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 

Enjoying a new experience at Halloween, Christmas is approaching, Recipe for Mincemeat (fruit mince), The joy of spring flowers and 5 tips for using Silica Gel bags

Hello everyone – once again I have a few activities and snippets of information to share.  Do feel free to write a comment on any item in ‘Leave a reply’ at the top of this blog.

Enjoying a new experience at Halloween

It’s been a long time since I gained so much enjoyment out of dressing up.  I don’t mean getting ready for a special outing but actually dressing up in costume and acting a part.   It’s not something I’m accustomed to doing and I found it a little difficult at first but I can certainly recommend it for letting yourself go.  My daughter commented when seeing the photos that she had never seen me having so much fun.

More than 4000 people attended the annual Halloween event at Coal Creek Heritage Park in Korumburra on the 29th October and myself, along with other members of the Coal Creek Spinners group, dressed up as witches and welcomed visitors into our coven.

Here’s another clearer photo of Avis which I thought you would like to see.  She is a marvellous lady and an inspiration to us all.

dsc00467

 

Christmas is approaching – puddings and mince pies

I usually do my Christmas Puddings during October but somehow this year I’m a little behind, though it probably doesn’t matter, they will still taste good on the day.  As customary Ken and I stirred the mixture and made three wishes.  I always make the same wishes which I think are supposed to be kept secret.  Being a little nostalgic I decided to look back over my Christmas pudding photos.  I find it very comforting to see I am carrying on with the same traditions as my Mum and Dad.  How well I remember them doing their puddings, except in their case they made them as gifts for those friends and family who could no longer make them so their kitchen was filled with steam for a week or more.

Now for today’s photos:

A recipe for Mincemeat (Fruit mince)

Last year I was very disappointed with the quality of the fruit mince I used for my mince pies so this year decided I would have a go at making my own.  Having gone through all my cookery books, including a Mrs. Beaton’s (too difficult), I settled on one from my favourite cookery book which was given to me as a wedding present in 1960.  I have to say it turned out really well and of course I just had to make a batch of pies which I intended to put in the freezer.  They had no chance of that did they – yum, they were so good.  If you want to try this recipe you will need:


500g mixed fruit                                                              dsc00477

2 grated apples
120g shredded suet or melted butter (I us
ed the butter)

120g dark brown sugar
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
50g blanched almonds chopped (optional)
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp each of cinnamon, grated nutmeg and cardamon
4 tbs brandy, whisky or rum                          dsc00473

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Pot in dry jars. Keep in a cool dry place.

NOTE: I added some water to make the mixture a little more fluid and because I didn’t have the specified spirits to hand I used some Mezcal, a type of tequila, made from Agave nectar that we brought back from Mexico 10 years ago.  At last I found a use for it !

Some information about Agave Nectar (you may already know of course) – Agave nectar, sometimes called agave syrup, is most often produced from the Blue Agaves that thrive in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico.  Agaves are large, spiked plants that resemble cactus but they are actually succulents similar to the familiar Aloe Vera.  They come in many sizes and colours.  The Aztecs prized the agave as a gift from the gods and used the liquid from its core to flavour foods and drinks.  Now, due to increasing awareness of its beneficial properties, it is becoming the preferred sweetener of health conscious consumers, doctors and natural food cooks alike.

The joy of spring flowers

What joy the spring flowers bring even though some of them are having a bit of a struggle coping with the very strange weather we have been experiencing.  The wind has played havoc with many plants coupled with the naughty behaviour of Ken, who in his effort to control the weeds, accidentally pulled up my very best sunflower specimen which I had been nurturing.  Admittedly it was in a strange location, amongst the loganberries, but it was the only space I had available at the time of planting.  Fortunately I have three more in another spot.  He has been forgiven – somewhat.

My Lilac was a real disappointment, only having a couple of blooms, but the various clematis and sweet peas are lovely.


Some useful tips for using silica gel bags
Next time you find a sachet of silica gel in a handbag or in a box of new shoes, don’t throw it away – these multi-purpose little sachets have a range of practical household uses or so I have read in a recent article.  I have picked out what I think to be the best.

  1. Preserve old photos and books – Moisture can wreak havoc on old photos and books. Silica gel placed inside an album or in an old book will help absorb unwanted moisture and can even do away with the musty smell.
  2. Absorb unwanted smells – If you carry your gym bag with you between work and home, try popping a few silica gel bags into the pockets to keep things fresh. You can also try this in your shoes – the silica gel bags will gradually eliminate dampness and help prevent the bacteria that causes smells from thriving.
  3. Preserve Christmas decorations – For the majority of the year when they aren’t in use, Christmas ornaments tend to live in the far corners of our cupboards or tucked away in the loft or garage. Keep them safe from damage with silica gel bags; they’ll draw away moisture and keep your precious items at their best.
  4. Saving seeds – If you’re a keen gardener and you save seeds between seasons, you’ll know how important it is to keep moisture out to prevent sprouting and molding. Put seeds in individual envelopes and then store together in an airtight plastic container – add one or two silica gel sachets to soak up any residual moisture and keep them safe until it’s time to plant again.
  5. For drying flowers – Speed up the process of drying and pressing flowers with the help of silica. Put your dried flowers in a paper bag with a packet or two of silica gel to help speed up the process.

Apparently if you find your silica gel bags aren’t working anymore, don’t throw them away – you can dry them out by placing them in the oven on low temperature – about 95C – for one to two hours. Then keep them in a sealed sandwich bag until they’re ready for use again.

