Friday, 31 January 2014

Tropical Paradise

Tropical trees are shallow rooted.
In soggy windy conditions they blow over.
(Photo Xavier La Canna)
During the night Cyclone Dylan changed direction and crossed the coast south of Bowen instead of at Townsville. Smaller town, less damage to people and infrastructure. Winds were still 140km per hour though. That's the situation with cyclones; they can change direction at any time. The winds will ease and the flooding will subside. Volunteers will appear from nowhere and over the next few days life will return to normal. The worst is over and my friends in Townsville know they were lucky.

It has been cool and overcast for days here. A trifle more than overcast actually. We have had 575mm rain this month already which is about 20% more than the average. (Yes, that is more than half a metre.) But it has not rained every day, only 22 days out of 31! Our wettest January ever was in 1995 when 940mm rain fell on us. Luckily for me this wet weather has not brought too many big storms but mostly a gentle drizzle. Cool days with lots of cloud cover. Hmmm, not such a sweaty body. It does mean mildew and mould in unexpected places however. This is not the time for leather shoes and handbags. Lots of cleaning. Water leaking through windows and cracks. Damp everything. The books and wooden furniture smell. Inside the cupboards and drawers can get a bit whiffy. Closed rooms smell stuffy and musty. Pests hiding and thriving on the pot plants. Ants and cockroaches searching for a dry home.
This man is standing in the water in front of the sign that warns of crocs.
His friend is on the bank of the billabong.
Just near this spot a 12 year old boy was taken by a croc last week.

Last Sunday I was able to open the windows wide and get the air circulating while the sun shone. When the humidity annoys me too much I admit I use an air conditioner for an hour or two. And yes, I finish the clothes in the dryer after some time on the verandah. Environmentally unwise, but quite practical actually. Laundry that does not dry thoroughly smells awful later.

The extra rain has brought the fishoes out in force. Terrific opportunity to catch something really big and delicious. The favourite fish here is barramundi. And driving to the best spots is at least half the fun. Boggy tracks. Mud. Water running over the road. The billabongs and creeks are full. And the crocs are loving it too. Crocs are protected and some here in the Top End have grown to more than 4 metres.

Today's maximum temperature will not hit 30C. Great weather for sewing, knitting, crocheting, reading, watching DVDs, and doing puzzles. And cooking. Delicious weather. What a change from the hot hot days we had earlier this month!

I know you wish for a tropical paradise. This is it. Now how is that snow today?

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Tropical weather

So many people who blog seem to live in parts of the USA that are having lots of snow and very low temperatures in the past few weeks.
This photo (Paul Crock AFP)
is from another cyclone in the same area in 2011.
But some of us live where the Summer never stops.

Actually where I live we do not have Summer - we have the Wet and the Dry. Why is that? Because it is always warm and the rain, not the temperature, provides the variation. How warm? About 30 degrees Celsius most days. So not hot, like in dry regions or as in absolute heatwave conditions.

There is a price though for living in such heavenly places. Cyclones. This season my city has experienced the edges of two cyclones, but luckily has avoided the worst of both.

A cyclone is easily identifies from the pattern of cloud and wind.
It is always clockwise.
Cyclones can only form over water and
when they cross onto land their force lessens.
http://www.astrosurf.com/luxorion/meteo-tornades-cyclones.htm
Now there is a cyclone near the coast of North Queensland. Cyclone Dylan is expected to cross the coast between Cairns and Townsville at about the same time as a king tide. This means that just as the rain is pouring down and the wind is roaring ferociously the tide will not be just high but very high. Rain water will not be able to run away down the storm water drains. There will be storm surges and flooding. This is not a pretty situation. Here is a link that explains it better than I can do.   http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-29/north-qld-residents-bunker-down-as-cyclone-forms-off-coast/5226334

I have friends and family living in and around Townsville. Brian and Clara are experiencing their first tropical cyclone here. Clara comes from northern Canada where the weather is extreme, but not in this way.

