June 30, 2011

NZ Country Living Giveaway

Thinking that you all have 'homes with heart', I thought
you might enjoy the chance to sample a bit of 
genuine New Zealand hospitality.

They were hard to find but I managed 
to locate three issues of
Country Living
Recipes and Inspiration for Homes with Heart

It is a wonderful publication filled with fantastic 
home decorating ideas and delicious recipes.

all you need to do is leave a comment.

I will run the numbers on Sunday, July 3rd
at 6:00pm, UK time and pick three lucky winners.

Before I go...
I send thanks for your very thoughtful comments on my last post and
leave you with the sun rising in Christchurch, New Zealand
earlier this week.


June 26, 2011

A Stitch in Time

This past week, my daughter and I have spent each day, side by side, quietly, together. She is in the hospital recovering, growing stronger with each day. We have settled into a routine and have each created our own creative 'comfort' space within her room. She with all the items above on her bed and me in a comfy chair by the window.

I sit with a bag of coloured yarn tending my hands to needlepoint and my daughter sits with one enormous pink ball of yarn by her side as she swiftly works her knitting needles. We have taken to our craft projects like two peas in a pod. She is teaching herself to knit a scarf which she believes is now starting to resemble a rag but either way she is knitting herself to good health. My project is ten years in the making, a Christmas stocking for my youngest son. I have made great progress and think that this just might be the year that he finally sees the finished project. As we sit and talk, our hands work in natural rhythm, up and over, in and out. With each stitch, I can feel her health improving.

Our routine has been the same each day. The pace has been calm and relaxing, just what the doctor ordered. As a mother, I am comforted to see and watch the people around her. The nurses, both men and women, have been fantastic. I have always had great admiration for people who have been drawn to the calling of looking after others. It is not an easy job and requires patience, skill and compassion. I have witnessed them all this week. Each day, a new shift, a new face and each one with the same enthusiasm to see the people around them return to good health.

Tomorrow, I leave New Zealand for England. I leave comforted knowing that she is in good hands and that in a short time, will be able to join us in England. In the meantime, she stitches, up and over, in and out, working her way to recovery.

Before I go, I want to thank you all for your many kind comments and thoughts for us both over the past week. I have been severely lacking in my blogging communication lately. I had hoped to have the time to catch up this past week but intermittent Internet access has made it difficult. In a way, it has been a blessing, as it has left us time to 'just be'.  I look forward to stopping by and saying hello when life settles down. In the meantime, best wishes to one and all for the week ahead. :) xx


The Trophy Wife

I smiled the whole way through this movie, in the dark, on an airplane and am still smiling. It is one of those films that makes you want to stand up and cheer. Catherine Deneuve is as beautiful and witty as ever. She is the movie and I enjoyed every moment of it. See 'Potiche' and enjoy!

June 23, 2011

Letting go at 50...

I wrote a note to myself in one of my journals a while back. I may have posted on it already but when I read it again today, I knew I had to say it one more time. I think this is a feeling that is universal with many. Life is to precious to get bogged down in the little things...no matter the age. 

"Letting go of hang ups at 50...
As I get older, I don't feel that different. I feel better. At some point you let go of hang ups. The positioning and posturing, angst and worry. I now look back and wonder if it was all necessary. You find your way regardless. At some point, you just feel comfortable with who you are and get on with it."

Feeling comfortable with who you are...it's a great feeling, don't you agree? 

image v. jeanne henriques

 2011 Chelsea Flower Show, London. 

Simple Morning Pleasures

A few moments is all it takes to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. You do not have to look far. For me, it is at the breakfast table which has been beautifully set for me each morning. Today, a delicate hand crafted covering on a bowl of sugar with a thoughtfully designed silver spoon by it's side. As my thoughts drift out the window and beyond to the day ahead, I keep coming back to this delicate creation before me and the one perching on the bench below me. A good way to start the day.

