Food Glorious Food

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Food is a huge focus in most folks lives.
It’s a pretty important thing.
And everyone has a view point about food.
Some don’t care, they just eat anything and everything.
Some care fixatedly and are extremely particular.
Some have deadly allergies
Some have intolerances
Some are just plain picky and ride on the back of those who have those allergies.

Me, well I just like food.
But I am very particular as well.
My food has to be good.
Really good!
I won’t pay for crappy fast food unless that is the absolute last option and I am at deaths door!

I have cooked and baked nutritious delicious food all my married life.
I have literally fed armies, fed the multitudes.
But when Tim was killed, my spirit to cook died too.
My confidence disappeared.
I relied on the kids to produce many of our meals.
It’s take me a while to get back on the planet in that regards.
Now we are off the farm and usually only 2-4 of us at home our meals have changed, simplified.
I use a lot of vegetables and not a lot of meat.
Because one of us is vegetarian, I tend to cook around her and then add meat according to what rest of us want or need.
And actually, I am finding that I don’t need or want a lot of meat any more.
I am ‘fussy’ in some respects which makes it so easy when I go out.
I don’t eat pork or venison because I don’t like it and I don’t eat mutton or lamb because no-one can cook it like Tim did 😉
I also try and keep my food as unprocessed as possible.
And I keep my sugar intake to a minimum.
I’m not religious about it, I have done being a slave to it.
Food is to be enjoyed, but in that enjoyment I try and make wise choices.

In our city house we have an oven which I am not familiar with, I hate using it, and can only usually succeed to get it operating if Mahalia is here to operate the switches!
So I cook mainly using the mini bench oven, the slow cookers, the rice cooker and heavy cast iron cookware on the gas stove.
We live on salads and stir fries of varying combinations depending on the seasons, combining them with potatoes in many disguises, noodles, rice, buns, etc.
The slow cooker is also a brilliant stand by, I can prepare a nutritious economical meal which can often last us for more than several days, once again combining with whichever carb you choose to make each meal different & interesting.

I don’t need to turn out great quantities of baking anymore so 6 muffins cook nicely in the mini oven.
These were made to Mahalia’s request using pumpkin puree, halloumi cheese and toasted seeds.
They tasted really good!
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And when you have roast veggies left over what better way to use them up than bubble and squeak with some organic farm eggs lovingly squeezed from Marah’s chooks by my gorgeous little grand daughters 🙂
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But being in the city also has another benefit.
We can eat other peoples cooking more often!
There are some wonderful cafes & restaurants here.
I especially love the cafe culture, the diverse range, the outdoor & street seating that our climate allows us to enjoy.
The thing I love about eating out is sharing.
Sharing time with friends.
Taking time out of the busyness of life and just stopping.
I love nothing better than to meet with a friend and spend time enjoying their company along with good food and great coffees.
I love exploring and finding new treasure troves, and returning to old favourites.
There’s one or three I have frequented recently deserve a mention –

The Baker’s Coffee Shop makes excellent coffees & exquisite pastries onsite.
Mahalia and I treated ourselves the other day, it is probably not a place I need to go too often because the pastries are just wickedly wonderful and self restraint is extremely difficult 😉
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7010 Your Local is another fav.
The cool thing here is that the food is different every day.
But each time it is just so good.
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I have to make particular mention of the relatively new La Capilla Restaurant.
Owners by head chef Takeshi, one of the best chefs in our region.
I recently took my lad out there for a special lunch.
He said it was absolutely the best meal ever as he pretty much licked his plate clean 🙂
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And of course, being a special lunch we couldn’t leave without sampling one of Takeshi’s delicious deserts each.
SO good!
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The other absolute fav place of ours is East Street Vegetarian Cafe & Bar.
If I want to keep Mahalia happy I just suggest going there for lunch, or dinner, or dessert, or…….. any excuse really and she is very happy 🙂
It has the reputation of being the best vegetarian restaurant in NZ and I agree whole heartedly.
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The ambience is retro and funky, the staff are super cool and the food is awesome.
Double thumbs up to this place.
Mains are exceptional and desserts are pretty darned good too.img_9824img_9825