I have heard of people in parts of the US who pack the car and drive to some other town when disasters loom. That is not an option here. It would be considered ridiculously cowardly. People do evacuate to public shelters if their own homes are not built to code or if they are disabled. Charities and Emergency Services (mostly volunteers) look after the needy. You are the best person to look after your property. You may be needed to help others. You will definitely be needed to clean up afterwards.

African Aussie writes a blog and lives in this region. Not exactly in the middle of it, but certainly in the middle of this weather mess.   http://africanaussie.blogspot.com.au/  If you live in a cold place, you will enjoy reading about her tropical garden. Of course during the Wet Season she has other adventures which are just as interesting too. Visit her blog and give her some encouragement as FNQ braces itself.
FNQ is Far North Queensland, an unofficial name for the region and one laced with folk history. One area in the path of Cyclone Dylan is also known as the Cassowary Coast. If you live with snow and ice you might not know about cassowaries.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Cleaner of Chartres

The Cleaner of Chartres was an easy read. Relaxing and calm. I am happy to recommend it.

The writer Salley Vickers has produced several other novels which have done well on the shelves, as well as a volume of short stories. After reading this one, I will hunt around for Mr Golightly's Holiday and Miss Garnet's Angel.
Salley Vickers has done a variety of jobs herself and this obviously contributes to her understanding of and respect for people who are not conventional hero material. Vickers is English and was educated at Cambridge. She now writes full time. Here is her website:  http://www.salleyvickers.com/

What's the story? Agnes Morel works as a cleaner doing casual work at the cathedral and for private clients. She is good at her job and in demand. Agnes has not had the easiest of lives and bit by bit various episodes are uncovered. Other characters in the novel have unexpected impacts as everyone makes mistakes that seem minor at the time. People come and go through Agnes's life. Obstacles are sometimes overcome and sometimes cast aside.

This photo from Wikipedia shows the labyrinth
that is mentioned in the novel.
Obviously it is huge.
Is Agnes a heroine? No. Everyone in this story is flawed. There are no heroes, only people doing their best, but sometimes making mistakes.

Is this a romance or chiclit? A little bit. There are no diamonds, adventures, murders, thefts, spies, or great love stories. Gentle. Sad in places. There are many threads weaving a tale just a bit bigger than ordinary lives. Agnes does meet a nice man and at the end I felt they would be happy together. This is not the heart of the novel though.

The Cleaner of Chartres is set in a cathedral. Is it full of religion? The cathedral is an interesting setting. There are references to religious and semi-religious practices. Not knowing much about Catholicism actually does not detract much from the heart of the story. I have never been to Europe and it did not seem to matter. I do not have a deep knowledge of Chartres Cathedral. There is a labyrinth that has a leading role in parts of the story, but it is only a device or a metaphor for Life.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

A Big Day

Well, I was wrong about the 2014 Australian of the Year.

That honour goes to Adam Goodes a very successful sportsman. Adam hit the headlines last year when he experienced racism in a very public display. He is attempting to do something about it. I wish him luck. Bullying and racism are taught to children by our choices in entertainment, by family behaviour, and by society at large. Of course it would be wonderful if racism was eliminated, but we see it in action every day on the TV news. It is the source of so much dreadful behaviour. On the other hand Adam Goodes has also earned his Australia Day honours by his talent and dedication on the AFL sporting field. He is exceptionally good at his job. Thousands of people admire his skill in competition and his attitudes to the game. A healthy lifestyle when so many other young men choose drugs or alcohol is definitely to be admired.

2014 Ute Run, just before the start.
We went in the Australia Day Fun Run this morning. Thousands of people participated; most of us walked the 5 km. It was a lovely morning, not too hot or humid. Started at seven o'clock and took a leisurely hour. Lots of families took part. At one point there was a drone overhead, but I think that was taking photos for the local newspaper.

The big local event today was the Ute Run. Hundreds of cars. The idea is to decorate your ute. Flags. Nonsense. Dress up. Admire everyone else's vehicle. Drive in a stately fashion along the route. Party strongly at the end. Barbeque. Act a bit like a bogan yobbo. This is another family activity. No racism or class consciousness.

