Category Archives: Volunteering

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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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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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.

DSC00334

 

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.

===================

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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ENJOYING RETIREMENT IN 2016

WELCOME TO RETIRE AND ENJOY IN 2016

Firstly I would like to thank all my Blog followers for their continued support and wish everyone, including those who are not yet retired, a year filled with opportunities and achievements.  It’s probably a good idea to make a plan of what goals you would like to accomplish whether it’s to catch up with friends, start an exercise regimen, travel, volunteer or work on something you’ve been putting off until you had time.  Many of us hate making lists but if you write down a “to achieve list” you can refer back to it in the future just to check on your progress.  Of course conversely you could also make a “not to continue doing” list which could prove interesting.  Here are a few ideas:

  • 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

Now I would like to share the contents of my “to achieve list” with you:

  1. Complete the Upper Advanced Spanish Course that I stopped doing last August because the homework became quite daunting and difficult.
  2. Sew a bomber jacket with felt panels.  I have plenty of wool over from the felt hats I made so no excuse.
  3. Complete a book about my family’s adventures with an alternative lifestyle i.e. living without electricity for 10 years, building a mud brick house and running a goat dairy.  This book has been in progress for far too long.
  4. Try to practice the piano each day.  I’m only a novice.
  5. Enjoy every day to the full.

I’ll keep you up to date.  It’s a bit of an ask especially items 3 and 4

5 REASONS TO VOLUNTEER IN RETIREMENT

Because I am very passionate about volunteering  I would like to share with you an article I came across  recently on the website  www.oversixty.com.au which listed five reasons to volunteer in retirement:

Want an active, happy and meaningful retirement? The evidence shows that volunteering isn’t just good for the community, it’s also good for you. Here’s five reasons why you should consider volunteering in retirement.

1. You’ll find satisfaction

It’s better to give than to receive, and the data backs this up. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, volunteers – defined as someone in the previous 12 months who willing gave unpaid help – reported higher levels of life satisfaction than non-volunteers.

2. You’ll be happier

Numerous studies have shown that volunteering not only makes people feel emotionally better but boosts their own happiness. 

3. You’ll connect with the community

For some people, retirement can lead to loneliness, boredom and a sense of isolation. Volunteering both opens you up to the wider community and connects you with likeminded people.
4. Your health will improve

Studies have found volunteering has many health benefits, including lower blood pressure, reduced stress and a longer life span.

5. You will have a greater sense of purpose

It’s been long known there’s a significant correlation between volunteer work and social wellbeing but research from Duke University and the National University of Singapore that looked at data of 3,200 volunteering Americans found that volunteering just one day a month will give your life a greater sense of purpose.

JOINING A CLUB

Joining a film making group has been an inspiring experience for Ken so if you have a passion to learn a new skill it’s well worth looking around to find a suitable course.  The University of the Third Age is a good place to start or your local Community House.  Shire Councils put out a book which includes all the clubs in your area together with contact details likewise the library is a fund of information.

Since his youth Ken has had the desire to ride the high seas on a sailing ship having been inspired by the Hornblower book series.  Late last year his dream came true when he found that trips were available on a replica vessel sailing from Mornington in Victoria, Australia.  He booked on line and enjoyed himself so much that he took a subsequent trip.  I decided to keep my feet firmly on terra firma but was able to take a little film from the cliffs which have been included in the production.

I hope you enjoy the film Ken produced of his adventure:

 

Crocheting

I have decided to continue joining the group of ladies at my local Community House this year for their weekly get together of crochet, knitting and project discussion.  Just before Christmas I was inspired by a blanket pattern I saw on a crochet blog to make one as a present for my daughter.  Because the blogger was American the yarn she used was not available here in Australia so I had a bit of difficulty sourcing what was needed.  However, with a few false starts, some undoing of rows and issues with row  lengths, I managed to complete the task.  I did deviate from the pattern by using contrasting wool mainly because I didn’t purchase enough material in the first place.  My daughter was delighted with her gift and one of my granddaughters has put in an order for her next Birthday.

Christmas present for my daughter

Christmas present for my daughter

Whilst searching for wool supplies on line I joined   www.ravelry.com – Ravelry is a place for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, weavers and dyers to keep track of their yarn, tools, project and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration. The content is all user- driven and is a great place for you to keep notes about your projects, see what other people are making, find the perfect pattern and connect with people who love to play with yarn from all over the world in their forums.

ROCKET, FETA & POMEGRANATE SALAD

Here’s a salad recipe I located on Pinterest recently.  The description is a bright, crisp salad which is a little different but it works really well.

