Archive for the ‘Things I like’ Category

  • Our house is really beautiful on a sunny day, flooded with light and shadows and gorgeous views from most windows, and especially in winter when we can embrace the warmth the sun provides.
  • Book month on my x365 blog, because I don’t just get to remember books that I love, but I get to read about books that my fellow bloggers love too, and I’m adding a lot of them to my already ridiculously long To-Read list.
  • Finding some of my favourite books as a child online when I had forgotten their titles, has reminded me of the joy and magic of these books that has stayed with me for almost 50 years.
  • My daily blog project has meant that almost every day this year I get to read Helen again, whose posts and comments always make me smile, and who I missed in the years when she wasn’t writing.
  • Planning dinner this evening, with an old favourite Thai dish that I haven’t eaten in years, thanks to discovering it in my very first Thai food cookbook.
  • Watching amazing tennis at Wimbledon, and having the flexibility to be able to stay up all night and sleep most of the day to do so.
  • Continuing to learn and improve my photography, although to be fair last night I had to get my husband to remind me of one of the controls on my … cough … easy-to-use tripod!
  • Writing my blog posts with rain on the skylight above me.



View from my desk


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I’ve had a post half-written for a while inviting you to come for a walk with me, using words alone. But today I’m going to be lazy, and will take you on a very short part of that walk with my camera. This morning was bright and sunny, I felt like getting out of the house, and so I grabbed my camera, and decided to do one of the exercises from my photography course that is meant to help me become more creative. Essentially, I was to go for a walk, and take a picture every 15 steps or so, forcing me to focus on the plants, flowers, weeds and fences! Here are the results starting in my driveway and – my phone tells me – walking about 800 steps down the street, and back.

We start in my driveway, with the concrete blocks we dug up some years ago, and plan to use for a steps in the garden, before walking up to the street,

P1080912 concrete blocks cr

and the neighbours’ plants.

We then cross the road and see a sign,

P1080942 sign bw

encounter plants I can’t name, and a few weeds,

a protea

P1080961 protea

some flowers even in the depths of winter,

and a few fences.

The final fence, and the bare tree behind it, remind me that it is winter,

P1080989 fence tree

but the green cabbage tree welcoming me home is always lush and vibrant.

P1080996 cabbage tree



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She doesn’t really belong on this Friends-I-have-not-yet-met list, because, you see, I have met her. She’s Slovenian, and truly puts the LOVE in Slovenia, reaching out to give and receive love. She taught me to love Slovenia too, as I would never have gone there if she hadn’t been, at the time, a Friend-Not-Yet-Met (so, clearly, she does belong on this list after all).

A beloved wife, friend, aunt, and dog’s best friend. A true linguist, for more than three months, she wonderfully commented on my Lemons to Limoncello blog in Italian to help me practice mine.

She loves her summer garden and cooked us lunch using her home-grown produce. She and her husband recommended driving a mountain pass that, she casually mentioned, she had cycled once (or even twice?). As we wound around sharp, steep corners up, up, and further up again, I thought she must be crazy, though, in truth, she enjoys exercise and appreciates being out in nature.

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On a rare morning when

a) we didn’t have anything planned/necessary to do together,
b) we didn’t have to attend to the in-laws, and
c) my husband wasn’t playing golf exercising,

I declared that the car was mine, and grabbed my camera, finally getting some time to do some photography homework. I drove to a local park that has a high concentration of native plants, and took the last carpark, worrying that it would be busy inside. I could hear children’s voices in the distance, but almost instantly, as I walked through the entrance gate, a calm descended.

Surrounded by ferns, and tall trees, I was cocooned by the green canopy. I used my senses, listening to the tui clicking and clacking and chirping, and the two kereru swooping past me, beating their wings unmistakeably. I looked at the light and shadows, playing around with my camera, working comfortably on manual thanks to my photography course, moving around to try different angles and focal lengths. I revelled in the freedom to do what I wanted, and take as long as I wanted over a particular shot, or around a particular plant, without worrying about anyone waiting for me. But most importantly, I breathed.

