Friday, December 30, 2011

Flowers: Hydrangea

Hydrangeas is part of me. When I was a kid in Tropical Borneo, I lived with my Grandpa who left China in his 20s. He told us fairy tales the same way as western children read in books. He spoke of the hydrangea flower which is known as the embroidery ball flower. In this fairy tale love story, when a girl comes of age, she would stand in her balcony and throw her embroidered ball to the young men waiting down in the garden. The young man who catches the ball wins her hand. I joked with Grandpa, what if an ugly fat man catches up, Grandpa laughed, he said, "Why do you have to ruin an aged old story?"

Hydrangeas became reality when I came to live in Auckland. There are bushes everywhere. In two houses we stayed. I had the light blue hedges, and I had lots of stories.

A hint to gardeners, I was told if you put tins/can at the base of the plants, the iron rust will make the flowers become a deep colour. I remember reading John Michener's book Hawaii doing that for their pineapple plants.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Skywatch Friday: Omaha beach wild wet weather

Our weather forecast:
Auckland: New Year Eve: Periods of rain, possibly heavy, 23C. New Year Day: More rain, northeasterlies, 22C

It is a repeat of the day my son went surfing I snapped this photo of the rescue tower. There was a braveheart family and the students learning to surf.

I wonder if anyone is out there today.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Be Natural Cereal

As part of the Kiwimummyblogs, I am invited to review products. I am given a sample to try out and I do not receive any financial returns. Here are some products that is part of a range which is free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.

As a believer of being healthy, I think this is a wonderful concept. I dug into the first pack, and ate them. It was the Pink Lady Apple and Flame Raisin. I like the apple and the raisin. It wasn't too sweet and just to my liking. It also has pink apples which makes it a pretty appearance. I also ate a bar of Berry and Nut & Fruit Be Natural Trail Bar. It was good.

However, as I read the fine print, I read on each of the 3 packs of cereal, "May contend peanut." That put me off completely, when you manufacture a product, you either know or you don't know, not "May be" as is a phrase commonly used by teenagers. I work in a school, and am very aware of peanut allergies. Besides, I am allergic to peanuts myself. I do hope the manufacturer will heed this.

With my own peanut allergy issues, I gave the rest of the boxes, Cashew, Almond, Hazelnut & Coconut, and 5 Whole Grain Flakes and the Be Natural Trail Bars to 4 persons. They enjoyed eating it. One ate it dry because he likes his cereal crunchy.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Watery Wednesday: Watering Van

I was, as usual, rushing to my dental appointment, when I stopped outside the car park. It was closed and workmen were fixing the pipeline. Here, I capture a van sprinkling water on the car park, presmueably not to let the dust fly everywhere. Little did I realise it was an analogy of what was to follow.

I wish I could photograph the sprinkler my dentist uses in my mouth. It has a jet which shoots the debri after she had scrapped away the tarter. I have receding gums, and my dentist suggests that a Waterpik dental water jet might help and massage my gums. My Sister G had one and it is very good.

I still have all my pearlies, and I am very proud of them. But my gum is not doing its job in holding them tight. I used to have stress dreams, my tooth falls out one by one upon contact, and I am left with a toothless gum, and a fistfull full of perfect teeth. That is very fearful.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Baccarat: frypan

I watch cooking shows, no, I like the contests in the cooking show. I love watching how the chefs put their frying pan into the oven, and wonder if my own cheap frypan can be put in the same way.

Many many years ago, I was with a very good friend whom I had gone to school with when we were 6. She made the mistake, and the handle came off. The whole kitchen smelled of charred wood.

Santa had seen I was a good girl this year. He told my friend C and she gave me a Baccarat Ceramix , a ceramic non-stick frypan. Now I can be a Master Chef.

The best feature is, I can put the frypan into the oven. Thank you C. I love you.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sunday Bridges/scenic sunday: Thermal bridge

My sis in law and her husband visited New Zealand. They visited Geo thermal Rotorua area. I have not been to this particular area. But I don't know if I want to cross this bridge. The water could be hot because they say you can boil an egg there.

I think I will pass. I am brave but not reckless. Last year, a 10 year old boy dropped into one of those bubbling mud similar to these and died. In another case, a German tourist went in a thermal area and never came out again.

Otherwise if you obey the rules, the thermal lands are a wonderful place to visit. New Zealand is a small place with all the wonders of the world packed in two small islands.

