Showing posts from November, 2010


Statistics — most people go into a spin when they hear this word. 
Statistics are all around us, however they are used all too often to convince (or manipulate) the public.  Those in government use the numbers to tells us things are improving (this is particularly the case with economic statistics), whilst the opposition uses the same numbers to tell us things are going bad, downhill. Others use the data to convince us that we need to change — the way we think is no longer the norm and it is time to make some changes for the common good of the country.  
So who is telling the truth? 
The problem is, we live in a society that is not statistically literate.  Therefore many people would not have a clue if the statistics they are being fed are accurately or not.   This is particularly the case during elections — beware of any statistics you hear, they are used to manipulate the truth and both sides do it — in all countries.
All of this gives statistics are very bad name, for me, they tell …

What have I be reading?

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

I have watched the "Sound of Music" many times and I thought I knew the story - after reading Maria's life story, I realise I didn't really now much at all.

Here are some facts:
Maria went to the Von Trapp household to care for only one child (Maria) who had been sick with scarlet fever.Maria did encourage the children to sing, but no "Do Ra Me" or "Climb Every Mountain", rather hymns and other classical music.The Von Trapps had 10 children, three were Maria's childrenThey climbed no mountains when leaving Austria - they caught a train to Italy. The Baron wasn't being chased by the Nazis. Before they leave Austria, the Baron lost all his money due to financial collapse, they were poor before they sailed to the USA. From the time the Baron and Maria marries (1927) to the war is around 10 years - in this time Maria has 2 children. Instead of the fictional Max Detweiler, pushy music p…


This handsome young man is my grandfather, he would have been in his twenty's when this was taken - rather dashing. 
My brothers and I mucking about in summer!! Being ladylike wasn't something I was considering much at the age of 2!
My mum (in her twenty's) with her niece and nephew. What a pretty dress she was wearing.

The Simple Woman's Daybook #4

Outside my window - overcast after a sunny day, rain has been promised.  Warm

What am I thinking - how lovely it has been spending 2 hours with my elderly neighbour, enjoying a cup of tea, a mince pie and chatting.   She showed me some of the Christmas presents she has bought for her grandchildren and she has given me some ideas.
What am I thankful for - that my husband and sons have safe jobs that when they go off to work, they are more than likely to be coming home in the evening.  Thinking of the 29 miners who have died doing their job at the Pike River mine in New Zealand.  How harrowing it much be for the families who have lost loved ones.  Mining is such a dangerous occupation, but we use so much of this natural resource I am sure we don't think very often of the men who dig it all up for us and the dangers they face.
What am I wearing - demin skirt and red/white t shirt.
I am going - nowhere, been out this morning to buy a few things + food.  Bought a handbag yesterday after…

Complete trivia!!

On the 23rd November, 1913, the Violet Crumble bar came into being in Melbourne, Australia — why am I blogging about this— to celebrate my favourite chocolate bar on its 97th birthday!

It’s creator (Abel Hoadley) wanted to call his new bar just “Crumble”, but learned that it was not possible to protect the name with a trademark. He thought of his wife (Susannah) and her favourite flower, the violet, and registered the name Violet Crumble, using a purple wrapper with a small flower logo.  Isn’t that romantic. Hoadley, a devout Methodist, treated his staff very well, support the Pay Board and was known for having premises that were praised for their cleanliness, airiness and well-equipped dining rooms.

What is your favourite chocolate bar?

P.S. When I eat Violet Crumble (or any chocolate in fact ) I always freeze it first and once it has gone crunchy, sit down with a cup of tea and my icy cold chocolate.  Delicious.  Just need to be careful when eating frozen toffee chocolate in case you…

Recipe: Carmalised Onions

I am a fan of caramalised onions.  I use to buy it ready made from a gourmet shop, until my son suggested I make it myself. As it takes 30 minutes to make, I often double the recipe and have some stored in the fridge for later.   I love it on: lamb or steak, in onion tarts, on top of mash potato, hamburgers, pizza . . . . . basically it tastes great and versatile. 
2 tbs olive oil3 large red or brown onions, sliced (I use the Spanish onion)2 tbs brown sugar1-2 tbs balsamic vinegarMethod
Heat oil in a large frypan over low heat. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt and cook very slowly for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from catching. Don't be tempted to turn the heat up, as you don't want the onions to burn.

