Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Meaningful gifting...

If we've learned nothing else from 2020, surely we can say we've learned to NOT rely on mass produced, overpriced, imported gifts. Surely that. I've said for many long years, that developing skills that we can gift, or skills that allow us to create gifts, are not to be scorned. Even if you doubted this prior to this long, strange year, perhaps it now makes sense.

This Christmas, we'll be gifting Snowman Cupcakes as seen above. These truly could not be more simple. Any flavour cupcake, vanilla frosting, white and dark chocolate choc chips.

Grab yourself a palette knife (around $15AUD) from an art supply store and cultivate a skill for the new craze in cake decorating. So easy, a child could do it. Literally. This one was my first attempt!

Have sewing machine, will sew. Gingham hearts. Fill them with lavender, cinnamon sticks, or rice instead of polyfibre fill to make them more pleasing to the senses. Use them as decorations, or get out the sidewalk chalk and draw up a board for hopscotch or tic-tac-toe-toss, and use them as markers to teach your kids or grandkids those good old fashioned games.
I shared how to paint this Scandinavian inspired artwork here. Go on. Try it. Everyone has an artist inside begging to be let out...

Cinnamon sugar...just superfine sugar (we call it Caster Sugar here) and as much Cinnamon as you want. Mix it, decant it, gift it. Yum on toast, cakes, and pancakes.

Pick up an ugly statuette or figurine at your local op-shop (thrift store), and paint it a vibrant colour. Add tassels for a true Art Deco effect. Gift with pride to your stylish friends.

Get crafty with teeny tiny fabric scraps and tassel tops added to earring hook, to make these stunning earrings.

Coconut Ice does not have to be pink. Nor does Turkish Delight. Tint your home made confectionery fabulous colours, wrap in swathes of ribbon, add candy rosettes, and make a statement!

More gifts....doll panel dolls, home made cards with lavish georgette and tulle side bows, dollar store water bottles embellished with personalised labels and filled with candy balls, home made brownie wrapped in festive foil, hand blended essential oils in mini sprays, and home made lush lotion bars.

These are all ideas I've sourced or adapted from similar ones on Pinterest. If I can do it, so can you.

There's still time!

Happy Festive Planning!


Monday, November 2, 2020

The time has come....

Sit back and let me tell you a story.... Once upon a time, there was a lady who wanted to help people. She got a job helping people. It was hard work, because she couldn't possibly help everyone who needed to be helped. The lady had sleepless nights, worrying about all the people who she couldn't help, or even ones she thought she hadn't helped enough. Then one day, she read a quote. It said 'Not every burden is yours to carry'. It was like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. All of those burdens, those worries about people she didn't know...not really, fell away. Suddenly, she realised that her greatest burden, was the one of sacrificing too much of self. One cannot give from an empty vessel. She knew that. She took stock. She thought long and hard. She realised that she had done enough helping. She was desirous of a return to home and hearth. She welcomed it. As did her loved ones. And she lived on in the hearts of those she had helped. At least for a while. She slept. She dreamed. She found new ways to nurture and care for those who needed it most. She rose from the ashes of her fatigue and marched on... Stay tuned.....

Friday, July 3, 2020

Motherly Advice...a tumultuous world...

We are living in the strangest of times, aren't we? I've certainly never seen the likes of it and I happily entered my seventh decade earlier this year. Things are topsy-turvy in ways not seen before in my lifetime.

Husband and I have had some very serious discussions over the last two nights.

You see, three nights ago, our Prime Minister announced an increase in Defence spending. In making this announcement, he indicated that 'the world is now a much more dangerous place', and that we may, at some point in the future, be called upon to defend our borders. An alarming thought, right?

Now, my Maternal Grandparents were European, and lived through two World Wars, and the Great Depression. They immigrated here post-War with my Mother who was just 7 years old at the time. Mum spoke of this often, talking about the challenges they faced, and used her skills to raise seven children alone. Certainly I absorbed many of my homemaking skills from Mum and Nanna, as they just 'knew' this stuff. They hadn't chosen to take sewing, or embroidery or knitting or baking or mending up as a hobby. These were necessary day to day life skills.

