Monday, June 29, 2009

Giving Simple Comfort in Winter

Getting a family through winter can be tough, there is the driving wind and rain, frost, coughs and colds, but the bleak sunless days can be brightened with things that help make winter more joyful.

A hearty family meal can be more easily enjoyed together in winter than in summer, when we want hot comfort food to warm us up and bond around the dinner table. My favourites are piping hot gnocchi bake, pumpkin and lentil lasagna, rogan josh, and baked beef tortilla stack. Everybody has their own ideas and favourites, if you have a family where the kids can't agree on a favourite, you might make one night a week a roster for choosing dinner that night.

Getting your children to have their bath may be made easier if you gently warm their pjs and robes in front of the fire or heater (not too close!) so they are getting dressed into warm clothes that feel inviting and snuggly. I have a friend who made a rule, no hot chocolate for children who have not had their bath! If they put their own clothes in the hamper they get a marshmallow in their supper time drink.

Heating the home is one of the biggest worries in winter, as warmth equals comfort but most people are worried about the expense. I would definitely surrender new playstation games, pay tv, and take away pizza for a warm home through winter. The kids may complain to begin with but if you make home a happy, warm, and joyous place in winter, they will get over it, and remember winter days with pleasure all their lives. Eat, drink and be merry isn't just for the rich, you can simply and economically let the good times roll.

The cost of home baking is not too high, if you don't have the basic supplies to begin with the start up cost may be the kicker, after that most recipes are surprisingly economical. Hot muffins, teacake, puddings, and cookies are great in winter. They fill the home with lovely aroma, and raise the spirits and morale.

If you find in winter the children drink less milk and don't desire cold yoghurt you may be concerned about their calcium intake, but I experimented with warm banana smoothie and love it. I simply blend the smoothie as usual, with milk, icecream, banana, golden syrup, and cinnamon, and then pour it into a mug, and gently warm it in the microwave. It is warm and spicy velvety comfort in a cup.

Other than hot chocolate, chai latte is also very delicious and warming, and the spices are good for the heart, help regulate blood sugar levels, and encourage appetite. If you have had sickness in the house and you find the ailing does not have appetite, I would certainly encourage filling the air with the scent of vanilla or cinnamon. Apple and cinnamon muffins would be good, as is pie, chai latte, porridge with golden syrup, and baked apple.

I am not a fan of electric blankets or hot water bottles, but do like the wheat bags that you can heat, they are great for aches and pains as well as warming oneself up.

Winter is the worst time to be woken up for a child who has wet the bed, having to change the bedding in the cold is awful. To save time you might try this: put a fitted sheet straight on the mattress, then the flat sheet, then the waterproof mattress protector/rubber sheet, then a fitted sheet and flat sheet on top and make the bed up as normal. On the night your child does wet the bed you simply and quickly remove the top set of sheets, the mattress protector and you have the sheets made up ready, pop your child in and cover with the blanket and quilts, and hurry back to your warm bed.

And to make up for cutting back on the takeaway pizzas, here are my two favourite home made pizzas that are packed with flavour. Either make a simple pizza dough, or select your favourite pre made base, and spread with Master Foods Meditteranean Relish, it is really tangy and has pieces of onion, eggplant, capsicum, and olive in it. Then apply sweated red onions, fried mushroom, red capsicum, fried bacon, and either cherry tomatoes cut in halves or soft dried tomatoes, and plenty of cheese. For a pineapple pizza I use two tablespoons of Dolmio Sweet Basil or Classic Tomato pasta sauce (you will still have enough sauce left to make a full pot of pasta the next night using the sauce), pineapple pieces, ham or bacon, and plenty of cheese.

Now I am off to light the fire and warm myself up!

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Tribute

A tribute to my grandmother, Mary Beatrice Boyd (nee Newell) born on June 27th 1903, sadly passed at age 97 on July 7th 2000. On this, the anniversary of her birthday, I would like to share some of her life story with you.

One of the most fascinating things to me, raised as an only child, was my Nanna's family, of 7 siblings, six were girls. They would say 'here come the Newell Girls plus Boy' or something along those lines.

In the photograph above, my Nanna is in the back row, second from the left. With her are Blanche, Lil, and Avis (my very favourite great Aunt), and in front, Cyril, Dot and Ede. Only Dot is still with us, but the Newell Clan is going on strong in Heaven, rich in the love and happiness they deserve.

The Newells were country stock, living in Goolwa, but the happy family tragically lost their father, my great grandfather who drowned in the River Murray on the 15th of January 1923. Great Uncle Cyril had been with him that day, and was fortunately saved after he fell off their small watercraft, great grandfather Richard Newell jumped in after him and got him to safety. It was a strange and sad accident to befall a strong and respected 'river man' who garnered many touching tributes from important political and mercantile figures who would always take Richard for their friend and guide on their trips to the river. One such tribute was published in the newspaper The Register, Adelaide at the time.