There are other activities on all over the city. I was invited to several parties and barbeques, as well as a beach cricket match. I will stay home and watch some great Aussie films while I enjoy a cool drink or a cuppa.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

2014 Australia Day preparations

Our flag tells a bit of history and a bit about life.
I am planning something for our little family for tomorrow, 26 January, Australia Day.
I expect that we will participate in the Australia Day Walk in my city, eat lamingtons for morning tea, enjoy a relaxing afternoon of watching Wolf Creek on DVD, and finish with a really nice dinner of roast lamb. What could be more Aussie than that??? Unless I was playing cricket against Britain and beating them of course.

Australia Day commemorates the arrival in Botany Bay of the First Fleet, containing the first permanent white settlers. There had been contact with travellers from other countries prior to this, but no permanent settlement. It has become a day to celebrate what we love about the nation we have become.

As in all countries we are a mixture - good, bad, foolish, educated, talented, rich, poor, old, and young. Some work to protect our natural heritage, others to provide a just political system. Some work for themselves; some work for others; some don't work. There are those who want to live on welfare and handouts and call Poor Bugger Me. There are other Aussies who work hard to create a future for themselves and others that will be better than what exists now.

Li Cunxin
Australia Day brings with it recognition of people who make an outstanding contribution to the community. Each state and territory has Australians of the Year and there is a national award as well. My favourite for this year is Li Cunxin the famous ballet dancer who now is an Australian citizen. If you have read his book, Mao's Last Dancer, or seen him interviewed you will know he is a remarkable person. He now lives in Brisbane where he is artistic director of the Queensland ballet.

If you like the slightly quirky, this is one local event being held at the Humpty Doo Hotel, just a little way out of town. Would you like to place a bet? No, I won't either, but after a few cool drinks at the bar enough people will. Best of all the show continues even in the rain.
http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/cheers-to-crap-luck/story-fnk0b1zt-1226810270781

It has not rained at all today - so far. I can see lots of blue sky. A cruise liner, the Seadream II, is in port. Not far from my window the Chung Wah Society are rehearsing for Chinese New Year. Workers in hi-vis clothing are trying to get as much work done as possible on the tall buildings while the rain holds off. Life is looking pretty good right now. I should make a batch of jam drops.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Wishes

Do you make wishes?

Oh, yes, I am definitely guilty of this. And why do I feel guilty? "Thou shalt not covet." Was that drummed into your psyche too?

Do you save the wishbone of the chicken and pull it with a friend? For years I saved those wishbones for the fun of making a wish. I lined them up along the kitchen window sill. My family laughed at that. In the end I stopped buying whole chickens and threw all the saved wishbones in the bin. There was no fun for me in this type of wishing.

Do you wish when you blow out birthday candles?

Do you wish to win prizes? Do you buy raffle tickets because of the prize rather than to support an organisation? I admit I have done this.

Do you buy TattsLotto tickets and mentally plan how you will live with the prize money? I do sometimes. My husband never buys any raffle tickets because he sees it as gambling. No Lotto tickets or Scratchies for him.

Will I wish for world peace? No. That is definitely a waste of effort. There will always be conflict of some type. Peaceful and harmonious coexistence is something to aim for but ultimately unattainable worldwide. I could wish for some peace on a smaller scale, but I think it is a level of dissent which causes society to strive for justice.

Will I wish for beauty? No, that is pointless as nobody would know me then. I am imperfect and interesting, not beautiful. Maybe I could wish to apply myself more diligently to staying healthy though. And improve my grooming a bit. I could wish to develop a good working relationship with a hairdresser.

Will I wish for more money? Yes, I think so; a good idea. Now, how much? Enough to live comfortably, but not ostentatiously. Enough to have a new car, a truly new car not just a different one. Enough for the fuel, insurance, registration, maintenance and servicing for that car. Enough for a trip each year to somewhere interesting. Enough to give my children a home each. I would need an accountant to help me deal with all that money. I would need to win TattsLotto. Maybe it is simpler to be less wealthy. Maybe those homeless people on the streets have mastered that wish already.