A cafe that I don’t get too that often as it is on the other side of town is Blackbird Eatery.
It is tucked away inside a local gym and as it is only a couple of minutes further to the airport it is worth leaving a bit earlier for your flight so you can fuel up on the way.
It focuses on raw and fresh foods.
I was heading to the airport so enjoyed a get together with two of my girls here last week.
We did the afternoon tea sweet thing, the brownies were made from gf, df ingredients and were divine but we shoulda divided two among three of us as one each was a bit much for our relatively sugar free bodies.
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I popped down to Christchurch this week.
It was a very impromptu visit so I didn’t rush about catching up with everyone like I often do.
Pretty much focused on the business to hand and getting some much needed rest.
But I did manage to share a couple of meals out whilst there.
A pre show snack at Rendezvous Hotel’s Junction Bar before going to Evita.
Everyone else was eating platters of deep fried bar food.
As I said further back, I am personally trying to make good choices and too much deep fried or sugary food is not a good choice for me right now.
This beetroot salad was wonderful, the buffalo yoghurt and hazel nuts mixed with roast onion and beetroot was just perfect.
What I really liked was that they were willing to accomodate my preferences and swap some ingredients for another.
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I do have a couple of concessions which include the occasional glass of cider and a mocha.
The cider must not be apple, anything but apple!
And the mocha has got to be good – very hot, not lukewarm and milky -eeewk!
I walked on the Wildside with Nathan and enjoyed a Mandarin & Lime Cider while had had an Asahi beer.
He tried to convert me, but no, beers for me.
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Joe’s Garage in Rangiora was our second choice for dinner.
But as the first choice was closed for staff training we opted for Joe’s.
It was a good choice.
Not too crowded while we were there so fairly peaceful, staff were great and the food was pretty darned good.
Nathan proclaimed the steak to be perfectly to his liking and my salmon was delectable.
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I could not leave Joe’s without having a Killer Smoothie so had that for dessert.
My goodness, they are the absolute best smoothies.
Ever since my first one at the Sumner Joe’s Garage many years ago it is top of my menu choice whenever I have the fortune to find myself there.
It is basically yoghurt with black doris plums & honey.img_0155

Basically when it comes down to it, there is really nothing that surpasses sharing good food with good friends.
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Christine’s visit

I had a delightful couple of days with Christine recently.
She flew in one Friday morning.
It was a feast of friends and food.
First port of call was to visit Roni and admire the view of the snow topped Richmond Ranges from her apartment while she smooched up large wiht Malo.
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Barely home and we met Sue who had just walked Caspian.
She & Christine are old acquaintances so they walked to cafe 7010.
I joined them a tad later.
Lovely to sit in the sun and enjoy some lunch.
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For dinner Mahalia and I took her off to East Street Cafe to try and convert her to vegetarian ways.
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After we did justice to these amazing meals she was sold.
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We had to share two deserts cuz we were too full for three!img_9824img_9825

Afterwards we took her for a night time explore to the cathedral.
It is so beautiful at night.
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Next morning Mahalia went to rowing and then met Martin & Sylvia at the market.
We found them sitting like waifs and strays…
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so took pity on them and went to Suter for coffee.img_9912 img_9915img_9917

We walked home the long way stopping to chat with Gay and admire her arty garden.
She took the Sunday morning bus back to Christchurch but due to a horrific road accident they were diverted so she had a very scenic route home.

It was a lovely time – Christine loved our new home and my friends she met all passed muster.
Total seal of approval 😉

Loving my garden

We moved here in the spring – almost 2 years ago.
That first spring was spent demolishing the garden.
We are now 2 springs on from when the landscaping & replanting began.

Early September and the peaches and nectarine trees are beginning to blossom.
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Barely 2 weeks later and they are smothered in pink.
I hope this gloriousness means lots of fruit 🙂img_0009
Random splashes of colour are brightening the section
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The only tree left from the original front garden is the old lemon and it has bounced back with abundance from it’s very severe pruning.
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This morning I spent a couple of hours weeding and adding more plants to my under the jacaranda forest floor garden.
It is looking so lush and wonderful.
Just have to ensure the puppies stay out.
I have it fenced off because Caspian tears through it when chasing passers by on the other side of the fence.
He pays no regard whatsoever for my labour of love.img_0010img_0115  img_0116
On the other side of the boardwalk I’ve added some more hellebores along the back so hoping for lots of wonderful winter roses next year.
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And now there is spring rain gently watering – it was a timely planting session.

