RETIRE AND ENJOY | Messages from Janice at Rainbow Cottage

Healing with art and craft: Turning a cooking failure into a treat: Sewing with certified organic materials: Nature at its finest; Colombia

Hello everyone, here I am with a few snippets of interest to share with you once again.  Before I start a post I always ponder over different articles I have read, ideas that inspire me, projects I have undertaken and all matter of other things, hoping you will be able to pass some pleasant time reading those things that interest you.  
First I‘m going to start off describing an article I read in a recent copy of Spin Off, the art & craft of spinning yarn (an American magazine).  Lynne Rule became a paraplegic some 8 years ago and with the help of her husband has founded the Healing Fibers Foundation.  She says there was little she could do to fill the gruelling days and endless nights.  It was then that her concerned husband remembered that she used to knit.  He purchased every needle size he could find along with bundles of yarn and gave them to her for Christmas.  From that gift the beginning of Healing Fibers emerged.  The mission of the organisation is to encourage those who are ability-challenged, those struggling with illness, whether physical, emotional, mental or stress-related, and caregivers to use traditional fibre arts as a means of non medical therapy, focus and relaxation and to aid in the ability to be productive.  She says so may times these people are overlooked or minimalized when they have so very much to offer the world.
I was really quite overwhelmed by this article, the whole details of which are too long to précis here, but what a wonderful concept and one which I think we could employ if we see the need.  
For more information you can go to their website which is truly amazing:  http://www.healingfibres.org
Turning a cooking failure into a treat for Ken
I bake bread each week but l decided I would make a sourdough starter for a change in addition to the usual mixture.  The starter fermented well over 4 days so I thought a fruit loaf would be nice for a change.  The loaf looked magnificent
but o’h dear it was so gluggy and didn’t improve much with toasting.  I couldn’t bear to waste it so ‘ding’ I came up with the idea to give Ken a real treat.  Back in the dark ages, mmmm 1953, Ken was in training for his National Service in the Army and when he came home on leave his Mum always sent him back to camp with a bread pudding in a tiny suitcase.  He tells me he kept that suitcase for years as it still had the aroma of the pudding and brought back so many memories.
OK, back to the treat.  Of course over the years I’ve made bread puddings but certainly not recently.  If you’ve made one yourself you’ll know you don’t need to use a precise recipe and you can use any type of bread you have to hand.  In case you want to have a go here’s a rough guide:
1 large loaf, preferably fruit, but you can add more fruit
as required. The bread can be white or wholemeal or a combination.  
Soak the bread in sufficient water to cover.  Leave for about half an hour then drain off the water and squeeze to mash.  It will be quite wet.  Add additional dried fruit at this stage.  If you use plain bread then probably about 200g will do though more or less doesn’t matter.
Add 140g light brown or raw sugar, zest of a lemon, good pinch of mixed spiced and cinnamon, 100g melted butter and 2 beaten eggs and stir to combine.  Line a large oblong tin with baking paper and pour in mixture.  Bake at 180C for around about an hour but check after 40 minutes to make sure pudding isn’t browning too much.  It should be firm to the touch.  Leave to cool, sprinkle with some white sugar and cut into squares.  Best eaten warm (not hot) or very yummy cold.  
As you can imagine Ken was very happy even more so when he tasted the pudding:
The pudding keeps well in the fridge.  There’s no way it can be eaten all at once !!
Sewing with certified organic materials
I love sewing with certified organic materials and I’m prepared to pay that little bit more knowing that the grower of the fibre has been certified by an independent authority.  Some time ago I purchased some Australian made certified organic jersey knit from Bloom Fabrics in Melbourne http://www.bloomfabrics.com.au
It’s been sitting in a drawer for some time but when I was given a beautiful skein of wool as barter for a felt hat I made for a colleague in my spinning group, I knew it would compliment the dress I was intending to make by way of a belt and cuffs for the sleeves.  This weekend I got started on the project and true to form I experienced the presence of my dear Aunt Helen who taught me to sew and always insisted that preparation was the key to success.  Hence the material being jersey it was necessary to stay-stick all the edges.  I was a very good girl and reluctantly followed Aunty’s instructions after which I lay out the prepared work with the crochet of the belt to see the effect.  I think it’s going to work well.
Way back  in November 2012 I included in my post a little about my Aunt Helen and the big part she played in my life during my youth so thought today I would include a link to one of my short stories THE INTERVIEW telling how she helped me make an outfit for a very special interview. Of course some of you may have read this story before.
Nature at its finest: Colombia, biodiversity and the power of nature

This is a story that you don’t expect to read when someone mentions Colombia.  It’s usually about drugs isn’t it, so when I came across this article while participating in a Spanish language course, I was truly amazed.  When I mentioned its contents to Ken he gave me a funny look because he sometimes has the opinion that I’m ignorant of the wonders of the world.  Well, he has a vast knowledge of the south americas, being very interested in fauna and flora especially bird species, so I’ll leave him to his scepticism about me !!  

 

Encompassing 314 different coastal and continental ecosystems, Colombia holds within its borders the richest complexity of ecological, climatic, biological and ecosystem components imaginable.

Colombia is a country favoured by its natural resources, the variety of its geography and diversity of its ecosystems. It has a great variety of mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, plateaus, valleys and savannas. There is also a considerable number of streams, creeks, rivers and lakes in the country, which contributes to its thriving biodiversity. Ecosystems, species and genetic diversity together form the complex concept of biodiversity that is vital to the survival on this planet. Behind Brazil, Colombia is the second-highest country in terms of biodiversity, home to more than 56,000 different species, 16% of which are only found within the country’s borders.

Covering only 0.8% of the earth’s surface, Colombia hosts 18% of the 10,507 known bird species and around 60% of the bird species found in South America. With nearly 2,000 different bird species, the nation is the first in the world when it comes to the number of bird species. It is also home to 479 mammal species, 534 different kinds of reptiles, 763 amphibians and 3,435 different types of fish. There is an estimate of 300,000 species of invertebrates in the country of which only 10 to 20% have been studied. Among them, we can refer to more than 3,273 kinds of butterflies, 900 types of ants and more than 7,000 different classes of beetles. Among those species exclusive to Colombia we can name the American flamingo, the Andean condor, the Andean poison frog, the harlequin poison frog, the indigo capped hummingbird and a number of colourful monkey species and some incredibly beautiful butterflies.

Within Colombian borders, there are more than 40,000 different plant species. Again, it is the number one country in the world, considering the astonishing number of different species of orchid flowers: 4,010 different species to be precise. There are also more than 230 different species of palm trees and even some species of colour-changing flowers.

Colombian biodiversity is at risk, with around 1,500 species reported to be on different levels of extinction risk. This is caused mainly by urbanization and overexploitation of natural resources. These blooming ecosystems may seem permanent, but they are actually susceptible to collapse.

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I’ve come to the end of my post for this time.  I hope you are all enjoying pursuing your various projects and activities and because it’s Spring here in Australia, I’ll leave you with this quote:
A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms
 

Janice

Volunteering – why do we do it? Anniversaries make us look back, Lemon juice ice blocks, Showcasing skills – spinning with a difference

 

Hello everyone – O’h dear where did August go?  Unfortunately I had a few health problems, not serious, but enough to put a spanner in my works so to speak.  Glad to say I am back on top of everything and ready to write again.    How easy it is to take good health for granted and going through a bad patch really does bring this home to us all.