What does this teach? Greed? Kindness? Appreciation?
What about the way we wish for gifts at Christmas time or for birthdays? As a child I received one gift from Santa Claus and one gift from my parents. It was dependent on good behaviour as well. Now children compose long lists of what they want, wish for, or expect as gifts. There are no connections to behaviour. People are asked to donate gifts so less fortunate children may receive more gifts. I recognise that it is about kindness towards others but is this also wishing gone mad? Does this encourage greed? Do I want to be part of that? No. I will not wish for gifts. I will not encourage others to wish for gifts either. A Christmas or birthday gift is a bonus and should not be a requirement. It really is the thought that counts. Perhaps I should wish to be less sanctimonious about this????

But wishes can mean different things to different people. For some it means your directions when you are unable to look after yourself any more. Like a letter accompanying your will. Is it my wish to be kept on life support for years? Do I wish for a fancy funeral? Do I wish my organs to be donated? I have already made my expectations plain to my family. For me these are not wishes, but more like demands or edicts.

I definitely wish for more strength of character. For backbone, not wishbone. For effort not greed.

I wish that my family members and friends would have less adversity and more joy.

I wish to be honest, thoughtful, appreciative, and to show kindness.

I wish to be useful not decorative, although a combination of the two would be rather nice.

I wish for my life to be respected even after my death.

I wish for the ability to see options and choices rather than to feel defeated.

Wishes are rather like goals without the stuffing, aren't they? We can wish without accountability. There is no blame when the wishes do not come true. What are you wishing for your life?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Winnie the Pooh pictures

I am quite fond of the Winnie the Pooh stories and pictures. I remember my mother reading these to me at bedtime. I remember reading them myself as a child. And to my children. And to children at school.

Here are some pictures that have appeared on Facebook recently. I am assuming they do not breach copyright because it is less than 10% of the whole work, or something.

I like these very much.

Winnie the Pooh is a character in four books by A.A. Milne and first appeared in 1924 in a poem, later in charming stories. The illustrations were done by E.H. Shepard. The stories are simple and the action is slightly misguided. Charming. Very like the thoughts of children.

I once taught a wonderful little boy named Christopher Robin, named after the boy who owned Winnie the Pooh.

The real Christopher Robin playing
with the real Winnie the Pooh.
I am not attracted to Piglet, Tigger or any of the other characters. I recall a voice of Pooh, a wobbly male voice; maybe that is Ian Carmichael maybe it is Stephen Fry. Many fine actors have done these stories over the years.

A.A. Milne sold the rights to Pooh to Stephen Slesinger in 1930. This became the first licensing agreement, like we have so commonly today with film merchandise. Disney bought it in 1961. It is a complicated arrangement. In 1932 Slesinger put Pooh in a red shirt, as in the top picture here. The other picture by Shepard has Pooh with no shirt. Shepard sometimes put Pooh in a shirt but Shepard's drawings have no colours.

I do not like the newer Disney versions of Winnie the Pooh, but that is to do with my taste in general. Other people like them and they are in the modern style. The lack of detail in the drawings matches the characters and is probably more suited to the minds of children. The new stories are similar, but I am very conservative in this area. The new material and new versions do popularise something beneficial and that is of merit.

My mother kept our A.A. Milne books for the next generation. I have done the same.

Wikipedia has lots of information.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winnie-the-Pooh


Friday, 17 January 2014

Keep calm and put up with the weather

While parts of Australia swelter and burn I am living with cool wet weather.

The humidity here is in the range of 80% and upward to 98% and yes even 100%. It is drizzly rain with squally patches. Cool? Yes, Darwin was the coldest capital city in the country the other day as the maximum reached only 26 degrees C. Adelaide, Melbourne, and Perth have been really hot lately, over 40 degrees. One day this week Adelaide was the hottest city on Earth. Not necessarily the hottest place on Earth, but the hottest city where weather is recorded.

