Wednesday, 31 December 2014

December 30th Happy New Year From Minnie

Hello my darlings. It's Minnie here. I thought I would get in for my final 2014 greetings. She, who thinks she is all it, actually condescended and let me have my say. I am happier then a pup weeing on an expensive leather shoe that I can get to say hello to you all.

At this time of year I tend to get a bit restless. We have had lots of people visiting for the Xmas light displays. They wonder why I just totally ignore all the moving Santa's, dangling decorations etc etc, but come on guys - I have class.   I know also a photo with my image is much sought after and when the camera comes out, I know to get off my resting perch and make my way to the crowd for a photo. I really do add a bit of celebrity to the photos.

Also now the garden is in full bloom, and I do appreciate the scents.Unfortunately I am not well camouflaged so I do tend to be spotted and removed from the scene.

I thought I was quite well hidden here though, but no they still got me. Not much fun playing Hide and Seek with them in this garden.

Now if I could only have climbed up this arch that would have fooled them - but it is covered in flowers so ended up being a no go.

2014 was quite the year for me. Some mysterious illness had me at the vets for overnight monitoring. I pulled through and was quite touched to see how much I am loved. They were both in tears and I wouldn't let them know this, but I actually shed a tear as well at being away from them. A few stints at my Doggy Motel which I don't mind. They are such lovely people that tend to my every whim. The bones here are starting to creak and I have days where I am not as agile as I used to be. But I am looked after well and a thick blanket is there for me to jump on from their bed. And the best of all is our walks. I am not sure who walks me the best. If I go with Him.. .he takes the lead and we walk quite briskly, which is good and he still lets me stop and smell. If I go with Her, she lets me take the lead - I have taken us on some weird and wonderful routes and I know she enjoys these. I guess the only thing all three of us agree on is that coming home can be a killer. Have you seen the incline of our driveway coming up to the house? That is an oh my dog believe me. No matter how much any of us walk up here - all three of us curse away, but it is a good cardio workout at the end of our walk.

Enough of my waffle!!  I am looking forward to 2015 and I am sure I will get to share more moments with you.  I would never confess this to either of them, but I do love them dearly and I count my blessings that I am in this house with these absolutely wonderful, adorable people (you won't believe it - she pushed me off the keyboard and she wrote that!!  I would never confess to such a deep rooted love from them!!  But actually it is true so I won't edit it out. And I have loved meeting some of you - you are all worthy of my affection and are pretty cool too.

So Happy New Year to you all from me. A big huge woof woof and dog paw hugs to you. See you in the New Year and be safe!!  

Woof Woof and With Much Love from Minnie

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

December 29th Salmon Gravlax

Getting ready for New Year and on the food list is Salmon Gravlax, ie cured raw Salmon. You can cure it fancy with lots of trimmings but I prefer to keep mine plain. I want to taste the Salmon thank you!

Here is the piece of Salmon a couple of days ago

And now this is what it looks like as it is curing

Guess what we will be indulging in on NY Eve?

Monday, 29 December 2014

December 27th and 28th The Visiting of the Montanans

December 27th We have had the lovely Greg & Leslyn from Montana visiting NZ, and not for the first time and we hope not for the last time.  They have been staying in Hamilton for a couple of days. So far during their time in NZ they have developed a reputation as seafood gatherers.  We decided a Seafood meal would just have to be the order of the day.

The menu started off with George's BBQ'd Mussels - believe me I was not much of a Mussel lover before but am a staunch convert eating Mussels cooked this way.

But wait there's more!  Greg and Leslyn have been gathering Oysters and Greg cooked up an Oyster Stew for us.

There's a strange man at my stove!

And I have to share the rest of our meal as it was just so yummy. George also BBQ'd Salmon with Capers and his secret Moustade recipe.  I made a Raw Fish Salad (also known as Iki Mata, Kokoda or Ceviche). Overseas guests are wary when they hear me call it Raw Fish, however the proof was in the eating and it was enjoyed. Accompanied by a Ham & Potato Salad and Marinated (?) Cucumber.  We were all that full after that effort that dessert was a definite no no.

December 28th We decided to take Greg and Leslyn on some nearby sights. First stop was the Otorohanga Kiwi House where we were told there were 2 Kiwi on display today. But as this was a Royal Visit we had access to a third Kiwi, so we got to see 3 Kiwi in total. From there we made our way to Waitomo Caves and that was a circus. Long queues to even enter the carpark, and Greg & Leslyn decided they would happily forgo a visit there until next time and at a quieter time. So we ventured down the quieter road to Mangapohue Natural Bridge.  A beautiful picnic lunch (comprising last night's left overs), an oh my god this is divine dessert (Denheaths - google them and go forth and order), and of course as there can only be one driver (my lovely George), a fine bottle of red for us ladies and some cool beers for Greg. After indulging in this lot, we thought we had better get down there and let Greg & Leslyn check out the bridge. We have been here a lot now and never tire of it, and everytime I am constantly clicking away and taking photos.