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So here I am at the end of another blog post which please enjoy.  I’ll close with a quote from Aristotle:

PATIENCE IS BITTER BUT ITS FRUIT IS SWEET 

Janice  

 

 


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Catching up with the garden, The value of exercise, Another impromptu outing, Alternative uses for window spray and a speedy impressive dessert

Hello everyone, hope you are all doing well.  I’ve had a busy few weeks following my various activities which I enjoy sharing with you in my blog posts.

 

Catching up with the garden

I wonder if any of you are having the same problem as we are trying to keep pace with removing all the weeds and excess foliage springing up in the garden.  It’s become a daunting task which Ken has been tackling day by day, weather permitting.  He’s going to be making quite a few trips to the local tip when the free green waste disposal period starts in a couple of weeks.

Just some of the green waste

Just some of the green waste

We love our garden but as the years roll on we know one day we will have to face the prospect, that it may become too onerous.  What then?  I don’t like thinking about it.  Fortunately, we are not at that stage yet, so we can enjoy the fruits of our labours for another year.  Last season we decided to reduce our vegetable growing beds but even so have harvested a large quantity of peas, carrots and beetroot plus we are looking forward to the  broad beans which are starting to pod up.  I decided I wouldn’t grow pumpkins this year but having just cooked the last one from storage, I’m wavering!!

 

The value of exercise as we age

There’s no doubt about the importance of exercise in our lives as we age.  Unfortunately it’s not always possible to participate in strenuous activity, but water aerobics is one of the more gentler forms that improves cardiovascular health, increases strength, slows down age-related loss of muscle mass and the decrease of reaction time that comes with getting older.  This was brought home to me last week when a gentleman who attends the same water aerobics class as myself and  who I considered  to perhaps be in his 70’s, was wished a happy 90th birthday.  After the session we all met in an adjoining room to celebrate and enjoyed a super cake supplied by his wife.  I was hoping to be able to include a photo which our trainer took, but so far that hasn’t come to hand.  He said he has always believed in exercise and up until last year was also attending the gym.  In fact there are 4 other people in the class in their 80’s who attest to the benefits of water aerobics on their mobility.

Another impromptu outing

Following the success of our impromptu outing to Agnes Falls, which I detailed in my last post, we set off again on a nice sunny morning to explore the South Gippsland area.  Ken suggested we head to Mount Nicoll Look Out between Foster and Fish Creek.    At about 305 meters above sea level, the views were reported to be phenomenal and extend up to 97 km into the distance.  However, having traversed the very steep and quite rough 2km track off the Fish Creek Road (really not meant for our small car), we found that there was a further 200m walk up hill from the car park to the actual lookout.  We reluctantly decided it was best not to tackle the climb which was a little disappointing.  If you are interested here’s a link with lots of information:  http://south-gippsland.com/mt-nicoll.htm

We continued on heading towards Sandy Point (near Foster) following a sign to Shallow Inlet Marine and Coastal Park.  We couldn’t believe our eyes when a little track in the Park lead us straight onto the most magnificent beach which it was possible to drive along.  Absolutely breathtaking and I so enjoyed driving up and down.

There are many sites on the internet giving information about the Inlet which is between Waratah Bay and the majestic peaks of Wilsons Promontory.  It provides a secluded and peaceful setting for a range of water based activities such as fishing, boating and sailboarding.

After a picnic we headed home stopping off at Port Franklin, one of our favourite spots, to take a casual walk along the jetty.  It’s a very interesting area which was first settled in the 1840’s by timber cutters.  A good web site to visit is:   http://www.visitpromcountry.com.au/towns/port-franklin

Alternative uses for window spray

I’m always looking for new ideas, so whilst drawling through the internet a list of alternative uses for window spray came up which I thought could come in useful.  I can’t vouch for them though, because I haven’t tried them but many of them sound quite interesting.

1. Insect repellent – Most household insects hate the smell of ammonia common in      window cleaners. Spray some near windows and doors in summer to keep insects well away.
2. Microfibre furniture cleaner – Smooth and comfortable though it may be, microfibre furniture – like faux suede – can be difficult to get clean. Try some window spray – spritz lightly over the surface and then brush using a soft-bristled scrubber working in the same direction.
3. Stain remover – Window spray might be the secret weapon you’ve been waiting for. Try applying window cleaner to common stains like ketchup or red wine. Soak for 15 minutes, rinse and wash.
4. Jewellery cleaner – You can brighten up metal and gemstone jewellery with Windolene and an old toothbrush.  Spray the piece, scrub lightly, then rinse. The ammonia in window cleaner makes it a great jewellery cleaner – except for soft, porous materials like opal, turquoise and pearl.
5. In the car – Window spray makes a perfect multi-surface cleaner in the car, and is ideal because it’s non-greasy and won’t leave any residue behind. You can use it on the windows, dashboard, steering wheel and upholstery – and even on the car’s exterior to remove stubborn marks like bugs and tree sap.
6. Cut through grease – Window spray is a great foil for any greasy surface, and can soften up hard to clear stains in the oven, fans and light fixtures. It also works on pots and pans, too. Spray liberally, leave for 10 minutes then wipe away.
7. For children’s toys – You can quickly and easily clean up toys with the help of Window spray and a cloth – just remember to rinse thoroughly with water afterwards.
8. Stuck zipper – Free a stuck zipper with the help of a spritz of window spray. It won’t ruin your clothes and will help loosen up the zip so you can free it again.
9. Reduce swelling from stings – If you have swelling from a bee sting, try this simple tip beekeepers have known for years. Spray a light misting over the sting to help relieve pain and swelling.
10. Emergency spot treatment – You might remember this particular trick from the hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Window spray can work as an emergency spot treatment to help reduce swelling and dry out an unsightly spot before a big event. Spray a small amount on a cotton bud and apply directly – and only – to the spot.

