Choose life. Life is wonderful.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

SMILE BECAUSE IT HAPPENED (March 2017)

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. 

Dr. Seuss



This is good advice as you get older, especially as you reach my age of 62, and it is very easy to look back on the fun days when the kids lived at home and we were all together and long for those days.

Better to be thankful for the good times of the past, and look forward to the future to make more good times.

I have spent 52 years missing father, but ever thankful for the 10 wonderful years I did have with him before he died. He was a man ahead of his time - a very 'hands on' father who told me I could be anything in life that I wanted to be, even if I was a girl. It makes me very sad that he missed so much of my life.

BUT...how lucky was I to have my beautiful memories to look back on, so I can look back and smile. 

 
James Edwards 1922-1964



It has been a quiet week with a trip to Stanwell Park on Wednesday to see Peter's GP.





Decorating

I am redecorating on a budget of almost nothing. I am making use of all sorts of things that once I wouldn't have given a second glance.

My mother was clearing some things out and gave me this old wooden lamp base she had once bought at a garage sale. 






A coat of aluminium spray paint completely changed the character of the old wooden lamp base.








 The lamp shade came from the Salvo's at a cost of $4. I was really just looking for a frame I could cover in chicken wire, but then decided that the shade looked quite good.



 Because the lamp shade didn't fit the base I made a set of 'washers' out of an ice-cream container to hold the shade in place.


 Below is the lamp switched on.




 


Below is a close-up of Jade's sculpture under the cloche.






The table itself was found at the Salvo's for $8. It was originally black so also received a coat of the aluminium spray paint.





Finds

These fans were bought for $4 for the 3 at Vinnies. I think they are beautiful. I have plans for them. 






In the garden

On Monday we had some time to spend in the garden so we added some more mulch to the front.



I bought this pot at an op-shop for 50 cents. My son-in-law drilled a drainage hole in the base, potting mix was added and then some mint cuttings. So far they are growing well.



This tiny seedling is one of several growing in the lavender cuttings. 





I think they are tree ferns as this small tree fern growing behind the sage in the herb garden nearby began the same way.




In the kitchen 

Leek and asparagus tarts.

Makes 4 tarts
Serves 8

I bought 2 leeks and 2 bunches of asparagus at the fruit market. I decided to make some leek and asparagus tarts.





Ingredients

2 leeks washed and sliced
2 bunches of asparagus.
4 squares frozen puff pastry
beaten egg
200g Fetta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
12 tiny tomatoes
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup of sour cream  
2 beaten eggs


Chop and sweat down the 2 leeks.



Cover 2 bunches of asparagus in boiling water and leave for 15 minutes. 






 Cut 2 squares of puff pastry in half. Cut 4 one centimetre strips off the long side of each piece. Place a strip around each edge of the pastry rectangles. Make knobs for corners with left over pastry. Coat edges with a beaten egg.
Sprinkle a quarter of the Fetta cheese over each rectangle. Cover with leeks. Place asparagus along edges and across pastry. Top with tiny tomatoes cut in half.


 Sprinkle half of the fresh thyme over.

Mix half a cup of sour cream with 2 lightly beaten eggs. Spoon onto tart between asparagus. Sprinkle with remainder of the thyme and bake at 220 degrees for 20 minutes.

 











Interesting sites


1.
 Hobbit home built for sheep

Photo source
 Click here to visit this abandoned hobbit - home, built for sheep. 

2.
 The scale of the large

Photo source
 Click here to watch a short video of the comparison of sizes and distances in space, beginning with ourselves and ending up with the universe. This is done by the Khan Academy. I really like their stuff.

3.

Photo source
Click here to read a really interesting article from the New York Times about how success can make you sick. This sort of explains why in my case depression can lift in the short term when I encounter a crisis.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

NATURE BRINGS SOLACE (Feb 2017)




I love nature. I love camping in it, walking in it and living in it.

Over the years I have camped in small tents in numerous national parks across 4 states. From the time my children were 3 months old they went camping. We never had electricity - it wasn't available in most national parks. We camped all weathers including snow at Barrington Tops.

Barrington Tops Photo Source

 The last time I did this sort of camping was 10 years ago with my daughter and son-in-law at Carrington Falls, not far away in the Southern Highlands. 

Peter and I own a caravan now, so I have graduated to a more 'civilised' type of camping.

I love the view from my backroom at home....





and my bedroom as seen below.

