Archive for the ‘Things I like’ Category

  • 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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I’m starting the year with no review of last year, and no resolutions for this year, but I am taking on some new challenges, and so here I am, shamelessly promoting my first one.

It has been ten years since I began my first blog, a daily word-limited challenge. Ten years later, some of the original bloggers have joined together to do it again. Yes, madly, I am one of them. Each month there will be a different theme, and word limit. We’re starting with a tough one – to tell a story in January.

I won’t abandon A Separate Life, and I’m hoping I’ll still be able to manage Monday posts. If you’re interested though, you can find my new blog x365 Take Two here.


MIcroblog Mondays logo


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A week ago, we packed our bags and the car, and headed over the hill – this one – to stay overnight with friends at their charming cottage amidst an olive grove.

They welcomed us with a lovely late lunch of delicious dark, seedy bread and cheese and tomatoes and asparagus and pâté and salami, and of course, being in a wine town we had to indulge in some local rosé, which is always perfect for a summery lunch and for nibbling with fresh berries from the garden.

Then came the business end of the day, as the croquet lawn was calling to us, and the game of the day was Croquet Golf – or was it Golf Croquet? My husband and I have only ever played once, some years ago, but beginner’s luck must have been upon us, as we took the first game 7-4. The second game didn’t go so well, with my husband wondering aloud, after further fortification from the rosé, just why the ball wasn’t going straight anymore! By that time it was close to 5 pm, and we figured that it must be time for some champagne – of course!

After a delicious biryani dinner and more berries from their garden, we took to the lawn for the deciding game, although by this time, our croquet brains had decided that attack was the best form of defence, and we all aimed at each others’ balls as often as we aimed at the hoops to score points. Appropriately, our hosts’ years of practice paid off and they trounced us soundly, so we retired to the campfire, and as the sun set and the almost-super moon rose, we chatted and sipped some more; a perfect end to a perfect day.




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I’m writing this at my desk, with the wide open large skylight above me, and the window behind me – creaked open after a winter closed tight against the cold, wet and wild southerlies – is poised to bring in a cooler breeze, though so far without luck. The sky is blue, and the sun is heating the house, and outside I can see butterflies and hear the tui and other birds chattering away.

After I renewed my driver’s licence (a quick and efficient process, though one that, annoyingly, doesn’t allow me to approve the photo they take for the licence) in town this morning, my husband and I decided, for a change, to drive around the harbour for lunch. The water was blue and calm, and the temperatures warm, and we wound our way around the bays, amazed at this uncharacteristically balmy November weather. Even the pohutukawa are all coming out weeks earlier than usual – I’m hoping they’ll still be in fierce, red bloom when the overseas family arrive in a few weeks.

We stopped at a café that has a lovely view back across the harbour to the city. We found seats under an umbrella to shade us from New Zealand’s fierce UV rays, and enjoyed a delicious lunch of decidedly summer vegetables and flavours.

An elderly couple sat near us with their glasses of chilled white wine, and we looked at each other in disgust, wondering why on earth we didn’t think of that!

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In thinking about the #me too posts on social media from all the women who have experienced harassment, abuse and assault, I found one instance going over and over in my head, in which a senior executive of our company humiliated me for absolutely no reason, pushing the backs of my knees at a party so my legs collapsed and I ended up on the floor, inevitably leading people to assume that I had had too much to drink. I never took him to task, just as I never complained to my boss about the off-colour joke he told in our staff meeting that felt directed at me, just as I never told anyone about the two boys who attached me in a ditch when I was about 15, but I managed to fight off. Women are taught to feel embarrassed and ashamed when we have done nothing wrong, and so-called “decent” (and even not-so-decent) men are given a free pass when they use their power against us. #Me too; I’m really angry that this is the case, so angry that women are still treated as second-class citizens, and furious that we are expected to be quiet about it.

It was announced in the last week or so that the US have increased entry requirements for flights, and airlines have said that there will be increased passenger screening, including that we may have to attend interviews before boarding flights, and so I have to say, “sorry, my US friends and family, but your government is making it very hard to want to come and visit!”

I keep hearing people (on media and social media, though less so in real life) referring to people as having Resting Bitch Face. I’ve never liked bullying, and ridiculing someone for their looks is simply another example of that, when they can’t help having a down-turned mouth any more than someone can help having blue or brown eyes, or ginger hair (also an area of discrimination I find childish and despicable), and I find the use of the “B” word, which I try never to use as there isn’t a male equivalent, is just adding salt to my wounds. And for the record, although I have a mouth that turns down naturally, I also have a happy smile, and if you dare to say that I have RBF then you’ll never damned well see it.



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