Thursday, December 6, 2018

Christmas Planner (5)

Now this is short and I will explain later.
Over the next couple of days I will finish the cards and the fine tune gift list ready for shopping..

The next step is not really interesting but it is prep.

I clean and tidy the living rooms in anticipation of decorations.
You can't dust and clean around it all so you do a proper clean first. I put on the Christmas music and sing along and clean.
You know, surfaces where ornaments will go and windows where lights and wreaths hang that sort of thing.

Go to it...

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Christmas Planning (4)

We are really getting into Christmas and making it all about the season not just one day.

The start of my planning can be found here with links to the next ones within the post and at the bottom of this one.

You will have:
  • A calendar 
  • Planner page with added menu 
  • Ideas sheet 
  • Stationary needs 
  • Gift list 
  • Gift shopping list
So today I revisit my gift planner. I've ordered my online presents and filled in gaps. You have to laugh at this. Hubby has seen the list (just as well I didn't write his gift on it) but he has added my name at the bottom with the word "heaps" in the 'budget' column. Needless to say I will tell him otherwise! If you are posting gifts overseas you need to buy these ones first and then get them parceled up and posted. I don't really have any to do but you may have missed the cut off date by now for the cheapest postage, so get it done now. You will still have three weeks so as long as it the destination is not too remote they should still get there.

I re-check to see if there are any gifts I am going to make and make a list of anything I need to buy so that I can just get on and make the items in one go!

Over the next week I start buying items for cooking gifts, treats etc and any gifts I can. Its not my major shop but if I know what I need when I am in a shop I will buy it. When I got groceries last night I purchased a couple of presents and no-perishable grocery items because they were on special. How did I know? because I had made my lists.

Do you like to send Christmas cards?
Do you send them with a letter?
Or do you scribble in a card when you get one from someone else and post it in the hope that it gets there before Christmas?

Have a look on your ideas sheet and see if there is anything on it about cards. Like everything else decide if you are going to do what you have written and not do what is crossed out.
Remember that Christmas is not a time of stress or keeping up with everyone else or being the wonderful person you see in all the Christmas movies - they aren't real!!!

I have a box where I keep my Christmas cards, Christmas return address stickers, other stickers and a card address book. It has peoples names and addresses and if we have exchanged cards over the last few years. Just because some don't send us a card doesn't mean I don't send them one as some just aren't into doing that - but I am and I like to let them know I am thinking of them. I hate it but I do send a typed general letter because it saves writing it by hand and it is the only time I catch up with some people. And you know there is nothing wrong with that. As I have said Christmas is about love and its a time when we remember all those who we love and send them a greeting and let them know we are thinking about them. You know if you didn't do this and you are a bit like me the weeks, months and years would pass and we would just forget.

So today I type my letter and start writing in the cards. The overseas ones first so they can get into the post and then those in New Zealand. I have already bought the stamps so I can just post them as I go. Now I have already got four so it's not too early!

Tomorrow I will continue with this as it can take time. I will again check/finish my gift list and post all the cards I have done already.

So your Christmas planning has
  • A calendar 
  • Planner page with added menu 
  • Ideas sheet 
  • Stationary needs 
  • Gift list 
  • Gift shopping list
  • Book or list of Card recipients
Your tasks
  • Re check Gift list and shopping lists
  • Write Christmas letter
  • Start writing in and posting cards
See you in two days.

Christmas Planner

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Christmas Planning (3)

To continue my Christmas planning starting here then Christmas Planning 2, This is day three of the planning and its for the 1st of December.

Christmas (for me) begins with the first day of the advent calendar and the fun begins.

You will have:
  • A calendar 
  • Planner page with added menu 
  • Ideas sheet 
  • Stationary supply
Today I look at my gift giving.
You need a planner sheet to help so it is not overwhelming. I have a master I have developed with seven columns titled:

Name - person I am giving to
Gift - what I plan to give
Budget - how much I want to spend
Notes - things like size, colours, type/brand, etc
Cost - how much I actually spent
Difference - if it was more of less
Wrapped - when I have wrapped it.

At the bottom I add up the totals for what I budgeted for, the cost, and what the difference was as a plus or minus. I like to keep this for next year as a guide.

If you are following this plan with me go back to your ideas sheet and find all the comments you made about gift giving. Write on a separate sheet what the good things were.
Are these things achievable?
You will need to think about the ideas and requests of other family members and what they are going to be doing for Christmas. Now no-one can force you to do or not do things but when it comes to gift giving, if family members want to follow a plan then you need to respect their idea and not expect anything different from them. You can choose to follow what they are doing, but if you're like me and you still want to give something to people then do so, just don't expect the same in return. If members give expensive presents and you don't, you don't have to explain yourself, you just need to let whoever know, that for this year your will be giving.....

