Category Archives: Projects

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

 

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

Volunteering – why do we do it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Anniversaries make us look back

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

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

follow the link to read in full    THE ROMACE

 

Making lemon juice ice blocks

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

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

Showcasing skills – spinning with a difference

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Until next time

Janice 

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

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

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

The role a mentor can play in our lives

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

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

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

 

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

Feast your eyes on some of Ingrid’s creations:

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Clever uses for Olive Oil

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

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


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


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

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

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

 

Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo

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

 

 

Carrot, leek and mustard seed soup

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

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

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

 

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

 

Cherish the friends that make tomorrow

better than yesterday

 

Janice 

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

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

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

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

 

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

This is how the story starts:

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

THE HIKE 

 

Helping your cut flowers last longer and other tips using Aspirin

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

The Spirit of Warragul Steam Engine

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

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

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

 

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

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

…………………………………

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

I WILL NOT WILLINGLY OFFEND

NOR BE TOO SOON OFFENDED

WHAT’S AMISS I’LL STRIVE TO MEND

AND BEAR WHAT CAN’T BE MENDED

 

Until next time

Janice

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

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

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

Heartbreak !

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

A NEW CHALLENGE

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

Irina showing the rotary felting board

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

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

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

NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK – AUSTRALIA

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

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

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

 

ABUNDANCE OF APPLES

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

SPECIAL CAKES FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS

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

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

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

(Michael Nolan)

Until next time, enjoy every day.

Janice 

 

 

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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 

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

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

Seventy hats for seventy years

70 hats for 70 years

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

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

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

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

What a unique way to celebrate a milestone in life!

 

Is sleeping in separate beds the beginning of the end?

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

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

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

 

The satisfaction of a baking day

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

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

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

 

Vintage knitting

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

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

 

Beetroot superfood truffles

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Janice  

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

My wonderful Christmas present

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

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

 

Do you ever take an afternoon nap?

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

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

 

A look at my Sunflowers

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

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

 

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

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

1 cauliflower, 50ml extra virgin olive oil

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

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

 

Jigsaw puzzle challenge

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

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

 

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

YOU CAN DO ANYTHING BUT NOT EVERYTHING 

Janice 

 

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

 

 

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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.

12-05-2009_10

 

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.

dsc00437

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 

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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 !

 

DSC00374

 

 

 

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.

EDITED-3-2-of-4

 

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:

Mail Attachment_2

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:

DSC00367

 

I’ll sign off with this quote:

Unexplored paths lead to undiscovered treasures

Janice

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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

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