Water cooler talk: busy bees, bliss balls and how to cut into a pumpkin

Busy bees, balls of bliss and a  country bumpkin and her pumpkins – things that got us talking about in the thisNZlife office this week.



It’s not often something happens literally right at the water cooler. Well, technically this is the dog’s water and it’s some distance from the thisNZlife’s actual drinking station, but it’s close enough.
Around one bee a week drowns in the dog water bowls, despite little ‘islands’ (broken terracotta pots) that I carefully place in them so there is somewhere for a bee to dip its toes without suffering a complete drenching.
But this week there have been dozens of bees lining up to get a drink, their little bottoms waggling in the air as they gulp it down. Fortunately no drownings, but the sheer number is huge compared to the odd one we usually see. There are plenty of drinking options around my block (with similar ‘islands’ in the water troughs) and there’s plenty of fresh standing water in drains that are much closer to the hives. I have no idea why the bees find this particular water source so enticing, but it’s so buzzy, the dogs have demoted themselves to slinking into the bathroom to steal from the cats.
-Nadene Hall
NZ Lifestyle Block editor


Every year I have the best intentions of watching a selection of the Academy Award-nominated films, but more often than not, it never happens; Oscar-nominated translates to heavy, intense viewing – that and going to the movies almost costs more than my weekly grocery shop. When did movie popcorn become so expensive?
Heavy and intense are two words that describe Room (now out on DVD), directed by Lenny Abrahamson and based on the book of the same name by Emma Donoghue. Capturing the story of a young woman (Oscar-winner Brie Larson) and her five-year-old son confined to a tiny, well-locked room, Room is a surprisingly touching yet complex film. It’s an emotional rollercoaster; I cried, laughed and left bruises on my husband’s arm from clutching it too hard. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so anxious… and I leave it there to save you from spoilers. If you’ve seen it, please tell me what you think – I would love to know!
-Cheree Morrison
Staff writer NZ Life & Leisure magazine


More stories you might like:
Dr Libby's guide to good gut health

Date and almond balls

These date & almond balls are super easy-to-make recipe and are one of my favourites. They are delicious, bite sized, healthy snacks that I can whip up, freeze and grab when needed, and my kids love them!

Here’s how to make Date and almond balls

Add into a food processor:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup dessiccated coconut
good sprinkle of chia seeds

  • Blend until all of the nuts are broken up into tiny pieces or to your desired consistency.
  • Add: 1/2 cup soaked pitted dates (I soak the dates for a few hours in boiling water), and then add 2-3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil.
  • Blend again until and the mixture has bound together enough to shape into balls  and has a slightly sticky consistency.
  • Spoon out tablespoon size amounts and roll into small balls. You can roll in coconut or leave plain.

Store in fridge or freezer. Makes around 15 balls.

-Rebecca Needham
Art Director NZ Lifestyle Block


tractor pull competition at Field Days
Last week’s National Fieldays event in Mystery Creek was amazing. What a hub of activity and it’s inspiring to learn what’s out there for the rural/lifestyle community. This city girl loved it, gumboots and all. The absolute stand-out activity of the day was sitting on the bank, watching the final of the tractor pull competition. Only in NZ – talk about pulling power.

-Toni Lambert
Advertising manager NZ Lifestyle Block



I harvested my beautiful Queensland blue pumpkins last month. They are now ready to eat (you have to let the wicks dry to bring out the flavour of the pumpkin). This year I had a record harvest of 15 whoppers, I think my bumper crop is due to Auckland having such a warm wet summer -plus growing them in my black gold (horse manure). I’ve given many to my friends and colleagues at thisNZlife – but the question I get asked is, ‘How do I cut these monsters?’ Well, I like to use an axe.

More stories you might like:
Great Gardens: 12 of New Zealand's Best — the latest collector’s edition from NZ Life & Leisure


I split the pumpkin into quarters and then roast them for 20- 30 minutes until they are partially soft, and the skin peels away easily.

Yolanta with her pumpkin crop.

Yolanta with her pumpkin crop.

Perhaps Nadia Lim should read this so she doesn’t lose any more fingers- ouch! This week I made a delicious pumpkin soup with an Asian twist with flavours from the garden and pantry.


Next, I can’t wait to have some friends around and have a crack at Annabel Langbein’s pumpkin pie. If you have any other pumpkin ideas – let me know.


-Yolanta Woldendorp
Creative director, NZ Life & Leisure and thisNZlife


Send this to a friend