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 )

Rivers, Essentials and Detergent.

Warning – I’m on my soapbox! (Note the recipe at the end!)

soap

One of the hot topics at present is the way the human race is polluting the planet. In Australia we have a program called ‘War on Waste’ which is, hopefully, waking up an apathetic population. ( http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/war-on-waste )

Waste not only destroys our immediate surrounds, but affects so much more. The consumer mentality means we buy, buy, buy – and often for no more than to meet a greed not a need. The more we buy, not only is there more waste, but great swathes of land are cleared to make way for more product – whether it is a fad – like palm oil or some latest gadget – or a luxury, like toys that are bigger and better than the next door neighbours. This includes TVs, cars and jewelry, as well as children’s toys that are played with once until boredom sets in and we have to buy more, more, more. And yet in the poorer countries, even the essentials are hard to come by.

Have you ever watched a child play with a cardboard box, a wooden spoon and a great imagination? Basics can be better than all the luxuries in the world.garbage

I’m not asking that people go without, but to be more mindful of what they own, want and buy.

When plastics are finally outlawed, we will hopefully go back to more sustainable ways of wrapping food and products.

A lot of the rubbish ends up in pristine waterways (affecting the wildlife), rivers (affecting the eco-system) and oceans (affecting the fish and sea creatures.) I’m wondering if we will ever learn.

The destruction of the planet means the ultimate destruction of ourselves.

Let’s go back to having only the essentials – a home with fresh food in the cupboards, a couple of art works for aesthetics, and a few books for education. Clothes that are made by the industry of our own hands and tools that are used over and over, not thrown away after one use.

The problem with all that, is it is too much work for most people – much easier to go to the shop and buy goods that are laced with chemicals to give them more shelf life, or electronic games to keep ourselves amused.

Growing your own food seems to have lost its popularity, preserving the harvest is tied up with too much legislation, and making your own clothes is now frowned upon as unfashionable.

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Some of my gardening guides (for a temperate zone) that can give you the knowledge to start a garden.

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We need to go back to basics. Do you agree?

Here is a simple and more healthy way of making a detergent to wash your clothes – it is cheap and easy to make, and gentle on your clothes and the environment.

clothesHOME MADE Washing Detergent.

Water, 1 grated cake of pure soap ( in Australia we have Sunlight brand) 1 cup of powdered washing soda, some eucalyptus oil or similar (for fragrance).

In a special large saucepan used only for this job, place 2 litres of water. Add the grated soap, and heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it is dissolved. Bring to the boil. Add the cup of washing soda, stirring to dissolve. Be careful – it bubbles up.

Now tip this into a 20 litre container. Add hot water to half way, then about 5 litres of cold water to make approximately 15 or more litres of detergent. Stir in your fragrance oil. Allow to cool. Use two scoops per wash.

It will separate out into a solid sludge and water, but it is all useful. In your scoop make sure there is some solid soap as well as the water. This costs me about $2 per bucketful, and lasts about 3 months.

I love the challenge of making products to eat, use or wear, as well as budgeting – getting more for the few dollars I have, as I am on a pension. I find I can still have a good qualiity of life, and I eat healthy food. The other benefit? Because I’m always busy, I am never bored and I stay fit.

What more could you really want?

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S.  Don’t forget to have a wander through the second ( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs )  and third pages ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book )to learn more about me and mine.panda2

FLOW

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

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)

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