Category Archives: Uncategorized

So easy – knitted expandable shopping bag using one ball of wool, The nostalgia that certain foods bring, Recipe for Banbury/Eccles Cakes, Volunteering, Spring is on the way in the garden

So easy – knitted expandable shopping bag using one ball of wool

Have you ever thought about knitting your own shopping bags, extremely relevant at the moment with the phase-out of plastic bags at the supermarkets?  Recently the South Gippsland Spinners & Fibre Arts Group, of which I am a member, held a workshop conducted by one of its members, Deb,  who had devised a pattern for these bags.  The beauty of them is that they are expandable and are capable of holding a large amount of shopping but fold down so small that they take up very little space when not in use.  Saves all that cluttering up the back of the car.  

Since the workshop, the ladies have been beavering away making their bags and displaying them on the group’s Facebook page.  I’d like to share the pattern with you but first here’s a sample of what you can expect to produce:

 

 

 

DEB’S AMAZING SHOPPING BAG PATTERN

MATERIALS: 100 g of acrylic yarn, 6-7 mm  x 60cm circular needle, 4 mm x 60 cm circular needle

PATTERN

 Using the larger needles, loosely cast on 40 stitches.  Work 30 rows in garter stitch.

Place marker, then pick up and knit 15 sts along side of work, 40 sts across the cast on stitches and 15 stitches up the other side of your work.  Knit across the original 40 sts. You should be back to the marker now (110 sts)

Working in rounds, work 10 rows of stocking stitch

Pattern rounds

Round 1 : * Yfwd k2tog* rep until you reach the marker again

Round 2 :   Knit until you reach the marker.

Repeat these 2 rounds until work measures desired length. Approx  25cm (10 inches)

Change to 4mm needle (and black yarn optional).   Work in k1, p1 rib for 5cm (2 ins) Remove marker on last round

Handles – Flatten bag out to determine where sides are.  Rib to the closest side position and place marker.

Rib 20, cast off 15, rib 40, cast off 15, rib 20 to the marker.   Next row: *Rib 20, turn work, Cast on 15, turn work, rib 20 * rep from * to*.   Continue in rounds of rib for 5 cm

Frill Top –  Work rounds of stocking stitch for 2.5 cm (1 inch) 

Next row: *K1, M1 * repeat until the marker is reached again.   Cast off loosely.  Weave end through work to finish off.

The nostalgia that certain foods bring

Do you often long for foods from your childhood that are no longer available to you or if they are they are produced in your country of origin or have disappeared from menus?  I absolutely love Banbury and Eccles cakes (they are the same thing but shaped differently).  They are rarely found in Australia but I’m always on the lookout.

For those of you who don’t know or may be interested in the history of these cakes, here goes:

Banbury Cakes, a special fruit and pastry cake, are still produced. At one time they were being sent as far afield as Australia, India and America.

The town of Banbury is on the edge of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, England and has been a busy market town for centuries.  A nursery rhyme, ‘Ride a Cock Horse’, has made Banbury one of the best-known towns in England.  It has been suggested that the ‘Fine Lady’ of the nursery rhyme may have been Lady Godiva or Elizabeth I. More likely it was a local girl who rode in a May Day procession.

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross

To see a fine lady ride on a white horse

With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes

She shall have music wherever she goes.

The written history of this ‘nursery rhyme’ goes back to 1784

Eccles cakes are named after the English town of Eccles, historically part of Lancashire, but now classified as a town in Greater Manchester.   It is not known who invented the recipe, but James Birch is credited with being the first person to sell Eccles cakes commercially.

So it transpired that I wanted something really nice for a morning tea with my daughter to celebrate a milestone birthday (which by the way I am trying to deny because I can’t believe I am so old).  A Banbury cake was what I desired most so I had to make them myself.  I have a cookery book handed down to me by my Great Aunt Helen called Farmhouse Fare which is a collection of recipes sent to the publisher during the second world war.  The recipes give the name and town from which the author comes.  I have to tell you there are some very grisly recipes in the meat section.  However, the Banbury cake recipe is superb and to me authentic so I’ll share it with you.

Firstly you need some flaky pastry.  You can buy puff but you won’t get the proper effect.  I use Deliah Smith’s easy recipe.  110g of plain flour, 70g of butter, iced water.  Freeze the butter then grate into the flour, fold in gently with a pallet knife, add 3 tablespoons iced water slowly and combine.  Rest in the fridge before rolling out.  

