What she wears, what she wears…

June 17, 2011

Today I am wearing:

green bead earrings bought in South Africa (2002)

green (dark khaki) cardigan bought in Positano (1999)

apple green top bought in Sydney (at my favourite-but-no-more-the-same-shop Von Troska) (2006)

blue jeans bought in Shanghai (at the fake designer centre on East Nanjing Road) (2009)

brown shoes bought in Hong Kong (2009)

My clothes tell of many amazing trips.  We like to travel!

I am so very thankful for the travel opportunities we have had, the places we have been, the memories we share.

Jude 2

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Yay for the Australian medical system.

June 16, 2011

Today I am grateful for living in a country where medical services are freely available (in the cities anyway) and accessible by all, without being dependent on the ability to pay for those services. We have had a lot of medical expenses over the last 4-5 years and over the last year especially. I am thankful that Medicare covers the bulk of those costs (for non-Aussie readers most Australians pay a 1.5% income tax levy which funds the national health system) and our private health cover picks up a substantial portion of the rest.

I stopped counting when I got to 50 medical appointments (just for me) for 2011. My car “knows” the way to our medical practice and can get there on autopilot. So today I give thanks for a doctor who bulk bills my daughter’s visits.

Yes, I know the system has its faults. Yes, I know waiting lists in the public system are increasing and if you live in regional or remote areas, things can be very grim.  But it’s good to live in a country where a heart attack will not bankrupt you. My mother spent 6 weeks in ICU in South Africa after heart surgery (in a private hospital) and the bill was more than the value of my parents’ home. My dad never recovered from the debt.

So thank you, Dr L, for bulk billing MissN and thank you, Australia, for Medicare.

Jude 2

Stay at home mum

June 15, 2011

Today I give thanks that I do not have a paid job.  Yes, I miss the sense of achievement.  Yes, I miss the company.  Yes, I miss feeling important and successful and the praise for a job well done and the satisfaction of being good at what I did.

But being available to care for my family, and especially my beautiful daughter, is so much more important to me.

Yes, you can do both… in an ideal world with support networks and super flexible workplace arrangements or your own business.  But it didn’t work for me.

So I am thankful that I do have the privilege of being home with my girl when she is not well.  Many mothers, probably most mothers worldwide, do not have that choice.

Jude 2

I will give thanks

June 14, 2011

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you wrote the psalmist in Psalm 118.

I’m going to try to post daily on something for which I am grateful.  Some friends are blogging the 365 Gratitude Project and others posting daily gratiude updates to facebook.  I will try to resist my tendency to overthink things and write long, illustrated blog posts. Nor am I going to commit to a photo per post. I’m not going to be adamant about posting every day (life sometimes prevents that and I am NOT in ownership of a smart phone to post from – nor do I want one).

Was pondering where I should start (thematically and practically) and weighing up if I should tweet, use tumblr, facebook or my good old neglected blog.  And I realised had my first thing to be grateful for – the myriad ways I can connect with people over the interwebz.

These are the days of miracle and wonder

This is a long distance call…

I am thankful for how I can open my laptop and chat with my family who live in South Africa and England and Wales and Queensland and the USA and Canada and elsewhere.  I am thankful that I have made and can communicate with friends in Kuwait and Bonaire and Brazil and Mauritius and other exotic and not-so-exotic places (as well as friends who live just down the road).

When we emigrated from South Africa to Australia in 1987, the idea of a videophone was a dream of mine and one I prayed we would be able to use with my family before the end of the century.  Sadly my parents never had more than dial-up internet and so couldn’t video chat with us.  But I am thankful that facebook especially has allowed families to re-connect.  I love seeing photos of my nieces and nephews, chatting with my aunt and cousins whom I haven’t seen irl for far too many years and sharing the lives of those we left behind when we moved to Australia.

Jude 2

Skywatch Friday – a cold Mount Wellington

April 15, 2011

We spent 2 weeks in Tasmania in December and loved it. On our last morning in Hobart we drove up Mount Wellington, were amazed that we were almost IN the cloud and that there were bits of snow at the top.  We enjoyed the view (that’s where the Sydney to Hobart yacht race ends, folks) and tried to keep our hands from freezing  before driving up the coast to some beach. It was COLD up top.. probably about 3C at 9am. This is mid summer!

View from Mount Wellington

View from Mount Wellington

and here am I…

Wendy and Hobart from atop Mount Wellington

Wendy and Hobart from atop Mount Wellington

Click on photos to get a larger view.  You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.

