Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Favourite Things

 I sang "My Favourite Things" to Reuben the other night, as I have been doing a bit recently. You know how it goes, "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string..." It's pretty cheesy stuff actually, but we've been doing a lot of 'Doe a Deer" lately, so it seemed like a natural progression. And he loves it.

When I finished it last time, Reuben said, "When you're sad do you think of your favourite things Mamma? What are your favourite things?" Well. There was a pause as I sat stunned at his question, then began easily, "well you and Esther are my top favourite things. And... I like flowers. And, um... Well I'll have to think about it and get back to you." My favourite things. I'm sure I have plenty. It's just that I haven't thought about life like that for a while. And it's exactly what I've been wanting to think about here. Perfect timing little guy.

So I've started thinking about it. Or trying to, I haven't really got anywhere yet. I accidently found a beautiful little notebook in a shop today that says on the front "explorer of truth and beauty" and I picked it up and bought it without hesitation. Perfect timing, little gift shop. I'll carry it round with me and see how much I can fill it.

Then there's the project I've started here that's similar. Finding things of beauty and things that it's good to be alive for. I had thought I would only photograph things, but now I'm reading a book that was given to me about purposely listing all the little things in life you are thankful for (more about that another day, perhaps), so the plan extended to words as well. There are so many ideas around this topic that I'm having trouble working out how to approach it to be honest, but I will try and untangle it and share the results with you. Let's hope that there's also so many things to discover and remember and enjoy that I get tangled up in those too.

I have made one step along the way. I really do like flowers. I know it's cliche, but I love them. And I realised I could do something with that. I could get some. So I added them to my whopping-trolley-load-what's-another-ten-bucks at the supermarket on Monday when I was shopping for birthday party supplies, and put them with a few from my garden. So there you are, something I love, something truly beautiful, something I can have in my house and look at whenever I like, and something I can photograph for you too.

Oh, and the smell!

I'll see if I can get started in my notebook over the next few days. But I'd love some help. What are your favourite things? I love hearing especially about the quirky things. Many of us will have chocolate and fresh sheets and sunshine and the sound of rain on the roof on our list (and make sure you include them) but what else makes you different to your friends? My Mum has a thing about mugs and my friend loves antique fans and I love love love maps of all kinds, especially old ones (there you are, there's another one). Do you find crunchy autumn leaves on the footpath irresistible, or love the sound of trains at night, or do you collect teaspoons? And what about schnitzel with noodles? Does anyone have that on their list?


  1. A REALLY good hot chocolate (Italian Cafe on Cuba St or Midnight Espresso with cream)

    James' eyelashes.

    Matt's cheekbones.

    Coming down out of Ngauranga Gorge into the Harbour and seeing all that glorious water, in a different mood every day.


    Raspberries, a whole punnet at a time.

    Solace in the wind, the sculpture on the waterfront near Te Papa.

    Paintings on the wall.

    Reading a book in the sun.

    Little House and Anne books.

    The smell of - what is it? Daphne? - at night in summer.

    Having gone for a run.

    1. Some things I don't know about you! Wonderful. Love #4. And lots of others.

  2. And I LOVE these photos. Beautiful.

  3. A baby snoring

    the absolutely out of control giggle cackle that little kids do together when they have discovered something hilarious

    The collective blood orange yoghurt - it makes any moment infinitely better

    pohutakawa's in bloom it means summer, warmth, Christmas, holidays, family all rolled into one

    a warm shower when you are absolutely frozen, the kind where your fingers burn and you involuntarily go Aaaahhhhhhh!

    A warm kids hand resting on your knee while they talk to you

    Sitting chatting with my Mum

    the clinking of champagne glasses and the first fizzy sip

    Rhinoceros and Hippos so improbable so hilarious

    Waking up and realising it's Saturday and letting your eyes slide closed again

    Listening to YoYo Ma play the cello

    Chocolate raisins

    Pulling a perfectly cooked cake from the oven

    A compliment on a day when you are looking and feeling decidedly average, makes you feel like you can fly

    The kind of reading where you disappear to another land and struggle to re-enter the real world

    My green fruit bowl full of shiny vibrant yellow lemons

    neatly folded piles of washing

    cooking for other people

    I could go on and on .........

    1. Beautiful! I too love the dairy collective, chocolate raisins and the cello. I have a baby who snores, a kid who cackles and a father who folds the neatest washing in the land. And you can cook for me any day :)

  4. I've been thinking about this post on and off all day.

    Some more:

    August and Everything After

    Bach Cello Suite in G

    Someone referring to a sermon I preached ages ago



    Being toasty when Wellington weather is at its wildest


    The Doctor when he's on a rampage

    and of course A COMMENT ON MY BLOG!