(The poor old blinds need replacing, but I have so many other things to do which visitors can see that I'm afraid these will be left for a while.)


 I live in the trees. There are times when I think I should move, as maintenance becomes more difficult as I grow older, but I just love it so much it is really hard to decide what to do. Some mornings a lyre bird comes to my back deck. My backyard is a rain forest - not to everybody's taste, but I love it.

Below is a Birds Nest Fern in my back yard.

 

Below is a view up my yard from the cubby house.








Food

On Friday night I tried cooking with Kataifi pastry for the first time.






I followed the recipe on the packet for prawns in Kataifi. I think the prawns I used were too small so there was a lot of Kataifi, which was very crunchy, but not much prawn. We dipped them in peppery mayonnaise but they just weren't tasty enough - just a big mouthful of crunchy nothing dipped in mayonnaise. 
Kataifi can be deep fried, which would probably be tastier. It can also be used for some Middle Eastern desserts , as pictured below, which I might try at some stage.  


Decorating

I spray painted an old cane mirror I found at the Salvo's for $8 about a year a go.I gave it a coat of Aluminium which I think makes a great base which you can read about in last week's post. 

Then it was sprayed gloss white and hung it in my back room above an old cane shelf I also sprayed white.

 

Craft

I cooked up another batch of toadstools, ready to be painted.

 




In The Garden

Peter constructed an above ground garden that I bought at Aldi on special for $10. There is a paved area at the back of my house where the paving is slipping and weeds dominate, so I am changing the nature of the area to above ground gardens.

Under the pavers was a thin layer of blue metal so we covered that with cardboard.


We began filling it with some mulch from an old Brush Turkey nest which you can read about here in a post from May 2016. 


It will take a while to fill as my back will only allow me to move a couple of buckets of mulch a day from the bottom of the garden to the top. But in a week or so I should be there and I will top it up with potting mix.

As I have mentioned before, I love fungus. I find it fascinating in that it is neither plant nor animal, and think it is often very beautiful decorating a forest or garden in various forms, my favourite of which are toadstools. (However, I am not so keen on fungus on bread or in my fridge. There is nothing aesthetically pleasing about that!)

When we cleared an area for the garden we came across some interesting forms of  fungus as seen below.







Effective altruism

I watched an interview with Professor Peter Singer and was really impressed by what he said about the use of charity money to alleviate world poverty.
'Singer is an advocate of effective altruism. He argues that people should not only try to reduce suffering, but reduce it in the most effective manner possible.' (Wikipedia)


If you are interested in where your charity dollar can help most click on thelifeyoucansave.com. This doesn't mean I support all the views of Peter Singer, in fact I oppose quite a few of them, but I like the idea of charity dollars going where they can make the most difference. 

While Peter Singer is an Australian, he works in the USA and his web page is probably most suited to Americans. While I am a Christian, I also see myself as a critical thinker, and don't immediately dismiss the ideas of non-Chrisitans. To do so would be ridiculous as science and ideas have been the domain of both Christians and non-Christians for thousands of years.

Australia has 54,000 registered charities. It does seem that some type of consolidation could mean a sharing of resources. 

Duplication of services is seen as a growing problem and the ACNC(Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Comission.)plays an important role in addressing this. Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision, (and every caring woman's poster boy) recently said, "Mergers and collaborations are not appropriate for many charities, but fewer charities in Australia might actually mean more and better services if we can build on our effectiveness and reduce duplication." (Huffington Post)

But on a world stage surely we should be able to at least make sure everyone has enough food to live. There is plenty to go around.Here in the West we waste so much food, while many of our brothers and sisters don't have enough Is it politics or just sheer selfishness which sees such inequity in our world?


Interesting sites

1.
Pods for the homeless in Los Angeles
Photo Source
 Click here to read about some pods for homeless people. They are designed by Los Angeles architecture students. 

2.
 Burn beautiful swirls into wood
Photo source
 Click here to watch an artist burn a beautiful pattern into a piece of wood. 

3.
 Strawberries in pots

Photo source
  To learn how to grow strawberries in pots click here.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

WHAT IF THE MIGHTIEST WORD IS LOVE? (Feb 2017)

 

 

 I have had 3 times in my life I have had to learn to 'dance' again. I don't think mine have been beautiful dances but more haphazard hopping around.

Everybody has traumatic experiences in their lives - they have 'weathered' all types of 'storms'.

I have 'weathered' the worst 'storm' I will ever have to survive, and I dance on...but sometimes I droop a bit, or maybe trip, but with God's help I stay on the dance floor.