Filling – 60g butter, 50g candied peel, 150g currants, pinch ground cinnamon, pinch mixed spice.  Beat butter to a cream then mix in fruit and spices.  Roll out pastry, cut out large rounds, place about a dessert spoon of mixture in centre, pull pastry over and pinch together.  Turn over and flatten, score two cuts in surface and brush with egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake in a hot oven for about 30 minutes but check to make sure they are not browning too much.    SUPER YUM

Having dusted off my Royal Dalton Tea Service and baked the Banbury cakes my morning tea was ready:

 

Volunteering

What people see and what they don’t about volunteering.  I absolutely love this description sent to me by Noelene Lyons who is a long time volunteer.  I wrote about Noelene’s talents in a blog some two years ago (could be longer) under the heading:  Meet 2 interesting and gifted ladies.  Noelene is a genealogist and family history researcher.  Go to the Category Interesting people to read again or put her name in the search box.

volunteer.jpg

 

I think Spring is on the way in my garden

I think Spring is on the way in my garden but sitting here at my computer with the wind blowing and the rain pelting down outside, it sure doesn’t feel like it.  However, the plants certainly think so and the blossom is out on my almond and nectarine trees, though a lot of it is scattered on the ground.  The pea pods are swelling, the broad beans have flowers, I’m harvesting carrots and swedes and the beetroot should be ready soon, so things are looking good.  

 

 

I hope you are all keeping busy with your various activities and enjoying retirement.  I’ll take this opportunity to send all good wishes to Joan Blain, a dear friend and longtime reader of my blog.  Joan has just turned 85 and has been laid up with two broken legs after a fall.

Until next time:

DOING WHAT YOU LIKE IS FREEDOM, LIKING WHAT YOU DO IS HAPPINESS

 

Janice 

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What has happened to singing while we work, Our brains need constant stimulation, Hearing loss symptoms, Give an old geezer a camera and a Spanish Tortilla recipe, ready in 20 minutes

Hello – hope you are all enjoying your retirement and finding many activities to keep you occupied.  There’s so many things to do and see and many tell me the are busier now than when they are working.  However, unfortunately some of our number are not so well and I want to send special good wishes to one of my readers, Joan Blain, who has had MS for more than 40 years.  She has taken a bad fall and broken both her legs and has some internal bleeding.  I’m in contact with her daughter so hope for some positive news soon.

What has happened to singing while we work

I wonder do you remember your parents singing or whistling while they went about their chores.  As a child I lived in a small cottage in the High Street and in the early morning you could hear men walking by whistling or humming.  My mum could always recognise who they were and would comment saying ‘……. is a bit late this morning’ or other such comments.  My paternal grandma was always humming or singing hymns.  We lived next door to her for most of my childhood and I can’t remember an actual conversation with her.  In later years I understood that she was very deaf and found it hard to communicate so singing must have been her outlet.  My mum loved all the old hymns, especially those of Ira D. Sankey.  To diverse Sankey was an American  Gospel Singer (Born 1840).  His most popular Sacred Songs and Solos, widely known as “Sankey & Moody” are still in use today.  Mum’s housework was always accompanied by one of these hymns sung with vigour.

Are we now too embarrassed to sing out loud or do we rely on the radio or other popular devices to uplift our spirits.  I suspect that’s the case.

Our brains need constant stimultion

Has anything new inspired you recently.  I know our brains need constant stimulation so what about trying to learn Arabic.  Spoken by nearly half a billion people, one of six official languages of the United Nations, Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world and is fast becoming a mainstay of international communication.   It’s probably a crazy idea but a language school named LanguageConvo are offering a free trial – dare I press the button to have a go.  I’ll let you know in my next post.  In the meantime post a reply about what’s inspired you recently. 

Hearing loss symptoms

I subscribe to Silversurfers – over 50’s lifestyle and news website from the UK and thought you may be interested in a list of hearing loss symptoms discussed in a forum.  Hearing loss runs in my family and when I was told I needed a hearing aid I absolutely hated the idea.  I must admit to not wearing my aid all the time.  Fortunately I was able to be fitted with one that sits inside the ear and is not easily visible and has three settings.  My biggest problems come when I am with a group of people so I just have to wear the aid otherwise I miss what is being said.  This admission will cause a few smiles from people who know me !!