When onions are softened and tinged golden, add sugar and balsamic - this will start the caramelisation process. Cook onion over low heat for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sticky and caramelised. Use immediately,…

Art Wednesday

So far I have avoided the most famous painters - ones that everyone knows, but today I thought I would do one of my favourites, the Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675).  The painting below "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" would have to be my all time favourite and if I had the money to buy just one painting this would be it - don't ask me why as I am not sure, but there is something special about it - perhaps the stillness.
In 1994 this painting was restored which involved removing the yellowed varnish along with the retouches that had been made during previous restorations. This resulted in the vivid colors originally used by Vermeer shining through and the intimacy of the girl's gaze was also greatly enhanced.
Vermeer is most famous for his domestic interior scenes such as "The Milkmaid" below - capturing a moment in time, just as a camera does - a woman engrossed in her task, in the stillness of her surroundings - so much captured in such a small…


We should always remember that the trials of life are sent for our good and our instructions.  God knows what keys in the human soul to touch in order to draw out its sweetness.  Do not think that uninterrupted joy is good.  The sunshine lies upon the mountaintop all day, and lingers there latest and longest at eventide.  Yet it is the valley that is green and fertile, while the peak is barren and unfruitful.
Life that is all sunshine and no shade, all happiness without sorrow, all pleasure without pain, is not life at all.  Life is made up of joys and sorrows, and the joys are all the sweeter becuase of the sorrows From "The Golden Gems of Life" by Ferguson & Allen

However when in the middle of a trial, it is all darkness and misery.  It is hard to see anything positive in times of hardship. 

Photo source: link, link
Wishing you all a lovely week
To those celebrating Thanksgiving this week may the day be filled with joy and laughter.

This week I plan to do (God willing): Write my annual family Christmas letter ready to send shortly (I write an update of our goings on and send it around to family and friends with a Christmas card).Attend a work (my team) Christmas lunch on the 25th - we are going Spanish this year - being a small group, this is always an enjoyable meal.Enjoy the warm sunshine by sitting outside.Buy a new "everyday" handbag, this is always hard as I am fussy about bags - mine has died :-( Start a new book, yet to decide what as I have a pile to select from!Go to work, however it would be much nicer to be sitting in the garden reading as the weather is going to be so good this week!!  However, I have a research paper to finish.
What are you up to this week? ~oOo~

Look up when feeling down

When you are:
 can't solve a problem
need some guidance
 want someone to talk to
feeling sad
God is waiting to hear from you

Photo: Ruby -- not she wasn't really stuck - just "hiding"!!

Around the house: kitchen utensils

What would you consider the "essential" utensils in your kitchen?

I was reading a newspaper article (on-line) yesterday which listed the top 10 utensils for your kitchen - thinking I would find some really useful, what I found instead was expensive and very useless items such as pineapple peelers and something you do with strawberries to remove their tops!!!

So I thought I would list the 10 items in my kitchen that I use all the time:
I have excluded such things as wooden spoons and spatulas as they are a given in every home (I would assume).
Microwave - this is used all the time to stream veggies, re-heat, defrost, melt chocolate and the list goes on.  I doubt my sons could live without a microwave.Fry pan - I use this almost every night to cook the meat and find it useful when cooking bolognaise sauce, chilli con carne etc..Grater - this comes in very handy in summer when I grate carrots and cheese for salads.Potato masher - as you may remember from a previous blog, my DH lov…
Gone to heaven

My DH's mother passed away on Wednesday afternoon after a long illness
No longer in pain.
AndGod shall wipe awayalltearsfromtheireyes;and there shall benomoredeath,neithersorrow,nor crying,neithershall there be any morepain:for the former things are passed away. Revelations 21:4

(photo taken 20 years ago with 2 of her grandchildren, my sons cousins)

Around the home: finance

How to be a Good Wife  (1933)
Advice on finance Don't waste hard earned money in the endeavour to keep up appearances.Do not be led into buying something that you do not want simply because it is cheap (!)Keep accounts.Don't neglect to pay your bills regularly.Do not rush into lavish expenditure that you really cannot afford.   Do try always to be economical but don't let it develop into unnecessary pinching and saving.Don't expect to begin where our parents left off.  Remember that their standard of comfort is the result of many years of labour and that a little hardship and struggle at the outset won't hurt you but make the easier time that comes later all the more pleasant. Claim your separate allowance and see that you don't exceed it.Things haven't changed much since the 1930's when it comes to finances in the home. These are all still pretty relevant today as they were back then. Perhaps more so as people buy on credit cards and have much easier acc…

