Monthly Archives: September 2014

So little time when you’re retired!!

Hi there, it’s been a busy week or so. I love before and afters so here is our newly painted balustrade and washed down deck.

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Before

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After- lovely, thanks Frank.

As I had the deck water blasted my friend took me in hand and rearranged the sculptures and herbs and flowers in a more cohesive way. So herbs outside the kitchen door, flowers where you can see them from the living room and sculptures along the front side of the deck but not getting in the way of the path to the garden.

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Herbs outside the kitchen

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Flowers in a group. Apparently I need another pot as numbers should always be uneven in groups.

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Sculptures done by my late husband.

As it is school holidays for some of my teacher friends Patsy and I went for a great walk around the Orakei Basin. It is only about 50 minutes on a lovely boardwork. You can park at the end of Lucerne Road and go either way to complete the loop.

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I really recommend it followed by coffee at the Benson road Deli around the corner….and by eating the caramel slice ruining all the exercise benefit.

http://bensonrddeli.co.nz/

 

I am doing two MOOCs (Massive open online courses) at the moment- The Science of Happiness and Writing Fiction. I love connecting with people all over the world. I think there are 7500 people doing the fiction one and always a disproportionate group from NZ which must mean we are a clever lot of intellectuals and creatives 🙂

Some essentials from the Science of happiness are:

Money does make you happy…but only if you give it away.

Giving is definitely better for your health than receiving.

We are a naturally compassionate people and are born generous. This wonderful clip of the toddler giving her sweets to the puppet is a great example of this.

5 Ways Giving Is Good for You

By Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie

This essay originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

1. Giving makes us feel happy. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves (despite participants’ prediction that spending on themselves would make them happier). Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, saw similar results when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.

These good feelings are reflected in our biology. In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

2. Giving is good for our health. A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly. In his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.

A 1999 study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers, even after controlling for their age, exercise habits, general health, and negative health habits like smoking. Stephanie Brown, now a researcher at Stony Brook University, saw similar results in a 2003 study on elderly couples. She and her colleagues found that those individuals who provided practical help to friends, relatives, or neighbors, or gave emotional support to their spouses, had a lower risk of dying over a five-year period than those who didn’t. Interestingly, receiving help wasn’t linked to a reduced death risk.

Researchers suggest that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems. In a 2006 study by Rachel Piferi of Johns Hopkins University and Kathleen Lawler of the University of Tennessee, people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves.

3. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. When you give, you’re more likely to get back: Several studies, including work by sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, have suggested that when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line—sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else.

These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others—and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health. As researcher John Cacioppo writes in his book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, “The more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection . . . the greater the advance toward health, wealth, and happiness.”

What’s more, when we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness, and this “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”

4. Giving evokes gratitude. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude—it can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. And research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds.

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, pioneers in the scientific study of gratitude, have found that teaching college students to “count their blessings” and cultivate gratitude caused them to exercise more, be more optimistic, and feel better about their lives overall. A recent study led by Nathaniel Lambert at Florida State University found that expressing gratitude to a close friend or romantic partner strengthens our sense of connection to that person.

Barbara Fredrickson, a leading happiness researcher, suggests that cultivating gratitude in everyday life is one of the keys to increasing personal happiness. “When you express your gratitude in words or actions, you not only boost your own positivity but [other people’s] as well,” she writes in her book Positivity. “And in the process you reinforce their kindness and strengthen your bond to one another.”

5. Giving is contagious. When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.

A study by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. “As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”

Giving has also been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone (also released during sex and breast feeding) that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others. In laboratory studies, Paul Zak, the director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, has found that a dose of oxytocin will cause people to give more generously and to feel more empathy towards others, with “symptoms” lasting up to two hours. And those people on an “oxytocin high” can potentially jumpstart a “virtuous circle, where one person’s generous behavior triggers another’s,” says Zak.

So whether you buy gifts, volunteer your time, or donate money to charity, your giving may help you build stronger social connections and even jumpstart a cascade of generosity through your community. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself benefiting from a big dose of happiness in the process.

Jason Marsh is editor-in-chief and director of programs at the Greater Good Science Center and the course producer for “The Science of Happinesss.” Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good‘s book review editor and a frequent contributor to the magazine.

Have a great week. FG

Away and home again

I have been working up in Northland for the last three days and on day one struck that wild and windy weather. After that though it was beautiful. I spent the first night in Kerikeri so had the opportunity to buy lots of cheap grapefruit and oranges.

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01217f7e3b6d781b17e41966221f8b041be6ffe4e6_00001 View from the Kerikeri Motel

Day two and three were in Whangarei. I took the chance to eat at the top restaurant there called  a Deco and the pictures below reflect the lovely evening we had there.

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The art deco ceiling

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The port holes into the kitchen so we could watch the chefs preparing the food.

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The window on the stairwell.

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The coffee trolley.

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The delicious citrus dessert.

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The original deco door.

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And the deco dame…

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I knitted one singlet with this acrylic wool but couldn’t bear the feel of it so I am knitting a rug with all of the colours together.

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Back home I concocted this caramelised onions and walnut, beetroot and feta tart thingy for the hard working painter’s lunch.

Visitors aplenty to day so will sign off and hope you too are enjoying glorious sunshine. FG

Spring clean

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I’m starting each day with a home grown grapefruit at the moment. Thanks to Bruce for preparing it and leaving it for me when he goes to work 🙂

When the sun comes out I see all the areas that need a good clean and tidy up. So I have asked my friendly handyman/cleaner/painter to come around and give me a hand. He has kindly allowed me to be his apprentice and do the rolling or sanding etc. and he does the tricky bits like cutting in.  Hopefully this will save some money and I’ll learn a few good tips.

