"Gratitude can transform common days into
turn routine jobs into joy,
and change opportunities into blessings."

William Arthur Ward

My Backyard Garden: Autumn Plantings & Produce

We have been busy raising the raised garden beds. We felt it would be better if they were higher (less back breaking), and so they have gone from being one sleeper in height to three.

This is the first of the actual beds that have been made higher, and in turn it has been filled and finished off with a planting out of Autumn crops. Hopefully the netting will help keep both much beloved pets and unwanted pests out of the completed raised bed from now on.

Chard, Kale, Feverfew, Beans, Parsley, Basil, Carrots and Cabbages have all taken up residence in this raised bed.

These were cabbage seedlings bought in the clearance section at The Warehouse. They are looking so much better now they are planted out in their new home in this raised bed.

A friend quite some time ago kindly gave me carrot seed she had saved as part of her own seed saving endeavours. They were the nicest carrots I think I have ever tasted! She informed me at the time, that if you save seed for three generations it becomes perfect for your own garden's conditions. This has certainly proven to be true, in our own experience to date. I hope this latest planting of carrot seed will be successful, and I can save seed for next season also!

I had to include this photograph again of the ample harvest of grapes we are having currently. I am going to look at juicing some of the bountiful bunches of Albany Surprise Grapes we have been so delighted to see on our grapevine this year. It will be wonderful to be able to freeze it, and have it as both hot and cold drinks in the months ahead.

This caterpillar was spotted today, on the other side of our boundary fence. We had a HUGE Swan Plant in the actual garden with little activity seen on it this year. However, this plant certainly had been visited at some stage, as there are a number of crysalis and caterpillars present.

One of several crysalis found attached to a range of plants other than the original Swan Plant the caterpillars would have started out life on. I will be interested to watch these over the next few days.

Lavender always makes me think of my grandmother and maternal aunt. This flower looked so stunning and delicate in the sunlight this afternoon. 

My Backyard

It is great when cuttings take! I recently struck several cuttings provided by a neighbour, and these were ones that took. There is something so happy about Impatience flowers. They bring such a wonderful splash of colour to a garden.

So many things are fruiting in the garden, and others are going about producing seed. When you stop and take note of all the diverse forms seed pods take, they are really quite interesting to behold.

A pot of plums. It just says 'Summer', doesn't it? We have been enjoying sampling them, and I am keen to look at making some plum jam soon also. This season we have had a lovely crop of plums.

It is just such a source of joy to wander out into the garden, reach up amongst a green canopy of leaves and find fruit ready for picking. There really is nothing quite like homegrown fruit, ready and ripened, and straight off the tree.

Christmas Shelf

With the countdown to Christmas in full swing, I have started to decorate in and around the house. It is always fun to get into the spirit of the season and put out seasonal decor here and there. It really does create a sense of festive anticipation, having some special and specifically focused seasonal ambience around the home for all to enjoy.

This shelf is in the kitchen and every time I walk past this display it gives me joy to see it set out.

I used the online photo editing resource Picmonkey to put together the framed text, and also for putting together the text for the wood block. Picmonkey is a really great online resource for making a range of printable things for around the home.

Most of the items used in the display were found while out op shopping over the past year. The ceramic angel was purchased from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

It is not long now until Christmas at all. Hope your own preparations are going well, Friends!

Emergency Preparedness 101

Okay, let's be direct and upfront about it: we all need to get sorted on the emergency preparedness front. Let's all stop for a minute, and be real about whether we have put our big girl pants on and actually done what needs to be done, in order to survive a significant civil or natural emergency.

Be honest, are you prepared?
Have you got what it takes to make it through a civil or natural emergency when it does occur?
Have you got a plan in place, that will help you and your loved ones ride out days without access to outside help and support?

Here in New Zealand, those who work in Civil Defence has been telling us for ages to get it sorted. We see all the ads, we get the flyers... and we can be guilty of doing little (or even frankly a big fat nothing!) towards being prepared in case of an emergency.

We quietly (and quite honestly, rather foolishly) think: It will be okay, outside help will come.

The reality is however, when disaster does strike, or a major emergency occurs that interrupts local civil services on a large scale, there is no guarantee whatsoever that what is currently taken for granted will be there at all.

Let it sink in: Help will highly likely not come for some time.
It won't.
You need to be prepared, Friends.
You need to get prepared and get a household plan and emergency supplies kit per household member sorted.
End of story.

I can confess that for a while some time back, I personally was tentatively trying to do something towards doing the right thing for our own household, and we stored some bottles of water in the deep freezer. But really and truly, that was pretty much it on our emergency preparedness front, here in my neck-of-the-woods. We are just as guilty about being inadequately prepared as many others would also honestly confess to be.

Yet, in the past weeks we have had more frequent reminders from the earth around us, here in good old New Zealand. Each tremor and unsettling shake with the re-occurring earthquake movements has reminded us, to think about having things on-hand in the form of more extensive emergency supply kits NOW.

Those earth tremors that we hear about, and the resulting damage they cause, need to motivate us. We each need to get a move on about putting together plans and actual collections of extra essential-to-life supplies set up. We need to get a move on, and get a plan and some resources sorted out NOW.

So how do we get going? How do we get even somewhat prepared from the get go?

Well, putting together a plan of action, and putting together a basic emergency kit per household member by putting aside an extra item or two each grocery shopping day, would be a good start.

There are sensible, wise people who have put up numerous blog posts and Youtube videos on what would be a good basic kit for each household member, in the event of an emergency. There are websites also with detailed information, and even products for sale, that are very easily able to purchased and collected over time.

Jennifer Morris is one New Zealand based blogger who comes to mind, who has graciously shared her household's checklists over on her blog. You can check out her blog post on the 72-hour emergency kits she put together for each member of her household for starters, and see how one local kiwi family are getting prepared.

 72-hour emergency kits

Useful things like solar powered LED torches can easily be purchased here in New Zealand off our Ebay equivalent online website, Trade Me.  There are a number of online websites specialising in long life food packs, and other particularly useful and essential items which would be perfect to tuck away in each of your emergency kits. 

Emergency staples such as long life food are good to look to include in each emergency kit. If you require Kosher or Halal friendly long life food, there are available to be purchased also. Such online websites as, supply long life food ration packs, such as these Mainstay brand Emergency 3-Day Rations.

Such items as water purification tablets, and even water storage containers, are all things to consider putting away in an emergency kit.  There are numerous local and international online suppliers, that make it very easy to go about getting an emergency supply kit in place for each member of your family.

The recent earthquakes here in New Zealand are unsettling. They remind each of us again that there are things beyond our own control, and nature is able to literally rattle us all occasionally and turn our lives completely upside down in an instant. Getting prepared ahead of time for a civil emergency is actually relatively easy. It is wise and sensible to do so. Let's each get on with doing what is best for us and our loved ones now.