I’ve Travelled The World Through Books

I have not physically travelled to a lot of places around the world, but I was transported globally through the many books I have read.  From Dublin, Ireland, to New York, out to the country in Texas, and down under in Australia (disclaimer: I did actually live in Oz for a few years!) and off course Europe.  I can name a few places, and through these books I could smell, taste and get a glimpse of being there and experiencing everything it has to offer.

My love for reading began at a very early age.  One memory that stands out to me is when I was around 11 or 12 and still in primary school.  It’s not a good memory but it always has stuck with me for some reason.  We were given a book to read and it was time for our group to come to the front of the class, and we all had to sit down with the teacher.  Anyway, my teacher had asked me, “When you read the book Ronell, did you see what you were reading in your mind, like watching a movie?”  Off course I saw every word that I read come to life, however I thought that wasn’t meant to happen when you read and that I was loosing my mind, so I said to the teacher, “no I didn’t see anything when I read”.  Well I got in a bit of trouble with the teacher and I was told off for being stupid and not being able to read properly.  I was by this stage to embarrassed to tell him the truth, so I just went with him thinking I couldn’t read properly.

I soon learnt that I was not loosing my mind and that’s exactly what is meant to happen when you read, so I read all the time like a crazy person, because for me it was like watching a movie.  When I was in high school, I used to be in my room for hours reading, and my mum used to scold me for being stuck in my room, because she thought I was checking out the boys walking by our house, but I was really reading.  I couldn’t afford to buy any books so I borrowed loads from the library and used to read my mum’s old books and my sister’s books that I could find.  I do remember reading a Danielle Steel book in high school (possibly not a good choice of book at that age).

When I started working I was ecstatic because I could finally buy books, and I read pretty fast so I was churning through the books.  I remember being swept away with Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (I even bought the DVD’s based on the book and the sequel),  and then going back even further in time with Ken Follett.  Oh my gosh I could go on with all the different types of books that I have read.  A lot of people read to fall asleep, but when I read it’s the opposite, I get so absorbed into the book that I forget about time.  Once I got married, the love affair with reading continued (I actually don’t think this affair will ever end), except now we were running out of space to store these books, and they were not cheap either, so my husband bought me a kindle.  I love my kindle, but I miss real books especially the smell and feel of them, you know you love it too!

Now that I have kids of my own, I want to pass on that love of books to them, and I think I may have given them the book bug.  I buy them books over sweet treats and toys any day.  Every occasion that we celebrate there is always a book included in their gifts.

I would like to share with you the two most recent books I bought for the girls which are:

1.  Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli & Franesca Cavallo

I love this book!!!  I have bought one for each girl to have with them always.  This book reinvent’s fairy tales, inspiring girls with the stories of 100 heroic women.  These are real life stories.  I want my girls to know, that you don’t need to be a damsel in distress or wait for Prince Charming to always save you.  I want them to read this and know they can be strong, independent women when they grow up, and that no dream is unattainable. That whatever their passion is in life, to go for it and don’t let anyone tell them they can’t do it. The book has been illustrated by 60 women artists from every corner of the globe as well.  RRP $39.99

2.  Wonder by R.J Palacio

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This book has got some rave reviews, some of which are:

‘Has the power to move hearts and change minds’ – Guardian

It wreaks emotional havoc’ – Independent

‘Tremendously uplifting and a novel of all-too-rare power’ – Sunday Express

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances? (insert from goodreads)

So that’s just a snippet of what the book is about and I liked it because it was different to your usual kids stories. RRP $22.99

I hope I didn’t bore you with my ramblings about reading, but like me I know that there are lots of other book lovers out there who share the same passion.  I currently have 3 books that I’m reading on the go!

Right I better stop now because I can go on forever about reading!  I would love to hear about how your love for reading began, if your’e a bookworm like me.

Happy reading!

Ronell x

 

 

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Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple 

This morning we visited the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple (North Island – NZ) in Flatbush.

Looking at it from the outside you don’t quite grasp the size of it until you enter. The temple occupies an area of 4 hectares. The temple was officially opened in 2007.


The courtyard was designed to look similar to farming fields and the grounds around the temple are just immaculate.


There is also a wishing bell that you can make a wish and say a little prayer then ring the bell.


Along the courtyard are trees where from their branches hang ribbons which you can purchase from the temple and write your wish/prayer on then hang them on the tree.


Also dotted around the zen gardens are these cute Buddha statues.



The Bell and the Drum are important Buddhist instruments. The bell is made of cast iron and weighs 3000kg, the Drum weighs 300kg. Both instruments are used daily to signify the start and the end of each day.



