Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oct 28-Off on an adventure to Whangarei

Packed up a cooler, a suitcase and off we went. First stop Whangarei. It is a very long drive to the Northern part of NZ...The usual beautiful country side..

Whangarei is a sea side  town. We stopped along the way for coffee and I just had to take this pic. If you use the term "Parking lot" here they look at you very strange.
They are ALL car parks. We also found something rather funny. It's a car folks and yes, they drive it around.

The ears happened to have been up (they were down the last time we passed). Somethings just make you laugh when you see them....
While others, not so much. Yup! We got to talking about the Grande Canyon and forgot to check the speed. the GPS would have reminded us but she talks to much so we shut her off LOL So that was an $80 lesson learned.
We stopped at the clock museum in Whangarei, just for haha's and I got my picture taken with the guy who designed Big Ben
We opted NOT to visit the actual museum for the simple reason that both Rainer and I had the same thought "where are the screw drivers" LOL Clocks are good for one thing...GEARS!!! We did make the curator laugh . Now you'd think since it was a harbour  I would have taken some pictures of it huh? It was set up like a cute little Village on the water, with all kinds of shops...Who went looking at boats when you had things like this to look at

Then this colorful character who sit's outside all day and makes balloon animals for the kiddies. For $3
Yup Granny Balloon makes her living that way and adds a bit of color to the place while at it.
Next stop Piahia..Stay tuned

Oct 27- Visiting Stores

I have been looking for green stone and other things that can't be found in my country. Seems silly to bring home stuff made in China. There is a "rent a booth" place here that only allows hand made items from NZ.
We also had to stop at a craft store for some bits and pieces needed to finish so REAL NZ made jewelry.

While these things captured my eye. They are things that I could make myself and probably will. Oh don't be going getting all crazy. I'm thinking for MYSELF not for YOU LOL Then there were things not so simple
No I didn't buy him, but I sure did want to. He is made of cardboard, but very intriguing to look at don't ya think?
Tomorrow it is off to Maori WH is pronounced like our PH= F so the town  is pronounced Fang-a-ray. Stay tuned.

Oct 26- Piano and Table

Today was a work day. A fun work day. While Ilka continues to immerse herself in her studies,  I continue to work on projects and Rainer continues to play with his piano.
I forget the tool he had to buy but it is to cut through cast iron. The only way to remove that big metal back with the strings is in pieces.

I told you about the beat up old coffee table he got for $7 at the op-shop. I asked if I could play with it (since he had no clue why he brought it home LOL) I had some shabby chic in mind. So I cleaned the entire table with something called sugar well at taking old wax and grime off. I had to find their version of Old English. One thing the company that Rainer works for does, is make store displays and they use crackle finish. So he just happened to have the best damn crackle stuff I ever worked with. They should bottle this stuff.
This is the table top. It looked like those scratched and pitted sides, but as you can see the top came up rather nice. I was going to crackle the sides of the top. That didn't work out so the top is all shiny now with a thick finish of floor wax. No pictures of the finished product yet because it is still in progress but the results is amazing. So stay tuned...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oct25- Color me spoiled rotten

Ever since Ilka made Ginger Gems I have been looking for a Gem Iron..Oh don't be so lazy, you know you don't know what it is. Google it!
Anyway, I loved the look and taste of these little dandy's, thought it might be something I could make for a change. I'm not much of a dessert maker. Pie's are my thing. A coffee cake now and then, but I've never been a cake maker. These little cuties, I have been told, are real easy. Famous last words...but where does one find a Gem Iron? I have never seen them in the USA, never even heard of them.
One day at the car boot sale I picked up an odd looking antique and the lady said "That's a Gem pan" didn't look like Ilka's, these were round, hers were oblong. For 2 bucks I bought it (probably could sell it for $30. They are hard to come by) I found out what I have is a  scone iron but can be used to make gems. So the search was still on.
Today I was busy with a project and I heard a knock at the door. Special courier with a package addressed for Rainer. I know they always worry about packages here because they are often left where people will take them so I e-mailed Rainer to let him know his package was safe in the house. He wrote back "Open it and tell me what you think"..(I figured it was a clock or some Lego thing).so I did and look what was in the box.
That would be the Gem Iron on the bottom. The top two looked like lady fingers...not sure , will have to look it up. Rainer said eclairs...Any guesses out there? Needless to say I'm feeling pretty special right now...but I really have to watch myself. It seems if I say I like or want something, it suddenly appears. When I wrote back and told him I thought they were great  and now I expected HIM to make gems..My next e-mail read..Enjoy them, they are yours.
The other day I wanted fabric for a small project and Poof, there was Ilka with a hand full of fabric she thought I might use. 
So I spent my free time playing with my embroidery project and looking up Gem recipes.LOL
Well you may not be excited about my quiet day, but I'm over the moon. Now I can make Gems AND scones woo hoo!!!

