Sunday, November 23, 2014

What do you dream of?

 What do you like doing that puts a smile on your face?
Sunset seeking?

People watching?
Walking in the sunshine?


Most successful people have a great passion for something. It can be work but more often it is a hobby or an interest, which breaks the humdrum of the daily routine. Doing things you love will add to your life, not take away from it.

So, plan time for yourself every week, even if only for 15 minutes to explore, to develop your hobbies, to have fun, to smell the roses. Life is too short to always have your nose to the grindstone. Time out also refreshes the brain and the senses.So, if you have to return to the grindstone you'll be better and faster. Then, instead of just doing yet more work, you can have more time for the things that give your life meaning.

If you live with family or in a relationship, it is OK to have some "me" time alone, too.
Take time out to explore the things you love
Don't just think next week or next month. Consider ideas and dreams for the next 2-3 years and beyond. Don't hold back on this - dare yourself to dream big. If you aim for the moon and miss, at least you'll land amongst the stars.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Aliens invade my garden

Bold pinks and purples invade my New Zealand native garden. Not from some mutant hebe, but from the neighbour’s busy lizzies (impatiens walleriana), which have thrust through the fence and taken root.

This garden began with careful planting to intermingle green flax and ferns with tawny tussock grass. Pukas and nikau palms were added for texture and, for colour, the hebes with their soft mauve flowers. A large puriri tree presides over all. Looking out of my study window, I love the view and the way the sun gleams on the crinkly leaves of the puriri.
Crinkly Puriri leaves above the busy lizzies

Initially I frowned at the neighbour’s interlopers. However, I have come to appreciate their bright colours and the determined way they have hustled their way in. Their boldness is an inspiration for a would-be writer’s garden, as they remind of two personality traits necessary for success – persistency and the need to stand out from the crowd.

I know that “to boldly go” is a split infinitive, but somehow “to go boldly” sounds too cumbersome for these cheerful busy lizzies. So, to quote another line from Star Trek, may they “live long and prosper”.

Copyright of all photos belongs to Eventful Woman.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In the Pink

My table
Shock, horror - Eventful Woman in pink!! Well, not quite, as I normally can't bear to wear it. Let's call it a slightly softer shade than my usual 'go for it' red.

I hosted a table today for the Pink Ribbon Bequest Society Christmas lunch, which raises funds for The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. I had 7 wonderful guests on my table and there were 69 guests altogether at the luncheon.

The event was held at Parnells On the Rose Garden, which sits pretty in a garden of glorious rose bushes, all of which were busting out (get it, ha ha) in full bloom.

Pink blossomed inside too. The floral decorations on each table looked so fresh they could have been picked that morning. The hot pink Xmas tree almost shouted its presence.

Pink everywhere
Our guest speaker was Dr Barbara Hochstein, the consultant radiologist at Rotorua Hospital who specialises in women's imaging, mammography, breast imaging and CT procedures.
She outlined the amazing developments in the treatment of breast cancer over the last 25 years. While it is still a devastating disease, survival rates are much higher now and we can all have hope that one day this disease will be treatable.

Beautiful rose gardens beyond the Xmas tree
In the meantime, I'll do my best to support the work and research that will help to get us there. If I have to wear pink a few times, that's a puny challenge when compared with the one faced by breast cancer battlers.


Please click here to donate to or get involved with this cause.

The luncheon room

Monday, November 17, 2014

Get curious about quirky

Look around you every day for the different and amusing. They'll always be there - whether unintentional faces on top of a lamp post or a storm-tossed traffic cone in a tree.

If you're having a tough day or you've been working for hours without a break - look out the window, go for a walk or gaze up into the sky. Let your eyes roam for the quirky and eventful. Five to 10 minutes distraction can refresh you and provide new inspiration. At the very least, you'll crack a smile, which is always good as it makes people wonder what you've been up to.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bursting into flower

I saw the promise of a hot summer while soaking up spring sunshine on a seaside walk today. I was eyeing the fat buds on the pohutukawa trees and wondering when I'd see the first, glorious red flower.

Suddenly, I glimpsed a crimson flash amid the green. It was just a small bunch, which had burst open on the warm, sunny side of the tree. 