A speedy impressive dessert

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Last week I needed to come up with a quick dessert for unexpected visitors, which to my relief turned out really well, so thought it worth sharing.   Fortunately I had some crumble topping mix in the freezer which I had previously made up when following one of Jo Marty’s recipes for an apple crumble.  If  you decide to put some crumble mixture into your freezer it’s a good idea to spread it over a freezer tray before bagging up so that it is free flowing enabling you to only use what you need at the time i.e. not one big clump to separate.

This is what I used for my dessert but of course you could use whatever you have to hand in your store cupboard.

Tin sliced peaches
Frozen raspberries
Crumble mixture
Shallow baking dishes

Place frozen raspberries on bottom of each dish and spoon over sliced peaches with a little of the juice.  Thickly sprinkle over the crumble mix and bake at 180C for approximately 20 minutes.  Check frequently to make sure topping doesn’t brown too much.  Serve warm with cream or ice cream.
To make the crumble mixture
5 heaped tablespoons plain flour
60g butter, melted
5 heaped tablespoons brown sugar
5 heaped tablespoons desiccated coconut

Mix flour, butter, coconut and brown sugar together. That’s all you need to do.  I’m sure you will be happy with the result.

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There are a few other things I want to share with you so hope to blog again shortly.  Until then I’ll close with this happy photo of my Peruvian Spanish Teacher Rosa in Lima, Peru on her wedding day:

Rosa and Daniel

Rosa and Daniel

Remember some of the best things in life are free:  hugs, smiles, friends, family, laughter and good memories.

 

Janice 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impromptu days out, A time for reflection, Is your wardrobe a mess, Panzanella salad, Project update

I just can’t believe where the past few weeks have gone.  I made a resolution to post at least every couple of weeks but despite my good intentions, I’ve failed.  I recall a sign on the wall of the office where I had my first job at the age of 16:   The secret to a happy life – never argue, never explain.  This sign was pointed out to me on many occasions by the Office Manager when I wasted too much paper failing to erase errors in my typing.  Though I’m not sure I agree,  it’s stuck with me for a very long time.

Sometimes impromptu days out can be the best

Do you sometimes wake up one morning and say to yourself or your partner “let’s go out for the day’ ?  These impromptu days out can prove to be the best.  That’s what happened last week when I woke up and thought blow all the jobs I had planned, the weather forecast was for a sunny day, so why not go out and enjoy.  Ken had read about filming waterfalls and suggested we go to Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve which is located in Gippsland around a 15 minute drive from the township of Toora and about 1¼ hours from our house (2 hours from Melbourne).   I packed a picnic lunch and we were off.

When we stepped out of the car at the falls there was a feeling of absolute tranquility.  Just standing in the peace and quiet was exhilarating.  Here’s a link so you can read more about the falls.    https://www.visitpromcountry.com.au/attractions/agnes-falls

When we got home Ken put a short film together so I could include it in this blog.  It just gives you an idea of the Falls but unfortunately not the rest of the beautiful surroundings.  You may need to turn your sound down when viewing as the water falling is really loud.

 

A time for reflection

A couple of weeks ago it was our 56th Wedding Anniversary.   The whole family met at our daughter’s house to not only celebrate our Anniversary but the birthday of our son and two of our grandchildren.  I  retrieved our Wedding Album from the back of a cupboard to take to the party and after tea and a very large cake, we sat around a huge table to chat.  The grandchildren talked about their courses and activities and future prospects, our children chatted about their jobs and hopes and Ken and I listened and reflected on our lives.  The album was passed around with much laughter.  It was so good to remember that special day 56 years ago and bring to life aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents and friends who will forever be in our hearts.

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Is your wardrobe in a mess?

The answer to this question for me is, yes, so when I read a plan for change, I thought I would have a go:
Sort the clothes you don’t wear. Store these out of sight until you’re ready to donate or discard them.
Set a limit. Determine the number of items you’ll have in your wardrobe, be it a core 10 or wider 33 or in between.
Set a time. Decide how long you’ll wear your capsule wardrobe. One to three months is a good starting point.
Curate your clothing. Replace ill-fitting or well-worn items as needed.
Enforce a one-in-one-out policy. When you buy a new item, donate or toss an old piece.

I wonder if it will work !!

Panzanella Salad and Garlic Bread

With warmer days on the horizon (I hope) here in Victoria and the sun still shining in the UK, this recipe is a winner.

You will  need:

* ½ loaf of Ciabatta cubed
* 500g ripe tomatoes (cherry or cocktail or heirloom tomatoes) or 2-3 bigger tomatoes
* ½ red onion, thinly sliced
* 1 long cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
* 3 garlic cloves, sliced
* ½ cup of olive oil for bread
* 4 tablespoon of butter
* Small bunch of chopped fresh parsley (1/2 cup)
* 8 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
* 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
* 3 tablespoon of olive oil for dressing
* Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Heat ½ cup of olive oil with butter together in a large oven proof skillet over medium heat
3. When butter has melted, remove the skillet from the heat, add garlic and bread and mix it well
4. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the bread is golden brown, let it cool down
5. In the meantime prepare the tomatoes, cut the cherry tomatoes in half or if using large tomatoes, core and slice into medium cubes
6. In a large bowl, mix together, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions
7. Combine vinegar with 3 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and pour over the salad
8. Mix well
9. Add bread and herbs and toss everything together
10. It can be served immediately or prepared 15 – 30 minutes in advance

Project progress

In my last post I mentioned that I hoped to make up an easy to use kit for wet felting with children.  This turned out to be a much bigger task than anticipated but eventually I was able to source all the bits and pieces necessary and now have the kits ready to go.  I tried to photograph the actual kit, but the bag caused a reflection so this is the label.

