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

How to get out of bed feeling great, a mystery plant, volunteering, super salad recipe, tea cosy festival and an inspirational man

How to get out of bed feeling great

Have you noticed how a cat stretches after sleep getting all its limbs and body ready for action?  If you do that too you will start your day feeling great.  Here’s how:  working within your capabilities, arch your ankles, bend your toes, flex your entire leg forward, back, sideways and manipulate the toes, heel and ankle forward and back.  Take a moment to feel the renewed strength flowing through your body before leisurely getting out of bed.  Enjoy the experience.

 

The surprise of receiving a mystery plant

Last week I arranged to have lunch with a dear friend.  I was first in the cafe and when she arrived she was carrying the most unusual (to me) display in a jar which she had cleverly decorated with brown string and a raffia bow.

Dianthus 'Green Trick'

Dianthus ‘Green Trick’

Rhonda has a green thumb and has designed the most amazing colour co-ordinated garden at her new home.  She told me they were Dianthus ‘Green Trick’.  When I arrived home I ‘Googled’  the name and came up with the following information which may interest some gardeners:

Botanical name: Dianthus barbatus ‘Green Trick’

Other names: Sweet william ‘Green Trick’, Dianthus barbatus ‘Temarisou’

Genus: Dianthus
Variety or Cultivar: ‘Green Trick’ _ ‘Green Trick’ is an upright, bushy, short-lived, evergreen perennial, often grown as a biennial, with linear, grey-green leaves and, from early summer into autumn, upright stems bearing large, round, dense, bright green flowerheads with finely-fringed petals.
Dianthus barbatus ‘Green Trick’ is: Evergreen

Flower: Bright-green in Summer; Bright-green in Autumn

Foliage: Grey-green in All seasons

Habit: Bushy, Compact, Cushion or Mound Forming

I also noted that they are becoming very popular with florists to add to bouquets.  I’m looking forward to growing some in my garden in the future.

Volunteering National Volunteers Week (Australia)

We have been celebrating National Volunteers Week here in Australia with various events.  This year’s slogan was GIVE HAPPY, LIVE HAPPY.  The Program Coordinator for the Community Visitors Scheme I volunteer with arranged a morning tea to thank all volunteers for their work and dedication.  It’s absolutely outstanding how many visits have been made.

You may be interested in the amazing statistics which Esis Tawfik, Manager, Community Visitor Scheme, kindly forwarded to include in this post:

MS Community Visitors Scheme
In the past year our 478 Community Visitors Scheme volunteers made
more than 11,365 visits to socially isolated older people in NSW and Victoria.
Our volunteers visit people for companionship and friendship built on
mutual interests. This simple philosophy has added genuine value to the
lives of many people. In 2014, our program was expanded to include
people living in their own homes who receive a home care package. In the words of one of the recipients, for many people, the program is a ‘lifeline’.

As mentioned previously,  I visit Dorothy in an Aged Care Facility, who at 102 loves to chat and talk about her life experiences.  When I was with her last week she said how nice it was to have ‘a special friend’.  I found that very touching.

For readers of this blog who live outside Australia, it would be very interesting to know if you have a similar scheme in your area.

 Another great recipe from Jo Marty’s book :  How to eat well for next to nothing – The Bible of Budget (2nd edition)

ROASTED PUMPKIN SALAD

400g butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped into approx 1-2cm dice, 60g baby spinach leaves, 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed, 2 tsp mild curry powder, 1 tbl vegetable oil

Dressing:  2 tbl vinegar, 1 tbl olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, ½ tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 200C – place pumpkin into a small baking tin with the oil.  Toss through then bake for 20 minutes.  Add curry powder and mix through.  Return to oven and bake for a further 10 minutes or until cooked and a little caramelised.  Set aside to cool. 

To  make dressing:  whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt pepper and sugar.  In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, spinach, chickpeas and dressing.

I demonstrated this recipe at the Learn/Share Vegetarian at the Table course I conducted recently.  All the participants returned the next week telling me what a success it had proved to be with their families.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy trying it out.

