What stands out from your Christmas celebrations, Considering going to a retreat, Who’s heard of or tried eco dyeing, Butternut squash pasta bake

Hello everyone and Happy New Year to you all.  I know it’s been a long long time since I posted on my site.  I don’t really have a valid reason except to say other activities seem to have taken precedence and the weeks slipped away.  However, having received numerous requests from readers to continue writing, I feel inspired to get going again.  

What stands out from your Christmas celebrations I wonder

I wonder what stands out from your Christmas celebrations.  For me, it was something unexpected.  During the present unwrapping at my daughter’s house, where we always celebrate Christmas, my grandchildren, Nic 24, Jesse 21 and Emma 19 recounted how their Mum had used them as her “shopping elves”.  She and her husband went off to Mallacoota the week before Christmas and delegated the shopping to Nic, Jess and Emma.  As each gift was unwrapped they recounted the story of how the purchase was made.  I couldn’t believe how much thought and enjoyment they had put into purchasing each item.  They recounted searching the internet, finding the best bargain, making sure the colours were suitable and checking sizes and had us all in fits of laughter at their antics.    They saw it as an enjoyable experience and not a chore.  Long may that continue.

Does anything stand out for you?  If so share as a reply.

Considering going to a Retreat!

I had the idea it would be invigorating and fun to try a retreat as an alternative holiday.  I knew Ken wouldn’t consider it so I suggested it to my daughter who looked at me a little pensively but agreed to consider the idea.   I trawled through the internet but everything I came up with offered luxury accommodation.  My idea was being out in the bush in perhaps a mud hut, meditating and eating vegetarian or vegan food and skinny dipping in a creek.  Nothing like that seems to be on offer.  I conveyed what I’d learnt to my daughter who had a big smirk on her face whilst handing me a book titled:  Nine perfect strangers – can a health retreat really change your life forever?  by Liane Moriarty.  She had read it on her holiday. 

Now having read the book myself, I have to say it gives cause for thought – do they put a little something in your green smoothy?????   Here’s the theme of the book which I thoroughly recommend:  Read and enjoy.

The retreat at health and wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation.  Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.  Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired bodies and minds.  These nine perfect strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.

Sad news

Late last year my dear friend Joan Blain passed away at the age of 85.  She was a reader and contributor to my blog from the beginning.  I did report to you that she had a bad fall and broke both her legs from which she never recovered.  Such a brave woman continuing helping her husband on the farm even though she had MS from her early 30’s.  Joan contributed a story from her early days in my post of November 14, 2014, about starting up a printing business on the farm.  The building, though crumbling, still stands and one of Joan’s son’s kindly transported her to the location so she could look through the window and recount her memories.

Joan looking through the window of the shed that housed the Print Shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s heard of or tried eco dyeing?

There’s always something new and exciting to learn.  Glenda, Treasurer of the spinning group of which I’m a member, attended a show where eco dyeing was being demonstrated and introduced the group to the technique.  We were all absolutely amazed at the results achieved.

Eco printing or eco dyeing is a contemporary application of the traditions of natural dyeing  In eco dyeing plants are enclosed in textiles or paper, bundled by winding over rods or stacked in layers and then steamed or immersed in hot water to extract the pigments and produce a print made with plant dyes.  Leaves, stems, flowers, buds, seeds and roots may be used also bark and wood.  

Here’s a link so that you may read all about the process and perhaps be inspired to try it out yourself  http://www.frankie.com.au/blogs/craft/5206-frankie-exclusive-diy-an-introduction-to-eco-dyeing

 

Butternut squash pasta bake

This recipe is vegetarian but it’s so hearty meat eaters won’t be disappointed and it has the added advantage of freezing well.

 

 

 

 

1kg butternut squash, cut into chunks (about 2cm), 1tbsp olive oil, 500g macaroni, Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cheese sauce:   60g butter, 60g plain flour, 1L whole milk, 60g Parmesan, finely grated,1/4tsp freshly grated nutmeg

For the topping:   A handful of sage leaves, 40g tomatoes, roughly chopped, 50g fresh breadcrumbs, 2tbsp olive oil, 2tbsp pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7. Line a large roasting tray with baking parchment.

2. Place the squash in the roasting tray. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Cook on the top shelf of the oven for 25 minutes or until the squash is tender and browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly for a couple of minutes. (Keep the oven on.)

3. Tip three-quarters of the roasted squash into a blender and blitz to a purée; set the rest aside.

4. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the macaroni and cook until almost al dente (two to three minutes less than the time suggested on the packet).

5. Meanwhile, for the sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for one minute, then whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens slightly.  Parmesan and nutmeg. Stir until the cheese has melted, then stir through the squash purée to make a rich, smooth sauce. Take off the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Drain the macaroni, add to the sauce and stir well. Tip into a large, deep baking dish, about 25 x 30cm. Scatter over the rest of the roasted squash, the sage, sun-blushed tomatoes and breadcrumbs. Drizzle with the oil. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, turning on the oven grill at the same time. Bake for 10 minutes.

7. Take out the dish, scatter the pumpkin seeds evenly over the surface and return to the oven for five minutes or until the topping is golden. Serve at once, with a green salad.

To freeze: Cool and pack in a lidded foil tray (or several trays). Defrost fully in the fridge, then remove the lid and reheat in an oven preheated to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6 for 30 minutes, until hot all the way through. If the surface appears to be browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil.

 

I’ve really enjoyed writing this blog so hope you enjoy it too.  I’ll close with this quote:

When you love what you have you have everything you need

 

Janice

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