Sirmione
blogging, Cakes

Lots of Recipes to Love Lemons

What makes a great tasting Lemon Cake?

Ju-Lyn might consider me a Queen of Lemon Cakes, but I am no reigning monarch of cooking, merely slightly obsessed with lemons. The family loves lemon cake, which means I am keen to try out any new lemon-themed recipe I find.

This month, in setting up a tasting contest between my most popular Lemon Cake recipes at home, I discovered how versatile lemons could be not only in improving heath, but also in replacing certain chemical cleaners and insecticides around the home with natural alternatives.

Lemons are comprised of:

  • 31 g vitamin C
  • 1.1g protein
  • 9.3g carbohydrates
  • 2.5 g sugar: 2.5g
  • 2.8 g fibre: 2.8g
  • 0.3 g fat
  • 20 calories
  • 89% water
Photo by Julia Zolotova on Pexels.com
Packed with Vitamin C

Lemons are a plant native to Assam, in Northern India and South Asia. Lemon juice in its natural state is acidic, but once metabolized it actually becomes alkaline.


The acidity of lemons makes them a great adjunct to cleaning around the home and lemon peel can even repel insects when peel is placed outside your door.

  • Rub your chopping board with a cut lemon to eliminate garlic or stubborn odours
  • Clean windows and chrome fittings with a half a lemon dipped in salt
  • Remove red wine spills (mix to a paste with salt and baking soda)
  • Add a cut lemon to your dishwasher in place of rinse aid for a streak-free wash.

With the Changing Seasons, lemons are a natural way to bolster our immune systems.

Lemon Cake Tasting Challenge

Renowned for reliable recipes it may be no surprise that a recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine took first place in the Lemon Cake Challenge. As voted #1 by colleagues and family. This is how it turned out:

Australian Woman’s Weekly Lemon Cake

Are you keen to make the winning cake for yourself?

Instructions and the link to the Women’s Weekly Lemon Cake recipe

Another Lemon Cake Recipe

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Linking thanks to Janis’ suggestion to What’s on Your Plate over at Retirement Reflections

waterlilly
blogging

Friendly Friday – The Colour of Purple Prose

Ethereal

Purple prose is flowery and ornate language. It sacrifices plot and clarity for indulgent detail. A piece of prose can be entirely purple, or it can have ornate bits sprinkled throughout. We call cases of the latter “purple patches. Purple prose is like showing up in stilettos to go on a hike. The language doesn’t match the occasion or the character. It draws attention to itself. It doesn’t advance the action, clarify the plot, or reveal a character’s intentions or thoughts. It’s fluff — description for description’s sake. Imagine being thirsty and drinking out of a fire hose instead of just getting a glass of water. This is what purple prose does. It drowns the reader.”

blog.usejournal.com/

Sandy’s prompt for Friendly Friday is all about purple and she included an explanation of purple prose. She also threw out a challenge to finish a sentence using the most purplish prose and also how she would be challenged at Uni to shorten a piece of prose by 50%. I could not resist this kind of writing challenge.

photo effect

Which of the following versions do you like best? Like the above photo, the first passage is OTT and I warn you it is so purple, it’s blue!

Prompt:

Purple – Complete the sentence: It was a dark and stormy night …

It was a dark and stormy night, of the kind that is punctuated intermittently with angry, tense thunderclaps, and a murky iron blackness that swallowed any chance a moonbeam might stray upon the field of still blossoming, lemon-yellow canola flowers, or the leafy green hedgerow that stoically hugged the rain-soaked asphalt, when a decrepit, rust-ridden jalopy, complete with chrome plating and red vinyl upholstery with loosening stitching, wobbled and slid unceremoniously along the narrow lane; its similarly torpid, disheveled driver with whisky soaked breath blissfully unaware a malevolent evil waited within the protracted, wispy shadows of the grim, concrete-grey mansion positioned atop the hill.

And now for the shortened version:

It was a dark and stormy night, punctuated with thunder and a blackness that blocked any view of the surroundings, when a disheveled whisky-soaked man drove his aging vehicle haphazardly towards the foreboding mansion on the hill, blissfully unaware of the evil that awaited him.

Join in with the Friendly Friday Blog Challenge. A new prompt will be posted here in two weeks time.

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blogging, Philosophy

Why is Everyone So Unhappy?

It seems that the happiest lives are built on forgiveness and loving kindness that breeds contentment.

If you are forgiving but still unhappy, consider the role you might have taken in life could be triggering unhappiness and discontentment.

Roles in Life Limit our Self-Image

The roles we set for ourselves may define and limit us. Past wrongs or mistakes shape our feelings and our self-image.

Do you identify with any of the following roles in life? Are you:

  • The person who tries to control outcomes by making everything perfect
  • The son or daughter who is never good enough
  • The victim who is repeatedly hurt by others’ words or actions
  • The person who is always trying to be pleased so that they may be loved
  • The person who starts but never finishes
  • The stoic who never feels emotion
  • The person who looks for happiness in the external possessions
  • The people that emphasize what they do is more important than who they are
  • The people that focus on the past and the future -forgetting they are living only in the present.

