Close to Home

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All things are relative.  Today we went to Brisbane which is about 80km from where we live but compared to London, New York or even Melbourne, it is close to home.

We had a business appointment to attend this morning and decided that we would make a day of it and go out to lunch for a slightly delayed birthday celebration for GMan.

Although we both worked in the city for quite a number of years, we were not terribly familiar with restaurant options.  We had mostly packed our lunches and when we did eat out it was usually with work colleagues in a noisy pub environment or fast and furious cafe.  Neither of these were the setting we were looking for.

I turned to the ever-helpful Google and found Greenglass, a French bistro and wine bar.  One review I found described it as “a cross between elegant wine bars of old and a spacious NYC loft apartment”.  The simple black door at street-level belied the airy, minimalist decor and quality food which we encountered after ascending the narrow staircase.  We enjoyed our meal and the outlook of trees despite being in the centre of the CBD.  If I had any criticism, it would be the level of noise due to the polished timber floors and lack of any soft furnishings.

There is a reason I mentioned London, New York and Melbourne in the opening paragraph.  We have visited all of these cities and the weather we encountered as we departed from Greenglass was far more reminiscent of one of them than sub-tropical Brisbane and its usual ‘perfect’ winter weather.  The predicted rain had arrived during our lunch and this was the dismal scene that greeted us despite it only being 2pm.

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Since I have barely been to any shops in the past 5 months (apart from groceries and home renovations) I took the opportunity to pick up a couple of things that I needed.

With about 30 minutes to spare before the next train was due, we headed to Sugar’n’Spice Cafe which is quite close to Central Station.  This is the view that greeted us as we entered the small, old-world premises.

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Coffee and gluten -free carrot cake consumed while perched snugly at the high counter overlooking an increasingly wet afternoon.

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Today was a complete departure from our home renovation activities of yesterday and we both enjoyed the opportunity to be out and about while still managing to maintain effective social distancing.

 

Rainy Day Activity

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It has been a cool, showery day so outdoor activities were not really possible so I returned to my photo project.  I started this about 2 months ago and you can read the details here.  After the initial burst, I have continued to make progress by doing a bit almost every evening.

Yesterday, I located the albums which had all been scanned.  They were carefully stored in the bottom of a wardrobe in the guest room.  It was an incidental find as I was not specifically looking for them.

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Today I have cross-checked that all the photos have been scanned and filed in correctly dated folders.

It seems like an enormous waste but the hard copies of the photos and albums will eventually all be discarded.  However, I need to retrieve all of the dates and details to include in the description of the digital copies before I consider doing that.

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The albums cannot be reused as there are details written in them.  Therefore, I will be removing the plastic photo sleeves which can be recycled as ‘soft plastic’ and then the lightweight cardboard pages will be able to be recycled separately.

As you can imagine, it has been something of a nostalgia trip as I sort through over 40 years of photographs documenting various aspects of our lives but predominately celebrations and holidays.  It is a stark reminder of how valuable photographs were when images were recorded on film then sent away to be developed and the anxious wait for their return.  We thought twice about taking dozens of images which were relatively expensive to develop.  Our attitude to photos has certainly changed with the advent of digital cameras and cameras built into mobile phones.

Small Things

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Not everything I do is a massive project, like the photos.  It is often all the small day-to-day jobs that can make a real difference.

Today is a case in point.  Last week I received a birthday parcel from my younger daughter who lives in another state.  She had made me a decorative embroidery which was mounted in a frame.

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I have now hung it in my sewing room alongside the one she made a couple of years ago.

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The other small task I completed was mending a pair of GMan’s jeans that he wears when working in the yard.  I no longer have a mending pile so when he showed them to me I mended them straightaway.

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You can see more of the story on the inside.  The blue patch had been done some time ago and then they split again immediately below that patch.  So, today I added the green patch.

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Here is an old post with a bit more detail about my rudimentary patching methods for clothes that are worn in the garden.

 

 

End of an Era

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This week I made and finalised a decision which marks the end of my working career.  I decided not to renew my registration as a Registered Nurse.  This allowed me to work within my scope of practice and it now expires at the end of next month.

