Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year !!!!


This year has been *interesting*.

It's been a year of emotional turmoil, of coming to terms with stuff from my past and letting go. It ended with my husband losing his job due to the current economic climate.

I'm not sure what the coming year will bring. There is the hope of a possible new job for my husband, that will pay more and has great benefits. I have my fingers crossed!!

Whatever this new year brings, I am ready to meet it head on and with far more strength that I had in 2008.

My hopes for all of you, is that 2009 will be easier. That many of your dreams will be fulfilled. That for those of you facing difficulties, your way will be softened by the love and support of family and friends.

I leave you in 2008 with this song from Cliff Richard. It's called the 'Millennium Prayer' and he sang it at the Millennium celebrations in London. What happens at about 2.30 minutes into the song, always brings a lump to my throat.

See you all in 2009 !!!!


Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A Fun Winter's Day

We have this little lake/lagoon, that's about a comfortable, 10 minute stroll from my place. It's host to a variety of bird life, ground squirrels and much to my consternation, a couple of years ago, rabid bats. Haven't seen any dead bats lying around for awhile, so I'm hoping they cleared up that particular problem.

The word 'rabid' has the same effect on this Kiwi, as 'snakes'. Neither of which I had encountered before coming over here. Well, not quite true, I had met a couple of snakes when on holiday in Australia, however, that is another story and I digress.

Yesterday, was a beautiful winter's day, with the temperatures above normal, so Taylor and I decided that a picnic lunch at the lake would be a nice way to spend it.

The half frozen lake looked very pretty, with the snow covered foothills and mountains in the background. There were a couple of intrepid fishermen out on the pier hoping to catch the 'Big One'. At the point that I took this photo, even the 'little ones' were eluding them.

Taylor and I sat at a picnic table, eating our lunch and watching this view. The geese provided a comic interlude as they took off and then came into land. They'd hit the ice and give various interpretations of far from graceful skaters :-).

After lunch, we set off for a walk around the lake. A couple were feeding this collection of geese. The geese were getting rather combative over the bread scraps, with lots of hissing,pecking and sliding going on. Not sure why, as they all look pretty well fed !!!

Taylor had a fit of the giggles, at one point, when she turned around and found that we had a line of geese , sashaying along the path behind us. This one was almost on our heels.

A little family group. Not sure what kind of geese? these are. There's not a lot of them on the lake and they tend to stick together in little groups.

These two, happily sunbathing, let me get quite close ......

... before they waddled off to the water.

Around 2pm, there was suddenly a great commotion in the sky. Hundreds of geese appeared, wheeling and honking. It was rather amazing to watch. I gathered they'd been out hunting for food or something and were returning to the lake for the night.

Two of my favourite views of the lake. You'd think those townhouse in the distance, would cost a small fortune, considering the view that they have. However, they are part of an affordable housing development that the city is involved in.

Taylor, red faced and hanging upside down. Like the crossed leg thing that she has going on. :-)

The pink vest is one of my favourite presents. My friends Lori & Shawnee, Taylor's mum & dad, gave it to me for Christmas. It holds all my photography gear and is so much easier than logging around a camera bag. It's got 18 pockets !!

Sitting on top is my 'new' baby. An Olympus OM-G with a 28-85 mm lens. I've decided to go back to photography's roots and master using an 35mm SLR camera.

I used up two rolls of film on our walk, and am looking forward to seeing how they turned out as I'm still learning and experimenting.

You don't get the instant gratification of digital, however, I'd forgotten how detailed using film was. I was looking at the results of another roll that I'd shot. The water looked like silk and you could see all the individual ripples.

I took the above photos using my digital, point and shoot camera and then took the same or similar shot using my SLR. Going to be interesting to see the difference.

Anybody else also using a 35mm SLR ?

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Awesome Sunset

I think that sometimes, in this life, we are often in too much of a hurry to stop and observe the wonders around us.

Late yesterday afternoon, the hubby and I took a stroll up to our local Walmart, to deliver a Christmas gift to a friend who works there and pick up the makings for a homemade pizza.

On the way back, we were treated to one of the most awe inspiring sunsets, that I've seen for awhile.