 

Tea Cosy Festival at Fish Creek, South Gippsland, Vic.

Along with my friend Olga, I really enjoyed the Tea Cosy Festival at Fish Creek which is held in Fish Creek every two years.  The Festival showcases the town’s character and reinvents a cultural icon of country kitchens along the way.   How well I remember my mum using a tea cosy each day and having a special one for when visitors came by.  I have to admit to not owning one myself but seeing all the wonderful designs, I just might be tempted to find a pattern and make one before too long.

I took some photos but there were so many people in the hall it was difficult to keep a steady hand so the results were not the best.  However,  I’ll share my favourites here:

 

An inspiration at almost 81

I have to say at nearly 81, my husband Ken, is an inspiration.  He’s always planning his next project which recently was renovating the greenhouse and garden shed and reducing the vegetable growing area.  I’m not sure there’s much reduction in the growing area, but things have certainly been spruced up.  When he finishes a project he always says that’s the last one though I doubt it.  At least I hope not.

I’d like to share this timely quote I saw attached to a tree in a Sculpture Park.

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With that thought I’ll sign off until next time

Janice

Making instant friends, Gain knowledge, Felting, Dog training, Quick stain removal

Making instant friends

It’s amazing how instant friendships can spring up.  A couple of weeks ago I was out walking the dogs when they introduced themselves, as they do to anyone who will give them a pat, to a couple of cyclists who were admiring the beautiful costal scenery along the cliffs to Kilcunda (South Gippsland, Vic.).  Gray and Leslie Hodge introduced themselves and our conversation developed as we chatted amiably about the area and our shared interests.  It’s amazing how much information can be imparted in no less than 10 minutes or so.  Gray and Leslie were over from Tasmania enjoying a cycling holiday which is their passion.  They told me of a cycling holiday they had in France where all the equipment you need is provided.  I must say that’s a great holiday idea, imagine cycling through France.  If you are interested visit at:   www.bretonbikes.com

Eventually I waived goodbye only to catch up with them 15 minutes later as they were again admiring the view further along the cliffs.  We started chatting once more and before I knew it I had an invitation to visit them in Tasmania.   Here’s a photo of ‘brand new friends’

Leslie, Gray and Janice

Leslie, Gray and Janice

Since Leslie and Gray’s return to Tasmania we have shared e-mails and their invitation to visit has been renewed.   They have a sign writing business located in the most beautiful landscape in Tasmania:  http://www.camriversigns.com.au/

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Gain knowledge with a Learn and Share Program

I’ve previously mentioned my local Neighbourhood Centre (Mitchell House & Harvest Centre, Wonthaggi) where you can access a wide variety of courses.  Neighbourhood Houses began in the 1970’s with people coming together to share their knowledge and skills with each other at low or no cost in a process called LearnShare.  LearnShare recognises that throughout our lives whether working with our hands, our head or our heart, we all acquire valuable knowledge and skills.  As part of the ongoing process of lifelong learning we can all learn something new or share what we know.

This week I offered my knowledge of vegetarian cooking in a LearnShare program.  It was a great experience made even more rewarding by the enthusiasm of the participants.

I would urge you to seek out your local Neighbourhood House to enjoy good company, learn new skills or volunteer to share your own experience.

You can join Wonthaggi Neighbourhood Centre on Facebook or e-mail them at:  mitchellhouse@dcsi.net.au

Felting projects

In my blog of 2nd February 2016 I talked about the project I was undertaking making a felted jacket from wool my friend Olga brought back from Chile.  At one stage I thought I had taken on more than I could chew.  It’s one thing having the idea of what you would like to do and actually putting it into practice.  Once started I realised that the jacket needed to be lined, another challenge.  Olga found a length of lining in a local Op Shop for $2.00;  a great bargain.  The project is now a reality and whilst by no means perfect in every detail, Olga now has a very unique reminder of her trip home.

Here the jacket is modelled by “Doris” my dressmakers dummy.  It has a zip-up front which is not visible in the picture.