Underneath we all just want to be loved. Can anyone deny that they want to be loved?

You can change the role you have mentally set for yourself.

“Find the role or roles that suit you best and decline the rest.”

How?

If someone says or does something that upsets you, see beyond their words and actions.

Change your reaction and you change your role in life.

Snow m-quote

Attitudinal healing looks beyond words and practises forgiveness.

Have you radically changed your attitude to someone close to you with which you had difficulty? How did that work out? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Environment

Simple Sustainable SOLUTIONS to Reduce Waste and Plastic

According to the [U.S.] EPA, the average person produces approximately 4.9 pounds of “solid waste” or trash per day. Thankfully, you can recycle many everyday household items to help promote a cleaner, greener environment.

porch.com

It really isn’t that hard to Reduce your waste and Recycle. But rather than focus on the problems, spreading the word about easy solutions is more palatable for me.

Waste Solutions

No doubt you have heard it all before and you may have already adopted some measures. You don’t need to be a hard-core zero waste advocate. Start with a minor changes and add one more each week.

Get your friends on board. You can set the example for your family, friends and workplace because we need to do better than the following graph indicates.

Simple Waste Solutions

Take Care or Take your Trash Home

• Eliminate your need for bins in forest areas. Birds and animals may spread litter from public trash cans around and it ends up contaminating waterways. When you visit a park or beach, remember to take your trash with you. Keep trash and recyclables in a bag or backpack until you can put them in a proper receptacle.

Public refuse bins in Japan are almost non-existent. You won’t see any trash in Japanese streets either. Japanese citizens take their rubbish home so it can be sorted to Recyclables, compostables and refuse.

• Keep a Litter bag in your car. Be like the Japanese people.

street in Tokyo with umbrella

Choose Re-usable and Compostable Packaging

• Carry your own Re-usable stainless steel straws or decorative re-usable Water Bottle and Travel mug instead of buying bottled water or coffee in polystyrene cups.

• Avoid one-use plastics – they can’t be refilled unless you are happy to swallow micro-plastic.

• Use Beeswax Wraps instead of Plastic wrap – or make your own Beeswax Wrap

• Polystyrene litter such as disposable coffee cups or packing materials can be eaten by animals who mistake it for food. Polystyrene can poison and/or clog stomachs leading to death by either toxicity or starvation.

Once released into the environment, polystyrene products does not decompose to a non-recognizable form.

Reduce Litter at Home

Keep backyards clean and free of things that can blow into the street and become litter.

Tie up garbage and recycling bags securely so loose papers and other items cannot fall out and become litter.

Avoid overfilling your bins and ensure the lid is properly closed after depositing your trash or recycling inside, preventing accidental spills and overflows contaminating local waterways – endangering wildlife.

Recycling in the Kitchen

Cloth napkins and kitchen towel, for spills and cleaning, rather than paper disposables. They are much more absorbent and easily washed out for re-use many times over.

• Compost food scraps

Start a Worm Farm for food scraps and cardboard packaging. My worms love devouring cardboard. Break it up and wet it. A cardboard box is a good alternative to buying worm blankets.

• Use your consumer power to influence choice: Avoid buying food or ancillary items with excess packaging when you shop. This will decrease litter from the start.

Plastic shopping bags take between 10-20 years to decompose.

Wildlife such as Turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them causing suffocation, drowning and gut obstruction. Do not accept plastic bags for items you purchase, if you can carry your purchase without them.

Alternatives to Plastic Carry Bags

Refashion the scrap fabrics into re-usable bags or use natural canvas or fibre bags for your groceries and errands. Keep several reusable bags handy, in your car or handbag/backpack, so that they are always handy whenever you might need them.

Plastic beer can holders or bags can entangle an animal swimming. It may suffocate or drown. Six packs rings causing 6 million sea bird deaths a year and over 100,000 marine mammal deaths.

• Support companies who promote bio-degradable and compostable packaging. Peanut’s shell was constricted for six years before it was found.

www.customearthpromos.com/eco-blog/eco-six-pack-rings

Eco Six Pack Rings, started in 2017 by three different groups, are made with all-natural ingredients. These include both straw and wheat fiber. While sturdy enough to hold six full-size cans, Eco Six Pack Rings are intended to fall apart if accidentally littered. This prevents them from creating the same environmental damage their plastic forefathers did. According to the company, “the product will degrade in less than 200 days (depending on the ecosystem).”

www.customearthpromos.com/eco-blog/eco-six-pack-ringss
whale choking on plastic

Plastics used in six pack drink rings takes 450 years to decompose!

Re-purpose and Recycle fabric, Towels or Sheets

• Repurpose adult clothing into clothes for children

• Up-cycle a Used Towel into an apron and a hooded towel for bathing baby

• Turn pretty squares of fabric into Beeswax wraps

Sustainable solutions

If you are in USA, and you are into visual learning, here are heaps of solutions. I especially noted the online shipping options: who knew Amazon/online options were so wasteful? Choose slower shipping to save cardboard.