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The balustrade certainly needs attention and the deck needs a good water blast.

Still knitting and i don’t want to be ungrateful but some of the wool from Spotlight is 100% acrylic and it isn’t nice to knit or wear. So I may just finish the singlet to go with the hat and just buy some proper wool to go on with. Any thoughts about acrylic for older children? At least it might wash well in a machine.

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Acrylic hat is quite cute but not sure about warmth.

I have started experimenting with material on tiles for Christmas. I thought these could go on the barbecue table or maybe smaller ones could be wrapped with a mini Christmas cake for a gift.

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The weather has been a bit dismal here with a lot of rain and I need to get in the garden and do a replant. Hopefully the weekend will be better. Hope you have a good weekend everyone. FG

The Daily Mind

I haven’t posted for a few days because of a chest infection. I think that had I been working I would have gone to the doctor for antibiotics and then struggled back to the office. This week, however, I have the days all to myself so I have been resting, reading, knitting and sleeping in a little. Coughing at night is still ongoing but I’m sure a few more quiet days will take care of it.

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Finished a little matching hat to go with the singlet.

The above pattern is available from Kiwi Angels on Facebook.

Made Libby Weaver’s roast salad when my vegetarian son visited last night.

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Keeping on with yoga TV

 http://www.livingchannel.co.nz/7-97/Show/Yoga-TV

Now that Spring is on its way, there are a lot of things to do around the house like painting and  water blasting so i need to galvanise myself into action. I am going to have a go at regrouting around the sink…I’m sure there is a You tube video on it.

However, I would much rather read a book or do some Christmas tiles.

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I decorated these old blue bottles some time ago and still enjoy having a few wee herbs and daisies in them each day.

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New Christmas material to begin experimenting making them into tiles.

I adore Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer on Location, Location, Location but especially like Kirstie’s home made programmes. So today, while I had breakfast I watched Kirstie making Christmas gifts. I believe she is from a very well off family so I like that she makes things and sews and bakes when she could easily afford to buy piles of “stuff”.

In recent years at work I have become averse to buying two dollar plastic rubbish for silly staff parties and this year out of necessity as well as enjoyment I hope to make most of my Christmas presents.

I still went to the cheap Tuesday movie though with my friend. I am not terribly keen on American movies but I enjoyed this one.

The slugs are still dying in the yeast and sugar so that’s good. FG

 

 

The simple pleasures and the kindness of others.

Today is another free day for me, yahoo!

I am loving the sunshine, the bees the quiet and yes, afraid so…the knitting.

I’m feeling particularly pleased with myself as I sat and watched a you-tube video on kitchener stitch (or grafting) and then finished Deb’s cowl and it looks pretty good and the wool is divine. Not perfect of course…

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The cowl is for dog walking and so can be a hood if it gets really chilly.

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Couple of selfies…bit weird.

Still on the subject of knitting was talking to a friend who has started kiwi angels- a kind of random acts of kindness Facebook and we were discussing knitting. she already knits for hospitals here but i would like to connect with a friend of a friend who is a doctor in Gisborne. I don’t want to patronise mothers and I thought she could give out knitting to those who would like/need it.

While I was in Spotlight Wairau Road the other day I was talking to the lovely MaryLyn and she went to talk to her equally nice boss, Adam and promptly came back with some free wool for me.

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I couldn’t resist and started knitting a singlet today.

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Such a great, simple pattern. You simply knit up one side and down the other.

As usual when i am at home, my mind turns to food…

I made breakfast bars, chia seed pudding (or breakfast) and a homemade creation melding together a couple of salad recipes.

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chia seed pudding and tamarillos- not so keen on the texture but if you like sago and tapioca etc. you probably would like it.

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The breakfast bars are moreish but have a lot of honey in them.

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Home made recipe for a spicy chickpea salad.

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Deb enjoying a breakfast bar…in the afternoon.

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While I am sneezing and not enjoying that part of spring, who can resist sights like these:

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Went to a silly film yesterday. The new Woody Allen Magic in the Moonlight

I felt like I was watching a frothy stage play. Still if you like gorgeous old Colin Firth you might like it.

I’m going to work on some Christmas tiles. Have a good week FG.

Just a quick knit up date and the promise of a pencil

Work again tomorrow but hopefully will finish by Wednesday this week. Yay!

My baby outfit found a home today with baby Ezra. They especially liked the wide neck, so I think it is a good pattern. Thanks Wild and Woolly Yarns.

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http://www.visitdevonport.co.nz/wild-woolly-yarns

Next I made what I am calling the Waipu Wraparound, for my friend Patsy who has a lovely wee spot up there.

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The Waipu Wraparound.

Deb wanted her cowl longer so longer it is….will probably finish it tomorrow.

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Work is interfering with my life, I’m only half way through The Hare With Amber Eyes and have a pile of library books waiting as well as three Kindle books waiting, including the latest Jack Reacher, Personal 🙂

Tom Cruise has too much money and no sense if he thinks he can play Reacher.

No he isn’t!!!!

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I watched this youtube clip tonight and bought the book on kindle. If nothing else the proceeds go to helping children.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pG53tqz3jNY

and also

https://www.youtube.com/user/pencilsofpromise

 

 

Snail postscript!

Sorry about the lack of blogging this past week as I have been doing the dreadful W word.  Hopefully I will have a few days this week and then only two more after that  until I’m free again.

However, today I went to the garden to check my two pottles of sugar and yeast and they had no snails but 32 slugs wallowing in the murk like miniature fat whales.  Yay!  Not to mention a cockroach and an earwig. Very satisfying to know they won’t be eating the rest of my spinach.

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Most of them are lying on the bottom. I know you wanted to see this!

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Slugs beware!