Addiction!

This video is adapted from Johann Hari’s New York Times best-selling book ‘Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.’

This video came up on my Facebook feed and I found it so very interesting. I wanted to share it on my blog, to see if others may find it just as thought provoking and helpful as I did.

My opinion after listening to the video…

Loneliness and disconnection is horrible, and can have a horrendous outcome on a persons life. We all need to feel we are loved, we belong, we are accepted and we have a sense of purpose. Withdrawing into isolation from others is a reaction, and the alternative is the need to be proactive in a positive way. To turn your life around can be very challenging for those who already feel inferior, unaccepted and worthless. Extremely challenging for those who have already opened the door to addiction as a way of escape to the daily pain that life brings them.

A desire to change takes commitment, lots of loving support, choosing to be vulnerable, and also huge bravery! You can’t do it alone! Building new relationships with the right people is a huge step forward. Good counselling, loving family and positive friendships! But the warning I give is that we should never allow others to give you your self esteem. If they can give it to you, they can also take it from you! We are all damaged people. Life can be amazingly wonderful, but it can also be cruel! What we put into a relationship comes not only from our choice to be the best to another and love them totally, but also from our life experiences, good and bad. And we make mistakes! We are human and that is one of the conditions of being human!

Praise God He loves us unconditionally, and as we are! He never gives up on us or leaves us. In Him we are loved, belong, are accepted and our life has purpose 🙂 To have a personal relationship with God is solid! It’s like having your house built on solid ground. When the storms of life come, you can rest assured that your faith in this loving God, will help you stand firm. ‘For God so loved the world (everyone… even you), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (NKJV). We are all equal at the foot of the cross! Everyone! There is no bias!

I know there are lot of people that disagree with me about faith in God, but no-one can argue with the peace that I have from knowing who I am in Christ 🙂 I have no fear for the future as my life is in His hands 🙂 He is my hope for the future and my ever present help for today.

 

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Tongariro Alpine Crossing

For the last 15 months we have been opening our home to airbnb guests. It’s been really interesting. We have met so many lovely people, and we now have new friends from all over the world! For reasons which I will explain later on in my post, I have filled in the availability calendar for our home, so it is unavailable for a time, but we did have two guest rooms which have been well used. Here are the links to those rooms if you would like to have a look.

https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/5197223?guests=1&s=0RoqnXBa

https://www.airbnb.co.nz/rooms/5232994?guests=1&s=0RoqnXBa

The summer months seem to have been the most popular for tourists visiting New Zealand. The most common places of interest that our visitors have been to see before they got to our home in little Waitara (Taranaki), has been the Waitomo Caves and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Most of our visitors travelled south from Auckland and were making their way down to the South Island, where they planned on driving down to visit Queenstown. The popular cities that I heard mentioned visited in the North Island were Auckland, Rotorua and Taupo. And, of course, I would promote a visit to our local city of New Plymouth, of which I have already written a blog post about!

New Plymouth – It’s a fabulous city!

When our guests spoke of the wonderful experiences they had seeing the Waitomo Caves, and walking / tramping the Tongariro Crossing, I would feel slightly guilty. Here I am a New Zealander, and I haven’t even been to either of those places myself, well I hadn’t! But I have now. In April I took my grandson to the Caves 🙂 We only went through the Glow worm cave but it was fantastic. I have visited the Jenolan Caves near the Blue Mountains in Australia, and I have to say that the Waitomo Caves are equally as good. Definitely worth the visit.

In March I joined a group of local people to travel North to The National Park to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and I have to say it was the highlight of my year so far! It was amazing, and what a sense of achievement to have completed it! Yes, I can definitely say it was on my bucket list (after hearing about it so much from our visiting tourists) and it has now been ticked off!

The distance of the crossing. We had a guide with us so we turned at the highest point of the crossing, carried on to Tongariro summit and then our guide led us back to the start point.

The distance of the crossing. We had a guide with us so we turned at the highest point of the crossing, carried on to Tongariro summit and then our guide led us back to the start point.

Full of excitement and energy as we start the crossing :-)

Full of excitement and energy as we start the crossing :-)

This is part of the path from the starting point. By mid morning there is a steady traffic of people walking/climbing the crossing. It is a very popular and manageable climb but is definitely challenging as well.

This is part of the path from the starting point. By mid morning there is a steady traffic of people walking/climbing the crossing. It is a very popular and manageable climb but is definitely challenging as well.

The only toilets en route!

The only toilets en route!

One of our first stops. And look at the wonderful view!

One of our first stops. And look at the wonderful view!

Mt Taranaki way in the distance

Mt Taranaki way in the distance

Walking across the plain towards the climb to the Summit

Walking across the plain towards the climb to the Summit

further along the long plain

Further along the long plain

Looking across to Mt Ngauruhoe

Looking across to Mt Ngauruhoe

Looking over the edge :-)

Looking over the edge :-)

Our little group of trampers- plus the photographer :-)

Our little group of trampers- plus the photographer :-)

That was much harder to climb than it looks!

That was much harder to climb than it looks!

The big climb up to the Crossing peak

The big climb up to the Crossing peak

Just a little climb from here to where the main crossing walk starts the descent to the car park

Just a little climb from here to where the main crossing walk starts the descent to the car park

The last slope upwards

The last slope upwards

The view of an old vent on the volcano

The view of an old vent on the volcano

another view of the old crater vent. Can you seee the people climbing across the other side?

Another view of the old crater vent. Can you see the people climbing across the other side?

Daughter Joanna looking at the wonderful views with the lakes below

Daughter Joanna looking at the wonderful views with the lakes below

Mt Ngauruhoe with Mt Ruapehu behind

Mt Ngauruhoe with Mt Ruapehu behind, and the Tongariro summit ahead :-)

Joanna with Ngauruhoe behind her

Joanna with Ngauruhoe behind her

Yay! We did it. Mt Tongariro Summit!

Yay! We did it. Mt Tongariro Summit!

My friend Julie with the two magnificent mountains behind her

My friend Julie with the two magnificent mountains behind her

Our lunch spot at the summit of Mt Tongariro

Our lunch spot at the summit of Mt Tongariro

From the summit looking back to the crossing

From the summit looking back to the crossing

The terrain we meandered down back to the carpark

The terrain we meandered down back to the carpark

Sitting on damp spongy moss for our afternoon tea :-)

Sitting on damp spongy moss for our afternoon tea :-)

Such a wonderful feeling! We had just climbed Tongariro with Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu in sight :-)

Such a wonderful feeling! We had just climbed Tongariro with Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu in sight :-)

The long walk back down! But it was sure worth the effort :-)

The long walk back down! But it was sure worth the effort :-)

After four long years of just having my husband and myself at home, this year has completely changed for us. We now have two of our adult children living back home, and we also have three of our grand children living here with us as well. We are so spoilt to have company all the time, and activity filling our lives. Children are great at keeping you young. So, this is the reason that our airbnb is now closed for a time, but I am very thankful for the time we had our guests staying here. If it wasn’t for their wonderful recollections, telling me about doing the Tongariro Crossing, or seeing The Waitomo Caves, I probably wouldn’t have put the effort in to see them for myself!

Now I can be the ‘expert’ when we eventually open our airbnb again.

