Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Weaving magic - the symbol of hope

To all of you sitting on the edge of your seats just waiting to hear if I sold the property (see last post here) well the daffodils - the symbol of hope - certainly wove their magic - as I sold my property for more than expected - so I'm pretty happy!
Weaving their magic

As promised in my last post I have 'tithed' a % (I hasten to add not the normal tithe which is 10%) of the property sale to the Daffodil Day Cancer Appeal. Bizarrely all publicity stated that Daffodil Day was 22 August but when I went to 'tithe' it mentioned  28 August 2014. Weird. Still it is done and I feel all warm and fuzzy inside!
Whoo Hoo!
The Oxford Dictionary states that a tithe is a tax of one-tenth - or a tenth part. Talking of tithing I was horrified to read in The Age recently that 37% of Australians earning $1 million donate zero - repeat zero - per annum. Here is a summary:

Tax Office figures show about 24,000 Australians report taxable income of $500,000 to $1 million and another 8000 earn more than $1 million a year. Indeed, the most recent tax figures  show  of those earning more than $1 million a year, 37 per cent did not claim a single dollar of tax-deductible charitable giving.

It's an excellent article and I recommend that you take a few minutes to read it here

One of the great ideas that came out of the article was the new wave of Giving Circles. For those who don't have the odd 100,000 (!!) to donate then this is a great idea. The premise is simple. Get together a group of 100 or so people, who each contribute perhaps $1000 (or even $100 - its about the formula) to create a pool of $100,000. This is high-impact, high-involvement philanthropy that many could never do on their own. The Circle then donates the whole amount to one charity where $100,000 will make a big impact.

And then of course there are the Philanthropic Funds where even a minnow like me can set up a fund with the the likes of Australian Communities Foundation.  The Foundation offers individuals, families, groups, corporations and not-for-profit organisations an easy and satisfying way of giving something of real value back to the community that they care about. It assists donors in generating, managing and distributing philanthropic resources - wisely and efficiently. My own personal fund has been set up to distribute 'after I'm gone'. But in the meantime it gives me the opportunity to learn about Philanthropy and the benefits that can be gained to those less fortunate. 

If you haven't read the famed parable The Richest Man in Babylon written in 1926 by George S Clason it's a read I recommend (in fact I'm just off to re-read it now!) It can usually be picked up at a second hand book stall or these days even downloaded onto your Kindle or Kindle App!! It's a bit dated but the message doesn't really change.

It reminded me of my fathers philosophy  - and one that I sometimes forget:

I expect to pass this way but once 
Any good that I can do
Let me do it now
For I shall not pass this way again

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Daffodils - the symbol of hope

It's a bit of a flowery week this week! And all in a good cause. Today it's daffodils with Daffodil Day this Friday, 22 August. (Click here for details) What better way to serve as a reminder of the marvellous work that is done to raise funds for cancer research, prevention and support services.

Sunny daffodils gracing Bowen Cottage
The daffodil is the international symbol of hope for all those touched by cancer. The Cancer Council hopes to raise over $9.7 million this year and 10,000 volunteers are expected to staff over 1,200 Daffodil Day sites across Australia. The event has been running since 1986.

Your cottage awaits
I put such a cheerful vase of daffodils in the Cottage today. It comes as we are moving into Spring. Bright sunny yellow - standing straight and tall. I hope they bring lots of sunshine and goodwill on Saturday, 23 August at 11am as my short stay business property, Bowen Cottage, goes under the hammer.
A symbol of hope

I wish the Cancer Council every success in their appeal and also wish for a very successful sale! I'm committed to make a donation to Daffodil Day - the amount being dependent on the result of the Cottage sale. I hope it isn't offensive to bundle these two wishes together. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

A Tulip Tip

Of course in my inimitable way a song comes to mind - this one an oldie - written in 1929 - so let's get that over and done with first!
Shades of night are creeping,
Willow trees are weeping
And babies are sleeping
Silver stars are gleaming
All scheming, scheming to get you out here, my dear
Come tiptoe to the window, by the window,
That is where I'll be
Come tiptoe through the tulips with me!

La de da de da!

Now I do love tulips but I have always been loathe to buy them because they always seem to droop on me! And there's nothing like a limp tulip! That was until a tip from a friend - it's apparently one used by florists but I had never heard of it. So in case you haven't heard of it either I thought I would share it.