I finished work almost 10 months ago but not renewing my registration rules an even more definite line between my working life and that of retirement.

Due to the nature of my work there are limited photos but here are a few that encapsulate the last 44 years.

Student nurse in starched uniform and cap.

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A celebration in the tea-room with some of my operating theatre colleagues in the 1990s.

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The workplace set up and ready to go.

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Another tea-room celebration.  This was my farewell afternoon tea when I was leaving Adelaide in 2000.

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After more than 30 years of clinical nursing, I opted for a desk job for the final 10 years.

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Even desk jobs have their fun and games.

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Thanks for the memories.

 

Celebration Cake

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In my last blog post I mentioned that I had made my own gluten free birthday cake.  I have made this cake numerous times over a period of several years and it is always well-received.

I was actually quite surprised that I do not appear to have posted the recipe on the blog previously.  The recipe was given to me by a friend from a recipe book published by Tania Hubbard but it is here on her website.  But for your convenience I have copied it below.

Chocolate Chia Seed Cake

By Tania Hubbard  , , ,

 

Ingredients

4 tablespoons chia seeds (soaked in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes)
1 cup almond meal (1 cup of pepita meal for nut-free-chocolate-cake-recipe)
1 cup coconut palm sugar (you can use less for sure)
1/2 cup cocoa (raw or dutch processed)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
125g butter (or 1/4 cup of olive oil or coconut oil)
4 medium eggs (60 gram eggs are medium)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (bicarb)
P
inch salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 180C
Line a spring form cake tin with non stick baking paper
3 Soak the chia seeds in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes, stirring regularly
4 In meantime place cocoa, eggs, almond meal, sugar, salt, bicarb and butter in a bowl
5 Whisk to combine well and break up any lumps
6 Add chia seed jelly and whisk until well combined
7 Pour into lined cake tin
8 Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes or until it bounces back when pressed in the middle
9 Let the cake cool for 5-10 minutes in the tin
10 Finish cooling on a wire cooling rack

I find that the cooking time is more like 45 minutes but it will depend on your oven.

The cake is quite dense and moist with an almost fudgy texture.  While I do serve it as a cake it lends itself particularly well to use as a dessert.

The combination of chocolate paired with fresh raspberries is perfect.

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The addition of a scoop of ice-cream or a dollop of cream would be the finishing touch.

A Berry Birthday

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Well, today is my birthday and has been quite unlike any other.  Not bad………..just different.  Thanks to the current coronavirus outbreak, we are mostly staying at home and today was no different.

We often celebrate birthdays by going out to dinner and a few days ago GMan found that a seafood restaurant near us is doing takeaways including grilled fish and chips.  However, they are closed on Mondays so we have decided to have that treat tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I planned and cooked my own birthday dinner.  A foray to the garden yielded snake beans (my new favourite variety), choy sum and raspberries.

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We had a vegetable stir-fry and followed it up with dessert of chocolate cake (gluten-free, of course) and fresh raspberries.  I really could not have asked for a more delicious meal despite having to prepare it myself.

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Tomorrow I will post the recipe for the cake for anyone who is interested.

An Anniversary and A Virus

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It is now 8 days since my last post and in the intervening time I have passed a significant milestone – the 9th anniversary of this blog.  My very first post was 12th March 2011.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge.  GMan and I have both retired.  We have lost both of our elderly pets.  Our eldest granddaughter who was a 3 year old at daycare is now at high school.  There have been birthdays, holidays, deaths and an assortment of celebrations.  Skills have been acquired, friendships made, issues addressed, gardens planted and recipes made.

However, nothing I have written about is anywhere near as important as the current global pandemic of COVID-19 virus.  Very few countries have been left unscathed.  In fact, Australia has seen a doubling of reported cases in just 2 days – from 150 to 300.

It seems that the best chance we have of ‘flattening the curve’ is social distancing.  In order to do this large gatherings of greater than 500 are banned.  For example, there will not be spectators at football matches.