    1. Ha ha yes indeed. Had to google a couple of those. Love that you love August and Everything After.

    2. Oh - and a rampage is good?

    3. There's nothing quite like The Doctor in full flight, we have some followers in our house :)

  5. Brunch

    Feeling (cheap) wrapping paper through a stocking at Christmas.

    Cold white wine and olives

    The smell of steam trains

    Watching the latest episode of current favourite TV show downloaded from the States, knowing that you are weeks or months ahead of everyone else.

    I too have been thinking about this all day, thanks for the prompt. I am sure there must be more...must think more frequently about this.

    1. Ha! Noone really needs expensive wrapping paper right? Great to have you on board.

  6. a cup of tea, especially leaf tea out of a tea pot in a proper tea cup

    the smell of smoke in the cold night air in winter


    Sweet peas

    when my neighbour (or anyone for that matter) just pops in to say hello

    Getting 14 of children's clothing and a bike for $10 at the family store the other day

    Walking at night


    Hotwater bottles

    ginger cheesecake, actually, make that any cheesecake

    my home group

    eating anything I grew

    rasberries, strawberries, boysenberries

    watching Isaiah do nuddy dancing

    1. Oooh this all gives me good feelings! Love the smell of sweet peas. Cheesecake was an absolute fave of Kent's. I hope lots of people read this and wonder who Isaiah is.

  7. That's a brilliant question Reuben! I've been working on my list for a few days so better post it before it gets out of hand ...

    Walking barefoot on the beach

    A sparkly clean bathroom

    Fresh sheets on the bed

    Food that was made to go together ... salmon and avocado, bacon and eggs, roast chicken and crunchy roast veggies with gravy, chocolate and mint ...

    Really good fish and chips (now and again)

    Breakfast in bed

    Coming home after being away, appreciating with new eyes what I often take for granted

    Finding exactly the right gift for someone

    Poppies and roses

    Hugs from my daughters

    Unhurried time with friends

    Wellington on a magically still day

    Counselling study

    Leafy green bushwalks

    Getting lost in worship

    Waking up from a good night’s sleep

    Having the whole family home in the Uni holidays

    Decorating a cake

    A perfect trim latte, preferably Mojo

    Following the beautifully crafted blog of a friend ...

    1. Lovely lovely lovely. It sounds like you know what a good life is.
      And you're very kind!

  8. Homemade preserves lined up along a kitchen shelf


    Flicking through house/design magazines

    Flowers on the kitchen table (or anywhere for that matter).

    A raging hot fire on a freezing cold day

    Sitting by the big fire in the reading room at the Chateau Tongariro

    Downton Abbey

    Dinner out at Boulcott Street Bistro

    Driving onto State Highway 1 when heading off on holiday

    Letters in the post

    Spring blossoms

    An afternoon working in the garden

    Drinking red wine from one of those big glasses (Like the ones they have at Floriditas)

    Warm olives

    High tea

    Morning snuggles in bed with the kids


    A really good TV series on DVD (The West Wing)

    A perfectly poached egg

    Almond croissants from The French Baker in Greytown

    Pandoro hot cross buns at Easter

    (Hmmm I have a bit of a food theme going on here)

    1. Yes to The West Wing (already on my list)! Yes to lisianthus (we had them at our wedding reception)! Yes to The French Baker! A beautiful list.

  9. I'm sitting here watching the West Wing and eating chocolate raisins while rain patters on the roof - aaaahhh!

    A few more favourite things to add:

    my favourite stripey socks

    watching knitting grow row by row

    my hands looking more and more like my Mums as they get older, more lined, signs of a life being lived

    eating lemon tart in bed on a Sunday morning

    letters kept from my Dad so I can read and hear his voice even now he is gone

    My wall of photos, the faces of the ones I love

    Lists that get ticked and crossed out, days where things are accomplished

    anticipation, the joy of looking forward to

    the little jokes, secrets and shared experiences within my family that bind us together

    Rudyard Kiplings Just So Stories

    1. Nice! Is it your own knitting you watch?

    2. Yes my own knitting, I've been knitting for my nephew which is great cause 1 year olds are small it doesn't take too long to actually finish something!