We watched, enthralled, as the sky over the snow covered mountains, went from a few bright clouds to being on fire with the most beautiful pink, gold and orange. It was truely a gift for the senses.

I wonder how much we would have seen if we had been driving. In our hurry to get home, to negotiate the busy road and all the other things that command our attention, I think this would have been missed, or just briefly commented on, if we had happened to glance up at the sky. This morning, it's a memory that brings a smile to my face.

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. They're often broken or forgotten within a very short time. :-)

However, this is one that I'm going to work hard at keeping. To take more time to watch and appreciate the beauty and wonder that is around me. It may be the obvious, like that sunset. It can also be the lines and wrinkles on an elderly person's face, that speak of years of wisdom, laughter, pain and hard work. An old house that is falling into neglected ruin or the smile on a child's face when they finally get what you've been trying to explain to them.

These are all things that have their own, special brand of beauty and wonder. Sometimes we have to look at them in a different way to realise that. However, it is there if we only take the time to appreciate it.

So what do you find beauty and wonder in ? Are you going to take the time , this coming year, to find it and appreciate it?

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Belated Christmas :-)

I was planning to post these on Christmas Eve as my Christmas post, so this is a little belated. Better late than never :-)

They are three of my favourite Christmas songs from Boney M. I like them that much that I have them on my MP3 player and listen to them all year. Keeps the Christmas spirit alive...




WHEN A CHILD IS BORN (Embedding was disabled on this one. A beautiful rendition)

Friday, 26 December 2008

I'm Back ....

Methinks I've been curled up in a ball, hiding my head in my hands for long enough. Time to crawl out of the cave and rejoin life !!!!

As you have probably guessed, life and my emotions, have been a little tumultuous over the last six months or so. Things became a little more stressful, when my husband's job became a casualty of the current economic climate.

However, there now appears to be glimmers of light on the near horizon and the funk is lifting....

Will be catching up on my blog reading and updating mine over the next day or so :-)

So, can anybody explain an 8 yr old's need to wear roller skates when it's like a sheet of ice outside??? She's currently watching 'Mamma Mia' and trying to disco dance in the darn things!!!


Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Taco Ring

This is my adaption of the 'Pampered Chef Taco Ring'. I used larger crescent rolls, ground turkey and my own taco mix.

I really do not like store bought taco mix, as I find that it tends to be way too salty for my taste, so I make my own and keep it in an airtight container.

Taco Mix

8 tbsps chili powder
3 tsps garlic powder
3 tsps onion powder
3 tsps crushed red pepper
2 tsps dried oregano
4 tsps paprika
12 tsps ground cumin
2 tsps black pepper

Mix all together and keep in an airtight container.

Taco Ring

Packet of ground turkey ( I usually buy the 1.25 lb packet)
1 Poblano pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 1/2 cups grated cheese (Mexican mix or Sharp)
Taco mix to taste (I used 3 tbsp) or a packet of taco mix.
2 tbsp water
2 containers of large Pilsbury Crescent rolls (there are 6 to a container)

Preheat oven to 375 deg F

Cook ground turkey until pink has disappeared

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the taco seasoning, water and 2 cups of cheese

Mix in the chopped onion and poblano

Sprinkle a pizza stone with cornmeal or grease an oven tray.

Arrange the crescent rolls evenely in a circle with the wider ends towards the middle. I didn't make mine very even, as a result one portion was a little doughy. They will overlap each other, just try not bunch them up !!

Mound the meat mixture in a circle. You will have some meat mixture left over. So use those to make meatballs, hamburger patties or mix with some ground beef, egg, extra taco seasoning and extra onion to make a meatloaf.

Bring the ends of the crescent rolls over top of the meat mixture and tuck in, There will be portions of meat showing, but that is okay.

Sprinkle with the remaining half cup of cheese.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with a salad and salsa ..

Friday, 31 October 2008

Friday's Foto Finish Fiesta ... From Halloween Past

It's Friday and it's a Fiesta !! At least it is, thanks to Candid Carrie ! :-)

My granddaughter , Sacha, in 1999 . It was the first Halloween, where she actually went up to the door by herself ...