Perhaps you have heard of the problems at the tennis, the Australian Open, in Melbourne. The players are the focus of attention, but the officials and spectators have been dropping like flies from heat exhaustion. They are unable to move about and catch any cool air. The temperatures have been over 40 degrees and the air is still. Only one court has a cover and it has not been used. I feel that there should have been intervention earlier, but the management has to placate people who have tight schedules and others who have travelled long distances to watch the games. I do not know all the available information. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/15/sport/tennis/australian-open-weather-heat/

Infrared image courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency. Blue Marble surface image courtesy of NASA.
If you look at this weather map you can see what is happening. The cloud at the top is the monsoon, over northern Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia. The humid air from the monsoon is pushing hot dry air south over the land. This land is already hot and dry so the air gets hotter and drier until it is fiery scorching horrible. That air is pushed over the big cities in the south. The extreme heat causes lightning. This lightning is not bringing rain, but it does strike trees and start bushfires. The bushfires make life worse for wildlife, farms, and people. The bushfire situation is dreadful.

Because it is so hot people are relying on electrical appliances and there are now problems with that supply too. Phone and internet services are overloaded. The heat also causes other structural problems, such as buckling of train tracks and malfunctions in equipment.

You can see from the cloud photo that the rain is heading southwards and the hot weather will ease, especially in Adelaide today. You can also see that it will rain in Alice Springs today, which is almost in the centre of the land mass.


Our weather maps are a composite of data and maps from several sources. If you like these things, here is a link which explains it. http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/satellite/about_images.shtml

Here is a link to Tania's blog from Port Augusta in South Australia. She has a photo of her weather station screen. http://outbacktania.blogspot.com.au/ Tania has an interesting lifestyle and writes well.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Sauerbraten sauce

Today I made some more sauerbraten sauce for having on hand in the freezer. Whaaa???

Once upon a time, 30 years ago, when my husband was trying to impress me with his cooking skills and general sophistication, he cooked sauerbraten for a candlelit dinner. It was wonderful, or maybe the setting had something to do with it. I have attempted this dish once myself but somehow the flavour was different. Then, bingo, as I read some blogs last week I came across meatballs in sauerbraten sauce. I tried the sauce and really liked it. We had it with sausages and it really lifted that cheap meal.

How does it taste? It is a European version of sweet and sour; no pineapple or capsicum, no food colouring, lots of ginger. It tastes fruity, sour, sweet, and gingery. German/Austrian/Bavarian? Traditionally this sauce is thickened with crushed ginger snaps. Ha! If I had any ginger snaps I would be gobbling them with ice cream.

So today I made a fresh supply ready for some other boring meal that needs a rescue. This sauce is better than Gravox.

                    Sauerbraten sauce.
This looks a bit like dog vomit, but that is my photography.
I used some left over mixed fruit with the raisins.
The lumpy white bits are ginger. 
Ingredients
    1 onion, finely minced
    1 cup beef stock
    ground pepper ( maybe a few black peppercorns)
    3 Tablespoons brown sugar
    1 cup raisins (or something similar)
    2 Tablespoons lemon juice / red wine vinegar
    1 teaspoon your favourite spices (I like ground cloves)
    3 teaspoons fresh ginger (more is better, powdered is fine)
Optional extras : bay leaves, tomato paste, grated lemon rind.
Method
Put all these ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves.
Thicken the sauce with some flour dissolved in cool water.

My photography skills are terrible. I assure you it tastes delicious. This quantity makes just about a cupful. I divided it into three containers, each one will do two serves.

If you did this whole thing correctly you would marinade a big piece of beef in the mixture for a few days, then cook it in a pot. Not roasted. The meat is taken out and the sauce thickened. I think it is served with apples and potatoes. A gorgeous boyfriend, candlelight, wine, soft music, and dreams of romance add to the meal. Sausages, TV news, water in a beer glass, and same bloke but much older still works for me.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Railway Man

I went to see the film The Railway Man with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. It is based on a true story, the autobiography of Eric Lomax.

