Repeat, Experience and Decision

Well, I’ve done it! I have booked my ticket to Cambodia.

I was there 2 years ago – teaching English in a small village called Anlong Samnar. Then I would travel up to Siem Reap once a week in order to teach a handful of high school students from the village that were now in the ‘big city’. I was taken to the famous Angkor Wat, had a picnic in the huts beside the moats and drank pure sugar cane juice in the shadow of the temples – fantastic.Angkor

I really enjoyed the experience, and promised the students I would come back in two years and catch up with the friendships I had made. I am so looking forward to seeing them all again.

So the decision has been made – I am going to repeat the experience.

I have to admit, the travel leg is still daunting – doing it by myself, as age creeps up on me, is no small feat. I have to take my courage in hand and just DO IT!

When I went last time, I was having trouble with my eyesight, and the ticket included the request for special treatment. The airlines that I traveled on were fabulous, and I was looked after with kid gloves. Now my sight has continued to deteriorate, so I will be asking for help once more. This time, I know I will be looked after.

So … if you have a problem with a disability, or a fear that feels insurmountable, push through those fears and go and have an adventure – it is well worth it.

Life is short – the number of people I have loved, or known, or been in awe of, have left us. Death has no favourites – it can happen at any time. Be brave – live your life while you have the ability to really enjoy it.

I haven’t wasted the two years between. I have written and had published one adult drama novel (my pen-name is Marguerite Wellbourne OrdealbyIa) as well as 5 children’s picture books Bookcover2(‘Frank Frog Feels Foolish’, ‘Giddy the Galah’, Iggy Ibis is Important’, ‘John Jabiru and the Jolly Jam tin’ and ‘Kathy Koala’s Kerfuffle’ – all in the ‘Alphabet Animals of Australia’ series) – with two more already in the pipeline. A middle school age-group chapter book ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ has also been published. img312(See my second page  – readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ) for the serialization of this book – now up to chapter 11. Still more are being written.

I always try and give my readers a little something to try – either a recipe or a craft idea. Today, because of the awful drought the farmers are experiencing in the outback of N.S.W. Australia – here’s a little something you can knit and send to me to help the lambs whose mother’s have died. Lamb jumpera

If you can knit a few – let me know, and I can pm you my address so you can send them to me.

With Kindness

Maureen

Don’t forget to check out my second page for free reading ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ) and my third page ( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs  ) for original art work to buy. If you can’t afford the originals, Mykey is offering a limited edition run of framed prints at $35AU (plus postage).

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Sparkle 40cmx40cm

Refuse, Effervescence and Doodles

Writing about something every fortnight and not becoming boring and downright horrible is not easy. At this point in time, my blog posts always have R.E.D. type titles, and the challenge is to tie the three words into a believable context.

So here we go!

Refuse to understand? Or is it the refuse that we throw away? It is a very hot topic at the moment – Waste! The detritus of human life. The rubbishing of our planet.garbage

And so it should be.

We can refuse to acknowledge the damage we are doing to this beautiful planet, living in the delusion of effervescent champagne and luxury, doodling around with our noses in the air, blaming the unknown hoards – the poor and uneducated – for the state of our environment.

Or we can do something about it.

Start to live our lives without the pull of ‘things’. Stop being brainwashed by the big corporations to buy, buy, buy. Material goods and chattels mean nothing, and can be taken away from us in a flash. And  are ultimately left behind when we die and then someone else has to clean up the mess.

Live your life close to the Earth. Grow what food you need, make your own clothes, recycle what you can. Compost your scraps. Give away your used and no longer useful items. Stop being scared of your life, and search for happiness in other ways.

Even if you live without a garden, or a place that’s safe, you can think. That is the greatest of Human’s gifts. Consider what you can do. A small container for compost, one less dress to wear that can go to a more unfortunate person, a pot of earth on a balcony or stairway with herbs growing to share with your neighbours  to make your food more palatable, or a hug and a smile and a handmade present for those around you instead of a plastic gift that breaks the first time it is used, and to top it off, was wrapped in plastic that adds to the rubbish pile as well.

I love gardening – the satisfaction of growing something to eat, knowing it is fresh and tasty is a wonderful feeling. Of course, it isn’t as magical as Jack and his beanstalk. you can’t just throw in a handful of seeds and next day find a beautiful plant. It takes time and effort. Bugs enjoy a good feed, too. The weeds enjoy well dug and fertilized soil – so there is plenty of competition.

Start by growing something you like to ear, that’s hardy and suits your area. No point in growing zucchini if you hate them! zuc

There are plenty of books and hints everywhere if you really want to learn. Vegetables like a decent soil, and you need to boost the soil to give them the nutrition they need ( if you grow a spindly underfed broccoli, then you also don’t get the nutrients from the plant either).