Okay, so you knock on the door and then stand and wait ....

Then someone comes say 'Twick or Tweat' (we spent hours teaching her that!)...looks at you and says 'Ooohhh cute' ...than hands you candy...

Then you climb down the stairs and head off to the next house with Mum and Grandma in hot pursuit. You got the idea, after the first two houses, that knocking on front doors gets you candy.

Time for a pit stop !!!!

Mum decided it might be a good idea to remove some of the treats .... sort of, out of sight and out of mind !!

Unfortunately the night came to an abrupt end, when we went to one house, that was very nicely decorated. However, when Sacha knocked on the door, this Alien (looked like one of those from Area 51), appeared. Sacha took one look ... let out a piercing scream ... dropped all her candy ... and took off running. When we asked her if she wanted to go and knock on any more doors, we just got a loud 'NOOOOOOOOOOO' in response. Poor kid, but it was quite funny at the time...

As to this Halloween and why I've been MIA for the last week or so......

There was yards and yards of black net .... oh, and yards and yards of teal fabric ..

And 14 sleeve petals ....

Plus 15 waist petals ...

A corset with boning, sequins, etc ....

An under dress ..

Which , eventually, all came together to look like this..

A Halloween costume for my friend's teenage daughter !!!

I'm quite pleased with the way it's turned out. :-)


Saturday, 25 October 2008

Fallin' Off Yer Bike ....

Considering my propensity for nearly falling off my bike or actually falling off it ... usually due to some idiot motorist thinking that he/she does not have to yeild to me, when I have the right of way, at driveways and intersections ... this course might be just the ticket for me !! :-)

My normal modus operandi in those situations, is to jam my brakes on and use my feet as a power assist to my brakes. This usually results in a less than elegant near, or full on, introduction to the tarmac, while mouthing unprintable things at the clueless driver.

I rather like the idea of being able to gracefully leap off my bike, like the NZ bobby (police officer), pictured below, is doing.

Yup ... can just see me doing that :-)

RUN FOR IT: Sergeant Mike Fitzsimons uses a tactical speed dismount technique to catch course instructor Marianne Draijer during police cycle training in Nelson.

Bicycle Cops Leap At Opportunity
By STACEY KNOTT - Nelson | Saturday, 25 October 2008

Nelson police officers now know how to fall off a bike.

Cycling coach Marianne Draijer has been putting police through their paces, teaching them how to dodge cones, do repairs, and something Senior Constable Garry Dunn likes to call "speed and tactical dismounting" or, in Mrs Draijer's words, how to fall off a bike.

They have had two practice sessions so far, which police must pass in order to use new bikes that were introduced in August.

Police currently have one bike in Nelson which is equipped with flashing lights, a loud siren, first aid kits and ticket books, and plan to eventually add another three for Stoke and Nelson.

"It's twofold --we will use them to enforce cyclists' behaviour and for covert and overt urban control," Mr Dunn said.

Yesterday police completed their bicycle training at Saxton Field.

During an earlier training session, while practising how to "tactfully dismount a bike at speed" around the Nelson courthouse, Mr Dunn "played the bad guy" while Senior Constable Hamish Blanch learned how to jump off a bike and tackle the role of pursuer.

After dismounting and chasing Mr Dunn around the grounds, Mr Blanch "got a bit carried away with the enjoyment of it", and tackled him to the ground, Mr Dunn joked.

New uniforms, essential to complete the bobbies on bikes look, are awaiting approval. So far, it's cycle shorts with police polo shirts and the police logo on the helmets. Mr Dunn said the look was important because "the policeman's authority comes from the uniform he wears".

However, the bike officers would also be "an approachable face for the public", he said.

The new bikes had already been used to catch a bike thief and school truants who would not have been caught if the police were in a patrol car, Mr Dunn said.

The bikes give officers a better view of what was going on on the streets, such as pedestrian behaviour, he said.

Eighteen officers signed up for the training, with seven completing it so far.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Friday's Foto Finish Fiesta - Awwww , They Grow Up Too Quickly .... and GORGEOUS GOWN Giveaway Link ..