Oct 24-Gallery Opening

Today went by so fast. The guy who came to fix the lock sounded like Oleg (a dear friend) so I asked if he came from the Ukraine . He was very surprised, said yes but most people ask if he is from Soviet Union or Russia. I told him about Oleg and he laughed, said , still to pick up accent is good. I could listen to him talk all day. I liked the way he spoke to his helper who is learning the trade, very patient man.
So once that was out of the way I started the eggplant. When the heck did that dish become so complicated LOL Oh the things we forget. By the time I peeled, sliced, breaded and baked the eggplant the day was half over,but  the kitchen smelled wonderful.
Dinner stayed warm while we attended the art Gallery opening. The Corban Estate Arts Center is an old winery, steeped in local history and a wonderful place for an art center.
I wasn't overly impressed by Jane Thomas and her paintings of children..they were painted in underwear  or bathing suit, sad looking and Rainer agreed with me that it looked like a display of sexually abused children. Very painful to look at actually. I was happy to see my interpretation was shared and I heard similar whispers. Carol Bisset on the other hand was light and happy with her use of recycled things and the use of light to reflect childhood memories. Not all shared my delight but hey..... That was in the Barrel Shed.
We then went to another building and enjoyed Judy Darragh's WALK THIS WAY (which always makes me giggle. Remember Bride of Frankenstein?)
Did I mention it was a floor sculpture ? She also had paintings on the wall which had the inner soles from old shoes and sneakers. It was a fun display. Her art uses discarded junk.
Odysseus was supposed to be loosely based on the ODYSSEY. Very loosely as in "Huh?" The Odyssey is kind of a love story..well to me it is, with the ultimate happy ending. All the bad people die and all the good people live happily ever after. Elliot Collins should have just named his work Odyssey as in a Journey. I took no pictures of this work but one was several tiny little ships done in enamel..Okay, journey? Ships? I get it.(cost $2250) Then there were wooden poles hanging from chains. The bondage of  Odysseus perhaps?(cost $3400) Then something that resembled the wheel of fortune word board.(Cost $6000).a framed photo of an empty sea..The journey perhaps...but not for $2250.The last was a print of a NZ marine chart, framed..cost $1800.
Moving absolute favorite.In Absence is all that is left behind, artist Robert George captures the interior landscape of the human mind through large scale moving images and sound. He creates a space in which the waking mind gives way to the unconscious mind, where dreams, memories and symbolism take over.
Robert was there to explain his thoughts and technology and he was charming. His piece was breath taking in every way.

The awaken screen was too bright for the picture to show. This is all done in moving pictures. The left was the awakening and the right was the dark (or death and rebirth) Hard to explain but beautiful to look at. That man is Robert George, the creator of the piece. NZ is a cultural  feast. There is always something, some show, some exhibit of one of the many cultures that make up the fabric of NZ. It isn't just beautiful scenery and tourist traps. It's a wonderful experience , a delightful walk down the road  into many different and unique traditions.
Hope you enjoyed this day as much as I did. My eggplant was delicious so the day was a complete success. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oct 23- Cabbage Rolls

LOL How do you like that Title...Rainer asked me if I knew how to make  Kohlrouladen after I told him my Nana (moms , mom) owned a German restaurant and bar. I don't remember a lot of the recipes I saw her make as a kid, but I do remember that Kohl is cabbage in German and rouladen is Surprise, surprise I DO know how to make them LOL That was the dinner request. I always made  the ones with red sauce and rice for my family because that's what they seemed to like. I must say, I totally enjoyed these.