Felted jacket

Felted jacket

I still have wool over and hopefully one day will manage to make a jacket for myself.  I’ve made up a couple of sample panels though I don’t think it will be quite as elaborate as Olga’s.  We will see.

Training your dog

Sophia my little terrier met up with her doggie boyfriend Oscar yesterday at the Powlett River. They had great fun running on the beach and scampering in the sea.   Oscar is becoming very responsive to a training whistle – he has a tendency to investigate the bush and sometimes doesn’t return for over an hour.  Sheri, his owner, told me that with the aid of this recently acquired  whistle and a treat he now returns promptly.  Truly amazing as in the past she has had an hour or so wait for him.  She used it during our walk when Oscar periodically went missing, so I saw the results in action.  I checked out Rufus and Coco Dog Training devices on the internet at  www.petology.com.au  so you might like to have a look for yourselves if you have a need for this idea.

Sheri also uses a Soggy Doggy Drying Blanket when she gets Oscar back to the car.  I really must get one of these for Sophia as she often needs a rub down after a walk or swim and it does save a mess in the car.  Again I looked on the internet where there are various companies offering these blankets at different prices.

Here’s Oscar in the back of the car accompanied by his mascot, being dried after a swim with the Soggy Doggy Blanket.

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Quick stain removal chart

Thought I would share this chart I recently came across on Pinterest.  I’ve already made use of it a few times:

   How to remove one of these stains:

      GRASS               –        VINEGAR

    RED WINE          –        WHITE WINE

    GREASE              –        SODA

    BLOOD               –        HYDROGEN PEROXIDE

    OIL                   –        WHITE CHALK

    COFFEE               –        BAKING SODA

    DEODORANT         –        DENIM

    SWEAT                –        LEMON JUICE

    LIPSTICK              –        BABY WIPERS

    INK                     –        MILK

    MAKE-UP                       SHAVING CREAM

                      

I’ll sign off for today with a quote I saw posted on a blackboard at the hairdressers I use:

YOUTH IS A GIFT OF NATURE, BUT AGE IS A WORK OF ART

I think we all have a lighter step when we leave the hairdressing chair;  I know I do.

 

Janice

Meet 2 interesting and gifted ladies, make easy Banana Ice Cream

Meet 2 interesting and gifted ladies

Noelene Lyons – Genealogist and Family History Researcher

Noelene Lyons

Noelene Lyons

I first met Noelene last year at a Moviemakers Club Meeting and having previously been told of her interest and knowledge of cemeteries, asked if she would be able to spend some time with me chatting about her cataloging work  (as mentioned in a previous blog post).  Last week I was fortunate enough to spend three hours with Noelene during which time I was absolutely amazed by her knowledge of both cemeteries and genealogy together with many other activities with which she is involved.

I started the conversation by asking Noelene what sparked her initial interest in cemeteries.  She told me that as a child her parents went on regular picnics and during these trips they usually parked close by a cemetery and walked around.  It was not until she was on her honeymoon in Port Campbell (a coastal town in Victoria Australia) that her interest was reignited when she decided to wander around the local cemetery.  Although life was very busy during the following years, raising children, running a business with her husband and caring for other family members, she said she still took time out to wander around a cemetery.

Unfortunately her husband had a very bad car accident which left him with some disability so that’s when they decided to move from Melbourne to their present location in Inverloch a seaside town in Gippsland, Victoria.  In 1990 Noelene said she was left alone at home with her dog, the children were all at school, her husband was working part time and she felt at a loss.  After working for many years and now semi retired she asked herself  “what to do”.  She started taking an interest in the history of the local area and became involved with the starting of  Wonthaggi Genealogy in 1997 helping catalogue the resources of the area, its schools and shops.  She found that there had been 18 cemeteries which fell into three groups, Private Cemetery, Old Cemetery and current cemeteries.  Noelene studies burial registries, copies to a data base and takes photos.

Eventually she was tracked down by the Cemetery Trust Group of Melbourne and asked to provide the history of the area which she has been doing.