Jude 2

Help a hurting family

April 2, 2011

Jenny and Tyson Gosch and family

I’m sharing this story from my friend Steven Clark Goad in California. On Sunday 27 March, Jenny Gosch died as a result of an aneurysm, leaving a young husband and 5 children, the youngest just 3 months old. The family had just moved to Texas a month ago. The medical bills are horrendous, and there will be ongoing childcare and other costs.  Can you make a difference to this family?

More details and information on how to donate are here.  Let’s shower them with cards (email me at wjcsydney @ yahoo dot com for the address) and keep them in our prayers.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

 


Jude 2

Blueberry Lavender Muffins – Skywatch Friday

January 20, 2011

The last stop of our recent (December)  Tasmanian trip was Barnbougle Golf Course, near Bridport, about an hour north east of Launceston. C tried to pretend that the Tasmanian trip was for the purposes of a blissfully relaxing child-free (MissN was on exchange in China) driving holiday but no-one was fooled.  We all knew that the  purpose of the trip was for him to play golf at Barnbougle, which has been hailed as Australia’s finest golf course and one of the top 100 public-access golf courses in the world. (He also managed to get a game at the very newly opened – like 3 weeks before – adjacent Lost Farm course.  His verdict is that Barnbougle is better and that he would like to visit both again SOON.)  Hobart, Freycinet and Cradle Mountain were added to the itinerary to legitimise the golfing and make it seem as though we went to Tasmania on holiday.  (Love ya, sweetheart! You may play golf any time and place you choose,)

I don’t do golf.  I did walk around MOST of Royal Adelaide with him last April but by the 13th hole I was wilting and bailed (went to find coffee at Semaphore).  So I left him to enjoy the stunning scenery of Lost Farm and the joy of hitting two little white balls into the dunes and I headed off to Bridestowe Lavender Estate which was about half an hour’s drive away (maybe less) through pastoral scenery and the very neat and prosperous looking town of Scottsdale.  Much of Tasmania is wild or empty but this corner (patch?) is very ordered, farmed, green and quite lovely.  Like a more hilly England.

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

The entry fee was $7 pp (during flowering season, Dec-Jan, otherwise free) which I thought was expensive, seeing as almost everyone would spend money in either the cafe or the shop or both.  The estate was stunning scenically, the display was informative, the cafe good (I had scones with lavender cheese and lavender tea) and the shop was to die for. I restrained myself into merely buying a lavender deodorant, a bottle of essential oil (yes, it really is essential!) and a tin of culinary lavender.  You know me – if it’s an unusual ingredient, I buy it and find how to cook with it.

Bridestowe with Mount Arthur (I think!) in background

Bridestowe with Mount Arthur (I think!) in background

They had recipe cards!  I picked up a few (lavender brownies and  lavender baby cakes to be tried soon).  A batch of lavender blueberry muffins was my first attempt at cooking with lavender and they were a huge success.  The lavender flavour is very aromatic and goes perfectly with the blueberries (which can be found on special at the moment at about $3 a punnet – usually fresh blueberries are prohibitively expensive here).  It’s a moist (maybe the yoghurt?) muffin and not too sweet.  Just perfect with a cup of Darjeeling.  I will be making them again – soon.

Lavender blueberry muffins

Lavender blueberry muffins

Blueberry Lavender Muffins

(Recipe from Bridestowe Lavender Estate)

2 cups self-raising flour

1 TBS BRIDESTOWE CULINARY LAVENDER

1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup plain yoghurt

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 TBS melted butter

I usually substitute spelt flour for plain flour and use soy milk but didn’t bother this time as I didn’t have a yoghurt substitute, and so the muffins wouldn’t be dairy free anyway.  Sometimes you just have to break the diet!

Lightly beat the egg and mix with the yoghurt and butter (make sure the butter has cooled and the egg and yoghurt are at room temperature or the butter will solidify).  In another bowl, mix the sieved flour, lavender, blueberries and sugar together.  Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together.  Stir in the milk.

Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin.  (I use the silicone thingies…)

Bake at 190 C for approximately 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

And next morning whilst C played Barnbougle I went birdwatching on the beach

Barnbougle beach

Barnbougle beach

where I saw fairy terns with chicks and hooded plovers with chicks (both rare and endangered birds and life ticks for me) and sooty and pied oystercatchers and kelp and Pacific gulls, went walking in the wildflower reserve (where I saw more birds and numerous wallabies),  had coffee at a lovely cafe in Bridport,  and feel in love with the place.  Roll on next golf trip!

Barnbougle beach

Barnbougle beach

You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.

Jude 2

Flood relief the stitching and crafting way

January 19, 2011

Some ways you can contribute:

The Australian craft community are auctioning wonderful pieces of art and craft or having sales, raffles or giveaways with all proceeds going directly to the Queensland Flood Relief AppealHere is list of what you can bid on.  This is a great opportunity to get an amazing “piece” and give generously at the same time.