Volunteering – why do we do it?

My first topic is volunteering.  Why do we do it?  I recently read that the best definition of volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain.  That’s true but there’s more to it than that.   I believe there’s a need within us to share our skills and knowledge, to be involved and to communicate with the wider community in whatever way we can.  The spectrum of volunteering is very wide, there are opportunities for all abilities and ages at every level, but however we volunteer and for however much time we are able to give, the rewards personally are immense.  

Volunteering Australia has compiled the following facts about volunteering and happiness:

  •  Volunteers are happier, healthier and sleep better than those who don’t volunteer 
  •   96% of volunteers say that it “makes people happier.
  •   95% of volunteers say that volunteering is related to feelings of wellbeing.
  •   Just a few hours of volunteer work makes a difference in happiness and mood.
  •   Sustained volunteering is associated with better mental health.
  •   A strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of      people who are emotionally kind and compassionate in their charitable helping activities.
  •   The experience of helping others provides meaning, a sense of self-worth, a social role and health enhancement.

Last weekend I visited the National Wool Museum in Geelong so decided it was a good opportunity to ask the volunteers on duty their reasons for volunteering.  Firstly I spoke to the lady who directed us to all the exhibits.  She responded that she lived alone and it was wonderful to be able to get up in the morning and have a purpose.  Next I chatted to the demonstrator of a huge Axminster Carpet Loom.  He said he wanted his skills to be preserved as there were few people left who could operate the machine.  Lastly I spoke to one of the guides.  His reasons were a little vague though I suspect he enjoyed the interaction with overseas visitors.  

Later I visited the Port Lonsdale Lighthouse and posed my question to the volunteer on duty.  She said she was passionate about her area and its conservation and wanted to make the public aware.  

There are obviously a myriad of reasons why we volunteer but it’s not just about the giving of our time, it is also the personal rewards we receive.

I would really love to hear what you think.   Do you volunteer or are you considering volunteering, perhaps you were a volunteer in the past.  You can leave your comments by clicking Leave a Reply at the top of the page.

 

Anniversaries make us look back

Anniversaries can be happy or sad times but they give us an opportunity to look back over the years.  Ken and I did just that last weekend when it was the 50th birthday of our son Gareth and our 57th Wedding Anniversary.  Let me share with you the story of our romance.  I hope you enjoy.

Mine is not a fairy tale romance, no knight on a flying charger came into my life but the man who did snuck in quietly with no fanfare …….

follow the link to read in full    THE ROMACE

 

Making lemon juice ice blocks

My lemon tree is bulging with fruit so I set about making up juice ice block trays.  If you also have heaps of lemons or are donated with some it’s well worth the effort to have a long term supply on hand.  All you need to do is juice the lemons and freeze the pure juice in trays then store in bags in the freezer.  It’s so easy just to take out a block when needed.

By the way I recently read some quite alarming facts.  The label on Woolworths lemon juice, 500ml $1.65, states that it contains:  Reconstituted Lemon Juice (99.9%), Food Acid (Ascorbic Acid), Natural Flavour, Preservative (223).  Preservative 223 is in the sulphite group, it’s Sodium metabisulphite, which can cause allergic reactions.

Showcasing skills – spinning with a difference

Members of the Coal Creek & Fibre Arts Group, based at the Coal Creek Community Park & Museum in Korumburra, Gippsland, Victoria, decided to showcase their various skills by video. The first of these videos in a series, is now available and features Ingrid Riddell on the Great Wheel and the Chakra.  

 

I must thank my husband, Ken, for the time and effort he put into making this video possible and to Ingrid for demonstrating so professionally.

 

I’m going to sign off now with this little quote:

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled

 

Until next time

Janice 

The role a mentor can play in our lives, the prospect of spring in the garden, clever use for olive oil, Australian Sheep and Wool Show – watch highlights, enjoy a low calorie Scottish soup recipe

Hello everyone – sorry it has been so long since I blogged;  you must have thought I’d got lost.  On the contrary I have been knee deep in projects and activities which have taken up far more time than I ever imagined possible.  In fact I think I’ve been trying to do far too much and really feel the need to take things a little bit quieter which I find easier said than done.  I’m sure you all know the feeling.  Sometimes it’s like we’re in a race.

Recently I’ve contemplated on the wonderful role mentors can play in our lives or the reward we can gain by being a mentor ourselves.

The role a mentor can play in our lives

Sharing skills and helping others achieve their goals can be rewarding and fulfilling.  I have been fortunate to experience the wisdom and guidance of two ladies, Janet Staben and Ingrid Riddell who I met when joining the Coal Creek Spinners Group.  When I started I really had no idea about the art of spinning and all that is entailed in the preparation of fibre.  With their patience and forthright approach I have gained so much knowledge and insight.  They are always there to help, give support and answer any questions.  I must tell you a little about them.

Janet has been spinning for over 17 years and produces the most amazing skeins of wool which she knits into all kinds of garments.  She doesn’t stop there, she crochets, makes lace, felts, and recently has taken up rag rug construction.  I think there’s a lot more in her bag of skills.  I will be forever grateful to her for her role in my quest to spin.

Let me share with you a photo of a beautiful garment Janet has just completed for entry into a Vintage Knits Exhibition.  It’s from a pattern Janet found of a dress her mum made her when she was a child (blog 14/02/17).

 

Time with Ingrid is an education in all things fibre.  Her head is absolutely full of knowledge and her hands full of skill.  In 1990 she won a world wide competition for the longest plied thread of yard from 10g of wool,  She has undertaken an apprenticeship as a weaver and subsequently ran weaving courses and took on special weaving commissions like curtains and bar mitzvah apparel  As with Janet there’s much more to tell.  Ingrid says she thinks it’s in her blood as her Swedish half sister, who she didn’t meet until later in life, is a weaver.  

Feast your eyes on some of Ingrid’s creations:

 

 

Seek out a mentor you will be rewarded many times over as I have been.

 

The prospect of Spring in the garden – it’s round the corner

If you are a gardener there’s nothing more promising than seeing the first daffodils showing their faces and seeds you may have put in during the autumn starting to show progress

If you have been following my blog for a while you will remember that a couple of years ago I decided to downsize the veggie garden – o’h dear I’m still having trouble doing just that.  The joy of seeing my seeds emerge is just too much so perhaps just one more season !!   There’s already the prospect of early carrots, beetroot, broad beans and onions.  I think I have far too much kohlrabi;  it’s not a very popular vegetable but I find it so versatile as you can roast, boil, use in salads or just have as a crunchy snack.  

Do write and let me know how you are going if you love vegetable gardening as I do.  Did any of you try making the newspaper pots highlighted in my blog from July last year.  Here’s the Youtube video to watch again.  They worked so well for me.

 

 

 

Clever uses for Olive Oil

A good olive oil is a staple for any household and it has plenty of uses that stretch beyond salads and stir frys.  Here are a few I came across recently which you may find useful.  

Hair conditioner – Keep your hair smooth and healthy in between visits to the salon or washes by using olive oil. Brush a little olive oil through your hair and leave overnight.


Remove sticky substances – If you have sticky substances lingering on spoons and measuring tools, or even from stickers on glass gars, olive oil will help remove it. Apply with a cloth and rub gently until the residue is gone.