Of course there are 'ways' to ensure that the tulips stay upright - this was an instillation I saw recently in the Windsor Hotel foyer. It was lovely - and so bright and cheeful.
'contained' tulips - with no chance of drooping
Still not everyone wants to 'control' their tulips and the usual bowl always seems to have the odd 'drooper'.
One of the reasons I  haven't bought tulips - nothing like a limp 'unpricked' tulip!
Apparently tulips emit a gas (!) and if the gas can't escape then it 'gasses' the flower and over it goes. To prevent limping tulips all you have to do is pierce the stem of the tulip (just below the flower) with a pin and voila the gas can escape and the tulips last longer. Simple, easy peasy, nice and easy.
Happy upright tulips - what a difference a 'pin-prick' makes!
The local Tesselaar Tulip Festival (see here for details) runs from 11 September - 7 October. I've never been but now that I know how to make a tulip last I'm putting it on my list of things to do! It's at Silvan in the Dandenong Ranges and so I'm planning a trip to see a gorgeous field of upright tulips. In the meantime look at these!
Oh to have a tulip garden - so beautiful
Tiptoe through a tulip field - gorgeous - and not a limp one in sight!
Did you know about the pin-prick tulip trick?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The moon's a balloon!

Well the moon has been as big and round as a balloon this week. I must say the words "The Moon's a Balloon" came straight to mind and I thought it was a song. Well it's not. But you probably know that. It's the memoir by British actor David Niven (1910–1983) which was published in 1972. It details his early life and I'm sure I've read it (but a long time ago!)

But back to this week's moon! I must say I was travelling down to the coast the other evening and the moon really was a balloon. We got pretty excited as it seemed to follow us along the highway. But I'd been to a looonngg lunch and in my 'haze' (I was the passenger) we didn't think to stop on the side of the road and take a photo. The difference between the moon in the country and the moon in the city is extraordinary. No city lights = a brighter moon. With city lights + cloud cover this is what you would have seen
An eerie 'city' moon
It's been a busy week for moon watchers and I can see why as the moon is currently closer to the earth than 'usual', hence this wonderful glow in the sky. It is the biggest and the brightest for the year. I can see how 'ancient peoples' would have worshipped the moon (and the sun)

No wonder it's called a supermoon and it's certainly super! 

The supermoon - a photo taken by Garry Hannam at Modbury Heights in South Australia

Seeing the moon rise is always an eerie experience. As those who read my Musings will know earlier this year I missed by just 24 hours one of my all time natural favourite wonders - Staircase to the Moon in Broome (see post here). But here it is again.

An amazing natural phenomenon - Staircase to the Moon
And when I was in the Flinders Ranges recently (see post here) it was fascinating to see the moon rising and the outline it made around the cloudy skies. We had the same here in Melbourne this week but the city lights ensured it was indicipherable when I clicked.
Here comes the moon in the Flinders - don't you love the outline
Ha Ha - if you look at 35 minutes to the hour - just left of centre - you may just espy the cloud outline in the city (a downward wiggle!)
Did you notice the super moon this week? It was amazing. I'll leave you with this wonderful photo.
I wish we had stopped the car and photographed 'our' moon - so thanks to Jerry Everard in Canberra

Monday, 11 August 2014

Oranges and Lemons

Well actually just lemons but the nursery rhyme comes to mind so let's briefly go back to childhood!

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Anyway enough of that! My friend who is a wonderful 'hunter gatherer' gave me some lemons from her loaded trees when I was in Adelaide en route to the Flinders Ranges a few weeks ago and I bustled home to make Lemon Cordial and Preserved Lemons. Then my neighbours had lemons falling off their overladen trees so off I went and gathered up another load then it was home to make more Lemon Cordial and Preserved Lemons and some delicious Lemon Curd. Here are the recipes as lemons are so abundant at this time of the year. 
A load of lemons awaiting .....

6 lemons, grated rind and juice 
50 g tartaric acid
25 g citric acid
1.2 litres boiling water
1 kg sugar
  • Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes) 
  • Pour into hot sterilised botles then seal and cool. 
100 g butter
5 free-range eggs
145 g castor sugar
2.5 lemons
  • Roughly chop butter and melt over low hear in medium saucepan then leave to cool.
  • Place the eggs, sugar, juice of lemons and zest of one in a small bowl. 
  • Beat until well combined. 
  • Add to the butter and stir constantly over low/medium heat until thick (about 4-5 minutes)
  • Remove from heat and wiz with blender for a minute or two (I didn't bother with this).
  • Store in sterilised jars in the fridge (makes about 2 cups)
Still warm - rather washed out looking lemon curd - divine
6 lemons
coarse sea salt
bay leaves 
lemon juice
olive oil
  • Wash and scrub the lemons. Cut into quarters. Place lemons in the freezer for 4 hours until firm. Remove from freezer and thaw (this softens the rind)
  • Place in sterilised jar stuffing as much salt as you can between the lemons 
  • Layer with peppercorns and bayleaves as you go
  • Top up with sea salt
  • Pour over lemon juice to cover and top with a layer of olive oil
  • Seal and store in a dark place for a week - then they'll be ready to use
  • Store in fridge once opened
A recycled jar and bottle - or three or more - cordial and Moroccan lemons
Hunter gathering is fun. Perhaps its my Scottish blood - something for nothing (except for the added ingredients) and in recycled jars as well.  Oh - and it's deeply satisfying. So now you owe me five farthings (say the bells of St Martin's!)