It's Friday and it's a Fiesta !! At least it is, thanks to Candid Carrie ! :-)

My youngest grandson, Xavier, proudly showing off his new school uniform and 'Speed Racer' shoes !

He starts at RUSSLEY School, in two weeks, when he turns a grownup 5.

In New Zealand, kids start school on their fifth birthday, irrespective of where that birthday falls in the school year. He will be starting school, about a month or so, before the year ends. The school year , over there, runs from February through to December.

Judging by the photos, I suspect that he is pretty excited, wouldn't you say ? :-)

Congratulations on starting school, Xavier. You have a whole, new and exciting world ahead of you !!!

Isn't this the most gorgeous gown that you've ever seen ???

Can't you just imagine a little girl proudly wearing it on Halloween?

Pop over to KATHLEEN'S
and enter her giveaway to win this FABULOUS gown. You'll need to be quick as it ends today. I've been sick, so hence the delay in posting the link and info. :-(

Her site itself is worth visiting and bookmarking for future visits, especially if you love sewing, like I do :-)

Oh ... YUCK !!!

I've not been feeling the greatest over the last few days as I've had an upset tum, due to eating lunch meat that was a bit off.

There was no warning, that the turkey breast was off, as far as smell or anything like that went. It also tasted okay, so I passed off the way I was feeling as perhaps a bug that I'd caught at school.

Then I went to make a sandwich on Tuesday, after I was feeling a little bit better and found this on the slices that were in the center of the packet. YUK !!! No wonder I got sick...

Took it back up to Walmart, as I wanted them to know that they may have some off lunch meat on their shelves.

I'm now convinced. more than ever, that possessing brains is not a pre-requisite for working at Walmart .... and yeah, I do know that there are some intelligent people working there. It's just that I seem to always get the idiots !!!

According to the associate that I spoke to ... 'This wouldn't make anybody very sick at all, as the meat had to be really whiffy before you got ill' .

Hmmmm...really ??? Wonder what cornflake box she got her medical degree out of !!!!

Speaking of Walmart and in all fairness it's not only them that is doing this ... but what's with all the Christmas stuff being out on the shelves before Halloween is even over????

These photos were taken a couple of weeks ago. Stores like Micheal's, Ross's, Costco, etc, have had their Christmas stuff out for over six weeks.

Seems to get earlier and earlier , each year !!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Me, Myself and My Accent.

Here in the US, as long as I don't open my mouth, I blend in quite well with the rest of the natives.

On the occasions that I do open my mouth, I can usually guarantee on at least one of the following happening...

1 .. People try to encourage me to keep talking as apparently they 'love the accent'. Men are the worst for that. Not long after I got over here, I was offered a job as a sex-line operator. Actually, I was offered that job a number of times. Apparently there are a lot of male sex-line owners in this town.

2 .. People misunderstand what I'm saying. Those computerised phone menu thingies are the worst. They NEVER understand me. I've been known to yell unprintable things at them.

Earlier this year, I witnessed a domestic incident outside one of our local fast food joints. Things were getting a bit physical, so I called 911.

The Police dispatcher had a few problems understanding me ...

PD ... ' Whereabouts are they? '

Me ... ' They're right outside Wendy's '

PD ... ' Where , Ma'am ?'

Me ... ' Outside Wendy's. '

PD ... ' Outside Windy's ? '

Me ... ' No! Wendy's on the corner of Virginia and Gentry. '

PD ... ' I'm not showing any Windy's there, Ma'am. Could you spell it please. '

Me ... ' It's WENDY'S. W_E_N_D_Y_S .'

PD ... 'Oh, you mean WENDY'S. I thought you were saying Windy's ! '

Gee, lady, I'm really glad I wasn't calling to report that the fryers had caught fire Because Wendy's would have burnt to the ground, before we got that one sorted out !!!

Apparently my 'e' can sound like an 'i' and my 'i' can sound like an 'e', to some.

Which probably explains why, when I once asked someone to buy a 'TIN of baked beans' from the supermarket, he brought back TEN cans of baked beans...

Judge for yourself. Does it sound like 'tin' to you or 'ten' ?