Noelene provided me with detailed information about her work which I found fascinating.  For example sometimes she has to walk through paddocks and rough ground to locate an old cemetery, not in summer she said for fear of snakes,  to take photos and document burial sites as shown in these photos of  of Woodside Cemetery, Yarram, South Gippsland, Victoria.

She also explained what happens in the case of a property that has family burial sites.  It is possible for the property to be sold but an area of an acre remains around the burial and is the property of the original family or their heirs.

Often there are problems locating where a person is buried or who occupies a certain grave.  She draws what is termed a ‘Mud Map’ – like this:

 Plot .31    Plot  32     Plot  33      Plot 34     Plot 5     Plot 36
 Jones A    Dodd C   No plaque

which is a map of the rows of graves.   She documents the plots that have names, then photographs the rows of graves following which she views the photos and compares the Burial Registry and makes comments.  Noelene says it’s like a huge jigsaw.

In addition to all this work Noelene runs workshops to help people find a relative who may have been a convict transported to Australia, continues her work documenting historical schools and is presently recording details of the history of Wonthaggi State Coalminers.  Apparently there are many photographs of these miners but no details of who they are.  A campaign is being run in the local papers to see if anyone can identify them.

If all this isn’t enough Noelene helps people with their family trees, provides a Computer Tutoring Service for 50+ age group and pursues her hobby of locating and selling collectables like salt and pepper pots, teapots and money boxes.

At 65 Noelene, who now only has one kidney and suffered ill health for a couple of months last year,  is a wonderful example of what one lady can achieve.  You can contact Noelene by e-mail if you would like to seek her help at  noelene@dcsi.net.au.

Rhonda Armstrong embroiderer –  special project 

Rhonda Armstrong

Rhonda Armstrong

Rhonda enjoys water aerobics which is where we first met, often having a chat after class about our various activities.  A couple of weeks ago she mentioned that she was making a baby blanket as a gift for the daughter of her sister-in-law who sadly died last year without knowing she was going to be a grandmother, something she had longed for.  Rhonda also discovered, tucked away, some giraffes her sister-in-law had made and given to her for her youngest child some 40 years ago.  This sparked the idea of making these into a baby mobile for the coming baby which she has now completed

 

What a truly wonderful gift this mobile will be for Rhonda’s niece when she finds out her mother made these giraffes and now she has them for her baby.

Rhonda worked in the Head Office of The Embroiderers Guild of Vitoria for 18 years.  The Guild offers workshops and courses at all levels, meetings, monthly special interest sit and sew groups, exhibitions, a borrowing and reference library plus a newsletter.  All these promote the art and skills of both traditional and contemporary embroidery and textile arts.  Beginners are always welcome.  http://www.embroiderersguildvic.org

 

EASY BANANA ICE CREAM (courtesy of Jo Marty from her book HOW TO EAT WELL FOR NEXT TO NOTHING

You simply won’t believe how creamy and ice cream-like this dessert is.  Recipe only works in a food processor.

You will need 4 large ripe bananas plus 1 tablespoon of honey

Method:  Peel bananas and wrap with plastic food wrap.  Freeze for several hours.  Chop bananas into a food processor. Process until creamy, stopping and scraping down the sides occasionally, then add honey and blend through.  Serves 4.

 

LISTENING TO WHAT PEOPLE SAY

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what someone has to say.  

This was brought home to me the other day when I was trying to get some information and the person I was talking to had absolutely no interest in what I was trying to say.  I came away very frustrated.  Is this happening to you or do I need to upgrade my skills of communication?

I’ll be back soon

Janice  

 

Dog friendly short holidays, Events, Crafts, Gardening, Recipe + more

Dog friendly short holiday accommodation and horse muster

Over the Easter long weekend we were lucky enough to find the most amazing dog friendly bed and breakfast accommodation through Airbnb, a site where you can rent unique places to stay from local hosts in 190+ countries.  Here’s the  link if you want to check out the site:  www.airbnb.com.au.  We travelled north to Euroa in Victoria and stayed with Tessa at The Terrace Bed and Breakfast in a self contained cottage on her property in a perfect setting.  The cottage was beautifully appointed down to the last detail and the breakfasts superb.   We were reluctant to leave when the time came and so too was our dog Ferdie who had enjoyed the company of Tessa’s little dog during the visit.