Here’s an exert from the article:

Hearing loss is something that affects most people eventually but social stigma around it means the average person takes about 10 years after they notice the first symptoms, to seek help.¹

Untreated hearing loss can make understanding conversations and joining in more difficult, which can lead to stress, social isolation and even depression. Recent studies have also shown a link between hearing loss and the development of dementia in older adults.

Here are some of the common signs of hearing loss. If you recognise any of these situations in yourself, or someone you know it would be a good idea to book a hearing test.
* You have the TV or radio volume uncomfortably loud for other people
* You find It difficult to hear dialogue in the cinema or theatre
* Telephone conversations are hard work
* You ask people to repeat things or misunderstand what they say
* You have difficulty following conversations in groups
* You feel isolated because you cannot hear properly
* You avoid situations that you used to enjoy because of the way you hear
* Someone suggests you might not be hearing as well as you need to

 

GIVE AND OLD GEEZER A CAMERA

Ken has produced a medley of his outings over the past year which I thought you may enjoy.  I have already posted some of these in their entirety in the past, so you may need to fast forward here and there.  He so enjoys his camera and making short films, it’s a great hobby for, as he puts it,  an old geezer.  It seems many men find it hard to adapt to life after full time work, so a camera is a good opportunity to get out and about.

 

 

Spanish Tortilla

Though Spanish Tortilla is a great brunch dish, it can also be cut into smaller pieces to make a nice little appetizer or tapas for a party.  Either way, it is a great dish that takes very little time to cook and only 10 minutes to prepare.  Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS

* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
* 1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
* 6 eggs
* 1/2 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 8″ oven-safe skillet. You can use a 10″ or even 12″ skillet, but know that your tortilla espanola will end up very thin and more difficult to slice.

2. Add the potatoes and onion to the skillet, flipping and stirring so that they are coated by the oil. Fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and beginning to brown.

3. Remove the potatoes and onions to a paper towel to soak up some of the oil, and reduce the heat to low.

4. Whisk the eggs with the salt in a small bowl.

5. Return the potatoes and onions to the skillet, and pour the eggs over the top. Cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the skillet occasionally so the eggs don’t stick to the bottom. After a few minutes, the eggs should be browning on the bottom.

6. Slide the skillet into the oven and turn the broiler on high. Broil for 3-4 minutes, or until the top of the tortilla espanola is cooked through and browned.

7. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

 

I’m going to say bye bye for now with a quote from Amelia Earhart

THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO DO IT, IS TO DO IT

 

Janice

 

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Who pens letters now? 1950’s tip how to look after your husband, What on earth is frogging, Enjoying good company, Turmeric, the golden spice

It’s wonderful to get back into blogging. Hope you have all enjoyed the holiday period and looking forward, like me, to catching up with all your projects and planned activities for the year ahead.  I didn’t make any New Year resolutions but thought I would try to keep up with the ones I made a couple of years ago, one of which was to practice the piano every day.    O’h dear is all I can say.  I did finish the blanket I spun, dyed and crocheted for my grandson’s Xmas gift and have since made him a cushion with the wool I had over.

WHO PENS LETTERS NOW

During the break I took the opportunity to read some of the letters my mother wrote to me while she was alive.  I have them all in a big box.  Unfortunately she never dated them only the month and most of the post marks on the envelopes are illegible. Reading them brings friends and relations back home in England to life.  She was a brilliant writer and filled up pages with vivid descriptions of her daily life.  My letters to her are stashed away in my brother’s workshop in UK so my history from 1976 until 2000 is there to be retrieved one day.  

The penned letter has been used over centuries to create history, biographies, novels and films.  What is going to happen now that we use electronic messaging;  all those texts and e-mails.  I am now guilty of hardly ever writing an actual letter unless it’s at Christmas time when I write to a couple of cousins and friends who don’t have computers.  

I wonder if you write letters or keep those that were written to you.  Let’s make it a discussion topic;  it will be good to see your replies.  

A TIP FROM THE PAST

I am always looking around for tips to pass on to you and when I found this in the advert for a Retro/Vintage Market at Rosedale in Victoria, I fell off my chair laughing.  Really though this isn’t a laughing matter because it was what wives were expected to do.  Amazing how expectations have changed thank goodness.

 

WHAT ON EARTH IS FROGGING AND TINKING

Although I have been a knitter all my life, when I saw the word “frogging” in a post on a Facebook page I manage, I really didn’t know what it meant so did a bit of research.  I do hope that I’m not the only one to have to admit ignorance, so here’s what I found.