Best wishes to you for a lovely day or evening....wherever you may be. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
- Photographs: me

June 21, 2011

A Numbers Game and Hope

Last week I wrote a post centered around numbers. They were the sizes of the earthquake tremors in Christchurch, while I sat snugly and solidly in my safe little world in Surrey, England. This morning, it is 4:27am, six hours since I wrote my last post from Christchurch, New Zealand. We have had a series of earthquake aftershocks every two hours with the highest of 5.5. To say I am well and truly awake at this moment is an understatement!
I am not sure how to describe it. You lay in bed asleep and then the shaking begins, you first thought is that it must be a dream but then you become acutely aware that it is not. Your heart races, your thoughts go to where your body is situated in relation to the house and your outside surroundings. You listen to the sounds as the house shakes, the windows rattle and you pray that you are on solid footing. You then quickly think of emergency escapes. The B&B that I am staying in is locked from the inside. On my first trip to grab security items, they consisted of the house and car keys and my cashmere shawl. Why I grabbed this over a winter coat is another matter! With the second jolt other items centred within my grasp, passport, shoes, warm clothes ( I don't think silk pj's will do the trick on a winters evening) and water. My thoughts than ran to the mountain we are on with houses above us and the deep valley below. Tomorrow will be a lesson in understanding my surroundings. All the while, the owners of the B&B sleep...I take comfort in that. They know the drill by now.

It is quiet again, I do not hear a peep around me, the city is well lit, not a creature is stirring...just me and my lingering jet lag. At this moment, I am sure there are many more like me, rolling over, lights off and wondering 'when' will be the next time. I can not imagine enduring months on end of this...as I go to sleep, thinking of the people that do.

Through all this my darling daughter texts me to see if I am ok. She assures me she is fine, and says "this is what usually happens but let's hope that was the last of the big ones." xxxx

I am with her, let's hope that is the last of the big ones....

Reporting from my bed, with my iPad and intermittent internet reception:)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad, images..me.

Testing...1...2..3...Christchurch, NZ

Greetings to one and all from Christchurch, New Zealand. I am testing my handy dandy iPad to see if it can stand up to the tests of a bloggers travel demands.

Tis the deep dark hours of the night, not a creature is stirring not even a mouse. I sit in baited breath hoping that the earlier earthquake tremor this evening does not make a repeat performance tonight. There have been a few. A jolt here, a jolt there. As I look about, wide eyed as the owl outside my window, Canterburians casually suggest that they are minor and not worthy of attention. I can appreciate that statement after having driven along the many side streets outside of the city centre. Construction is in full swing with piles of rubble laying to the side. Many homes and fences are supported by beams in the hopes they will stand the test of time until they can be addressed. I imagine the list of people waiting for new construction is a long one. Your heart goes out to the people who live and love this city. It is a terrible feeling for them, now knowing if, when and where the next one will come. In light of that, they carry on, as you do.

Tremors aside, it is wonderful to be with my daughter again. We have been making every moment count. She found a charming B&B for me, perched on a hill ( could be a mountain, I am never sure about these things) over looking the city of Christchurch. This morning I woke to the fog lifting and glimpses of the city below.
Tonight ever inch of the land is covered in a glow of beautiful coloured lights. It is magical. Here are a few morning shots from the garden where I am staying...

I am very excited as I managed to snap up a few things that I think will be perfect for a giveaway.
A few memories from New Zealand coming soon. :)

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad,

June 17, 2011

Tweets and Chats

I have been spending a fair amount of time this week checking on the progress of the ash cloud over New Zealand and the earthquake tremors in Christchurch. The big questions around our house is "will she or won't she fly out on Friday night?" The New Zealand Herald and Qantas websites have had my full attention these past few days.

Every now and again, I drift onto other sites, find something interesting and post it onto my Twitter page and  Collage of Life Facebook page.  When I look back at them, I can see a snapshot of my week.  I was thinking that there might be something in it for you too....

 A snapshot, in Tweets and Chatter...
Tweeting On..
I came across a great book, 'Garden People, Valerie Finnis and The Golden Age of Gardening', here.
To this, I added my post on Gardening Style. You can check out the very chic women gardeners of yesteryear, here.
Do you have kids applying to USA colleges? Check out the insiders guide to college admissions, here.
If you love the idea of living in Paris, have a look at this book, here.
The Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill tweeted on 'The Independent's 50 Best Summer Reads', here.
I went shopping last weekend to a Midsummer Fair and came across some great finds, here.
I was glued to the BBC programme 'The Country House Revealed' the other night, check it out here.
If you read my last post, you will know that I am supporting the 1000 Schools for 1000 Girls initiative with the CCLEF, here.
Do you know where self confidence comes from? Read here.
Lastly, check out this great weekend bag, here.

