Ravel, Elgar and Debussy

This blog is really different to my previous articles. I felt like giving you an insight into a different me.mus

As a music teacher, I love all types of music. My first love is ‘classical’ music – from Mozart to Debussy, from Bach to Ravel, and from Beethoven to Elgar. More modern music in the ‘classical’ vein has not struck me as very listenable – if that is a word.

Even though I teach music and love classical music, pop music, country and even heavy metal has a place in my life.

The Beatles were my teenage idols as far as the pop world was concerned, and the Rolling Stones as well. I could mention ‘The Beach Boys’, Dusty Springfield, Jackson Five, The Osmonds and more. Where has the time gone?

Who were your favourites?

By the time my son was born we were Abba fans. I was determined, as a young mother, to keep up with the times – but rap music, dub and all the other recent music has passed me by. Now I’m a grandmother, and feeling distinctly aged – an ‘old fogey’ if you will.

Now I understand the differences between the generations, and, as progress has bolted ahead at a wondrous speed, I wonder what my grandchildren will discover in their world.

I dream of better things for them, but often despair at the world and the hatred that is broadcast in the media. I know people in general are so much better than that – but the media keeps us in a state of fear with all the doom and gloom they report.

daisies

I try to live by a simple code – smile, be happy and try to do a kind act for someone each day. I also try to leave my little bit of the Earth, where I live, in a better condition than it was when I arrived. If we all tried to do that, the Earth would be a wonderful place, I’m sure.

With Kindness

Maureen

panda2P.S. Chapter 3 of my children’s chapter book – ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ – is posted on my second page.

( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book )

 

Also, feel free to have a look at page 3 as well. Mykel would be thrilled if you would leave a comment about his art – or even buy it, of course.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricotta, Enjoyment and Dandelions.

One of the joys I have in my life is preserving the produce off my own land and that includes cheeses. At one stage, Nelly the cow gave me milk in abundance – so it was expedient to use it in any way I could.

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My previous cow -Shani. My new cow – ‘Nellie’ is  black and white.

So … I made butter and ghee, ice-cream and yoghurt, which then led to Labneh and then to cottage, cream and ricotta soft cheeses.

Soft cheese is not difficult to make. For Labneh it is simply the hanging of the yoghurt until the liquid has drained out.

To make the yoghurt I got in touch with Cheeselinks ( https://www.cheeselinks.com.au  )  and bought the bacteria and their excellent book.

Ricotta means ‘re-cooked’ in Italian, and after making the other soft cheeses, the addition of a little more milk to the whey (the liquid left after the milk forms curds of cheese) and heating it – you get the cheese.

The activity of milking your own cow is rewarding, but the enjoyment of turning that wonderfully fresh milk into other products is even better.

And, talking about produce on your own land, with the help of bees, you get honey as well. I have two hives, and that gives me enough honey to sell a little, and use all year. They are fascinating insects, and an absorbing hobby – and when the clover, flat-weed and dandelions flower in my lawn, it gives me the perfect excuse not to mow! (in Australia, dandelions are often mistaken for flatweeds. They are very similar. Flatweeds have multiple flowers to a stem, where dandelions only have one. )imagesdandI just make sure I wear shoes, and don’t step on any of the girl worker bees as they go about their business collecting the nectar.

The beauty of the Australian bush, is that we have flowering Eucalypts, which the European honey bees adore. There are Grevilleas, Banksias and Wattles, too – an absolute cornucopia for insects. We also have many native bees, so when the Gums are in blossom, the place hums.

I started with dreams of self-sufficiency, which is why I got cows and bees and chickens. I planted vegetables with abandon, then realized bees also needed flowers. It has been a wonderful learning experience and I recommend the journey to others.

I am now in my seventies and I still garden, feed the stock, collect the eggs, rob the bees of excess honey and preserve my harvest. It keeps me young in heart and mind, as well as keeping my body healthier than I would have been otherwise.

I have 12 acres, but most of the things I do can be accomplished on a suburban block – including keeping bees.

So keep dreaming, look after your body and mind, be aware of the environment and enjoy wonderful, natural food.

With Kindness

Maureen.

P.S. Chapter 2 of ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’ is up this week.  (https://readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book)panda2

as well as a new painting for sale from Mykel. (https://readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs)

Records, Editing and Dishes.

If you have been following my blog, you should know by now that I do many things. I am an organic gardener, I teach music  (piano and violin) and I write. I write and publish my own and other author’s books. I will do editing, but prefer not to.