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My next challenge is to do a filmed tutorial with two of my granddaughters and post it on YouTube.  They haven’t felted before so it should be a good test for the kit.

Does anyone have an interesting project they would like to share?  Let me know so I can include it in the next post.

Until next time

THROW KINDNESS AROUND LIKE CONFETTI

Janice 

Download a tutorial for felting with children, Pamper your feet, Update on newspaper seed pots, Watching veggies grow, Felting Bug, Wool Dying, Activity idea for grandchildren and a super Marshmallow Pavlova recipe

Hi everyone, hope you are all enjoying life to the full, exploring new projects and ideas, meeting up with friends and family and generally looking after your well being.

Recently I came across a couple of ideas for pampering your feet which I thought were worth sharing.   I loved the detox foot soak but so far haven’t got round to the foot scrub.

Detox Foot Soak
1 cup sea salt
1 cup epsom salt
1 cup baking soda
10 drops lavender essential oil
5 drops eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil
3 tbsp dried lavender
Combine all ingredients in a glass jar, cap, and shake.
When you’re ready to use, fill a container that is large enough to fit both feet in with hot water. Add 1/2 cup of the foot soak powder and stir to dissolve. Place bare feet in the water and allow to soak for at least 10 minutes, but for up to 30. Relax, breathe, read a book, listen to some music. When your time is up, pat feet dry with a clean, dry towel.

 

Revitalizing Foot Scrub
1 cup coarse raw sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil or olive oil
1/2 tsp tea tree oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a resealable jar and stir to combine. When you’re ready to use, scoop a small amount of scrub into your palm and massage into feet, concentrating on heels, arches, any any rough patches. Leave on for 5 minutes, then rinse with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel. Store scrub in a cool place, away from direct sunlight

 

Update on making and using newspaper pots

I wonder if any of you decided to make the newspaper pots for planting seeds and seedlings (instructions and video given in my blog of 27th July ).  They work really well and even though I thought they may fall to pieces when watering, so far they have maintained their shape.   Most of the giant sunflowers I planted have emerged and are doing well.  I have since planted some tomato and petunia seeds.  By the way, the more pots you make, the easier it becomes to get them square.   I found that the final step, which was creasing the points to allow them to want to form the bottom of the pot, is essential for success.

Sunflowers growing and further pots planted

Sunflowers growing and further pots planted

The joy of watching veggies grow

There is so much satisfaction to be gained from planting a few vegetable seeds and watching them grow to maturity.  The wonder of popping those little seeds into the ground and then eventually being rewarded by something you can eat is amazing.   I had the intention of cutting back this year but have found it really difficult to curb my enthusiasm.  Here are a few of my happy plants:

The felting bug

Yes, I’ve really got the felt bug.   With the assistance of the e-book I downloaded, Creating Felt Artwork, I’ve produced two wall hangings and a cushion which I had on show at the recent Coal Creek Heritage Park craft day.

It was a very successful day with demonstrations of spinning, weaving, lace making and wool dying and of course felt making.  The wool dying with both cold and hot water methods was extremely popular.  I was fascinated by the colours produced with the hot water method which included, brown onion skins, wattle flowers, eucalyptus leaves, red cabbage and fungi.  The fungi produced a very strange smell and appeared a real witches brew, the resultant colour of the dyed wool being a greyish blue.  The cold water method is more passive using Earth Palette Dyes but again the colours are impressive.  E-mail me for more details at   sbf@dcsi.net.au

I thought I would look into the history of wet felting and was rewarded with lots of information some of which I have copied here for those interested.

History of Feltmaking: What is Wool Felt

Felt is a non-woven fabric formed when sheep’s wool or animal fur is subjected to heat, moisture and pressure or agitation. Soap, or an alkaline environment, helps the felting process. Heat and moisture cause the outer scales along the fiber to open, and the soap allows the fibers to slide easily over one another thereby causing them to become entangled. The wool fibers are made up of a protein called keratin. The keratin in the fibers becomes chemically bound to the protein of the other fibers thereby resulting in a permanent bond between the fibers, making the felting process irreversible.

Felting is a simple technique requiring very little equipment. The main advantage felting has over other textile techniques is producing a finished product in much less time. No one knows for certain how humans first discovered the felting properties of wool and animal fur, but several ideas suggest how early humans may have become interested in making felt. Matted wool may have been noticed on sheep. Wool shed from wild sheep may have been found formed into a mass of fibers as a result of the elements. Perhaps they stuffed their foot ware, presumably animal hide, with wool to keep their feet warm. After walking on the wool for a while they found that it became stiff and formed a kind of fabric.

The oldest archaeological finds containing evidence of the use of felt are in Turkey. Wall paintings that date from 6500 to 3000 B.C. have been found which have the motif of felt appliquè. At Pazyryk in Southern Siberia archeological evidence of felt was found inside a frozen tomb of a nomadic tribal chief that dates from the fifth century B.C. The evidence from this find shows a highly developed technology of feltmaking. (These felts are in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Some pieces can be seen on the museums web site, www.hermitagemuseum.org) The Romans and Greeks knew of felt. Roman soldiers were equipped with felt breastplates (for protection from arrows), tunics, boots and socks. The earliest felt found in Scandinavia dates back to the Iron Age. Felt sheets believed to be from about 500 A.D. were found covering a body in a tomb in Hordaland, Norway.