Chats with Facebook friends..... 
My Facebook friends and I are having great chats about our favourite books. This week we have talked about, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson, Educating Alice by Alice Steinbach, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and many more... you can join in, here.
Vivian wrote to recommend books from her Arts Book Club. She mentioned
'The Passion of Artemisia' and 'Luncheon of the Boating Party' both by Susan Vreeland.
You can read about both books and more, here.
A sigh of relief to see that others like my new Purple Paisley Palazzo Pants, here.
Sunflowers have been on my mind, if they are on yours as well, read here.
Going vertical in the garden was big talk at the Chelsea Flower Show? Learn how, here.

How am I doing all this?
Via my iPad.
A delightful little invention.
Thank you Apple.
I love it so much, I bought it
a brand new travel cover.

My last little creation of the day was a few bits
and pieces to hang on my market basket.
A friend made Scrabble earrings for me
with my initials. I decided I would
enjoy them more seeing them everyday,
alongside my silver cross. 

Off to check on that ash cloud again
and then pack.

Best wishes to one and all for a lovely weekend.
I will be reporting from Christchurch, New Zealand 
next week, with my iPad.
If you would like to follow me on Twitter and Facebook,
you can find links along my sidebar.
I would LOVE to have you join me!

 - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

June 15, 2011

A Remarkable Woman...... A Remarkable Cause

A story...
Have you ever met a remarkable woman? I am sure many of you have and in fact I am sure you all are. For me it happened a few weeks ago, whilst attending a meeting of a women's group I belong to,
The Australian Women's Club of London.

Women making connections...
The AWC is a group of Australian women and those with Australian connections who are making the most of their time whilst living in London. We meet regularly, in cafes, art galleries, museums, historic homes, gardens...the list goes on. It has been a pleasure getting to know them all.

Women raising money...
We also raise money for the CCLEF (Commonwealth Countries League Education Fund).  The CCL works for the rights and interests of women in the Commonwealth Countries. Our primary focus is the CCL Education Fund, an organisation that sponsors bright needy girls to give them equal opportunities for secondary/high school education in their own countries. The CCLEF have been able to help over 3000 girls in 30 countries to date and my aim is to help them increase that number. If you find that overwhelming, I admit I did as well and then I met Ladi and listened to what she had to say.

A remarkable woman...
What can I say about Ladi? She is a remarkable woman. In 1988, in her home country of North Central Nigeria, she benefited from the CCLEF. She was the young girl, who was identified as bright and needy, who if not assisted, would be living in very different circumstances. The CCLEF opened the door  to an educated life for Ladi. In fact, it was the students of Burntwood School in Wansworth, South West London who made the difference for her.  They raised money to give her a chance.  She took that chance and made the most of it. On completion of her secondary education, Ladi went on to put herself through University and now holds a Masters Degree in Management. So grateful and eager to help others like her, she is now working for the CCLEF in support of helping other girls reach their full potential. Her message is clear... 'Support a girl and you support a family, community and country'.
You can read more about Ladi, here.

A remarkable cause for girls....
Ladi has put her name to a brilliant initiative to raise funds for girls like her. 
She asks one simple question.. What if?  
What if we could find a thousand schools to each support one girl? 

What if 1000 schools helped 1000 girls like Ladi?
In Ladi's words...
"What if we could find a thousand schools to each support one girl? What a splendid revolution we would start! You do not need a lot of money to make a difference, get your school involved, do fun stuff and raise money to help change the course of history. You are capable of starting a massive wheel of change, you cannot leave it to someone else; you can cause change to happen! Sponsor a girl today and see the difference you would make to lives, communities and nations.
From Pakistan to Papua New Guinea, Guyana to the Gambia, Bangladesh to Botswana, The Solomon Islands to St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago to Tanzania, Ghana to Grenada and beyond, the girl child needs your help and support! Join us in being part of the Thousand School for a Thousand Girls Initiative!"

