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

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.

 

 

Recipes, Electricity and Dinner.

As an elderly (No – not possible – where has the time gone?  I am still 30 inside my head), single lady living on a pension, I strive to live comfortably on a budget.

To do this, I put necessary bill money away automatically.  These are things such as elecelectricity, phone, my stock feed and Internet bills. A little every fortnight is not missed, but a large bill coming in on the three month cycle can be a huge hit in one go, so this is a preferable scheme.

I try, also, to cook my meals from fresh produce – either out of the garden, or the specials of the fortnight. (I only shop once a fortnight).

I garden, I preserve my produce, I knit to make my own garments for Winter, I teach piano and violin for a little pocket money and I write children’s books and novels, to keep my brain active. It makes for a busy life – but I am never bored. It means I have many interests and projects to do.

In this blog, I like the idea of sharing my knowledge of all the above activities. So I often have gardening tips, recipes for all sorts of goodies and books to sell.

One of my favourite dinner recipes, easy, quick and tasty, is:-best-ever-spaghetti-sauce_large

Spaghetti with yummy sauce.

1 tin diced tomatoes, one onion (chopped), 1 zucchini (with skin, chopped) 1 rasher of bacon (chopped) 3 mushrooms (chopped) and a handful of spaghetti (or so).

Boil the spaghetti in water in a saucepan till soft but not sticky. While spaghetti is cooking, heat a small dribble of oil in a frying pan. Add bacon and onion. Fry gently till just coloured. Add the zucchini and mushrooms. Stir through the bacon/onion mixture. Finally add the diced tomatoes. By the time this is all heated through, the spaghetti should be ready. Drain it and place on plate, top with the sauce. If desired sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

If you are vegetarian, leave out the bacon. You can add other vegetables if you desire, but make sure they are chopped or grated so they mix in and cook at the same rate as the rest. This usually makes enough for two or three meals – so adjust the spaghetti accordingly. The extras can be frozen for later meals.

Keeping good food on the table and looking after the environment around me is a wonderful way to keep young, healthy and active in the community. I have traveled to China and Cambodiapaddy – and the people are lovely. If I can impart some of my knowledge I will be a happy human.

While I think of it – are there any recipes, projects or gardening tips you would like to know?

Do you have any questions?

Please leave a comment and I will try to add in any answers I am able to give.

With kindness

Maureen

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Some of my garden guides – for a temperate area – cost is $10 for each booklet – or $30 for the lot (plus postage). Contact me on maureenlarter@gmail.com if you are interested.

Rest, Effects and Decorating.

Finally we all get a rest from the heat of Summer. This year has been dry and hot, and as I age I’ve felt it more than previous years. With Autumn came the rain, and a better temperature. My garden thanked the Nature Gods and the plants that had almost expired, re- hydrated and lifted their leaves to the heavens.

plantI find the effects of rain amazing. I water diligently in the heat, and the plants wilt – along comes the water from the sky, and they rejoice. The grass becomes green overnight and the flowers perk up and buds and new leaves form.

Now I whinge about the wet! And I worry I haven’t got my seeds in soon enough, and that I’ll need to mow more now the grass is finally growing.

Aren’t humans contrary!

I can’t believe that I went from sitting at the edge of a stream, fanning myself and wondering whether I could breathe, to looking at the possibility of donning a cardigan or hoodie! All in the space of twenty four hours.

While I think of it – I haven’t given out a recipe for a while – here is a delicious cake/bread to be served warm or cold, with butter or not – great picnic fare.

Barabrith:-

250g mixed dried fruit of choice

125g raw sugarbread

250g SR flour

1 egg

½ tspn mixed spice

1 cup cold tea.

  1. Soak fruit overnight in the tea with the added sugar.
  2. Next morning, preheat 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 45 mins.
  6. Serve cool, sliced with butter. Serves 8-12.

Enjoy! It can be decorated with a sprinkle of icing sugar, or a lemon icing goes well too. I prefer to eat it warm – nothing except a pat of butter – YUM!!

These days, I love to cook – it is better to know what I put in the food I eat. Maybe, the escalating of weight and disease can be attributed to the preservatives and other things that the manufacturers put in our food to give it a long shelf life. Of course, that is only my opinion, and there are many influences in our 21st Century lifestyle that contribute to our health. One day, maybe, the dream of a long and healthy life will be the norm. (As an aside, it probably should be pointed out, that a check on our population would not go astray either!)

With Kindness

Maureen

Here is a little children’s picture book celebrating the changes in life, and the beauty around us. ($20 Australian plus postage)Candy Cow Front

If you would like a copy to read to the children in your life, be they sons, daughters, grandchildren or nephews and nieces, please feel free to contact me on maureenlarter@gmail.com

 

Raspberries, Equipment and Diets.