I got thinking about why this little group was so alive, when all of the other buds were still snoozing in their tiny, green sleeping bags. It came down to:
  • It is in their DNA, of course. However, without a number of other factors that would not be enough.
  • They had the right conditions (the sunny side of the tree).
  • They had some like-minded buddies (get it? ha ha) to hang out with. By clustering they collectively drew a little more goodness from the tree, which helped them to convert the energy from the sun much quicker so they could flower. (If you want a science lesson check out chlorophyll and photosynthesis).
It's not a lot different for us humans, really. If we want our lives to blossom we have to:
  • Decide what we want - our goals/objectives/stuff we want to do.
  • Put ourselves in the right place/take steps to make it happen. You can't just wait for the right things to fall into your lap. Even plants know better than this - they know how grow towards the sun.
  • Find people with similar aspirations, learn from them and work together to support each other.
Of course, those pedants among you will point out that most of the other pohutukawa buds will open in time. Of course, I get that. However, if you want something out of life, then the sooner you work towards it the earlier you can achieve it and start to enjoy it.

Pohutukawa in bud
Flower buds snoozing in their sleeping bags
Glorious Pohutukawa flowers. GO RED

Sunday, May 04, 2014

May the Fourth Be With You

In a galaxy NOT so far away at all, Star War fans are swishing their light sabres and shouting: "May the Fourth Be With You".

This is THE day to dress up as your 'fave' character and star in the movie of your imagination. Others will spend time in a darkened multiplex watching a marathon of six films in the Star Wars series.

For those more EVENTFUL, go forth in your costumed self to the Auckland Stardome's celebratory series of events.  Everyone in a Star Wars costume scores a free entry to one Stardome planetarium show today.

Find out more:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gone bush in Totara Park

Pausing (resting) for photo taking
"Let's go bush walking", suggested friend Julia. I anticipated this would be a walk in the park, but I wasn't to know that she was in training for a 'big, serious' hike later in the month. In addition, she has fabulously long legs when compared with my little trotters.

She sailed along the Puhinui Stream Forest Trail in Totara Park with me panting in her slipstream. Fortunately, we had to stop periodically for photos. My usual photographer, TH, had wisely declined to come on this trip but Julia was happy to oblige.

At the beginning she had us 'trip-trapping' at a fast clip over several bridges in the park.  I barely had time to admire the peaceful streams and wonder if trolls really did live down there before Julia was gazelle-like off on the next path.  However, over a couple of hours, her pace slowed as we both became enchanted by the towering trees - particularly the totara with its feathery leaves, the arrow-straight kahikatea and the ancient, spreading puriri.
Ancient Puriri tree

Totara Park is a glorious, green gem in Manurewa (just 25km south of Central Auckland). Within its 216 hectares of native bush and farmland there is a huge network of walking tracks, bridle trails and mountain bike tracks.  Within minutes you can be nestled in the hush of the bush and forget that the city and the busy southern motorway is just a few kilometres away.

I didn't see any bikes or horses, but look out for a determined, long-legged mountain woman.

Find out more:
Admiring the trees (ignoring the troll under the bridge)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The night I ate Mary's lamb

Eventful Woman and Mary (in white) (copyright Eventful Woman)
At a recent charity auction my eye was drawn to lucky item No. 7: "Mad Mary will cook for you and your three guests her famous Lamb Neck Chop Casserole".

Fabulous food and great company always makes for an eventful night. I bid ferociously and soon the prize was mine.

TH (The Husband) and I thought long an hard as to which of our many friends would score the guest seats. The lucky two  were issued with strict instructions - no diets, no party poopers, second helpings mandatory.

The non-drinking TH was volunteered as the sober chauffeur to collect and safely return everyone to their homes. He issued some firm instructions too: If he had to drive then there would be NO singing.  I can't understand that, as I am a magnificent singer after a couple of wines.
About to open the bubbly (copyright Eventful Woman)
The bubbly was popped on our arrival and served with delectable ash-covered chèvre (French goat's cheese with a salted charcoal coating) on crackers, with a mild basil leaf and a drop or two of liquid gold - virgin olive oil.