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Ingredients:

• 200g feta
• ½ lemon, zested and juiced
• 120g rocket
• 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 red onion, sliced
• 2 pomegranate, seeds only
• Salt and pepper, to season
Method:

1. Whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard, vinegar and olive oil together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a separate large bowl, combine rocket, pomegranate seed, red onion and feta cheese. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

REMINISCING

I wonder if like us you have piles and piles of old films in various forms that haven’t seen the light of day for many a year.  One friend told me that her husband had transferred their films to a memory stick (hope I have that right) and when they take a coffee break they watch and enjoy.  Ken has recently decided to transfer our old footage and what a walk down memory lane that has turned out to be.  A few tears have been shed when seeing parents and family members no longer with us.

Here’s a real antique that our son came up with of Ken in his ‘alternative lifestyle’ days.

Ken on the farm with the leader of our goat herd

Ken on the farm with the leader of our goat herd

I’ll sign off this blog with a quote from Abraham Lincoln:

IN THE END, IT’S NOT THE YEARS IN YOUR LIFE THAT COUNT, IT’S THE LIFE IN YOUR YEARS

Janice

 

 

 

 

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OUTINGS, ACTIVITIES, THINGS TO DO

OPEN DAY AT A GIPPSLAND PRINTERS

Since Ken joined the Wonthaggi Movie Makers Club he has sourced different events which he considers are worthy of filming, one of which was an open day at a Gippsland Printers  celebrating  the power of print.   The effort put into the day by the owners and staff was absolutely amazing.  It gave a real insight into the processes of printing and the changes that have taken place over the past 120 years.  Of course Ken was in his element chatting to the staff involved in the different processes likewise all those who attended had a great time as you were given the opportunity to have your photo taken by a professional photographer, which was then printed in large format, you could choose a design and have 250 business or personal cards printed, children could have their photo on a Wanted Poster and there was an over-supply of pads, shopping lists, booklets and calendars;  everything was for free.    It all culminated in a sausage sizzle and a raffle for a laser printer.

Here’s the photo Ken and I had taken:

Janice and Ken at Gippsland Printer Open Day

Janice and Ken at Gippsland Printer Open Day

It’s wonderful the enjoyment that can be had by checking out local events and going along to see what’s on offer.  I had a thoroughly enjoyable day.  Whilst Ken was off looking at the printing machines I met up with a lady called Jean who told me about her interest in Scrap Booking.  I must admit I have never thought about undertaking that activity, but it really sounds as if it could be a great hobby in retirement.  Jean was a really interesting person to talk with and we covered quite a bit of ground in a short time.  Enjoying good company can be so rewarding.

Joining a club has opened up a lot of opportunities for Ken to make the best of his retirement.  Through research on the internet he has found  there are at least three printing museums with working machinery that we can visit.  He now has his map book out and is planning various trips.

PLANNING A TRIP/LEARNING A LANGUAGE

Learning another language is a real challenge but it broadens your mind and gives you insight into other cultures.  For me it has become part of my everyday life.  Each Monday I have a lesson with a teacher in Lima, Peru, who shares various topics with me including typical recipes of her region which I like to try out.  Last week it was a wheat salad which sounds really different.  Learning a language is also a stepping stone to visiting a country where the language you have chosen is spoken.  The Spanish Cat is a language school in Melbourne and they have put out a blog:  10 BEST THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN PERU.  Here it is for you to enjoy.  I am sure you will be tempted to visit Peru.  I know I am:

http://www.thespanishcat.com/learn/index.php/jaggyblog/10-things-to-see-and-do-in-peru

 

VOLUNTEERING

As a volunteer with the Community Visitors Scheme, I visited Josephine in a local aged care facility today.  Sometimes these visits can be quite confronting and sobering which is the case with Josephine as she is just one year older than myself and is suffering some short term memory loss due to a growth in the brain which can’t be operated on.  However, she is always pleased to see me and I try to chat about things we did as young women which she can recall  with clarity.   It is so important for people like Josephine to have contact with the outside world and for a short time be part of that world with me.  When I leave the facility I count my blessings and know I have to make the best of each and every day.

 

CANDY FLOSS

Can you remember enjoying Candy Floss.  I used to absolutely love it and remember it was part of the joys of town and village fetes.  This was brought home to me on the weekend when I saw two mature ladies laughing whilst they ate candy floss  with the floss well and truly stuck to their lips.  I looked for a picture on Pinterest and came up with this great fun postcard.  Some of you will have seen it already because I posted it on my Retire and Enjoy Facebook Page.

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All for now from Retire and Enjoy.  Enjoy each day.  Until next time

Janice

 

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ENDURING FRIENDSHIPS (17/03/15)

Still volunteering at 80

I was reminded this week of how important enduring friendships can be and how they show us what hidden depths people have.   These friendships connect us to our past whilst at the same time being part of the present.   No matter that we aren’t able to meet in person very often, we can immediately pick up where we left off when we do get in touch.   One such friend is Janet who I met when her family were evacuated from London during the second world war and opened up a small hardware shop in the main street of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire where I lived.   We became great friends and spent many hours together after school.  We had a signalling system whereby we stood outside our respective front doors and waived an umbrella to indicate whose house we would go to.

