This week’s small pleasures #323

What a week…I’ve already mentioned Cyclone Gabrielle and the devastation it caused in Saturday’s post. Thousands are still unaccounted for, power is yet to be restored to many areas, and there is an issue with fresh water in some areas. It is just awful to see the pictures and read the news. However, I have heard from friends and colleagues who live in stricken areas, and have heard some good stories too, with one friend opening up her home, offering a gas stove and pizza oven for cooking.

Eating and cooking

To add to all this, there was a 6.0 earthquake on Wednesday evening. It was deep at least, but the epicentre wasn’t far from Wellington. As the Prime Minister said….look out of the window for locusts……Anyway, we happened to be at the new professors’ dinner to celebrate Karl’s recent award of this title when the quake happened. It didn’t stop the celebration at least. We enjoyed some lovely little little appetisers (I especially enjoyed the little prawn puffs) and we both had the beef for a change. The mini lemon meringue pies on the dessert platter were especially good.

I cooked a good tomato and fish dish (fish poached in charred tomato broth) from Ixta Belfrage’s Mezcla on Saturday and a lamb curry from Ashia Ismail Singer’s My Indian Kitchen for Sunday’s dinner with left overs tonight.

Food shopping

In the basket this week: ginger and chillies for the curry, spinach, apricots, seasonal courgettes and aubergine, mushrooms to have with pork filet during the week and a giant cucumber and cos lettuce.


We had no plans for the weekend, and ended up just resting (and in Charlie’s case, his sleeping place prevented me for putting on a clean duvet cover) and doing a bit of gardening and housework. I also started reading Eleanor Catton’s new book Birnam Wood which I am really enjoying so far.

Simple things

  • A Hawaiian pizza – yes for all my talk about good food and fine dining, I don’t mind pineapple on a pizza. Really,
  • Hearing that a friend completed her third half-marathon.
  • Sunshine!
  • Walking to work through the Botanic Gardens
  • The noise of cicadas because you know it is summer
  • And best of all, meeting an old school friend who was on holiday in New Zealand and who I hadn’t seen for many, many years and picking up the conversation where we left off.

What were your small pleasures this week? Here are some other blog posts from a few fellow bloggers looking at the good things in life. Also shared in Natalie the Explorer’s Weekend Coffee Share.

Thistles and Kiwis is a Wellington, New Zealand based blog written by Barbara, who likes cats, summer, good food and pretends to garden.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis. If you want to get in touch, email me on or lo


  1. I was reading about the devastation in New Zealand in this morning’s paper and thought of you as well as family I have there. By contrast, I have taken great pleasure in light rain over the weekend, the sprouting of tomato seeds, and seeing a variety of birds in my garden. Thank you for this uplifting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Anne. Yes the devastation has been quite awful. I saw a picture today of navy personnel digging a cow out who was stuck in the mud almost up to her shoulders. People’s livelihoods and homes destroyed.


  2. After a cyclone AND an earthquake, New Zealand must be feeling exhausted. The pictures of flooding are unbelievable, I really hope people who are currently uncontactable will be found soon.
    How’s Ixta Belfrage’s Mezcla? I’ve been very curious about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes…it is all just a bit much and add in humid weather it isn’t that nice!

      Mexcla – I’ve made three things and while all tasty, there is a lot of chipotle and chilli and I think you need to spread out the dishes so you don’t get bored of spicy food and tomatoes – or maybe that is just what I have made so far!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting, yes I remember feeling exhausted by Mexican food after just a few days in Mexico because there’s a lot of similar flavours, although that said I came back around very quickly! Will keep your thoughts in mind, maybe mark the pages without chilli and tomatoes to alternate between!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, my! I have been reading the news about New Zealand. So very sorry. It can take a long time to recover from such devastation. Glad to read that folks are helping each other. And then came an earthquake. Holy cats! Glad to read it wasn’t too bad and that the dinner for Karl could go on as planned. (Congrats, Karl!) I have requested Birnam Wood through interlibrary loan, and I am looking forward to reading it. As always, thanks for the mention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it will take years for the hit areas to fully recover. I was also so pleased that the earthquake was not a damaging one – the table we were seated at would have struggled to get all 9 of us underneath it!

      I’m certainly enjoying Birnam Wood so far.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a week! Thank goodness the earthquake wasn’t too bad, that’s all you need right now. As usual reading this post of yours always makes me hungry (and envious) and if that is your walk to work then I am doubly envious!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a lovely post idea! It’s so important to appreciate the little things, especially when there are so many terrible things happening in the world. Speaking of: I’m sad to hear of the destruction and deaths caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. Glad that you are well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am very envious of your third simple thing! I am pleased that your earthquake was mild enough not to stop your celebration. What with cyclones and earthquakes, i am beginning to think that not having a plan to cycle to New Zealand may be a good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh don’t worry about cyclones! This was a very rare event. Once in a lifetime type of thing. And earthquakes – well you shouldn’t worry about them either. Not all earthquakes cause damage. However, I wouldn’t recommend NZ for a cycling holiday – lots of hills!


  7. I love how much positivity you find in your every day life despite the nature disasters. I have a feeling we have some things in common in that matter, always trying to see the good in things.
    “The new professors’ dinner” sounds interesting. Did Karl recently earn the title professor?
    Have a fabulous new week?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there are days when it is harder to find the good things, but there is always something, even if it just a cuddle from the cat!

      Yes Karl was awarded the title of Professor in December. It is the proper European meaning here too ie he was awarded it for his research and work in the university.

      Thank you! Hope your week is good too.


  8. I read about the natural disasters in NZ in the news. I’m glad that the earthquake didn’t interrupt your and Karl’s New Professors dinner. It’s refreshing to see the blue and green in your header photo as it’s winter over here. Your food and groceries all look delicious and healthy. Thank you for the mention and for your weekend coffee share. Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Barbra,

    I’ve not been paying much attention to the news and hadn’t heard about either your earthquake or Cyclone Gabrielle. Gracious!
    Here, we can’t get any news without first hearing about the earthquake in Turkey. It makes an amount of sense because so many lives were lost and survivors displaced. Our church took up an offering to help out.
    Our weather has been a bit nuts, but nothing on the scale of what you’ve experienced.

    Stay safe my friend.
    Many of us are rather dependent on hearing from you each weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s always nice to see old friends. Even if time has passed, if we see each other in person, we’ll chat as though we saw each other yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The opening photo of your post is breathtaking. The stew sounds delicious I am going to have to check out Ixta Belfrage, Mezcla cookbook from my local library 

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hoping that very soon everyone will be as cosy & content & comfortable as your Charlie. It’s always great to hear of kindness during such tragic times. All the food & reading looks all delicious for mind body & soul.

    Liked by 1 person

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