Smoking in the Workplace

Cigarette butts, are made of a form of plastic and can persist in the environment for 10-12 years! 4.5 trillion non-biodegradable cigarette butts are littered worldwide.

• Do you have a “no smoking” policy at your house or workplace? Containing cigarette butt litter is facilitated by requiring smokers to use only designated areas or not smoking at all.

• Do not dump anything toxic down a storm drain.

Marketing Flyers and Advertising Leaflets

• Remove flyers or take-out menus promptly from your post box/front door or windscreen before they are blown away and become litter.

• You can stop litter at the source. Reduce your junk mail by writing to Direct Marketing companies to request no junk mail to be sent to your address.

• Participate and promote local recycling programs such as kerbside cleanup (Australia).

Here are some more ideas on reducing and recycling waste:

Metal: Old forks and spoons, as well as cans, are perfect for making a variety of unique items like a custom key holder, beautiful jewelry, or a fun mirror. Old cans make excellent cookie cutters, too.

Clothing and bedding: Get creative and use an old pair of jeans to make a funky “jeans chair.” Old bedding can be torn or cut into smaller pieces and used for cleaning rags. Any type of fabric is also great for reupholstering furniture if you’re really feeling crafty.

Coffee grounds and tea bags: You can use coffee grounds as fertilizer or dried coffee grounds or tea bags [plastic free tea bags, of course], in the freezer as a deodorizer, too.

How to recycle

Do it Right – Dispose of rubbish properly


Talk to your family and friends about recycling to reduce the amount of material you throw away. Spread the word, and not the litter.

This is not hard to do at all! Tell your family and friends about recycling and what you are doing to reduce the amount of material you throw away.

This may influence them to adopt more sustainable practices. It is vitally important. Our planet depends on it.

blogging

Sunday Reflections – Better Communication and Listening

Recently I have been writing about how we can listen better to what others are saying with the intention of improving our communication. Effective listening incorporates taking note of the pitch, rate and timbre of the voice as well as facial expressions, non-verbal postures or actions.

Non-Verbal Communication

Watch out for the man whose belly doesn’t move when he laughs.”

Chinese proverb

Only a fraction of our understanding comes directly from words, some say a mere 35 %. Early humans were for some time, without a spoken or written language so non-verbal language was paramount in communicating with one another.

Whilst content is important, detecting the emotions or feelings of what is said is also central to understanding others better. In the book People Skills, Robert Bolton writes that people’s feelings regarding relationships and how each person might, or might not, be coping internally, is communicated primarily via their non-verbal signals.

Self-betrayal oozes from our pores.”

Sigmund Freud

In social interactions, our true inner feelings are sometimes repressed and concealed via the words we choose to say, but they invariably leak out through our non-verbal expressions. Good listeners pay attention to non-verbal language, postures, gestures and actions. Picking up on these covert signals tells us what is the most important to the other person.

Have you noticed that we communicate our emotions, sometimes without conscious awareness, by:

  • shrugging our shoulders in indifference
  • knitting our eyebrows in disapproval
  • moving or tensing our jaw in disgust or disagreement
  • tensing our muscles in nervousness
  • clenching fists in irritation
  • averting eye contact in embarrassment or denial
  • touching or smiling in endearment or affection
  • lingering looks of happiness or contemplation
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

Vocal Cues

The tone of a voice is another signal. Think about someone using a monotonous voice without inflection and how that might indicate boredom, fatigue, or perhaps negativity and depression.

Conversely, a high pitched animated voice might indicate enthusiasm and louder tones anger and drawn out speech: disbelief. You can pick up a lot of information by listening to the voice. Many times we do this naturally without thinking about it, but do we use that information to communicate better?

Reflective Listening

Reflecting back your interpretation of the other person’s emotional state can assist in checking in or clarifying how the other person is really feeling. The person can then respond, if they disclose more information to you. This may facilitate a more open discussion and brings a feeling of closeness and understanding. You probably do this already naturally with family and friends.

Here are a few examples of reflective questioning:

I sense you didn’t like/don’t agree with what was just said? Have I ‘read’ that right?

You sound like you’re feeling really down? Are you doing okay?

You appear really happy/excited/rushed today? What’s going on for you?

Taking note of facial expressions, vocal cues and non verbal language helps us to listen to others better by understanding their inner emotional state. Clarifying this may lessen confusions and misunderstanding, which will lead to more effective communication as the listener will feel they are understood.

blogging, Travel

Friendly Friday – Meet Olav in Norway

Back in 2004, I jumped on a subway train in Norway. It was my first time visiting the country that was to steal my heart. I had little knowledge of where I was going that day, or what would happen, other than I was headed for a ski jump outside of Oslo, which had panoramic views and a ski museum.

oslo
Oslo, Norway

Meeting Norwegians

You know that feeling of confusion you have when orientating yourself on a public transport network, in a new city. I felt like that. With the aid of some young Norwegians, my young son and I found the platform and the unmanned train – a curiosity for us, as there are no metros in Australia.

Without station reminders or announcements, we sized up the young passenger sitting opposite for advice on when to depart the train, in order to go to Holmenkollen station and ski jump. The passenger was not only keen to help out with the required information, but offered to take us home for dinner and to meet his family! I politely declined the invitation, but thought how open and kind Norwegians were. Albeit a little too friendly towards strangers.

