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.

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

 

 

Reindeer,Elves and Decorations

XmasAAAAh! ‘Tis the Silly Season!

Now, I have to admit that I’m not religious in any ‘orthodox’ religions. In Australia we tend to think of kangaroos instead of reindeer, and heat and flies instead of elves and snow, but there is still the decorations all over the place.

How incongruous to be giving cards with snow and snowmen on their covers, how silly it is to feed a family a full roast dinner with a flaming fruit pudding with all the trimmings in the middle of our summer – pity the poor cooks in the kitchen! It isn’t unusual for the day’s temperature to soar into the forties, and there has been the odd time that firemen guests have been taken away from the festivities by the siren call of a fire in the bush.

I really don’t like what the celebration of Christmas has become – commercial codswallop to make you spend money, and ever more expensive gifts that the children and young people of today lust after.

Where are the joys of handmade gifts, made with love throughout the year? Why does Australia continue to glorify the birth of Jesus, when it is fairly widely known that He was born in the Arabian Summer?

I found it even more amazing, when visiting the Buddhist country of Cambodia, to see Christmas paraphernalia every where. When asked why, the general population didn’t know the significance, and just thought it was all ‘very pretty’.

Still … I don’t want to be considered a sad sack, so here is a menu for a summer feast – salads and ice-cream to enjoy.

Watermelon salad:

lettuce (any type – your choice), Watermelon, cucumber, feta cheese or similar, pickled onions and dressing ( mayonnaise mixed with olive oil and salt and pepper.)

You may notice I haven’t given any quantities – it depends on whether it is intended for one or a crowd! For one:- A small handful of lettuce leaves, broken  into small chunks, a slice of watermelon cubed (If you want to get fancy, try cutting with cookie cutters into wmelonhearts, stars or Christmas tree shapes), 1/2 cup of diced cucumber, a handful of crumbled feta and several small pickled onions, sliced. Mix together a tablespoon of mayo with a slurp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over, then mix into the ingredients all tossed together in a bowl.

For a crowd? – just multiply the ingredients!

For omnivores – a lovely cold roast chicken or leg of lamb or cold whole prawns (or all choices for a crowd) sliced onto a self-serve plate are great accompaniments to salads.

For vegetarians? Add a main meal of :-  Mixed vegetable Quiche.

Take a handful of any vegetables you have on hand and cut them into small cubes. This could be carrot, capsicum, onion or leek, and zucchini. you can add a small tin of corn kernels, tiny florets of broccoli and cauliflower, as well as anything else you desire.

Add the vegetables to well beaten eggs. Use 2 for a small quiche, and 6 to 8 for a large one. Pour into a pastry case (bought or made by you) and cook in a moderate oven until eggs are firm and golden. Grated cheddar cheese can be sprinkled on top if you wish. Pop it back into the oven for a few moments to melt the cheese. Allow to cool to serve.

Top the meal off with a lovely dessert. ANYTHING with home-made ice-cream (see recipes in archives – I think May?? ). An Australian specialty is Fruit Pavlova.

You can buy the meringue base from the supermarket (try minis meringue shells if you are on your own) and add lashings of sweetened whipped cream topped with seasonal fruit – whatever is your favourite.Pavlova.jpg

P.S. Remember to look at my second and third pages for children’s books as gifts, and original art and limited edition prints for someone special.FLOW

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

readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-bookBookcover2

 

 

Re-format, Edit and Design.

Now that I’m back from Cambodia and my body has managed to settle back into a fairly normal routine, I can now concentrate on re-formatting my books for the new company that will do print on demand in Australia.

Be aware – Amazon and KDP no longer send paperbacks books to Australia – so it was necessary to find a new place to print my books. My publishing house is Sweetfields Publishing (message me if you need anymore information). 

Alphacovers

Yay! I’m so happy. After years of designing and editing my books for the Amazon market – and paying an arm and a leg for postage, the convenience of a company in Australia is worth the extra cost in printing.

Amazon has actually done me a favour! My books are still available to the world in general from the KDP platform as well as Amazon. But because Amazon won’t post to Australia, I’d lost my local market. Now that is being put to rights.