Make a herb mix – Save time with cooking by adding a mix of herbs to an ice cube tray – oregano, sage and rosemary for example – then top up with olive oil and freeze. Then you can simply add it to a frying pan when you’re ready to cook next for a perfectly seasoned mix.

Remove grease from hands – If you have car grease or paint on your hands, put some olive oil into the palm of your hand, sprinkle with salt, then rub together. Follow with soap and water; the grease will be gone and your hands will feel soft and smooth, too.

Furniture polish – You can restore some of the shine from your old furniture using a mixture of two parts olive oil and one-part lemon juice. Apply onto a paper towel and rub into the furniture. Then, using a clean cloth or paper towel, rub to remove any excess residue.  I really love this one.  

 

Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo

A couple of weeks ago Ken and I travelled to Bendigo to attend the Sheep and Wool Show and catch up with our grandson who is working at the general hospital.  So much to see, do and buy.   Ken has put together a short film of Woolcraft Highlights from the show.  You will see me demonstrating felting with the Victorian Feltmakers;  quite an experience and hard work.  

 

 

Carrot, leek and mustard seed soup

This soup is great if you are trying to cut down on calories (mmmm, yes I know, how boring).  I found it recently on a Scottish cooking site.  It’s reported to be  super good as it’s high in Vitamin A & B12, Dietary Fiber, Potassium and Vitamin C, each portion containing in the region of 120 calories.

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Ingredients
5 large/450g carrots, roughly chopped
1 medium leek, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 tbsp  oil
1tbsp mustard seed
a pinch of salt and pepper
1 litre vegetable stock
125ml skimmed milk
25ml low fat yoghurt (optional)
a handful of fresh chives, chopped

Instructions
1. Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the mustard seeds, after a couple of minutes they will start to pop. Don’t let them heat for any longer or they will burn.
2. Add the onions leeks and season them. Saute them for about 5 minutes until they have started to soften.
3. Add the carrots and allow them to cook gently for 5 minutes.
4. Add the stock and bring to the boil. When it has reached boiling point, reduce it to a simmer and leave it to cook away for about 20 minutes until the carrots have softened.
5. Turn of the heat, add the milk and whizz with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth.
6. Serve with a swirl of milk or a dollop of yoghurt and some chives.
7. Enjoy!

 

I hope you are all taking care of yourselves and enjoying your various activities, so until next time I’ll leave you with this thought:

 

Cherish the friends that make tomorrow

better than yesterday

 

Janice 

Looking back and bringing to life a special event, Helping cut flowers last longer and other tips, Who remembers Wendy Lord of the 70 hats, The Spirit of Warragul Steam Engine and a super recipe for Pesto, goats cheese and mushroom burgers

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog and a special thanks to those who sent in comments last month.  It really is rewarding to receive your responses.  

Looking back and bringing to life a special part of your past

Last week I decided to turn out a cupboard which stored all my photo albums, I’m sure everyone has one such place, and I stopped to pore over my time in the Girl Guides.  What happy days they were;  I believe the values that were instilled into us then are still relevant today.  The first album was from 1950 and do you know, looking through those photos, I could remember every event especially my pride in being enrolled.  From the age of 11 the Guides were a big part of my life and continued so into my adult life as  Lieutenant.  During those years we camped, hiked, held concerts and contributed to the community by engaging in different projects.

 

However, one event stands out more than most. To obtain my First Class Badge it was necessary to do a 5mile hike.  My friend Olive accompanied me on what turned out to be a terrifying day.  

This is how the story starts:

“Jan, RUN, RUN” shrieked Olive, frantically putting on her shoes and taking off through the trees —–     click the link to read on:

THE HIKE 

 

Helping your cut flowers last longer and other tips using Aspirin

I was recently given a large bunch of cut flowers so I had a search for tips on prolonging their life and surprisingly came up with Aspirin.  The same article indicated other uses so here are the best of them:

As plant food   Help your roses or cut flowers last longer by adding a crushed aspirin to the water in the vase. Give it a quick stir and then add your flowers. Changing the water every few days – adding a ground aspirin each time – will also help extend the life of your flowers longer.

For flower pots   The same way aspirin works for fresh cut flowers, it’s also useful for planters in the garden. Dissolve an aspirin into the watering can and water as normal – it will help prevent fungus from growing around fresh flowers and keep your plants looking their best.

Remove sweat stain    Aspirin makes an inexpensive and effective stain remover, particularly for any yellowing that occurs from sweat stains on white clothing. Grind the aspirin down and add a few drops of water to make a paste. Spread it over the yellowed area then put it in the wash as usual.

Soothe insect bites    Aspirin paste can quickly reduce swelling, itching and
redness from insect bites and saves you from needing to carry around extra supplies if you’re camping or hiking. Grind down aspirin and add a few drops of water. Apply it over the bite and leave to dry. It will quickly help calm the bite.

 

WHO REMEMBERS WENDY LORD, THE LADY WHO KNITTED 70 HATS – blog post of 14/2/17 (70 Hats for Seventy Years)

I hope many of you will remember Wendy Lord who visited Coal Creek Heritage Village and chatted to the volunteers in the Spinning Cottage.  Wendy and her husband were on a visit to Australia from UK celebrating their 70th birthdays and trying to do everything in sevens.  

I have been able to keep in touch with Wendy who has kindly sent me a photo of her 7 grandchildren,  

Wendy and her husband are now part of a 180 strong volunteer team  at Hillier’s Arboretum, in Romsey, Hampshire, UK where there are 72 hectares of gardens holding one of the world’s most important plant collections.  If you are visiting UK you might like to call in at the gardens and even catch up with Wendy and her husband Alan.  Now wouldn’t that be something.

 

The Spirit of Warragul Steam Engine

I spent a really great day with Ken and my daughter Abigail on Saturday 13th May participating in the celebrations to unveil, after a 30 year restoration project, The Spirit of Warragul Steam Engine.  

We stopped off at Drouin on our way to Warragul to see the train pass under the bridge and enjoy one of our childhood experiences of being enveloped in steam as trains passed beneath us.  Glad to say we weren’t disappointed.

Ken has produced a short video, which he tells me isn’t yet complete, but I wanted to share it with you so badgered him to let me use it.  Please enjoy.

 

The A2 Class steam train 986 began its working life more than 102 years ago, but was retired in 1963 and written off by Victorian Railways in January 1964.   The train has special significance because it was the last A2 in service in Victoria.

Fortunately, this historic treasure was preserved, being plinthed in Warragul Latrobe St Park with the assistance of Warragul Rotary Club.   It remained there until acquired for restoration by Steamrail Victoria in 1986, which saw the A2 986 move from Warragul to the Steamrail Victoria depot at Newport.  It was stripped right back to its frames as part of the restoration process.   After three decades of painstaking work by Steamrail volunteers, the A2 986 made its journey to Warragul from Melbourne with much fanfare.  

…………………………………

 

Here’s a yummy easy recipe to try out.  Ideal as a lunch time treat:

Pesto-goats-cheese-and-mushroom-burgers-with-shallot-topping 

Serves: 2     Prep time: 10 minutes      Cooking time: 15 minutes
You’ll need 

* 2 large mushrooms
* 8 shallots, peeled and quartered
* 4 tbsp vegetarian pesto, plus a little extra
* 1 tsp olive oil
* ½ tsp sugar
* 85g round soft goats’ cheese
* 2 ciabatta rolls

What to do
1. Pre heat oven 200c/180c fan/gas 6.  Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and chop them very finely. Finely chop one of the shallots and mix it, and the chopped mushroom stalks, into the pesto.  Place the whole mushrooms gill side up on an oiled baking tray, fill with the pesto mix and cook for approximately 15 minutes until softened.

