Choose life. Life is wonderful.

Saturday, 21 January 2017


“…the true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life…”

-- William Morris, “The Aims of Art,” in The Collected Works of William Morris

I like this quote. It goes to the heart of why I write my blog. I began writing about 5 years ago when I was feeling a bit down and I decided I was going to write about the good things in my life, even if they were just little things - ' the details of daily life.'

 From here I have had trouble with the size of the text. No matter how much I have tried to edit it, it remains the same.

My house has been painted blue for the last thirteen years. Blue is my favourite colour but I have decided I want it whiter and brighter.

Click here to visit Apartment Therapy with Janel and see the difference when an old room is painted white.

Peter has painted my back room white and I continue to spray paint furniture and other items white. I rig up a sort of booth on my back deck.

I have discovered that an undercoat of silver paint really seems to help cover cane furniture before giving it a coat of white.

This was a cane table I picked up from the side of the road and sprayed white.

 And this was an old cane set of shelves I had stuffed in a cupboard to store things on.

In the garden

I have a tiny strip of garden where nothing will grow. It bakes in the summer. Even nasturtiums won't grow there. So I decided the plant a few of the agave we potted up on this day.

My talented daughter Rhiannon made these sculptures many years when she was studying art at TAFE. I love them in my garden. (Peter isn't so sure! Although Peter isn't sure about my blog at all!)

I added a few toadstools I bought on special at the Reject Shop.

The lyrebird was back on my deck this morning.

How wonderful to have such a beautiful bird displaying its plumage and going through its repertoire of sounds. So many people I know have never seen a lyrebird.


This week I made a pink macramé owl from the string builders use.

Unfortunately it has a bit of a nasty look on it's face and two different sized eyes which I did by mistake. I made him to hang around my neck when I tutor. The company I work for asks tutors to wear black and white with hot pink accessories. It actually doesn't look too bad over a black top.

I sort of copied it from this picture, which I lost track of half way through.

I plan to make a bigger, more robust one for my front entrance if I can find the right colour material.


A recipe worth sharing is one I make for lamb and lentil soup. You can omit the lamb and to make it vegan if you wish.

Hearty Lamb and Lentil Soup   Serves 4


2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion
2 large carrots
2 cloves garlic sliced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 450g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups of dried soup mix
left over lamb bone from roast
6 cups water
4 teaspoons of stock powder such as Vegeta


  1. In a large heavy based pot heat oil.
  2. Whiz onions and carrots in food processor (I use a mini) and add to oil, cooking until the onion starts to become translucent.
  3. Add garlic and paprika and cook for further 30 seconds
  4. Add the tin of tomatoes.
  5. Add the soup mix, lamb bone, water and stock powder.
  6. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until lentils are tender and soup is rich and thick.
  7. Remove lamb bone and take off any remaining meat and chop finely and return to pot.
This freezes well.

Book review

Last week I mentioned moving some shelves and coming across a treasure trove of books, I had either not read for years or not read at all.

Once that caught my eye immediately was The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition.

I will have bought this on line. There is a link in last week's post if you are interested in purchasing it from Booktopia. I will have bought this from Amazon some years ago, but have found the postage has increased too much to buy from there any more.

I am pleased to have come across this again. It gives a wealth of practical information including a section explaining where to obtain specific vitamins and minerals. It also has some useful and simple recipes.

While I still struggle with my weight for various reasons feel it is my plant based diet that keeps my cholesterol at a reasonable level without medication, and also it was replacing cow's milk and other dairy products with with soy milk that helped me sail through menopause without a single symptom. I have absolutely no scientific evidence for this except that soy milk has compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. You can read more about that here. But there is an ongoing debate as to whether this is a good or bad thing, especially for men. This book mentions nothing about estrogen.

This book is a wealth of information if you want to start a plant-based diet. 

I do eat fish. This makes me a piscatorian. I also drink cow's milk and will eat other flesh when I am out, so as not to embarrass anyone, including myself. 

 This week I intend to read Walden by Henry David Thoreau.


Don't forget to go to Bean Stuff to see what my daughter and son-in-law are up to.

Interesting Sites


Photo source

Click here to see this horse enjoy playing with a squeaky toy


 2016 Comedy Wildlife Photos
Photo source

Click here to see more winners of the 2016 Comedy Wildlife Photos 

 Londond bridge transported to Arizona
Photo source
 Click here  to read about London Bridge being transported to Arizona

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.