As you can see, Ladi's story touched me. I respect her commitment to the young girls she helps, being a recipient of the funds herself, she is a shining example of what can be.

Women getting involved...
Having traveled to some of the countries Ladi mentions above and hating to see opportunities for change passed by, I got involved. Small steps, but I believe each step can make a difference. Our family is supporting three girls and I have joined Team AWC in the ASICS British 10K London Run on 11 July 2011 to raise funds for the Thousand Schools for Thousand Girls initiative.

I am going to put on my all time favourite runners/sneakers 
and doing the talk/walk/run to the finish line.

Team AWC is ready to spring into action. 
Actually, to be honest, it may be more of a power walk and talking for me...
but I am ready to spring into action none the less!  We set a financial target 
and are busily working away at it. If you can help, we would be delighted!

A little bit goes a long way. From just £10.00 to buy pens and pencils for a year
to £100.00-£450.00 to pay school fees for a year. If you know of a school in the UK that
would be interested in participating in the Thousand Schools for Thousand Girls initiative,
please contact Lady Dariya via email at fundraising@ccl-int.org. 
She would be delighted to hear from you!

Lastly, from Ladi...
I asked Ladi if I could share her recent letter to us and she was happy for me to do so.
Dear All,
You girls have gone beyond amazing I am at a loss for words ( this seldom happens) to express my appreciation for what you are doing to change lives!
I know first hand, how hard it is to ask for money; I also know first hand how important it is to bite the bullet and just ask. It is the courage and the strength and the giving and the go-getting of women like you that make women like me and my gratitude and admiration knows no bounds.
Our girls who know what goes into raising the funds for their education are full of wonder at your strength of character and spirit.
On behalf of our girls whose lives you have given new meaning and those whose lives you will change as you run; Thank you ever so much!

Very warm regards,

Target: £5,000.00
Raised so far: £1,770.00
To support us, click here

To my friends... 
Thank you for your support, both in my last post and today!
Jeanne xxx

images: 1-2 via me
You Tube
3, 4

June 13, 2011

The Rhythm of Life

2.7, 3.4, 4.3, 5.5

These are the numbers that come via email to my phone on a regular basis.
They are the size of the tremors in Christchurch, New Zealand today.
I could also say that they are set to the rhythm of my heartbeat.

4.4, 3.4, 6.0, 4.9 

Some of you know that daughter #1, 
Miss Christine, is a University student in Christchurch.
We talk nearly every day.
We last parted in January, six months too many.

4.0, 3.7, 3.4

It is time and my flight is booked for Friday.
I have a few obstacles... 
an ash cloud hovering over the Pacific 
and aftershocks setting their pace 
in the depths of Christchurch.

3.5, 3.5, 3.5

Why am I writing about this?
One of the reasons I picked the title 
of this blog is that life is open ended.
What can you say about life? 
What can you not say about life?

 3.6, 3.0, 2.9, 3.5

Sometimes it whizzes by so fast 
that you feel like you are running
 circles around the globe.
Sometimes you feel like it is not 
happening fast enough.

3.7, 3.2, 4.0, 3.4

Too fast and we want to slow down. 
Too slow and we want to 
crank it up a notch or two.

2.9, 4.1, 3.4

Then, every now and again, 
you get what I like to call the 'stretch'
When life is like one big 
long push in a hammock, you let go,
and glide gently, back and forth. 
Perfect balance.

2.8, 3.2, 3.3

I know that 'stretch' will come
when I hold Miss Christine
in my arms again.

3.6, 3.4...

Breathe in, Breathe out

Thank you for reading 
Collage of Life 

Statistics: The numbers above refer to the Richter magnitude of the quakes felt in the Canterbury region. They are recorded by GNS Science. I subscribed after my first tremor in Auckland, New Zealand, 5 years ago. A small one but one I will never forget it. I can't imagine anything greater. The recordings above started coming in at 10:37pm (UK time) on 12 June 2011. I have noted every one since with the last emailed to me at 1:00pm on 13 June. For more information, click here

June 12, 2011

A Country Ride and Midsummer Fair in Kent

When Sharon from My French Country Home said that she and
Ella would be selling from her French Country Brocante shop at the 
Wealden Midsummer Fair in Kent, my mind was made up. 
I packed the car for a road trip, just me, myself and I.
Cameras, an umbrella, a latte for the road and a quick trip 
to the library to pick up an audio CD for the ride. 
Delicious by Nicky Pellegrino.
More on Nicky here.