Here they are before and after browning and before brown gravy was poured over them.I served them with herb mash potato's. I'm told I will be terribly missed when I'm gone LOL
I want so badly to post the the "Memory" jewelry Rainer is making for members of my family, but I'm not allowed. I'm watching these creations develop before my eyes and I am so impressed by his talent.
Ilka doesn't care if I take pictures of her "projects" LOL because they are all centered around her Uni (that's what they call college )She has two essays to ready by Saturday (yes they have Uni on Sat. and Sun. at times) She also needed a display of her support system. Don't ask. It's for her Psych course. She will end up needing one when this semester is over. LOL

At 10 pm it was discovered that the front door lock finally broke. So the mission for Oct 24 will be waiting for the locksmith. Good in a way because I'll be making eggplant parm and that takes some preparation... Hey I have to earn my keep..there is a very special trip coming up and I won't be cooking at all :-) mean while I also have some projects to work on, so even when I am not off on some adventure, I am busy having fun.
I hope you are enjoying my travels. I get a lot of very positive e-mail. Not everyone seems to be able to post a comment here. Sorry about that. Not sure why that is, but I do appreciate those that do and those who let me know people are actually following me around NZ. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oct 22-Shell soup and round abouts

I really need to stop collecting shells. REALLY, with everything else I have to try and get home, shells should be the last thing on my mind. So I put all my stinky shells into a plastic pail. Rainer thought it was cute of me to put it under my bedroom window. I keep forgetting they don't use screens here.Duh!!
Doesn't that look yummy?
Think "low tide" and that is sort of like it smellsLOL Not sure they will ever be able to come home with me.
I stopped at the Post Office to see about boxes. Got two sizes..came home filled the large box and couldn't lift it so I had to rethink the idea LOL I used the smaller one because I wanted to make sure a few gifts at least made it to the USA, then I filled in with what ever would fit. Lets not talk about what it cost to mail 7.85 kg..I don't even know how much weight that is. Listen driving  is hard enough if you think I'm learning the metric system...think again. I bought myself a measure cup with both (oz and g), so I'm good to go.
I also made it to the laundry to dry my clothes. On the way I picked up a pie for lunch...oh yummy. I love NZ fast food. There are several round abouts between here and the laundry...Left turns are great, they are a given, since you are on that side of the road anyway. If you are going half way around (straight) you have the right of way, if someone is in the round about, they have the right away and if you get stuck...don't panic, just keep going around and around until you are either alone or dizzy.
Food shopping is always fun, since nothing is like it is in the States. Everything is foreign here ROTFL
We were going to have pizza, but decided on toasties instead. The lunch meat (which I know now I order 150 g) looked wonderful..that and some cheese and we had a feast. So NO, I didn't see much sights in NZ today, but I did get home TWICE in one piece and so did the car..So I'm happy :-) See you tomorrow...Maybe the sun will be out then.

Oct 21- On my own

Having a nice chill day. I have a meditation tape that I listened to this morning while I reflected on how lucky I am.
I started gathering things up that I want to mail home. OMG!!! Where the heck did all this stuff come from? Every time I see some thing I think some one may like, I pick it up. Sheesh I sure have done a lot of picking up of stuff.
I'm convinced that I can sell myself as a rain maker. I told you about my trip to California, did I also tell you I went out there another year with Rich and the same thing happened. Rained almost the entire time we were there? Ask John Tarca, who  had a line "On a clear day you can see forever". WE could only see the first 5 min. Now pretty much has happened here. Lots of rain, once in a while a ray of sunshine. So if you live in a State that has a draught problem, feel free to contact me.
I have never been fond of drying my clothes on a line. yes I like the fresh smell of sheets and towels that have been wind blown, but I don't like clothes that feel like sandpaper.
So it's laundry day again. I go to a local place that has nice dryers and it's very, very clean. You know what that means? I get to drive on the wrong side of the road again...almost feels like I'm breaking the law LOL
Sorry this is such a dull day in the life of the NZ traveler..but hey, they all can't be "Diamonds". See ya tomorrow.

