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 )

Squidhands(dylan)web

Rocks, Echinacea and Disease

mobileThe thing I hate the most about the youngest generation of adults has just been proven to me this last fortnight. They have a disease!

It’s called isolation disease.

It seems that teenagers are suffering from the inability to have manners, language and communication skills, as well as not being able to physically work.

Should we blame it on technology?

I was unfortunate to host a 19 year old Japanese University student. This is the first time I have been thankful one of visitors didn’t stay. He had no curiousity about the life in Australia, grunted his replies to me , seemed to have no ambition, didn’t smile or laugh, and didn’t say ‘thank you’ more than he could help it, even when he left. He stayed in his room only to come out and eat, then returned. Didn’t get out of bed until around 10 a.m. – then was probably amazed that I lost the plot with him on occasion and got rather cranky.

If you intend to travel – use the experience to rock your world, open yourself up to new life styles, food and friendships. Be prepared to get involved with your new country, otherwise why would you bother to visit? Get to know the customs of the country you visit, so you don’t offend your hosts. Enjoy the sights, take photos so you can have tangible memories in later life and absorb as much as you can of the differences you see.

Now – don’t get me wrong – not everyone has this problem. Many of our young adults are generous, outspoken and knowledgeable. A pleasure to have around.

But for the few that can’t live without staring at a screen – what is the cure? No penicillin, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics,  surgery or herbal medicines like echinacea or rescue remedy will fix the problem.

Do you have any suggestions?

What about those of you who have grown up with the technology? Am I just being an old-fashioned worry-wart and nag? Or is this a common problem for all?

Is it time that we put a halt to the amount of time youngsters look at their screens, whether it be smart-phones, computers, ipads or similar – or is this just a new world I should get used to?

With Kindness

Maureen

PS – next chapter of ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’ is up on my second page. Also note my catalogue of books. All prices are in $AU. Just message me and we can get one sent to you.panda2

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

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

 

 

 

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)

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