Saturday, 23 December 2017

Happy Christmas to all my wonderful readers

Well they sure seem to come around fast, these end of years.  No sooner have you cleared away the decorations and wrapping paper but Christmas seems to have arrived again.  Anyway, I'm not complaining, I love the feeling of goodwill, the excitement of children, the time spent with family and pondering the reason we celebrate Christmas.  You can keep your packed shopping malls and the frantic rush to get things done in preparation for the big day.  I like to prepare well ahead and then spend Christmas Eve relaxing with friends or family. 

 This year was different for us.  With a son visiting briefly from England in early December we decided to have our family Christmas dinner early.  It has been a fantastic feeling heading towards Christmas feeling calm and relaxed with time to spend strolling my local  beach in the hot summer sun.
My local beach this morning, Christmas Eve

I have enjoyed another year of writing this blog. It is a thrill to know it is read all over the world and that's what keeps me going and inspires me to do things to write about.  It is a great motivator and makes my life so much the richer, so thank you, thank you, thank you!

My readers over just the last two weeks have come from:


Australia                           Mexico
Bangladesh                      Netherlands
Belgium                             New Zealand
Canada                               Norway
Croatia                               Peru
Cuba                                    Phillipines
France                                Poland
Germany                           Portugal
India                                   Russia
Indonesia                          Spain
Ireland                               United Arab Emirates
Italy                                     Ukraine
Latvia                                 United Kingdom
Luxembourg                    United States




A Happy and  Blessed Christmas and a fantastic 2018 to you all!  Let's catch up again next year!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Alone at Christmas? Worried? Don't be, here are some handy hints to help you enjoy the day

  Christmas is a day for families and friends to be together so being alone on the day can be crushing. It doesn't matter why you are alone, it could be that you are traveling, or your children all live overseas, or you have recently lost your partner. Whatever the reason the key to enjoying the day is to plan ahead to make it fun and less lonely.  Here are a few ideas I have gathered together.  I hope they help.


My Christmas Wreath
1. Book yourself on a bus tour, a train trip or a cruise, depending on your finances.  Ensure it includes Christmas Day.  There will be a real spirit of camaraderie amongst your fellow travelers and you may even find it is one of your best Christmases ever.

2. Check into a hotel or even a back packers which is offering a Christmas dinner and enjoy the company of fellow dinners.


3. Volunteer to assist at one of the many charity Christmas dinners which you will find in most towns and cities.  Christmas is a time of giving so giving your time will be satisfying and fitting.


4. Invite your neighbours, even those you don't know and especially those alone, in for a drink before they head off to their celebrations.  One of them might even invite you to theirs. If having people in is not your thing perhaps you could call on them with small gifts and your Christmas wishes.


5. Visit a loved one's grave.   In New Zealand cemeteries are cheerful, happy places on Christmas day with groups of family and friends visiting and all willing to chat.  It sounds morbid but it isn't.  I do this every year and the spirit of happiness and goodwill there is quite uplifting.


6. Even if you are not religious, go to church.  Enjoy the Christmas carols, the joy of Christmas and the feeling of community.


7. Go for a walk and wish every one you meet "Happy Christmas".  You are bound to get merry greetings back and may even enjoy some conversations.


8. Relish being alone.  Eat what you want, listen to music you like, become absorbed in a TV movie, light candles, decorate the house. If this sounds lonely just visualise how fraught a big and noisy Christmas can be, especially when that difficult uncle turns up!


9. Spend the day planning something really special to look forward to.  It is  easy to become so lost in planning something on the internet that suddenly the day has slipped by.


10. Remember Christmas is just one day and tomorrow is another day.  The key is to plan ahead and to get out there.  Don't sit at home by yourself feeling miserable.


Please feel free to add your ideas in the Comments section.  


 And have the best, happiest, most wonderful Christmas!
St Heliers Bay, my local beach,  Because they always bloom at Christmas time
Pohutukawa are known as the New Zealand Christmas tree

Monday, 4 December 2017

Rhubabrb mojito recipe straight from my garden

Here in Auckland the days have been long, hot and sunny, perfect weather to be out in the garden enjoying nature.  It is my happy place. I love pottering around on my own, thinking my own thoughts and tending my plants.  Each day I am accompanied by a plump, glossy feathered tui which sits in the tree above me and sings melodiously as I work.  At the end of the day a long cold drink is just the ticket.  What better than a rhubarb mojito with both rhubarb and mint from my garden?  You'll find the recipe at the end of this post.


A corner of my garden
This year I have planted beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, capsicums, potatoes, spring onions, butternut and corn so I'm looking forward to many fresh, home grown  salads through summer.   Healthy crops of silverbeet and rhubarb lord it over my garden beds and many different herbs pop their heads up here and there.  My peach tree and blueberry bushes are covered in fruit and my lime, lemon and mandarin trees are covered in blossom.  It is a joy to see plants bloom, develop and then fruit and to gain the enormous satisfaction of picking dinner straight from the garden. 





Spring onions and rosemary and, right, rhubarb
 I always put in a few flowers  here and there.  They attract bees for pollination and add a lovely splash of colour to an otherwise green garden.



I grew this begonia from a bulb.
The flower is 15cm across

Silverbeet, always on hand
























And here is the promised recipe:

RHUBARB MOJITO

Cut up 4 stalks of rhubarb and place in a saucepan with 3/4 cup of sugar  2 cups of water, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and a 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.  Bring to the boil and simmer for several minutes until the rhubarb is soft. 
Strain through muslin or a very fine sieve and place in the fridge until very cold. Save the rhubarb pulp to use as a desert with ice cream, yoghurt or custard.

There will be enough syrup for several mojitos.

When syrup is cold assemble the mojito

Place 5 or 6 mint leaves in the bottom of a glass with a tablespoon of lime juice and some lime zest . Muddle well (I use the end of a wooden spoon for this) making sure the mint is well bruised and torn to release the flavour.  Pour in 2 ounces of rhubarb syrup and 1 ounce of white rum.  Add plenty of ice and top with plain sparkling water or soda water for a long refreshing drink.

Decorate with a rhubarb stalk as a stirrer and a sprig of mint.  Adjust syrup and rum to taste.  Enjoy!

#rhubarbmojito  #rumandrhubarb  #gardening