2. Whilst they are cooking place the shallots in a pan with the olive oil and sugar, cook over a low heat until softened and lightly caramelised.

3. Top the mushrooms with the goats’ cheese and return to the oven alongside the ciabatta for a few minutes until the cheese is beginning to melt and the bread is warmed through.

4. Serve in the split ciabatta topped with the shallots and an extra drizzle of pesto.
Cook’s Tip: The goats’ cheese can be replaced with gruyere or any other easy to melt cheese. Serve with a rocket and watercress salad tossed in a little lemon juice and olive oil.

 

I’m going to close this post with a quote that I really like.  I found it in an article written especially for Girl Guides in 1933:

I WILL NOT WILLINGLY OFFEND

NOR BE TOO SOON OFFENDED

WHAT’S AMISS I’LL STRIVE TO MEND

AND BEAR WHAT CAN’T BE MENDED

 

Until next time

Janice

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Poignant story of love, Hat felting technique, National Volunteer Week, Grated Apple Cake and more to enjoy

Hello everyone – a month has slipped by since my last post and although I always intend to write more often, I just looked at the calendar and realised I’d failed to put pen to paper so to speak.  Lots of things have been happening, one of which is that I have been elected President of the Coal Creek & Fibre Arts Group after the sitting President had to sadly resign due to the ill health of her husband.  I hope I will be able to do justice to the task and fill her shoes admirably.  When I mentioned this to her she said I may have a hard job as she took size 11 to which I replied that I took size 11 too.  Mmmm I’m not sure what this means, is it an omen !  

Firstly I would like to share with you a short story that I heard the author, Ken Stokoe, read on Radio National Life Matters recently.    I am sure if we thought about it many of us could write our own love story with a happy or sad ending.  Unfortunately this story has a sad ending though it does reflect life’s journey so I hope you will enjoy it as I did.

Heartbreak !

It’s not about Verona, not Romeo and Juliet; just about Balmoral Beach and us.
An early Saturday afternoon 70 years ago.
She just free from work, I to the city from my working-class home in an outer suburb. We to meet and spend the rest of the day on an outing. There was a pack of sandwiches she had brought – sweet-corn filled. The first I had ever tasted. So delicious. How long had this been going on, I pondered?
That taste followed the ride from Wynyard in a very swish corridor tram with padded seats to Balmoral Beach. The first time there for this unsophisticated teenager.
It was a great adventure, crossing the harbour by the mighty bridge, another first, to rumble through posh streets of elegant houses such as I had not seen hitherto. Then down winding cuttings in the sandstone to a golden sand strand and a sparkling sea.
What a thrill, what revelations.
The lunch taken on a lawn in the beachside reserve under a clear blue sky, the air tempered by a soft breeze.
Presently, a stroll along the shore towards an adjacent islet of rock. I was so elated by it all that I shyly took her hand in mine. Things of this nature must have developed slower then than now. Certainly did for this couple who, although companions for many months, had never made so bold a contact.
How sweet it was.
Her hand so soft and smooth. Everything about her perfect; so pretty, so learned, so kind, so thoughtful.
A dog came bounding up, its tail wagging, as mine might have done had I possessed one. It dropped a stick at our feet, then dabbed at it with paw while gazing expectantly into our faces. Quite obviously dog-speak for “Let’s play”.
I released her hand, took up the stick, hurled it into the bay. The dog swam to the stick which was brought back to our feet to soak lower limbs with the water shaken from its shaggy coat, seeming then to grin as if to say, ‘What fun is this!’. The game continued.
Although I was joyed by the whole outing thus far, I did not take her hand again. Later, I came to realise she was not so pleased and did not share my attitude to the friendly dog. Much later, approaching marriage, I was told how cross she was when the dog caused the unclasping of hands, was disappointed that the holding of hands did not resume that day.
The years of marriage, though at first financially stringent, were idyllic.
Three daughters and Mum a girlish quartet. In the early years, we combined to nail together a ready-cut house. It is another tale of how the extensive backyard became a miniature farm. In time, the daughters branched out on their own.
We became Darby and Joan, had paid off the home loan, were in the ‘Golden Years’, but knew that someday it would end in death and grief. There would likely be a great price to pay for the happiness we now enjoyed.
And so it was.
She was diagnosed with an incurable terrible disease.
The closer the end approached, the greater grew our love. We mourned together through those months.
Two broken hearts, shattered. Not the mere bruised heart of all those years ago, irreparably broken hearts.

A NEW CHALLENGE

Wiping away the tears and putting away sobering thoughts, have any of you been undertaking new or challenging projects recently.  For over a year now I have been very interested in all things felt, reading about it’s origins, production and practicing the art.  I have turned my hand to making flowers, vessels, scarves and more recently hats.  When I read about a Russian lady, Irina Spasskaja, who had developed a unique way of laying out Merino wool fibres to create a soft hat with a double brim, which at the same time was water and wind-proof, I had to investigate further.   This culminated in my purchase of her 6 video tutorials (rather costly) followed by many hours of practice and the necessity to have a rotary board made to facilitate the work.  This was achieved by purchasing a ‘lazy susan’ base and then going to our local carpenter wiz, Gary, who goes by the rather strange name of DUCKS GUTS FURNITURE, who luckily had a circular piece of wood in the corner of his work room, ideal for the task, and within 24 hours I had my rotary board for the grand sum of $30.  Amazing.  Here’s  a picture of Irina showing her rotary board which I copied with the help of Ken of course. 

Irina showing the rotary felting board

I won’t bore you with all the technicalities of the process except to show you a few photos of how the layout works.  If you would like more details send me an e-mail (sbf@dcsi.net.au) and I will be happy to supply a fuller description of the process.

Now after nearly 5 hours of work here’s the completed hat:

Irina says you have to make at least 10 hats before you are ready to progress to the next level of expertise.  I think that could be sometime in the future for me.   One hat is a huge task.  

NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK – AUSTRALIA

As many of you who are volunteers will know, this week has been National Volunteer Week with lots of activities and afternoon teas around the countryside.  I celebrated by attending my local neighbour house and participated in a group session of laughter.  We were told how laughter is beneficial for us whether it be real or false.  We had to walk around the room making eye contact with each other, clapping, repeating hehehehe, hoooo,  and making various movements, like simulating knitting, driving, digging and so on.   Yes, this did cause laughter amongst many of the participants but left me with a silly false smile on my face.  At least I did’t sit out like some, but I really didn’t enjoy the experience.  Have any of you tried this activity I wonder.  

At the end of the session different messages relating to volunteering were read out, this one says it all for me.

Volunteering can be an exciting, growing, enjoyable experience.  It is truly gratifying to serve a cause, practice one’s ideals, work with people, solve problems, see benefits and know one had a hand in them.