If you have 20 minutes to spare I have also made a movie file of the crossing 🙂

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Scrapbooking while in Sydney November 2015

I know…   I know…  I seem to always be in Sydney 🙂

Eldest son Matthew and his wife had a trip to Las Vegas for a conference and some fun as well, and I am here to look after the two youngest grandchildren. The eldest is now 18 and very independent. She is studying to be a nurse, has a part time job and drives herself everywhere 🙂 I am feeling extra blessed to be spending time with baby Luke, who is actually not so much of a baby now. He is 19 months old and such a happy and busy boy. I’ve had so much fun with him 🙂

Luke loved playing with the hose on the trampoline :-)

Luke loved playing with the hose on the trampoline :-)

And Casey has been such a great little girl while Mum and a Dad have been away. Every morning she got up and got herself organised for school, including making her own lunch. I had the priviledge of doing her hair some mornings 🙂

Just one of the hair styles (a little messy), But I did french plait as well :-)

Just one of the hair styles (a little messy), But I did french plait as well :-)

I love to be productive no matter where I am, so while Luke has his afternoon sleep, and once the children are in bed at night, I have been scrapbooking. I love the feeling I get from creating a page and being able to finally look at the finished product. Mostly the pages are finished, but as I don’t have all my embellishments here with me, there will be a few little extra things I will add when I get back home.

This page was made using the scraps left over from an Echo Park Kit. It was lots of fun to make and looks great (well I think so anyway) The grandsons are so cute :-)

This page was made using the scraps left over from an Echo Park Kit. It was lots of fun to make and looks great (well I think so anyway) The grandsons are so cute :-)

A fun photo taken at St Ives in Sydney. Paper use is Echo Park.

A fun photo taken at St Ives in Sydney. Paper use is Echo Park.

A portrait photo of Leeara and Jessica taken a few years ago.

A portrait photo of Leeara and Jessica taken a few years ago.

Simon and his boys Jayden and Christian. This page is mainly made with Echo Park papers.

Simon and his boys Jayden and Christian. This page is mainly made with Echo Park papers.

Christian talking to Uncle Ben on the phone on his 4th birthday. Created with Bella! papers and some Echo Park.

Christian talking to Uncle Ben on the phone on his 4th birthday. Created with Bella! papers and some Echo Park.

Leeara in Uniform and going to School. Her irst year at Willoughby High School. Page using Basic Grey and Bella! papers.

Leeara in Uniform and going to School. Her First year at Willoughby High School. Page using Basic Grey and Bella! papers.

At Dreamworld on the Gold Coast. Page created with Teresa Collins Papers, Tell your story :-)

At Dreamworld on the Gold Coast. Page created with Teresa Collins Papers, Tell your story :-)

Beautiful eldest daughter Joanna at her graduation. Pages used are Echo Park, This and that.

Beautiful eldest daughter Joanna at her graduation. Pages used are Echo Park, This and that.

Photo of Leeara when she was about 8 years old. Papers are Echo Park.

Photo of Leeara when she was about 8 years old. Papers are Echo Park.

Jessica and Leeara on a quad bike! papers are Fancy Pants Designs, childish things.

Jessica and Leeara on a quad bike! papers are Fancy Pants Designs, childish things.

My friend Julie and myself after a bike ride. Relaxing with a coffee and chat :-) Echo Park papers, this and that.

My friend Julie and myself after a bike ride. Relaxing with a coffee and chat 🙂 Echo Park papers, this and that.

Another Leeara page. I'm trying to catch up on completing her album. this page was created using a Kaisercraft Kit.

Another Leeara page. I’m trying to catch up on completing her album. this page was created using a Kaisercraft Kit.

Another page using a Kaisercraft Kit. This one of Jayden and Christian while on holiday in New Plymouth.

Another page using a Kaisercraft Kit. This one of Jayden and Christian while on holiday in New Plymouth.

Christian on his 4th birthday using Bella! papers.

Christian on his 4th birthday using Bella! papers.

Our Scrapbooking Christmas party about 2 years ago.

Our Scrapbooking Christmas party about 2 years ago.

Photo taken 10 years ago. Page created with Authentique Paper, and the Delightful Kit.

Photo taken 10 years ago. Page created with Authentique Paper, and the Delightful Kit.

I still have another two days left in Sydney and then it’s back home to get my gardens tidied up. I really want to get our vegetable garden producing some great vegetables for us over the summer. So it will be all go once I get home, and no time for Scrapbooking!

I wonder if I manage to produce another page or two before I leave?

I did it! Two more pages 🙂

Leeara amd Jess with their milk mustaches. Teresa Collins papers.

Leeara and Jess with their milk mustaches. Teresa Collins papers.

These girls love having a face mask together. Echo Park paper

These girls love having a face mask together. Echo Park paper

And now it’s time to pack my bags!

 

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The Seasons Of Life

Our family has just had a huge celebration! My Dad had his birthday and it certainly was one to celebrate. He turned 90 years old! That’s right 90! Not only was the age worth celebrating, but my Dad as a person needed celebrating as well. He is an amazing person! Always has been! I have been very blessed having him as my Dad. He is the best Dad a person could have (I’m not biased at all)

IMG_8296

My Wonderful Dad!

Of course I had to make him a cake for the occasion 🙂

My second attempt at making a cake using fondant. The first was for my youngest daughters 21st.

My second attempt at making a cake using fondant. The first was for my youngest daughters 21st.

We had the party at my eldest sisters place, and us four girls and my sister in law made all the food for afternoon tea. People arrived from 1pm and stayed until approximately 6pm. At one point there were 80 people wandering around the gardens or sitting and chatting!  Dad had a great time catching up to old friends and family.

Cheers Dad! You are worth celebrating!

Cheers Dad! You are worth celebrating!

Mum felt just as special as Dad did, after all they are ‘one’ really, after 67 years of marriage 🙂

Ohhhh that's cute :-)

Ohhhh that’s cute :-)

Only two of my adult children and their family were able to come to the party. My eldest sisters daughter came, along with her family as well. And, my brothers son came too.

Mum and Dad with all the grandchildren and great grandchildren that came to Dad's party.

Mum and Dad with all the grandchildren and great grandchildren that came to his party.

It was so good to be able to have all our immediately family together again. A great opportunity to get a group photo!

From Left to right - Myself (the baby of the family), Kerry (2 years older than me), Dad, Mum, Judy the eldest, Lynday (two years younger than Judy), and Rodney (the middle child and only boy of the family)

From Left to right – Myself (the baby of the family), Kerry (2 years older than me), Dad, Mum, Judy the eldest, Lynda (two years younger than Judy), and Rodney (the middle child and only boy of the family)

So I titled this post ‘The seasons of life’, because of the fact that my Dad and Mum are in the ‘Winter’ season of their lives. Thankfully they are well and still having a great time of ‘living’, although Mum is a little slower nowadays. I really can’t imagine life without my precious Mum and Dad to chat to, have our weekly family dinner time together, and have their continued input into my life. I have been blessed to have them both as my parents, and I am so very thankful.

Both Robin and myself (and all my siblings) are now in the ‘Autumn’ season. The times of our lives have gone so fast. When I was younger and surrounded with lots of children, each demanding my time and energy in some way or another, and I was frequently tired; people used to say to me that these years would pass before you knew it, and your children would be all grown up and left home. In fact, sadly, because of the busyness of life, I often wished that those years of freedom would come sooner. Now, I would love to go back in time and live through those years again. It was a wonderful life and I loved being a Mum to my young children. I loved the feeling of being vitally important in their lives. Now they are individuals, adults that are making their own way in life. Each unique personality doing it their own way, and I am so proud of them all. I am still important to them, but in a completely different way. And that is healthy. That is the way it should be!