This sudden and sad twist of fate meant that the eldest girls, my Nanna included went to work to help the family to survive. I am so proud of the way the family survived, and the siblings remained loving and close for all their lives, I couldn't ask for better role models than my Nanna and her family.

My Nanna met and married Edward Kenneth Boyd and together they had two girls, Lillian Jean Boyd, and my mother Ruth Mary Boyd. Mum was raised in Goolwa, Hindmarsh Island and Norton Summit, always on farms, with respect for her hardworking and principled parents.

Nanna got herself and her girls through WWII while grandpa was in Europe, she kept every postcard and photograph ever sent home, and thank god he returned safely to them.

Sadly I never met my grandfather, he died the year before I was born, in fact Nanna was the only grandparent I ever knew, and I admit I was a Nanna's girl for all my life, still am, I am so sweet on my Nanna! Nanna was so strong, many a time I have seen it when one spouse dies, the other doesn't long outlive them, but Nanna was with us until the year 2000, I had the richest of childhoods knowing the love and fun of my Nanna's companionship, mostly through summer holidays spent in Adelaide with her and my dear Aunty Jean.

This is the last photo I had taken with my Nanna, (she is centre, Aunty Jean is on the left). I believe I have Nanna's cheeks and cheek bones, I was always called Chipper growing up, because my smile blew my cheeks out like a chipmunk carrying acorns in its mouth.

Anyway, I digress, to sum her up, I would have to say, as I did when she passed, that Nanna is truly the woman described in Proverbs 31, Her Price is Above Rubies and if you read that passage you will see exactly who Mary was, kind, diligent, hard working, charitable, and blessed.

Nanna I love you, I have always loved you, I will always love you. Rest joyfully. And my love to all who knew and loved this wonderful soul, be comforted for she is in the best of places where she waits for us.

Monday, June 15, 2009


This post is about a gift I want you to give to yourself. It is what I call presence, or awareness, and it is deeply linked with appreciation.

I am not going to go too deep and new agey so don't worry if that isn't your thing. I am simply going to tell you about my favourite way of increasing my presence. It is a journal that I started early this year. I call it my Journal Of the Senses.

What is this? It is a pretty little notebook where I write anything I have observed using my senses: touch, taste, hearing, vision, smell, and the emotions evoked. I noticed that at first I thought of only a couple of things a day, but now I notice so much more each day, and even if I don't have time to write every one down, my senses are more alive than ever before.

I have noticed over time my entries have grown to include multiple senses over the same trigger, a smell and a touch, an aroma and a taste, memories and thoughts about all that I record, and I have noticed my entries are getting more poetic, with metaphores and symbolism included, I am growing in creativity too.

If life has many trials and stresses, at the same time I can find escape and happiness in simple pleasures, and so can you.

To give you an idea of what a Journal of the Senses can be like, I will share with you some of my entries as follows:

I hear a bird scolding in the garden. I smell lavender body butter on my skin and in the air and my skin feels like silk. I see gently flickering light as the breeze bobs my curtain back and forth at the open window. I notice the slight scratching sound as my pen moves across the page but the ink flows like a river of satin. I hear far away traffic, like a buzz in the air, it is a familiar soothing sound of life carrying on around me as I rest serenely here in my small room. My eyes are very green today. I feel contented.

I love the warm light of my bedsided lamp, so cosy, so inviting. It helps me unwind, it is a cue to me, it tells me that whatever I am doing will soon come to an end, that it won't be long until I can snuggle into the pillow, turn out the light, and think my contented thoughts until sleep carries them away up to Heaven.

Listening to music, voices like silky ribbons curling as they fly through the air.

Rubbing Velvet laundry soap into wet clothes - the sound and feel of carefully rinsing out a stain - a simple, pleasing process. The soaped up garment does remind me of velvet. It is so simple, so wholistic, a loving act of nurturing, a timeless task.

The loop of wool aroung my toe is snug as I plait strands of wool together to make cord. Lovely, pretty, colourful and sparkly wools with beautiful texture, passing through my hands. So comforting, making me feel timeless, i could be any girl at any time in history doing the same task.

Baby black calves in the Fairbridge fields, spindly legs, it is a wonder to see them stand or run, a blessing to behold.

it was actually difficult to find entries to share with you as I love all my entries, they are each beautiful experiences I have had, and most of them I have had only because I was Present, I have started because of this book to notice the things that stimulate my senses, so I am truly appreciating the minutiae of each day. I truly hope you will find ways to be present in your life, and really live, this journal has given me a much fuller experience of life.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Lovely Surprise

A lovely surprise for me this week, a blog award from Jace ( thank you so much Jace, what a lovely blog friend you are.

I am now going to pass the award on to other lovely blogs I enjoy, you will find many of the recipients on my blog roll on the right of this page.
Thanks to Jace and to all my readers, this would be a rather empty process if I didn't have you, without you it would be just me and my computer keyboard not a very personal experience at all.
have a great weekend everyone xxx Starry