Raisins, Environment and Dolphins

I can’t believe it is already March! 3rd month of 2019 – the time goes so quickly.

It doesn’t help that I have another birthday, so am one year older. birthdayI remember my father telling me when he was 80 that he didn’t feel any different to when he was 40. At the time, I didn’t quite believe him, but now I understand. It is a pity the mirror can’t be more understanding and show you a younger face as well! LOL!

At the moment, the environment around here is still dry. All through January and February we were crying out for rain and relief from the heat and still we wait. The ground water table is low and my house has moved and the doors don’t close. We desperately need moisture in the soil. The fields here were nearly dust when they should have been lush and green.

The fires, in Tasmania, were ravaging the land, the snow, in the Canada and the USA, was frigid and thick, and floodthe floods in North Queensland killed cattle by the thousands, and with them, people’s dreams and livelihoods.

Nature is, and always has been, cruel. We hear of famines and floods in the distant past as well as now. Potatoes in Ireland full of disease, droughts in Africa with thousands dying of starvation, earthquakes in Europe burying people, and mudslides in Asia eradicating whole villages.

Perhaps the Earth has been trying to tell us for ages that we, as a species, need to be more mindful of this beautiful planet. I honestly feel that we haven’t learnt – we populate at a staggering rate, ruin habitats that have been sheltering animals for years, and pollute oceans with rubbish and plastics without a thought or care about other species.

Can you imagine a life without dolphins, whales and fish in our oceansdolphins – no eagles, owls, bats or birds in our skies, or Polar bears, majestic cats and great elephants on our lands? It would be a sad and sorry planet. And it is heading there fast!

It is time we did something to halt the spread of our peoples ( almost like a virus) over the planet.

Suggestions? Is education the answer?

Is the earth ready to eradicate us? Are governments so full of idiots that they can’t and won’t see what is in front of their eyes?

OK. Enough said.

But I would love to hear that we can do something – the plunder of our planet and greed that causes a lot of it – must stop.

Just so we can end on a positive note – let’s have a lovely recipe.

(just be aware I add sultanas in place of raisins.)

Barabrith – Welsh tea bread.

Ingredients:-

250g mixed dried fruit/raisins/sultanas – your choice

125g raw sugar

250g SR flourbread

1 egg

½ tspn mixed spice

1 cup cold tea.

  1. Soak fruit overnight in the tea with the added sugar.
  2. Next morning, pre-heat oven to 180-200°C.
  3. Add egg, flour and spice to the fruit mixture. Mix well.
  4. Place in 2 greased loaf tins or one large square cake tin.
  5. Bake for approx 45mins.
  6. Serve cool, sliced with butter. Serves 8-12.

YUMMY!

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. – Have you checked out page two and three yet? There is another story to read on page two ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ) and some art to look at on page three ( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs ). Some of my archives have recipes, too. (I haven’t learnt how to tell the contents of each post in my archive list – sorry).

Resolutions,Envy and Distractions

Now that 2019 is well underway – gosh – February already – it will be Christmas soon!

(I really didn’t say that – one thing on your New Year Resolutions list of things to do this year, is to buy or make one gift a month!)

At the beginning of the year I traveled by train to Ballina on the north coast of New South Wales in Australia, (an 8 hour trip), to see my daughter.

I had plenty of time to think, without too many distractions. I was luck to have a seat to myself on the train, both up and back three days later! I spent the time organizing my resolutions for the coming year – things to do and books to write.

Fortunately, the list is long, and the motivation to rule out the jobs when they are done is enough to keep me going.

Motivation is a problem for many people, and I understand. There are some days that I really feel like staring into space, envying all my friends for their achievements, but not willing to do anything myself.

It is a trap we all fall into! But once you actually make yourself do something towards your goals, you actually feel better! Funny how that works!

However, please accept, that some days it is alright to relax, re-charge- and sleep if necessary. Factor it into your resolutions – one day a week for yourself – relaxation, meditation or just simply – doing nothing. It is good for the soul!

What resolutions did you make for this year?

Have you been distracted yet – or have you managed to start?

