Rain, Elusive and Daytime

Here in the Mid North Coast of Australia, we are in the last month of winter. So far, there has been so little rain that I’m hoping my cows, goats and chickens on my property aren’t going to become extinct!!

The ground is like concrete and the grass is dying – in fact quite a lot of it has completely died. I am feeding my poor animals every day, and the cost of stock food continues to rise, as it becomes more and more scarce.

I really have tried to ‘drought-proof’ my land, but it isn’t easy. Although, I remember when I first moved here, nearly twenty years ago, the ground was empty of vegetation – it was just dust. So I haven’t done too badly, I suppose.

ISBN – 978-0-9876393-9-4 Contact me if you would like a hard copy.

Another thing that has been going well is the breeding, in China, of the fabulous Giant Pandas. They were considered close to endangered and now seem to have been brought back from the brink. I wrote a book – called ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ (a chapter book for children) and in my research was pleasantly surprised by the work that is going on in the field. This book is a ‘Kathy Edwards’ adventure, and I have decided to use that type of theme for my other books in the series. The next book in the series (now half written) concerns the sea-dragons off the Tasmanian Giant Kelp fields. And to be quite honesty – I’ve already planned out another 2 books with endangered turtles in one and a more general ‘rain-forest destruction’ in another.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there just isn’t enough daytime hours for me to do everything I would like to do. but I still persevere. There isn’t any point in joining ‘protest’ marches about climate change, the destruction of our environment and the wholesale extinction of so many of the world’s creatures, if I don’t actually do something about those problems. I’m hoping my books will educate the younger generation. The previous generations certainly didn’t have any idea what their practices were doing to our planet. I also have my doubts that today’s politicians care either. Their hip pocket seems to be the only thing that drives them. Let’s hope that will change radically in the future. (Although – having said that – if the dinosaurs hadn’t become extinct – we’d still be knee deep in them! – perhaps we should be thankful for that!!)

Reading, Everyone and Dangerous

Books are one of my addictions. I have six large bookcases, and they are all jammed with books. – I think the books breed. I’m sure I only had a few, but the next time I looked they had multiplied.

They are not all novels, although there are some. I have gardening books, recipe books, how-to books, information books, knitting books, dressmaking books and history books.

You get the idea, I’m sure.

It is a dangerous addiction that even my friends have noticed. The problem is, they give my books as presents now – which only adds to the general confusion.

My job, now that I’m retired, is helping anyone and everyone I know to publish their books, as well as writing my own books that I also publish.

You would think I would have enough of books – but every evening, before I go to sleep – I read. Reading is a way to escape the constant chatter in my brain, to imagine a life of others, to just plain enjoy the story that I am reading. Sometimes I don’t get to sleep until some ridiculous hour deep into the night, because the story has trapped me in its clasp and I just can’t put the book down. I expand my knowledge of places across the globe, as well as increase my understanding about all sorts of things – from the making of jewelry (‘Jewelled Path’ by Barbara Ovstedal) to Victorian English history ( in the romances of Georgette Heyer), from the wilds of Ireland (‘The Glass Lake’ by Maeve Binchy) to the Australian way of life (‘Beneath the Southern Cross’ by Judy Nunn) and the joys of children’s books – yes – because I write them, I read them, too.

My parents would laugh, and tell me I was hopeless – that I would read the back of a Cornflakes box if it was put in front of me. I was, and still am, enchanted by the written word. I can easily identify with the character in the movie ‘The Book Thief’. I become enthusiastic about causes like ‘Erin Brokovitch’ (although my excitement is contained within my own bedroom) and I cry and laugh with the heroes and heroines in fantasy novels like ‘Harry Potter – both the books and the movies.

How many others have this problem? Am I alone in the world, hiding inside a delicious story of some other author’s mind?

P.S. – my catalogue of books is on my second page of this blog – if you want more information of all the books I have – please email me at maureenlarter@gmail.com

Reasons, Eggs and Daylight

Hi everyone – well, Easter has been and gone, and here in Australia, Summer daylight saving has finished. The cooler weather has started and shorter days progress. The hens have gone into a moult and there are feathers everywhere, but, while they are growing new feathers for Winter, I’m not getting any eggs.

The goats are getting old, and the cows are dry – so no fresh milk. Life is not as rosy as it was just a few short weeks ago.

So those are the reasons I can cheerfully say “Oh – woe is me!” Lucky I have a sense of humour. But – you can’t keep me down for long – there is still so much to be happy about. I have seedlings to put in – cabbage, broccoli, cauli, snow peas and all-year lettuces. They will be feeding me in the coldest months.

However, on a lighter note, I am still writing, and there are going to be several books added to my library stable. “Elephants Everywhere” is the next of my children’s picture books to be released.

I have a picture book – “Bartholomew” by Elizabeth Kempers that Sweetfields Publishing will release very soon, and 4 other books waiting in the wings by two different authors.

I have started on two more chapter books for middle school children as well. “Rosferado – a New Adventure” (The titles may change in the future) is book two of my wizard series. “Kathy and the Sea Dragons” or maybe “Smugglers and Dragons”(?) is the second book in the Kathy Edwards series of adventures. Hopefully these will be available later in the year.

It’s going to be a busy year.

Release, Extraordinaire and Direction.

Now that three months have gone, and Easter is almost here, I am able to give you all news of the new direction my life has been moving in.

I have started to publish, not only my own books, but other people’s as well. Sweetfields Publishing has already helped two struggling authors, and there are more in the pipeline.

I have also been working hard at releasing two more of my books – one is a picture book (‘Larry Lyrebird Laughs’)

and the other a fantasy chapter book for middle school children (‘Rosferado – Wizard Extraordinaire‘).Rosferado Cover FRONT Trim

Whoever said retirement was relaxing had obviously not retired. I seem to be busier than ever. Not that I’m complaining – as you age – challenges and busyness are the very things that keep your brain and body functioning.

In Australia we are now in Autumn (Fall) and heading for winter. One of my other projects is my vegetable garden. Now is the time to prepare for winter – so I’ve planted cauliflowers, cabbage, broccoli ( these are collectively called – brassicas) and onions.Brassicasa cauliThese are all more slower growing than Spring and Summer vegetables. I’ve also put in carrots, beetroot and turnips. Root crops should be in poorer soil than other plants, as the roots are the edible bits – protected from Winter frosts, but easily misshapen by too much fertilizer. I still have parsnips, silver beet (also known as chard) and leeks to get into the soil.

Of course, the northern hemisphere is in Spring – so they should be growing everything from lettuce to zucchini, tomatoes to watermelons, and cucumber to corn and everything in between. I love flowers for the bees as well, but I am very much a vegetable grower. It is important to be able to grow your food and know where it comes from and that it hasn’t been sprayed with anything toxic.

If you enjoy gardening, both Autumn and Spring are wonderful times to get out into the outside, as the temperature is not too cold, nor too hot.

With Kindness.

P.S. I have two more pages to this blog. Can you find them – would you prefer all of page two and three moved to page one?

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