I believe that Christmas is when we remember what God did by giving mankind the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ as a way to be forgiven and enter eternity. It is a show of love.

John 17:2-3 New International Version - UK (NIVUK) 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

I too want to show love and it doesn't have to be expensive, I leave that for birthdays. Christmas is Jesus Birthday and so I give in love, even if it is a box of chocolates, I mean who goes out and buys themselves a box of chocolates?

Look at your 'ideas for Christmas list' and look at the things you crossed out to do with gifts. This year you are not going to do them and/or not let them bother you any more. You can not expect others to do what you want, or them you, just the same as you can not allow what others do or don't do disappoint you. How you react is for you to deal with not others. Its not what they say, do or don't that is the problem, its how you react that gives you grief. Give respect and you should get it in return. Over all remember the reason for the season and don't let it overwhelm you.

This year you are going to make a stand for what you want to do for Christmas and if others don't like it they have got the whole idea of Christmas wrong. Its not about the money or what you can get from others, its about love, yes love, because the Christ in Christmas is the Love from God, otherwise its just some commercialized holiday that business' have hopped on the bandwagon to make money.

Now start writing the names of people on your list and what you want to give, or what you know they want. Find out sizes, colours, the brand or type of item they like or you want to get. Set yourself a budget for how much you are going to spend on each person. This is almost better than the buying as you get to decide what you are giving without actually spending anything yet?
OK in reality you will, but doing this you add up the budget and see exactly how much you are going to spend and you can adjust it now before you start spending.

Are you making any of your gifts? You will need to work out what you need, how much they will cost and where you will get them from.

When you have finished the list write a separate list for the shopping. Write the gift, where you think you will get it from and how much you have budgeted. If you are going to buy it online you need to get onto it in the next day or so to allow 21 days for delivery. Write on your calendar on the date, what you ordered and where.

The other thing I do is my Christmas cake if I haven't already. (sometimes I do this in October and freeze it.) Baking it early means that the flavour increases over time. You just have to make sure it is wrapped well. I wrap it in grease proof then newspaper and keep it in a tin - if not freezing - in a dark cool cupboard. If you are not making a fruit Christmas cake make something else for the festive season either to eat now or to freeze. Think of events you may need to attend and if you need to have a plate. Or maybe you want to give something homemade for a gift that can be made now. Look as this as a reward for doing the gift list - not a chore and make sure you put on some Christmas music.

So your Christmas planning has
  • A calendar 
  • Planner page with added menu 
  • Ideas sheet 
  • Stationary needs 
  • Gift list
  • Gift shopping list

Your tasks
  • Make a gift giving list
  • Gift shopping list
  • Order online shopping
  • Bake Christmas cake or something else.
See you in two days.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Christmas Planning (2)

If you had decided to follow my Christmas Planning that started here this is the second task.

You will have:
  • a December calendar
  • Christmas Planner page
  • ideas sheet
There are a few things to sort for today.

First you need to look at all the things on your ideas sheet and find all the things that referred to food. Look at them and decided which ones you really want to take on board either for this year or in years to come. Make a smaller list of what you want to happen.

Now look at the things you had crossed out. Why are they crossed out? ........ Because these are the bad things about Christmas. So, don't do them. It really is as simple as that. If they are traditions, who's traditions are they? When you marry you leave your parents and become one with your partner. That means leaving the ties behind. Sure we have to honour our Father and Mother but that does not include having the food they want at Christmas. If you are going to their house then, yes you will have to eat what is there, but when it is your home then you (and your partner) can command what the food will be. But I will say you need to discuss with your partner what they want for Christmas food and what you are or are not going to do, so they can support you.

So looking at what you do want to happen, the good things, you will need to decide what is reasonable. Remember you will be the one doing this so you need to be reasonable and not over do it. If there are lots of ideas faze them in over a few years or maybe celebrate over a few days. Make Christmas Eve and Boxing Day special food days as well. That way you will be starting your own traditions. Remember this is all about making Christmas a season and not just one day, and you want to enjoy it not be exhausted.

When you decide what you are going to do, create a simple version of it as a menu and write it at the bottom of the sheet you started, the Christmas Planner. We are not writing every thing you will need, just the general meal/s.

If you have decided to run some of the ideas over a few days write them on your Calendar, giving them a 'name'.


The second thing to do is check out your supplies of cards, gift tags, wrapping paper, ribbon, sticky tape or anything else you will be using for wrapping gifts. Also if you are posting Christmas cards you will need to have a supply of stamps. If you want to have Christmas stamps you need to get in early. I'm a bit of a hoarder so I keep things from year to year and have special storage ideas to keep them all together. I checked my supplies out and the only thing I had to buy was some stamps.

