Choose life. Life is wonderful.

Saturday, 14 January 2017


How true is this statement!

It is so easy to say you love or care about someone but it is showing you care by actions that is important.

Last night we went to the Sunset Movies at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens with some of Peter's family. We went to see the movie 'Trolls'. Justin Timberlake was the voice for one of the main characters and I was interested to see in the credits that Russell Brandt and John Cleese also had parts.

 It was fun.  It did pour with rain just before the movie started, but we all managed to shelter under a picnic blanket and then retrieved some umbrellas out of the car.

It was a lovely evening. Peter and I will have to look into going another night and seeing a more adult movie. There seems to be a range of movies over the summer - child and adult; old and new. Click here if you want to find out more.

I always look forward to the  Crepe Myrtle trees flowering down in Balgownie Village, but they are not as prolific this year as last year.

I did spot this one in the Botanic Gardens last night.

It's not a great photo. I took it really quickly through sprinkling rain as we were heading up to watch the outdoor movie mentioned above, but it does give you an idea of how pretty they can be.

I intend to do some research on propagating crepe myrtles and see if I can grow them from a few cuttings taken from down in the village.

It is interesting watching the succulents I planted before Christmas start to take off. You can see the tiny little plantlets  starting to grow on the edge of a larger leaf. It really is fascinating watching them grow.

You can find some interesting information about propagating succulents here.

I put a vase of Vietnamese mint on my windowsill last week...

and in a couple of days it had grown these roots.

I was very surprised at how quickly they grew. So I decided to try propagating them and have put a few cuttings in pots.

I'm not sure how they will go. We have had a heatwave and they seem to be taking a while to get going.

I am moving a bookshelf and not looked at the books in it for ages. Some of them I can't even remember buying,
These are some of the books I found. I can't wait to start looking through them. I have just been too busy to read the books I have bought over the last couple of years and this year I am changing that.

The first book I am starting with is The Idiot's Guide to Plant Based-Nutrition by Julieanna Hever (2011,Penguin.) I can't even remember buying it, but I think I must have bought it on Amazon a few years ago. It is available here at Booktopia.

The more I read and learn, and look at my family history, the more I consider that a plant-based diet is the way for me to go. I consider myself a piscatorian as I eat fish but tend to avoid other animal products except for some cheeses like feta and Parmesan. I do eat meat to be polite if necessary.
I will let you know if this book is useful next week.

Meanwhile you may be interested in the recipe for some vegan fudge I have just made based on black beans and with no added sugar. In the photo below it has just been taken out of the freezer, which I think is the best way to eat it.

 I found the recipe here at Peachypalate. I made a double quantity. I used turtle black beans; date paste instead of Mejool dates, to make it a bit cheaper; and ordinary cocoa. It's not a terribly sweet fudge but Peter likes it and it is high in protein from the black beans. 

Even though it is holidays I administered 2 reading tests this week for young primary school students who were having some difficulty reading. As is usual with students with a reading problem, these two were not sure of their vowel sounds. Over the years I have had to teach 16 and 17 years olds their vowel sounds. One of the best things you can do for your children before they start school is have them recognise the 5 vowels: a,e,i,o,u, and the short sounds they represent.

If you would like some information on ways to teach your child vowel sounds check here,

I am aiming to post this blog on Saturdays and am hoping to become more successful at that as time goes on. I guess a day late isn't too bad.

Don't forget to check out Bean Stuff  to follow  my daughter's and son-in-law's gardening and creative adventures. They will give you ideas for living a rich life on a very limited budget.

Interesting sites

 Homeschooling in a VW van
Photo source
Click here  to read about homeschooling 3 children in a VW van.

Crazy windsurfers in hurricane waves
Photo source
Click here to see windsurfers surfing the waves in hurricane conditions.

Photo source
 I love the handmade bags and shoes at Fairysteps in the UK. Click here to see their beautiful creations.

Saturday, 7 January 2017


This quote links up with the current popular idea in psychology about 'being in the present' or 'mindfulness'. Often we are distracted and not enjoying the present moment, but I thought it was a bit much when I did a course recently about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and the homework given was to be mindful when you are doing the dishes and concentrate on every aspect of the process so you can really appreciate it - the shapes of the dishes; the feel of the water etc. 

I couldn't really see the point of this. Isn't it better to escape with your thoughts somewhere else when doing something so tedious and mundane as washing dishes? I do not enjoy doing dishes so why not make plans for the next craft project, or picnic or whatever, so that that experience becomes richer from the planning. At the same time I can 'escape' from the tedium of dish washing.

I think it is really important to appreciate the small moments in life because this is what life is made of, but there are just some moments I really can't enjoy. In fact there are times when I look forward, such as when my car has broken down, and I just think, "In a couple of hours this will all be over and everything will be back to normal and what seems like a big problem now will be solved." I must admit that while I wait for the NRMA I am in the moment playing 'Words With Friends.'

So on with 2017!

The first day of 2017 was spent at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens with some of Peter's family. (Please note that I have not shown people's faces so as to maintain their privacy.)

The duck pond was a highlight.

Going through the rain forest section was fun.

The oriental bridge was unusual but not ideal for a stroller.

Two cousins found a 'tent'.

Orchids in the greenhouse.

Grandson number 1 in the cacti house

Number 1 grandson outside with giant Cacti.