Italy, food, love, mystery, intrigue... 
A perfect tale for an afternoon drive.

The skies were grey but a welcome sight. We need the rain!

I had my eye on this red cape just in case.

I was impressed by the organisation of the Fair markers...

and these two fellows taking in the festivities.

This sweet red flowered rocking chair was a favourite of mine.

This Fair was a real family affair. There was something for everyone.

Saying it with fresh cut garden flowers

at the Wealden Midsummer Fair in Kent, England.
Thank you Sharon and Ella, 
it was lovely seeing you both again!


June 6, 2011

English Garden Notes: Bunny Guinness

Whilst living in England, I want to appreciate the English Garden 
as much as I can. Who knows what will come next. With that in mind
I have been busily filling up my English Garden Notebook.
I have a few more plants to pop into the garden today, thanks to Bunny.

Bunny Guinness is an English gardener I admire. 
I loved her creation at the recent Chelsea Flower Show, 
The M&G Garden. It was given the Silver Gilt Award.
In my mind it was all Gold.

June 3, 2011

Hae-woo-so and Midlife Madness

I am thinking of Hae-woo-so today, 
an exhibit at the recent Chelsea Flower Show. 
Before I explain the garden,
I have a little emptying of my own mind to do. 
I am hoping that some of you can relate to my plight. 

I have to laugh or else I would cry...
Midlife Madness
If you heard a woman screaming with frustration thru blogland recently... that was me. My computer recently went into silence mode and would not accept any more photos from me. The shock horror of it all!  In my eagerness to make room on my computer for more photos, I had a deleting party of my own making.

The next day, I went to my blog, Midlife Wisdom I and could not believe it. My photos were gone! It took many google searches, a few help forums and finally the kind directions of blogger, Late Night Guy, to realise what I had done. I had deleted one of my Picasa web albums...all 900 photos of it. I thought they were just back up when in fact they were the life of my blog.

I have tried every means but they are gone for good.  I hang my head in blogging shame. My blog, Midlife Wisdom should be appropriately titled, Midlife Madness. I have moved on from tears to laughter because it gets even crazier.

Right between the eyes...
I made mention on my Facebook page about my iPad mishap the other day. I blame those trendy iPad Apps. I woke up Sunday morning to peace and quiet and thought I would just quietly turn on the iPad and have a read...whilst laying flat in bed.  All good, until I tried to push the 'send' button and 'BAM'...I dropped it, right between the eyes.

Did I feel like a complete idiot? YES! I contemplated the need for stitches and was relieved when
I realised it was not necessary. Imagine trying to explain that one away.  I finally gave up on the band aid as it is a not a good look for a woman in the midst of midlife madness.  Half crazed woman was looking more like it. :)

So, I laugh, I cry, I learn...
I have learned never ever ever to touch my Picasa web albums again. I have learned not to hold my iPad directly over my head if I want to keep what is left of it in tact. Lastly, I send my apologies to those of you who follow me at Midlife Wisdom. It will be under reconstruction for some time....

Now that I have emptied my mind, I will turn to another...
The story of Hae-woo-so...
A favourite garden in the Chelsea Flower Show was Hae-woo-so ( Emptying One's Mind). It won Gold and Best Artisan Garden awards. It was a simple garden and an enjoyable one. In fact, Hae-woo-so is the Korean word for the traditional Korean toilet.  For centuries, Korean people considered going to the toilet to be a highly spiritual experience.

The pathway to the toilet was a significant feature of the garden. One is meant to empty their mind as they stroll up the garden path to it. The garden plantings were peaceful shades of green with touches of soft colours along the way. Even though I was one of many trying to take a photograph, I did enjoy, standing, studying and listening. The addition of running water at the beginning of the path was a nice touch. I think someone had fun with that one.  More photos and information on the garden, here.

Feeling the peace, feeling the calm...
feeling the zen....
my mind is emptied.
Thank you :)