It was not quite what I was expecting after seeing the trailers, but it was still worth it for me.

My father survived the Burma railway. This film is about another man who also survived. And how he survived later.

We all know war is terrible. But living with the memories is also terrible. In Australia the method after World War II was to never mention anything that had happened. The soldiers who came back from overseas later did not receive their medals or awards. They were simply told to get on with life and try to forget what had happened. So they lived with horrific nightmares, day and night, not just after returning but for the rest of their lives.

There is no real solution of course. Policies have changed a little over time. Today when soldiers come back from duty they speak out more. There is medical support, retraining, and housing loans to ease the difficulties. I hope that support is always there. Dad needed it quite a lot as he got much older. I suppose that was when he no longer had the courage to defeat his own mind.

In this film Eric Lomax deals unsuccessfully with the memories of the torture and the deaths he saw and experienced. Lots of this is glossed over quickly. A drawing pad is used to show some. My father mentioned only a couple of times to me some of what he had witnessed. Mum said a little about how he had been tortured. In the film we see Lomax subjected to waterboarding, a torture used even today by the US.

How does it end? Actually it ends in much the same way it did for Dad and for my family. Lomax makes peace with one of his torturers, a man who battles his own demons.

This is a poor photo of Dad.
Courage does not show.
My father was religious in a very private way. He never spoke to us of hatred or revenge or ethnic vilification. Never, never a bad word about anyone at all. At home he never swore, or threw down a tool, or did anything to show anger. Of course I do not know how it was between Dad and Mum and how they dealt with his life experiences. Dad did not object when I travelled to Japan on my first overseas trip. He lived in south east Asia for many years as part of his job. He simply made peace with himself and worked out a solution in his mind. When he grew very old, that's when it came a little undone.

When my children were teenagers we hosted some Japanese exchange students on a school sponsored trip. Two boys stayed with us. Lovely boys. I mentioned that my children's grandfather had worked on the Burma railway. One boy told us his grandfather had also been there, as a Japanese soldier. Nothing changed at all. After all, every soldier does what his country asks. The boy was not anybody's enemy. His grandfather was an old man who faced his own demons. Just as Eric Lomax and Takashi Nagase did.

The Railway Man is difficult to watch at times. It is about real love, not running away. Colin Firth gets it right. He does the same breathing thing my Dad did. How would anybody know about that? Nicole Kidman is good as the loyal and stoic wife, just like my mother was. Courage is in everyday life.

Would I read the book written by the real Eric Lomax? Yes, but I'm not ready for that yet.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Not a good time for the beach

Our Wet Season days are hot and humid. Good weather for a swim. The sea looks beautiful, sparkling and blue.
Stay out of the sea at this time of year though.

Apart from the salt water crocodiles which are always present around here, we also have box jellyfish in the sea during the Wet Season.

Our box jellyfish is Chironex fleckeri. It is very hard to see in the water unless you are directly above it. The tentacles are the dangerous part and are very long and fine. Most people are stung by pieces of tentacle that are floating in the water. It is much more serious if you brush up against a live stinger. The sting can be fatal. The venom paralyses your heart and the sting is very painful. If the sting is minor then you will be left with a scar that looks like a red line, but gradually heals.

These photos were taken at one of the local beaches last week.
You can not see the tentacles,
which can still sting a long time after the animal dies.
How big are they? The tentacles can be about 2 metres long but the square-ish shaped body is only about 15 centimetres across.
  
Are they there all the time? No. For most of the year they live out at sea, but during the Wet they come closer to shore to feed. If the weather is really rough the stingers head out to deeper water. Sometimes I have seen them in the tidal creeks too. Occasionally they may be washed up on the beach as in these photos. They will still sting so do not pick one up to look at it.

Have I been stung? No, but my daughter had a minor sting once.