If you have begun your list, and actually crossed a couple off, I envy you.

To help you in your motivation – follow these steps:-

  1. Make a plan/list.
  2. Get up!
  3. Start!
  4. If the list feels overwhelming, start with the simplest tasks first.
  5. Each day allow one hour to do something on your list – even if you don’t finish – it is progress.
  6. Repeat.

Well, that’s all from me this month.

For all those in the Northern hemisphere who are snowed in – I hope it gets warmer. For all those waiting desperately for rain in Australia – let’s hope it arrives gently on your doorstep. For all those in Townsville, Queensland, having to cope with the mess of floods, I hope you can cope, and for all those in Tasmania beset by fires, I hope a deluge occurs to quench the flames.

Life and nature are harsh and difficult at times, but there is beauty and happiness, too – remember that.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. Remember to have a look at readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs for some artwork to buy.

readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book has a new story to read as well. Enjoy.

Return, Everyday and Drudgery.

Don’t believe the title!

Sure, I have returned from my holiday with my daughter, when I went fishing, shopping and eating in a nice, if noisy, restaurant. (not worth the price of the meal, I might add.)

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting, ocean, sky, mountain, outdoor and nature

Yes- that’s me! Out on the boat catching the most fish that day.

Yes, I have returned to the everyday chores of my home life after the silly season. (I’m sure we all gave a collected sigh of relief for another year!)

But DRUDGERY? No way!

If life came down to a dull, painful monotonous day, would it be worth living?

Now, I know many people, as they age, can not do too much, due to health problems. but I decided many years ago, to not give in to aging. I saw my grandmother go downhill rapidly when she decided she was ‘old’ and therefore couldn’t do anything. She gave up knitting, sewing, gardening and reading. All these things had been her normal life, but as soon as she gave them up, she became a shell of her former self.

Not for me!!

The old saying – ‘to grow old gracefully’ should be changed to – ‘to grow old DISgracefully’ That is my idea to make sure I keep young. The more interests and the busier you are, the better for the body and the mind. I ‘do’ even if I don’t feel like it – once my day becomes active (either with the body or the mind) I feel better immediately.

I knit, crochet, garden, write and read. I socialize, I market on the computer and I publish other people’s books. I teach piano and violin and keep bees, cows and chickens.

meandbees

Only two hives, but they keep me well supplied with honey. I’m giving a workshop here for Landcare, about keeping bees.

I cook – making sure I get whole, fresh produce every meal.

I make my own mayonnaise, peanut butter, muesli (granola) with my own home-grown fruit, dehydrated in my own dehydrator and more. I endeavour to cook a variety of food, so that my body gets a load of different vitamins and nutrients every day.

Here is a typical weekly menu – but, remember, it changes every week.

Monday: Breakfast :- 1 egg on a slice of multi-grain toasted bread. Lunch: – salad wrap, with lettuce/tomato/cucumber/ mayo/ ham and pickled onion (my bit of fermented food)) in a Quinoa wrap. Dinner:- Sweet and sour Pork with rice (include capsicum/onion/pineapple/broccoli and carrot in the stir fry). for my homemade s/s sauce see recipe later)

Tuesday:- Breakfast:- 1 cup granola with 1 cup milk ( and a touch of sugar – optional). Lunch:- 2 egg mushroom omelet. Dinner:- Crumbed chicken thigh or breast and vegetables – generally carrot, peas and potatoes.

Wednesday:- Breakfast:- 1 weetbix with 1/2 sliced banana (or diced strawberries, blueberries) with 1 cup milk. Lunch:- Tuna and avocado with mayo and corn sandwich. Dinner:- Spaghetti Bolognaise.

Thursday:- Breakfast: 1 cup of yoghurt with diced fresh fruit and a sprinkle of granola to add texture. Lunch:- Bubble and squeak ( leftover potato from previous night with onion and cabbage.) Dinner:- Satay chicken stir fry with vegetables and rice.

Friday:- Breakfast:- 1 egg, (scrambled). Lunch:- Caesar Salad. Dinner:- Macaroni cheese with mixed vegetables on the side.

