Rain, Excitement and Dates.

rainI never realized when I lived in the city. The outpourings from the sky were a nuisance. I had a life to lead, time to play, and I found it cramped my style. It made me miserable and grumpy.

Rain.

That’s what I’m talking about!

I smile now, when it rains.

I live in the country and try to grow my own food. Admittedly, I have to fight snails, slugs, rats, possums, kangaroos, wallabies and other sundry animals who love the tenderness of fresh growing food – but I persevere.  So … when it rains, I get excited.

The soil greets the water like a long lost friend, and the plants lift their leaves heavenward with gratitude. There is excitement in the air. Farmers around here are delighted – and ask for more. Even when it floods, the ground water is topped up, even though so much water always runs away, and sometimes creates sour soil.

I always consider it amazing that I can diligently water the garden with the collected rain water in my tank, but the plants do so much better with the offerings from the clouds.

I always wondered why – but the truth is, the Earth is full of wondrous events, and rain, as it falls collects all sorts of minerals and bacteria that the soil needs. That is the horror of our neglect – that when ‘acid’ rain falls – it has collected the chemicals so thoughtlessly spread about our globe, often by unthinking communities.Earth

I could turn this post into a diatribe about the awful effects of mankind, but I refuse. We have a beautiful planet on which we live and need to learn appreciation and love for our environment instead.

Let’s make a date – let’s create a feeling of thankfulness, and – like Earth Day – and the turning off of lights to conserve the energy of our home – let’s form a time when we all agree to create a better Earth around our small area of paradise.

I am aware that many places on Earth are ravaged by war, poverty and violence. Places and companies that scarify the beauty, but with one step at a time, one place at a time, one person at a time, we can make a difference. I am also aware that many of us are already trying our best to improve the way our society treats our planet.

Keep going and keep hoping.

Start now – in your own small way, and let’s hope we can grow the movement into a huge benefit for our planet. Let’s make this dream a reality, too.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. just started on a new chapter book for children. I haven’t got a title yet, but it is about the search for a wild Giant Panda by a young girl. I will be uploading a chapter at a time soon, on my second page, for you all to read and comment upon.panda2

P.P.S. As per request :-

Quick Date, Apricot and Sunflower seed slice.

  • 125 g dried apricots, chopped.
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 cup self-raising flour sifted
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dates chopped
  • 170 g butter melted
  • 1 pinch salt

 

Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and line a 18 x 28 cm (7″ x 11″) slice tin.

Soak  chopped apricots in enough boiling water to just cover them. Allow to soak for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl combine sugar, self raising flour, sunflower seeds, chopped dates and salt. Add strained apricots and melted butter. Mix well.

Spread mixture out in a slice tin and smooth the top.

Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until cooked. Sprinkle with a little toasted coconut or icing sugar if desired. Allow to cool before cutting into slices.

 

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

 

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.

 

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

Roll, Easy and Daisies.

 This year, summer has been really hot. (I live in Australia) We had 42°C last week – three days in a row. I feel for the other side of the world where the snow was thick and the temperatures extremely cold. Is it global warming, or a wobble in our Earth’s axis that might be to blame? Whatever the reason – everyone – please keep safe.hot

The promise of more hot weather to come, has meant that cooking is off the menu – if you know what I mean! Salads are the way to go. Cold drinks are important to keep you hydrated. Water is the best option – so make it easy on yourself and have some water always at hand.

Flavouring the water with fresh fruit is always a treat and gives variety and a sweet burst of energy – you don’t need added sugar to achieve it.

Try crushed, fresh strawberries, or slices of lemon, lime or orange – or a combination of all three – with a little passion-fruit added for zing! and of course, add a little ice if you wish.water

When it comes time to eat, add a small dash of protein, a nice refreshing salad, and a fresh roll.