Writing books is a strange thing. The words you write flow onto the page from the brain. You call the first writing, the ‘first draft’, then when you have finished all your first draft, you read it again.pen

And again.

In the process, you pick up some mistakes via errant fingers (typos) the occasional spelling mistake, and a clunky sentence here and there.

On your second or third reading, (after a time lapse), you often wonder what you meant with the words you wrote. Hopefully you fix that, add more details or take out unnecessary sections.

THEN – you get someone else to do the editing. Invariably they will find more mistakes.

You think to yourself – how did I miss that? – but – because you know what you meant, every time you read your work, your brain rides over the mistakes. Seems, impossible I know – but it happens all the time.

That’s why I prefer not to edit, either my own words or those of others.Alphacovers

It’s times like that that I feel like giving it all up.

My writing is not good enough.

I should go back to being a housewife, do the dishes, cook the meals – in fact, I’d even go on record as saying to myself –  ‘Give it all up – just stay in bed and hide!’

Every author feels that way at some point – so don’t imagine it is only you.

I’m here to set the record straight!

DON’T give up.

DON’T allow the doubts to win.

ALWAYS persevere.

You WILL improve.

REMEMBER – if you like the story you have written and have done the BEST you can do, then there WILL be someone out there in the world that loves your story, too.

KEEP WRITING.

KEEP BELIEVING.

KEEP FOLLOWING YOUR DREAM.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. As promised last week – the first chapter of my new book ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’ follows – on page two of this post. (click on the three bars on the left and follow the Free children’s book heading). It is ‘A Kathy Edwards Adventure’, aimed at 8 to 12 year old age group. Read and enjoy. Let me know what you think.

panda2

An art work From Mykel is also available on the ‘Sweetfields and Mykelcee Designs’ page.

Rissoles, Echidnas and Dehydrate.

Oh my! Where has this week gone? Admittedly I’ve been  busy – but it seems like only yesterday that I posted my last blog! Is it the same for everyone, or is time really going faster?

So, what have I been doing? And why would you even be interested?

At present I have a Japanese lass visiting on the http://www.workaway.au scheme. I am a host for three such sites. HelpX is another, as well as WWOOF. This has always been a great idea, in my opinion. A visitor/tourist from another country gets the opportunity to see the country in a whole different light – not just those ‘tourist hot spots’, but the real honest to goodness experience – delving into the cultures of this wonderful country.

Of course, it is a win/win situation. The host gets a little help, often in the garden or such, and the visitor gets bed and food for that help. I also love learning about my visitor’s country and culture,too.

So… that being said – here is a favourite recipe of mine :- Rissoles. Saw what? My Japanese visitor was confused! What an earth are they!!? (P.S. – an Australian name for meat patties).

Rissoles.

rissole300gm beef mince, 1 finely chopped onion ( or a clove of garlic), 1 tin of diced tomatoes, Finely diced carrot, cabbage and zucchini.

Mix all together. Add an egg and enough breadcrumbs to bind the mixture into a fairly dry mix. Grab handfuls and form into a ball. Flatten out and roll in extra breadcrumbs. Fry in oil (or your choice). turning once or twice until cooked through and golden brown.

Depending on the size of the patties, you can make them into meatballs and serve over spaghetti, with an extra tin of diced tomatoes as a sauce. Or flatten them out and make them the size of a hamburger patty. Otherwise, serve with gravy, tomato sauce, extra vegetables and chips/boiled potatoes. It’s an ideal way to ‘hide’ vegetables for the  children!

We enjoyed the meal!

I often take my visitors for a drive, and we can go to various places to see Australian native plants and animals.

Close by my place is a remnant of the rain forest that used to be in the area before the white population decimated so much of the fauna and flora. In ‘Wingham Brush’ (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/…/Wingham-Brush-Nature-Reserve) we have a colony of fruit bats, goannas, brush turkeys, echidnas echidnaas well as trees such as fig trees and stinging trees. It is quite an education to walk through this reserve and see what the white settler was faced with when he arrived. The aboriginals of the area lived in this with respect and ease, but the White settlers were horrified by the lack of their luxuries and cut into the landscape with careless abandonment.

Koalas are now a rare sight, although kangaroos have become something of a pest as we laid out banquets for them to survive on. (Kangaroos had been kept under control by the cycles of drought and plenty that Australia experiences – and they only breed when conditions are right. The western type agriculture practices gave them abundance all  the time, so they bred in greater numbers).

The only thing left to mention is the education that we should give our visitors.