  10. Hi Angela, thanks for your invitation to contribute to this x
    I must admit, this question kept my mind buzzing with ideas long after my bedtime last night, but what a wonderful question to consider, so here is my (abbreviated) list...

    Beautiful gift wrapping and packaging (to give and receive)

    Peonies and orchids (and receiving any flowers as a gift)

    Sharing a geniune smile or conversation with a complete stranger

    Well-designed business cards

    Seeing other people enjoying something I have created...food, art, children!

    Seeing my parents delight in the their grandchildren

    The beach on a sunny day, a stormy day, any day of the year!

    Making the final brush-stroke on a painting and stepping back to enjoy it

    Joshua's drawings

    The smell of sun-dried washing

    Finding a truly *me* shop

    Browsing through a great bookshop, especially on a rainy Saturday afternoon

    House/design/food magazines, books and shops

    Wrapping presents

    Getting dressed up (to go somewhere special)

    Making my children laugh

    Second-hand/antique shopping for bargains, especially old chairs,desks and fans!

    Picture frames

    Hanging a new picture on the wall

    Remembering the joy of collecting a developed film/prints from the chemist, sitting in the car and having that first peek

    Finding a recipe you know will become a 'signature' dish (the simpler the better!)

    Eating delicious food and drinking good wine with friends and/or family, for any reason

    Boardgames at the bach

    Getting 'lost' in a beautiful art exhibition and coming away feeling inspired and energised

    Christmas baking

    Knowing I'm loved unconditionally

    Knowing I have wonderful friends all over the world (also comes with a touch of sadness!)

    I could go on..... :) x

    1. Wonderful! I love it. This does sound just like you, but also I love the way it tells me more. I already have "old chairs" on my list. I saw old typewriters in a second hand shop the other day and thought of you.

  11. oh gosh, I didn't realise how long that list was!!! eek :)

    1. No problem. Some of the others above have come back for a second round!

  12. reading kids’ writing (preferably poetry)

    sinking in to reading a brilliant novel (Chimamanda Ngozi Adochie/ Zadie Smith/ Arundhati Roy/ Margaret Atwood/ too many others to say...)



    a very good art gallery (The Pompidou Centre/ The Orangerie/ Tate Modern/ The Royal Academy/ Egon Schiele at The Leopold Musem/ The V&A/ Hauser & Wirth...)

    the sound of my pack’s wheels as I launch off on a new chapter of travel, that feeling of possibility...

    the sunrise from Maranui Cafe

    the sunrise from Truby King Park

    Hannah Vollebregt’s laugh

    Ottolenghi’s food, ALL of it


    Finnish summer cottages & lakes

    a baguette with unsalted butter with a cafe au lait in a small French village

    The Himalayas

    tree skeletons

    art deco furniture

    the view from Mum&Dad’s deck

    snuggly hugs from four year olds

    the sound of my choir of 5-8 year olds singing Hey Mr Tambourine Man

    Faure Requiem

    Arabic cardamon coffee

    trains, the longer the journey the better


    moss green

    Noa Noa

    driving through Kelburn under the trees on a summery day



    mad dancing with my cousins

    looking down at Wellington Harbour from Palliser Rd in Mt Vic

    beach bonfires

    Waitarere sunsets

    walking in the town belt

    cycling along the Regent Canal towpath

    sleeping out under the stars

    conversations about LIFE with strangers

    a good pottery mug

    (ridiculously hard to stop once I started! - thanks for this inspiration Angela!)

    1. Sounds beautiful. I have for a long time fancied travelling around Switzerland on the train.
      Glad to have got you started, it's quite addictive isn't it?

  13. I think I am going to have to do mine in batches. Reading through the above, I would have to agree with anything exercise-oriented except where there are high winds. No fun. I looove the sounds of kittens - now cats snoring. Gardening of course, and in particular harvesting food, and a early in the morning when there is a clear sky, sun coming up, and it's been raining shortly beforehand. Short native grasses are particularly sparkling at times like this. Have you noticed how electric plants look after thunder and lightening? Celebrating's pretty good. But my absolute favourite things are my old friends. Friends who are still there after weeks and months after not being in contact, and years after we've not been living in the same city. Friendships where we pick up exactly where we left off and can be just as trusting and intimate as we were when we were last together. There's no judgement, just warmth. Kinda like gold, really.

