Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Joy, Peace, Hallelujah & Gooseberries...

Thank you so much lovely friends for all your kind & encouraging comments on my last post. I have shared them all with Rob...we are both so grateful.

Whether you're just glancing by or perhaps you have time to pop in for a quick visit...thank you!! Thank you for your friendship & company....all of you: those that are local & lovely & perhaps a little shy (but treasured), all who have popped in from time to time & all my dear readers that have faithfully visited & perhaps commented over this past year...bless you all. 
I hope that your Christmas-time is full of sparkle & joy. Sparkling conversations & joyful connections, wherever you may be in the world!  
Sparkle is all in the seeing,
catching the light just right..
observing, being fully present in the moment.
 The hollyhocks are glorious "volunteers" & the chandelier a precious passed on gift.
There are fairies that live in this tree & they like the hollyhocks too.
More & more I find that I love our Kiwiana flavoured Christmases...
there are gooseberries to top & tail.
Cherries by the mile.
I found these on the road side. I bought a large box & sold them at the gate & gave lots away. They were very cheap as they had splits from the rain. They are so luscious & called "sweetheart".
I have just discovered that blueberries baked in a little honey & apple pie spice become extraordinary after about 20 minutes.

Poor Lucy is undergoing some repair work just now..
but there are still spaces for little Lucy Christmas arrangements.
I've been listening to old music.
This is my favourite record just now.
It sounds like long, happy summer days at the beach with the caravan (oh yes, that would be Lucy!)
Actually, I'm not sure that Rhonda is wearing much...perhaps she's ready for the beach! 
I have sweet peas growing by the gate. The scent wafts over us as we walk past each day.
I pick them often as it keeps them flowering.
This little green & red alstroemeria is aptly called Christmas.
Feijoa flowers tinged with gold..
Always the best way to come to Christmas...with a heart shaped bikkie & wings.
(picture from an old calendar)
Mary & Jesus by Margaret Tarrant
If you have time have a wee listen to this lovely version of Leonard Cohen's song's so precious.

Well here's a grand wish for Christmas, thanks to the talented Kelly Rae Roberts.
Wishing you much joy & peace dear friends.
See you soon.
Much love Catherine x0x0x

Monday, 15 December 2014

Keep Calm & Carry On: Tea & Biscuits

When I was young I didn't have a dream for the future. 
I never really even imagined what the future might hold for me & I had no idea what I wanted to "do" with my life. So I can only imagine that if you did envision a future for yourself as a young woman, it most likely would include getting married, or at least falling in love. I doubt that many dreams involve wanting to get married 5 times or facing 7 broken relationships & 3 miscarriages.
The month of December always finds us chatting & thinking & celebrating about how we met so long ago & how we've somehow made it to 34 years of being married.
It's a long time ago now, that we first met!
YFC trip Samoa 1979,where we met.

Many people gave us 6 months.
Had we understood the odds stacked against us we might have moved to another country, first off!
But we didn't & the trials have been enormous. But, no one else understood just how much we loved each other & how that would see us through, sustain us; be made new over & over.
A few weeks ago, a friend posted a link from The Business Insider (of all places). The article looked intriguing so Rob loaded it on to his iPad & we took it away with us when we went to the Waikato; the title "Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To Two Basic Traits"

The opening premise is this: 

"Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say “I do,” committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.

Except, of course, it doesn’t work out that way for most people.

The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction.

Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book "The Science of Happily Ever After," which was published earlier this year."

Did you hear that...3 in 10 remain in happy, healthy, marriages!!
So...what makes the difference?
It's actually really, really this study they conclude that it all comes down to kindness & generosity!
To me, it's a whole lot like "love your neighbour as yourself". It's in the marriage that we get a million opportunities to work out our own stuff; to learn to be kind to ourselves & to be patient with one another, to learn the language of attention & generosity; only then, can we make a half decent job of loving others in the "neighbourhood".
So right here in the middle of our messy, topsy-turvy, rough around the edges, unfinished life we chose to celebrate our love & be grateful.
We still find ourselves feeling timid & shy & not terribly brave (which frankly, is quite ridiculous!) but we managed to take ourselves off to West Quay in Ahuriri & to Mexi Mama for dinner last week.

 This seagull flew in with his catch as we watched.
The Mexican food & vibe were fabulous.
This old shipping warehouse vault had been transformed in to a quintessential Mexican shrine to St Thereses of Lisieux at which candles are lit each night at eight. 
 St Therese is also known as "The Little Flower of Jesus" so I guess it makes sense that they'd paint her with heaps of roses.
 It's such a nice time of the year to be grateful & celebrating...
but there's always so much to get done!
A lesson we learned a long time ago is: the imperfections truly do not matter. Just do the best you can & don't fuss. 
 Keep calm & carry on.
 None of it requires perfection just great kindness & love.
I have been putting together a random patchwork Sanderson tablecloth for some time now, not complete yet...we used it anyway.
We have very busy birds here you know...there was just no time to wash the outdoor chairs so we plonked down old towels & covered them with pretty vintage blankets.
We picked flowers from our own garden during the day.
Every year this rose Jubilee Celebration flowers right on time; a little later than all the others.
 A friend came to serenade us (well sometimes she's a friend when she's not dropping on the chairs!).
The accidental hollyhocks towered nearby.
 The 6th of December, our wedding anniversary was warm & fragrant.
 We'd been at Mitre 10 earlier buying potting mix & paint & admired the enormous pots of gypsophila (I was going to call it Babies's Breath but we don't want any of that now do we!) Rob managed to miss the cue but got it eventually & returned to bring one home. "So sorry", he said, "Please keep telling me & help me learn to be more romantic."
 We found this amazing green vase in Cambridge on our little holiday It'll be our celebration vase from now on.
 We took some tripod selfies so we'd remember our sweet time in the garden beyond the day.