Celebrate the seasons of life people. They move along so fast, they really do!  Memorise as many moments as you can along the way. Take heaps of photos, and journal your life. It will all be great to look back on, especially as you enter the less energetic seasons of life.

Yet in this Autumn season, there is still so much to look forward to. Robin and I now have the ability to make decisions about our lives, that no longer impact our ‘children’ like they used to. We can make plans for holidays together, have evenings out regularly, and generally do as we please. Does this sound selfish? I see it as a reward for selflessly parenting our children first and foremost during their formative years, and into adulthood. We can now become a ‘couple’ again, and enjoy the wonders of discovering life together as a couple.

Yes! This season of life is great!

PS…. As part of my celebrating ‘who I am’ in my Autumn years, I have decided to let my grey show! It has been a great topic of discussion, I can tell you. But I am happy with who I am. I don’t feel the need to impress anyone, or feel I need to try to keep young looking. I am actually loving my hair, and wish it was actually white all over. And you know what…. it is very freeing 🙂

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The Disappearing Nine Patch

I can’t believe it! I have made another blanket! I’m really on a roll at the moment, and thoroughly enjoying myself.

This time I used the disappearing nine patch block for the main part of the quilt and then added a border and binding. The material is a Riley Blake fabric and is very pretty and bright. I’m not actually sure if I will give the blanket away or keep it for myself to enjoy. I have never made one for myself as I usually have a person in mind, or a reason for making the blanket before I start.

Here are the instructions…

I chose nine different fabrics with the 'busy' fabrics placed in each corner. These are the squares that remain whole and I wanted the pattern to be complete. I wished I had replaced the left middle fabric with one that was more of a plain fabric, but as it matched perfectly, I thought it would be okay :-)

I chose nine different fabrics with the ‘busy’ fabrics placed in each corner. These are the squares that remain whole and I wanted the pattern to be complete. I wished I had replaced the left middle fabric with one that was more of a plain fabric, but as it matched perfectly, I thought it would be okay :-)

Firstly sew the rows and press the seams in opposite directions. This helps them fit together nicely and the sewn lines to join up when you sew the rows together.

Firstly sew the rows and press the seams in opposite directions. This helps them fit together nicely and the sewn lines to join up when you sew the rows together.

The nine squares have now been sewn together and pressed. Can you see how the seams fit together nicely. That is the aim, so when you top stitch at the end, the lines are straight :-)

The nine squares have now been sewn together and pressed. Can you see how the seams fit together nicely. That is the aim, so when you top stitch at the end, the lines are straight :-)

This is the exciting stage. The nine squares are now cut directly in the middle in both directions as shown.

This is the exciting stage. The nine squares are now cut directly in the middle in both directions as shown.

The cut 'new' squares can now be placed together again. You can put them in any direction as you like. Try them all out to see what you like best before you start to sew them together again.

The cut ‘new’ squares can now be placed together again. You can put them in any direction as you like. Try them all out to see what you like best before you start to sew them together again.

I chose to have the two little yellow squares opposite each other in the middle and the other two at the far corners.

I chose to have the two little yellow squares opposite each other in the middle and the other two at the far corners.

I have placed all the fabric pieces together to get an idea of the finished pattern. I liked this layout so next stage is to sew them together. I sew each row, and then join the rows up. Making sure to press the seams after sewing. The rows have the seams ironed laying opposite directions. This is to help the joins to fit together nicely when you sew the rows together

I have placed all the fabric pieces together to get an idea of the finished pattern. I liked this layout so next stage is to sew them together. I sew each row, and then join the rows up. Making sure to press the seams after sewing. The rows have the seams ironed laying opposite directions. This is to help the joins to fit together nicely when you sew the rows together (as I did with the first nine squares)

All sewn together and pressed. I'm loving these bright colours!

All sewn together and pressed. I’m loving these bright colours!

A bigger photo so you can see the overall pattern.

A bigger photo so you can see the overall pattern. Here is where I realised that the red pattern square, that I chose to be cut up, was still a bit too bold. It has blended into the main red square too much and made them both a little too busy. Never mind. I won’t do that again!

I decided to make my border the same width as the squares that I started with in the beginning.

I decided to make my border the same width as the squares that I started with in the beginning.

I have fast tracked the project. If you want to see how to put the wadding and backing material onto the patchwork, you can look at my previous blog post. I did do one thing different this time though... As it was a larger blanket, I used fabric spray on glue to help hold the materials together. It washes out and causes no long term damage to the blanket, but it certainly makes life a whole lot easier when it comes to the top stitching :-)

I have fast tracked the project. If you want to see how to put the wadding and backing material onto the patchwork piece, you can look at my previous blog post. I did do one thing different this time though. As it was a larger blanket, I used fabric spray on glue to help hold the materials together. It washes out and causes no long term damage to the blanket, but it certainly makes life a whole lot easier when it comes to the top stitching :-)

And here is the finished blanket with a cute little narrow yellow binding. This blanket is a 1 and 3/4 meter square one. Plenty big enough to cuddle under :-)

And here is the finished blanket with a cute little narrow yellow binding. I used the ‘Stitch in the ditch’ method of top stitching. This is when you sew right on top of the seam. The stitch line just disappears down into the stitched seam, but makes the blanket hold together firmly. On the back the stitching looks like a big graph and is neat and tidy! This blanket is a 1 and 3/4 meter square one. Plenty big enough to cuddle under :-)

And with the little pieces of fabric that I had left over I made a pillow to match! I'm rather proud of how they both turned out. The pillow was just little strips sewn together and the red used as a filler to make them square :-)

And with the little pieces of fabric that I had left over I made a pillow to match! I’m rather proud of how they both turned out. The pillow was just little strips sewn together and the red used as a filler to make them square :-)

The fabric that was left over from the two blankets I wrote about in my previous blog post, made two lovely pillows. The one on the left I used the same process as the blankets, but the one on the right is another design which I will demonstrate in another blog post. It is really easy and looks great!

The fabric that was left over from the two blankets I wrote about in my previous blog post, made two lovely pillows. The one on the left I used the same process as the blankets, but the one on the right is another design which I will demonstrate in another blog post. It is really easy and looks great!

Now you can try out the disappearing nine patch block on your own blanket. I suggest you make a little babies blanket first so you can practice before commencing a larger one. It really isn’t hard and looks great when finished. It’s one of the first block patterns that I tried, and I have been really happy with the finished blankets. If you look up patchwork in the categories, you can see my previous quilts and blankets. See if you can find the other disappearing nine patch ones 🙂

 

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The Creative Juices Are Flowing

There is nothing like a baby being born to get me in the mood to create!

Over the years I have made hundreds (a slight exaggeration) of bibs, cuddle blankets, leggings, little tops, cardigans and bootees. And, if you search through my past blog entries you will see that for my youngest three grandchildren, I made each of them a crochet blanket, and I also made them patchwork ones.

Robins niece had her second little baby girl on the 18th of April. It’s nearly a month later, and today I finally popped in to meet little Fable and give her our gift! I spent all day yesterday finishing the blanket off, and it turned out great! (even if I must say so myself) I was so happy with the finished blanket that I thought I would share the process with you, my reader. There are often little tricks with Patchwork that make something that looks very complicated, actually quite easy to put together. Of course the material choices make quite a difference to the finished product as well, and that is often trial and error. Luckily the combination of fabrics looked great this time.

Awhile ago Spotlight had a sale on and I purchased 8 different materials that would blend together, and about a quarter of a metre of each one. I then purchased two different plain fabrics that matched one of the colours in the fabric pieces. I got approximately a metre and a half or two metres of this solid colour fabric.