Is it possible to be in the sea and avoid the stings? Yes. Shops sell stinger suits which are a bit like wetsuits but made of lycra. You could still be stung on the face, hands, or feet so care should be exercised. If you are stung the advice is to pour vinegar over the area liberally and get medical help.

Where can I swim? In a pool. Crocs, stingers. Are there sharks too? Of course.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Something nice for a weekend breakfast

Usually I eat fruit for breakfast and my husband has muesli with homemade yoghurt. And a cuppa. But at weekends we have something different. We are not big eaters as we are not particularly active.

I made these savoury pancakes this time, and froze the extras for another fine morning. Eggs and vegetables and no sugar - that's healthy. I know that in Japan they eat savoury pancakes with meat in them as well, but probably not for breakfast.
Yes, I made some small ones, about pikelet size, but we gobbled them as fast as they were made. I hope you like them as much as we do.

Potato Flakes Pancakes

Makes about 7 good pancakes.
One pancake with sweet chilli sauce makes a breakfast
Ingredients
·     1 cup plain flour
·     1 1/4 cups potato flakes
·     2 teaspoons baking powder
·     1 teaspoon salt
·     2 1/2 cups milk
·     2 tablespoons vegetable oil
·     2 large eggs
·     1/4 cup shredded carrot (optional)
I made these pancakes quite thick.
·     1 onion, finely chopped
·     3 cloves garlic, minced

Method

  1. Microwave the onion, garlic and carrot.
  2. Heat a griddle to medium-high heat.
  3. Combine the flour and the vegetables in a bowl.
  4. Add potato flakes, baking powder and salt to the vegetables. Mix well.
  5. In medium bowl, combine milk, oil and eggs. Beat well. Pour into the dry ingredients.
  6. Combine well.
  7. Melt butter in the pan ready for cooking.
  8. For each pancake, ladle 1/2 cup batter onto a hot griddle. Cook thoroughly because they are thick.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Learning something new about Christmas

I spend far too much time fiddling about on the internet. (Also known as wasting time, avoiding responsibilities, and being lazy.)

I found this interesting blog post. Click on it and take a look.
http://farmhouseponderings.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/it-was-wonderful-christmas-its-not.html
This is the lovely header on The Easily Influenced Stitcher.

Yes, The Easily Influenced Stitcher obviously knows lots about Christmas customs. Some of these I did not know. I am so ignorant about the basics; I did not even know about Candlemas. It makes sense, but perhaps children were sheltered from those images during the 50s, 60s, 70s, and more.
I really like the idea of keeping the present opening until Twelfth Night. It would be quite meaningful then; after all, I doubt there is any genuine record of gifts other than those from The Magi.
And the shops could really go berserk for so much longer.
Keeping the decorations up for longer would give so many people so much more pleasure too. The weather is always dodgy after Christmas and it takes ages to write all those thank you letters, so seeing those pretty things would be comforting.

Now, I do not really approve of too many gifts as I feel that loud displays of wealth can be a bit dodgy, but ... this lady has a different culture from mine. Things do look both lovely and loving in her home.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The early bird is catching someone

Guess what I saw in Woolworths Supermarket this morning?

Apparently some supermarkets had them yesterday. $3.50 for 6 buns.
Two packets for $7.

Yes, choccie chip buns too. And the mini ones.



Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year's Day 2014

Ah, those resolutions. What can I really stick with? I think that in the past year I did manage to improve my outlook on Life a bit and live more of the lifestyle I truly want. A bit. So this year I will continue with two aspects of that.

Firstly, I will do better at looking after my appearance. This is always dreadfully difficult due to all that conditioning as a child when we were solemnly taught that we must not be vain. Humility and service to others were the big issues at that time. I will work to overcome this deeply-ingrained philosophy by caring more for my body so that it lasts the distance with as few problems as possible. Skin. Waistline. Flexibility. Bones. Not selfish MeTime, but healthy care. Phew! That resolution is a biggie.

Secondly, I will learn more business skills. My small business is as busy as I can deal with now, but if I develop better business knowledge then it could grow and be more effective.

Well, can I stick with these? Will I?