Today felt is still in use in many parts of the world especially in areas with harsh climates. In Mongolia, nomads live in felt tents called yurts or gers. In Turkey, rugs, hats and other items are made of felt. In South Central Asia nomadic tribes use felt as tent coverings, rugs and blankets. Shepherds use felt cloaks (kepenek) and hats to protect them from the harsh climate. In Scandinavia and Russia, felt boots are produced and widely used. More recently there has been a revival in the interest in felt making especially in Great Britain and Scandinavia and also in the United States with contemporary felt making design and techniques becoming more widespread.

 

A great activity idea for when the grandchildren come for the day

Children love to be creative so having seen the interest that was shown in the felt wall hangings, cushions and hats plus wool dying,  at the craft day, I have put together a tutorial for Felting fun with children, which can be downloaded below.

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This is a quick and fun project to make with children – in an hour or so a child can make a masterpiece!  Children love to be creative and wet felting is an easy activity that allows them to do just that.  The tutorial will guide you through the steps that are needed to produce a small felt picture.  With the help of an adult a child can felt the flowers shown in the tutorial or a design from their own imagination.

The only problem I foresee is sourcing the correct wool for felting.  Some craft shops carry supplies, likewise Spotlight Stores and internet sites.   If you are interested I will be putting together a small kit which will include all you need to make one picture, e-mail me at sbf@dcsi.net.au for details.

>>CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD <<

 

Now to conclude this post here’s a delicious Marshmallow Pavlova recipe (courtesy of Jo Marty)

An amazing Marshmallow Pavlova (recipe courtesy of Jo Marty)

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MARSHMALLOW PAVLOVA
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
1 dessertspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vinegar
300 whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar extra
1 kiwi fruit or 1 banana
Method
Preheat oven to 110C
Beat egg whites thoroughly until stiff, add half cup caster sugar and beat again until sugar is dissolved (approx. 5 minutes)
Add remaining sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly fold in sifted cornflour, then vinegar. Line base of a 20cm spring form tin with non-stick baking paper. Spray sides with non-stick spray. Spoon mixture into pan and level off the top. Bake gently for 1 hour. If the pavlova is browning the oven is too hot.
Allow to cool completely. Whip cream with 1 tablespoon sugar. Top pavlova with stiffly whipped cream and sliced fruit.
Serves 4 to 6

 

I’ve had a few computer glitches this week so think the following quote rings true:

The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time

Enjoy

Janice 

 

 

Newspaper seed pots, Feeling thankful, A yummy snack, Looking back and Projects

Newspaper pots for seed starting and cuttings

For many of us gardening provides many hours of enjoyment and health giving benefits so it’s good to start thinking about Spring.  I like to start my seeds early and then plant them straight into the soil without having first to remove them from the container.  I think it avoids those early attacks from snails and slugs as the plants are more established.    Last year I bought some containers which were supposed to easily break down but they proved unsatisfactory as the roots of some plants became stunted failing to easily get through into the soil.    You just have to have a medium that breaks down otherwise you are wasting your time, so I did a bit of research  and found a tutorial on making pots for seed starting and cuttings using newspaper.  I followed the instructions but my pots didn’t come out as perfectly as shown on the tutorial.   I eventually realised that the newspaper I was using wasn’t the same size so I practiced cutting my paper until I sort of got right.  Having produced six pots, I merrily went down to the shed and planted some giant sunflower seeds, which failed last year.  Of course I’ll have to be careful when watering using a spray or the newspaper will quickly collapse.

Here’s a photo of my effort followed by the tutorial which shows the pots perfectly formed.  I wonder how long that took !

 

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Feeling thankful

With all the terrible things happening in the world, and who knows when it could affect one of us, I have been trying to stop having a groan about various small issues which really aren’t important.   I realise that regardless of our current circumstances, there are people who would trade places in a heartbeat.  I’ve decided to make it a daily habit to feel thankful for all the good things in my life and have been following some good advice from a recent article I read which is that before I go to sleep I think about one best thing that happened during the day and say “thank you, thank you, thank you”.  It’s amazing the things I’ve been taking for granted.  Let me know what you think about this challenge.   Some readers of my blog have mentioned there is no ‘Comment’ area, but you can use the ‘Leave a Reply’ invitation at the top of the page.

 

An easy and so yummy snack

Thought I would share this yummy recipe with you.  Only drawback is that you can’t stop tucking in.

You will need a tin of chickpeas, 2 tsp coconut oil, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1½ tsp honey, pinch of salt.

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Step one: Preheat your oven to 180C.

Step two: Drain your chickpeas and then rinse, dry and pop to the side.

Step three: Spread your chickpeas out onto a lined baking tray, and bake for around 40 minutes until crispy!

Step four: Pop them out of the oven and mix with your honey, cinnamon, salt and oil

Step five: Whilst still warm place back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes until golden.

 

Looking back and sharing special times

I originally posted this item on the 14th April 2015 and thought that I would  re-post it as there are now many more followers of the blog who may enjoy the story.  Even if you have read it before, perhaps you will revisit the experience.  So here goes:

Looking back over past achievements and getting together with those who shared those times can create many hours of enjoyment. I would like to relate one such story with you of how music became our lives.

During the 1960’s my brother, Ted (Vocal, Lead Guitar, Organ), got together with a group of friends, Alan, (Bass guitar), Colin (Drums), Peter (Vocal and Rhythm), Andy (Lead Vocalist and Song writer), to form a Rock Band. Ken, my husband, who had been an avid jazz fan up until that time, took to the music and became very involved, eventually performing the task of Manager touting for venues at which the group could perform and going out one day with our little Vauxhall Viva and returning with a Bedford Utilabrake van for the purpose of transporting all the equipment.