So here are the instructions…

Firstly I cut the 8 different materials into 3 inch strips (each is the full width of the material). I then match two groups of four strips. Here are the blue/green strips.

Firstly I cut the 8 different materials into 3 inch strips (each is the full width of the material). I then match two groups of four strips. Here are the blue/green strips.

Keep the colours in order I sew them together with a quarter inch seam.

Keeping the colours in order, I sew them together with a quarter inch seam.

The last of the pink/yellow selection sewn together.

The last of the pink/yellow selection sewn together.

And you end up with two long strips, each of four different materials. Please note these have been pressed neatly. I have my iron out and going the whole time I sew, and press the materials frequently.

And you end up with two long strips, each of four different materials. Please note these have been pressed neatly. I have my iron out and going the whole time I sew, and press the materials frequently.

Now to measure and cut. Even up the ends of the strips first.

Now to measure and cut. Even up the ends of the strips first.

You need to cut the material up as wide as it is high, right along the long strip. I got four big squares off each one.

You need to cut the material up as wide as it is high, right along the long strip. I got four big squares off each one.

Here are the two groups of four squares.

Here are the two groups of four squares.

Keeping the patterns in order line them up beside each other with one colour group having its stripes going at a 90 degree angle.

Keeping the patterns in order line them up beside each other with one colour group having its stripes going at a 90 degree angle.

Put the two different ones together with the right sides facing each other and sew a quarter inch seam right around the outside of the square.

Put the two different ones together with the right sides facing each other and sew a quarter inch seam right around the outside of the square.

Sew neatly around the outside edge :-)

Sew neatly around the outside edge :-)

From corner to corner cut with your rotary blade, then spin around and cut the opposite diagonal.

From corner to corner cut with your rotary blade, then spin around and cut the opposite diagonal.

You should end up with your large square cut into four like this!

You should end up with your large square cut into four like this!

Press the seams and turn over. Voila! Look at that! Aren't they so pretty! These four have been placed making a little mixed square in the centre.

Press the seams and turn over. Voila! Look at that! Aren’t they so pretty! These four have been placed making a little mixed square in the centre.

Or you could place them with the little triangles to the outer corner. Or you could mix them up totally. The last way is extremely hard to keep control of when sewing together. I get lost! So I kind of like to still have some order (among the chaos).

Or you could place them with the little triangles to the outer corner. Or you could mix them up totally. The last way is extremely hard to keep control of when sewing together. I get lost! So I kind of like to still have some order (among the chaos).

Once all four big squares have been cut up, place them together again in the way that you want to sew them up.

Once all four big squares have been cut up, place them together again in the way that you want to sew them up.

Sew up each row making sure to press the seams once finished.

Sew up each row making sure to press the seams once finished.

Then sew the four rows together. Don't they look pretty :-)

Then sew the four rows together. Don’t they look pretty :-)

On this blanket I chose the green with little pink flowers for the first border. Sew on the top and bottom first and then the edges. Make sure to slightly stretch the material as you sew. This makes it easier for the quilt to keep shape, and for the top stitching later on.

On this blanket I chose the green with little pink flowers for the first border. Sew on the top and bottom first and then the edges. Make sure to slightly stretch the border material as you sew. This makes it easier for the quilt to keep shape, and for the top stitching later on.

My next border was a very cute yellow tree pattern sewn exactly the same way as the green border.

My next border was a very cute yellow tree pattern sewn exactly the same way as the green border.

Because this is a smallish quilt (or blanket) there is no need to top stitch through all layers. On this one I have added the wadding to the back, and if you look closely, I have top stitched through both of the layers. This keeps the blanket looking neat and holding together well after many washes. There are many ways that you can top stitch on a quilt. I have just made quarter inch lines alongside the seams and it looks very tidy.

Because this is a smallish quilt (or blanket) there is no need to top stitch through all layers. On this one I have added the wadding to the back, and if you look closely, I have top stitched through both of the layers. This keeps the blanket looking neat and holding together well after many washes. There are many ways that you can top stitch on a quilt. I have just made quarter inch lines along each side of the seams and it looks very tidy.

Now I have added the backing and finished the outer rows of top stitch through all the three layers.

Now I have added the backing and finished the outer rows of top stitch through all the three layers.

The next stage is the binding. I cut three inch strips and joined them together to make one big long strip. Fold it in half and iron the fold.

The next stage is the binding. I cut three inch strips and joined them together to make one big long strip. Fold it in half and iron the fold.

With the cut edges together sew the binding on stopping about a quarter of an inch from the corner and sew diagonally off the edge.

With the cut edges together sew the binding on stopping about a quarter of an inch from the corner and sew diagonally off the edge.

Turn the cloth around and fold the binding to have a straight edge along the top, then just recommence sewing the seam.

Turn the cloth around and fold the binding to have a straight edge along the top, then just recommence sewing the seam.

Iron the binding out from the edge and fold it around to the back. At the corners fold the binding in the same way as you did when you were sewing and they will just fit together nicely. I then stitch in the ditch on the front of the blanket, and it catches the back and sews the binding down neatly. you can hand stitch this part if you want the stitching to be completely hidden.

Iron the binding out from the edge and fold it around to the back. At the corners fold the binding in the same way as you did when you were sewing and they will just fit together nicely. I then stitch in the ditch on the front of the blanket, and it catches the back and sews the binding down neatly. you can hand stitch this part if you want the stitching to be completely hidden.

And here are the two quilts that I made in two days. I must admit that each one took all day, but they were wet days and not a lot else could be achieved, except housework! And that is always there anyway!

And here are the two quilts that I made in two days. I must admit that each one took all day, but they were wet days and not a lot else could be achieved, except housework! And that is always there to do anyway!

All folded up ready to be given to two very special little babies. Fable got the green edged one, and Zoe got the pink edged one.

All folded up ready to be given to two very special little babies. Fable got the green edged one, and Zoe got the pink edged one.

Now I find that there is no greater pleasure than to give a gift that you have hand crafted. I pour my love into the blanket as I sew it up and I imagine the little baby that I am making it for, laying on it, kicking their little feet happily. I pray a little blessing on the child and hope that the Mummy enjoys seeing her child playing on the pretty blanket.

I also get a great sense of satisfaction seeing how the colours and patterns fit together. These two blankets had the inside panels the same and yet the outside borders were completely different creating a unique blanket for each child.

I hope that the instructions are clear enough and you can now be bold enough to attempt your very own patchwork quilt or blanket. Let me know how it goes! Send me a photo of your one finished so I can enjoy the colours and patterns that  you have created.

ENJOY 🙂

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Creations and Celebrations

The first half of our year is full of celebrations starting with Robin’s birthday on the 2nd of January. This year was his 60th and we celebrated his day with a lovely wine tour in the north of Sydney!

My 60 year old man :-)

My 60 year old man :-)

Celebrating Robin! All the family together minus Simon, Stacie and their three children!

Celebrating Robin! All the family together minus Simon, Stacie and their three children!

Joanna’s birthday was on the 15th of January and Jayden James turned 9 on the 29th. Within that week we had Ella turn 1 on the 4th and then on the very next day Casey turned 9! Phew! But that doesn’t end the February birthdays. Leeara and Jessica both had milestone birthdays, with Leeara turning 18 and Jessica 21 on the 24th! Yes they share the same birthday. Leeara is now at University, and we are very proud of the beautiful young woman she has become 🙂

Jessica’s 21st was a biggie! And I decided to do most of the decorating myself! And did I have fun!