 

Our  trip was primarily to attend the annual Moora Horse Muster and take the opportunity at the same time to visit Echuca on the Murray River and view the paddle steamers.    If you’re at all interested in working horses and a glimpse back into the past, this can be a great and enjoyable experience.  The muster started with a parade through the streets of Rushworth, a town that was established during the Victorian gold rush in 1853 and was named by poet and later local Goldfields Commissioner, Richard Henry Horne in 1854,  and continued on Sunday at the Moora Recreation Reserve some 7 km away.

Since our return Ken has been busy downloading lots of film from his camera which is still a work in progress but he has produced the following video of the horse parade and muster for me to include in this post.

 

 

Gardening

My garden is looking quite sad through lack of water and the effects of the climate being so variable.  Some vegetables simply couldn’t make it especially the snap beans and runner beans though I must say the pumpkins peppers and carrots did really well.   I lifted the last of my carrots and planted some more seeds.  We’ve decided to cut back on the veggie plot, just too hard battling the elements, so are about to take down two of the raised beds and limit what we grow.

DSC00265

Ken says you start off as a young man desiring acres of land, slowly over the years your expectations decline to being happy with a large plot, then it’s a small plot and then it’s a patio until finally you are really happy with window boxes.  I don’t think we have quite got to that stage although Ken has bought some of those small fruit trees which grow happily in pots.

If you are a keen gardener and want inspiration visit Lamely Nursery’s web site or Facebook page.  www.lambley.com.au.   David Glenn’s Lambley Nursery and Garden is set around an old farmhouse in the hot dry wind swept plains of the central Victorian Goldfields.  The garden features frost-hardy plants requiring very little watering and is world renowned as a benchmark in dry climate and sustainable gardening.   Ken and I visited the nursery last year and were truly inspired though unfortunately haven’t been able to get our plants to grow in the same way.

Crafts – wool dying

I recently attended a hands-on wool dying session with the Korumburra Spinners Group at Coal Creek Heritage Village.  My friend Olga came with me and we had a very informative morning using the various dyes.  There’s quite a technique to getting the process correct so it’s a matter of trial and error.  Olga’s wool dyed really well but mine felted.  I have since been told that was probably because the wool Olga used had been spun but mine had not so the effects of drying the dyed wool were different.  If you are interested in a fuller explanation e-mail me at retireandenjoy@dcsi.net and I’ll send out details.  Here are a couple of photos of the session in progress.

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Recipe for ANT RID

My recipe today is not for food but one I was given for ANT RID which I am sure we all need from time to time:

2 cups sugar, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons borax

Place in a saucepan and boil three minutes then cool.  Store in a sealed jar making sure the lid is tight or the ants will find the mixture.

Pour some into jar lids and place in the path of the ants.  Be patient as they will not come to the liquid immediately.  By day two they are usually swarming.  Many will disappear with some of the liquid and others will remain in the lid.  Use two lids if you think it warrants it.  When the activity stops, remove the lids and discard the whole thing into a plastic bag and then into an outside rubbish bin.

Wash saucepan thoroughly.  Best to scald with boiling water as well as washing.

I’ll close this post with

The Five W’s of Life:

WHO you are is what makes you special.  Do not change for anyone.

WHAT lies ahead will always be a mystery.  Do not be afraid to explore.

WHEN life pushes you over, you push back harder.

WHERE there are choices to make, make the one you won’t regret.

WHY things happen will never be certain.  Take it in your stride and move forward.

 

Janice

 

FINDING AN ON LINE COURSE, VOLUNTEERING, KEEPING IN TOUCH, RECIPES AND CRAFTS

Finding an on-line course that has the bonus of being free

Have you heard of FutureLearn?  I recently found this site where you can browse free on line courses from top universities and specialist organisations.  You are able to join courses that are about to start or are in progress or register to find out when courses will run again.  Ken booked in for three courses, two with regard to film making and one run by the University of Southampton, UK, dealing with the Battle of  Agincourt in 1415.  There are opportunities for you to offer your opinions regarding the course you are taking, ask questions and join in a forum with other participants.  Amazingly the courses are all free.

