Category Archives: Family activities

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

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

Coping with change

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

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

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

 

The horrid words “diet” and “eat healthier”

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

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

Creating an heirloom  (I hope)

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

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

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

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

 

Bringing my slow cooker out from the back of the cupboard

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

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

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

INSTRUCTIONS

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

 

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

 

Janice 

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 

Getting ready for Christmas, Crafts, Good company, a recipe and trips

Getting ready for Christmas

Puddings:

We say every year we can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas.  I wonder how many of you have made your puddings ready for the big day.  I made mine some weeks ago and as customary Ken and I stirred the mixture and made three wishes.  We always take photos and I think perhaps I should put together a montage of these photos from over the years, though this could prove a little confronting observing the passing of the years.

I always make a few individual puddings so they can be enjoyed later in the year usually at Easter and on Ken’s birthday in June.

Gingerbread houses:

For the past 11 years I have made gingerbread houses for the grandchildren.  Last year I produced 14 little houses ready to be decorated.  This was because I had three additional people in the group, the two sons of my daughter-in-law and the girlfriend of my eldest grandson Nicholas.  Even at 20, Nic still wanted to decorate a gingerbread house.  I did receive help in glueing up the houses as my granddaughter Emma came to stay for a few days.  With much soul-searching I have decided to discontinue the tradition this year, though I am going to make two large gingerbread houses for decoration by my three granddaughters.  It’s a little sad 😥  but they grow up.  They all agree it will be one of their important childhood memories, decorating the gingerbread houses ready for Christmas.

If anyone is interested I would be happy to supply the gingerbread house recipe and template.

Crochet and Sewing

Recently I have been going along to a crochet class at my local Neighbourhood House.  It wasn’t quite what I expected as many of the ladies attending were knitting or doing other crafts.  However, with the help of Elsie Hope, who fronts up the group, I have started to master the first steps on my way to be able to crochet, a skill in which I was sadly lacking.  I’m making an envelope purse but not sure how long that will take.   My new sewing machine has proved to be a gem and I am very pleased with the dress I completed a couple of weeks ago.  I feel inspired to keep sewing but the reality is that there are only so many dresses you can wear so will have to curtail my activities a little.

 

First efforts at crochet

First efforts at crochet

 

 

 

 

 

The dress worn on a day out with Olga during visit to Jan Huggins

The dress worn on a day out with Olga during visit to Jan Huggins

Enjoying good company

Nothing beats a day out with a good friend.  That’s what I was able to do a couple of weeks ago when Olga and I went in search of gifts she could take home to Chile when she visits family and friends in December.  We shopped ’til we dropped, had lunch and afterwards visited Jan Huggins for a cuppa and cake and a nice long chat.  Jan and I met when we were in hospital at the same time having hip replacements and have kept in contact ever since.

A salad recipe for entertaining with Hokkien Noodles

Packet of noodles, 4 spring onions chopped, 1 red capsicum sliced thinly, 100g snow peas sliced, 1 small carrot sliced.  Pinch of mint and coriander.  100g roasted cashews.

Cover noodles with boiling water for a couple of minutes then drain.  Combine all ingredients.  To make dressing you will need to whisk together 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbl olive oil, 1 tbl lime juice, 2 tbl soy sauce or kecap manis, 3 tbs sweet chilli sauce.  Pour dressing over salad just before serving.

 

Update on trip to Printing Museum at Chiltern

In my last Blog I wrote about our visit to the Printing Museum at Chiltern, Victoria.  Ken has now produced a video documenting how a local newspaper was produced up until the 1960’s.

 

Sailing on the Enterprize – Melbourne Tall Ship

Sailing on a tall ship has been on Ken’s bucket list for a long long time.  He was able to fulfil that dream last week when he took a trip on the Enterprize.  I have never seen him so excited.  I have to say I didn’t share his enthusiasm so stayed on dry land.  He enjoyed it so much he intends to take another trip during December.  He’s in the process of making a video so will upload that next time.

 

Ken, ready to set sail

Ken, ready to set sail

GET WELL

I would like to send get well good wishes to my friend Joan Blain (UK), who has been in hospital for some time.  Joan suffers from MS which has necessitated her staying in hospital for some months after falling and breaking her ankle.  I hope you will be home for Christmas Joan.

Especially for you Joan

Especially for you Joan

I hope you are all enjoying pursuing your different projects and learning new skills.  Here is a Chinese Proverb for you:

LEARNING IS A TREASURE THAT WILL FOLLOW ITS OWNER EVERYWHERE  

Janice   

 

 

 

 

 

 

CELEBRATIONS, INTERESTING PEOPLE, PROJECTS

KEN’S 80TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS

Last week we spread the celebrations of Ken’s 80th Birthday over several days, after which I have to say we were quite exhausted but very content.  We spent quite a bit of time deciding how to celebrate the big day with the family.  Our first idea was to do something really different like GoKarting.  However, on investigation of the costs i.e. in the region of $900 for 20 minutes for participation of the whole family, this idea was quickly discarded somewhat to the disappointment of the teenagers.  Ken had often wondered if his children and grandchildren knew anything about his working life as a Compositor in the printing trade, starting at age 15 as an apprentice in London, until the dimise of those skills with the advent of computer technology.   With this in mind it was decided to take the family to the Melbourne Museum of Print for a guided tour.  I have to say that this was met with groans from some as a possible boring outing.  It turned out to be a most enlightening experience for all and amazement at how technology had changed the printing trade.  You can visit the site at:  www.mmop.org.au – as well as being a museum there are teaching courses on the practice and origins of typography and they also provide a letterpress studio for typographical printmaking.  I took some photos and made them into a slide Ken is busy making a film of the day so I may be able to share that at a later date.