Mary put on soft music as we took our places at her gorgeous table.
Candles, flowers and silverware - just gorgeous
(copyright Eventful Woman)
Mary's Lamb Neck Chop Casserole is legendary and was showcased recently on TV One's Family Recipes Show It is slow cooked for hours with onions, potato, kumara, tomatoes, fennel, sage, parsley, thyme and rosemary and served with crisp cooked green vegetables on the side. The taste? I was almost deafened by the overwhelming 'Mmmmmmmmmm's' from all, me included. Tender, moist, yummy, with the meat just falling off the bones. The flavours were a perfect marriage, just like TH and me really. (Ahem)

The dessert was chocolate fudge cake, served with lashings of cream.  Some things are simply better being rich - chocolate, coffee and men. For a chocoholic, Mary's cake ticked all of my boxes.

Between delightful mouthfuls of this wondrous food, Mary entertained us with her catering stories, including an infamous incident involing a duck and Lady Astor (in UK).  My lips are sealed, but I could be bribed with dark chocolate any time to reveal all.

Mary is a fellow writer and she is currently finishing her latest book, which is described as "The Three B's" - booze, boats and bonking. With the "Oooohs and Aaaaas" around the table that night, I felt we were helping Mary to write the text.

Thank you Mary Elsmore-Neilson for a wonderful night and to your lovely George, who kept a quiet eye on us during the evening.
Mary's George, quietly observing while lounging on a Persian rug
(copyright Eventful Woman)
Find out more:
  • How to make Mary's Lamb Neck Chop Casserole. Click here to see the 'how to' video from TV One's Family Recipes Show.  (Warning: There's a lot of mmmmm's and ooohs' and aaah's)
  • About Mary. Click here for her Facebook page.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Climbing up to see the water fall

Wairere Falls from the road (copyright Eventful Woman)
I should have realised that there could be no huff without puff when TH (The Husband) and I decided to check out Wairere Falls. (Te Reo Maori translation: Wairere = Waterfall). We'd seen these falls from a distance in the Kaimai Ranges, while driving on State Highway 27. We had often said "We must go there one day".

Well, THE day had finally come to get up-close and personal with the falls. While lacing up my 'action woman' walking shoes, I glanced at the information sign at the start of the track: 1.5 hours walk to the base of the falls and back. I huffed at that, thinking it would take me no more than an hour.

The walk started gently through the dappled bush and past some impressive, moss-covered boulders. 'Easy on the eye' as well as easy walking. I began to gloat that I'd knock it off in 45 minutes.  As the saying goes, 'pride comes before a fall'... 

The track took a sharp turn down to the river. The puffing started as we started to climb steeply upwards, following the river. Soon I was scrambling over large rocks. However, the prettiness of the river banks and the rushing water were charming. This was great stuff and I wanted to see more.  It was then that I saw the staircases towering upwards. Who would have thought we'd find those in the middle of the bush?
Stairway to heaven? (copyright Eventful Woman)
I puffed up several sets of stairs and stopped on each landing to gasp and mop my brow in the summer heat. I hoped the view would be heavenly when we got there - right now it felt like a treadmill to hell. TH scoffed at my groans, but I noticed that his chest was heaving.

Rivers of sweat later and gasps of "How much further?" to those coming down, we stumbled onto the lookout platform. The falls were magnificent, even if they were in low flow because of the dry weather. We lolled against the safety barrier, drinking in the view. The whirring of the cicadas drowned out the wheezing moans from other hikers still slugging up the track.

Wairere Waterfall (copyright Eventful Woman)
Going down was a happy affair. No puffing nor huffing, plus the chance to give encouraging cries of "not far" to those groaning their way up.

Going down is easy  (copyright Eventful Woman)
It took exactly 1.5 hours return to the car park.  (Not counting the time spent enjoying the waterfall). HAH, so much for thinking I was faster than a speeding bullet.

Recommended as an eventful trip.

The track status is 'dog friendly'. Take your togs (swimsuit) and plenty of water to drink (for you and your hound). Expect lots of people during the summer holidays. Great family outing.

Further information:

Click here to find out more about Wairere Falls and how to get there.

Need accommodation? Eventful Woman recommends Homestead Mountain View Bed & Breakfast in nearby Te Aroha. The homestead is a 1890's villa, lovingly restored to it's original elegance and splendour and set in a peaceful, picturesque garden. It has uninterrupted views of Mount Te Aroha in all it's changing moods.  Click here to find out more.