There are a large number of topics available on a variety of subjects so have a look at their site:

www.futurelearn.com/courses

U3A courses

This morning I attended a course at my local U3A on Memoir Writing.  I wasn’t sure what to expect or whether it would help me with the writing of the book I have in progress covering our ‘alternative lifestyle’ days.  That still remains to be seen but hearing snippets of other peoples life experiences was so interesting and inspiring.  Human endeavour is absolutely amazing and should be documented.   As I have mentioned before, if you are unable to find the type of course you are looking for, have a look at the U3A website where they offer on-line courses in variety. www.u3aonline.org.au

Volunteering

After the death of Josephine, the lady I was visiting through the Community Visitor Scheme, I was undecided whether to continue on the program.  It can be a challenge when you realise that many of the inhabitants of the Aged Care Facilities where you visit  are only a little older, and in many cases, younger than yourself.  However, when Rosemary, the Co-ordinator of the program, rang me and asked if I would be interested in visiting Dorothy who is 102 and in need of a visitor who could chat and listen to her life stories, I just had to accept.  I visited Dorothy for the first time this week and spent a really enjoyable hour in her company.  I was amazed to find that she can see perfectly without glasses and loves a game of bowls in the recreation facility at the home.  She told me about her family, the number of which she has lost count, and of her late husband who she met when she was 14 but didn’t marry until she was 24.    I anticipate having many happy visits with her.

How rewarding volunteering can be!

Keeping in touch with family and friends

I was reflecting recently on friends and aquaintances that had passed through my life and who I no longer had regular contact with.  This got me to thinking how great it would be to re-establish some of these connections so I made some phone calls and wrote some letters.  Everyone I contacted was pleased to hear from me and although it hasn’t been possible to meet some personally due to tyranny of distance, we have exchanged e-mail addresses and agreed to keep in contact.  One really enjoyable experience was finding the son of a friend on Facebook and asking if he could put us in touch again.  He arranged for us to chat on Skype when she visited him and it turned out to be a very long conversation.  We first met when both 16 at an interview to enter Secretarial College.   She has now bought an iPad but has not yet mastered using Skype though I’m sure she will quite soon.

Fortunately I have managed to keep in contact with most of my cousins in England and a few friends of my late mother, two of whom still write long and interesting letters.  Sadly one of my cousin’s has developed alzheimer’s and is no longer able to communicate, so I am glad that I maintained contact with her over the years.

Friends and family make up the fabric of our lives.

Update on my felt-making project

My friend Olga recently returned from visiting family in Chile and kindly brought back a present for me of some beautiful carded wool in brilliant colours.  I decided I must make a vest-type jacket for her as a thank you.  I did some practice panels,  and eventually a panel which will be cut into two for the actual jacket.  I still need to do more panels in order to complete the vest.  One panel I made was a complete disaster as I didn’t use sufficient material and it turned out covered in holes.  Perhaps there will be a use for it in a later project.  Ken  took some film of me doing the felting with the idea in mind of eventually making a short film of the process.    He produced what I thought was a nice title showing some of the coloured wool.  There’s a lot of perfecting on my part before a film could be made but there’s a challenge on the horizon.

 

Title for proposes movie showing carded wool

Title for proposed movie showing carded wool

Sharing recipes

A couple of weeks ago I decided to look through all my cookery books with the idea of discarding those not used.  Goodness what a collection and what memories were contained within those pages.  I spent an enjoyable couple of hours recalling successes and failures.  My most used book is one given to me as a wedding gift by my Aunt Helen.  It has lost the cover and the index is stabled together at the back but it’s still the book I pull out first for an old time favourite.   Another of my well used cookery books is one I bought when I first came to Australia in 1976 and is The Rodale Cookbook from Fitness House, Pennsylvania, USA.  One of the recipes I’m confident you will enjoy and which I always have in the cupboard is

Almond Crunch Cereal   

Preheat oven to 225F/110C
3 cups uncooked rolled oats (not quick oats)
1½ cups dry coconut shreds, unsweetened
½ cup wheat germ or soy grits
1 cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
½ cup honey
¼ cup oil
½ cup cold water
1 cup slivered almonds
½ cup raisins (optional)

Combine oats, coconut, wheat germ or soy grits, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Toss ingredients together thoroughly.