After the war Janet returned to London with her parents but we have always kept in touch, meeting when possible and of course writing.

Since retiring Janet has dedicated her time and energy to looking after small children in need of care as well as helping with her own grandchildren when they were young.   I was amazed 18 months ago when she told me of the terrible shortage in London of foster carers for babies and although she was mindful that she might not be accepted was going to apply.  Well, can you believe it, she was accepted, and has been taking babies in ever since.  I received a letter from her yesterday and this is some of what she wrote:

“I look after another baby now he was eight months when I started 6 months ago.  He is so lovely, just could not resist him, and his name is Teddy.  He is the mother’s third son and has a brother who is only 14 months older and one of 7 years.  I am as busy as ever as you might guess”.

What a wonderful woman taking on such a responsibility.  She will be 80 in two months time.  With her letter she included a card with a picture of my old home.  The house is sixteenth century and reportedly had a monk buried beneath the front parlour.  Originally it was near to a medieval hospital for Lepers and a health-giving spring.    Many years ago the house became a cafe with accommodation.

 

When I lived here it was called Monks Cottage

When I lived here it was called Monks Cottage

 

 

 

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ACTIVITIES AND VOLUNTEERING (8/03/15)

Hello all – welcome to autumn here in Australia where there are all kinds of activities and festivals to enjoy.  Ken is continuing his quest to make as many short movies as possible so has planned a calendar of events that we can both attend which will provide him with colourful subject matter.   There really are so many opportunities and ideas for projects to pursue now that we are retired.

Dahlia exhibition and show, Mt Waverley

If you were interested in growing dahlias or just wanting to enjoy the beauty of these blooms, this exhibition and show was absolutely magnificent.  Here are a couple of photos:

Dahlia Show at Mt Waverley

Dahlia Show at Mt Waverley

Mt Waverley Show

Mt Waverley Show

One of the exhibitors was Country Dahlias from Winchelsea near Geelong.   If you live near Melbourne it is possible to visit their 2 acre dahlia garden and wander around at your leisure.    They are hosting a festival on the weekend of March 21st/22nd which sounds good.  Unfortunately their brochure does not give a web site and I haven’t been able to find one, though they are mentioned on the net under plant nurseries.   If you live in other States of Australia, search out the events calendar for your area.  Conversely, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you will just be starting to think of planting out your tubers.  I remember with nostalgia how my father loved his dahlias;  he grew those ones with the huge heads.

Quilt and felt hat display at Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne

I was so inspired by the felt hat display and came home full of enthusiasm for making one for myself.  However, I was a little sobered by the process when I checked out some YouTube tutorials.  I am undaunted and think I will pursue the idea.  It could be a good project for the winter months.  I will keep you posted.  The quilts must have taken hours of work.  I have never attempted one myself though my daughter made one some years ago.  I am sure if you want a really absorbing pastime, quilt making would fill the bill.

Here is a picture of the hat display:

Felt hats and wall hangings at quilt exhibition

Felt hats and wall hangings at quilt exhibition

Kite Festival at Rosebud, Mornington Peninsula

Yesterday we went to the Kite Festival at Rosebud.  Though this event was more for young people, racing around flying their kites, there were still quite a few older folk with their grandchildren, enjoying the spectacle of the professional display as shown here:

SnapShot

I didn’t realise there was still so much interest in kites.  Ken says he remembers, as a boy, making a kite from split bamboo canes to required shape, putting cotton around the outside, then laying on tissue paper and sticking to the outside string after which he attached a tail and more string to pull it into the air.

Volunteering as a Community Visitor

I have chatted before about the Community Visitors Scheme which pairs volunteers with a resident in an aged care facility who is need of a visitor to share some time them.  There are so many people who sit alone all day and never have a visitor.  This is so sad.  After the death late last year of the lady I was visiting  I decided to take some time away but this week I was introduced to a new inmate who I will be visiting from now on.  We chatted briefly and I am sure that we will be able to develop an ongoing and fulfilling relationship.  Here is a rose for her from my garden:   P1310686

If you are interested in finding out more about the scheme in your area, visit:

http://www.communityvisitorsscheme.org.au

That’s all for this Blog.  Let me know about your activities.  Until next time,

Enjoy every day

Janice

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Morning Tea (Community Visitors Scheme) 25/11/14

One month to Christmas and all the get-togethers are happening. This morning it was the turn of the Community Visitors Scheme for my area. It was a happy crowd that participated in a morning tea in the kitchen of a local library; there were so many other activities going on that it was the only space available. It is always good to chat to other volunteers about their experiences and hear their heart warming stories of the people they visit. Our input can truly make a difference to the life and wellbeing of a resident in an aged care facility.

If you are thinking about volunteering why not have a look at the Community Visitors Scheme web site by clicking on the link below:

Community Visitors Scheme

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