You get the idea!

I was thinking of putting out a cook book called ‘For one and only” as most cookbooks are for a family, and as I live alone, not really relevant for me. 

What do you think?

Oh – and here’s the sweet and sour sauce recipe:-

Sweet and Sour Sauce:

1 cup Pineapple juice (with water)

2 tblspns cornflour

¼ cup vinegar

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tblspns soy sauce

2-3 tblspns tomato sauce

1 cup chopped onions

1 ¼ cup of pineapple pieces

2-3 drops of red food colouring (optional)

other chopped vegetables as desired. (carrot, cabbage, broccoli etc.)

  1. Blend cornflour, pineapple juice and vinegar in a saucepan.
  2. Soak onion in red colouring for a few minutes.
  3. Add everything to saucepan except pineapple pieces.
  4. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Serve with rice. Serves 4. 
  5. Veg can be par cooked if desired.
  6. I bottle extra and keep in fridge for a little while – using the next week with a different meat – pork, or chicken or diced lamb – it can also be used with just vegetables for vegetarians)

P.S. Don’t forget to have a quick look at my second and third page. There is a new story  (The Killing) up to read on page 2 ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ) and some art for sale – will be doing some T-shirts soon) ( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs )

slower

 

 

Reindeer,Elves and Decorations

XmasAAAAh! ‘Tis the Silly Season!

Now, I have to admit that I’m not religious in any ‘orthodox’ religions. In Australia we tend to think of kangaroos instead of reindeer, and heat and flies instead of elves and snow, but there is still the decorations all over the place.

How incongruous to be giving cards with snow and snowmen on their covers, how silly it is to feed a family a full roast dinner with a flaming fruit pudding with all the trimmings in the middle of our summer – pity the poor cooks in the kitchen! It isn’t unusual for the day’s temperature to soar into the forties, and there has been the odd time that firemen guests have been taken away from the festivities by the siren call of a fire in the bush.

I really don’t like what the celebration of Christmas has become – commercial codswallop to make you spend money, and ever more expensive gifts that the children and young people of today lust after.

Where are the joys of handmade gifts, made with love throughout the year? Why does Australia continue to glorify the birth of Jesus, when it is fairly widely known that He was born in the Arabian Summer?

I found it even more amazing, when visiting the Buddhist country of Cambodia, to see Christmas paraphernalia every where. When asked why, the general population didn’t know the significance, and just thought it was all ‘very pretty’.

Still … I don’t want to be considered a sad sack, so here is a menu for a summer feast – salads and ice-cream to enjoy.

Watermelon salad:

lettuce (any type – your choice), Watermelon, cucumber, feta cheese or similar, pickled onions and dressing ( mayonnaise mixed with olive oil and salt and pepper.)

You may notice I haven’t given any quantities – it depends on whether it is intended for one or a crowd! For one:- A small handful of lettuce leaves, broken  into small chunks, a slice of watermelon cubed (If you want to get fancy, try cutting with cookie cutters into wmelonhearts, stars or Christmas tree shapes), 1/2 cup of diced cucumber, a handful of crumbled feta and several small pickled onions, sliced. Mix together a tablespoon of mayo with a slurp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over, then mix into the ingredients all tossed together in a bowl.

For a crowd? – just multiply the ingredients!

For omnivores – a lovely cold roast chicken or leg of lamb or cold whole prawns (or all choices for a crowd) sliced onto a self-serve plate are great accompaniments to salads.

For vegetarians? Add a main meal of :-  Mixed vegetable Quiche.

Take a handful of any vegetables you have on hand and cut them into small cubes. This could be carrot, capsicum, onion or leek, and zucchini. you can add a small tin of corn kernels, tiny florets of broccoli and cauliflower, as well as anything else you desire.

Add the vegetables to well beaten eggs. Use 2 for a small quiche, and 6 to 8 for a large one. Pour into a pastry case (bought or made by you) and cook in a moderate oven until eggs are firm and golden. Grated cheddar cheese can be sprinkled on top if you wish. Pop it back into the oven for a few moments to melt the cheese. Allow to cool to serve.