To follow on from my post last week, let’s talk more about diets.

We are bombarded by advice all the time. Diets have become a multi million dollar business.

But just what do you follow? Are you hoping to have a body of an eighteen year old, even though you may have had 3 children and have reached the ‘over the hill’ age?

I think it is about time to be realistic – blow raspberries (yes – I know – the real things are good for you) at all those yoyo dieters and gym junkies.raspberry

Now – I have nothing against exercise and good, healthy eating. But there is no need to go overboard.

Yes – the gym has a certain appeal, with it’s equipment and weights and bars – and healthy eating has it’s place, too. But …

It’s your friends birthday, and there is a birthday cake covered in luscious chocolate icing and accompanied by whipped cream as well as a very insistent friend smiling at you and begging you to have some. Now that’s exactly my point – have some! You don’t have to demolish the cake all by yourself in one sitting!

The secret, as far as I can see is my mother’s generation’s old adage – everything in moderation.

My mother even went so far as recommending that a dinner plate should have a little bit of as many colours as you can find. White from potatoes or turnip or rice, green from lettuce or broccoli or beans or peas, red from beetroot or tomatoes or capsicum, yellow from pumpkin or corn. You get the idea.

We always had a small dessert after dinner as well. Sugar was never overused in our house, and was not considered a health hazard.

The things we DID NOT have was soft drinks and junk food. Everything was cooked fresh.junkb

Weight was never a problem – and as you grew older, it was understood that your body changed and exercise was not so robust. I have been doing some research into the phenomenon of the ‘middle age and older’ body. It used to be called ‘middle-age spread‘. Women, in particular seem to take on a bigger boob, rotund tummy and larger backside shape.

Why?

It can’t be that we are all bad eaters and not exercisers. Well – I’ve found out that as we age our metabolism slows down – but we can do something about it! Matt Stone has done a lot of research into this particular problem – see his website –  http://180degreehealth.com – very interesting reading. Diet suddenly becomes a dirty word!

Let’s get back to a sensible outlook on our food and daily lives. Stressing constantly about what you eat and what you weigh is counterproductive. Consider that you can eat less, if you are overweight, but don’t starve yourself – it only makes the body confused and can be dangerous in the long run. And remember – getting tangled up in the diet mentality means you are only making someone else rich on your weaknesses and addictions.

That’s all from me about that now – I’ll get off my soapbox. Enjoy your life – let minor irritations go and learn from your mistakes but don’t let them rule your life. After all, to be blunt and scary – in a hundred years time no-one will even remember that you were worried and stressed.

In my next post, I’ll talk about gardens – our Earth seems to have been put on a diet too, and the soil is impoverished and needs food. What are your thoughts?

Till next week.

With Kindness

Maureen

Even dogs can experience stress – and it is no good for them, as well as for you and/or your Dotdogfrontchildren. Here is a story about Dorothy Dog who gets lost. The paperback to read to your children is available from me for AU$20 plus postage. Take a look at my facebook page and message me if you are interested. www.facebook.com/AlphabetanimalsofAustralia

Raving, Electricity and Dehydration

I’ve done it! I’ve found a way to get rid of all those humungous zucchinis you miss on the vine! I cut them up in thin slices and dehydrate them!

So? What’s so good about that, you ask?

Well, they can then be preserved – and I can add them to stews, casseroles and other slow-cooked meals in Winter. But, best of all – if I dehydrate them until they are crisp then they can be thrown into a blender with other dehydrated vegetables and blended into a powder! My very own vegetable stock powder to add to just about anything.

I love the dehydration process. I have dried all sorts of things, from making my own jerky that comes from marinated beef strips to Apples dowsed in lemon juice for a healthy snack.dehy

I was given a dehydrator as well as buying my own, so I when I use them, it is a use of electricity that I don’t mind. I will have to make my own dehydrator as well, so that I can make use of our powerful sun here in Australia.  A win/win situation – free power from the sun, and an easier way to preserve the harvest. Can any body tell me an easy way to make one?  I do have to tell you – I am hopeless with tools! Now – which way do you hold a hammer???

Coming back to the zucchini problem (and if you grow your own you know just how many zucchinis you will have!) – I add dried pumpkin, carrot, celery, onion, garlic and a little salt to my vegetable powder, and it can be added as a seasoning as well.zuccs

Years ago, I could buy mushroom stock and bacon stock – both of which are no longer available in my country town. Those are the next powders I am going to try. Onion salt, garlic salt and celery salt are other combinations I can try

Sorry to rave on about dehydrating this time, but I got all excited when I thought about the beauty of being able to bring down a huge vegetable into a small jar! I know … I’m strange! The old saying – small things please … well you can finish that saying for yourself!