Mind you, I am speaking a lot slower and more precisely there. My normal speaking voice, when I forget I'm speaking to Americans, is a lot faster and the accent is a little heavier.

Found this one on YouTube.

I sympathise with my fellow Kiwi. This illustrates exactly what happens to me, when I try using voice recognition software on my computer or try talking to a computer generated menu on the phone!!

Do any of you often get misunderstood on the phone or by computers? Do you think you have an accent ?

Saturday, 18 October 2008

CUPCAKES !!! Oh Yummy !!!

Okay, what to do after hosting a couple of hundred fellow bloggers on Thursday???

Get up Friday morning, at 5am and make five dozen cupcakes, of course !!

The reward ??

The excitement on the faces of thirty, or so, second graders when they see what was in the big box that Mrs HK brought in. The school is in one of the poorer areas, so the kids don't get a lot of homemade treats.

The hugs,thank yous and the smiles on little chocolate smeared faces.

Plus the young boy who came over to me, gave me hug and said 'Mrs HK, those are the best ever cupcakes I've ever tasted. Even better than the ones from the store!!'

These cupcakes are really very good. They are quite moist and the frosting is delicious.

They have a can of lycopene rich tomato sauce in them, which sounds strange. However you can't tasted the sauce and it's the ingredient that keeps them moist. You use a boxed cake mix. Next time I make them, I think I'll forgo the cake mix and make them completely with my own ingredients..

I didn't take photos of the whole process, as it was early and I kept forgetting...

I also doubled the recipe below ..

Triple-Chocolate Cupcakes (From Oct 13 issue of 'Women's World')

3/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cups dry milk powder
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup butter (room temperature)
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 package (18.25oz) Devil's Food cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
1/3 cup melted butter (you can use oil)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Chocolate sprinkles

In a bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk powder and cocoa, until smooth.

In another bowl, on high speed, beat the butter until fluffy. Beat in yogurt mixture until combined. Reduce speed to medium and gradually beat in sugar and vanilla. Increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Frosting will be soft. Chill for 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Prepare cupcake baking tin by putting paper cupcake liners in the holes.

I a large bowl, on medium speed, beat milk powder and water until powder is dissolved.

Add eggs, tomato sauce, cake mix and melted butter. Beat until fluffy

Stir in chocolate chips.

Fill paper cups about 3/4 full.
Bake 20 -25 minutes or until pick inserted in the middle, comes out clean.

Place on rack and let cool completely.

Spread with frosting and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.

Chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Friday's Foto Finish Fiesta - Random Stuff

WOW !!!!!!

What a day yesterday was!!! I'm really feeling the bloggy love. :-) Thanks to one and all. I'll be thanking you all personally, over the next day or so.

Just one thing. I found this under the couch when I was cleaning up this evening. Did anyone see anybody limping down the driveway, wearing one red shoe? Just curious ...

I can't say it enough SITS rocks as do all of you !! Hugs and Smooches and many thanks. :-)

Now, on to my Fave Fing to do on Friday !!

It's Friday and it's a Fiesta !! At least it is, thanks to Candid Carrie ! :-)

Snapped these today, while taking Taylor to her karate lesson. My camera's battery went terminal on me yesterday, so I took these using the hubby's camera. Still finding my way round his.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to push this plow behind an ox or a horse? Farm work, was definitely work in those days...

I used filtered Black and White for this photo. I rather liked the effect it had on all the shadows. That saw looks as if it must have been wicked sharp !!!

Amazing to think that it was probably crafted by hand..

I like the old fashioned look that sepia gives this pump and wagon wheel. If it wasn't for the car passing by, you'd almost think this was taken way back when...

They really must have had well padded derrieres in those days. Just imagine bouncing along a rutted road on one of those seats.

Not sure what this is. It appears to have a seat in front. Some type of covered box in the middle and a seat sticking out behind.

There were actually seven old bathtubs sitting in a row. These are just two of them.

They're kind of cute, in a faded way..

There is something aboutthis photo that appeals to me. The shadows ... the marking on the stones ... the colour of the grass....

Have a great day all, and go check out the rest of the participants at CANDID CARRIE'S !!:-)