 Borrowed he may be but nosey, non-the-less. Never one to miss a get together...
 our Charlie from friend from next door.
 Earlier in the day another lovely old friend Kerry popped in for a visit.
It's lovely to have old friends. They are so important.
We bought a wee gingery treat from the raw, vegan cabinet in a cafe in Matamata & loved it.
When we got home we had a go at recreating the flavours.
 They are so delicious you really probably should consider where to hide them before you even make them. You can find my recipe here: Really Gingery Ginger Snaps.
Goodness & now it's nearly Christmas!
Wishing you a December of sweet memories, kindness & generosity of heart...& a little peace.
Much love Catherine x0x0x

Friday, 5 December 2014

Wandering Around The Waikato

Hello there my dear friends & readers.
Goodness, before December runs away on me entirely & Christmas arrives on the doorstep "coming ready or not" I thought that I had better write about our lovely time away last week in the Waikato.
Sometimes inspiration arrives in the silliest of simple ways. A few months ago Rob happened to actually read one of those slightly annoying emails that get sent through the AA; this one listing 10 places to see before you die. When he skimmed through the list he came across Wairere Falls, just out of Matamata (Hobbitville), upon further investigation he found a farm cottage for rent just around the corner from the falls on Old Te Aroha road. The cottage was very comfortable & very reasonably priced.
And there are the falls just across the paddock behind the house!
 Each morning we found Buttercup waiting to see us. Isn't she lovely.
 She doesn't chat much I have to say.
I guess she's too busy munching.
 The farm cottage is set on a working dairy farm (great dairy country) 270 cows milked there twice a day.
Steve mentioned that we could pop over to the shed for some fresh milk if we were up in time & the cows were still in the shed. I wandered across the buttercup filled meadow with my jug early in the morning. And I picked wild flowers from the verge outside the house. 
 The Kaimai Ranges are very beautiful.
 The mist & cloud descend in the mornings to cover the land. It's Hobbit country after all.
 We made awfully slow progress on our walk to the Falls look out at first. Everywhere we turned we found absolute beauty & enchantment.
So many different kinds of ferns & other lovely flora abound.
 And rocks falls & rivers, pools & wooden bridges for crossing.
The forest is primordial & extraordinary.
 The most beautiful place I have ever wandered in to.
 We found a pair of Welcome Swallows along the way.
 As we neared the lookout the climb got a little arduous....phewy.
 Funny when you say it out loud.."oh boy I think I've had enough" & the other person says "me too"" you think "oh phew, that's alright then" & you find the determination to keep going, together.
 And finally we arrived. Well, at the look out which is actually only half way to the top!
 But we did it.
 It was the beauty of the bush & the journey that was the most satisfying bit.
Golly we don't have hills like that at home!
On our way back to Matamata we found this glorious tangle of fragrance & beauty 
 on the roadside.
 Isn't the information centre so much fun.
 As you do...
 Matamata was bustling & friendly & so much fun. We found this fabric shop; so crammed full & colourful.
 Rob was quite at home amidst the fabric (must have reminded him of home) & bought himself a cushion.
On the way home just outside Putararu we stopped to walk part of the Te Waihou River track & see the Blue Spring.
We were impressed with the innovation of a composting toilet along the way.

 So much history in this area. Apparently 60% of New Zealand bottled water (not that I go with the idea of bottled water too much) comes from this spring & here's why:

"Te Waihou Reserve is pure New Zealand spring water, nature’s gift to life on earth. Deep below New Zealand’s surface is a Blue Spring that is revered for its properties of exceptional clarity and exquisite blue hues. The entire area is protected and cared for, and the Blue Spring is recognised as one of the purest water sources in the world.
The colour and visual clarity is testament to the high optical purity of the water. And this is no surprise considering the aquifer from which the Blue Spring bubbles, is up to 250 metres deep. The aquifer that the Blue Spring originates from penetrates deep under the bush clad Mamaku Plateau.
The Plateau gathers rain that fell over 100 years ago which makes its way underground into layered aquifers within fractured rock and volcanic sand aquifers.
The water that flows from the Blue Spring just to the east of the township of Putaruru in the North Island of New Zealand, predates European settlement. Water gushes out of the spring into the Waihou River at a rate of 42 cubic metres per minute (9,240 gallons per minute) and is a constant 11 degrees Celsius all year round. Because of its contact with geological formations, unique mineral composition is imparted into the Blue Spring water and many of these compositions are reputed to have health giving properties." Source here.
When we got home I found this lovely little video filmed by drone:

 Do remember to click on any of the pictures to see them better, if you'd like to. Some of them don't fit so well on to the space & bits are hiding in the margins!
Thanks so much for visiting. I hope that you have an inspired (by the magic & peace of the season) & refreshing week...a Blue Spring reviving waters week!
See you again soon.
Much love Catherine x0x0x
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