 

 

I bought Ken a new wedding ring.  It was a real surprise for him.  He lost his ring when building his bird aviary some years ago.  Although we searched and searched it was to no avail.  It’s probably encased in concrete in the ground.

Congratulations Ken on reaching 80

Congratulations Ken on reaching 80

 

MEETING UP WITH BOB BAKEWELL

Recently I had the opportunity to have a coffee and chat with Bob Bakewell.  I was introduced to him recently through the Ken’s movie making club.  Bob is 83 and has had the most amazing and eventful life.  He shared some stories of his adventures working in Papua, New Guinea as a land surveyor in the 50’s and 60’s where he had many near death experiences at the hands of the locals including being shipwrecked when travelling between islands and spending hours in the water before being rescued.  He told me a little of the tragedies of his life.  The death of his 5 year old son at the hands of a drunk driver, the suicide of his 30 year old son who suffered from spina bifida and the light plane crash that killed his three brothers and brother in law returning from a fishing trip.  He said, with tears rolling down his face “I should have died many times, why was I spared”

Anyway I thought I would share with you one of Bob’s more fun stories as reported in his local newspaper.  This is an abridged version:

A tall tale but true Australia Day story

AUSTRALIA Day 2015 is one that Cowes resident Bob Bakewell will not forget in a hurry.  In fact, he is hopping mad, after a wallaby gate crashed his home.  Bob opened his door on the morning of Australia Day after hearing a knock, expecting to welcome his next door neighbour in, only to have on of Australia’s iconic national symbols in the form of a terrified wallaby go flying up the hall.  It proceeded to create mayhem throughout the house as Bob attempted to quieten it down.  He found that the the more he moved toward it, the more agitated and flighty it became. Bedside lamps, pictures, photo frames all went flying and the curtains and bed linen were all but destroyed in the ruckus.  The Phillip Island Nature Park were contacted and someone arrived to capture the wallaby.  Australia Day celebrations were put on hold as Bob set about a major clean up.  He was still at it the following day, the house unliveable that night.

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Fortunately Bob was able to take photos of the destruction in process which he forwarded to his insurance company.

Retirement is a time when we can share our stories and reminisce.  Hope to include more of Bob’s stories in the future.  He is an amazing character.

PROJECTS

My latest project, the publication of my book A VEGETARIAN AT THE TABLE (how to mix and match a meat and vegetarian menu at the same time) has been uploaded to Amazon Kindle.  It’s been so much work as I decided to include pictures of each recipe so of course my kitchen became a production set.  I had a lot of trouble with formatting for conversion to Kindle and am still not completely happy with how that has turned out.  Fortunately you can edit your book as many times as you like so I will make some changes.  The next thing I have to do is make a video for my author page which Ken is helping me with.  That’s work in progress.  You might like to take a look at my book on my Amazon site at:  Author page

 

Do share any stories you may have or any ideas for Retire and Enjoy.

Until next time

Janice

 

 

 

 

NEW YEAR 2015 31/12/14

Hello everyone – I hope you all had a joy filled Christmas with family and friends and that you are ready to embrace the challenges of a New Year.

For me the week following Christmas is a time for reflection but also for planning what I would like  to do in the coming months.  Chatting with family and friends and listening to their ideas on life, hopes and fears gives food for thought whilst embracing the enthusiasm of the young is uplifting.  As retirees opportunities surround us whatever our capabilities so I hope you will follow my enthusiasm into 2015  and seek new horizons.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for joining my Blog and being part of Retire and Enjoy.

HAPPY HEALTHY 2015

GINGERBREAD HOUSES 12/12/14

Hi everyone – back in November I talked about baking the frames for the Gingerbread Houses that have become a  tradition with the grandchildren every Christmas.   Last Sunday was the big day.  Fortunately my granddaughter Emma had been staying with me for a few days so she was able to help with all the pre-gluing and sharing out of lollies and decorations into individual bags.  It’s a huge undertaking.  In addition we had to make more Royal Icing so that the decorations could be attached.  If you would like details of the recipe for the gingerbread and pattern for the houses I will gladly share them with you.

It’s really rewarding to have family traditions even though you sometimes wonder what you are doing and say to yourself this is the last time.  Then you hear the comment of one of the children who said to her dad “I can’t remember a Christmas without Gingerbread Houses”.  

At the end of the day the houses are wrapped in cellophane and taken home to be enjoyed over Christmas.

 

Janice