 

ABUNDANCE OF APPLES

I am at last getting to the end of my abundance of apples, well almost, and in my quest to process the last few kilos found the following recipe which turned out really well, though for me the topping was too sweet, so I would suggest you reduce the amount of brown sugar a little if you don’t have a sweet tooth.  
Aunty Wendy’s Apple Cake                                                    
125grams butter
2 medium apples, peeled and grated
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon all spice
pinch of salt
…and for the topping:
25grams melted butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350F) and line a round cake tin with baking paper.
Mix butter, sugar and egg and then add grated apple. Mix well.
Stir in sifted dry ingredients, mix well and pour into cake tin.
Mix the topping ingredients together and spread evenly over the cake.
Bake for 45minutes or until golden brown on top.

SPECIAL CAKES FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS

What do you think of this marvellous Birthday Cake produced by the sons of Christine (retired President of the Coal Creek Spinning Group) for her recent birthday?  So appropriate and so clever:Congratulations Christine.

I’m going to finish of this post with a bouquet of felted flowers produced by the participants at a recent workshop:

THERE ARE MANY THINGS IN LIFE THAT WILL CATCH YOUR EYE, BUT ONLY A FEW WILL CATCH YOUR HEART, PURSUE THOSE

(Michael Nolan)

Until next time, enjoy every day.

Janice 

 

 

Easter plans, Harvesting Chestnuts and Apples, the value of drinking water with lemon juice, trips around beautiful South Gippsland, buying something special and an old time recipe for Afghan biscuits

Are you all making plans for Easter?  For the first time ever it seems that I won’t be buying Easter Eggs for the grandchildren.  I’ve been told there is already so much chocolate sitting in the cupboards uneaten and perhaps teenagers would like something different.  Will have to think of some other little gifts to compensate.  Bit sad but they are all growing up.  

Being chestnut harvest time and my daughter having a huge amount of trees on her property, she always makes good use of them by making chestnut soup, croquettes and cake which are truly delicious, so we are looking forward to our Easter Sunday lunch which I know will be chestnut orientated.  

I’ve been very busy processing apples from our Granny Smith tree.  I can’t believe one small tree can produce so much and I’m quite over all the work even though there are more to process.  So far I’ve preserved them in 18 large Fowlers Vacola bottles, stewed and frozen some into portions, made 4 large pies (also in freezer) and one apple cake, not to mention those that I’ve given away to friends.  

Of course I’m going to be very happy when I come to use the fruits of my labours.  It’s been a lot of work and I wonder for how long I’ll want to continue.  Old habits die hard don’t they so will probably keep going for a while yet.  

 

The value of drinking water with a squeeze of lemon juice

I’ve chatted to quite a few people recently who tell me they have a squeeze of lemon juice in a glass of water first thing in the morning.  As it didn’t really appeal to me I decided to do a bit of research and came up with the following article which is very informative.  I’m giving it a go myself though I do find it hard to keep up the routine.

We all know drinking water helps keep us healthy and feeling our best – by adding a squeeze of lemon to your glass in the morning you could take it even one step further.
Lemon is a powerful fruit. It’s a source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and more.
Incorporating lemon to your diet can do everything from support weight loss to aid digestion.
Here’s just a few of the benefits associated with drinking lemon water.
It promotes hydration
The same way athletes rely on sports drinks to stay hydrated, lemon water can help give your water a boost and keep you hydrated throughout the day.
It improves skin
Lemon is a rich source of vitamin C, which is known to help improve skin’s texture and help with wrinkles and dryness. Drinking plenty of water is also known to help improve the complexion, so together it’s a winning combination.
It supports weight loss
Studies have found that lemon significantly reduced weight gain caused by a high-fat diet in mice. While studies have yet to prove the same for humans, there is much anecdotal evidence that says drinking lemon water has a similar benefit. Part of this is probably due to lemon’s natural flavour – it helps you feel fuller and makes drinking water more appealing, helping you to go longer between snacking.
It keeps breath fresh
There’s a reason so many cleaning products are lemon-scented. The natural smell of this citrus fruit can banish a lot of other bad scents. You can keep your breath fresher by drinking a glass of lemon water in the morning and after meals. It will help stimulate saliva and prevent dry mouth, which often leads to bad breath.
It prevents kidney stones
The citric acid found in lemons is said to help prevent calcium kidney stones. Paired with an increased water intake, it can help keep your kidneys functioning well and stave off uncomfortable kidney stones.
It aids digestion
Drinking lemon water can help keep your liver functioning at its best, too, which will in turn aid with better digestion. Many people swear by lemon water to help reduce indigestion and bloating, as well as heartburn and even constipation.

Do leave a comment if you already follow this regimen and let readers know what benefits if any you may have noticed.

 

TRIPS AROUND BEAUTIFUL SOUTH GIPPSLAND

Ken has made a short film of our day trips around the beautiful area of South Gippsland.  Some of you may have already seen past clips from Ken’s repertoire but I hope you will enjoy joining us on our excursions.

 

 

BUYING SOMETHING SPECIAL

I must tell you about my purchase of a beautiful dress from Tribal Threads Gallery in Loch (Gippsland), Victoria.  I have been looking for a long black dress to wear when volunteering in the Spinning Room at Coal Creek Heritage Park, and found the ideal thing made from organic 100% certified cotton ethically made in Australia.  It’s absolutely amazing and the label tells me that it has been knitted in Australia and dyed using Australian Certified Organic dyes and processes.  Here’s the link to the web site:   http://www.vegethreads.com

After looking at the site  think I will be indulging myself further in their garments.

 

AFGHAN BISCUITS

Here’s a recipe from a very old edition of the Edmond’s Cookery Book, a New Zealand icon, first published in 1908.
200g butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1¼ cups plain flour
¼ cup cocoa
2 cups cornflakes
24 walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease or line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift flour and cocoa. Stir into creamed mixture. Fold in cornflakes.
3. Spoon mounds of mixture onto the tray, gently pressing together.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. When cold ice with chocolate icing (I melt chocolate pieces with a little butter) and decorate with a walnut.

 

I’ll sign off this post wishing you all an enjoyable Easter.  Whatever you decide to do make sure it makes you happy.

Janice 

 

Coping with change, The horrid words “diet and “eat healthier”, Creating an heirloom, Slow Cooker Lentil Soup plus more

Hello everyone, thanks so much for reading my blog and sending in your messages.  It’s very rewarding.  Over the last month many friends have had to cope with unexpected changes in their lives, two through illness and a third having to decide to go into care,  which brings me to my first topic:

Coping with change

Recently I have been thinking about how change affects us.  It may be change in lifestyle,  the behaviour of friends or neighbours, alterations to things we take for granted or the more serious change that comes about by ill health or an unforeseen reduction in income.   We all have different coping abilities so a change, however small it may seem to others, can cause a lot of distress to the individual.  Personally I’m not a lover of change, for example if Ken pulls a plant out of the garden without telling me it’s going to happen, I think I should have been consulted first.  I’ve heard of partners coming home to find the furniture in the house moved around and becoming quite grumpy as a result.  Now that sounds quite petty but it does reveal a little of our personalities.  I think the lesson for all of us is to respect each others need to keep certain things as they have always been even though this can be frustrating or to make changes as and when they want.   Not changing promotes a sort of comfort and certainty in our lives whilst on the other hand change can be a stimulating and thrilling experience.

Of course at some time we may all have to cope with change as when illness or loss  unexpectedly strikes, then its amazing how we are able to draw on our inner strength in immeasurable ways to cope and adjust but at the same time we need those around us for support and understanding.

Do let me have your ideas about change and how it affects you.