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  • My x365 blogging project is keeping me busy, but working with a theme and a word limit provides both discipline and welcome guidance, making blogging daily much easier. I do it in advance, scheduling posts ahead, so I have not been too stressed by it so far. I adore the writing of my fellow x365 bloggers (listed on my Take Two 365), and the sometimes hilarious interactions between them all, most of whom I have known (though never met) for ten years now.
  • The 2018 in 2018 decluttering project has already made a difference to a set of drawers, and the top of those drawers, that I can see from my desk. Although I am already way behind, my mindset to clutter has changed, and that is key.
  • My camera course is well-paced, with a weekly lesson and homework, and already I can more confidently use Manual on my camera, so I am enthused about the new tasks coming.
  • Finally, I am finding that these three new projects have given me a bit more enthusiasm for other projects in my life. Rather than being overwhelmed, I find that I am instead inspired, and perhaps that is the best result of all.

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I seem to have developed a small collection over the last couple of years. They have added to my clutter, but they make me happy, so I’m keeping them. Baking tins are pure nostalgia to me, remembering the years growing up when the tins were always full, for the family, or for visitors, especially as I don’t bake much just for the two of us.

But the last few years I have started baking a little more, to share with the in-laws or family or friends, and I’ve felt the need for baking tins. Plastic containers are practical but lack the romance, the memories. I started thinking about buying some tins, but there are very few available. But then Christmas arrived. If you want to buy good-looking tins, Christmas is the time to do it, as they are filled with chocolates or biscuits or gingerbread or mince pies.

Two or three years ago, a local biscuit (cookie) manufacturer advertised that it was issuing a limited set of three textured tins for Christmas, filled with their biscuits. One was made to look like a flax basket or kete, a traditional Maori basket. I made one like that for my Maori badge at Girl Guides when I was about 12, and remember having to find and cut the flax from a bush on the side of our road. I had to go to a bit of effort to find the second tin, which looks as if it is made from red corrugated iron. The farmhouse where I grew up had a red, corrugated iron roof, and having this as a tin in my kitchen is very nostalgic. The biscuits inside were irrelevant.

Then last year, I was hunting for round tins to house whole cakes and found two. I bought one that was filled with Rose’s Chocolates, perhaps because I was again feeling nostalgic, as my mother’s maiden name was Rose and she never let us forget it. It wasn’t very big though, and weeks later, forgetting I’d bought the Rose’s Chocolates tin, I found another round tin and bought it too. It was much larger and is a better size, and although I feel less emotionally connected to the decoration, it does the job. It was filled with Danish butter cookies. I gave a lot of them away, ate some, and then we just threw the last of them away. An added bonus is that the Rose’s Chocolates tin fits inside this one perfectly!

This year I wasn’t looking for a biscuit tin, but we had to buy some gifts for a secret Santa and I saw some very Christamassy tins filled with biscuits for the right price. Next to the display were other tins, and one, in particular, caught my eye. It is a classic New Zealand Christmas scene, and I couldn’t resist it. Even my husband likes it!

I’m hoping I will stop collecting tins now, as I have plenty. I’ll just have to keep baking, to fill them up and use them. Even when I see them in my pantry, though, I smile.

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… on my very first photoshoot:

  1. Check all the settings before you start, especially the ISO if you last used your camera to take a night shot!
  2. Check the white balance.
  3. Learn about white balance so I can check it.
  4. Don’t be so scared of losing focus on parts of the body that you don’t change the focal length.
  5. Even when the background is scenic, vary the focal length.
  6. Don’t rely on autofocus. (Don’t worry, I didn’t.)
  7. When teenagers are the subject of the photoshoot, don’t bring the parents or other on-lookers, ie distractions.
  8. Be bossy! With the subject(s), and especially the subject(s)’ parents.
  9. Be kind, and learn to relax the subjects so they have fun!
  10. Move around. A lot.
  11. Maybe my left knee isn’t up to doing photoshoots.
  12. Review the composition regularly. Is it seemly?
    and a bonus tip, but very important,
  13. Wear sunscreen.

Still, I’m pretty proud of the results. It helps to have photogenic subjects!


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