Can you spot the Monster looking down at us?

We finished our day with a visit to Marakopa Falls, classed as one of the most spectacular waterfalls in NZ. So you can't be in the area and by pass the falls can you?

And there were some fantastic bits of Fungi spotted on our walk out

Then it was time to head home after a day of wonderful company and beautiful sights. We were so glad to have the opportunity to share, a piece of New Zealand that we dearly love, with Greg and Leslyn.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

December 24th to December 26th Xmas Attacks the Remiss Blogger

Oh gosh I have been naughty with my blogging. Xmas Day with all its preparation caught up with me. Then when it was all over, I was as tired as a salmon trying to swim upstream (I was going to say a sperm trying to swim upstream, but decided that was decidedly tacky!). I have however continued to take a photo everyday - I just didn't get around to posting online about them, and will make up for it now. Get prepared for a few days whammy in one.

December 24th - Xmas Eve:
Today was spent in a flurry of pre Xmas Day cooking preparation. I didn't dare venture out and brave the shops, and George kindly offered to do the last minute food shopping for me.  Now that it is a few days later, I honestly couldn't tell you what we even had for dinner or who was here to see Xmas lights (with apologies to whoever you were for my massive Xmas Brain Fart forgetfulness!!).  But I do know that this photo of Minnie just about sums up how we felt by bedtime

December 25th - Xmas Day

And the big day presented itself. We expected just a quiet day with four of us around the table - due to the dreaded Chicken Pox afflicting itself upon the granddaughters. Or so we thought.  We got the Merry Xmas phone call and to say that the youngest had been given the all clear by the Doctor for her Chicken Pox, and the oldest, whilst she may have them, as there were no physical signs apparent, as long as we avoided physical contact we would be okay. So our dinner table swelled from the expected four to nine - with an extra stray ringing and having no where to go. I have to share the following photos with you. Everyone knows my aversion to food that is green and leafy and grows in dirt. Shudder (bad I know for someone my age). So to see these in preparation to go with Xmas Dinner is a bit of a shock in this household

What was even more of a shock is that the recipe I selected for the Green Beans, ie lots of Garlic and Olive Oil and home made Chicken Stock, was so beautiful that I will be making these - and eating them - again. Also gracing the dinner table was the first of our home grown new potatoes. Xmas Dinner just doesn't cut it in this hemisphere without lovely new potatoes.

And the best Xmas present I have ever received? Was to be surrounded by people I love dearly, and in my eyes the two most beautiful girls in the world. I love my granddaughters so much and to be able to share Xmas Day with them, made the day so special. Today I felt I was the luckiest Wife, Nana and Mother in the world!

December 26th - Boxing Day

A time to finish the cleaning up - thank goodness for dish washers that are not of the two legged variety - and to put the feet up. To watch movies and catch up on outstanding recorded TV serials (Has Oliver Queen really died in Arrow  - yikes what a cliffhanger! Who will save the world?). Finished off with a lovely visit by proud Nana Raine, who had a granddaughter newly born on Christmas Day and her lovely friend Shirley. Those photos are on the camera and unfortunately not on my phone. So you will have to make do with my afternoon shot instead

This is what our lounge looks like in the daytime. Time is rolling around and soon it will be time for the Santa's to head back North (ie up into the roof they go) and for the elephants to return from their holiday in deepest, darkest Africa (ie in the garage).

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

December 23rd Merry Christmas Eve Eve

Santa was ready for his busy time of year
Mrs Claus smiled at his good cheer
The elves were busy giving toys the final touch
The Reindeer just wanted to rest and a carrot to munch

Santa asked to sight his passport just in case
Oh no, visas had expired and he could not get in every place
For instance in some countries he needed a Visa on arrival
This was painful but part of his survival

What could he do at this late hour
He berated Mrs Claus with a huff and a glower
Mrs Claus remembered Irene of the Fine Travel Group
The best in the land, even when navigating through a Pea Soup

She sent off an email - thank god for the Web
And almost instantly she was the Claus Celeb
A minor glitch that was fixed with no fuss
Thank God Santa wouldn't have to take the Bus

So Xmas was saved for another year
And on this note I wish you all good cheer
I hope your Xmas is the best that can be
A very Merry Xmas from George, Minnie and Me!!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

December 22nd Some Flower Advice?

Our Christmas Lily has flowered just in time for Christmas. As an aside, I wonder if that is why they call it the Christmas Lily? Although if it is a summer flowering Lily, then in the Northern Hemisphere I am guessing it wouldn't be called a Christmas Lily would it.

Anyway I am on a Christmas waffle.  The scent of these are absolutely divine I am wondering if anyone can tell me how they last as a cut flower. I would like to pick them to have inside, but if I do that and they don't last very long, then I would rather leave them in the garden. Decisions! Decisions!