 

The horrid words “diet” and “eat healthier”

Why do these words make us want to turn the other way.  For me it’s usually when my dress or skirt feels a little tighter around the middle which happened the other day.  Last year I made a two piece summer outfit which fitted perfectly.  When I wanted to wear it recently the zip of the skirt somehow didn’t want to pull up.  What a shock, although of course I should have known I had been eating too much bread.   Perhaps a few changes are worth trying so have a look at this article reproduced here:  I’ve already sized down my dinner plate which is one of the suggestions made.

If you don’t like the idea of going on a diet but do want to eat a little healthier, start with a few simple adjustments.
They’re small, satisfying and easy to implement – and if you stick with them over time, they have the power to make a big impact on your eating habits, your waistline and your wellbeing.
Ready to learn more? Here’s some small adjustments that make a big impact on eating habits.
Keep frozen veg to hand
Frozen vegetables are an easy and inexpensive way to make sure you always have healthy ingredients in the house. Keep a bag of frozen vegetables in the freezer and try and add them to your meals during the week by incorporating them into the dishes you’re making. 
Eat snacks from a plate or bowl
When you eat crisps and other snacks directly from the bag, you often end up indulging more than you intended – research suggests that when you eat like this your brain doesn’t give you a stop signal. Create a mindful portion size by putting any snack you intend to have in a bowl or plate.
Choose high protein breakfasts
Sugary foods like croissants, muffins and cereals may be quick and convenient, but they can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and make you end up craving more food – particularly sugar – sooner. A healthy, filling breakfast that’s high in protein and fat and low in carbs will help keep you fuller for longer and give you the energy you need to start the day.
Size down your dinner plate
The size of dinner plates has been steadily rising over the last several decades. Today’s plate sizes are between 9 – 12 inches across. In the 1960s, they were much smaller – just 7 inches. We instinctively fill our plates and eat what’s on them, meaning a larger plate causes us to eat more calories than we actually need. Instead, try using a dessert plate for your dinner instead – you’ll automatically start eating smaller portions and finish dinner feeling satisfied rather than overfull.
Stay hydrated
People often mistake hunger for thirst – stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking water rather than sugary drinks.
Try 80/20
When it comes to maintaining healthy eating habits over time, balance is key. The 80/20 rule is a good one to follow; make healthy, sensible choices 80% of the time, leaving room to indulge now and again 20% of the time.

Creating an heirloom  (I hope)

Using your creative skills, have you created or thought about creating an heirloom?

Over the past couple of years I’ve crocheted 4 blankets, one for Ken (he loves it over his feet in the winter), one for my daughter, one for my granddaughter and lastly one for my daughter in law.  Recently my eldest grandson, who will be 23 in September, said  “Nan I would love one of those blankets”.  This got me to thinking about making a special effort as a fairly new spinner and going the whole way by buying a sheep’s fleece, washing, combing, carding, spinning, dying and finally crocheting a blanket for presentation as what I hope will become an heirloom.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to buy a Border Leicester fleece at an agricultural show for the grand sum of $10.  Must say I was a little worried as to whether I was up to the task.  Anyway during the following week I washed the fleece in batches and was able to get it dried in the sun on the verandah table.  That was the first hurdle.  Because the preparation of the wool for spinning is long, and good preparation makes all the difference to the finished article, I have been doing that in small quantities and have to thank my friend Olga for taking on some of the carding for me whilst we are volunteering at the Coal Creek Heritage Park.  Must say visitors to the Park are very intrigued by the carding process which makes the hard work worthwhile and is a topic for conversation.

So far I have spun about 250g of wool.  The pattern I have for the blanket takes about 1.25kg so I’ve a long long way to go.  I’ll report my progress from time to time, that’s if I don’t fall by the  wayside in my endeavour !  In the meantime you might like to see the washed wool, combed and carded wool, spun wool and my first skein of plied wool.

 

Bringing my slow cooker out from the back of the cupboard

I have been intending to get my slow cooker out from the back of the cupboard for some time but the need hasn’t been there with the warm weather we have been experiencing.  However, I came across the following easy recipe which I tried with great success, so you might like to add it to your recipe list for chilly times to come or why not try it out now.

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

INGREDIENTS
* 1½ cups red lentils
* 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
* 1 red bell pepper, chopped
* 2 celery stalks chopped
* ½ a bunch of kale (about 4 leaves) stems removed and chopped
* 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, pressed
* ½ an onion, chopped
* 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon parsley, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon              garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 6½ cups vegetable stock

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and pour in vegetable stock.
2. Cook on high for 5 hours, or low for 8 hours. Stir a few times throughout the cooking. If you like a more brothy soup, add in 1-2 cups additional stock.
3. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and crusty bread on the side (optional)
Prep time 15 mins, cook time 5 hours

 

It’s time to sign off.  I’ll leave you with this mantra:
Everything I need, I have. Everything I have, I need.
The minimalist lifestyle is not about how few items we own, it’s about how valuable and useful the items we choose to keep are. Our belongings should enrich our lives, provide a use or a purpose, and bring us joy. We should enjoy and put to use the things we own (inside of keeping them “just in case” or for special occasions) and remove everything else.

 

Janice 

Seventy hats for seventy years, Is sleeping in separate beds the beginning of the end, The satisfaction of a baking day, Vintage knitting, Beetroot superfood truffles

Thanks so much for the comments I received following my last blog.  It really is good getting your messages so please keep writing.  As many of you may  know I am fortunate to be part of a group of volunteers who man the Spinning Room at the Coal Creek Heritage Park in Korumburra, Victoria  http://www.coalcreekvillage.com.au/ .  It’s amazing how many visitors tell us that they have a spinning wheel gathering dust at home or that their mother or grandmother used to spin.  The male visitors and some little boys are particularly interested in how a spinning wheel works.  Each week we are delighted by interesting stories and anecdotes about projects past and present which leads me to:

Seventy hats for seventy years

70 hats for 70 years

A lady (Wendy) who visited the spinning room with her husband last Friday told us that she had  recently knitted 70 hats.  Apparently when her and her husband both reached 70  they decided to do things in units of 70 and the hats were part of that challenge.  As a member of a group of 5 churches in Romsey, Hampshire, England, she participated in the Samaritan Shoebox Project providing children in poverty with gift-filled shoeboxes.  A total of 140 hats were in fact knitted by the group. 

I had to admit to my ignorance of not knowing anything about the Shoebox project but have since checked it out on the net.  If you want more information go to:   http://samaritanspurse.org.au   

Unfortunately there wasn’t time to find out about all the ‘seventy’ projects except that at the birthday celebration each of their 7 grandchildren displayed a cake with 10 candles.  

Wendy kindly agreed to send me an e-mail with a photo of her hats (shown above).  If you read this Wendy, thank you very much for sharing your story and do let know what other ‘seventies’ you achieve.  

What a unique way to celebrate a milestone in life!

 

Is sleeping in separate beds the beginning of the end?

As we get older and trying to get a whole nights sleep seems to get harder, I wonder are separate beds or bedrooms the answer?  I have read that nearly one in four couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds, according to a 2015 survey by the National Sleep Foundation.  Recent studies in America and Japan have found similar results.
The marital bed, once the symbol of  matrimony on a par with the diamond ring and the tiered wedding cake is threatened with extinction. “Till Death Do Us Part” is fast becoming “Till Sleep Do Us Part.”  Apparently separate sleepers cite a range of reasons for their habit, including snoring, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and regular trips to the toilet which cause disturbance to their sleeping partner.