Art Wednesday

Kate Greenaway (17 March 1846 – 6 November 1901)
Children’s illustrator 
Kate Greenaway was the daughter of John Greenaway, a wood-engraver for Punch and the Illustrated London News. Kate received no formal education and was taught by local women, who themselves, had received no formal schooling. At the age of 12 she was given an education focusing on art and by 17 she had won several awards.  Her life was angelic and said it  “. . . was like a paradise."  This can be seen in her illustrations.
The children in her drawings were dressed in her own versions of late eighteenth century and Regency fashions: smock-frocks and skeleton suits for boys, high-waisted pinafores and dresses with mobcaps and straw bonnets for girls. The simplicity and charm of her watercolours appealed to the general public and made her work very popular.
This link will take you to some of her books (original) and the gentle artwork she was known for:…


On Sunday night I watched “Amish Grace” and cried my way through it —tissues are a must have for this film.   For those unfamiliar with the film, it depicts the true story of the 2007 Nickel Mine shootings  in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where 10 Amish school girls are shot, killing 5 of them.   The film does fictionalise some parts and characters, however the true message is not lost — one of forgiveness.  In the case of the Nickel Mine shootings, the Amish community forgave the man who killed their daughters and rallied around the wife of the shooter to provide her with comfort and support.
The message is clear, hatred and angry (on a large or small scale) only eats away at us, in the end destroying us — no matter what happens, we should always forgive and trust fully in the Lord to provide all the strength that we need in giving that forgiveness.  I can't help but think, when watching this film, of the following question: "what would I do in that same situation"? …

Stock piling

Would you have enough food for three days if there as a pandemic and health authorities ordered everyone to stay at home?  Would you have enough food and water without power and water supplies?
According to research undertaken in Queensland (state of Australia) last year, 93% said yes, they did have enough food - however only 53% had enough if power or water supplies were interrupted.
And did you know that supermarket stocks would be depleted with 2 to 4 weeks with replenishment from the suppliers.  
I have enough tinned food to last more than 3 days and as I store long-life milk I have plenty for at least a week, however I don't store water (don't own a tank) and live some distances from a creek.  It does get you thinking about this sort of event.   Without the ability to cook, things start to become a problem before too long. However I do have a very tall gum tree which I could start to use as fire wood!!! 
Those who live in the countryside would be better off than those who li…

Random photos

The view from my front porch just after a thunderstorm. It looked like the sky was on fire. A snail enjoying the damp humid weather. Eating one of my daisies. Snails are welcome in my garden as long as they stay away from the annuals! Pig face (belongs to the succulent family) For one week a year it bursts into flower and adds vibrant colour to the garden. The remainder of the year it is an ugly ground cover!
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Happy weekend
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The Simple Woman's Daybook #3

Outside my window - the sun is shinning but I can see threatening clouds (we have been promised rain and a thunderstorm).   A few birds are singing on this muggy hot day (the first heat for the season).
What am I thinking - about my mother-in-law who will not be with us for much longer and organsing an air ticket for DH asap.
What am I thankful for - the arrival of spring and watching the bloom in the garden take over and create a patchwork of colour and smells
What am I wearing - a cotton summer skirt in pale pinks, purples and black + a t-skirt, it is nice to be in summer clothes for a change!
I am going - nowhere today as it is late afternoon and I need to think about dinner and taking the washing off the line.
I am reading - I have just started Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America by Jeff Pollard - I have no views on it yet as I have only read the first chapter
I am hoping - that I can book this flight for DH in the next few hour and he can be on a plane tomorrow mo…


If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

If you plant hard work, you will reap success

If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

If you plant faith in Christ, you will reap a harvest.

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you reap later.

From: The Golden Gems of Life by Ferguson and Allen

Remembrance Day 11 November

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below 

The tragedy of war 
To all those mothers who never saw their sons again.
As a mother I cannot imagine the sadness and grief these women felt.
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Art Wednesday

William de Morgan: 1839-1917 (member of the Arts and Crafts Movement)

William de Morgan was a prolific potter and an excellent designer with his achievements in the world of design varied from stained glass to furniture painting, but he is probably most celebrated for the glorious Persian, Iznik, and figurial designs which he recreated onto tiles and ceramics (see below).  His works are so full of colour and life - I particularly like his works.
Born in Chester on 16th November 1839 to an intellectual family, De Morgan’s father, Augustus was a professor of Mathematics and his wife Sophia Elizabeth Freud was well known for campaigning with Elizabeth Fry to promote prison reform.
At 20 he enrolled with the Royal Academy Schools to learn and progress his talent - this is where he met William Morris (the guy who designed wallpaper) and a founding member of the Arts and Craft Movement.  Briefly, the Arts and Craft movement was to do with handcrafted decorative works of art which began in t…