Let’s start with the cake…

So first of all I made two Caramel Cakes for the bottom of the whole birthday cake

So first of all I made two Caramel Cakes for the bottom of the whole birthday cake

I joined the two with butter cream icing

I joined the two with butter cream icing

And I covered them as best as I could with butter cream icing :-)

And I covered them as best as I could with butter cream icing :-)

Once the icing had hardened a bit I smoothed it out by putting baking paper on the cake and rubbing over it with the flat of my hand

Once the icing had hardened a bit I smoothed it out by putting baking paper on the cake and rubbing over it with the flat of my hand

Now this is the fondant I used. Approx $6 per packet. I thought that was a bargain compared to other brands

Now this is the fondant I used. Approx $6 per packet. I thought that was a bargain compared to other brands

And here is the cake with the fondant on top of the butter cream. I rolled it out flat and then with the use of my Ikea mat, I rolled both the mat and icing together, and then unrolled onto the cake. Gently rubbing with my hands to get the icing to mould around the bottom edge of the cake

And here is the cake with the fondant on top of the butter cream. I rolled it out flat and then with the use of my Ikea mat, I rolled both the mat and icing together, and then unrolled onto the cake. Gently rubbing with my hands to get the icing to mould around the bottom edge of the cake

I did exactly the same with the top of the cake only this cake was a vanilla cake. Separating some of the fondant, I coloured it with red food colouring. I then rolled the red out flat and cut circles and stripes and also stars for the lettering to go on.

I did exactly the same with the top of the cake only this cake was a vanilla cake. Separating some of the fondant, I coloured it with red food colouring. I then rolled the red out flat and cut circles and stripes and also stars for the lettering to go on.

I let the stars harden overnight onto the skewers and then put the lettering onto them

I let the stars harden overnight onto the skewers and then put the lettering onto them

And here is beautiful Jessica with her 21st cake!

And here is beautiful Jessica with her 21st cake!

I also made a welcoming blackboard gto celebrate Jessica. I actually copied this from a board I found on Pinterest!

I also made a welcoming blackboard to celebrate Jessica. I actually copied this from a board I found on Pinterest!

And with the help of my cricut and some vinyl and a white board, I made another celebration board :-)

And with the help of my cricut, some vinyl and a white board, I made another celebration board :-)

Instead of a birthday key, I purchased a blank black canvas, and along with a white Gel pen, Jessica's friends could write messages to her. This is now wall art for Jessica :-)

Instead of a birthday key, I purchased a blank black canvas, and along with a white Gel pen, Jessica’s friends could write messages to her. This is now wall art for Jessica :-)

I asked Robin to get some chipboard and I drew a huge number two and one on it. He cut them out with a jigsaw and I painted them black.

I asked Robin to get a sheet of chipboard and I drew a huge number two and one on it. He cut them out with a jigsaw and I painted them black.

Both the two and one were covered with photos of Jessica growing up :-)

Both the two and one were covered with photos of Jessica growing up :-)

And here is my gorgeous girl with her '21' photo board <3

And here is my gorgeous girl with her ’21’ photo board <3

We hired out a local club and had a wonderful evening together. Jessica is my baby and to think she is now 21 is unbelievable. Where have those years gone? Jessica is very talented, and a beautiful young lady. I am very proud of her 🙂

The birthdays haven’t finished yet! On the 18th of March we celebrated Luke’s 1st birthday with an amazing Star Wars themed party, which I have written about approximately three blogs down! Go have a look. It was the best themed birthday EVER!

The whole house was set up in a Star Wars theme to celebrate Luke turning 1 :-)

The whole house was set up in a Star Wars theme to celebrate Luke turning 1 :-)

In early April Daniel came to New Zealand with daughter Sophie, and while they were staying here, I decided to put on an early 1st birthday for her. Her actual birthday is the 21st of April, but she would be back home in London by then. It was fantastic having them both to stay so it really was a double celebration! I purchased ladybug table napkins and decided to make her cake to match them. Here’s what it turned out like…

The ladybug theme! Copied from the table napkins and plates :-)

The ladybug theme! Copied from the table napkins and plates :-)

The table set up for her party. We had family here to help celebrate and brought pizzas as well....yum!

The table set up for her party. We had family here to help celebrate and brought pizzas as well….yum!

Here's Daddy Daniel cutting Sophie's cake

Here’s Daddy Daniel cutting Sophie’s cake

And beautiful little Sophie with her cake :-)

And beautiful little Sophie with her cake :-)

Simon’s birthday was next on the 17th of April, and coming up next week is mine!

I think I may have a party???

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A Test Of Faith

In August 2014, I left New Zealand for our second son’s wedding in Poland. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that after the wedding, we went on a Tour of the Balkans, all of which is written about on here with many photos of the wonderful sights and places visited. After the tour I flew to London to Nanny our youngest grandchild for three months, followed by a wonderful Christmas in Sydney. I finally arrived back in New Zealand mid January 2015.

Before I left New Zealand in the August I noticed that a small freckle on my right forearm seemed to be a little darker than it used to be. I wondered if I should be worried about it, but decided that it only looked like a freckle and should be okay. I told myself it was moles that you need to be worried about.

Because of the position of the spot, it caught my eye regularly, and I would touch it and pray that it was okay and nothing serious. But it definitely was getting darker and it seemed to have a little line running from it.

This photo was taken on Robin's Birthday, the 2nd of January 2015. Can you see the spot? It had been on my arm for five months, that I can remember anyway!

This photo was taken on Robin’s Birthday, the 2nd of January 2015. Can you see the spot? It had been on my arm for five months, that I can remember anyway!

Here is a closer up view of it!

Here is a closer up view of it!

Our eldest daughter is a nurse and she remained in New Zealand while we had our overseas trip. We met up again four months later at our family Christmas in Sydney. As soon as Joanna saw my arm, she said that she didn’t like the look of the spot and that I needed to get it looked at by a Doctor as soon as possible. But I was in Sydney and still had two weeks holiday left!

This is the spot on the 24th of January 2015. Still on my arm, and I still haven't been to the Doctor!

This is the spot on the 24th of January 2015. Still on my arm, and I still haven’t been to the Doctor!

By mid February I decided that I really should get it looked at and went to my GP. He wasn’t too sure about it but had another Doctor run a clinic monthly who did surgeries for unusual spots or moles. And I was booked in to see him!

On the 2nd of April I arrived for my appointment and as soon as I walked in the door, immediately the Doctor said he could see why I had come, he grabbed my arm, and said that it is a Melanoma! He was almost certain, and so was his wife, his nurse! Oh my goodness, why had I left it so long to get it checked out? Please get your spots and moles checked people!

It was cut out straight away and sent for testing.

Now this bandage doesn't look too bad does it! But believe me he took a huge hunk out of my arm!

Now this bandage doesn’t look too bad does it! But believe me he took a huge hunk out of my arm!

Because I am on blood pressure tablets it bled fairly badly and needed internal dissolving stitches to help stop the bleeding. A clean dressing was put on a week later, and the stitches were removed a week after that.

A little bigger than I thought!

A little bigger than I thought!

So from one little mole to an inch long scar. But a scar I can cope with. What I was concerned about was that the Doctor said that if it did test out to be Melanoma, the most serious form of cancer, I could be dead within eight months! Oh, he also said that even if I had come along any earlier, and it was Melanoma, the prognosis maybe wouldn’t be any different. I had two long weeks to wait for the results!

