“Grief can destroy you –or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it’s over and you’re alone, you begin to see that it wasn’t just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.”
― Dean Koontz, Odd Hours

Christmas in the heart and Christmas in the air


It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. ~W.T. Ellis

I can hardly believe another year has nearly gone by. It just seems like yesterday that we were gathering the family together around the Christmas tree. Yet, Thanksgiving is behind us (I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving. Mine was lovely), my Christmas decorations are up and I have heaps of shopping yet to do. Honestly, I promise myself every year that I will get a jump on my Christmas shopping …but this is one area that I do not over organize.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love Christmas movies, Christmas music and the hustle bustle of shoppers. I enjoy sitting with the Christmas tree lit and my cup of spiced tea in hand…even though it’s not usually dark enough in NZ until well after 10 pm.

I hope that you and your family will have the loveliest of holidays this season.

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. Mr. Ellis had that so right.

So, don’t stress. Relax. Enjoy. Celebrate.

Do you have a family Christmas tradition that makes the holiday special in your heart? I’d love to hear about it if you wouldn’t mind sharing it with me and my readers.

My daughter and I like to spend Christmas Eve together in our new Christmas PJs and watch White Christmas.

It is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in my heart…how about yours?

high tea and me

20131020-222626.jpgtea parties…

i am an american…in america, we “play” tea party…little girls do it and as an adult, i was known to throw an adult-style tea party.

however, yesterday, i attended a high tea -my first. it was every bit as lovely as i imagined a real tea party would be when i would attempt one. i realized yesterday, that i was only ever “playing” at it though.

my husband pre-warned me that it was meant to be quite lady-like and i shouldn’t do any thing embarrassing (who me? Lol)

i felt out of my depth for sure!

that is a really good thing for me.

it challenges me.

new experiences drag us out of our comfort zone. they, also, open us up to some really great experiences.

beautiful ladies…

elegant china tea cups…

delicate danties…(ok, for my country friends…chow)…


sipping tea!

i think the English might just be onto a winner with this one!

it was great fun!

tea anyone? i think i need practice.

ridiculous but fun

20131020-221517.jpgyou know that person driving down the road who makes you wonder, “what in the world are they doing?”


well, that person was me…yesterday…

i couldn’t help myself.

the sun was out after a week of rubbish weather, great tunes playing on the radio, driving in my “ca” (or is it “ka”? NZers sometimes don’t say their “r”s), and…

i was jammin’!

i am sure it looked ridiculous…

but it felt good…

made my heart sing!

what does family consist of to you?


i do a lot of talking most of the time…in person and here on my blog.

tonight…i’m asking a question. what do you think a family consists of? how does your family, culture or country perceive family?

i have to say, “i’m gob-smacked tonight.”

i could not conceive in my mind that there might be a difference in interpretation when one speaks of family. yet tonight i called my step son’s maternal uncle his family and i was corrected and told he wasn’t family. really?

in my family, we ARE all family…aunts, uncles, cuzzies, in-laws, as well as my immediate family.

how does family work in your life? is it different than mine?

is your immediate family all that you count as family?

can you help me out here?


stewart island…the island of tranquility

island of tranquility/insight from a woman's heart

the island of tranquillity is how this destination is described. i am amazed that there is a place in new zealand where life is slower and simpler than what i have experienced since i moved to this south pacific island…yet, stewart island is such a place. approximately 400 people call it home. fishing, aquaculture, tourism and conservation are the main focus for this tight knit community. it doesn’t take long to understand why the inhabitants love this remote island. i would call it a little place but it’s actually the third largest island in new zealand. most of the island is uninhabited, untouched by civilization as most of us know it and it’s beauty is extraordinary.

DSCF9683we boarded the ferry in bluff to cross the strait. spontaneous is one thing i am learning to be in new zealand. we discovered that the ferry only travels once a day since it is winter -so instead of monday, as was planned, we scurried off on sunday. the weather was a little disappointing. when planning the trip, i envisioned sunshine and beauty all around. i was partly right…it was beautiful. i did my usual while traveling on the water…i was looking for a whale. sigh…there were none in sight. one day, i know i will be delighted and catch a glimpse of one of these magnificent fish.
the port was magical. the bay was full of fishing boats, wild life and silence. it was so quiet and peaceful.
Halfmoon Bay/insight from a woman's heart we found accommodation in a little cottage that overlooked the bay with this beautiful view. the only restaurant open on the island was the local “pub”. i am not accustomed to frequenting the pubs so this was quite an experience for me. the room was scattered with fishermen, locals, a few tourists and us. we sat for a few minutes and admired the view.

quiz night host/insight from a woman's heartbefore long, the place was full and buzzing with conversations.

we ordered our food and a woman with an english accent walked up to the table and asked if we were going to participate in the activities for the evening. activities? quiz night! my husband was shrinking in his seat but my sister-in-law and i decided that if we wanted the full Stewart Island experience…we should join in.

trivia is not my strong suit but i did get one question correct…after all, it was an american question-“what is the name of the creature who lived in the “dus-pin” on sesame street?” i needed to clarify what a “dus-pin” was (wouldn’t want to embarrass myself by getting it wrong). i raised my hand and asked, “what is a “dus-pin”…is it the same as a garbage can?” the room roared in laughter and the host replied in her best attempt at the “american accent”, “yes, a “dus-pin” is a gar-bage can.” there you have it, Oscar the grouch lived in the “dus-pin” on sesame street. 1 for dee!
DSCF9720the next morning was more what i imagined…sunshine to compliment the beautiful scenery. the morning air was crisp and salty. i just love the sea air.