Frogging and Tinking Your Knit Mistakes
Knitting mistakes happen to everyone.

If you happen to notice a mistake on the same row you are on, you can carefully work backward across the row to the place where the mistake happened and fix it right away. This is a knitting technique known as tinking. If you didn’t catch that, tink is knit spelled backward (again, a bit of knitting humor).

However, if you don’t notice a mistake for several rows, you might be forced to do some frogging. If the mistake is substantial and has changed the look of your project – you accidentally swapped the right and wrong sides or missed a cable turn – the easiest way to fix it is by taking the project off the needle and ripping back to before the mistake. You will then have to put the stitches back on the needle.

This is called frogging because knitters are punny and when you frog, you “rip it, rip it.”

As quirky as the word is, it’s not much fun to have to frog your projects. Yet, you will be glad you did rather than leaving a mistake that you could have fixed.

ENJOYING GOOD COMPANY

It’s so stimulating to meet new people and hear their stories.  At a recent coffee morning I had the opportunity to meet Linda who was wearing the most beautiful outfit which I couldn’t help commenting on.  She told me her trousers (blue) were a gift from a deceased friend, her top (multi coloured) was bought on an outing with girl friends and her very unusual necklace was made by a wire worker who was a friend in her craft group.  Of course when I heard the words ‘craft group’ my ears pricked up.  Apparently Linda has recently returned to Victoria after having lived in Tasmania for many years where she participated in quilting, beading, weaving, crocheting, knitting and more.  I asked her if she would like to share a photo of her quilting work on my post and here it is.  I’ve invited Linda to come to a meeting of the spinning and fibre arts group I’m involved in, so hope we will be able to share our interests into the future.  It’s amazing how new friendships can be born.  

 

TURMERIC, THE GOLDEN SPICE

I’ve been looking for more ways to use Turmeric.  Up until recently I have only used it in soups or stews but having read about its wonderful properties, I decided to try it out in a few other dishes.  I have to be bit sneaky or Ken will turn up his nose.  One thing I must warn is that you don’t use too much otherwise the taste will be overpowering.  So far I’ve tried sprinkling into rice, adding to a hummus dip and adding to scrambled eggs.  I did try adding to a latte but that wasn’t to my liking.  

Here’s an exert from an article I read in Silversurfers UK blog about Turmeric.

For ages, health buffs have been telling us that turmeric is a pretty wonderful thing, thanks to its nifty healing agent curcumin – which has some mighty anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Now a new study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry has found even more evidence that this golden spice can ward of disease and mental health problems.
Research conducted by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that a daily supplement of turmeric boosted people’s memories by nearly 30% and eased the symptoms of depression.

I have so much more I could write but think I’ll leave it until next time.  Do write in with your comments and ideas.  It would be so good to hear from you.  

Remember we are not too old and it’s not too late to pursue our dreams

Janice

 

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A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE TO MY READERS

Christmas is almost here

Yes, Christmas is around the corner and I know you will all be very busy.  Like weddings, Christmas is more expensive and lavish than it was compared with 50 years ago, but at its heart it’s still about being with family and friends, even if the way we do it has changed.  

Putting up the tree, however, small gives me a festive feeling and displaying some cards that I have stored away from long gone relatives, especially my Mother with her words of love, fills me with nostalgia and happiness.

As mentioned in my previous blog I have tried to make as many of my Christmas gifts as I can.  The task is almost complete but I have to admit wondering what I was doing to myself whilst beavering away. 

The blanket I’ve made for my second grandson, Jesse, a big lad, was a huge job, spinning the wool, dyeing in various colours and then crocheting.  Here’s a photo of the completed work.  It’s not a secret gift because he requested it after seeing his brother’s blanket which I made for a 23rd Birthday present.  

I can’t post photos of the other items until they have been distributed.  Ken asked what I thought I would be doing next year.  To be truthful I think I may be buying small gifts.  It’s not really the making of them, it’s deciding what everyone would like which is hard to determine.   I read recently how so many gifts are unwanted and stored or thrown away.  That’s a bit of a worry isn’t it.

Thank you all so much for reading my blog posts throughout the year;  I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts and interests with you and receiving your comments.  Continue making the best of your retirement.  I know some of you or your partners are battling ill health and to you I send my hopes for a speedy recovery

None of us knows what 2018 will bring but don’t stop planning your projects and activities, it’s what keeps us looking forward with enthusiasm.  