It was a heady time filled with hard work, ambition to succeed and purchasing of equipment to create better sound quality. The group first practiced in a room adjacent to my parents house and then in our garage and later in a room at the Red Lion pub at Northchurch (UK) One of their first big opportunities came when they won a Beat Group Competition at Hemel Hempstead (UK) with the name THE ASSOCIATES. What excitement. The boys were always supported by their girlfriends who travelled around to the venues with them putting up with late nights and lots of just sitting around.

Over the years the group supported many well-known bands one of whom was Bill Hayley and the Comets at a venue in Dunstable. Once they were booked as top of the bill in Llandudno, North Wales and another time in Newmarket where their PA amp blew up. The other group performing that night were The Idle Race who allowed them to use their equipment. The lead singer and guitarist was Jeff Lynne who went on to front ELO and write their songs. He was also in the Travelling Wilburys after being producer for Tom Petty, George Harrison and Roy Orbison. Now I realise that many of my readers may not be aware of these names, but it could be of interest to some.

The group continued for many years until the music scene changed. Alan (Bass) is the keeper of the Groups history and has been in contact with us over the years sharing stories, photos and a copy of a record The Associates made. He has maintained his interest in all things musical, likewise my brother Ted, who still has his Fender and Gibson guitars plus others I believe.

Though Ken and I are unable to meet up with the members of the group due to tyranny of distance, we were so happy when Alan sent a photo of a get-together they had recently at a birthday party. I wonder if you can spot which is which now, but first Ken and I toast them with this photo from those days (venue unknown).  Just look at that hair-style!

Janice and Ken in the 60's

Janice and Ken in the 60’s

THE ASSOCIATES

and here they are now:

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Listen to their record, Virginia Water (written by Andy)

 

Projects

I’ve been pursuing quite a few projects recently i.e. knitting, spinning and felting.  If you are at all interested in felting you will love visiting  http://www.rosiepink.typepad.co.uk.  I have just bought their e-book Creating Felt Artwork.  It’s truly inspiring and my fingers itch to get started.   My spinning skills are slowly improving but I think it will be a long time before the wool comes out uniform.  I was given a 1kg roll of Bendigo Mills fine merino toppings which I have been working on.  If and when that’s spun I will try to knit a cardigan but I’m not holding my breath.  My daughter asked me if I would knit her a jumper which I finished a couple of weeks ago.  I used Bendigo Mills Pattern 8290 in 8 ply with good results.  Here’s a photo:

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I’ll sign off with this quote:

Unexplored paths lead to undiscovered treasures

Janice

Prioritising your time, iPod birthday cake that plays music, Cycling without age scheme, Easy marmalade recipe

First of all I have to report that despite all my good intentions to post a blog each fortnight, I’ve sadly failed.  Sometimes I think I need to plan my time better and I do try.  When I say that to Ken, he nods his head knowingly;  of course he’s heard it all before.  No matter how carefully an intention or project is planned, something may still cause delay.  I think the saying   “The best made plans of mice and men often go astray”  (adapted from a line in “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns) is very appropriate.  

This got me to thinking about the best way to  prioritise my time so I trawled through various blogs on the net and came across the following very good advice.  It’s certainly worth a read. 

The Art of Mindful Prioritising (extract from an article by Marc Chernott)

The moment we admit to ourselves that we’re trying to cram too many things (tasks, obligations, distractions, etc.) into a relatively small space (24 hours in a day), it becomes obvious that we need to clear some clutter from our schedules.

Mindful prioritization is the key.

Pay close attention to all the things you do today – all the things you’re trying to fit into 24 hours. How much TV are you watching in the morning and evening? What websites are you browsing? What games are you playing? How much time are you spending texting, emailing, or updating your social media accounts? How much online window-shopping are you doing? How much time do you allocate to eating, cleaning, and taking care of others? What else are you spending the precious minutes of your day on?

What you might notice first is that you’re doing too many random things that don’t need to be done – too many time-wasters. Then you might also notice that you’re overcommitted with too many obligations – and those obligations are filling up your life.

You can start stealing your time back by eliminating as many needless distractions and obligations as possible, and saying “no” to new ones that arise. Easier said than done, of course, but the important thing to realize is that you CAN change how you allocate your time.

Next, look at your to-do list (assuming you have one): how many of these things can you reasonably do in the next 24-hours? Probably only three to five, with sanity.

Now ask yourself this: which task would you work on if you could only work on one task over the next 24 hours? That is your #1 priority. Just that one task. The truth is, you probably can’t complete everything on your list in one day’s time, and you can’t do your top three to five tasks right now. You can do only one thing at a time. So just focus on your #1 task and, once you’re done, then figure out what your next #1 task is.

Clear everything else away, and focus.

 

Our hidden talents – the story of the iPod birthday cake that plays music

I really love chatting with people about what they enjoy doing and frequently they reveal what hidden talents they have.     I met Karen Suttie some years ago whilst visiting at Armitage Aged Care facility.  Karen works in the catering department and always makes sure I had a nice cuppa and a piece of cake.  I knew Karen cared for her young grandson Jordan and during one of our brief chats she told me she was going to buy him an iPod for his birthday but, as a surprise,  make a birthday cake in the form of a pad which appeared to be playing music.   Karen says she is fairly new to serious cake decorating but likes experimenting and trying new techniques which makes it exciting.   I think you will be amazed at how she got the cake to play music.

Here’s Karen’s description of her iPod cake

First picture shows the cakes. Second picture was to show you that I drilled a hole in the cake board and threaded the speaker cords through ready for the cake. It also shows the bottom layer of the cake where I cut out a hole for the cords to go through to make it look ‘plugged in’.