    1. Aren't you just the loveliest thing. Looking forward to your batches.

  14. oh my parents! i love that i can call my dad when i have some conundrum, tell him all about it, and by the time i'm finished i know what to do. he doesn't have to say anything, it's just the act of telling him in particular that clarifies the situation for me and the answer arriveth. also my mum has become a friend in my adult life, and is getting so fabulously quirky these days. she's hilarious and says the funniest things. if the phone rings after 10pm it's bound to be her.

  15. Better late than never ...

    Possum merino clothing
    Knitting wool
    My cat purring
    Solving a problem
    Playing the piano
    A good book
    Spending time with family
    Antique shops
    Chocolate (preferably dark)
    The view of Wgtn Harbour as the train comes out of the tunnel
    The sound of Tui and Morepork
    Coloured glass
    Waking up after a good nights sleep
    Finding the perfect shell on the beach
    A good coffee
    Exciting op-shop finds
    Finding a pair of shoes that fit
    Hot water bottles
    Fresh cream donuts from Thorndon New World

    1. This is great! I love what I have just learnt about you! You make life sound good. I rather like antique shops too.

    2. Like that she plays the piano??? I had no idea! :)

    3. I also love the idea of this list! Have been finding my thinking tending towards the negative recently so it's been good for the soul to make a list such as this :) My current favourite antique shop is near the top of Molesworth St (dangerously near my work so I limit my visits to once a week...). JB - I've played for years but am really rather rusty. If either of you hear of a piano that needs minding, let me know!

  16. Well I couldn't read all these fabulous lists without thinking of a few things of my own...

    Touching down on NZ soil after waaaaay too long!
    Watching my boys playing (nicely) together
    Beautiful kitchens
    Jonah's chuckle
    The smell of freesias
    Whittaker's chocolate
    The excitement and anticipation as I sit in a theatre waiting for the musical to begin.
    Baking (verb AND noun!)
    The smell of the earth after rain
    Mt Taranaki
    Ben's hair, and seeing his eyes when he removes his glasses
    KitchenAids (would love them even more if I had one!)
    The tui and kaka at my mother-in-law's house
    Dinner someone else has made for me
    Watching my mum enjoying my boys
    NZ rugged black sand beaches
    Michael's sense of humour
    Les Miserables
    My dad's house and the comfort I feel there
    Nanaimo bar

    1. Yes, ok, verb and noun of course!! A lovely list - there's a few things on yours I rather like too.

    2. Freesias are very Taranaki to me, and I have had some in the house recently - gorgeous!

    3. Oh yes - Thunderstorms and singing! :)

  17. Angela, I only came across this post a couple of days and have been mulling over my favourite things ever since!

    Trees in blossom
    Hugs from Thomas and Evie
    Swimming in the sea when it's warm
    Tropical air
    New leaves on trees
    The smell of clean sheets on the bed
    Real hot chocolate
    Going out for dinner
    The sound of Evie and Thomas really laughing together
    Walking outside after it's rained
    Hagley park and the Botanic Gardens in spring
    London in summer
    English countryside
    The smell of freesias, daphne and sweet peas
    The first panoramic view of the Southern Alps
    Hot pools
    The sound of bellbirds and tui
    Eggs in the nesting box
    The smell of our lemon and grapefruit trees in flower

    1. Yes sweet peas! Yes London in Summer! Yes son and daughter laughing together! (how did I miss this one?).
      We have a mandarin tree that doesn't grow great mandarins but does create the most beautiful smell. Especially at dusk, don't you find?

  18. Nearly a month late to the party, but I have been thinking about this quite a lot recently. For what it's worth, here's the current version of my list (in no particular order) - there seem to be a lot of overlaps with those that have gone before:

    Open fires
    English hedgerows
    Wild poppies
    Watching the sun go down (or, more rarely, come up!)
    Being by the sea
    Listening to Marcus and Isabelle play/laugh/chat together, especially when they don't know I'm listening (although there seems to be more squabbling than laughing of late - must be the end of the summer holidays!)
    Cuddles with my children
    A nice glass of red wine
    Christmas Eve
    Frosty leaves
    Autumn leaves
    Actually, leaves and trees full stop!
    Someone else cooking me dinner
    Feeding friends and family
    Planning nice things - holidays, birthdays (and their cakes!), surprises
    A good book
    Discovering new words
    Listening to live music
    The first day of spring when it's warm enough to not need a coat (and, equally, the first day of autumn when it's properly chilly enough to need a jumper) - maybe I should just say the changing of the seasons...
    Lie-ins (more of a wishful thinking one at the moment, to be fair)

    1. It's never too late to think about this! What a lovely list, I hope you get plenty of this in your life.