Friday, December 23, 2011


When I was growing up in Borneo, we had Christmas cards with red Poinsettias. We used to draw them. Once my mum grew them, but the leaves never became red.

Here in New Zealand, plant centres and shopping malls have them, and they are very attractive.

We moved to this new house. There was a stump where all the branches were chopped to the ground. As new shoots grew, I could see the Poinsettias leaves coming out. I thought of poor mum trying to grow her Poinsettias, and here, some one had chopped it off. As the bush grew, about 2 weeks ago, hidden at the base of the plant, I could see little red leaflets to confirm to me that it is a Poinsettia plant.

I monitored its growth, and here is the best I can show you. A shaggy Poinsettia flower, not the manicured ones you get from the garden centre. But it is precious to me. It reminds me of the last Christmas I spent with my mum. That Christmas in 1986 in Australia. Then Mum spent the rest of her Christmases in heaven. I miss you Mum.

Euphorbia pulcherrima, or noche buena, is a species of flowering plant ind to Mexico and Central America. It is commonly known as poinsettia (play /pɔɪnˈsɛti.ə/),[1] after Joel Roberts Poinsett,[2] the first United States Minister to Mexico,[3] who introduced the plant into the US in 1825. It is also called the Atatürk flower in Turkey.

The plant's association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson "blossoms" sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.[7] From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations.[8] The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.[9]

Poinsettias are popular Christmas decorations[2] in homes, churches, offices, and elsewhere across North America. They are available in large numbers from grocery, drug, and hardware stores. In the United States, December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

skywatch friday and Winter Solstice aka Dōng zhì aka Guo Dong

It was mid winter, cold and crisp. But the sky was very clear.

The Winter Solstice Festival or The Extreme of Winter (Chinese and Japanese: 冬至; Korean: 동지; Vietnamese: Đông chí) (Pinyin: Dōng zhì), (Rōmaji: Tōji), (Romaja:Dongji) is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during the dongzhi solar term on or around December 21 when sunshine is weakest and daylight shortest; i.e., on the first day of the dongzhi solar term.

In my Cantonese dialect, it is called GUO DONG. Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival is also a time for the family to get together. One activity that occurs during these get togethers (especially in the southern parts of China and in Chinese communities overseas) is the making and eating of Tangyuan (湯圓, as pronounced in Mandarin Pinyin: Tāng Yuán) or balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize reunion

These Tangyuan comes in various form. Most of these golf ball sized dumplings have a sweet filling like sesame seeds, peanut fillings, eaten either in a sweet syrup or dried rolled in a ground peanut powder. Of late, this festival is revived in Singapore with grand mothers and mothers invited to schools and community centres and demonstrate making these dumplings.

My small Cantonese dialect group, the Quang Nings make a ball of dumplings and we serve it with duck soup. This is served at the beginning of the special feast, in a small bowl of about 5 dumplings.

I never liked this because these glutinious dumplings are very filling, and sit in your stomach so you have no room for anything else. I kept this secret until about ten years ago, when I found out my Dad had the same idea. Mother had died prematurely at 60, and her sisters took care of Dad.

One particular year, just before my Dad died, my youngest aunt told me to take her shopping. She wanted to make these special dumplings for dad, as he had been living in Australia, and probably had not eaten these home made Tangyuan for a long time. She enthusiastically served a big bowl to Dad. Dad discretely told me to get a small bowl and give him one Tangyuan so he had symbolically eaten her precious dumplings. I LOl with him, both of us are guilty of breaking with tradition.

These days, you can buy frozen Tangyuan all the time. They no longer symbolise what they meant.

When I went to Singapore 20 years ago, there were a lot of children's Chinese singing competition. This MAI TANGYUAN or selling Tangyuan was a very popular song. Children dress up in traditional Chinese clothes. Do click on this .

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Herbal essences Set Me Up Mousse

As part of the Kiwimummyblogs, I am invited to review products. I am given a sample to try out and I do not receive any financial returns.

I normally use gel for my hair, but with this Herbal essences Set Me Up Mousse sent to me to review, I gave it a try before I went to a Christmas function.

I have short hair, and I dispensed a small amount, golf ball size of mousse into one hand and then distributed between my two hands. I then applied the mousse at the base of my hair near to the top of my scalp and brush from front to back. I blew dried and it created maximum lift and hold.

My hair looked very nice immediately, and I was very proud of my hair. It looked wonderful the whole evening.