I have shared through my blog here for many years, that I try to learn a new skill each year. Over the last decade, I have taught myself preserving, sewing, embroidery (which can also be used for mending and patching), soap making, dehydrating foods, using unusual ingredients such as dried legumes or plants indigenous to our area, or areas near us, making our own pasta, growing food, learning about easy to grow vegetables, and saving seeds, and foraging, including using what we see as 'weeds', like dandelion and nettle.

Husband is an able carpenter and builder, and is adept at solving all kinds of fix-it handyman type problems.

Mostly, then, we are okay in that department.

Our discussions mostly revolved around what we would do if we ever had to evacuate our home for an extended period. We live quite close to a military base, which you'd think should be a source of comfort, but it's really not. Maybe that's not the safest place to be? We talked this through pragmatically and calmly, and we now have The Plan. IF things really did go horribly pear-shaped in our part of the world, we know what we would do. We also know what skills we need to refine and hone, and what new skills we need to add to our toolbox. We will discuss this with family, so that they know ahead of time, what The Plan is, and how they need to enact it. We may even ask them to add some new skills to their own toolboxes.

How would you live in a world where suddenly you could only eat what you could catch or grow yourself? Where essentials were scarce or non-existent? Where you had to be self-reliant for medical care of all kinds? Where the only tools at your disposal were the type that don't need electricity or fuels of other kinds to power them? We're not just talking about camping skills. We're talking survival skills.

This thinking may seem over-the-top, but we decided we'd rather have The Plan, and the skills to act upon it, than not. It does no harm to know these things, and gives us the peace of mind and security, to know we could keep ourselves and our loved ones safe for an extended period, should the need arise.

What do you think? Could you go into Survival Mode and cope for a long time? Months? Years?

It's an interesting thought in the abstract, isn't it?

Don't wait until it's no longer an abstract thought, to act.

That's my advice....


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Meals from nothing #5...Week long salads

Salads figure largely in our household menu pretty much year round. A bit of crunch adds greatly to our enjoyment of most meals here. We grew tired of slimy greens some years ago, and came up with this solution instead. I have to give some credit to an online friend, Claire, who gave me the basic idea. Thanks Claire! Still going strong a decade later!
Here's how to NOT have a crisper full of slimy greens and still eat well all week.
Week Long Salad

Basic Mixture Salad No. 1 :

 1 whole cabbage (any type), shredded ...a mandolin slicer is brilliant for this.
 6 peeled and grated carrots.

Store in an airtight container. Remove enough each night for that meal only, and add additional ingredients.
DO NOT add the extra ingredients to the salad base in the storage container.

Day 1: Remove a portion and add halved cherry tomatoes and dress with balsamic vinegar.

Day 2: Remove a portion and add one tin rinsed beans such as cannellini or four bean mix. Fry 2 rashers of diced bacon, and chop some herbs. Toss well with a dressing of one third each balsamic, olive oil and wholegrain mustard.

Day 3: Add grated cheese and finely sliced shallots. No dressing.

Day 4: Add zest and flesh of two oranges. No dressing.

Day 5: Add 1 cup cooked macaroni, Italian herbs and Italian dressing.

Day 6: Toss with cooked 2 minute noodles and dress with sesame oil and Sushi vinegar.
Day 7: Throw the rest into a soup or stir-fry to finish off the week.

 Salad no. 2...

Purchase 2 different 'trendy' which I mean not iceberg. So Romaine, Butter, Frilled, Radicchio, and so on.

Cut off the bottoms to separate the leaves. Wash well.

Stack the leaves on top of one another and slice into three sections lengthwise, then into halves or thirds crosswise.

This is important....invest in a salad spinner.

Put leaves into the salad spinner and spin thoroughly. You'll be amazed at how much moisture is collected and it's moisture that makes the lettuce yucky after a couple of days.

Tip into a large salad bowl.

Put a clean paper towel over the lettuce and cover with cling wrap.

Change the paper towel every couple of days to keep it dry.

Voila...perfect salad greens for the whole week....add ingredients as listed above or add your own variations!

No more dead salads in your crisper!