DSCF9721i have to pinch myself sometimes when i think about how much i used to love traveling to the coast in america for the chance to enjoy the ocean breezes, deep sea fishing and playing on the beach. living here, i am surrounded by those things i loved so much about beach vacations.DSCF9726aquaculture is especially fascinating to us since we are marine farmers. i grew up in the midwest in the states so i am used to farming communities but aquaculture is such a new concept to me. the mussel and salmon farms were massive and intriguing.
DSCF9806look at all of the birds flying over the salmon farm!

DSCF9723seafood is a special delicacy…we couldn’t resist having a “feed” of oysters…look at the size of those babies!

DSCF9694there are monuments like this one in many of the ports in new zealand. they serve as a reminder of the men who woke on a typical work day morning and headed out to sea but never returned. i had never personally experienced this kind of loss until last year. our friend took some friends out to do some fishing. a rogue wave hit the boat and capsized it. by the time help arrived, he had lost his best friend and oldest son. it was devastating, heart wrenching. this memorial reads:

they shall not grow old as we that are left grow old

age shall not weary them nor years condemn

at the going down of the sun and in the morning

we shall remember them

the sea commands respect. she expects that you not tempt her and when she rages, you most certainly do not want to be in her path of fury.



apparently, birds like the brown kiwi, albatross, penguins and kia can be seen along the landscape of Stewart Island. i was able to photograph seagulls and oyster catchers (the black birds here) but my brother-in-law caught a glimpse of a couple of wee penguins scooting into the water on our last morning. i am told that there are many great white sharks near stewart island as well…those, i am not sure i want to see…at least not up close.


DSCF9908refreshed , it was time to head back home to bluff. i sighed deeply with satisfaction and prepared for the journey home…snapping a few final photos that i could share with my readers.


a boat trailer was lifted to the top of the ferry…we thought they were joking when they said we had to wait until a boat trailer was loaded before we could leave…really?

DSCF9953the ride home was a bit bumpy. actually, it was like being on a roller coaster. i would not see a whale on this trip as the sea was tumultuous. i did sit and watch wave after wave roll in toward the boat like mighty walls of water…then crash against the vessel as if to say we were intruding on it’s space. there was a strong sense that we did not belong in this environment…guests at the mercy of the wind and the sea. i watched the captain. he was calm and sure. i felt confident and turned my thoughts to enjoying the adventurous ride as if i were in an amusement park.

DSCF9894i was thankful for the chance to participate in the charm of the island of tranquillity. i gathered the memories and tucked them away in my heart. ready to resume my day to day schedule, the less simple life traded for the journey, i disembarked from the ferry and headed home.

if you are ever in this part of the world, you might want to put stewart island, the island of tranquillity, on your bucket list. i would recommend visiting during the summer (Dec-Feb) for the best chance at agreeable weather. this little haven will not disappoint….and you can say that you travelled to the end of the earth.

DSCF9721 DSCF9740 DSCF9855 DSCF9858 DSCF9857 DSCF9934

hope you enjoyed a small tour of the island…


what’s a girl to do? busy-ness

my week has taken a major turn. not at all what i had planned in my idealistic world of dreams. what’s a girl to do?

don’t panic. (see i really do say this a lot)


prioritise (I can spell…in New Zealand words with “-ize” are spelled “-ise”; and for those who have warned me about my spelling, i’ll add, words ending in “-or” are spelled “-our”. i’m not in Kansas anymore, ToTo).

normally, i would head for a few quiet moments on the beach and blog…but no time this week.

there are some big changes happening, plus my mad scientist husband has sprung a big project for work on me (oyster farm style). needless to say, there will be no pretty dresses or high heels in the plan for this week. more like head to toe seaweed, mud and ocean muck. i wonder if ocean muck has any surprisingly miraculous benefits for preventing ageing or wrinkles? a girl can hope.

while i will be up to my elbows in mud, i will have to postpone my planned post schedule…but i will attempt to post some encouraging or inspiring morsels as i can.

i believe everything happens for a reason so this is no different…there will be days…weeks…months…years…like this. you know what i mean, days like this seem to be forever long and feel like they go on and on. that’s alright…the best way to deal with it is head down, big girl undies on and go THROUGH it.

will that work for a plan? 😉

i do have a silver lining. yes, i do. my daughter found Fritos in a local store. why is that my silver lining? because New Zealand does not have many of the everyday ordinary American foods we are used to. just the other day i was daydreaming about Frito Pie (i must have needed some childhood comfort food). i thought, “well, that won’t be happening til i’m home for a visit”.

to my delight (and my daughter’s as well) we will be doing an American Frito Pie feast as soon as my week settles down. yes, a silver lining! simple pleasures can make all the difference in the world (& yes, i realise it’s a guilty pleasure and i will use it! 😎)

i certainly hope you have a fabulous week.

hope to see you soon.