Making compost, using weeds in water to create a liquid fertilizer and making sure they have enough water without drowning them will see a healthy and flourishing garden.

Would you like more help with gardening ideas?

With kindness

Maureen.

P.S. the next chapter of ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’ is up on my next page. (readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ). Also the paperback is now launched and available from me for $15AU. Free postage within Australia.panda2

 

 

 

Rocks, Echinacea and Disease.

Over the last weeks, we have all been on the edge of our seats as the boys in Thailand were trapped, then rescued from their prison beneath the earth.  It must have been terrifying for them all, in the dark and not knowing when or if they would ever be rescued. The wonder of a cave expedition would have lost its shine very quickly.cave

But, you know, that is what life is like. We all seem to be fumbling around in the dark, hoping we won’t hit the rocks and obstacles of depression, tragedy, violence, stress and disease. We all hope for the light at the end of the tunnel, looking for love and meaning in our lives, for happiness and success.

Remember though, never give up hope. Life can be wonderful, whatever the circumstances. Fight on – like those young boys, keeping each other lifted up with warmth and kindness. Be the coach, with your kindness to others, and your never ending gift of hope.

I commend all the rescuers and their dedication – it is wonderful what can be achieved with the will to help, and the strength of working together towards a common goal. It gives me hope for the human race when I see the energy of our psyches working together with love to better the world, and it certainly bettered the life of a team of boys and all their loved ones.

My condolences go out to the Navy Seal’s family, who lost a brave soul, and to the diver daisiesfrom Australia who put the boys lives first before his own family’s tragedy.

 

With that being said, my blogs are always based on the three words of my title – R.E.D.  today the Echinacea word has been left as a symbol of the effect of love over the cold of the caves that the boys experienced.

Let’s hope their lives will be lived out with happiness and gratitude for the beauties this earth gives every day.

With kindness

Maureen

P.S.Be sure to check out my second and third pages – free books and art to buy. Keep smiling – life can always get better.

 

Return, Ebooks and Determination

One thing you can say about me – I have determination!

Every time life knocks me over, I get up and, like the old song, dust myself off and start all over again.

Although you might not realize it, I’ve been on this planet for 7 decades, and I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve been married (twice), had two children, (lost 4 to miscarriage), been abused, been praised and been loved. But, whatever comes my way, I get up and face life again.

I have returned to the one thing I have loved, and wanted, all my life – the country.

I have 12 acres of beauty, on which I grow as much food as I can, keep chickens for eggs,  and pick the vegetables and fruit as fresh as possible.

I also have bees for honey and pollination and to save the wonderful creatures from the foibles of mankind and his destruction, with poisons, of their pristine flowers. A byproduct of honey ain’t half bad either.meandbees

I teach music and do the occasional market with my fresh produce.

Since I’ve been by myself, I’ve turned my hand to writing. Another love. (see viewAuthor.at/MaureenLarter as well as viewAuthor.at/MargueriteWellbourne )

I love to write for children because I believe every child has the right to the opportunity to learn, and books, I hope, prod their natural curiosity. One thing that annoys me though. Children’s books should be read while the child is on a parent’s lap. E-books just don’t have the same ambiance. And to further complicate the problem, picture books just don’t sit correctly on an e-reader.

Now, I self-publish – at my home. My books are all in print form as paperbacks. Something you can hold, love and smell. Just pop my name into the URL bar to have an idea of what I do. If you want one, don’t hesitate to message me.

Now that I’ve told you a bit about me – here’s something for you.

Did you know you can use mashed potato in a cake?

Yummy Bun:-

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup mashed potatoes, 1 cup SR flour, 1 cup wholemeal flour, ¾ cup sugar, 1 tspn salt, 1 ½ cup mixed dried fruit/sultanas, 1 cup milk.

Icing:

1 cup icing sugar, 1 tspn vanilla essence, 1-2 tblspns lemon juice and water, 2-3 drops food colouring (optional)

  1. Pre-bunheat oven to 180-200°C.
  2. Place mashed potatoes in a bowl and add sugar. Mix well.
  3. Add fruit.
  4. Sift flours and salt together.
  5. Add to potato mixture alternately with milk.
  6. Place in two greased loaf tins or one large cake tin.
  7. Bake for approx 45 mins.
  8. Remove from pan/s and allow to cool slightly. Ice while still just warm.
  9. Icing: mix all ingredients until it is a stiff consistency.
  10. Cut into slices to serve. Maybe buttered if you desire. Serves 6-8.

I hope you enjoy this tasty treat.