Third picture, I’ve put the bottom cake back on the rack and iced the two layers of cake together with a chocolate ganache. I iced them back on the rack so I wouldn’t make too much of a mess of my cake board.
Fourth picture, a layer of red fondant. I cheated and bought ready coloured fondant.
Fifth picture I had cut a rectangle of white fondant, put that on top of the cake and then had a go at drawing the designs from the home screen of an ipod. This was hard and I wasn’t very confident.  I used cake decorating textas to draw the designs and although they weren’t perfect, I thought they looked ok.
Sixth and seventh pictures – I did the screen background cover…..the worst part and the one that almost ruined the whole thing!  I thought I’d try spray painting with cake decorating spray paint.  Bad move! I got runs of paint everywhere. I decided to use a paint brush to try and even out the colour. I sprayed the paint into a container where I dipped the brush and finished painting. I also added a few details like the indented on/off button and I wrapped a little white fondant around the cords to make it look like the end of the cord at the plug point. I had also wrapped the two speaker cords together to make them look like one cord that split part of the way up, forming the ‘earphone’ look which I taped this to the board. 

I  taped my daughter’s ipod to the bottom of the cake board and with the help of a double plug jack, I plugged in the speakers to run music through the speakers so that it appeared that the cake was playing music. The two speakers were cheap $1.25 speakers that I got from China and the double plug jack was about $2.50, so the whole ‘real music’ look cost me a whole $5.00 but looked, and sounded, quite impressive. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a great effect if you know what to look for!

 

Cycling without age

I recently became aware of a new program, Cycling Without Age,  it’s not unlike the Community Visitors Scheme I volunteer with,  however, instead of just visiting, the volunteers take their friends out for a ride on a specially designed bike rather like a rickshaw.

The program was initiated  in Denmark by Ole Kassow and now has licensees around the world including Australia and the UK.   Of course Denmark is a bike riding country and very flat, so I am not sure how it will work in Australia plus there are bound to be lots of regulations to satisfy before it could get off the ground.    Be inspired and uplifted by watching Ole Kassow’s YouTube video describing the scheme and the joy that is being given to residents in aged care facilities.

 

For more information you can visit the Australian site at:  http://cyclingwithoutage.com.au/melbourne/  or the UK site at:  http://cyclingwithoutage.co.uk

 

Marmalade – my easy and somewhat lazy recipe

Making your own  marmalade may seem a little old-fashioned or even a redundant skill but with my easy recipe, which I have used for longer than I care to remember, it’s a breeze.  Seville oranges are the best oranges to use because they have such a tart taste and high pectin content but unfortunately their season is short here in Australia, only available during the first weeks of August.  Not to be deterred any combination of citrus will do the job.

Recipe

4/5 oranges, 2 lemons, 1 grapefruit, washed and cut into quarters.  Remove pips and any discoloured pieces of fruit.  Put fruit into a microwave safe bowl (I always use glass) and add a cup of water.  Cover and microwave on high for 15 minutes.  Let cool slightly then transfer to a liquidiser and pulse until the fruit still has chunks of rind.  Alternatively if you want a smooth product continue to pulse. Place a large saucepan on your scales and pour in pulsed fruit, now add the same weight of sugar to fruit.  Stir to dissolve sugar then boil rapidly for more or less 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  I always put the saucepan on a trivet to save the marmalade burning. Test for set by putting a small portion on a cold plate and leave for a few minutes.   If ready the marmalade will wrinkle when you push up with your finger.

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I like to pot my marmalade while it is still warm so I transfer from the saucepan into a large glass jug and then pour into pre-washed and sterilised jars.  Seal immediately.  This way the marmalade keeps really well.   

 

I’m going to sign off  with the following quote:

Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory

Ringing the bells in the Bell Tower, Perth City, with my dear friend Olive. We have been friends since we started school aged 5

Ringing the bells in the Bell Tower, Perth City, with my dear friend Olive. We have been friends since we started school aged 5

 

Janice 

The not so retired retirees, Soap making, Don’t be discouraged, Useful tips and a story to make you smile

The not so retired retirees

Recently I have been thinking about what it means to be retired.  Our generation is known for a strong work ethic, but I’m not sure we could keep up with some inspirational seniors, who still work full time even in their 90s.  Apparently recent studies have shown that as you work past 65, your life expectancy increases.  Here are the three not so retired retirees I read about recently.

Jean Beanham, 92

Beanham’s Melbourne motorbike parts store has been a fixture of Elizabeth Street for more than four decades, and the 92-year-old has been there through it all. Her 38-hour work week runs from Monday to Friday plus a half-day on Saturday. “I don’t like holidays,” Beanham says “When you get old, you need your brain working.”

Agnes Zhelesnik, 102

This amazing teacher really is 102 years old.  In fact, she has officially been named America’s oldest living schoolteacher. Affectionately known as “Granny” by her pupils, Zhelesnik only began teaching at the age of 81 and still works 35 hours a week at the Sundance School in New Jersey. “I’m busy every minute,” she says.
Reginald Huntley, 96

This British grandfather works 40 hours a week, travelling around Kent in the UK selling woollen clothing and accessories. Rising at 6 am every morning, Huntley works 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. In an interview with Mirror Online, he says, “I hate the thought of sitting at home because people deteriorate.” As for what keeps him going? Huntley visits the gym once a week and loves a good meal of “meat and two veg.”

These three obviously really enjoy what they do, but likewise changing your lifestyle after retirement can open up new challenges and opportunities.  Retirement doesn’t actually mean that you stop work, far from it.  There is time to pursue those things you have had in the back of your mind to do if only you had time together with other activities you never thought it possible that you would enjoy or try.   As we age everything has to be tailored to suit our abilities and needs, but through our local clubs, community houses, libraries, on line courses of every category etc. there is something for everyone to help you retire and enjoy to the full.

