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

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

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

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‘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

Radishes, Eastern and Dahlias.

Did you know that after the atomic bomb hit Japan and there was so much destruction, the first things that were grown – on a hospital window sill – were radishes?

This gave hope to the devastated people.

War is so terrible – innocent people get hurt with horrific wounds, let alone be killed. I saw the effects in Cambodia, and yet – still – somewhere on the planet, there is war. It doesn’t seem to matter where you are, peace is hard to maintain. It makes me sad.

I live on the Eastern side of Australia, and even here, there are crimes, anger and violence within homes and communities. Seems to be that humans can’t learn – and the urge to violence is in all of us. If we can’t get along with our family or friends or near community, how an earth can there ever be peace on Earth?

What with guns used indiscriminately and cruelties against women, the world, for all its beauty, is an uncomfortable place to be at times. I have just about finished a novel about domestic violence – so much in the news at present – and it wasn’t an easy book to write. It is called ‘Ordeal by Innocence’ and should be available soon. Book cover by Francessca Wingfield. OrdealbyIa

OK – enough! Lets\’s talk about other things.

Here is a lovely salad recipe, using radishes, from Coles free magazine – February 2017 Page 4 – feel free to go and look at all the free magazines at you leisure. img257

( http://www.coles.com.au/magazine#view=catalogue2&saleId=15442&page=4 )

The other thing that happened this week was our local country town show. Country shows in Australia are the event to show off our produce, stock and horses. imagesaSo there are judging for cows and calves/ sheep and goats. Even poultry. In the pavilion, we have knitting, crotchet, quilling, quilting and dressmaking. We also have flowers such as Dahlias,downloaddroses, lilies and plants of all kinds. Everything is judged and gets a ribbon.

The schools also enter displays.

clownSide-show alley is alive and well, and stalls sell all sorts of things.

 

Tractors, mowers and machinery are all on show. We have a rodeo one nightdownloadf, and a demolition derby on the next.downloadb

 

 

 

 

Great fun for all ages and on top of that gives the next year’s entries something to dream about.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. – Here is a lovely picture book for children about a concert or show. “Ben Brolga’s BenfrontBand’ is about Australian birds that dance, and they form a band, giving a concert to all there friends in the bush. It is FREE if you email me for it. My email is maureenlarter@gmail.com

This is also shown on my next page.

 

 

Raw, Earth and Dips.

One of my passions in life is trying to leave my little patch of paradise in a better condition than when I moved to it. I have nearly 15 acres in the mid north coast of New South Wales in Australia.

My home

What a view as I sit at my computer!

The soil in most of Australia is of a poorish quality – so the first thing is to try and improve it. I have decided NOT to add anything man-made as far as fertilizers go. Sure – everything in Nature can be tracked back to chemicals, but I prefer to use the natural manures to help the soil.

Did you know, that fertilizers were more or less ‘invented’ after the World Wars. bombCommercial manufacturers of bombs noticed that the grass and plant life around bomb-craters were green and healthily growing. When the wars ended, they didn’t know what to do with all the left over chemicals in their factories, so they turned to making fertilizer with them. The use of these fertilizers have become so widespread that it has now become known as ‘conventional’ farming  and ‘organic’ farming that had been used for millennia suddenly became ‘alternative’ and  strange.

Now there is a swing back to the sustainable way of farming. Raw cow manure

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and poultry manure

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREare easily obtained – and should be composted down to create a wonderful bio-media to add to the soil. If you put the raw manure on your plants, it will burn – always compost down first.

I suggest that you make three compost bins – one just started, one working and the other ready to dip into to add to the garden.  There are various ways to easily construct a compost heap, and if you google it you will find an amazing amount of information.bin

I like the idea of buying rubbish bins – digging a hole in your garden, taking the bottom out of the bin, and burying it in the hole up to the brim. The scraps and manure etc go in the bin, the lid goes on to protect  the contents, the worms are able to get in from the bottom, and when it has all worked its magic, pull out the bin, and the compost is exactly where you want it!

Now on a small vegetable house garden that is not so difficult – but what about on a broader scale – paddock size?? It is easy to spread man-made fertilizer there, so how do you use ‘organic’ methods on a large scale? That has been the biggest problem for our modern day farmers with huge tracts of land to improve, machinery to use that makes it quicker and conversely, not enough time to create the amount of food that our growing population needs.

That last paragraph needs an article all to itself – in fact all environmental improvements for our Earth need lots of people to talk about them. We are lucky that the human race is inventive and resilient. Hope and dreams are necessary for us all.

With Kindness

Maureen

Soil cover front cI have written a little booklet about improving the soil. If you are interested, they are AU$8 plus postage. Contact me at maureenlarter@gmail.com and let me know where to send it.