Believe it or not, that summer in Oslo was hot, especially after walking for several kilometres up Norwegian roads with a laden backpack from Holmenkollen station. It may have been a bit of jet lag, but I was tired.

Walking to Holmenkollen Ski Jump

After walking those few kilometres, or so it seemed, I spotted the ski jump ahead, and also the road to it winding round and round the mountain for another kilometre or so. If you have traveled with kids, you’ll relate to questions like: – Are we there yet? How much further etc. etc. My son was a stoic, but I feel sure he was making plenty of facial grimaces behind my back.

It was with that thought in mind that I spotted a narrow walking track up a grassy slope on the side of the road, that appeared to lead directly to the ski jump, I thought a short cut would save us time and energy.

With only a slight hesitation, my 11 year old and I took the track up the grassy slope.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

A little over halfway up the hill, with images of mountain goats flitting through my mind, I pondered what I, as a 41 year old Aussie Mum, was doing. I wasn’t young and fit anymore. No sooner had I thought that, than I had to reach my hands forward to the ground, as I climbed, just to maintain balance.

Oh uh, Mum. It is getting steep, really steep.” I heard from my son.

Don’t stop now, we’re so close to the top; just keep going,” I urged him, not wanting to lose any of my forward momentum, lest the slope become too much, for me.

At that moment, ‘Olav,’ who had, in all possibility, been trained during the Nazi occupation of Norway, appeared at the crest of the hill, standing feet astride, hands on hips, in an authoritative stance.

He boomed out at me, in English, “You can’t come up here. Go back!”

Oh, wait – Why not? I said as I scrambled the last few steps of the slope. “I mean, I’ve paid already. I have an Oslo Card,” fumbling in my pocket for the 48 hour tourist card that allows a visit, to any tourist attraction in Oslo, for one pre-paid charge.

Olav, his name emblazoned boldly on his badge, in ‘Arial black font’, glared at me.

I prattled on, stupidly thinking he had misunderstood. “Oh – you Norwegians. I thought you were all so nice and welcoming….” I stopped mid-sentence thinking how silly that sounded.

To which Olav repeated his intimidating mantra a little louder this time,

“GO BACK. YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE COME THIS WAY.”

A sickening feeling of guilt crept into my throat as I realized that the short cut path we had taken, that would save us some time and energy, had NOT led us to the entrance of the ski jump, but had in fact, led us inside the museum itself. Olav thought we were trying to gatecrash, without paying.

A quiet Aussie accent reached my ear. “Let’s just go back, Mum.”

I turned to my son, “Yeah okay, I made a mistake; we’ll just go down again and walk the long way around.

I took a few steps off the edge of the slope and was shocked to see just how precipitous a slope, we had scrambled up. I nearly lost my balance, just looking down.

It dawned on me that going down was not even going to be difficult, it was going to be downright dangerous, especially carrying a heavy backpack. I could see that one of us would surely slip and potentially break a leg or something. Any alternative was better than that.

Gathering courage I didn’t know I had, I turned back again towards Olav, his implacable face and overly muscular body still blocking my way into the ski jump museum.

“Look – I’m really, really sorry, I just can’t go down that way. I’m more than happy to pay a second entrance fee, if you want. I never intended to avoid payment or do anything wrong. I am from Australia, I didn’t know.” I was blabbering quickly now, like a child caught with his hand in the candy jar.

“I am more than happy to buy another ticket. I do have an Oslo card, so it’s all paid for, already.”

I hadn’t explained myself well, as Olav remained unconvinced.

“Then why did you come up this way?” he spat.

Because, I thought this path was a short cut.

He looked bemused. I started to consider whether the phrase, “short cut,” might be lost in translation. So I continued:

It is so very hot today and I thought it would save us walking in the heat.” Olav’s face showed no indication of relenting.

Mum, c’mon let’s just go.” My son started walking down the precipitous slope again. I wavered.

What should I do? It was clear that Olav was not ‘feeling the love,’ the other Norwegians had shown us, so I made a bold decision. Fight or flight must have taken over.

After muttering under my breath to give myself courage, I said:

Look, I’m not going to potentially break my leg going down there, when I have already paid to go into the museum,” I said with as little nervous emotion as I could muster, at that moment.

So, I’m just going to run over there to the ticket office and thrust my Oslo card at the attendant, cos I can’t, I just can’t go back down that slope.

Why not?” – Olav again.

I’m terrified I will fall.”

Okay, then,” was his final response. To my complete surprise, he turned his back and walked away.

I literally ran over to the ticket office, to show them my Oslo card, my heart beating wildly for the next ten minutes, or so.

There was an awkward moment when we spotted Olav again, in another part of the exhibit, but he remained silent, a serious nod to us the only acknowledgement of our previous terse interaction.

Travel Note: The Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum has been renovated and is in a slightly different location than 2004.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Meet One Person

This is not my typical travel story, but as this is Sarah’s first week hosting the Friendly Friendly Blog Challenge, I wanted to post an interesting story of someone I had met in my travels.