Soap making

More years ago than I care to remember, possibly in the 80’s during my alternative lifestyle era, I had a go at soap making.  I recall writing to tell my mother back in UK all about it.  I quickly received a reply from her saying that if I couldn’t buy soap in Australia, she would send me some.  Anyway when I saw a Goats Milk Soap Making course being offered at my local Community House, I booked in.  With all the so called “natural” soaps on the market, I had the mistaken idea that it was possible to produce soap without the use of lye, apparently not so, a fact the course leader acquainted us with at the start of proceedings.   All real soap is made with lye (sodium hydroxide mixed with liquid).  However with the chemical changes that take place during the soap making process, namely, saponification, the finished product does not contain lye.  If you would like to know more about these facts, check out Wikipedia.

I have to say it was a very enjoyable morning with much laughter and chatter.  After having the process demonstrated, we were divided into groups of four, provided with the ingredients which consisted of goats milk, solidified oil, copha, vegetable oil and caustic soda (lye) plus our choice of essential oils, clays, colours or abrasives together with the necessary utensils, following which we set to work with varying degrees of success.

So far I haven’t practiced at home.  We didn’t add any colour other than clay during the course and I thought the finished product looked quite grey and uninteresting, although having used the samples we were given, the soap smells and lathers really well and is soft on the skin.  I have written to the course leader to obtain some more advice.

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If anyone would like the actual soap recipe and instructions, I’m happy to send you a copy.  Just drop me a line at sbf@dcsi.net.au.

 

Don’t be discouraged if you mess up a project there can be a silver lining

Having joined a Spinners group some months ago, I have been practicing my technique under the mentorship of Joan, a long time spinner with 15 years under her belt.  I really do appreciate all her help and advice.  In fact all the members of the group have been fantastic.    Believe me it’s harder than you ever imagined.   Having eventually got to the point where I could spin ‘reasonably’ well,  I decided I would like to start from scratch, washing a fleece, drying, preparing for spinning (carding), then eventually spinning, plying and knitting a finished article to wear.

Without going into too much detail, I thought I had the wool ready for spinning and took it to show Joan, who on inspection kindly said “it will make really good stuffing”.  Apparently I had pulled the fleece in all directions instead of in the way of the staple (direction which the wool grows) which would cause lumps when attempting to spin a smooth thread.  I had so much to learn.  However, over the next few weeks I watched some YouTube spinning videos and saw one  lady who spun absolutely anything and everything.  Out came my wheel and ‘stuffing’ together with some bits and pieces of coloured wool my friend brought back from Chile and I set to work.   Yes big lumps and bumps did emerge, breakages frequently occurred,  but undaunted I spun on and eventually had enough to make a small circular scarf.    Here’s my finished article which I’m quite proud of and wear frequently.

 

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A few useful tips for using Cream of Tartar

I was reading an article recently about the varied uses of Cream of Tartar and thought I would share a few of them with you.  I realise of course that you may already have them in your repertoire but if not you may find them useful.

Stain Remover
Make a paste of cream of tartar mixed with lemon juice to lift stains on clothing and carpets. Let the paste sit for an hour or two, then either machine wash as usual, or blot with a damp cloth. This mixture works well on ink stains!

Kitchen Cleaner
Make a paste of cream of tartar mixed with white vinegar to make a great all-purpose kitchen cleaner. Use it on burner pans, grout lines, ovens, sinks, and to clean up mould and mild

Coffee Pot
Clean stains and residue out of your coffee pot by sprinkling cream of tartar inside. Add boiling water to fill the pot, let the pot cool to room temperature, and rinse well.

Homemade Playdough
Make homemade playdough by mixing 1 cup of flour, 1 cup water, 1 cup salt, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon cream of tartar, and 3-5 drops of food dye (optional). Add more flour if the mixture is wet or sticky, or add more water if the mixture is too dry.

Meringue Miracle
Add an 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar for each 2 egg whites in your meringue. The acid from the cream of tartar will stabilize the egg whites and add volume to your finished product.

A story to share and make you smile

I’m going to finish this post with a happy story.  I can’t imagine riding around a busy city like Lima in Peru on a bicycle but what fun – enjoy.

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On May 23, 2016, photographer Jean Paul Merino posted photo to a Facebook community page for aspiring and professional photographers. Today the photo, titled “Tercer Juventud” (Third Youth) has over 1,000 ‘likes’. Here’s the photographer’s story behind the spontaneous image that would capture hearts (and thumbs up) around cyber space.
I was heading for the center of Lima on my bike, and suddenly I crossed paths with an elderly couple enjoying a bicycle ride. They were both laughing, and it caught my attention. So, without thinking twice, I pursued them for what would be 3 blocks in order to capture the scene, and waited on a corner with my camera and backpack for that shot.
I published the photo on my Facebook group, Peru StreetPhotography …[and] a week later, a Ms. Anita Navarro wrote me, congratulating me for the photograph. She said she was the daughter of the woman on the bicycle.
Then, she continued to tell me the couple’s story: The man is the husband of her sister, who died 14 years ago. He was left alone with their four daughters, so Anita’s mother stepped in to help raise the girls. The man never remarried.
The family has told me the couple likes the photo and have no problems with my having posted it on social media – to the contrary, they are quite pleased. I plane to give them a copy of the photograph.

I’ll sign off with this quote:

A GOOD LIFE IS WHEN YOU SMILE OFTEN, DREAM BIG, LAUGH A LOT AND REALISE HOW BLESSED YOU ARE FOR WHAT YOU HAVE

Janice