Gathering the straws of life together

Recent Posts

Heritage hens can go broody

Heritage hens can go broody

It seems that more and more people these days have backyard chickens and if they are heritage hens they can go broody. It you, like me, have the space and are prepared to do a little work then you can have the joy of eating […]

Codeine Control

Codeine Control

As of today, the 1st February 2018, there is codeine control in Australia. We will join 26 other countries who have also introduced codeine control. If you want a painkiller that has codeine it will no longer be available over the counter (OTC) at the […]

“T” is for Technology

“T” is for Technology

Yes, “T” is for Technology. Technology is moving so fast we all must be on our “front foot” to keep up with it. If you are like me you also know that “T” is for Trouble and “T” is for Time, such as pulling your […]

Fork to Fork

Fork to Fork

We are enjoying a fork to fork experience as our home veggie garden is producing some of our food. Why should we worry about fork to fork when it is so easy to pick up veggies at the supermarket or local markets? There are a […]

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock to 2018

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock to 2018

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, all our clocks have ticked over to 2018. At least, for all of us who have a clock that goes Tick-Tock! It only seems yesterday when we were waiting for the clock to tick over into the year 2000.

The Latin statement stat pro tempore nemo adhuc is so true. The words translate as time stands still for no one. Time keeps moving forward, the same number of hours in the day, seven days a week. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the local time at Greenwich, London, has been used as the basis for calculating the standard time in various parts of the world since 1884. From 1884 up until 1972 all major countries adopted time zones based on the Greenwich median. GMT is now used by fewer countries after the introduction of UTC – Coordinated Universal Time. This was when leap seconds were introduced to keep UTC lined up with the Earth’s rotation.  In Australia we use three main time zones. Where I live in Queensland we have Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) – UTC+10 hours. In Western Australian where my son lives the time zone is Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) – UTC+8 hours. The other time zone is Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) – UTC+9:30 hours. Daylight Saving Time (DST) is used by South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. DST begins at 2am on the first Sunday in October when clocks are moved forward one hour. DST ends at 2am (that is 3am DST) on the first Sunday in April, when the clocks are moved back one hour.

Time moves fast and before I knew it, Christmas was over, and we welcomed in a new year – 2018! I am deciding whether I should set a few goals? Ones I can keep! One goal we don’t have to set this year is working out how to pay off our credit cards. That is, after having such a good time over Christmas and the New Year! Using a credit card is convenient, but then having to pay off debt over time, takes so much time. In the meantime, with too much debt life can become depressing. To reduce credit card debt, it is as simple as “stop pressing that plastic card against the EFTPOS machine”!

Given so many Australians are pressing and waving those plastic cards around, including the government, debt is rising exponentially. In 2018 the total Australian credit is over $6 Trillion and by 2026 the debt will be more than $10 Trillion. Time is ticking, and the debt clock is ticking! Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock!

If you are like me, retired or planning retirement your money matters. Therefore, if you are looking forward to retirement it is a good idea to invest time in planning and preparation. The Australian Securities Commission has a great little brochure “Financial decision at retirement – How to make the most of your money and avoid costly mistakes”. Look here for your copy!

Tick-Tock…planning retirement means you can go places, like Tasmania.

Setting lifestyle and financial goals well before retirement is the way to go. Then it is time to sit back, hitch up the caravan, plan that trip or just chill out at home. While we like taking trips away we also enjoy time at home. This summer we had plenty of time to watch the cricket and now it is time for tennis. In between time we enjoy the “fork to fork” experience. A fresh lettuce, fresh basil for the home-made pizza, straight from the garden, and then the pleasure of fetching those eggs from the nesting box, less than an hour old! More about our “fork to fork” experience at another time! Have a Happy, Successful and Prosperous 2018 and thanks again for reading my blog – scattered straws.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and lots of us are saying Merry Christmas and wishing all a happy holiday. At our home this December we have had a great lead up to this festive season. Christmas day is not just about one day. These […]