Last week, I was given a large box of very soft tomatoes – too far gone to eat fresh. I cooked them down to make a passata/paste from them and ended up with 3 small jars of intense flavour. So much you can do without having to spend loads of money. I know my electricity bill will be higher, but with a solar dehydrator, that also will be solved.

All for now. Keep dreaming and acting on your dreams.

With Kindness.

Maureen

Another book that you might like to read to your children ( email me on maureenlarter@gmail.com if you want a ‘real’ book rather than an ebook.)

Arabella Front Page

Written by me and illustrated by Annie Gabriel, this book tells the story of the seasons and the changes in the forest.Anniemeprofile

Remedies, Eight and Dolls

meprofileSummer in Australia – beach days and hot sun. Also sunburn, mosquito bites and dehydration.

The first can be avoided by wearing long sleeves and smearing ourselves with sunscreen – there’s plenty on the market, but be warned – not all of them are good for your skin nor are overly efficient. However – you’ve done the wrong thing and come home with red painful skin. What do you do?

The first thing is to cool down. Stand under a cool shower to take the burn out of it. Is there anything you can put on your skin to help healing, and hopefully to stop blistering?

Growing Aloe Vera in your garden is a really good idea.Aloe-Vera If you are burnt, either by the sun or any other type accident, you can cut a leaf and pop it into the fridge. When it is cold, squeeze out the gel and apply it to your skin. aloe_vera_gelCooling and healing in one easy application. A lovely remedy right at your back door! It will also soothe the sting of a wasp or bee as well as being a great face mask to smooth and feed your skin. Wow! Several remedies in one plant!

One of the things that I do, (if you’ve read any of my other posts you will already know this), is write children’s books. When I was a youngster, I only had a few toys, a couple of dolls, a blackboard to draw on, and lots of books. I always preferred my books. That’s why I write now.

I try to help parents who read these books to their children, by giving them some insights to help and guide their little ones.

For example – ‘Angus Ant and the Acrobats’ talks about friendships and exercise, as well as letting your child know that they are special in their own way.

AAAfront

Dorothy Dog and the Dangerous Dragonfly‘ explains the dangers of going out without approval and that home is often the best place to be.

Dotdogfront

 

There are eight more available in the series, with more to come.

 

 

A friend of mine in the USA has a lovely picture book that she has recently launched. I’ll let her tell you about it in her own words:-

Do you have a picky eater in your family? Are mealtimes a battle?

I can completely relate. My daughter was super picky as a child and when she was about to be school-aged, I wanted to figure out something she could take for lunch. She liked peanut butter, she liked jelly, and she liked bread so I thought, naively, that she would like a PB&J sandwich. Oh my goodness, did we have a standoff?

Sound familiar?

Don’t despair. Determine which battles you want to pick and be patient. Here’s my story…

My newest picture book, Franky the Finicky Flamingo, was inspired not only by my child’s pickiness but my own. I know that’s not a very “grown up” kind of thing to admit but alas I am picky. Most of it is due to texture issues but some of it is actually due to unnamedtaste. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was a much pickier eater when I was a child. So, I’ve outgrown a lot of it. And if you have a picky eater, I believe they’re going to grow out it as well.

When I was in Elementary School, I didn’t eat the school lunches so my Mom packed me exactly what I wanted every single day and that was a cold hot dog. Not the healthiest food, but I was happy. Somewhere around Middle School, I started eating school lunches. I know she was relieved.

I can honestly say that vegetables are just not my thing. I found out as an adult that I actually prefer my vegetables raw. Part of that is definitely texture, I don’t like mushy vegetables but the other more surprising thing is taste. I find vegetables in the raw are much tastier than after they have been cooked. I have even been told they are better for you. So, who’s picky now? Am I right? LOL

The other types of food that I really don’t like are citrus fruits. They have those strings in them. I choke on them. Still to this day! And I don’t like orange juice with pulp in it. Other fruits are all good though. What about you—do you have any foods you don’t like?

One time I heard a story about a set of twins that were separated at birth. One Mom said their child was a difficult eater because they wouldn’t eat anything unless she put ketchup on it. The other Mom said her child was the easiest child to feed because she would eat anything as long as she put ketchup on it. Maybe it’s all in perspective.

I just want to challenge you today as you think about your child’s picky eating–what battle do you want to pick?

And just maybe Franky the Finicky Flamingo might help encourage your picky eater to try new foods. You can check it out today at myBook.to/FrankyFranky Promo 1 with reviews

New Author Pic side arm up 6.17

Author – Wanda Luthman