Write the things you need down and either go shopping or the next time you are out get them. Now don't rush out and buy a whole lot of other Christmas things, as that is not the point of following this plan. Just stock up your stationary supplies now so they are all ready and on hand for when the fun really begins.

The third thing to do today is to decide if you are having an advent calendar of any form. This needs to be ready to start on the 1st. I have a Christmas tree on a little music stand that has 24 drawers. Each day you open the drawer for the date and place a little decoration from the draw on the Christmas Tree. Over the years I would add a few chocolate raisins or jellybeans as a treat for which ever child was decorating the mini tree.

I get it out each year but we don't have children to do it now! But just in case a grandchild calls in they are allowed to put the days decoration up.

So your Christmas planning has

  • A calendar
  • Planner page with added menu
  • ideas sheet
  • Stationary needs

Your tasks

  • Menu
  • Stationary supplies
  • Advent calendar
See you in two days for part three.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

My Christmas Planning

Last Sunday was 25th November - that's a month until Christmas. In the past if I had not done anything in preparation I probably would have panicked. Is that like you?  Next Sunday will be the first Day in advent which means there are only four Sundays before Christmas Day. Does that make you feel worse?

In the past it would have to me, but I have found that being like that, thinking of all the things that I needed to prepared for, to be bought, make and do for one day was just a load of ridiculous stress for me and those around me. But not any more and we still get to have a wonderful Christmas.

So how do I do it ...?

I don't make Christmas about one day. Sure the 25th of December is the day we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour but I now realize its a season the "Season of Christmas" not just one day. So I turn this season, into Christmas, and not just one day....

And I plan!

If you want to join me then grab yourself a lovely drink and some coloured pens and paper. If this is your first time then just pieces of paper like old exercise book pages or the blank back sheets of paper that come in the 'asking for money mail'  (you know the ones I mean)  Next year or after the Season you can fine tune it into the way you want to do it and make a note book or folder with plans etc.

The first thing you need to do is decide (if its not already been done for you!) where and who you are spending Christmas day with or any other important day that your family have chosen to meet.

You will need to get yourself a calendar for December this year. It needs to have plenty of room for each day. Either photocopy one you have, print one off or just draw one up and write the days and dates. Don't use your planner or diary as this if for Christmas not "everyone else". Write "Family Christmas" in the day this major event(s) will be taking place for you.

Now you can see there are plenty of days yet and we aren't even in to December!

Because I have followed this plan for a few years now I have a slight advantage because to make this be easy, (is that proper English?) you need to have some money put aside. I have been saving all year a little bit every few weeks and I have watched it grow. I still have to stick to a budget but I'm not worried about how I am going to afford everything. Also I don't spend a lot on presents (I leave that for birthdays) and unnecessary expense.

If you haven't got a lot saved mark on your calendar paydays or benefit days so you know when you will have money to buy things. (Don't forget there will be bills).

Now the fun part starts...

Have a blank page and storm ideas. I know this isn't a counselling session or a business plan but I just want you to dream a bit. Think of all the things you love about Christmas and the things you don't and write them down. Think of expectations that you have from family and friends even if you don't want to do them. Are there good and bad memories that you want to keep or get rid of. Are there things that you have always wanted to do or have that you never had or done. Get brain storming and jot them all down (and even if you suddenly remember something that needs doing - just write it in a corner!). Go away for a bit and then come back (with your second drink!) and see if there is anything else you want to add.

Now give yourself permission to circle all the good things and put one line through the bad.
The things in the circles are what you are gong to work on in your planning either this year or over the next few years. (yes we will deal with the crossed out bad things but not at the moment.)

Next get another piece of paper and write Christmas Planner at the top. Write the day, time, place and who will be there for the major event underneath. This is what you will be spending the Season working on - and its fun.

Join me in two days for the next step.

Monday, November 26, 2018

60th Bithday - Part three -The Chateau (part 1)

As mentioned in the first post on my 60th birthday, I was given a voucher to spend a night at The Chateau, the Tongariro Hotel on the side of Mount Ruapehu. I have often wondered what it would be like and some of our friends have been as a group for different occasions and their sharing made me want to try it even more. We had thought of going for our 40th wedding anniversary a few months ago but the family wanted to share a meal together so we just thought we could go some other time.

So when I received the voucher and was asked to read it out I was deeply moved that these people would shout Harry and I, an over night stay with a dinner, breakfast, bubbles and chocolate, a late check-out and a high tea - all the extras. These people are simply wonderful.