Combine honey and oil. Add the cold water, a little at a time, mixing until crumbly.

Pour mixture into a large, heavy, shallow baking pan which has been lightly brushed with oil. Spread mixture evenly to edges of pan.

Place on middle rack of preheated oven and bake for 1½ hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Add almonds and bake for a further ½ hour. Mixture should be dry and light brown in colour and feel crisp to the touch.

Turn oven off and allow cereal to cool in oven. If raisins are to be added to cereal, do so at this point. Remove cereal from oven, cool and put in a tightly covered container. Store in a cool dry place. Yield 8 cups.

A recipe from my book:  What to eat if you don’t have meat

BEAN CURRY

1 medium tin red kidney beans
1 clove garlic crushed
4 mushrooms
4 medium carrots
300ml stock
2 cooking apples
2 medium onions
3 large potatoes
2 tsp Madras curry powder (or your own mix)
1 tsp yeast extract

Fry onion and garlic gently in oil then add sliced apple and continue cooking until pulped. Add sliced mushrooms and carrots together with curry powder, stock and yeast extract. Cut potatoes into small chunks and add to curry. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer very gently for half an hour. Add kidney beans and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes.

It’s well worth making up a double quantity of this recipe and freezing because it will be a firm favourite with everyone.

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Well once again I’ve come to the end of the blog but will sign off with a quote:

LIFE IS LIKE A CAMERA

  • FOCUS ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT
  • CAPTURE THE GOOD TIMES
  • DEVELOP FROM THE NEGATIVES
  • IF THINGS DON’T WORK OUT, TAKE ANOTHER SHOT

 

Janice

A NEW SKILL, WATER AEROBICS, PROJECTS, RECIPES

A new skill

Although obtaining ‘a new skill’ wasn’t on my desired achievement list for 2016, I was recently inspired by a blog I came across where the author had taken up whittling.  Amongst her many projects were crochet hooks.  I just couldn’t resist the temptation to have a go.  Ken pulled a face when I told him and suggested I would cut myself.  Anyway he very kindly came up with some twigs for me to practice on and I tried to follow the instructions in the blog without much success.  I decided to resort to a YouTube tutorial which was extremely helpful and gave a list of requirements needed before you could commence your project i.e. a sharp craft knife or similar, various grades of sandpaper and of course the material you were going to whittle.

i didn’t cut myself but had aching shoulders and sore fingers from all the sanding.  I have to say it really isn’t easy to make the hook but with persevierance some sort of success can be achieved.  Of course you have to get the wood very smooth otherwise your wool will catch and snag when crocheting on your finished hook.

You may well wonder why on earth I wanted to try and whittle but the idea brought back memories of both my grandads sitting on the back step whittling.  Ken also remembers his grandad making cigarette holders from cherry wood.

Here’s a photo of my efforts:

4 hooks with croched cushion

4 hooks with crochet cushion

If you would like links to the Tutorials I viewed, e-mail me at retireandenjoy@dcsi.net.au and I’ll be happy to pass them all on.

Crochet

On the subject of crochet, I really have taken to the creative possibilities and following on from the success with the blanket I made for my daughter’s Christmas gift, I recently completed a second blanket for use by Ken and I during the winter months.  Must say I was a bit ambitious with the size because it really is rather large.

Blanket which took 1.2kg wool

Blanket which took 1.2kg wool

I’ve acquired a pattern for an antique type throw but need to get some advice from the Crochet Group before I attempt what are termed ‘puff stitches’.  I think a lot of practice will be required.