Little things mean a lot

Little things mean a lot

Do you think it is the little things that mean a lot at this time of year? As we are nearing Christmas most of us are thinking about ways we can share the joy of Christmas. What can we give to family and friends? What […]

Time to preserve – mangoes

Time to preserve – mangoes

This week it was time to preserve that beautiful tropical fruit, mango! My O&O and I were out shopping, and we came across a tray of beautiful R2E2 mangoes – 11 for $15. It was definitely time to preserve and for me to use my time to launch into my first experiment with my Fowlers Natural Preserver, bought a few months ago. Engaging in the process of preserving food got me thinking about other things we can preserve.

We can preserve memories, such as through photos, the written word or a time capsule. We can preserve nature, our culture, our relationships. The list goes on and on. As the list developed I thought this could be an occasional series to write about in 2018.

But for now, I will concentrate on the topic of preserving food. Why do we preserve food? For me, preserving food is like having a time capsule in my pantry. I can enjoy fresh mangoes in the middle of the year when they are out of season. I know what is in the bottle – just mango, water and a little sugar, no other preservatives. Wait! There was one other ingredient, lemon juice. This addition raises the acidity level and prevents the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. To be sure any home bottling or canned food is safe to eat check that the lids are properly sealed before storing the bottles. Also, smelling the food before it is consumed will tell you it is good to eat!

I am reading and learning about home preserving and it is a rewarding past-time. After the processing period in the water bath the bottles (full of mango) had to cool down and the spring clips are not removed for 12-18 hours. Then I tested the bottles to made sure a vacuum had been created and the lids were secure. To check for a proper seal, I had to press the centre of the metal lids. If the lid is flexible, then it has not sealed properly. Once I had confirmation the bottles were all sealed okay, all that was left was to label and store in a cool dark place.

Bottles of mangoes just out of the Fowlers Natural Preserver.

When there is an abundance of fruit and vegetables in season this is the time to buy and preserve, as they are cheaper. But for me, it is not about the money but more so the health benefits. That is, knowing what I am eating and what is in the bottle!

When fruits and vegetables are out of season or are in short supply due to unfavourable weather, they become expensive. Home preserving gives you the best food, at the best price, at the time of the year you choose!  Also, bottled fruit make a great gift. That is, when we have an abundance – only 6 jars so far, this mango season!

It is important to check that the lids have properly sealed. After this, the bottles are ready for storing in a cool dark place.

When I was taking my time preparing the fruit for bottling my thoughts went to my great grand-mother, Mary. I was 8 years old when Mary passed away at 91 years of age. My mind wandered to how she would have managed feeding a family without refrigeration and cooking on a wood stove. Meat was preserved by curing it with salt and then hung in a tin box with air holes on the side. Onions, eggs, and beets were pickled. Jams, mustard pickles and chutney were made at home. Milk and cream was fresh each day, unpasteurised and unhomogenised!

Mary had time to preserve as she mostly spent her time at home. Any bottling Mary did would have been carried out by the water bath method. Using a large pot where the jars are submerged. Not so easy though when keeping the water at a constant temperature, on a wood stove. Living to the ripe old age of 91 years meant she must have been a great home-maker. Preparing food for herself and the family that was wholesome. It was all made from scratch with nothing out of a bottle, unless she had preserved it herself.

For home bottling it takes a little time and for now this is how I choose to use my time. However, it also takes time to go to the supermarket and reach for that canned fruit with all the artificial flavours and preservatives. Reaching into the home pantry for a bottle of fruit that is made at home, is more satisfying. When you have time, you can play around in the kitchen like me and experiment with preserving food through home bottling. Try it, I am sure you will enjoy it.

Kale and vitamin K

Kale and vitamin K

Could kale be the new wonder veggie? It is something we have in our fridge, almost every week. I was buying it at the markets a few weeks ago and as I stood in the line waiting to pay for our fruit and veggies a […]


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