Now for the emotions to set in! As a Christian, I knew and believed that God could heal! That Jesus took all our sickness on Himself when he died on the cross for us. I also knew that sometimes He doesn’t heal, that it isn’t always in His plan. So I was faced with the possibility that I may die a whole lot earlier than I wanted to! Yet I had prayed over that spot many times over the last eight months and I believe God hears our prayer. I also know of a couple of amazing Christians who died of cancer, even thought many people were praying for them. And I know people suffering the effects of cancer now!

I really was in Gods hands and had to trust Him completely for whatever the outcome. I actually wasn’t upset at the fact that I could die, we all are going to die eventually, but I was worried about the process of death (yet, still hoping that everything was going to be okay). I know that I have salvation, that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour. I also know that I have His Holy Spirit within, as a seal, a promise that I am a child of God. So I know that I am going to Heaven when I die. Yes, I believe in Heaven! But I also became more aware of the many people who have no faith in God, and no hope for the future, and are going through the same wait as I was. Is it cancer or isn’t it? Am I going to die? What are their thoughts about death, and heaven and hell? Do they think that when they die, that is it?

The big questions of life huh! I believe us humans are made of body, soul and spirit. The body is the flesh and bones. The soul is the mind, will and emotions. But the spirit of man is what relates to God! The Spirit in us is the hope of glory!

As we just had a long weekend, Anzac weekend, on the Friday I drove a three hour trip to Palmerston North to pick up my grandchildren and then the three hour trip back home to New Plymouth. This to be repeated again on Monday to take them back home. While I drive along, I choose to listen to podcasts. This time I listened to three different ones on the way to Palmerston North. I was so excited in my spirit when I listened to them because the explanation of Death, Heaven and Hell was just great and an applicable topic for me! I would love it if you my reader would have a listen and then leave your comments/opinions later on. I guess the sermons are for Christians, but I am sure an unbeliever would also find them great to listen to, ponder about, and maybe be challenged about, especially if you are facing a life threatening illness! And I don’t want any of my loved ones to miss out on this free gift of salvation. Your eternity depends upon it! Please listen with an open mind 🙂

After a L O N G two weeks, I phoned my Doctors to get the results of the mole and flesh that was removed. It was a Melanoma but in Situ! Which means that the cancer was contained to the mole region only. There was 4mm of clear cancer free flesh under the mole. I am now booked in to go and get a further piece of flesh removed as the preferred clearance is 5mm! Really that is minor compared to what it could have been.

From this experience I recognise the fact that none of us know what we could face in the near future. Our days are numbered, and we don’t know when our time is up. What we can be sure of though is where we will end up. The choice is ours to make! But it has to be made while we are still alive and living on this earth. Accept Jesus and His gift of salvation, or reject Him?

If you want to accept and believe I have a short prayer for you to pray…

Dear God in heaven,

I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness. I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin. You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved. Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour and according to His Word, right now I am saved. Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license, but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honour to you alone and not to myself. Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.

Amen.

If you just cannot pray this prayer of salvation, as you aren’t quite sure about it all, just ask God to reveal Himself to you and I am sure He will. He loves you 🙂

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Star Wars Party for Luke

We have just had the best birthday party ever!

Grandson Luke turned one year old on the 18th, and because his Dad (my eldest son Matthew) is a Star Wars addict, the theme for Luke’s birthday had to be Star Wars! You must know the conversation from the movie between father and son! This pillow is one of four Star Wars themed ones that are on Matthew and Rebecca’s sofa!

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Luckily Matthew has a very accommodating wife who not only wanted to make Luke’s birthday special, she also wanted it to be a celebration for Matthew as well. After all, Luke is the treasured son after two beautiful daughters!

Here is the birthday invitation.

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So the party planning began!

With the help of ‘Pinterest’ Rebecca began creating. One of the first things was a converted flip lid rubbish bin!

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Isn’t it amazing! A perfect R2D2!

And who would have thought that swimming pool ‘noodles’ and a little tape would make great light sabers? Look at this container full just waiting for all the little Jedis to have a training session during the party.

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And when ‘Luke’ the children’s party entertainer arrived, they all had a great time learning to ‘use the force’.

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The best purchase I felt that Rebecca had made in planning for the party was a long roll of black plastic. Originally designed for cutting into lengths as table clothes, Rebecca also splattered white paint on lengths cut for the walls to create Galaxy scenes.

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The main lounge became the dessert and Cake table and also the children’s dining area.

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The dining room became ‘Hutt Dog Station’ where we had yummy Hutt Dogs, cute little Han Burgers and delicious Pizza the Hutts to eat!

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The outside deck area became ‘Fueling Station Ergo’

And Rebecca purchased Star Wars accessories and labels to compliment the rooms that were set up for the party. Just look at the amazing entrance and backdrop for the photo booth.  The Fabulous backdrop was created by ‘Little Dimple Designs’.

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In this photo party boy Luke is in his mums arms (Princess Leia), with Leeara dressed as a storm trooper, and Casey dressed in style as well.

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And here is Dad, Darth Vader with his three children! (I told you it was the best Star Wars themed party ever!)

Now no party is complete without take home bags for the children. Just have a look at what these children got!

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And that wasn’t all…

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Very cute shaped cookies! Four different designs in each bag! And those cookies and even bigger ones were available for adults too, along with other theme based food 🙂

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These were all on the sweets table or dessert table 🙂

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There’s those cookies again and some with coloured fondant on top!

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Leia’s buns were yummy cinnamon buns. Isn’t it amazing what you can create with a bit of imagination!

And now the masterpiece…

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That is the most amazing cake! Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker on the top just make it! And it was the most yummy chocolate mud cake, rich and very moist! So delicious 🙂 Many thanks to ‘Cakes by Koo and Cupcakes too’

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The table setting for the cake was perfect! The labels were from a purchase Rebecca made from ‘Hello My Sweet’ via Etsy.

Singing Happy Birthday to Luke. I am sure he knew the day was all about him 🙂

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The adults drinks were well catered for, but look at these very cute drinks for the children.

No kids party is complete nowadays without a Piñata. Rebecca made her own one to fit the Star Wars theme. Nothing better than a Death Star to destroy and free the goodies from inside!

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Friends and family were invited to Luke’s first birthday and each family group made the effort to dress appropriately with the Star Wars theme. They all helped to make the party extra special 🙂

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How cute are these two little girls! And Mum and Dad look pretty great too 🙂

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We had a few Princess Leia’s at the party but all the outfits were slightly different. This little Chewbucca was fabulous at nine months old 🙂

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Yes, I think grown men like to dress up too 😉

We all had a fabulous time. And I am sure that Luke knew he was the main ‘little man’ of the day. He loved it! Not a tear all day but a very happy little boy who thrived on all the attention.

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Happy Star Wars first birthday to my very special grandson Luke xoxoxo

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Mummy Rebecca is a very clever lady and she can now have a well deserved time of rest and relaxation. Three children’s parties in two months are over and each one very successful!

Until next year Rebecca!

May the Force be with you 🙂

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New Plymouth – It’s a fabulous city!

I have been back home now for nearly a month, and I’m loving it!

It’s funny how you never really appreciate something until you have to do without it for awhile. The saying goes ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’, and although this saying is describing relationships, I also believe it covers things like homes, or familiar places, or towns. If you have been reading my blog over the past six months, you will remember that I left New Zealand on the 15th of August last year and didn’t return again until the 12th of January this year. That is nearly five months away from my country and home town of New Plymouth. Actually we live just out of New Plymouth at a small town called Waitara, but New Plymouth is just a short 15-20 minute drive away and is our nearest city, and yes, I love it!