Have you met someone interesting on your travels and wish to share a story or photograph about it? Someone who might be a little friendlier than Olav?

In her post, Sarah writes about her guide in Senegal, called Cheikh.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge

Sandy and I would love your support in welcoming Sarah, the new co-host of Friendly Fridays.

I will be back hosting the challenge again on Friday 13th August.

blogging, Community

The Destination or Pathway of Life

That old adage… Life is a journey, not a destination! Have you heard it? I have been pondering my own journey, my own path, of late.

Many of us start keen, enthusiastic, running and jumping through the years, none too concerned about potholes or hazards dismissed as temporary obstacles along my path. I tended to follow the path where it took me, not too concerned with the destination ahead. I wasn’t big on long term planning.

I discovered several paths that did not turn out to be thoroughfares at all; in fact, they were dead ends. Other paths required me to take a u-turn, and still others that were so filled with darkness that I turned, then ran from them, back towards the light.

Impending family responsibilities might allow you the luxury of a rethink of career objectives. Mostly this occurs around he birth of children, sometimes it is caring for elderly relatives. The sandwich generation.

Again and again, I have taken paths, convinced that my future destination lay ahead. Some time down the track, the journey became so arduous, the scenery so different to what I had envisaged, that once again I had to admit, this was not the right path for me.

Australia

Now, as I explore a new path, a divergent pathway, I hope, crossing my fingers that not only this path will be a more enlightened one, but that I will also grow stronger with the obstacles that inevitably arise with any new challenge. That I will not trip and fall, but rather will be content, handle and perhaps, better anticipate any problems.

I have learnt many things and enjoyed accumulating knowledge on all the past paths that I have tread. But would it have been better to be a virtuoso of one path, or adept at the many potholes of the few?

Have I bettered my experience or that of others for taking a multitude of paths?

In the end, we all reach the destination and the imprint in history will be the judge.

What about you?

Would you take a different path given your time again? Would a long term vision have sent you in a different direction?

Is Joseph Campbell on the money? In stumbling, we find our greatest treasure?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

Good luck on your journey and may our paths cross someday.

Marsha explores more of her destination and features more ponderings.

Food, review

Saving the Planet One Sip of Green Tea at a Time

Eco-friendly Biodegradable Tea Bags

It’s no secret the world has a problem with plastic pollution, particularly the presence of micro-plastics in our oceans and drinking water. Did you know that some tea manufacturers incorporate small amounts of plastic into the teabags, so they hold their shape when immersed in hot liquid? That plastic ends up in our cups and ultimately in landfill.

Earl Grey Blue Flower and Japanese Lime Teabags

Other manufacturers use staples or glue to attach the string to the teabag or chlorine to bleach the bag white, for aesthetic purposes. These are all things we don’t want melting away in our morning cuppa.

If you’re anything like me, you like to support Companies that are taking the initiative to swap out plastic packaging for more environmentally friendly alternatives.

I was thrilled to find Biodegradable, 100% plant-based, plastic-free teabags in recyclable packaging from The Tea Centre. That’s good news for avid tea drinkers such as myself, who can now sip away without concern for ingesting nasty chemicals.

The Tea Centre has taken care to ensure their pyramid teabags are:

  • Biodegradable
  • GMO free
  • Made from plant-based materials, such as sugarcane
  • Heat sealed without glue
  • Sold in Eco-friendly Biodegradable packaging No Plastic

But that’s not the only way the Tea Centre is contributing to reducing waste. While the products from the Tea Centre range use inner wrapping that looks for all the world like plastic, it’s actually a cellulose product, called NatureFlex, made from 100% natural wood pulp, compostable and biodegradable.

Compostable and biodegradable tea bags

Bio-degradable Teabags and cartons that are 100% Recyclable.

Customers now have the option to purchase their teabags packaged inside a fully recyclable carton. These cartons are consciously crafted from food-grade cardboard. Moreover, the printing on the package is gold foil stamping that is also 100% recyclable.

That’s more good news, right?

JAPANESE LIME TEA

Just like Japan itself, this tea was ambrosial and aesthetic. With a subtle lime flavour, it has just the right balance to to be zesty and fragrant without overpowering the senses. Served as a cool drink, the lime flavour is delightfully refreshing and that comes from someone who doesn’t generally drink Iced tea.

Japanese Lime Tea

Ingredients:

Green tea, citrus peel, lemongrass

Biodegradable Teabags and Packaging

Tea bags Green tea Japanese lime from the Tea Centre
Brewing Guide
Photo Credit: Tea Centre

This zingy variety of Green Tea can be sipped as both a hot brew or iced tea.

Add one tablespoon tea to one litre of cold water and refrigerate for 4–7 hours.

Strain and serve.

BLENDED IN GERMANY | GLUTEN FREE | VEGAN

Why is a Green Tea Fusion Good for You?

You may already be familiar with the healing properties of green tea. The antioxidants are a boost for our hair and skin and also offer anti-inflammatory benefits. With ingredients such as lemongrass stalk to help relieve anxiety, lift one’s mood and help to ease digestive ailments, a green tea fusion is especially good to drink first thing in the morning.