I booked our night away the next week and although the weather didn't promise to be good we really just wanted to experience the Hotel and atmosphere. The day started nice but by the time we got to the base of the mountain the weather had closed in and remained that way like a winters day the whole time.

It actually took longer to get there than we thought (2 1/2 hours) so we ended up calling in at Z Tauhara for a coffee and muffin after an hour and half driving.













It's been many years since I have been there and so I had a sort of "are we there yet" feeling.

When we finally reached the base of Whakapaka village there was the Chateau in all its grandeur almost suddenly in front of us.

By now the weather was wet so Harry drove right up to the main doors and a porter came and opened my door and took our suitcase out of the boot bringing it inside while Harry went and parked the car.
Now I can tell you I could quite like this!

Once Harry arrived and I had signed in we were given our keys (well these days its a card that activates the lock) and we took the lift to the third floor. The porter wanted to take our bags up as well but Harry said it was fine he could manage himself and I tried to tell him that's not the point. This man has a job to do and why not let him do it! But by this time the lift had arrived to the third floor.



Our room was a Heritage Room

CLASSIC ROOMS IN OUR HERITAGE WING

HERITAGE

Located in the original hotel wing of Chateau Tongariro, these Heritage rooms offer comfort and style with convenient access to all hotel amenities. Enjoy views of native bush, our golf course or the Dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park.



So we had a cuppa and went for a wonder around checking rooms, decor and some of the many pictures on the walls. Its a very grand hotel with a luxurious early 20th Century themed decor.
 
View from  room window 

































All the rooms have names from around the Tongariro National Park where the Chateau is situated. 

While we waited for our time to get dressed for dinner we sat near the large fireplace in the Ruapehu Lounge.

RUAPEHU LOUNGE

The historic heart of Chateau Tongariro Hotel, the Ruapehu Lounge brings yesteryear to life with plush velvet, twinkling chandeliers and a crackling log fire. Clinking cocktail glasses and clacking billiards fill the air as guests reunite for family holidays, business retreats and wedding parties. The lounge serves light food and drinks until late at night.



Harry tried to assist with the stoking up of the fire as it really was not doing the fireplace or the coldness outside justice, which was rather difficult, he said as they were using "wet wood" (as in recently felled trees). And then he would try to count the large number of bunnies hoping around the grounds thinking of ways they could be exterminated without upsetting the guests! We joked that perhaps it was an environmentally good way to keep the grass short!

I just enjoyed not having to do anything and people watching. I was quite surprised that most of the visitors were from Europe rather than the masses we usually have pass through our small home town from Asia. Some spoke in Dutch, German or other Scandinavian languages while others were speaking in their limited English. I occasionally helped them with the correct pronunciation of some of the places they had or were going to visit. It felt  special to just listen to their stories of their holidays.



ELEGANT CUISINE AT CHATEAU TONGARIRO'S SIGNATURE RESTAURANT

RUAPEHU ROOM

Superior dining and delicious Pacific Rim cuisine await at the Ruapehu Room, Chateau Tongariro’s renowned restaurant. Dress for dinner to savour the chef’s signature chateaubriand, New Zealand beef, lamb or salmon, while sipping wine in the glow of shimmering chandeliers and sparkling white linens.
You can also enjoy a daily breakfast buffet with both cooked and continental selections, and stop by on Sunday for a tantalising carvery Roast Buffet while our resident pianist transports you to genteel bygone days.
Our latest menu offerings can be viewed here.
Operating hours: Open for breakfast and dinner daily, and for Sunday lunch.
Dress code: Smart Casual (no shorts or tank tops and closed footwear required)
Dinner was in the Ruapehu Room and once we were seated, we were asked (because we were here on the celebration package) if we were actually celebrating anything. Between us we said that yes it was for my 60th and our recent 40th Wedding Anniversary. The lady disappeared and a young man came and poured 'fresh tap water' into our glasses and then the lady returned with two glasses of bubbly. We said we hadn't ordered any and she said it was complements from the Manager for our celebrations.

So still the blessings were coming.

The menu for the package was a smaller choice of three courses plus breads as starters.


Artisan Breads (v) Cold pressed olive oil, balsamic reduction and confit garlic, butter  

Harry chose

Regal Salmon Beetroot Cured (df) Orange and baby radish salad, horse radish, baby cress
Silver Fern Beef Tenderloin (gf)  Piko piko fern, confit potatoes, candied tomato, cauliflower puree & braised beef cheek
Apple and walnut filo Calvados fluid gel/Honey and thyme custard/Ginger crunch 

While I had

Seared Angus Beef Carpaccio  Shaved pecorino romano, village press olive oil, pickled shallot 
Free Range Chicken Breast (gf)  Feta & herb portobello mushroom, potato puree, leek, jus
Ginger mascarpone tart Pistachio raspberry meringue/Rhubarb sorbet and compote


To be continued.........