To make a salad, good quality ingredients are always the best. They can be anything you like to put together, from potatoes, eggs,capsicum and mayonnaise, to cold pasta or rice with a sprinkle of corn, peas, cooked bread, prawns and cold, crispy bacon with a herb, garlic and olive oil dressing. A green salad can include lettuce, beetroot leaves, baby spinach, diced cucumber, sliced carrots, halved or sliced tomatoes, or any raw vegetable you desire, with a lemon juice, olive oil  red wine vinegar and salt dressing. Play with the combinations!

You can even make home-made rolls that are fresher than bought ones – and much tastier. Knowing the ingredients also means you are not ingesting anything chemical that may or may not be in commercial mixes.

Bread Rolls:-

img21Bread Rolls.jpg

If you must go out – remember to cover up, use sun screen and wear a hat. Australia has a summer-running promotion with advertisements on the television – Slip, slap, slop (Slip on a shirt, slap on a hat and slop on some sunscreen).sunscreen

After all – the Australian sun (gosh – that’s the same sun you get, too!) can burn and there is a high incidence of sun cancers in this country. Skin cancer and melanomas are deadly! We don’t want you pushing up daisies anytime in the near future if you can help it!daisies

Remember to be careful in the snow, too. There are people who are suffering there, just as much as in our heat. Be kind, don’t be judgmental – and care for your selves and your fellow man. Go out of your way to help another person. If we all did that, the world would be a better place.

With Kindness

Maureen

meprofile

Maureen Larter

P.S. – a lovely story about Australia, health and the weather is ‘Cassie Crocodile catches a cold’Cassiefront – ( getBook.at/CCCCe ) written by me and illustrated by Annie Gabriel. www.facebook.com/AnnieGabrielArt

Annie Gabriel is an illustrator, textile artist and book artist, who comes from a background of art and primary education. From ab early age, she was constantly drawing and painting. One of her first inspirations was a book called ‘The Little Brown Mouse”. The little girl in the story painted her friend, the mouse, and so Annie began painting mice, too. As they say – the rest is history!

Annie

Annie Gabriel

These days, Annie makes ‘one-off’ books for her grandchildren, and teaches them about art when they visit. Inspiration can strike at any time, and any place, and the stories from Maureen Larter are always a pleasure to create.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.ed, E.vents and D.elays

Well here we are in what I call ‘the silly season’. Suddenly we feel the need to spend money like water, stress out about the family and put on a feed so huge it could feed the world’s starving hordes.

I have always thought this celebration, in the name of ‘Christianity’, to be something of a fraud. At least all the big retailers make a fortune.

Surely, such an event should be more in keeping with the teachings of the religion. I will probably cause an outcry with this post, but, in my opinion, the jolly chubby man in a red suit really isn’t part of the deal?? In years past, handmade gifts, (a new scarf, or a knitted soft toy)

Etty Doll

The knitted doll, with removable clothes, I sell for $45.

and only one each, were the order of the day. The Christmas stocking held little treats – mostly things like an apple, or a few mixed nuts. They were expensive so not a normal household item. Today we cram the children (and ourselves) with a lot of sugary confections and gimmicky toys.

I don’t know if other religions create such a commotion at this time of the year – but I’d like to delay it and it could even be cancelled, as far as I’m concerned.

Let’s get back to the simple things in life – a chance to bring friends and family together in joy and happiness. A chance to give freely of our love and abundance. If you give a gift, try to be aware of the person you are giving to. Books and do-it-yourself models help create an imagination and, if you’ve made it yourself, adds to the love embedded in the gift.

Think of all the others in the world who haven’t got a family, a home or food to eat. Get together and think of ways you and yours could help. Think about the ravages we have caused in the environment of our beautiful planet, and try to be more gentle, caring and aware of everything around us.

Life is short, in the scheme of things, and any little thing we can do to make a better world should be in our thoughts, at this time of year, and, in fact, all year.

Having had my little soapbox rant, enjoy your family and be thankful for all you have (not worried about what you don’t have).

Happy and safe season to you all.

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ENJOY THE BEAUTY AROUND YOU