Walking back into my home, I fell in love with it all over again. Yes it is old, and still has a lot of work needing to be done on it, but it is very comfortable, welcoming, peaceful, and spacious. It is our 16 year old renovation project that will probably never get finished, but it has served us well! It has been a family home to 5 of our 6 children and all the extras that they have brought here over the years. We have had many friends and visitors pop in to see us and maybe stay a day or more and I trust that they have felt the welcome, not only from us, but by the atmosphere that this house helps to create.

Look at this amazing view! This is what I see from my dining room table when the Wisteria is in flower.

Look at this amazing view! This is what I see from my dining room table when the Wisteria is in flower.

Looking across our deck towards the lounge French doors. The Wisteria is beautiful but does take a bit to keep under control.

Looking across our deck towards the lounge French doors. The Wisteria is beautiful but does take a bit to keep under control.

I have been thinking about why I am so happy to be home. Yes I do love my house and it’s in a great location in the country and yet handy enough to get to town within 20 minutes, so that is part of the reason. But I think it’s the fact that New Plymouth is such a fabulous city. We have everything here from a Mountain to the sea, and plenty of parks inbetween, as well as the fact that it is a great shopping city.

Let’s start with the view I see from my own front yard!

This is the view from my front deck. If you look through the tree you can see our Mountain!

This is the view from my front deck. If you look through the tree you can see our Mountain!

And this is the view of the Mountain from just across the road from our house.

And this is the view of the Mountain from just across the road from our house.

If I drive south for 20 minutes I would come to the small town of Inglewood. About 15 minutes away from my house heading towards Inglewood, I get this amazing view!

Our wonderful Mount Taranaki. I never tire of this view.

Our wonderful Mount Taranaki. I never tire of this view.

And every winter I try to get up the mountain to the snow at least once. It’s such fun to have our Mountain so close and to have the ability to drive up right to the snow.

A photo from our trip up the mountain last winter (2014)

A photo from our trip up the mountain last winter (2014)

And after a play in the snow and you are feeling a little hungry, a stop at Volcano View Café is great for food and play. With flying foxes available for use, and BIG carts to ride. The kids (and big kids) love it 🙂

One of the two Flying Foxes at Volcano View

One of the two Flying Foxes at Volcano View

There's a selection of Carts to ride :-)

There’s a selection of Carts to ride :-)

Leaving Volcano View and heading towards New Plymouth and the next place to stop would be at Lake Mangamahoe. This lake supplies New Plymouth with it’s water. It is very picturesque and also a great lake for hiking around. When you get there, you will find that you can get a great photo with the mountain in the background.

Lake Mangamahoe and Mount Taranaki

Lake Mangamahoe and Mount Taranaki

Another beautiful photo of Lake Mangamahoe with our amazing mountain in the background :-)

Another beautiful photo of Lake Mangamahoe with our amazing mountain in the background :-)

Next place towards New Plymouth is the ‘Meeting of the waters’. Here you can go for a walk to the river, swim, or take some rafts and get out on the river. It’s also a great place for a picnic, a walk or just for relaxation.

Take the family, the rafts and have some fun together at the Meeting of the waters :-)

Take the family, the rafts and have some fun together at the ‘Meeting of the waters’ :-)

There are plenty of places to have a picnic surrounded by lovely scenery

There are plenty of places to have a picnic surrounded by lovely scenery

We have the most amazing park right in the centre of New Plymouth that is very popular and well worth a visit. There are many magnificent trees and gardens all over the park, along with a Fernery house to wander through. There is also a playground for the children that has recently been updated with new playground equipment, and the children love it.

The flying fox at the Park playground

The flying fox at the Park playground

There are two big lakes. One with a fountain and the other you can hire row boats and take the family or friends for a row. If you would rather have coffee or lunch than get out on a boat, then you can go to the Tea Rooms. There you can sit and relax and also have a lovely view of the lake.

The main lake at Pukekura Park and looking at Poets Bridge. Just above the bridge you can see the Mountain. A very popular photograph to take :-)

The main lake at Pukekura Park and looking at Poets Bridge. Just above the bridge you can see the Mountain. A very popular photograph to take :-)

And here's Robin taking us out for a row on the lake

And here’s Robin taking us out for a row on the lake

The waterfall at the park looks great during the ‘Festival of Lights’ Christmas Season. The whole park is lit up over that time and is known about New Zealand wide. It is spectacular! There are also stages set up over the season and for a super evening, you can take a blanket, invite friends along and spend the evening relaxing and listening to the various performers on stage.

The lights on the bottom lake

The lights on the bottom lake

The top lake and poets bridge.

The top lake and poets bridge.

Another photo of the lights at the top Lake in Pukekura Park.

Another photo of the lights at the top Lake in Pukekura Park.

This is the grand childrens favourite part of the Festival of Lights. The ultraviolet lights :-) We all try to wear something white!

This is the grand childrens favourite part of the Festival of Lights. The ultraviolet lights 🙂 We all try to wear something white!

Walking through the park, you will end up at the “Bowl of Brooklands’. It is an amazing outdoor sound shell where we often have performers to entertain. There is nothing more special to sit on the hills with wonderful company, and listen to a well known band or watch a production/show. The Christmas at the bowl held each year is very popular and finishes off with a huge fireworks show.

This is the view from the stage! Imagine performing on this stage with a crowd seated all around in the grassy hills. Now imagine it at night with everyone holding candles. It looks amazing and has a great atmosphere!

This is the view from the stage! Imagine performing on this stage with a crowd seated all around in the grassy hills. Now imagine it at night with everyone holding candles. It looks amazing and has a great atmosphere!

And just up the hill from the Bowl of Brooklands is our very own zoo. Sorry but the most exotic animal are the monkeys, but it’s still a great zoo. It has a fantastic playground and is very good for young children. With gates and both ends, young Mums can relax while the children have fun in a safe environment. There are some elephants there but only the type seen in the next photo 😉

The three grand children with the elephants at Brooklands Zoo.

The three grand children with the elephants at Brooklands Zoo.

We have a famous garden just west of New Plymouth in the mountain range called The Pukeiti Rhododendron Gardens. Every year we have the Rhododendron Festival and it happens during the flowering season of the trees. Hundreds of tourists come into New Plymouth to visit the gardens and Pukeiti is extremely popular.

On your way to Pukeiti, call in for a stop over at Puakai Animal Farm. The children love it, especially to see the white tiger. And look at that mountain view!

On your way to Pukeiti, call in for a stop over at Puakai Animal Farm. The children love it, especially seeing the white tiger. And look at that mountain view and the mountain ranges!

Wandering through the grounds at Pukeiti Gardens

Wandering through the grounds at Pukeiti Gardens – Not at flower time unfortunately

After visiting Pukeiti, it’s just a ‘short’ drive downhill towards the sea and you arrive at Oakura. The best place to go for the New Years day beach carnival. Nearby is the river that is a favourite for swimming, games and BBQ teas.

The grandsons are enjoying the river on a lovely summers day.

The grandsons are enjoying the river on a lovely summers day.

You can carry on driving towards New Plymouth and visit Back Beach. Its a bit of a climb down and more of a climb back up but the beach is great, and at low tide you can walk over to one of the sugar loaf islands. But make sure you get back to the mainland before the tide turns. You can get caught out very quickly and end up stuck on the island!