60th Birthday - Part Four - The Chateau (part 2)

I've continued this from the previous post as it was becoming quiet long!

After dinner I went up to our room while Harry went out for a cigarette. When he came back he had two Puriri moths with him. He said there were many outside the main doors.

They are a native to New Zealand and as a caterpillar or grub they bore into puriri trees (and other species) where they feed on the tissue of the tree for up to five years. Once they emerge as a moth they have no mouth so can not feed and die within 48 hours.

The following day when we left we could see them all dead in the covered drive through area.

Not sure what all the wet marks were that came from the mohts.
We didn't sleep well that night for a mixture of reasons. First nights are always hard in a new place and we were right near the lift so every-time the door opened you could hear it and the voice saying "3rd floor". You could see the hall light through a gap in the side and base of the door way to our room so they weren't exactly sound proof which meant we heard people talking as they came and went from their rooms. The heating in the rooms was very good so it took a long time to work out whether we needed blankets or not.

Once a sleep I ended up sleeping in and when Harry returned from a ciggy stop he said that breakfast was finishing in half an hour!

So I quickly got changed and we went down to the Ruapehu room again. The buffet menu was so varied it was a little difficult to actually decide what to have. Harry had scrambled eggs, bacon, tomatoes and toast while I had yogurt, a selection of dried and fresh fruit and some muesli taking our hot drinks into the lounge. I also took an apricot patisserie.

I did wonder what they do with all the left over food as we were the last to eat.















We were then able to have an easy paced check-out, load our things into the car (with the help of the porter!) then wait for our high tea back in the hotel lounge.

This is served at tables by the Ngauruhoe Window, framing the snow-capped mountains in the Ruapehu Lounge. Not that we could see much out the windows as the mist had come right down to almost ground level.

While we waited I had asked for any information on the history of The Chateau and to Harry's disappointment we discovered it was now owned by a foreign company.

In 1990, during a period of Government privatization of assets, the Chateau was sold to Kah New Zealand Limited, a subsidiary of Oriental Holdings Berhad (OHB), a Malaysian-based conglomerate. The new owner invested NZ$3 million in refurbishing the complex.
The ski area was sold to a separate company.
In 2005 a new five-storey wing costing NZ$6 million and containing 40 rooms and replicating the style of the original building was opened. To avoid disturbing guests the expansion used a Scandinavian system of modular construction with the rooms built in Auckland and trucked to the site where they were installed using a crane. A presidential suite occupies the top floor.
The Chateau Tongariro is currently operated by Bayview International Hotels and Resorts, which is also a subsidiary of Oriental Holdings Berhad (OHB).

Its good to think they have invested in preserving the whole complex but sad that like many other locations and enterprises this too had been sold from New Zealand.












One of the pictures that took our fancy was this one of the Pink and White Terraces. When Mount Tarawera erupted on June 10th, 1886, Lake Rotomahana also erupted, and buried the terraces along with other small villages.
They were thought to be the eighth wonder of the world before that.

When we were ready we asked to be seated for high tea.












This is a preset menu of 12 delicacies brought out on a three-tier tea stand (note: not cake stand) served with either your choice of tea, coffee or for an extra cost glass of Alan Scott Blanc de Blancs (bubbles).

Of course this is all served on fine china with elegant silverware and the whole experience is not to be rushed. There was a choice of 16 different teas so that in itself took awhile!

We intended to make this high tea our morning tea, lunch and maybe even afternoon tea.

I chose the Rose Tea (yes I know to some of you that will be no surprise) and Harry just wanted a cup of tea! so chose the Dorchester Breakfast.

First came serviettes, then our cup, saucers and plates, followed by each of our teas along with hot water and milk and finally the tower of food.




















There were four different styles and choices of sandwiches on the bottom layer, two different scones,a chocolate slice and crème brûlée in the middle tier and finally a selection of sweet treats including nougat, macaroons and blueberry tarts.

So we did indeed take our time, refilling our cups with tea and savouring the tasty portions while watching the mist rise and fall over the near hills.

In the end we asked if we could take home the left overs which they boxed up for us saying that many people ask to do so.


And so all too soon it was time to leave and make the trip home.

It certainly was a lovely time with plenty of pleasant memories to cherish and just a wonderful time being spend with each other.

We took a longer routine home going around the back of the lake via SH4 going through Raurimu, Taumarunui and Te Kuiti.