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Working from home is being encouraged.  Since GMan and I do not have work commitments, we have chosen to limit our social interactions.  This will not only protect us but assist in reducing community transmission.  The more people that restrict their movements the greater the chance that the increase in cases can be slowed.  The primary reason for this strategy is to ensure that our health system can cope with the influx of cases.

If you are going to stay home as much as possible, you need to consider not only your physical needs but also your mental health.  Food and other essential consumable items are important but you need to give consideration as to how you will spend your time.  Naturally, it will depend on your individual circumstances.  We are very lucky to have small acreage so outdoor activity is definitely still an option.  I will be sewing, gardening and cooking.  The focus will be on cooking from scratch and making do with what I have.  Check out this link on the blog.

I am grateful for my relaxing retreat right here at home.

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Whatever is going on and however we deal with it, don’t forget those around you.  Everyone has different needs and priorities.  Just within my smallish extended family, there are people who are elderly, sole traders, single parents, students, homeowners, renters and residents of retirement villages.  Each person is impacted differently.

These are unprecedented times.  This post was written almost 9 years ago.  While this is a very different scenario with the presence of a new virus in our midst, the message remains the same.  Take care of yourself.  Look out for others.  Above all, be kind and considerate.

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A Celebration

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Today, 8th March is International Women’s Day.  It was designated in 1913 and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

It is day to remember the women who came before us.

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And those who have their whole lives ahead of them.

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As well as those closest to me – my mother, sister and daughters who all mean so much to me.

I hope you have an amazing day, whatever you are doing.

 

That Was 2019

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I am writing this on the final evening of 2019 in a motel room in Rutherglen, a small town on the Victorian side of the Murray River which forms the border between Victoria and New South Wales.

Rutherglen is not where I expected to be tonight.  We were supposed to be in Bermagui on the south coast of New South Wales, however, it is right in the midst of the horrific bushfires raging in the south-eastern corner of Australia.

This photo is from Mallacoota on the coast near the Victoria/NSW border at about 10am this morning.

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I have gone back and re-read the 34 blog posts I wrote in 2019.  That is only about 1 post every 10 days on average.  At the end of 2018 I mentioned that I was going to have all of my photos sorted in 2019.  That did not happen.  The content of my 2019 posts is interesting.  They generally focus on my interests – gardening, cooking, sewing, op shopping and trying to be self-reliant and minimise our carbon footprint.  However, the posts from the latter part of the year tend to reflect the increasing concern over the climate crisis and my personal connection to it.  These included having a bushfire evacuation plan as well as growing food in extreme heat and saving our precious rainwater.

One event which I did not post about was the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) which has held in Madrid earlier this month.  Angus Taylor, the Federal Energy Minister, represented Australia, however, his prime effort was to block any real progress on global climate action.  As a result, Australia was singled out as being one of a handful of countries who set out to thwart the process.

I am reticent to use the word ‘unprecendented’ but that is the best description of the massive bushfire emergency which has been menacing almost every state and territory of Australia over the past 2 months.

Climate change did not cause the bushfires.

Climate change is contributing to the conditions which have allowed bushfires of the scale we are now witnessing to occur.

If the last day of 2019 is any indication then 2020 is not going to be a happy new year for many Australians.  My fervent wish is that my fellow citizens are all safe.

Many of us have worked diligently for years to make lifestyle changes to reduce our personal carbon footprint but our governments will not take action.  The Murdoch media and fossil fuel industries constantly facilitate climate denialism.  This cannot continue.  My New Year’s resolution is that I will take whatever action I can.

I make no apology for this post nor the fact that there will be more blog posts which focus directly on the climate crisis in 2020.  These will be balanced with important positive actions.  We must all do this together.

And one final comment.  Please read this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

 

A Gift of Love

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A few weeks ago I became aware that one of my former colleagues is expecting her first child.  As I had done for another colleague, I offered to make a quilt for her forthcoming addition to the family.

I dived into my stash for a selection of suitable fabrics and bought 2 small pieces to supplement what I had on hand.

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The first block completed.

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All of the patchwork done.  Now to make it into a quilt.

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The mum-to-be was delighted with the end result.

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It is special to be able to use my sewing skills to make unique gifts from materials which would otherwise be likely to end up in landfill.