B&B  Blossom Cottage - Rotorua New Zealand 

I had been dreaming of picking them for a gourmet meal, imagining my family gazing up at me, while I proudly dished up these vitamin-laden morsels of goodness at the dinner table with roast lamb and new potatoes, but .......no, ..............it was not to be!  Max, the most adventurous and mischievous of our three donkeys, escaped the confines of the backyard and had ETEN up my vegetable patch!  All that remained of my garden that fateful afternoon were some earth-covered roots and a few chewed-up lettuce leaves!

Another one of our animals also got up to mischief recently. I took my charger to the kitchen one morning to charge my phone while I ate breakfast.  I went out for a few minutes, came back, picked up the charger and plugged it into the socket.  I then picked up the other end of the cord..... I thought I was dreaming... I looked once, twice, three times, looked away and looked again in disbelief and you will not believe this.......the end of the charger that plugs into the phone had been chewed off!  I thought I was going mad until I saw a mangled piece of cord with a plug lying sadly on the kitchen floor.  The culprit, small, fluffy and incredibly cute, was observing me from a safe distance.  Yes, she is our new kitten, Cloudy, who was found, barely alive, in a drain and who we adopted from the SPCA. How could I be angry at her? After a quick reparation job with some duck tape by the man of the house, my charger was as good as new!

I could go on forever about the antics our animals get up to, but I won't, as I want to let you in on a piece of good news!  We have just received the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2013 for Blossom Cottage, which places us in the top-performing 10% of all businesses worldwide on Tripadvisor.  This certificate is given to businesses that consistently earn high ratings from travellers.  We are delighted, of course, and it makes all the years of stress, renovations and landscaping, all worthwhile!  It is also great to get a certificate for something we are really passionate about!

I must tell you about a couple of places to visit while in Rotorua.  One of them is Kerosene Creek, which is a natural, hot water river just south of Rotorua.  Lovely for a soak in the pool on a cold day and romantic at night, too.

Canopy Tours is a new attraction, which takes you on a guided tour through the forest on high ropes. Not for the faint-hearted, but exhilarating if you do take the plunge.

Another interesting place to visit, just minutes from Blossom Cottage, is Brown Owl Organics, which is run by Janine Cotter. She sells organic produce from her home and has a good variety of vegetables, fruit, flour, milk, feta and even woollen socks, bunting and bamboo toothbrushes, to name just a few.  I would be more than happy to take you there to meet Janine. She is a very inspiring woman who, unlike so many people nowadays, makes time to smell the roses and appreciate the little things in life.

Another interesting place is the living village of Ohinemutu on Rotorua's lakefront, where you can see how Maori and European cultures have collaborated. View an intricately carved Maori meeting house, exquisitely highlighted by hundreds of paua shells. You can also enter Saint Faith's, a 1901 tudor-style church set amidst steaming geothermal vents.  The church has beautiful Maori carvings, woven panels and a memorable feature: a window etched with the image of Jesus walking on water, clad in a Maori cloak. Well worth a visit and free of charge.

One of our favourite restaurants in Rotorua is Herbs and Spices, a Thai Restaurant in Eruera Street.  It is always full of people, which is a good sign and the food is authentic, delicious and never fails to please.

Capers is great and offers a big selection of breakfast, lunch and dinner options and suits every budget.  Nice, homely atmosphere and there is a small playroom for the little ones.

Before I go, here is a delicious shortbread recipe that I have been making for years.  It will be a little crumbly as the dough comes together, but is perfect once you roll it out:

Lemon Shortbread Biscuits

300g Butter, 3 Cups Flour, 1 Cup Icing Sugar, Zest 1-2 Lemons or Oranges

Cream butter and icing sugar with the zest.  Mix in the sifted flour.  Form the mixture into a ball.  It will look dry, but it works. Roll out, use a cutter to make shapes and put on a baking tray.

170 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

I also want to tell you about a product someone showed me last week.  It is called a Toaster Bag and is a non-stick bag, which looks a bit like a plastic sandwich bag.  You make your sandwich with filling, place it in the bag and then put it in your toaster.  Your sandwich comes out hot, crisp and toasted.  It also re-heats pizza, french fries, chicken nuggets or fish fingers in your toaster, but should not be used for raw food.  Genius!  I bought mine at a stationery shop, of all places, but I expect that you would be able to find them at homeware shops as well.

Bye for now. I will be back soon with another favourite recipe, interesting attractions in Rotorua and animal antics!