Farewells and welcomes

I returned home Friday, only to farewell our lovely Sibylle the next morning.
She has been an absolute joy to host and slotted into our family so easily.
We are sure gonna miss you, you bundle of Swiss sweetness xxxx
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Lenore & Ross had enjoyed their time with her & Mahalia as well.
They had been out on a few adventures sussing out some of the local scenic spots.
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We welcomed Anja a few hours later.
Also from Switzerland, and also had problems with connecting flights into Nelson.
But she eventually arrived and all is well.

Sunday morning I roused Azzan from his slumbers and we all went out to Melrose House for brunch.
It was a rainy day but still pleasant enough to sit out on the verandah.
The cafe is under new management but the food is still spectacularly wonderful.
The staff were delightful, made some new friends whilst connecting with them 🙂
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Mahalia was bemoaning having to share her smoothie with yet another flower.
Flowers everywhere amongst her food.
But so pretty Halia 😉img_9743 img_9744
The man of the house easily tucked away a decently proper man sized breakfast.img_9752
This beautiful young woman holds a very special part of my heart  xxximg_9754
Azzan headed off into the showery elements to walk the Grampians…. mmmm, maybe meeting friends was a preferable option which he quickly opted for  😉
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We took Anja for a tiki tour in the rain and ended up languishing on the floor in John & Sally’s lounge, in front of their fire.
It was very cosy 😉
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Phoebe & Sapphie came for a visit the next day.
Sapphire enjoyed some story book time with Nonna.
It’s not often she stays still enough so I made the most of it 😉
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Ross & Lenore packed up and said their farewells and headed south back to their land of normality.
It was so lovely having them here.
Thanks so much for all your help, and I am glad you were able to have a break, rest up and recover from your jet lag.

I am pretty much over mine now and reality is hitting :-/

Final farewells

We were up very early.
said goodbye to Evan at 6am, then Jesika and I were out the door by 6:30am.
Half an hour later I dropped her at work and took her car for a jaunt further north up the motorway.img_9650
I arrived at Jac’s in time to see Isaac before he headed off to school which was a lovely bonus.img_9654
Jan and I spent the rest of the day together which was a wonderfully special ending to my week.

At 2:30pm I had to do a mad scramble out the door and back down the motorway to pick Jesika up from work by 3pm.
We had a couple of hours left so went to a nearby mall and hung out.
Then to the airport, checked in my bag and with plenty of time up my sleeve Jesika took me upstairs to visit her Virgin Airline friends from her previous life.
It was so lovely to meet them and see where she has been spending so much of her time until recently.

All too soon it was time for me to disappear through the security barrier.
So some last minute selfies with my girl.img_9697 img_9698 img_9699 img_9700 img_9703
Sad to be leaving, but I will be back!!
Love you my darling one xxxx

The day was fading as I waited to board.
Farewell Perth, it’s been short but very sweet.
A very necessary and appreciated break from my normal normality.img_9704

My last night in WA

We took the afternoon off and retreated to the darkness of the movie theatre.
Apart from the two heads way down below we had the whole place to ourselves.
Which was actually good because we laughed and laughed out loud and nearly peed ourselves laughing while we rolled in the aisles some more 🙂
The movie – Bad Moms.
If you haven’t seen it you absolutely have to.
It is a life changer 🙂 🙂 🙂
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Then it was back home to organise my last supper.
It was a good night.
Sam came.
Which raised the tone immensely 😉
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The party stuff was still a happening!
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I was doubly delighted because Rory and Alaine were able to join us.
It was ultra special to meet my distant cousins in the flesh.img_9629 img_9630 img_9631 img_9633
It was a delightful evening.
Very relaxed, lots of chat and good food and great company.

The day after

Had a bit of a slowish start after the party,
Jesika was up and on the ball and wanting to go do stuff but Sam was wanting a bit more time to wake up.
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I did a spot of painting while she took her timeimg_9384
Then we headed off for brunch at Gesha Coffee Co.
Food was good, beautifully presented, but the service was ‘interesting’.
Seems to be something that is lacking in a vast number of Australian cafes ;-/img_9385
I opted for the salmon while the guys chose the big breakfasts.
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Blair & Evan bro-loving 🙂
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Cousins keeping a safe distance from the boys
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Afterwards Jesika drove Ev, Bud and myself up the coast for a sightsee.
It was very blustery and the wind surfers made a very colourful sight as they whizzed across the waves.
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We got stuck in the crowds for a wee while.
I had never experienced an AFL crowd before.
They were wearing purple, team colours of the Fremantle Dockers, droves of supporters  heading to the  Subiaco Oval to support their team.
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All too soon it was time to take Bud to the airport.
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And back home to collapse!img_9409