The Australian sun is hot, and we can easily dehydrate, so always be aware and take water wherever you go. The sea here if ocean – and often dangerous, so take care in the sea. If you go travelling by yourself, be aware that this is a large country and has many d from snowy mountains to tropical paradise, from urban jungles to desert sands. If you get lost in the cities it is easy to get help, but if you get lost in the ‘Outback’, the best advice is to stay with your vehicle, have plenty of water when you travel and always always let someone know your travel plans before you go adventuring!

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. Next week I will be posting the first chapter of my new middle school age chapter book. At this point the working title is ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’. This may change in the future. Hope you follow along and enjoy the story. Six chapters have already been written, so next week is the start!panda2

Rain, Excitement and Dates.

rainI never realized when I lived in the city. The outpourings from the sky were a nuisance. I had a life to lead, time to play, and I found it cramped my style. It made me miserable and grumpy.

Rain.

That’s what I’m talking about!

I smile now, when it rains.

I live in the country and try to grow my own food. Admittedly, I have to fight snails, slugs, rats, possums, kangaroos, wallabies and other sundry animals who love the tenderness of fresh growing food – but I persevere.  So … when it rains, I get excited.

The soil greets the water like a long lost friend, and the plants lift their leaves heavenward with gratitude. There is excitement in the air. Farmers around here are delighted – and ask for more. Even when it floods, the ground water is topped up, even though so much water always runs away, and sometimes creates sour soil.

I always consider it amazing that I can diligently water the garden with the collected rain water in my tank, but the plants do so much better with the offerings from the clouds.

I always wondered why – but the truth is, the Earth is full of wondrous events, and rain, as it falls collects all sorts of minerals and bacteria that the soil needs. That is the horror of our neglect – that when ‘acid’ rain falls – it has collected the chemicals so thoughtlessly spread about our globe, often by unthinking communities.Earth

I could turn this post into a diatribe about the awful effects of mankind, but I refuse. We have a beautiful planet on which we live and need to learn appreciation and love for our environment instead.

Let’s make a date – let’s create a feeling of thankfulness, and – like Earth Day – and the turning off of lights to conserve the energy of our home – let’s form a time when we all agree to create a better Earth around our small area of paradise.

I am aware that many places on Earth are ravaged by war, poverty and violence. Places and companies that scarify the beauty, but with one step at a time, one place at a time, one person at a time, we can make a difference. I am also aware that many of us are already trying our best to improve the way our society treats our planet.

Keep going and keep hoping.

Start now – in your own small way, and let’s hope we can grow the movement into a huge benefit for our planet. Let’s make this dream a reality, too.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. just started on a new chapter book for children. I haven’t got a title yet, but it is about the search for a wild Giant Panda by a young girl. I will be uploading a chapter at a time soon, on my second page, for you all to read and comment upon.panda2

P.P.S. As per request :-

Quick Date, Apricot and Sunflower seed slice.

  • 125 g dried apricots, chopped.
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 cup self-raising flour sifted
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dates chopped
  • 170 g butter melted
  • 1 pinch salt

 

Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and line a 18 x 28 cm (7″ x 11″) slice tin.

Soak  chopped apricots in enough boiling water to just cover them. Allow to soak for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl combine sugar, self raising flour, sunflower seeds, chopped dates and salt. Add strained apricots and melted butter. Mix well.

Spread mixture out in a slice tin and smooth the top.

Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until cooked. Sprinkle with a little toasted coconut or icing sugar if desired. Allow to cool before cutting into slices.

 

Relishes, Extension and Delights.

When I first moved to my home, it was a dinky 2 bedroom house, with not enough room to swing a cat – if I’d wanted to – which I didn’t!cat

But… I have so many interests, so many books, that I had to weave my way though it all like a rabbit in a cornfield. It became fairly obvious very quickly that I needed to do something – and so the L-shaped snug wrap around extension was born.

It was wonderful! I could spread all my detritus around with gay abandon.

Well … you know what that means, don’t you? The old saying ‘you always fill the space you have’ has worked admirably in my case. How did I fit all this ‘stuff’ in such a small house before? My books have bred with alarming fecundity, my material goods have wheelincreased threefold ( a spinning wheel and loom added to the floor space) and my extra cupboards are now full of jars over flowing with delights for the palate.

I have made preserves of all kinds, sauces and marmalade, jams and jarschutneys. I have experimented with cordials and different butters (lemon and peanut), flavoured vinegars and pickles, and even pastes and relishes.

When my garden gives me a glut of anything, zucchinis to apples – I work out a preserve for the lean times.