People are suddenly making their own sleep a priority. If their rest is being impaired by their partner, the attitude now is that I don’t have to put up with this.
So what is your view?  Do you sleep in the same bed with your partner, or separately? Have you tried sleeping apart?  How do you feel about separate beds or separate bedrooms?
Is sleeping in separate beds the beginning of the end?

Personally I don’t like the idea of abandoning my queen size bed for one of those  single ones. Seems a bit of a lonely idea to me except I know that circumstances alter cases and there may be no other alternative, so it’s a matter of what triggers the decision.  It  would be difficult for me to give up that companionship but that’s how I feel at the moment;  who knows what the future may hold.

 

The satisfaction of a baking day

Nothing gives me more satisfaction than a baking day.  Well it doesn’t take all day, usually a morning.  I get started nice an early usually around 7 am when the house is quiet and still.  First off is the bread.  I’ve been making bread for more years than I care to remember though I’m not as ambitious as I used to be.  I usually make one large loaf and 12 rolls which is more than enough for a week.   It’s so therapeutic kneading the dough all warm and silky letting your mind meander around.  This morning I reminisced how it used to be the normal practice to have a cake on hand in the event visitors popped in.  In my case it was usually a Victoria Sponge.  I haven’t made one of those for quite a time.  What about you?

Following the bread I make some sort of pie, apple, apricot or rhubarb. Or it could be a quiche.   I always have some shortcrust pastry rubbed in and stored in the freezer.  Lastly I pop jacket potatoes and a rice pudding into the oven for lunch.

Seeing all those goodies sitting cooling on the kitchen bench gives me a great feeling of well being.

 

Vintage knitting

At the last meeting of our Spinning Group it was proposed that we take up the challenge of knitting an item from a vintage pattern.  Christine, our President, had a heap of patterns which she had collected over time and put them on the table for us to browse through.  There was much discussion as to what we thought we could knit and recollections of past projects.  Then Janet picked up a pattern which brought a huge smile to her face.  It was one of a dress that her mother knitted her in white with red smocking when she was about six years old.  “That’s what I’m going to knit” said Janet.  It will be great to see the result.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to knit yet but I did spot a pattern for a lacy pair of gloves like I used wear on special occasions when I was about 18.  Who wears gloves now!

 

Beetroot superfood truffles

Just before Christmas I went to a cooking demonstration of vegan recipes and one which took my fancy was for beetroot truffles, which sounds a bit odd I know, but when I tasted them they really were good so thought I would share the recipe with you.  The recipe is courtesy of http://www.lovebeetroot.co.uk and reads as follows:

Feel good about your next indulgence with these beetroot superfood truffles.
They contain no dairy or refined sugar, and thanks to the addition of beetroot and avocado, practically offer up two of your five a day too.
They’re a perfectly moreish snack when you’re trying to eat well but still want an afternoon sweet.

Serves: 12     Prep time: 15 minutes plus 1hr chilling     
You’ll need
* 1 large ready cooked (vacuum pack) beetroot
* 1 large ripe avocado, peeled
* ¼ tsp vanilla extract
* 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
* 100g unsweetened cocoa powder plus extra for dusting
* Desiccated coconut for dusting

Method
1. Put the beetroot, avocado, vanilla extract, maple syrup and half of the cacao powder into a  blender or food processor. Process until well combined.
2. Add the remaining cocoa powder to the blender and again process until well combined. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
3. Once chilled, scoop tablespoon-sized portions of the mixture. Roll in your palms to form balls – the mixture will be slightly sticky but should form balls easily.
4. Put some extra cocoa powder and desiccated coconut in a plate and roll the chocolate truffles around in one or the other to coat. 

 

Because it’s Valentine’s Day today here’s a beautiful hibiscus and an appropriate quote:   Happiness is ……… being with people you love.

 

Janice  

 

 

 

 

Resolutions, Wonderful Christmas present, An afternoon nap, Sunflowers, Roasted Cauliflower Recipe, A Jigsaw Puzzle Challenge

 

Hello everyone – Welcome to a New Year of Retire and Enjoy.  I took a short break from blogging over the Christmas period but am now back and ready to start catching up with you all.

First off what happened to my last year’s resolutions?  Did you make any?

I checked up on my last year resolutions and have to admit to some of them falling by the wayside very early on, like practicing the piano every day and completing a book about my alternative lifestyle.  The book has some draft chapters but the piano has been silent for quite a while.  Therefore, no New Year Resolutions for me, I’ll just try to catch up on those ones still outstanding.  Some of you may recall that at the beginning of 2016 I put forward the idea of a “to achieve list” which still seems a good idea so here’s the list again in case you missed it last time.

Break a bad habit
Learn a new skill
Do a good deed
Visit a new place
Read a difficult book
Write something important
Try a new food
Do something good for someone who cannot thank you
Take an important risk

My wonderful Christmas present

Now I know that not all my readers are interested in spinning but for those of you who are, I just have to share a couple of photos of the wheel and drum carder Ken bought me from Holland.  The wheel certainly isn’t traditional in appearance.  It’s named Bliss and is truly bliss to operate.  The carder is a Hero and has become my right hand for preparing wool to spin.  I love them both.

The Bliss comes in a ‘flat-pack’ and is really easy to assemble. It took Ken about 1½ hours to have it up and running.  The total price for buying both the wheel and the carder was less than the cost of a wheel here in Australia plus postage included.  Here’s a link to their site http://www.woolmakers.com.  I have searched YouTube for a demonstration video and the following is the best I can come up as the majority are not in English.

 

Do you ever take an afternoon nap?

So far I’ve never found it necessary to take an afternoon nap but now have to admit to sometimes feeling quite sleepy in the middle of the day.  I remember my Mum and Dad always settling down for a nap after lunch and I never thought that could happen to me.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found a short sleep in the afternoon improves people’s thinking and memory skills and makes the brain perform as if it were five years younger.
The team studied 3,000 elderly Chinese people and looked at whether those who frequently took afternoon naps performed better on mental ability tests.
Scientists found people who took a nap after lunch did better on the tests than those who did not sleep in the middle of the day.  In total, 60 per cent of people in the study slept after lunch, with the average nap time being 63 minutes.
The study suggested an hour was the best length for a nap; people who had longer or shorter rests performed up to six time worse on the task so taking an afternoon nap of the right length is so beneficial that it has the same effect as being five years younger.
Many people in Europe take a regular afternoon nap or siesta and it is part of their culture.
Apparently Sir Winston Churchill said “Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces.”
What are your views? Do you ever take an afternoon nap? If you had the option, would you like to have a nap during your day?

 

A look at my Sunflowers

I planted my Sunflowers facing north so that I could enjoy them as I passed by on my way down the garden each morning but I was sadly disappointed when their faces turned to the north east providing me with a view of their backs.  However, they are magnificent plants

so it’s worth a detour around another path to enjoy them.  A simple pleasure!

 

Here’s a simple recipe for adding a sparkle to Cauliflower.  I’ve been using this recipe for years so not sure of it’s origin but it always tastes so good.  

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER with a coating of chopped parsley, breadcrumbs, garlic and olive oil.   

1 cauliflower, 50ml extra virgin olive oil

For the seasoning:   3 tbsp olive oil, 1 garlic clove finely chopped, 1 cup breadcrumbs made preferably from stale ciabatta or sourdough, 3 tbsp parsley chopped.