Biodegradable Teabags

Plastic, GMO and chemical free. Pyramid tea bags are 100% biodegradable.

Tea bags Green tea Japanese lime from the Tea Centre

Green Tea Fusion

This fusion is a zesty combination of green tea, citrus peel, and refreshing lemongrass pieces.

BLENDED IN GERMANY | GLUTEN FREE | VEGAN

Since 1993, The Tea Centre has been offering a different tea experience and I’ve been fortunate to be gifted a sample of the teas to experience. If you love the aroma and flavour of fine tea, the tea will delight you.

Related Post:

I recently wrote about Glogg Black Tea. Some other warming winter tea flavours I plan to try include:

Linking to Natalie’s Linky
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Food

A Christmas in July

What happens when you want to eat Christmas food, you live in a tropical country, and it is 35 degrees (nearly 100 F), in the shade. What do you do?

Christmas Decorations

You organize a Christmas feast, in July, when it is actually wintertime.

I know all the citizens of the northern hemisphere might have a hard time comprehending things being so upside down here. It really is too hot to eat rich Christmas food in the summer months in Australia – which can be up to five months long!

You see come the month of December, I’m more focused on keeping cool and retreating to the ‘Pool room’ – (don’t worry Aussies will understand the reference); lying in air conditioned comfort and watching old home movies or reading a good book, or maybe writing a blog post or two.

photography

The only appetite I have during that time is for salad greens, which is acceptable for me on December 25, but not the rest of the family. Surprisingly, they expect a bit more than rabbit food at Christmas time.

A growing tradition in Australia is to have Christmas in July gatherings, with friends and family and enjoy a mock Christmas meal of Roast meat, Yorkshire pudding, Christmas mince pies and plum puddings with custard.

Scandinavian Glogg

Since the sixteenth century, Glogg is a warm drink brewed at Christmas time in Nordic households to welcome and warm guests travelling in the cold December weather. The name can be translated to mean “glow,” and may be served fortified with alcohol, or non alcoholic. Either way Glogg incorporates a number of spices that resemble the aroma and flavour of a Christmas cake.

Traditionally, the ingredients in mulled wine include: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, orange, and almonds all of which infuse hot fortified wine. However, other recipes have called for cherries and raisins, as well as brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup, and in place of red wine, local distilled spirits such as aquavit or vodka, whisky, bourbon, and even white wine. In the non alcoholic version, ginger provides an added warming element.

The Tea Centre

My Christmas in July celebration happily extends throughout July but not with the traditional Glogg but with a variety of Glogg Black tea from The Tea Centre.

Glogg Black Tea

The supplier offers this tea in both black and green tea blends, and it contains many of the ingredients found in mulled wine: cinnamon for a welcome immunity boost for the Aussie winter and Cardamon, which is known to be beneficial in reducing pain, headaches, nausea and inflammation.

Reminiscent of Nordic Christmas traditions and mulled wines — cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger recreate this special drink … also a touch of almond and orange peel bits.

The Tea Centre

For me, drinking this tea brought back those sumptious feelings of Scandinavian hygge. Danish Hygge is that cosy feeling you have when you are curled up in front of the fire, snuggling under a fleecy throw, candlelight dancing across the walls, with your closest loved ones. It is a feeling of being at ease, comfortable and relaxed.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Aromas of cinnamon and cloves permeated the air as the pot was brewing. If you’re thinking it is not so dissimilar to a cinnamon herbal tea, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the additional flavours of orange peel, ginger and almond.

This tea would work really well with the Danish Spice cake recipe, I posted recently.

Delicious and healthy.

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blogging, Community

Why Write a Blog? Is a Blog a Waste of Time?

What happened to storytelling, to having a narrative? One Blogger asked this question in a recent post about the direction of blogging. She’d come across a blogger recommending other bloggers attract more readers by offering their readers useful advice:

…figure out what our unique niche is and paint ourselves as an authority, offering them something every time you ask for something back.

thesnowmeltssomewhere
Photo by Sunsetoned on Pexels.com

List Format Blog Posts and Finding Your Blogging Tribe

Do you write advice posts or entertaining ones? Is the goal, for the reader, to find info that makes life a little easier for them? After all, home hints and time-saving tips are generous, giving and sought after by many. And yet, Snow suggests list style formats are not so dissimilar from TV reality show: repetitive, unoriginal and uninspiring, proposing there just might be,”too many self-proclaimed experts out there.” She’d prefer a blog that is just for entertainment, or storytelling.

Thinking about this, I wondered whether a story is more valuable than a post dispensing advice? I think that might depend on what kind of person the reader is. Perhaps we need both kinds of posts? Sometimes one and sometimes the other. Diversity is a good buzz word for that, isn’t it?