Misty morning view of Mt Te Aroha from the guest bedroom at Homestead Mountain View B&B (copyright Eventful Woman)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kangaroos in Queensland

Big surprise on the side of the road just out of Brisbane. We've been a whole week in Oz and hadn't seen any kangaroos.  At last, there they were and I screeched out STOP to my bro', who was driving.  Bro' thought I was doing galah impressions (instead of calling out instructions).

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Another Eventful Woman

Loved meeting Heather, GM of the Sir Stamford Hotel in Sydney (with the Stamford Wombat).  Heather is a fellow Kiwi and is showing the Aussies how a top hotel should be run.

Adventures in Australia

I'm on a road trip in Australia with my brother.  We're calling on our many cousins and trying different foods and drinks.
Our rental car - Ford Falcon XR6 at Newcastle

Whisky tasting in Sydney

Wine tasting with Master Wine Maker and cousin Toni

Working off the calories each morning

Monday, June 03, 2013

The roast dinner challenge

My roast dinner
©Eventful Woman
I'm what's called 'an eater'. I've always been motivated by food and I can usually  get anyone to make a fabulous dinner for me, simply by being a genuinely appreciative eater.  All good cooks need great fans and I like to think this gives me a real purpose in life.

As a born and bred New Zealander I was brought up on roasts with lashings of gravy. I would mound my plate high and happily devour the lot, including crunching on any pork crackling. I was one of five children and my mother said she'd never seen a child eat everything with such finger-licking enjoyment.  Even the vegetables would be shovelled down with enthusiasm.

I was eventful right from my early days, with food fuelling my adventures and also acting as a homing beacon. No matter how far I roamed the scent of a good roast dinner would bring me running back to the table.

Until recently, I harboured a secret. I had never made a roast dinner. Well, why bother I thought, when I could just talk my way into eating them? If I kept on having adventures, then maybe my tales of 'derring do' would sufficiently entertain to keep the invitations coming. However, I could hardly 'buckle my swash' if word got about that a so-called Eventful Woman didn't know how to make a momentous roast dinner and was terrified at the thought of it. Domesticity is not my scene.

A good friend decided to take me in hand and protect my reputation. She promised to stand alongside of me, provide step-by-step instructions and would fortify me with wine along the way.  The company of a friend, wine and a roast lamb dinner was an unbeatable offer.

Coating the meat ©Eventful Woman
We started with her special coating. Not quite the '11 herbs and spices' from another famous recipe but the ingredients included oil, lemon juice, garlic, soya sauce, mint, rosemary. These were mixed together and then slathered over the leg of lamb.

The meat was placed reverently into the oven and we started on the veges. Far from being the No. 1 chef in this kitchen, I was relegated to galley slave and had to peel my way through several potatoes, kumara (sweet potato) and a pumpkin.

It wasn't until I had basted the meat a few times and had started to roast the potatoes in the electric fry pan that I was promoted to second chef. This meant that I was allowed my first glass of wine.

Making progress ©Eventful Woman
Several basting sessions later (of both the chefs and the roast), the meat was pulled out of the oven and set aside to rest. No rest for me though. I was given the task for gravy making, supervised by the No.1 chef. The gravy was made like our mothers had done for years, using the fats and crispy meaty bits in the bottom of the roasting plan and adding a paste of cornflour and water. The aroma was divine.

While broccoli was spinning in the microwave, I was finally promoted to No.1 chef and allowed to carve the meat. This involved one slice for the plate and one for me. The supervising chef worried that there wouldn't be enough meat for the diners, and I was demoted to waitress - only allowed to carry plates to the table but NOT eat as I went. Spoil sport!

At last all was ready on the table. TH (the husband) was summoned and told to clap appreciatively.  I thought he was a bit half-hearted compared with my genuine applause whenever I'm presented with a tasty meal.

Then we settled to the really serious task of eating. Tasty, juicy slices of roast lamb, a mound of roast and green veges and a river of gravy. YUM!

YUMMY ©Eventful Woman
It is always satisfying to achieve anything, but particularly when it is something that you've been putting off or has grown into a challenge.

My friend and No.1 chef provided me with written instructions and I'll be able to repeat my 'feat' again. A roast dinner will be just perfect for winter evenings at home with TH, in front of a blazing fire. Hopefully, the blaze won't be from the whole kitchen going up in smoke.