On 3rd January Peter's elder daughter came down with her two beautiful daughters and we went for a bike ride at Stuart Park.

We had lunch at Diggies and I had the most delicious mussels in wine sauce with sourdough bread.

I must cook some mussels again. Peter doesn't like them but they are high in iron and low in calories.

This was the view from our table, out onto North Wollongong Beach

My Vietnamese mint grows at a great rate and threatens to take over my garden so I picked a lush bunch and placed it in the kitchen window where I can pick the leaves at whim.

These sprayed candlesticks turned out well. I bought them at Vinnies for $5.

This is before:

This is after:

I have plans for them

Happy Birthday

Today is my wonderful daughter's 37th birthday. Life has been a bit of a struggle for her but she had always acted with a lot of integrity and never tried to take the easy path. Much of this is due to the support of her partner who is also her carer. I am not allowed to talk about her on this blog (which she prefers not to read) so if nobody tells her she won't know that I have told you that if you would like to see some of her artwork Google Jade Pegler. She is in the stable of artists at You can see some of her last exhibition at Gallery 9 here.

Here is just one example of her work from her last exhibition.

Rhiannon's garden

My daughter Rhiannon and her husband are gradually establishing a garden. They are up to their second raised veggie bed.

I love watching the progress they make. You can follow their progress here on You Tube.

And in deference to many of my family members I will leave you with this.

Interesting sites


Solo Mountain Climber has no fear
Photo source
It is all to do with the amygdala. Click here to read more.

 Automated car park
Photo source
Click here to view the video of this automated car park.

 Vavasseur's cats
Photo source
Raphael Vavasseur does beautiful but unusual paintings of cats. Click here to see more.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

HELLO 2017

Be what you are. Give what is yours to give. Have style. Dare.
Stanley Kunitz

A new year! 

A whole lot of new plans and a lot learned from last year (especially over Christmas). To put it briefly I ended up with some problems with PTSD because I didn't look after myself properly in 2016 - I just tried to do too much and left no time for myself. I have done that before and I thought I was too smart to do it again. It has ended up causing a lot of heartache for a lot of people, especially my wonderful Peter. 

I spent last year playing 'catch-up' - never getting time to sort out my cluttered house;  never getting time to do the craft and decorating I planned; never getting enough time to keep up with friends and family; never getting time to go away in our caravan.

So goodbye to last year and Christmas (which I have chosen not to document) and hello to a restful year of creativity and a new, stronger me.

I plan to decorate my house.  I planned to do that last year but with a virtually non-existent budget I have to give myself time. Creativity needs to take the place of money. I can't afford to pay people to decorate and I can't afford new furniture so I have to find other ways of decorating.

(Much to Peter's... horror?..confusion?...bewilderment?) I plan to do my house white with a hint of Scandinavia and Christmas (Scandi-Christmas) and if it doesn't work out - nothing lost - just a bit of time and spray paint. But I am predicting it will be great. Check out my Pinterest Decorating page here.

Below is a cane side table I picked up from the side of the road in the rain just before Christmas.

Peter sprayed it white for me. (I think he is beginning to appreciate the wonders of spray paint.) It still has its Christmas decorations on it. The beads top right were beads my mother had when I was a child. I don't think she ever wore them but I loved to play with them and they come out at Christmas.

I bought these candlesticks at Vinnies for $5.

 I actually began spraying them silver before I remembered to take a photo so they already have a bit of silver around them. I will have the finished results in my next post.

I struggle with diaries and calendars. When I am standing at a counter or on the phone making an appointment I don't want to be rifling through pages or checking out electronic calendars for which I need my glasses. I want to see at a glance what appointments I have each month.

For the past six months I have been carrying a full size calendar around in my bag to keep track of Peter's and my medical appointments - the ever increasing number of  appointments you inevitably need to attend as old age creeps up and bits start wearing out. I always feel I have to explain to the receptionist why I am spreading a calendar out on the counter.

But such calendars get tatty and dog-eared and when you get to July the middle starts falling out.

Unable to buy what I wanted I decided to make my own. I went to
clicked on  January 2017 in the free Monthly Templates on the left. I clicked on the first template then saved the large calendar as an image. Then I opened a new document and inserted the image. This took up half a page. I widened the image to achieve maximum writing space in each date and saved it. I did this to all 12 months and ended up with 6 pages with 2 half page calendar months on each.

I bought a cheap A5 hardcover notebook  from my second favourite shop - Officeworks...

...and glued one month to one side of the first 12 pages. 

It has been very useful already and there are plenty of pages to add other notes and information.

 One plus is that I am entering 2017 9kg lighter than I entered 2016 and quite a bit fitter. I have been attending 'Rehability' in Mt Kembla and have specific exercises designed to help me increase my fitness, but aimed primarily at strengthening my back and knees. (One hint I can give you is don't start Zumba when you are 58. It has been all down hill all the way with my knee after that - torn meniscus (cartilage.)

This is 'Rehability' decked out for Christmas .

Below is a not-so-good picture of the interior.

And so 2017 begins.

Interesting sites

 Converted warehouse in Sydney

Photo source
 Click here to see some beautiful pictures of a converted warehouse in Sydney.

 Beautiful Beirut in the 1960's

Photo source
 Pictures of beautiful Beirut before it was hit by war in the 1970's.
 Click here to read more. 


 Add water to make perfect toast

Photo source
This toaster makes perfect toast - just add water.
 Click here to read more