More from me in a fortnight.  Remember to check out my next two pages – the next chapter of my book is free to read on page two, and some art for sale on page three.

With kindness

Maureen

Roasts, Eucalyptus and Depression.

I remember when I was young – (don’t you just hate those type of comments, you know, like:– ‘In the olden days’ etc) – the Sunday roast was the highlight meal of the week. The rest of the week was meat and 3 veg – every night!

Haven’t we come a long way in our culinary tastes. Even this recipe includes sweet potato, which wasn’t in my childhood.

Roast potato, pumpkin and sweet potato mix.

roast

2 kg potatoes, peeled, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1.2 kg sweet potato, peeled and cut into large pieces, 1/4 cup olive oil, sea salt flakes, 1.2 kg piece of pumpkin, seeds removed and cut into large pieces.

  1. Preheat oven to 200°c.
  2. Peel potatoes and place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil over high heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and cool.
  3. Use a fork to rough up the surface. Place potatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
  4. Remove seeds from pumpkin. Cut into large pieces. Peel sweet potato and cut into large pieces. Place pumpkin and sweet potato in a roasting pan. Add olive oil and toss until well coated. Roast for 1 hour or until golden and cooked through. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes to serve.

When Europe was still under the effects of WW2, and depression and rations were everywhere, our family saved hard and paid our passage to Australia. It was a young and vibrant country, and everyone agreed.  The influx of migrants began. We saw the arrival of Italians, Lebanese and even Germans. There were a lot of prejudice in those days, and worse still when the Asian ‘invasion’ occurred.

Now we live, mostly, in harmony. And the benefits certainly outweighed the disadvantages.

Before this time, I’d never heard of eggplant, broccoli, sweet potato or zucchini. Now these are common delicacies.

zucNowadays, I grow all of these vegetables, and more. The zucchini is abundant, and when in season, produces far more than we could possibly eat. So… what to do with all of them (before they grow to torpedo size!) ?

Here is a recipe that can be eaten hot or cold (ideal for school lunches, too!) and adds some extra vegetables in as well.

Zucchini slice:-

½ cup brown rice, 1 carrot, grated, 1 or 2 zucchini, grated, 1 small can corn kernels, drain, wash, ¼ cup chopped chives, 1 cup cheese, grated, extra grated cheese for top, ¾ cup SR flour, 4 eggs, ½ cup milk, ¼ cup sweet chilli sauce (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180-200°. Grease and prepare a slice tin
  2. Cook rice to instructions on packet. Allow to cool.
  3. Combine rice, carrot, zucchini, corn, chives, cheese and flour in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs, chilli sauce and milk together in a jug.
  5. Add to rice mixture and mix well.
  6. Spread in tin, sprinkle with extra cheese, then bake for approx 35 mins, until cooked through and lightly browned.
  7. Stand in pan for 20 mins then slice and serve hot or cold. Serves 8.

And while we are at it – here’s a yummy pickles too.:-

Sweet Zucchini/Cucumber Pickles:zuccs

Slice 5 kg zucchini and/or cucumber and 5 kg onions thinly. Soak overnight in a 3/4 cup salt in water.

Next morning drain and rinse. Place in a vinegar mixture of 5 cups white vinegar and 5 cups white sugar. Add 1 teaspn of mustard and 1 teaspn of turmeric. Bring to the boil and boil for about 10-15 minutes. I then added thickener.(about quarter cup and tblspn cornflour). Place in hot, sterilized jars and seal.

I actually halved the zucchini, onions and cucumber, but kept the rest as it was, which is why I needed to put some thickener in it. You could possibly add a little less sugar, too. If you halve everything that may not be needed.

And just in case you’d rather sit out under the Eucalyptus trees or on the verandah, with wine glass filled with your favourite tipple, you can even make Zucchini chips, doused in a tasty spice powder mixture.

Zucchini crisps:-

Slice zucchinis thinly then deep fry in an oil of your choice. Scoop out and place on absorbent paper to remove excess oil, then tumble in a bag of spice mix. The spice mix can include garlic powder, grated Parmesan cheese, chili powder and/or any other combination that suits your taste. You can always experiment!

With kindness

Maureen

P.S. – lots of recipes today – nice to jumble up my blog sometimes.

Also – chapter 7 of ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ is up on my second page:-panda2(readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book)

and another example of Mykey’s Art (already sold) on third page:- (readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs)

Squidhands(dylan)web

 

Recreation, Elephants and Drama.