Top the meal off with a lovely dessert. ANYTHING with home-made ice-cream (see recipes in archives – I think May?? ). An Australian specialty is Fruit Pavlova.

You can buy the meringue base from the supermarket (try minis meringue shells if you are on your own) and add lashings of sweetened whipped cream topped with seasonal fruit – whatever is your favourite.Pavlova.jpg

P.S. Remember to look at my second and third pages for children’s books as gifts, and original art and limited edition prints for someone special.FLOW

readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs

readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-bookBookcover2

 

 

Reactions, Educate and Dairy.

Gosh a fortnight goes quickly!

It is time to post another article about my thoughts and life – although why anyone would find that interesting, beats me!

Judging people always seems to me to be an exercise in futility. We all have challenges and obstacles in our lives, and that is what makes us who we are. Reactions to our hurts, worries and doubts often cause us to react to other people, often with anger, and they react right back. It can cause heart ache and misunderstanding.

Always treat people the way you would like to be treated – I know that is difficult sometimes, but kindness, tolerance and love are emotions we feel, and they shouldn’t be buried. We need to educate ourselves to show these qualities, so that we can reach the happiness we all deserve.

Now that I’ve done my preaching for the day, I should give you something to enjoy.

I’ve already given you a great recipe for ice-cream ( see Archives – May 27th – you can find that by clicking on the bars on the right hand corner of my site). I often give you icerecipes – and I don’t consider gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan or vegetarian or allergy making ingredients.

I’m sorry.

I will try to find a great tasting treat to include all those things.

What about :- No cook, Apricot balls?apricot No – that’s no good – it includes dairy.

What about :- Christmas mince pies? No – that’s no good, there is dairy in the pastry and                              gluten, too!

What about :-  My favourite – savoury mince with rice? – Obviously no good – it includes                               meat!mince

Well, that took care of my ideas for a recipe  … so … instead of a recipe today, I thought I’d give you something to make for a Christmas gift – after all, Christmas is fast approaching. This is a knitting project.

Knitted Slippers – can be made in any size – from baby to adult.

slipperUse 8 ply wool or acrylic yarn, double strand, and size 6.00mm needles (remember I live in Australia – use the equivalent in your country.) 2 x 100gm balls in two different colours makes two slippers for an adult.

Cast on (using two strands) 17 (23, 29, 35,or 41) stitches, depending on the size you require.

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: Knit 5 (7 – 9 – 11 – 13), Purl 1, Knit 5 (7 – 9 -11 – 13), Purl 1, Knit 5 (7 – 9 – 11 – 13)

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until there are 11 (13 – 15 – 17 – 19) ridges on the right side, ending with a row 2.

Shape toe:

Row 1: Purl 1 Knit 1 across the row.

Row 2: Knit 1 Purl 1 across the row.

Repeat these two rows until you have 9 (11 – 13 – 15 – 17) rows worked.  Break off yarn, leaving a length of about 10 inches to use for stitching together. Slip the thread through the stitches on the needle, casting off and pulling the thread tight to form the toe shape. Sew to the beginning of ribbing. Fold in half and sew inside seam for centre back. Add a pompom or button or bow (use your creativity) to finish off. Make a second one to finish the pair.

Knit a pair for each member of your family.

With Kindness

Maureen

quakeP.S. A new short story is up on the next page. An amusing true story!! – readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book

 

 

Re-format, Edit and Design.

Now that I’m back from Cambodia and my body has managed to settle back into a fairly normal routine, I can now concentrate on re-formatting my books for the new company that will do print on demand in Australia.

Be aware – Amazon and KDP no longer send paperbacks books to Australia – so it was necessary to find a new place to print my books. My publishing house is Sweetfields Publishing (message me if you need anymore information). 

Alphacovers

Yay! I’m so happy. After years of designing and editing my books for the Amazon market – and paying an arm and a leg for postage, the convenience of a company in Australia is worth the extra cost in printing.

Amazon has actually done me a favour! My books are still available to the world in general from the KDP platform as well as Amazon. But because Amazon won’t post to Australia, I’d lost my local market. Now that is being put to rights.

