down the road to the one that wants to be my friend, but I try and steer clear of -  ie retail therapy. I was 'unsuccessful' in one shop and bought some Christmas decorations for my side of the Christmas decorating (ie the trees), but was 'successful' in the other shop where they did not have what I was looking for. Take that my fair weather friend!

Finished off with a coffee and chat with Cristina and Crae. I may be old enough to be older than their Gran's - ok Mums - but it is always a pleasure to spend time with these two.

Then I decided in my contemplative mood, that friends are indeed like flowers.

You see some and it may not be all the time and all year round. However when they do present themselves, the time spent with them is beautiful and leaves you with a lovely feeling as you bask in their glory. Those friends with their different coloured personalities are truly one out of the box, and special

Then there are the artificial friends. Lovely to look at and spend time with at first. Then the realisation that they are indeed artificial strikes you, and like an artificial flower they eventually fade away

And finally there are the beautiful friends that are just amazing, and stand out because they are different. These friends, you are in awe of, and hope they remain in your life for a very long time.

Note:  All these photos taken today, were photographed in all their glory at Punnet Cafe, Tamahere, Hamilton. Just between you and me, the food is special, the attached gift shop woo hoo de hoo, and finally if anyone can identify this last flower for me, it would be appreciated. It is so spectacularly different!