Monday, 22 December 2014

December 19th, 20th and 21st.. A Whirlwind Weekend

It was a whirlwind weekend. Friday wasn't too bad, but I did work. What's wrong with that you say? Well usually at this time of year no one is booking travel and it really is a time to sit and pick my nose and contemplate my belly button. But not so on Friday. Only one photo was taken, and it is of the departing storm clouds (well I thought they were departing, but bad weather returned Saturday with a vengeance)

On Saturday morning, my body went into total shock syndrome. I woke it up AND got out of bed at 5:00am. George is used to early starts, but not me - or Minnie for that matter. We were heading up to Algies Bay - which is about a 2 hr 20 minute drive away, and above Auckland city on the East Coast. Our reason for heading there? Our wonderful friends from their farm near Laurel, Montana, US are enjoying the NZ (what is supposed to be) Summer again. It was so lovely to see them and this visit, we decided to make the most of their stay and get up earlier then the birds to spend time with them. To say we had a wonderful day is an understatement!

This is what a 5am start resembles (for my own record as this is not a common occurrence!!)

Greg & Leslyn at Algies Bay original Post Office (note it was originally called Mullet Point)

Two Wonderful People at a Wonderful Location

Local Oysters harvested by Greg & Leslyn themselves - guess what we enjoyed on the BBQ as a mid afternoon snack - and brought home with us. Oink Oink!

Time to drive home and try and get home before dark. It is still Xmas lights night. We left Algies Bay in torrential rain. The lights were calling us - come home, come home, switch us on. Can you imagine our disappointment at driving all the way home and the torrential rain followed us home. No Xmas lights tonight - or so we thought and for a brief period around 10pm we managed to switch our lights on for a friend.

On to Sunday and another day and another tale! Our two beautiful granddaughters currently have Chicken Pox. We cannot spend Xmas Day together as George & I have never had Chicken Pox. Even more upsetting was the thought that they could not get here to see the Xmas light display. Our display is done for friends and family, and these two beautiful girls are at the top of the list. They do not live locally. With good planning, we vacated the house so they could enjoy both inside and outside. On returning we found what I think is the best Xmas Presents ever!   Havana wanted to gift and wrap a present for us especially (and the one on the right hand side is a great effort for a 5 year old)  Not to be outdone, little Samara (nearly 2) wanted to do the same So she took a piece of wrapping paper apparently and used sticking tape - and that was her present. This is when you know that the value of a present is truly the thought that counts.

Merry Xmas to all as we wind down to the big day!!

Friday, 19 December 2014

December 18th A Tree and a Bird of Paradise

There is a newly opened up part of Hamilton that was formerly farmland and is now going to be an industrial area. Currently there is a through road, one transport depot and not much else. But I know over the coming months that will change. I am not sure if you are aware of the Joni Mitchell song lyrics "They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot''  Everytime I drive through here, that song goes through my head.

I am glad to see however that even if a lot was razed and flattened for the coming project, that one tree managed to stand tall and proud and remain as a beacon of light for nature.

Then evening dawned. The sentries parading as Birds of Paradise remained on watch, to make sure that all was well in our world

Thursday, 18 December 2014

December 17th Reflections on Romania and Pakistan

It is 25 years ago that Communism collapsed in Romania. I don't think those of us who are brought up in a democratic society can ever fully comprehend what life could be like for people such as those in Romania. A regime of fear and not knowing who to trust. Every move and thought was constantly watched. What it actually was like is George's story however, and not mine.

When we travelled to Romania in 2007 the reason was to allow me to meet George's immediate family and to see where he lived his life before coming to New Zealand. That visit certainly brought it home to me, even after knowing what George had shared with me, what his life was like growing up and being an adult in a Communist regime.

We flew into the city of Timisoara, and this city is where the revolt to overthrow Communism and Ceausescu's regime started. We stayed with a lovely couple, Ana and Marin. Our first day in Timisoara, we went into the city to go sightseeing and see the beautiful city sights. First up was the wonderful Cathedral in the Town Square. We were with Ana, Marin, Ana's sister Ileana (George's sister's best friend), Felicia and Johnny - George's sister and brother in law.  We made our way up the steps of the cathedral, and can you imagine to be standing there and then to be told on the day of the revolution soldiers were firing at innocent people in the town square, and they rushed to seek safe haven in the Cathedral. They were gunned down on the Cathedral steps - where we were standing. I still am reduced to tears when I remember standing on those steps and hearing of that event. Bullet holes can still be seen in the facade of beautiful buildings throughout the town. We were walking around and then Marin stopped in a doorway to show us more bullet holes. This was the doorway where he was shot. He tried to shelter there and was shot in the back, and does not know how he survived.