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Uplifting Australians

Just a little bit of trivia today! One of the shopping sites that sends out special offers happened to have an ad for bras! The brands Berlei and Hestia to be exact. It prompted me with this post!

I love the history of this company. Frederick Burley was born in Richmond (Melbourne) in 1881. His two aunts made and sold corsets and he often helped to scrape the whalebones for the 'stays'. In 1910 he invested in a small 'made to order' corset firm located in Sydney. When his brother Arthur joined the firm in 1912 they created Unique Corsets Ltd. 
Fred Burley
And this was their commitment to the women of Australia!

“To Design and Manufacture Corsets and Brassieres of such perfect Fit, Quality, and Workmanship, as will bring pleasure and profit to all concerned, while at the same time rendering such excellent service to our Clients and Consumers as will merit their permanent patronage”.

Don't you just love it. 

They went on to engage the services of a medical doctor (!) and a garment designer to help create the innovative new corsets that would ultimately redefine the industry

Being fitted for a Berlei - they have come full circle with the modern Nancy Gantz 'hold-it-all-ins'
In 1917 they trademarked the name ‘Berlei’ - an adaptation of the Burley family name. They even introduced the first training courses for retail corsetieres and at their 7 storey headquarters they provided the staff with a library and a roof-top playground (boy were they ahead of their time!)

After listing on the Stock Exchange in 1926 more innovation followed. In conjunction with the University of Sydney, they conducted an anthropometric survey of 6,000 women using 23 individual measurements. The results formed the basis of the Berlei Figure Type Indicator, which changed the nature of corset making the around the world. They also revolutionised the lingerie fitting process by creating a metric Figure Type Classification. They went on to create the first maternity bra and in the 90's the first sports bra.

In the mid 1960s, the Hestia Company Ltd acquired Berlei Limited and changed the name to Berlei Hestia Ltd. It's now owned by Dunlop Australia. 

The Berlei and Dunlop Board - not a female in sight!
What entrepreneurship 
In the mid 60's I can recall my father introducing me to the then Managing Director of Berlei - his name was Mr Hurley - talk about Hurley Berlei!!

But it was the name Hestia that always 'tickled my fancy'!! I'm sure you've heard it before!

Holds Every Size Tit In Australia

Kate Cebrano celebrating her curves in Berlei (well perhaps Hestia!)
(thanks to the history from the Berlei website here)

Monday, 4 August 2014

Wilpena Pound

The still rather unknown Wilpena Pound has always had a mystical and eerie allure for me. It's a natural amphitheatre 7 kms wide and 17 kms long with 1000 metre peaks and to top it off it's almost twice the size of Sydney Harbour. It's not a crater nor is it the remains of a volcano but it looks like an ancient cauldron. Perhaps it's the enclosed nature of the formation that is both magnificent and a little overwhelming. Or perhaps it's the fact that that when you visit there always seem to be eagles drifting above (it's a great place to take a scenic flight).  It should be one of our well known icons but for many Australians it isn't. 
Is it a cauldron, is it a volcano, is it a crater - no it's Wilpena!
The traditional owners the Adnyamathanha peoples named it Ikara - which means meeting place. The story goes that there was a ceremony taking place when two big Akurra (Dreaming serpents) surrounded their ceremonial group and their encircled bodies form the sides Wilpena Pound. How much more creative than that of the early colonials who named it a Pound which was an old English word for animal enclosure and Wilpena was certainly the perfect place for cattle thieves to hide unbranded calves! Attempts to farm in the Pound failed in the early 20th century. The old farmhouse still stands today as a reminder of the difficulties encountered by the early settlers. There was really only one way in (and out) through a narrow creek making access difficult. 
Inside the Pound - the old farmhouse survives
But it was the loss in January 1959 of 10 year old Nicholas Bannon - a student of St Peter's College in Adelaide - who was exploring with his family that has always remained with me. The group had divided into two but had kept close together and yet he was lost while walking through a clearing. The family raised the alarm within 30 minutes of his disappearance. Despite one of the largest manhunts ever taken by the police, army, indigenous trackers and volunteers over a 7 day period it was not until 18 months later that his skeleton was finally found just inside the Pound on St Mary's Peak - the highest peak in the Flinders at 3,900 feet. I can't  begin to imagine the anguish of the family losing a son on what began as a happy holiday expedition. The traditional owners call St Mary's Peak Ngarri-Mudlanha. Ngarri means mind and Mudlanha means waiting. Ngarri-Mudlanha means 'waiting to take your mind'. It was a mountain to avoid because it was high, you'd get dizzy and disoriented and then you'd be lost. What an extraordinary 'prediction'.  Many years later John Bannon - his brother - was Premier of South Australia from 1982 - 1992.
St Mary's Peak - just waiting to take your mind
Wilpena Pound - like so much of the Flinders Ranges is a tough, magnificent and yet unforgiving landscape.