Recently, a friend gave me some mangoes. Now, I know you will all be horrified ( and mangorightly so) – but I don’t like mangoes!

Mango relish is a different story tho’. Here is the recipe I used.

MANGO RELISH: –

900g/2lb mangoes (peeled, de-stoned and sliced)

!/2 tspn salt

225g/8oz peeled,cored and sliced apples

200g/3/4cup raw sugar

1 onion – chopped finelyrelish

1 tspn crushed garlic.

Place the mangoes in a bowl (non-metallic) and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for a while.

Put the vinegar and sugar into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.

Add the mangoes, apples, onion and garlic, and bring to the boil (stir occasionally).

Rn hour, until the mixture is thick.

Spoon into sterilized jars and seal. Allow two weeks to mature before eating.

******

So …

Now my house is full again, my pantry is bulging and my bookcases are groaning. What else is left to do?

My dreams are reality – and at 70 years of age, that is a wonderful thing to admit. Now the only thing that I would like is a man to love. But – be careful what you wish for – not only do I NOT want a married man, or a young stud, or a drunken old man, or a widow who is still grieving his past wife, or a gambler, or a smoker, or an angry personality, or a violent man, or a sick personage that I have to care for, or a sports fanatic, or a  ……………. you get the idea? I’m very hard to please!!!! An impossible dream and fantasy at my age.

With kindness

Maureen

BookCoverImageSLF

 

P.S. I love fantasy and gentleness. Here is the second book in my chapter books about  fairies and elves that I wrote for middle school age children. Interested? email me at maureenlarter@gmail.com

Book 1 is called ‘Broken Wing’ and Book 3 is titled ‘Cave of the Golden Bowerbird’. I wonder if I’ll write a book 4?

 

 

 

Raw Umber, Emerald Green and Dark Blue.

Hi Everyone. hope you had a great Easter break. I know I did. I enjoyed a visit to my daughter’s family in Ballina, N.S.W. Australia. It’s always lovely to see the grandchildren – they are growing up so quickly. This time, I was privileged to have my grand-daughter pick me up and then drive me to the bus when I left. She is still on her ‘L’s and was accompanied by a nervous father!L

The title of my blog post this week consists of artist’s paint colours and gives me the opportunity to introduce Mykel – an artist of rare talent.

Being an author myself, I recognize the difficulties of making a living from our craft. paintArtists, artisans and authors have a lot in common. People tend to consider our work as n This is in fact far from the truth, as not only do we put in a great many hours (in isolation), but we also add in part of our souls.

While I’m talking introductions, let me also mention Marguerite Wellbourne. She is my alter ego. Where Maureen writes children’s books and other types of books, Marguerite writes steamy novels not suitable for kids!

There is also Elizabeth Kempers and her blog ‘ http://www.lizseverest.com ‘ that writes about emotions and healing suggestions, about wholesome living and growing as individuals. You’re welcome to go and have a look.

Over the next few weeks, I will be organizing a ‘shop’ on my next page of this blog. At present it has a free children’s book  (soft cover – not ebook) that I will send if you email me your particulars. Until I have a ‘shopping cart’ available, if there are any items (including the wonderful original painting shown below) you would like to buy or know more about, please don’t hesitate to email me on maureenlarter@gmail.com and I will answer as soon as possible. Payment can be made through Paypal or direct payment to my bank account – the details will be available when I receive an email from you.

As well as my books, there will be ‘Sweetfield’ and ‘Mykelcee Designs‘ products for sale. Mykel’s original paintings will gradually come on line, and an online exhibition is on the way, too.

Please let me know what you think when I finally get something together.

Here is the first of Mykel’s original paintings.

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‘Jellybrain’ $700

ARTIST – Mykel

Sometimes it is amazing to see other peoples art and this Australian artist is one very talented man! His art can go from realistic to abstract, colourful to optical and hypnotizing.

Just imagine this painting in your lounge room – colours swirling and fracturing around you. Or perhaps in an optometrist’s office, exciting the eye and disturbing the brain.

All the art work of this artist is thought provoking and vibrant.

I love it – and there will be more examples to show soon.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the art work now and in the future – please contact me at maureenlarter@gmail.com

front

‘Tarnished Gems’ by Marguerite Wellbourne is a story of 6 women and their interaction after an accident. (Some sex scenes) $20 plus postage.

Maureen Larter writes children’s books – as well as picture books for children. This is a children’s chapter book in a series of three, about fairies and elves: http://amzn.com/B00BLVP0KM

My fan page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eBooksByMaureenLarter
My author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ISCNZ4U