Sightseeing with Nicki

Nicki took me out sightseeing for the day.
First port of call was Parliament of Western Australia.
Whilst the back of it is architectural really interesting….img_9462
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….the front is rather sterile.img_9464 img_9465
Across the motorway we could see the Barracks Arch.
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It is the remainder of The Barracks which were built in 1866 to house the Enrolled Pensioner Force who came out as guards on the convict ships.img_9469  img_9471
This old concrete structure below parliament houses the public ablutions.
Despite it being rather grotty there were some great angles and lightingimg_9473 img_9474 img_9478 img_9480

Lovely to find a spot of brightness amidst the greyness of the day.img_9482
By the time we had explored the extremities, watched a media interview with an MP, we were rather tired and hungry so we made out way over to meet up with Judith.
We had a lovely lunch at Dome.
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Judith and moi.
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After Judith went back to work Nicki and I went for a wander around Subiaco.
Found this shop, never seen a San Churro shop before so was drawn in by the wonderful quotes and orangenessimg_9493
Down the street were a line of shops with matching stained glass windows that are rather beautiful.
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And a very ornate beauty parlour with the wee pooch on couch
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The magnificent Subiaco Hotel where Sam & I spent several hours the previous Saturday 😉
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Then it was time to say goodbye to Judith and head home.
Nicki & I had such a good day, so lovely to finally get to know each other in the flesh after connecting for the past 18months of mutual support via internet.

Parfois, tout ce dont vous avez besoin est votre meilleur ami……

Taking time out when life is so stressful can seem impossible.
But when there is a need and a want, things miraculously fall into place.
And for me the planets aligned so I packed my bags and boarded a plane leaving my darlings in the arms of special friends who have mine and their backs – you all know who you are – so thank you to those that helped to make this time away possible.

Even spending 2.5 hours in the local airport due to aircraft delays wasn’t arduous.
Yes, it was frustrating because it semi thwarted my plans along the way, but better to be safe on land than in the air in a malfunctioning craft!

Auckland greeted me with torrential rain.
But my friend met me and drove me to my hotel.
We spent the next two hours thoroughly enjoying each others company at Szimpla over good food & great service.
All too soon though the next plane was beckoning so we said our farewells for now and I retreated to my room.
I had been really looking forward to a quiet peaceful night all on my own but the reality of it all was rather boring.
I even checked out of my room early and had a delicious breakfast at Szimpla before catching the shuttle to International.

This time my plane was on time and after watching several Kiwi movies – Mahana which was good, and The Dark Horse which was excellent,  it stirred many emotions, produced a few tears, and is so deserving of much more recognition, definitely a must see again movie – 8 hours later I walked through WA immigration.
Gian was there to meet me, but behind him I saw another familiar face!
My internet friend and cohort Nicki had come to meet and greet me too.
Such a cool surprise to finally see her in the flesh.
The thing with internet friends is that there is no initial fumbling to gain a connection because you already have that 🙂
We had a few minutes to hug and make some quick plans to meet soon and then Gian whisked me off home.

Waiting there was my bestest friend.
It was so super cool to be back together with her.
Jacqui is my oldest and bestest friend ever.
She and I go so far back it is almost scary to scan those decades!
We’ve shared loads of highs and lows, good times and crappy times.
This is us at the end of our 5th decades.
I reckon we’ve weathered those storms pretty damned good!
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Jac was the only one who knew I was coming 😉

Next day, before I announced to the rest of the world that I was there we shared a plate of nachos at Coco Cubana.
Funky cafe with good food and service.
Loved the armchairs & decor.
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………………
and a week later I was back for a last day with my bestie.
Rousing her outa bed we went for a walk on the beach with Gian.
It had been a very wet cold week – Perth is experiencing the coldest winter in 20 years!!
So the sunshine this morning was so appreciated and enjoyed.
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I love that my friend has found her soulmate.
Sometimes it takes a while.IMG_9677 IMG_9679 IMG_9682 IMG_9684 IMG_9687
And all too soon it was time for that last farewell, the au revoir.
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I hate goodbyes when the physical distance is so far.
But our time together was incredibly therapeutic.
Thanks Jac – love you heaps and heaps x 10 hundred xxxxxIMG_9708