Next we visited the Pagoda.  The Pagoda at Fo Guang Shan is built like a memorial garden. This place is not only a place where loved ones are laid to rest but also a place where you can offer respect and remembrance. There is a big water feature at the entrance of this as water is the source of life.


After this we went and visited the art galleries within the temple. There was a great gallery especially for kids where they get to see how the Buddha grew up. It was really pretty and colourful.


In the photo above you will see little coloured papers pinned to the wall which kids have written their wishes on.

After all of that it was time for something to eat so we headed to the Water Drop Vegetable cafe. The cafe has beautiful rustic wooden furniture. Adam and I ordered the curried roti snack! It was delicious.


There are a few options for kids too. Miss K had some plain hot chips, Miss C had a muffin. There is also an array of tea available.

The temple is free to enter, there are a few donation boxes around the place where you can make a donation.

The only thing I would say is that if you are taking kids they need to be respectful of the temple and what it stands for. I have seen a few kids this morning that were running around and climbing on the statues and being extremely loud. It is not a playground, and there were people praying at the different shrines throughout the day.  So be mindful.

It was a great family outing today and we got a lot out of it.

Hope you visit it soon.

Ronell x

Art Like No Other

A couple of years back we visited Gibbs farm.  Gibbs Farm is privately owned and is located near the Kaipara Harbour, the biggest harbour in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is here at Gibb’s farm that a few artists get to showcase their sculptures on the 1000 acre farm.

The farm is only open monthly to the public by prior appointment, where you get to walk around and view each sculpture. There is no fee to enter the farm. They offer a few dates where they take bookings but be quick!  Spaces book out so you  need to book in advance.  We visited in Spring, and there was a lot of rain!!  The walk around the farm takes a good 3-4 hours, and trust me it is long, not sure how, but our girls managed to walk the whole way without complaining.  Until that time when Miss C needed to do a wee and there were no toilets near us, so we had to find a tree pretty quick smart!

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You can take younger children but the roads are a bit rough so not that great for strollers unless you have one of those heavy-duty 4×4 prams that can go off roading.  Even though the weather was pretty shit, it didn’t stop people visiting.  The only time the farm is closed is during the winter months.  There are plenty of animals about too, Ostrich, zebras, giraffes you name it.  The cool thing is you can get up close and personal with the giraffes and feed them.

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In summer it would be even more amazing, as you can pack a picnic and sit down anywhere really and soak it all in.  If you are going in wet weather, definitely pack a spare set of clothes to change into once you have finished your visit.

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Both our girls loved the freedom of exploring, and the sheer size of the sculptures where breath-taking!

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We had a great time visiting and it wore out the kids too…hooray!  If you would like more information on Gibbs Farm, click here.

To make a booking to visit, click here for the reservations form.

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Enjoy!

Ronell x

Book Review – My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

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You know it’s a good book when you think about it every waking minute and try to work out when is the next time I get to read it.  At one stage I had it sitting in my recipe holder, so I read whilst I cooked!  Fair to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Like Katie (Cat) everyone has this image of living the London or New York life, (I know you have thought about it!) thanks to Sex and the City, we all want to experience the NY life, drink Starbucks coffee and wear amazing clothes and hail a yellow cab.  Same with London, wrapping up in woolen coats, sitting in a corner cafe sipping a hot drink whilst it rained outside, all the while looking ever so professional, hair straight and tied back, black glasses (you possibly have perfect vision but still insist on wearing it for “the look”).

I know a lot of books I have read over time, I feel like I want to go to these places, well that is how it is for Katie.  Her dream was to work and live in London, she has an amazing Instagram account, of perfect photos showcasing her life in London, fancy restaurants, hot chocolates, food, buildings…..only thing is that was all a pretence.  Her IG account is what she aspired her London life to be,  but it was far from what her actual life living in London was.  It was hard, and not like the fantasy she had in mind.

I suppose this is a bit like real life, people always perfect IG feeds, but we will never really know who the real person is behind all of that.

When she finally hit’s rock bottom after loosing her job in London it was time to return home, back to the farm.  That’s where she is truly herself and only when she is herself, she starts to shine!  She becomes more confident in who she is as a person and over time realises she doesn’t need to pretend or have a fake persona.  This makes her stronger.

There were some really funny bits in the book too that makes you laugh out.  Off course there is a handsome guy thrown in the mix too.  In the end she just might get the life she always dreamed off however, it wasn’t a straight road getting there.

Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did, I was actually a bit sad that the book ended!   After reading this book I know, I will always choose real over perfect!

Ah well, time to find another good read!

Ronell x

 

 

Be Proud Mummies!