Right next to Back Beach is Paritutu Rock. And it’s a huge rock! I have climbed it about three times (I don’t like heights!). Robin was very game and took the grandsons to the top!

Yes, it's not a climb for the fainthearted! But well worth the effort :-)

Yes, it’s not a climb for the fainthearted! But well worth the effort :-)

At the top with the view towards New Plymouth and the coast North.

At the top with the view towards New Plymouth and the coast North.

The wonderful view from the top of the coastline towards Oakura.

The wonderful view from the top of the coastline towards Oakura.

Once you get to Paritutu, you are nearly at Port Taranaki. It’s just down the road and good for a look, and then play on the black sand, or swim at Ngamotu Beach. Follow the coastal road and you come to three of our lovely well visited cafes! All with seaside views!

The boys love the breakwater. Plenty of rocks to climb and usually a fisherman or two to see the fish they catch :-)

The boys love the breakwater. Plenty of rocks to climb and usually a fisherman or two to see the fish they catch :-)

After a lovely stroll along the breakwater, you can find the start of our fabulous New Plymouth walkway! It is 12.7 Kms long and every step is worth the walk. There are magnificent views along the whole pathway. For all the information on the walkway please copy and paste the NPDC link below.

http://www.newplymouthnz.com/OurDistrict/Attractions/CoastalWalkway.htm

Robin and I with our bikes at the breakwater ready to bike along the walkway/bikeway :-)

Robin and I with our bikes at the breakwater ready to bike along the walkway/bikeway :-)

The start of the walkway from the breakwater end :-)

The start of the walkway from the breakwater end :-)

One of the amazing views along the wak. This one is just before you get to Kawaroa Park

One of the amazing views along the way. This one is just before you get to Kawaroa Park

These are the rock pools at Kawaroa. The kids love to look to see if they can find crabs or starfish.

These are the rock pools at Kawaroa. The kids love to look to see if they can find crabs or starfish.

This photo is getting closer to the centre of town. You can see our windwand which has become a landmark icon in New Plymouth

This photo is getting closer to the centre of town. You can see our windwand which has become a landmark icon in New Plymouth

And looking back towards the Port, the Chimney, Paritutu Rock and the Sugar Loaf Islands

And looking back towards the Port, the Chimney, Paritutu Rock and the Sugar Loaf Islands

This is the best spot to stop and reflect on our beautiful city, the joy of the walkway and the wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean. Love New Zealand, Love New Plymouth and I love my daughter :-)

This is the best spot to stop and reflect on our beautiful city, the joy of the walkway and the wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean. Love New Zealand, Love New Plymouth and I love my daughter :-)

Look at the view! The walkway changes from concrete to wood at various places!

Look at the view! The walkway changes from concrete to wood at various places!

You can take the path up to a car park and town or carry on towards East End Beach.

You can take the path up to a car park and town or carry on towards East End Beach.

This photo is taken between East End Beach and the Wind Wand walking the other direction

This photo is taken between East End Beach and the Wind Wand walking the other direction

Sitting and relaxing and enjoying the view! Just what you do when on the walkway!

Sitting and relaxing and enjoying the view! Just what you do when on the walkway!

Playing at East End Beach and the rock pools at low tide.

Playing at East End Beach and the rock pools at low tide.

At East End you can veer off on the Te Henui walkway. You cross over the river and walk under the main road and further along behind houses and through parks to a total of 5.9 Kms.

At East End you can veer off on the Te Henui walkway. You cross over the river and walk under the main road and further along behind houses and through parks to a total of 5.9 Kms.

More very picturesque moments on the Te Henui walkway :-)

More very picturesque moments on the Te Henui walkway :-)

Back on the Coastal Walkway and moving along to Fitzroy Beach. A great spot for swimming and playing in the black iron sand :-)

Back on the Coastal Walkway and moving along to Fitzroy Beach. A great spot for swimming and playing in the black iron sand 🙂 See Paritutu, the Chimney and the Sugar Loaf Islands in the background!

Look at our great Iron Sand. But be aware it gets very hot when it is dry and in the sunshine

Look at our great Iron Sand. But be aware it gets very hot when it is dry and in the sunshine

Next best place is the Waiwakaiho River mouth. A great spot for fishing!

Next best place is the Waiwakaiho River mouth. A great spot for fishing!

The river doesn't mean the walkway must stop. New Plymouth has built the wonderful Te Rewa Rewa bridge. This bridge has been the object of many many photos, especially as it can be used to frame Mount Taranaki if you position your camera correctly, and the Mountain isn't hiding behind clouds!

The river doesn’t mean the walkway must stop. New Plymouth has built the wonderful Te Rewa Rewa bridge. This bridge has been the object of many many photos, especially as it can be used to frame Mount Taranaki if you position your camera correctly, and the Mountain isn’t hiding behind clouds!

We haven't framed the Mountain in this photo, but the bridge still looks magnificent!

We haven’t framed the Mountain in this photo, but the bridge still looks magnificent!

Keep riding or walking the walkway and look back and this is the view of the place we started, Port Taranaki, way in the distance. And, you can still keep walking right to Tiromoana Crescent at the end of Wills Road!

Keep riding or walking the walkway and look back and this is the view of the place we started, Port Taranaki, way in the distance. And, you can still keep walking right to Tiromoana Crescent at the end of Wills Road!

Now don’t you think that the next challenge you should give yourself is to either walk the length of the Coastal Walkway or ride your bike the distance. If you don’t have a bike you can always hire one from the people that hire them out near the café between East End and Fitzroy Beaches.

One day the Coastal Walkway will eventually reach to Waitara. From our place we can already ride our bikes along Brown Road and cross the walkway bridge at the Waiongana Stream, keep riding and end up at the back of the airport.

Wiongana Bridge

Waiongana Bridge

Grandsons throwing stones into the Waiongana Stream. It's actually more like a river!

Grandsons throwing stones into the Waiongana Stream. It’s actually more like a river!

I haven’t finished showing off about our wonderful Coastline and beaches and favourite places to go yet! If you keep travelling north and head off to Waitara, there is another river mouth with another great Beach. The Waitara one!

Grandson playing down at the Waitara Beach on a windy day. Look at all the driftwood!

Grandson playing down at the Waitara Beach on a windy day. Look at all the driftwood!

While in Waitara it's a great opportunity to go for a train trip to the Waitara Road Station and back with the Waitara Railway enthusiasts.

While in Waitara it’s a great opportunity to go for a train trip to the Waitara Road Station and back with the Waitara Railway enthusiasts.

The children love it and with the stop for refreshments, the adults do too :-)

The children love it and with the stop for refreshments, the adults do too :-)

If you still want to see more beaches you can venture further North to Onaero River mouth and Beach, or even further and go to the Urenui River and Beach. We’ve had many a BBQ tea and swim in the Urenui River. The mud flats on the town side of the river are a great attraction for the children, not so much for the Mums trying to get the clothes/swimwear back to their normal colour, I’m afraid!

The Grandsons enjoying the Urenui river.

The Grandsons enjoying the Urenui river.

So there you are! There’s still heaps more to see in our wonderful city and actually the whole province of Taranaki. So next time you go on holiday, don’t forget about New Plymouth, and you can visit the places I have shown and also discover some more places for yourself.

Robin and I have just joined www.airbnb.com as a host family. We’ve already met some super people from other countries. We love being able to share our big home and have some company, but what we love the most is having the opportunity of sharing our wonderful city of New Plymouth with them.

Now can you see why I said I am really enjoying being back home 🙂

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