When I want information – the list format of writing a post helps me find salient information faster. However posts titled, ‘The Top Ten Places to See in Europe,’ is a style of post I’d read once, but hardly another in the same vein. It is becoming a trite and hackneyed format, short on meatier content, and meatier content is what I personally seek, as a reader.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

It seems that if we want, (or for monetizing bloggers, – need), people to read our blogs, we might write in this way early on in our blogging life, to filter and find our blog tribe; our community; those few like-minded souls who follow us and begin to comment regularly so that a fulsome discussion, or blogging friendship might develop. Without a few of those list style of posts to begin with, how can we build that community so many of us enjoy? Would we still find a tribe of like-minded blog readers another way?

Don’t we want any or all varieties of readers? Diversity dictates that we need differing opinions and readers from all walks of life.

Blogging Stats and SEO

Whilst I don’t read list posts anymore, I do try to use headings when writing a blog post, supposedly it is good SEO. I don’t understand a whole lot about SEO and SEO tips seems to change rapidly. Once upon a time we were told to use 10 tags, for good SEO, now it is not more than 5. It is hard to keep up with so fickle a technological beast.

Are we all getting sucked into looking at stats and levels of engagement? I remember a blogger who posted about getting back to the real reason why she blogged and not looking at stats, or checking for new followers. Great, I thought. To my surprise, she stopped blogging shortly after! I never found out why.

Likes and Comments

I dislike the thought that someone would write to receive likes alone. Fixating on that, to the detriment of our mental health, could render our blogging platform meaningless. You’d do better to mutter a few grudge sentences on Facebook – that will give you ‘likes,’ and save yourself some time.

What would change if I disabled the like button on my posts?

Nothing? Less signs of engagement?

This begs the question: would I still be blogging if I had not received any comments? Perhaps. I hazard a guess I would still write, but not be posting as frequently.

The Blogging Audience

Diarist bloggers who inform about the week that was, without crafting a story, are perhaps still learning to make writing interesting. That level of self-expression, in Marie Kondo style, must bring them joy and could be all they need from writing? We’re all different and we all seek out and write different sorts of posts.

One Blogger [Manja], said she seeks friends in blogging, not an audience. Another thought all bloggers are looking for an audience for without it, they reach no one. This highlights a divide between the intentions of bloggers.

Some bloggers are out to make money and need that audience to do that. That is not always art. Others – those who have an urge to write or tell stories, through photos or words, enjoy their art, interact with their audience and along the way, make friends.

Monetizing a Blog

Am I interested in making money off my blog?

No, not really. If a few dollars come my way, I’d be silly to knock it back, but I also won’t put my focus in this direction and spend time and effort chasing it. Already I am slightly embarrassed about reviewing places for some small kick-back, such as a free sample. I wonder how I can write impartially when I receive a kickback from the thing you are writing about? However, I am told of certain readers that do value and appreciate reading product reviews, so I relent a little and try to tap my inner Buddha and again seek the middle path.

Becoming a Writer

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Many bloggers have the goal to publish a book, but that’s not on my to do list either. I do have a book idea, or two, rather lofty ones, but writing my blog posts with that intention does not form part of the reason I am here.

Writing a blog post feels innate, it’s in my blood. For around four centuries that I know of, there’s been writers in my family, not famous, nor polished, but writers nonetheless. I could say it’s tradition, but my writing doesn’t come from any sense of historical obligation.

For me, writing just happens when the mood hits or I should do so. It might come out as rubbish, but it is my rubbish and not contrived just to receive ‘likes.’ I once tried to write like that and the result was bland and boring.

Writing comes from both my heart and my head. I write when I feel inclined to do so, but more often than not, as I sit at the keyboard, words erupt like the melt water in a glacial stream at Springtime. Words come tumbling and running out, splashing around obstacles in their path, anxious to appear on the computer screen lest they be washed downstream and away, (ie. before I forget what I was intending to say).

Poppy, Hellesylt, Norway

Finding More Readers for a Blog.

But aren’t we skirting around the crux of this issue? If we only write for ourselves and from our hearts and heads, why do we want more exposure and more readers? Only to find more like-minds and interesting conversation via comments? Surely there is more to it, than that?

For me, the reward of blogging is the joy that comes from robust self-expression.

Any friendship that arises, from that, is a bonus and the result of two people connecting. The internet is not constraining of geographic boundaries – connection is what blogging gives back to us.

Fundamentally, I am here to learn, and to express, with a little bit of entertainment thrown in. I might find an interesting blogger to read or follow and if I wasn’t here, I’d miss that opportunity to further my knowledge and discuss topics via the readers’ comments.

Blogging is not wasting anyone’s time, it is the best classroom in the world, and the sky is the limits. I ‘like’ that.

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With much thanks to Snow for initiating this post.

poppies in norway against a rock wall
blogging, Environment

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Wildflowers

Keukenhof is spectacular in bloom, Toowoomba is stunning during the Carnival of Flowers, as is Japan in Cherry Blossom season, but right now I’m thinking of Wildflowers, especially those that grow in the most unlikely or unusual places.

To say, I was initially surprised, to spot blossoms hard-to-grow-in-Australia, growing spontaneously, by the road in the coldest of countries, was an understatement!

These beauties were busting their glorious blaze of colour beside a street light in Helsinki, beside a bridge support, or vacant hillside in Norway, or idly cheering up an industrial lot in Denmark; their location was a mere afterthought of nature, thriving as they were, with ne’er a green finger or hint of fertilizer, in sight.