I’ve purchased a couple of (stitching) flood kits (only $10 each)  from Suzanne in Ipswich.  I’ve copied the following from Helen Stubbing’s blog:

Suzanne is making up 300 little sewing kits with help from Birch, Wildcraft Farm and myself which will have a needle,needle threader and thread cutter, thread, stabaliser, simple instructions and a design from NPNT already transferred onto fabric for those sitting in evacuation centres to keep busy, take their mind off things and have some stitching therapy. She is then making up extra kits for all of you to purchase with all profit going to the relief fund. However, she asks that you return your stitched blocks in the stamped envelope included in the kit and they will be made into finished quilts and then raffled to raise further funds. Suzanne, altho safe from the floods is in Ipswich and personally knows many who have lost their homes and even lives. She knows first hand what people are feeling and suffering and has thought carefully about how to make a difference and help.

I’m looking forward to stitching and returning my blocks (I LOVE Helen’s designs!) which will be incorporated into quilts to be raffled for funds for the Flood Appeal.  Win/win!

The flood situation in western Victoria continues to deteriorate. Praying for strength and courage for all affected and that no more lives be lost.


Jude 2

Skywatch Friday – sunset @ Freycinet on Christmas day

January 15, 2011

A new year, and a resolution to blog more frequently!

And what better way to begin 20011 than with a Skywatch Friday photo or 2… or 4…

Sunset @ Freycinet, Christmas day 2010

Sunset @ Freycinet, Christmas day 2010

We spent two weeks in Tasmania in December – our first visit.  It was special for many reasons, not least of those is that we nearly cancelled the trip 2 days prior because of some health issues I am dealing with.  But – we went, it was wonderful and we hope to visit again soon.

As well as Hobart, Cradle Mountain and Barnbougle golf course, we had 4 nights at Freycinet Lodge in Freycinet National Park.  On Christmas Day we drove up the coast (in the hopes of getting mobile phone reception so that we could call MissN who was in China on exchange) to picnic at Binalong Bay at the southern end of the Bay of Fires.

Binalong Bay

Binalong Bay

Our lunch was a picnic comprised of fruit and pastries from breakfast, cheese and a bottle of pinot noir we had bought at Freycinet Vineyard a couple of days before, and chocolate from the Christmas stocking (we didn’t exchange gifts this year).  We watched some locals dive for crayfish and abalone and later drove as far north as the Gardens.  (This area has been affected by flash flooding – the same weather system that has devastated SE Queensland, northern NSW and western Victoria – this week).   We did manage to get to speak to MissN on our way home (there is reception at Bicheno).  She was waiting (in the cold – it was about -2C there) to get a table at Pizza Hut in Tianjin with her exchange buddies.  A very different Christmas for her too!

Dinner was at the Lodge – a rather uninspired buffet.  But we had the view.. and the sunset.

Here are a couple more.

Sunset Coles Bay, Freycinet

Sunset Coles Bay, Freycinet

Coles Bay

Coles Bay

A blessed day.

You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.

Jude 2

Open House

December 16, 2010

A young man born without arms or legs who is not angry at God any longer.

A member of the Mafia deserts the Mob because of his faith.

A doctor tells how and why she and her husband went to Ethiopia and started a hospital for fistula patients.

Another doctor tells how he died for 55 minutes – and returned to life.  Obviously.  Or he wouldn’t be relating the account.

 

 

These are some of the stories in Sheridan Voysey‘s latest Open House – Volume 3, his third volume of conversations from his excellent national Open House radio program.

I loved Open House Volume 3.  The range of interviews Sheridan selected from the program are varied, but almost uniformly inspiring.  I was enthralled by Michael Franzese’s journey from mobster to living a life of faith – all through the power of the love of a faithful woman.  I have been exposed to a lot of internet “hype” about the amazing Nick Vujicic but Sheridan’s interview showed his vulnerability.  I was left with immense admiration for all Nick has accomplished but could still relate his journey to my very mundane one.

 

Joel Osteen faced probing questions from Sheridan, Caroline Jones’ unorthodox (in the Christian sense) grief reaction is handled sensitively,  and there is poignancy in Bryce Courtney’s story – surprisingly not in the account of the loss of his son from AIDS.  You will have to discover it for yourself just why.

 

Life, faith (or lack thereof) and culture.  It’s great reading.  And would make a perfect Christmas gift.

You can buy Open House Vol 3 here or in all good bookshops in Australia. Volume 3 isn’t listed on Amazon yet but you can get the earlier volumes there..

 

Get it.  Trust me on this.