Water Aerobics

If you don’t already pursue some exercise activity, have you thought about water aerobics?Every week I try to attend three early sessions at my local gym.  It has become so popular that there are now six classes a week.   After the class refreshments are provided and in addition to the social aspect of the group there are the health giving benefits which I think we are all looking for as the years roll by.  Some of these benefits are documented as:

  •  Aqua aerobics can benefit us as we age by improving muscular development and our cardiovascular system
  • Since water buoyancy supports your weight, strain on joints, back and torso is greatly reduced
  • Due to increased resistance under water, it burns a great deal of calories, up to 400-500 calories/an hour taking any excess body weight off
  • Long term aqua aerobics increase joint flexibility and lowers the risk of stress and anxiety

Can you spot me in this recent photo of the group?

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Vegetarian cookery

On each of my blogs I have decided to share with you a recipe from one of my cookery books.   You certainly don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy these recipes, in fact it might help if  you are looking for a substitute when cutting down on the amount of meat you eat.   I know in the UK the idea of a meat free Monday is widely promoted.

SEMOLINA CHEESE FRITTERS

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120g/4oz semolina
1 small onion
1 bay leaf and 1 clove
600ml/1 pint milk
125g/4oz grated cheese
Large tbs parsley chopped
Egg and wheatgerm to coat

Pin bay leaf to onion with clove and place in saucepan with milk. Heat until almost boiling then remove and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. Discard onion, bay leaf and clove and re-boil milk sprinkling in semolina, being sure to stir continuously until very thick. Remove from heat and add cheese and parsley.

Turn out mixture onto a small wet dinner plate and with a knife dipped in water smooth over. Leave to become quite cold in the fridge. Cut into portions like a cake.  Coat with egg and wheatgerm or breadcrumbs and fry in hot shallow oil until crisp and golden. Alternatively bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes turning once.

If you would like to view any of my cookery books you can find them at:

www.amazon.com/author/grahamjanice

Two recipes for when you have excess quantities of cucumbers and rhubarb 

Depending on which hemasphere you reside in you may well have an abundance of certain produce.  I have far too many cumbers and loads of rhubarb.  Rhonda a companion at water aerobics passed on a recipe for rhubarb chutney which I decided to try.  Mine came out somewhat stringy but I think I should have chopped the rhubarb into smaller pieces and made shaw there were no stringy bits at the same time.  It tastes really nice so the stringiness really hasn’t spoilt it.   I also have a really unusual recipe for preserving cucumbers which I have used for years and shared many times with others.  Here are both the recipes:

RHUBARB CHUTNEY

½ kilo rhubarb chopped, 120g sultanas, 1½ cups brown sugar, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp curry powder, 2 onions chopped, 1¼ cups vinegar, 1 tbs mustard seeds, 1 tsp ground ginger.

Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan, bring to boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 1¼ hours or until mixture is thick (I stood the saucepan on a trivet to prevent burning).  Pour into hot sterilised jars, seal when cold.

PICKLED CUCUMBER USING THE FREEZER

This is not your typical pickle recipe and will produce a crisp sweet pickle that goes well in salads, on sandwiches or as a side. The secret to the crisp texture is the sugar, so do not reduce its content.  Of course you may have to vary the recipe depending on the amount of cucumber you wish to pickle.  

1 litre volume of cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced, 1 small onion sliced thinly, ½ tbs salt, ¾ cup sugar, ¼ cup white distilled vinegar.

Mix cucumber, onions and salt in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set the bowl on the work top for 2 hours.  Pour into a colander and drain water from cucumber mixture.  Combine sugar and vinegar.  Stir well and pour over cucumbers.  Pack into freezer containers or zip-closure bags (ideal).  Freeze immediately.  Pickles are ready to eat in 3-4 days.  

International Women’s Day (March 8)

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.  If you would like ideas for celebrating the day visit the following link:

www.internationalwomensday.com 

I’ll sign off with one of Buddha’s quotes:

DO NOT DWELL IN THE PAST, DO NOT DREAM OF THE FUTURE, CONCENTRATE THE MIND ON THE PRESENT MOMENT

Janice