However we just had a period of very wet weather. The mousse did not hold the next day and went limp.

I suppose, it is good for a wash and blow dry and is not meant to last beyond a day. Just as the product imagining says, " Let you set your style all day long, with a flawless finish that's just perfect for the party season."

The packaging too is nice with a sky blue colour.

watery wednesday: Omaha beach

It was wet and cold when my 15 year old had his surf lesson. I was soaking wet in my winter jacket while I watched.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Just Juice Orchard

As part of the Kiwimummyblogs, I am invited to review products.

It is summer here in New Zealand and hence a good time for summery fruit drinks. This Just Juice Orchard is one I would like to endorse. As a very discerning drinking, I like to have juice available during a party for people who don't drink.

I watch a lot of cooking shows, and pay attention to the judges advice that people eat with their eyes first. The new packaging of Just Juice Orchard comes in a slim, sleek package. My young 20 something friends say it is "Cool" Kudos to the designing team.

I tried all three juice, the Sun Kissed Orange, Farm Style Apple and the Summer & Kiwifruit. I served them in a tall stemmed wine glass to add the air of style.

The Farm Style Apple appealed to my taste, it is sweet but not too sweet. The Summer & Kiwifruit was very pretty.

There was something I didn't like in the orange. Besides, the moment I cast my eyes on the orange packaging, I said, Oh oh!, doesn't that resemble a old old brand from a giant country that likes to take little people to court over something that remotely resemble them? There was once small business in a small town in New Zealand who couldn't use their family name.

Otherwise, Good job and Ka pai. I like to go to a party which serves non alcoholic drink, which is healthy for you, and is very reasonable at $3.99 a litre.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Wisteria (also spelled Wistaria) is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae, that includes ten species of woody climbing vines native to the eastern United States and to China, Korea, and Japan.

It must have been the book Shogan where I read that Wisteria came from Japan. They grow beautifully in New Zealand. Once, when a vine was barren, I asked my friend, why grow Wisteria when you can't eat the fruits. Then when the Wisteria bloomed, I understood why.

When ever I see Wisteria, I think of some of my friends who had lived in Japan. I think of L.

Today, I got news that L, a very good friend is in hospital undergoing an serious operation in an overseas country, I thought of her.

L is a beautiful person,
L has a beautiful heart.
L wore this beautiful Swing Cardie,
I commented how beautiful it looked.
L took me to this boutique.
L didn't speak the language of the sales assistants.
They asked me what was I to her,
when she bought me the top.
I told her, she is a very good friend,
They commented, good friends don't buy expensive clothing for another.
I must be very special to L.

Dear L,

I think of you.
Get well soon.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Auckland Harbor Bridge- Clip-ons

I drove over our famous bridge "overseas" to North shore so my son can buy his used surf board. Right beneath this very spot, my second daughter "jumped" the bridge. I was there to see her bungy jump twice.

The bridge was originally built with four lanes for traffic. Owing to the rapid expansion of suburbs on the North Shore and increasing traffic levels it was soon necessary to increase the capacity of the bridge - by 1965, the annual use was about 10 million vehicles, three times the original forecast.[13]

In 1969, only ten years after opening, two-lane box girder clip-on sections were added to each side, doubling the number of lanes to eight. The sections were manufactured by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries of Japan, which led to the nickname 'Nippon clip-ons'. The selection of the company was considered a bold move at the time, barely 20 years after WWII and with some considerable anti-Japanese sentiment still existing in the country.[22] The costs of the additions were noted as having been much higher than had the extra lanes been provided initially.[13]

While doubling the vehicle lanes of the bridge, the clip-ons have been plagued by significant issues. In 1987 cracks required major repair works,[23] and in 2006, further cracks and signs of material fatigue were found. The clip-ons were originally to have a life expectancy of 50 years.[citation needed] Auckland City Council's Transport Committee requested Transit New Zealand to investigate the future of the clip-on lanes as part of its 10-year plan. Transit noted in this context that the plan already includes some funding for bridge maintenance.

My cousin L is a chemical engineer, and he climbs into the brdige to check it's well being every year.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yellow flower hedge in Auckland.

I walk around my neighbourhood and spy on this hedge with beautiful yellow flowers. Sorry I don't know it's name.

I hope it is not obnoxious like the privet. Do click my other post about privet which can make people very sick if they are allergic to them.

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