I have recently returned to the workforce after being a stay at home mum for a bit.  At first I was a little apprehensive and worried thinking holy shit how am I going to fit everything that I did whilst being at home around work or fit work around everything I did at home.  Usually I had all day to clean up and prep all the dinner stuff (even sneak in a bit of Real Housewives or whatever else was on the planner waiting for me to watch) and then after school, head off to the multitude of activities.

Then I gave myself a pep talk and put on my big girl pants and was ready to head out the door.  The girls were a bit excited seeing mummy dressing up for work.  Well I couldn’t be happier for doing so.  Ever since starting I feel like I have an extra bounce in my step and I’m proud of myself. Even though I contributed to the household before with keeping everything running, now to be able to help financially a little bit too makes me feel great.  The best feeling was buying my husband his birthday gift that I can now say I paid for myself!!

Instead of having all day to do my other stuff I now found my rhythm/routine and can fit it all in.  I’m up at 6am, both girls help me in the morning and the afternoon with simple chores that I give them, even the husband helps too a lot more now.  I had to tweak our dinner’s to meals that don’t take too long to prep, but I’m proud that I can still fit everything in even yoga classes in the evening some days.  Don’t get me wrong at the end of the night once the girls are in bed I am tired but I have a feeling of accomplishment.  I don’t have a cleaner or a nanny to help me, it’s just me. I know that there are lots of other mum’s that are doing the same as me, still keeping the household running and going to work, whether part-time or full-time, and still getting the kids to all the after school activities on time, so to all those mum’s, stand tall and be proud of yourself that hell yeah we are doing it!  Can I just drop a Beyoncé song line here, “Who run the world? GIRLS!”

At work I sit around the meeting table now, with the rest of the team, and it feels great to contribute to things and be heard, prior to this I was always in meetings, with me, myself and I.  I’m lucky enough to work with an amazing team of other women, and I love being at work, and to know I’m making a difference even if it is small is a great feeling.   At work you get thanked for doing a great job and your efforts are recognised.  It makes you feel good about yourself.

I hope people don’t read this and think I’m taking a dig at mum’s who don’t work because in my opinion all mum’s are working mum’s whether it’s a stay at home mum, if you run your own business or if you head out to the office.  This is just how I feel about returning to work!

So I am a proud mamma and you should be to, for all your accomplishments! 

Ronell x

 

 

 

Book Review – Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly

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So I have finally finished reading this book.  When I first started reading this book it was slow to get into, I could leave it for a few days and not miss it. But once I got a bit further in, then I really started to enjoy it a bit more.

The story revolves around one family and trickles it’s way down the family tree.  It all starts with the Brannigan siblings. Edward being the eldest and richest.  Mick who’s married to Nora who are just perfect together,  then there is Kit and his wife Helen, who throughout the book feels hard done by as she married the brother who didn’t have all the riches. Lastly their sister who ran away when she was much younger.  The book looks at each of their marriages and that of their children’s marriages.

Edward’s wife has passed away and he has remarried Bess,  unveiling how his children react to this, especially his daughter JoJo, who is also going through her own struggles with IVF.  This then touches on her marriage and how much stress they are both under.  But also it looks at the relationship between Bess and her daughter over the years.

Mick and Nora, who have an amazing marriage, their daughter Cara was dumped at the altar.  So for their family it’s about Cara picking up the pieces and moving on from that.

Kit and Helen, well Helen, is just unhappy and wants to live like her older brother-in-law, even though this is costing them financially.  Ah Helen, it’s not a good idea to compare yourselves to others and try to be like them!  They have two daughters who are single and really just happy to mingle!

Obviously a big birthday celebration is just what is needed to “force” everyone together where there are a few surprises in store.

Here are a couple great quotes from the book!



Happy reading!

Ronell x

Beauty & The Beast

Last night was family movie night. Initially it was just going to be myself and Kiara who’s 10. I was sitting on the fence about whether Chloe who’s 6 would be too little to watch it.  In the end we thought stuff it we will all go and watch it, much to Chloe’s delight. 


The movie was amazing! We loved all the singing and dancing in it. I think Emma Watson who played Belle was perfect for the role. I also loved Mrs Pots & Chip. Now the Beast well I’m not so sure about that. I think everyone held their breath when the spell was broken and the prince was relieved. 

I think he looked a bit too clean if that makes sense. He should have had a beard or a bit of stubble or something.  I found him more attractive when he was a beast rather than the prince! Is that weird? 

There are a couple of scary bits but not too bad. Our girls were okay with it they just covered their eyes a bit. 

This movie was one of my favourite Disney movies growing up, and I’m so pleased I got to watch this with my girls. 

All in all we loved it! 


Hope you enjoy it as much as us!

Ronell x