The revolution spread throughout the country and finally to the capital, Bucharest, where Ceausescu and his wife were eventually shot dead.

That was 25 years ago. Today I read that in Pakistan, the Taliban entered a school and butchered innocent children and a teacher.  Is this humanity? Is human life so shallow that people are willing to end others lives in a most inhumane way, and for what? For their own ideals? What the answer is I don't know.

I can only be thankful that due to a turbulent time in Romania's history, that George was able to travel to NZ. We would never have met if Romania had remained a Communist country. I am thankful for that fact and that my life here in NZ is only beset by ''First World Problems'' Be thankful for what we have and the lives we have. I just wish that happiness and security can be enjoyed worldwide. Isn't that the true meaning of ''Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all Men"

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

December 16th We Are Family

Yay for Family!!  It was wonderful to have my big Sis travel down from Silverdale, Auckland and stay the night. The Weather Gods were kind to us and it was a lovely evening to look at the Xmas lights.  And don't ask me what we talked about, but we never stopped.  A wonderful, wonderful visit xxx

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

December 15th Xmassy Xmassy

We received a lovely Xmas gift. Beautiful cupcakes from 'The Ready Kitchen'. Jennie has a wonderful food blog  (Gluten Free Recipes) and you can follow her on Facebook here

Can I just say these Vanilla cupcakes were seriously divine.

And because it is Xmas, Minnie decided it was time to purvey the scene and check all was okay with the world

Monday, 15 December 2014

December 13th and 14th What an awesome weekend...

Saturday was a normal Saturday - ie a fishing widow for the day and my only outing was to the supermarket. But here is an interesting fact about the supermarket.  I now have a Fitbit which is a fitness tracker, ie measures steps, sleep patterns etc and you can track a particular piece of exercise. So out of interest today I decided to track how much walking is involved in supermarket shopping.  From leaving the car to returning to the car (and I actually wasn't parked too far from the entrance).  Do you know this particular shop was 2.8kms!  OK it can't be classed as exercise as such, but gives you an idea of the size of supermarkets these days.  Here is a screenshot of my shop - which is widely erratic, but the distance will be accurate. I thought this data was fascinating (you know the saying small things....small minds).

I came out of the supermarket to find some 'Lower then a pregnant snake's belly' lowlife had left a large dent and scratch in my back bumper. George rang me to say his car had given off some serious warning light and he didn't catch one fish. So that was the Saturday that was.

Sunday morning loomed. I was heading up to Auckland for Fine Travel's Xmas Get Together. Here is a handy hint of the day, especially at the moment here in the Southern Hemisphere where outside BBQ's / Parties are happening. If you are taking dishes to share, before leaving home take a photo. Then when you are leaving said destination and returning home - you know exactly what dishes you need to bring home with you. Especially when you have Old Lady Fart Brain Cells like myself!!

Cheesecake - check
Basil Pesto - check
Home made Crackers - check
Three Serving Dishes of varying sizes - check

That was just the useless tip of the day. A lovely get together with all my fellow Fine Travel colleagues. Pardon the pun - but it was a Fine day. Not weatherwise unfortunately, as the Winter Weather Gods decided to visit us again - did someone say it is Summertime? But a Fine get together.  Oh and look at this car.. I have never seen one of these before and it is like a toy car and I have to share it with you

This is a 1991 Nissan Figaro.  I have never seen one before and yet apparently they aren't that rare. I could almost give up my Beetle and go to the dark side for this one. It is so cool. 

So that was Sunday. I drove home in the most blustery conditions and actually thought my Beetle was going to be blown off the road. Back to Hamilton and visitors to see our Xmas lights.  Actually the lights are a good way to catch up with friends you keep saying ''We must catch up" to.....  Lovely to have Kaye here. Then Chris, Judy, Tania and her 4 boys. And to finish off my weekend blog... here is Chris playing the Bagpipes

Saturday, 13 December 2014

December 12th A Walk and Wee Fest

A Walk and Wee Fest, for Minnie that is.  Rubbish Day is not the best day to take Minnie for her walk as she has to leave a little sprinkle on each bag.  Even when walking normally, I wonder how much her bladder can hold when she is sprinkling away for merry heaven, let alone on rubbish day when she adds her mark to the bags

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo, Which Bag I Don't Know

This week I came to the realisation that as she walks me, this little dog of ours is putting her mature years to use, and our walks are a lot shorter then we used to do. So I decided today that this was my day, and I was walking her. We went along one of our old routes which takes in the local lake. It has been so long since we have done this, and to see old favourite scenes again was wonderful.  For instance my furry plant, which I always have to rub when we walk past. It is like stroking velvet and feels so nice

And now I am going to leave you with some images of Rotokaeo Lake - or Forest Lake as it is known to us hoy polloy. Most people wouldn't know where Rotokaeo Lake was - but mention Forest Lake and it is well known.