It will take a bit of time (and frustration from me as I learn the new company and its rules) but it will be worth it in the end. I have counted up – I have 38 books to changeover – and another couple in the pipeline. Whew!

The re-format really is only to change the sizing, but that requires a bit of tweaking in the design of the books, and, while I’m at it, I might as well edit as well. It is the illustrations that are causing me the most headache, because, in the beginning of my journey, I did not understand how to get the correct dpi requirements for the images. Also, my first three books were illustrated by international visitors, and I haven’t got the originals to re-scan.

On top of that, the story-telling by myself has improved in leaps and bounds, so I need to look at some of the clunky sentences and re-word a little.

This means that I will be bum on computer seat, eyes on computer screen, fingers blistering at the keyboard and the brain squishy with all the thinking I will need to do.

Bookcover2

Bear with me – everything will sort itself out in time.

With Kindness

Maureen.

P.S. In the meantime, my second page ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book )  includes my catalogue, and a new short story for your reading pleasure. Let me know what you think of the story.

My next children’s chapter book to be launched is ‘Rosferado – Wizard Extraordinaire’. The tagline could probably be – ‘but he isn’t’!!

There are two more books in the works, too. ‘Larry Lyrebird Laughs’ ( a picture book ) and ‘Rainbows in the Jungle – a Kathy Edwards adventure’ – (a chapter book for MA children).

If you would love to buy some original artwork – limited edition prints or originals – by a talented young artist – have a look at page three  ( readeatdream.net/ sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs )

It’s good to be busy!

Retirement, Extract and Draft.

Back from Cambodia!

Back to my beautiful home! Back to the work of teaching music, making preserves for my market stall, gardening in my vegetable garden, writing and publishing my next books, and feeding and looking after my animals (that includes extracting honey from my bees – such wonderful insects).meandbees

Love it!

Do you think it is time I thought about a gentle retirement?

Never!! It is this lifestyle that keeps my brain going, and my health fine.

I have three books in draft form, two already being illustrated.

While I’m on the subject of books -:

In the last few weeks,, my program of choice for publishing (Createspace) has merged with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Now … I understand that may be a wise Alphacoversbusiness decision – but I am NOT HAPPY!

Why?

Because now I cannot get my paperback books posted from America. This is the case for all Australian authors and customers, so it is not just me affected. Even though I had asked Createspace last year if this would be the case, and they said no, I now find I’m dropped like a hot potato!

I’m looking for a similar type of app that is Australian. Damn nuisance, as I have over thirty books involved. (unless I can find another way to get them).

So – back to basics – start all over again! Damn!

As I have been in Cambodia, and finally Australia got rain, (thankfully – I’m not complaining), I left a brown and desperate landscape and have arrived back to a lush, very wet, green environment. The garden needs tender loving care and some hard work.

I’ve already planted beetroot, and cucumber seeds – pulled out the lettuces that went to seed in my absence (the goat loved them) and weeded a bit of my raised garden beds. The ‘lawn’ will have to wait until it has dried out before I can run the ride-on lawnmower over the two foot high grass!!

I have made tomato sauce (ketchup to Americans), peanuts are in my bowl ready to make peanut butter, and egg mayonnaise is next. Also going through my recipe cache – what about I add lip balm, vanilla extract, Christmas decorations and beetroot relish to my stock pile? I love to make something as little different to most other stall holders. (Need some recipes? Contact me!)

Aah! Life is full and couldn’t be better.

Retirement?

No way!

With Kindness.

Maureen

P.S. – my ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ book is now up for sale. Check out the chapter on the next page ( readeatdream.net/ free-childrens-picture-book ).  If you want to know how it finishes, you’ll have to buy the book!img312

Mean of me, I know! Just let me know, and for $15AU I’ll send it to you (you will have to add $3AU for postage in Australia – $5AU if you live overseas).

I will be giving you a range of my short stories to read next before I put out an anthology of same – starting from next post.

I will also have more artwork, from my talented son’s brush, for sale.

( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs )

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