METHOD:  Preheat oven to 180C.  Cut cauliflower into large, similar sized florets.  Lay on a baking tray and drizzle with 50ml olive oil.  Toss and sprinkle with salt.  Bake in the oven until brown and just soft – about 30/45 minutes.  While cauliflower is in the oven heat a frying pan with olive oil, add the garlic and breadcrumbs and stir for a minute, then combine with the parsley.  Remove cauliflower from oven, after cooking time, and scatter over the seasoning mixture.  Return to the oven for another 10 minutes or until crisp and lightly golden.

 

Jigsaw puzzle challenge

Ken has always been a fan of jigsaw puzzles but gave them up when we moved to a house with less space.  Then he found Magic Puzzles to download from the net and installed their Free Puzzle a Day range on our pads.  Now most evenings after tea we challenge each other to see who can finish the 280 piece puzzle first.  The puzzle picture is a mystery so you have no guide to follow.  This probably sounds a bit childish but having a little competition really is fun and I highly recommend it.  There’s something exciting about trying to win and it keeps you alert and on your toes so to speak.  Ken often beats me;  he seems to have a better idea of collecting colours but when I manage to beat him I shout out “finished” which brings a frown to his face but makes me very happy.

Of course you can challenge the clock if you are doing the puzzle without a companion.  An average puzzle takes just under an hour though some have been really difficult and have taken a couple of hours.

 

I hope you are all selecting different projects and challenges for the year ahead.  They don’t have to be large but will give you something to strive for provided you remember:

YOU CAN DO ANYTHING BUT NOT EVERYTHING 

Janice 

 

PS – If you would like to post a comment please use the Reply option at top of page, thanks

 

 

Remembering our grandmothers, Things that have a special place in our hearts, Exhibition of hand made items from 100g of wool, Visit to Mohair Goat Farm, Yummy quick cake recipes

Remembering our grandmothers

I wonder how you remember your grandmothers.  Did you live close and spend lots of time together?  How did they affect your life?  It’s a really interesting topic and one which I would like to explore if any of you are happy to share your memories with me in future blogs.  At a Spinning Group party yesterday I asked Anne what she remembered.  She said she spent a lot of time with her grandmother who loved hats and handbags and always gave her an Aspro when she took her out so that she wouldn’t want to go to the toilet.  I asked how she thought she would be remembered.  She said “that lady whose house was so full of wool you couldn’t get through the door”.

I lived next door to my paternal grandmother whose name was Caroline.  She spoke very little and always seemed quite hostile.  In later life I realised she was very deaf and could hear little of what was being said so didn’t respond.   I loved helping her mash up the boiled potato peelings and mix with pollard for feeding the chickens.  She did once  come out of her shell, so to speak, when she told me that when she was at school the other kids used to chant:  “Car, car, Caroline hang your britches on the line, when they’re dry bring them in and hang them on a safety pin”.  After that revelation I never told anyone my middle name was Caroline.  Sadly she died from a tragic accident which haunts me to this day.  Unfortunately I didn’t know my maternal grandmother as she died in childbirth in 1912.  I do have a photo of her and a letter she wrote to her sister just prior to her death, apart from that there is little information.

What will my grandchildren say of me.  Now wouldn’t that be interesting, though I hope they don’t have that opportunity any time soon.

Things that have a special place in our hearts

Today I thought I would share with you something that has had a special place in my heart and life since I can remember.  It’s a grandfather clock.  A couple of years ago I wrote some short stories relating to my youth which I published as an e-book.  The first was about the grandfather clock and after many attempts at getting the story started I came up with the idea of writing from the point of view of the clock, therefore the clock is the narrator of the story.

To save space you can read the story by clicking on the link below.  It doesn’t quite open as I would like.  When you click on the link it takes you to my Reply Page where you have to click again.  Very strange.  I’ve sought the help of my son but he’s busy so I’ll have to leave it as it is.

Mum, Dad and Janice - think I was 18 in this photo

Mum, Dad and Janice – think I was 18 in this photo

the-grandfather-clock-tick-tock

 

Although the clock resides at my daughter’s house, due to lack of sufficient space in my house, it still presides over events of the family.  Unfortunately its hourly ring has had to be curtailed due to it being a little annoying during the night.

Here I am with the clock last Christmas

Here I am with the clock last Christmas

 

Exhibition of hand made items from just 100g of wool plus a visit to a Mohair Goat Farm

Recently the Coal Creek Spinners Group participated in an exhibition of items made from just 100g of wool.  The variety was amazing from small toys to beautiful wraps, to hats, scarves, wall hangings, skeins of different wools  and one really special exhibit, a jumper so finely crafted it was hard to believe the skill  of the knitter (view in the video) who won 1st prize at the Bendigo Wool Show for her work.

As part of the activities of the group there was a visit to Mohair Rare, a working farm, producing mohair yarns for spinning and other crafts.  I have to thank my husband for producing this video which is very informative showing both the exhibition and the activities of the farm, explained in some detail by Lill Roberts of Mohair Rare, and returning at a later date to view the shearing of the goats, one of the shearers being a lady who kindly explained on camera the process.

 

Now for some recipes

Now that Christmas is approaching its wise to have a few goodies on hand, possibly in the freezer, in case friends or family pop in unexpectedly.  I have used the recipes I am going to share since back in the 60’s when I used to subscribe to a small publication which was full of ideas for the freezer.  Quite an innovative concept in those days plus there was always a home testers note about the recipe which I can confirm freezes really well.  I have also made and stored portions of the Fudge Icing in the fridge and used on other cakes.  Very handy.

Chocolate Cakes with Fudge Icing   

You will need two shallow foil pie dishes about 18cm across

180g self raising flour
60g cocoa
180g soft brown sugar and 180g butter
3 eggs plus 1½ tablespoons milk

Grease the dishes. Sift together flour and cocoa then in another bowl beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat eggs and add gradually beating mixture well. Fold in sifted ingredients with milk. Divide equally into dishes and bake at 180C for about 50 minutes. Fan forced ovens a little less. Cooked when centre of sponge is springy when pressed.  Cool before icing.

Fudge Icing

60g butter
60g cocoa
3 tablespoons milk
120g icing sugar

Melt butter in heavy pan. Add cocoa and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in milk and sifted icing sugar. Cool then pour from pan onto cakes in foil dishes. Leave to set.

No Bake Cake – only 10 minutes to prepare

100g butter
100g marshmallows
25g cocoa
300g Rich Tea Biscuits roughly broken
50g plain chocolate
50g white chocolate

Line a 450g loaf tin with clear film or glad wrap leaving about 2.5cm hanging over the edges. Place butter, marshmallow and cocoa in a pan and heat until melted. Remove pan and stir in biscuits. Press mixture into loaf tin and chill for about 2 hours until firm. Turn onto serving dish.

Melt plain and white chocolate in separate bowls over hot water.  Spoon on top of cake and swirl together with a skewer to create a marbled effect. Chill until set then cut into slices.

It freezes well but probably best to add the chocolate topping after thawing.

 

Well I’ve come to the end of another post, there is always more to say but I’ll leave that until next time.  To finish up here’s a Funny Minions quote:

I MAY LOOK LIFE I’M DOING NOTHING ….

BUT IN MY HEAD I’M QUITE BUSY

 

Janice