Knowing their time was short, these blooms took full advantage of the extended summer sunlight, exploding into intense hues that had me gawping at their vibrant intensity. Even simple grasses and weeds seemed aesthetic.

Enchanting architecture and backdrops increased the aesthetic appeal of the wildflowers.

Wildflowers on the roof in Sunnfjord, Norway

What are these flowers called? Does anyone know them? They were almost buried in a patch of grass in a disused paddock.

Here in my country, the native flowers are showing their best winter coat.

Unusually for Australia, parts of our country are in a snap Covid lockdown and due to that fact and it being winter, it’s more difficult to get out and appreciate the world, but not impossible, and there’s always the archives, isn’t there? The native blooms such as Banksia, Swamp Mahogany and Xanthostemon put on a display.

WordPress has added a feature in the image photo block where by you can add a tonal colour to your photos, using shadows or highlights. Why not try this out this fortnight? It is a blogging challenge is something in which both hemispheres of the world can participate, no matter the season.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge Prompt – Wildflowers

Breaking News – Third Host for the Friendly Friday Blog Challenge Team

Sandy and I have been having a ball hosting the Friendly Friday Challenge, we’re really excited to welcome Sarah from the blog, Travel with Me, to our Blogging Challenge team, as host, every six weeks. Sarah is a blogger who loves landscape, architecture, wildlife and street photography. Here is a little more about Sarah:

Those of us with the means and inclination to, [travel], are rewarded with amazing opportunities to learn about different cultures, different landscapes, different environments. And in seeing those differences I think we discover something very important, which is that however different our lifestyles, at heart people have more in common than you might think. We learn to value diversity, to respect other viewpoints and to rejoice in our similarities ~ Sarah

www.toonsarah-travels.blog/who-am-i/

Sarah will be posting the next Friendly Friday prompt in two weeks time, ie. Friday 16th July, over at her blog, Travel with Me. She will concentrate on a particular theme for her prompts. Are you curious to see what that theme might be? Sarah will be posting clues on her blog, next week, so keep an eye out for that post.

Find the next challenge at: toonsarah-travels.blog/

Instructions for Joining the Friendly Friday Blogging Challenge

  • Write and publish a post inspired by the prompt, remembering this is a challenge not restricted to photography only. It can be a recipe, story, (fiction or non-fiction), or art in visuals or words: For this prompt it might be a snippet or anecdote of somewhere you visited or even an image of a pressed wildflower you may have received long ago. You are only limited by your imagination.
  • Please remember to Tag your post – ‘Friendly Friday.’
  • Include a ping-back* to this blog post adding a comment, (with the url of your published post), here on this post.

*NB. You must ping-back to this WordPress post itself, as link or ping-backs to the home page of a WordPress blog doesn’t trigger a notification to the host blogger. That’s why posting a comment here is good practice, so that your hosts can always find your post.

This Friendly Friday Wildflower Challenge runs until 15th July.

Friendly Friday Challenge 16th July – Host Blogger Sarah at Travel with Me

Friendly Friday Challenge 30th July – Host Blogger Sandy at The Sandy Chronicles.

Further instructions on joining in are found on the Friendly Friday Blog Challenge Page.

blogging

A Moral Dilemma

Moth: “I gave you my life.

Flame: “I allowed you to kiss me.” ~ Hazrat Inayat Khan

There is always going to be suffering. It’s how you look at your suffering, how you deal with it, that will define you.

~ Mark Twain

We might sit in the privileged sector of the world looking aghast at the human cost of the pandemic. Is our life worth more than a single one of theirs? How can we and how do we deal with the harrowing realities of human tragedy unfolding across India?

Originally posted by backtothedrawingboardproductions.com

Blogger AussieEssays made the point that “many people today only imagine suffering as they have never truly experienced it and instead borrow the suffering of others to validate themselves. They punch holes in the air and scream in the wind as they follow a cause that simply doesn’t impact on their comfortable lives as they tell themselves that they have made a difference when they in reality have done little of any importance.

Does feeling temporarily shocked and appalled help anyone?

Does paying lip service assist us to process a tragedy on the scale of India’s Covid 19 pandemic and allow us to continue with our daily tasks at work; eating our cheese sandwich and speaking with friends or other mundane activities, so that our conscience runs clear and we might continue functioning productively?

John Fowles has some sobering words for us:

The human race is unimportant. It is the self that must not be betrayed.”

“I suppose one could say that Hitler didn’t betray his self.”

“You are right. He did not. But millions of Germans did betray their selves. That was the tragedy. Not that one man had the courage to be evil, but that millions had not the courage to be good.”

― John Fowles, The Magus

In the face of tragic circumstances be prepared to:

  • Allow feelings of grief and shock
  • Examine what can be learnt from the situation to better existence for all
  • Think about what each one of us can do with that information
  • Be proactive and follow through as your situation allows (ie. don’t be an armchair whiner)

I think Confucious has the final word:

Confucius

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps”~Confucius