It’s nearly time for me to bite the travel bullet and book my ticket to return to Cambodia. It doesn’t seem possible that it is nearly two years ago that I spent time there, teaching English. I am so looking forward to seeing all the students again.paddy

This time, however, I will be only going as recreation – a short holiday to catch up with everyone. The village where I stayed, was about 80 kms from Siem Reep and gave me an insight to the real lives of the people. After the drama of the previous despots and their regimes, the country is slowly poking it’s nose into the 21st century with the young people once more wanting education, and aiming for great things. This had previously been squashed and I could still feel the fear rippling below the surface with the older generation.

The fantastic Angkor Wat was amazing, and any photos you see, just don’t do it justice. I felt an awesomeness being able to touch history instead of only looking at museum specimens.Angkor

Several other moments were not so nice – seeing elephants used in the tourist trade was offset by seeing marauding monkeys taking their revenge on tourist handbags – abject poverty and people and children working in the hot sun, or scavenging for food contrasting with the opulent hotels for the tourist dollar – rubbish littering the streets and the smell of fresh sewerage compared to the sweetness of the interior of the incense in a village pagoda, were all a little off-putting.

But having said all that, I am really looking forward to returning to a wonderful people.

So what can I say about the food? My first meal of frog and morning glory vine will always make a lasting impression – and it certainly upset the bacteria in my stomach – but, other than the ubiquitous rice, the food was wonderful. The cooks at the Opportunity Cambodia ( https://opportunitycambodia.org.au ) sites went out of their way to make me comfortable and well fed.

I’d love to put a recipe up, but the cookbooks available bring you only the best – and I ate the village, homely food – and didn’t ask the cooks for the recipe!! In fact – even if I had –  they couldn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak Khmer!mg

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. just a quick reminder – chapter 6 (of ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ ) is now ready to read on my next page. ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ).

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Also, page three ( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs ) has Mykel’s original artwork for sale.Sparkle 40cmx40cm

Rosemary, Elderberries and Desserts.

Before I start – let me tell you that chapter 5 of my children’s chapter book is on my second page ready to read for FREE. There is also a picture book FREE if you request it through my email address – maureenlarter@gmail.com. The link for my second page is readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book

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There is also a third page. readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs

The art work for sale is original – not prints. The artist is an Australian living in N.S.W. Anyone in Australia will get free postage if you buy.

***

Now that I’ve done my ‘selling’ – I would like to tell you about the beauty of herbs and berries.

I don’t particularly like herbs in cooking – I’m of the old-fashioned school of eating and enjoying vegetables and fruit just as they are – why disguise the taste I wonder?

However, herbs aren’t just to cook with. They are fabulous for making all sorts of things. One of my favourite ‘old-fashioned’ ideas, is drying lavender and making a bag to put it in. That then goes into my wardrobe and drawers to give my clothes a subtle perfume.

Drying basil, rosemary, mint and sage make for great additions to your cooking if you desire, and it also keeps the herbs for later use. Dried mint scattered into cupboards help to minimize pests,too. Of course, fresh herbs are even better.herbs

These days, there seems to be a plethora of ‘diets’ – always stated to be ‘for your own good’. There’s the gluten-free bandwagon, no sugar chariot and low carbs, high fat bus! Everyone thinks they have the answer.

Personally, I think the best way to go is to keep away from processed food – even the so-called ‘healthy’ ones. Eat in moderation and eat fresh produce. A tasty dish with lots of different colours will give your eye pleasure, your taste-buds a party and your body plenty of nutrients.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but fruit should be used sparingly – it has secret sugar! Berries of all kinds are tasty and full of bright colour. Strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, elderberries, blackberries, blueberries, and loganberries are brilliant for mixing with plain yoghurt, flavouring ice-cream (see last week’s recipe for a delicious home-made recipe.) Even a compote of mixed berries served with custard makes for a lovely dessert.

Did I mention smoothies, mixed into home-made muesli, any number of cakes, as a sauce for pancakes, and amazing popsicles for summer?popIn other words, they are AWESOME and so versatile.

Mixed berry frozen compote.

Any and all berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries – etc) you can find! (#freezerstash)berries

Wash berries and pat dry. (De-leaf the strawberries) Mix all together and freeze. An hour before you wish to eat, thaw in a small bowl. The freezing will soften the fruit and a small teaspoon of caster sugar sprinkled over (optional) as they thaw, will bring out the juice. Warm if desired.

Growing your own is not difficult either. Be aware, however, that they can take over, so I often recommend planting into large pots. That way you have more control, and can even grow these in a small garden or on a balcony of a flat/apartment. There is always an answer, if you wish to follow the dream.

With Kindness.

Maureen

P.S. The last blog post has a recipe for condensed milk and ice-cream – I updated this after making my own. https://readeatdream.net/2018/05/27/recycling-edam-and-dollars