This metaphor reminds me of the song Lord of The Dance. It is a beautiful song and tune. You can listen to it here, sung by John McDermott. 

 

 In the 1990's Michael Flatley, of Riverdance made the tune really popular with his Lord of the Dance tap routines. You can see one of his last performances here. 

 

Cute pig picture source

Wednesday already. My aim is to write a post to publish every Wednesday. Saturday was just not practical. It does take a bit of thought to write  about things when nothing much happens in your life, speaking of which it has been a non-eventful week - too hot to do anything much. We cancelled Jade's proposed birthday night on Saturday as I don't have air-conditioning and it was extremely hot. We are experiencing the hottest summer on record.

Craft

 The crocheted cardigan is coming on. (Click here to see the last post for details.)

 

Crocheting small flowers to decorate cards is the next project I have started.

For various reasons I am spending quite a lot of time at Peter's. I have offered to design and make Peter a low maintenance garden so he wouldn't have so much to mow, but as yet he has failed to take me up on the offer. So there is plenty of time to spend on craft projects, and I get bored doing the one thing so I have also made some polymer clay toadstools ready for some more projects.

 

Plants

Sunday was largely spent recovering from Saturday's heat. Peter and I popped around to Rhiannon and Bill's and Rhiannon had a new 'planter' on her fence.

 
This was a cows pelvis turned into a 'planter' for Spanish Moss.

Rhiannon has a collection of these bony 'planters' along her back fence with various succulents and Spanish Moss attached to them.

 

 

 

 

 

Jade and I potted up these succulents below, before Christmas and they have grown quite considerably. I prettied a couple of them up with dragonflies and toadstools, for gifts.

 

 
 Decorating

Bunnings is my favourite shop (followed closely by Officeworks and then Aldi). My last trip to Bunnings saw me purchasing a box full of Gloss White and Aluminium spray paint for about $25. This should last me for ages.

I am in the process of spraying the surrounds of a cane mirror from The Salvos.

 It was white but had yellowed over the years, so I began by giving it a coat of Aluminium. I find this seems to give objects a really good base for Gloss White.

The mirror itself is covered with glad wrap which was poked under the edge of the cane to keep it clear of paint. I hope it works. Now it just needs a few coats of white. I have just the place for it.

 

 

 

  Poems

 

 

When I came across this poem, "Praise Song for the Day" , by Elizabeth Alexander, I didn't realise it was written for President Obama's inauguration. I actually thought it was written in 1962 which turned out to be the poet's year of birth. It was actually written in 2009. So I think it is a poem that crosses the boundaries of time.

Praise Song for the Day

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues. 

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum, 
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
 
Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, 

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign, 
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.
 
 

When I read a poem, and it makes me feel or see something, at first it may not be easy to put it into words. 

But I like this poem because it makes me feel positive. It talks about the day by day things, the sacrifices made in the past, and the possibilities of a bright future.

Our move into the future is a combined effort, with all of us involved, as we go around our day to day business. The poet asks the question, 'What if the mightiest word is love?'

While it is written for the people of the USA it seems relevant to us as we have a similar society and are linked so closely to USA. It is also a poem relevant to each individual reading it. We all want, 'something better down the road...where we are safe'. We all 'walk into that which we cannot see yet'. None of us knows the future.

But,'on the brink, on the brim, on the cusp' of something new, we hope we are all 'walking forward into the light.' 

Let's just hope that 'on the brink' of Trump era, we are indeed 'walking forward into the light' and not backwards into the darkness.

'What if the mightiest word is love?' 

 
Pigs in love picture source.

By way of finishing I would just like to tell you about Powershop. I changed 
to them from Origin where I was spending around $125 a month on 
electricity. By changing to Powershop it cost me $98 from 1st January to
13th February - around 6 weeks. It is a very different type of electricity
provider. You can purchase your electricity  before you use it if you wish. I 
changed over on line and was so pleased with my saving I just thought it was
worth mentioning.  
 
 Interesting sites
 
 
1.
 
 Americans move away from meat.
 
  
The way Americans think about food is changing.They are moving away from meat toward a more plant based diet. Click here.



2.
 Presidential butterfly
Photo source
Click here to read about a butterfly named after Donald Trump. 



3.
 Tiny DIY Trailer Home
Photo source
A young couple on the move build a small home that will go wherever life takes them. Click here to read about them.