It will take a bit of time (and frustration from me as I learn the new company and its rules) but it will be worth it in the end. I have counted up – I have 38 books to changeover – and another couple in the pipeline. Whew!

The re-format really is only to change the sizing, but that requires a bit of tweaking in the design of the books, and, while I’m at it, I might as well edit as well. It is the illustrations that are causing me the most headache, because, in the beginning of my journey, I did not understand how to get the correct dpi requirements for the images. Also, my first three books were illustrated by international visitors, and I haven’t got the originals to re-scan.

On top of that, the story-telling by myself has improved in leaps and bounds, so I need to look at some of the clunky sentences and re-word a little.

This means that I will be bum on computer seat, eyes on computer screen, fingers blistering at the keyboard and the brain squishy with all the thinking I will need to do.

Bookcover2

Bear with me – everything will sort itself out in time.

With Kindness

Maureen.

P.S. In the meantime, my second page ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book )  includes my catalogue, and a new short story for your reading pleasure. Let me know what you think of the story.

My next children’s chapter book to be launched is ‘Rosferado – Wizard Extraordinaire’. The tagline could probably be – ‘but he isn’t’!!

There are two more books in the works, too. ‘Larry Lyrebird Laughs’ ( a picture book ) and ‘Rainbows in the Jungle – a Kathy Edwards adventure’ – (a chapter book for MA children).

If you would love to buy some original artwork – limited edition prints or originals – by a talented young artist – have a look at page three  ( readeatdream.net/ sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs )

It’s good to be busy!

Retirement, Extract and Draft.

Back from Cambodia!

Back to my beautiful home! Back to the work of teaching music, making preserves for my market stall, gardening in my vegetable garden, writing and publishing my next books, and feeding and looking after my animals (that includes extracting honey from my bees – such wonderful insects).meandbees

Love it!

Do you think it is time I thought about a gentle retirement?

Never!! It is this lifestyle that keeps my brain going, and my health fine.

I have three books in draft form, two already being illustrated.

While I’m on the subject of books -:

In the last few weeks,, my program of choice for publishing (Createspace) has merged with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Now … I understand that may be a wise Alphacoversbusiness decision – but I am NOT HAPPY!

Why?

Because now I cannot get my paperback books posted from America. This is the case for all Australian authors and customers, so it is not just me affected. Even though I had asked Createspace last year if this would be the case, and they said no, I now find I’m dropped like a hot potato!

I’m looking for a similar type of app that is Australian. Damn nuisance, as I have over thirty books involved. (unless I can find another way to get them).

So – back to basics – start all over again! Damn!

As I have been in Cambodia, and finally Australia got rain, (thankfully – I’m not complaining), I left a brown and desperate landscape and have arrived back to a lush, very wet, green environment. The garden needs tender loving care and some hard work.

I’ve already planted beetroot, and cucumber seeds – pulled out the lettuces that went to seed in my absence (the goat loved them) and weeded a bit of my raised garden beds. The ‘lawn’ will have to wait until it has dried out before I can run the ride-on lawnmower over the two foot high grass!!

I have made tomato sauce (ketchup to Americans), peanuts are in my bowl ready to make peanut butter, and egg mayonnaise is next. Also going through my recipe cache – what about I add lip balm, vanilla extract, Christmas decorations and beetroot relish to my stock pile? I love to make something as little different to most other stall holders. (Need some recipes? Contact me!)

Aah! Life is full and couldn’t be better.

Retirement?

No way!

With Kindness.

Maureen

P.S. – my ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ book is now up for sale. Check out the chapter on the next page ( readeatdream.net/ free-childrens-picture-book ).  If you want to know how it finishes, you’ll have to buy the book!img312

Mean of me, I know! Just let me know, and for $15AU I’ll send it to you (you will have to add $3AU for postage in Australia – $5AU if you live overseas).

I will be giving you a range of my short stories to read next before I put out an anthology of same – starting from next post.

I will also have more artwork, from my talented son’s brush, for sale.

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

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