Oct 20- fun day at home

 After a very long, wonderful and enjoyable day yesterday it was decided that we would have a nice day at home. Perhaps tinker a  bit with on going projects. There are some things I want to gather up and send home. Some things I want to make. Etc.....
I believe I mentioned that Rainer bought an upright piano that he hopes to turn into a shelving unit for the hallway. The piano was free but shipping was $100.
The day was sunny and cool for a change so we decided it would be a fun day to tackle that.
WOW!! You wouldn't believe what goes into the making of a piano. We took the front of and simply stared in amazement .
Look at the detail on something you really never see. My battery went flat before I could take a pic of the final results, but all the keys are gone now and the only thing remaining is the harp in the back. It is cast metal so the proper tools have to be found in order to remove it in pieces (unfortunately), it's that or remove the sides of the piano which he doesn't want to do.
So while I didn't see much country side today, I did have a rare and unique experience. Oh admit it, did you know what the guts of a piano looked like? Okay so maybe you didn't care LOL but you have to admit it's amazing.
We had leftover corned beef and cabbage dinner. Of all the things I COULDN'T find here, and corned beef can be found everywhere. Go figure. I also have a new favorite dessert, it's called Pavlova, look it up. Sort like a hard angel food cake and they put fresh or canned fruit on top with whipped cream.
Get this, they have canned strawberries, boysenberries and mango. Do we have that in a can? Oh excuse me "tin". I say can and no one knows what the hell I'm talking about. I know we have fruit in a can but they have some pretty exotic  stuff in a "tin".
So the day was not only relaxing, it was educational and fun...See you tomorrow.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

WOW!! Oct 19-Kauri Forest

What an adventure....
We left Auckland (the small yellow dot) and worked our way up to the top of the large yellow dot. About 5 hours drive.
We first stopped here.
Hard not to think about Rich when I met this old bird.LOL
He is a beauty huh? Then we headed for the Kauri Museum.

Saw tons of things made from Kauri wood. It's a very dense wood with beautiful tight grain. Very, very expensive. I visited the gift shop where I was able to purchase a few interesting things. Including some amber from the Kauri tree's. The shop also had a beautiful display of my favorite PONGA wood..I am so intrigued by the unbelievable designs  naturally formed.
Visited a beautiful old church at the museum  as well as an old Post Office and a steam engine. Made another stop at a Sap Place (amber)  and found an interesting work shop.
Also got a spectacular view of the Tasman Sea....

That dark blue line is Sea, not sky. Then it was into the Kauri Forest.

That is me at the base of the 4 sisters. I group of rather large and tall Karui.
This shows the most popular tree's to visit.
It's like a game of "Wheres Waldo" LOL I am at the base of Tane Mahuta, a tree that dates back to the era of Jesus. If that tree could only talk huh? I can't even tell you how huge that monster is..but if you look real hard you will see my blue shirt and that should give you some idea.
ah! There I am...WE stopped at the next town , all 2 stores, both closed, looking for food. WE ended up at another beautiful spot we hadn't even planned on seeing today.
White Sand Dunes ...
That point sticking out in the distant right hand side of the picture is where we got food.
This is a great  pic of the stand we drove to get to our food (now to the left of the picture). AS you can see by the time we reached the bluff to take more pictures , the storm clouds were gathering. We were thankful for a sunny, cool day and it was time to head home.
What a delightful day. WE will be taking that ride once again in another week and a half or so. This time it will be twice the drive because we are headed for the lighthouse at the very tip of the North Island. That will NOT be a one day adventure. mean while we will continue to have fun locally, so stay tuned.

Oct 18-Exploring Takapuna and looking for special shells

Okay so one may think, even with thousands of miles of beaches you have to eventually get tired of them.
When I do, I'll let you know LOL With every new beach, there is a new discovery.
I have found, at the other end of Takapuna, ocean worn paua shells that are just beautiful.
 How could anyone grow tired of this.
It isn't every day, living in Up state NY that one gets to see a Sleeping volcano.

Or beautiful natural water features.
On the way to Takapuna we stopped at some car boot sales and picked up some fresh tomato's and apples.
Along with some toys to take apart for projects.
We were going to stop at the  Vietnamese place for some dinner, or was it tea time...what ever, we decided to go home for some take- away..Chicken and Falafel which was fabulous.
It was a beautiful day and I am replenishing my Vitamin D  supply for sure. The sun finally came out..Woohoo. Tomorrow we leave early in the morning for the Kauri Forest to see the biggest Kauri tree in the world. While it is nothing like our Giant Red woods, it does have an interesting story. So stay tuned...oh I almost forgot...the prize find of the day..
Nothing like our Star fish, a bit bigger then a U.S. Silver dollar it is a beauty.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oct 17- Finishing a project

As I said, every day can't be a holiday. Besides the wind is crazy and it's a gray day so I snuggled in.
I managed to finish both pillows to the delight of my host's.

The light gray is like a leather fabric and sewing through two layers was difficult, but the red one was easy.
Thats about all I accomplished today...but tomorrow starts the adventures so stay tuned.