SEASONS GREETINGS

Gingerbread House made by my granddaughter Emma -a yearly tradition.

 

Janice

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

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

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

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

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

 

The value of drinking water with a squeeze of lemon juice

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

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

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

 

TRIPS AROUND BEAUTIFUL SOUTH GIPPSLAND

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

 

 

BUYING SOMETHING SPECIAL

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

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

 

AFGHAN BISCUITS

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

 

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

Janice 

 

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

How to get out of bed feeling great

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

 

The surprise of receiving a mystery plant

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

Dianthus 'Green Trick'

Dianthus ‘Green Trick’

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

Botanical name: Dianthus barbatus ‘Green Trick’

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

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

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

Foliage: Grey-green in All seasons

Habit: Bushy, Compact, Cushion or Mound Forming

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

Volunteering National Volunteers Week (Australia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROASTED PUMPKIN SALAD

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

An inspiration at almost 81

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

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

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With that thought I’ll sign off until next time

Janice

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

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

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

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

www.futurelearn.com/courses

U3A courses

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

Volunteering

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

How rewarding volunteering can be!

Keeping in touch with family and friends

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

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

Friends and family make up the fabric of our lives.

Update on my felt-making project

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

 

Title for proposes movie showing carded wool

Title for proposed movie showing carded wool

Sharing recipes

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

Almond Crunch Cereal   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BEAN CURRY

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

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

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

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

LIFE IS LIKE A CAMERA

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

 

Janice

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A NEW SKILL, WATER AEROBICS, PROJECTS, RECIPES

A new skill

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

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

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

Here’s a photo of my efforts:

4 hooks with croched cushion

4 hooks with crochet cushion

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

Crochet

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

Blanket which took 1.2kg wool

Blanket which took 1.2kg wool

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

Water Aerobics

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

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

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

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Vegetarian cookery

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

SEMOLINA CHEESE FRITTERS

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

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

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

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

www.amazon.com/author/grahamjanice

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

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

RHUBARB CHUTNEY

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

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

PICKLED CUCUMBER USING THE FREEZER

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

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

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

International Women’s Day (March 8)

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

www.internationalwomensday.com 

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

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

Janice

 

 

 

 

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PROJECTS FOR 2015 (07/01/15)

Hello all – We are one week into the New Year and I’ve been taking it pretty easy.  I told Ken I was on holiday at stopathome so not to expect too much in the way of catering.  After all that festive food our digestions can certainly do with a rest.

I’ve been mulling over ideas for projects and have been inspired by my friend Wendy who, for some time, has been knitting hats for friends and family.  These hats have travelled to France, America, UK and around Australia with their recipients and in some cases have been seen on Facebook.  What a great talking point their travels can be and a worthwhile project if you are looking for an idea.  Here are some of Wendy’s creations:

Wendy told me that the idea for the hats came, in  part, from an article she read in the Washington Post entitled:   At prison, knitting class that isn’t necessarily about knitting.  It demonstrates how the act of making something for someone else can be therapeutic. You may  like to read this article so I’m putting the link here.

Prison knitting class that isn’t necessarily about knitting

Unfortunately I am unable to reproduce Wendy’s knitting pattern because it is covered by copyright but I did go on line and find a site where you can download free patterns with related categories for scarves, gloves, slippers, socks and leg warmers. Link below:

www.knittinghelp.com/free-patterns/categories/hats

Now it’s up to me to decide what I am going to knit.  I think I might start with a hat for my grandson Nicholas who seems to like wearing something on his head at all times though I have to say that today with 38C heat, knitting does not appeal.

Janice

 

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ENJOYING GOOD COMPANY

Yesterday I spent a very relaxing afternoon with my friend Olga. Every Thursday I go to her house to practice Spanish conversation, study grammar and generally chat over our common interests. This is one of the joys of being retired that you can catch up with friends and comrades in a relaxed manner.

My little dog Sophia loves going to Olga’s house because she gets spoiled and also knows that there is going to be a nice long walk on the beach. It was an absolutely beautiful day and we did indeed walk on the beach and sit on the sand for a while. The beach was mostly deserted; so very tranquil.

Later Olga brought out some photos of her ancestors who are Chilean/German/Swiss. It was an enjoyable session. Olga was born in Chile (her native tongue is Spanish) so it’s not so easy for her to delve into her past living in Australia. Being from different cultures makes for much conversation about our youth and broadens our knowledge and understanding.

Many thanks Olga, for a lovely afternoon.

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