“Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” ~Greek Proverb
The Chinese sages also appreciated their value:
Let us not forget the importance of creating nature; fostering and nurturing Mother Earth.
Trees provide so many benefits to our everyday lives. They filter clean air, provide fresh drinking water, help curb climate change, and create homes for thousands of species of plants and animals. Planting a Billion Trees can help save the Earth from deforestation.
Helping to Plant Trees
Depending on location, it costs between $1-$3 to plant a tree including ongoing maintenance and stewardship. Including organizational overheads, I see this as a real bargain, especially for something that might last 70 years!
The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign is a major forest restoration effort with a goal of planting a billion trees across the planet.
So you don’t have the time or don’t want to get your hands dirty? I hear you, but you can still support the various organizations around the world depending on your preferred location.
“So I woke up and my beautiful Schnauzer pup is laying on the back patio covered in dirt with a rabbit in his mouth. The rabbit’s not bloody, just dirty. My neighbor’s kids raise blue ribbon rabbits. I instantly knew it was one of theirs. 😢
I took the rabbit away from my dog, rushed inside, and brushed all the dirt off it before my neighbors could come home. It was stiff but I heard some animals play dead when they are afraid, but I couldn’t remember which ones.
I quickly took it and placed it back in one of the cages in their back yard then I ZOOMED back home. (Don’t judge me 😒)
Not 30 minutes later, I heard my neighbour screaming like she’s seen a ghost, so I go out and innocently ask them what’s wrong?
They tell me their rabbit died three days ago and they buried it, but now it’s back in the cage.” 😳
Found on social media, this was not my story. It just might be a work of fiction, or an old joke, but I wouldn’t put it past a Schnauzer to go after a rabbit!
Apparently this very thing DID happen with another Schnauzer, their owner and a guinea pig. I am giving this author, (Kathy W.), the benefit of the doubt, but it is April Fools Day, isn’t it?
Not many folks have pet rabbits in Australia. Keeping them is illegal and there are fines unless you have a special permit. Without a natural predator to control numbers, introduced Rabbits decimated Australia’s bush in the early 20th century reaching plague proportions and thus were banned.
It is legal to keep the following variety, and give them to your Schnauzer!
Norwegians are obsessed with sunlight. They talk about it endlessly and watch and wait in the New Year, for the light to come a little earlier each day heralding the onset of an early spring.
Quite possibly. Most of us are familiar with the winter blues, associated lack of sunlight and how it can alter our bodily processes, mood, energy and appetite. Some of us might even know how our thyroid gland, melatonin and serotonin levels change in winter, explaining the physiological reason for tiredness and low mood.
According to Daniel Kripke, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, when melatonin strikes a region of the brain called the hypothalamus, this alters the synthesis of another hormone – active thyroid hormone – that regulates all sorts of behaviours and bodily processes.
Bright light – particularly in the early morning appears to reverse these symptoms.
The winter darkness is harsh in the town of Rjukan, situated in one of Norway’s steepest valleys. More famous for heavy water production in World War II, for half a year, Ryukan is the town where the sun didn’t shine. That is, until something changed.
When the factory workers began to suffer from a lack of sun, Norsk Hydropower constructed a cable car to take them to the top of neighbouring Gaustatoppen, a mountain with a sheer 1,800-metre peak, so that workers could bathe in the sunlight!
Imagine an employer taking such an action anywhere else in the world?
This was big.
Yet, this wasn’t enough for the town’s people.
I felt it very physically; I didn’t want to be in the shade.
An idea was floated to use large rotatable mirrors on the northern side of the valley above Rjukan, to collect the sunlight and direct it down over the town.
It seemed crazy.
Martin Andersen thought differently.
He applied for and obtained a grant to develop a mirror that turns with the Sun while continually reflecting light into Rjukan town square.
Whilst only directing light into the town, for a maximum of two hours, in the darkest month of January, it has been well received by residents and Ryukan has a new tourist attraction.
“It’s the sun!” grins Ingrid Sparbo, disbelievingly, lifting her face to the light and closing her eyes against the glare. A retired secretary, Sparbo has lived all her life in Rjukan and says people “do sort of get used to the shade. You end up not thinking about it, really. But this … This is so warming. Not just physically, but mentally. It’s mentally warming.”
Tromso lies 400km north of the Arctic Circle. Many Norwegians take extra Vitamin D tablets but some Northern dwellers seem to have an edge without the need for tablets.
“Winter in Tromso is dark – the Sun doesn’t even rise above the horizon between 21 November and 21 January. Yet strangely, despite its high latitude, studies have found no difference between rates of mental distress in winter and summer. One suggestion is that this apparent resistance to winter depression is genetic. Iceland similarly seems to buck the trend for SAD: it has a reported prevalence of 3.8%, which is lower than that of many countries farther south. And among Canadians of Icelandic descent living in the Canadian province Manitoba, the prevalence of SAD is approximately half that of non-Icelandic Canadians living in the same place.
“It sounds dismissively simple, but a more positive attitude really might help to ward off the winter blues.”
A Stanford University Researcher found that the farther north they went, the more positive people’s mindsets towards winter were. People there might rephrasing attitudes like, ‘I hate winter’ to ‘I prefer summer to winter’, or ‘I can’t do anything in winter’ to ‘It’s harder for me to do things in winter, but if I plan and put in the effort I can’.
In this regard, a person feels they exert some control over how they respond to the colder weather.
Have you ever suffered with the winter blues? What helped you overcome it?
Is the winter blues exacerbated by Covid-related lockdowns?
In traditional art, it was a custom to have a saying or Proverb decorating the border of a bowl, utensil or piece of furniture. Especially this is seen in the old decorative art of Norway, called Rosemaling.
The following words of wisdom were indicative of a social art history as they were penned by the artist of that time and reflected their thoughts and values. A time capsule of advice.
Norwegian Proverbs on Rosemaling Decorative Art
Here are a few to ponder:
– Alderen kjem ikkje aleine; han fører så mye med seg.
Age comes not alone; it brings so much with it.
–Det gror ikke til på veien mellon gode venner.
On the road between the homes of friends, grass does not grow.
–Ingen kan hjelp den som ikke vil hjelpe seg sjøl.
Noone can help someone who will not help him/herself
Too much cleverness is foolishness.
For mye klokskap er dårskap.
Curious to know more about Rosemaling, an art form that has experienced a Renaissance in America, particularly the Norwegian areas of the Mid-West?
Christmas has been and gone and with it the traditionally festive dessert of choice in Australia, (with its warm weather), the humble ‘Pavlova.’ This ubiquitous dessert really needs no introduction and not wishing to trigger my New Zealand counterparts, I won’t mention its origins, but will note the recipe has Australian variations!
Discussions around this dessert led to a four way cooking challenge which I will explain further in the post.
My take on the Traditional Pavlova Recipe, is mainly decorative but it works well to add to the festive appearance for a special occasion or to spoil a family member.
Still piled high with a delicious marshmallow centre and surrounded by the crunchy meringue shell that we all know and love, this pavlova is topped high with seasonal fruits, whipped cream, or custard as well as cream, (depending on your cholesterol level).
As Pavlova is generally Gluten-free, (omit the cornflour), you can serve this to sensitive tummies as well! Just check the chocolate you use is gluten-free too, if you have Coeliac guests.
Topping of seasonal fruits: eg. cherries, mangoes, raspberries or kiwifruit
N.B. Undecorated pavlova can be made several days ahead; store in an airtight container, prior to decoration.
Method – Making a Chocolate Dome
Spray a 12″ or 28cm plastic or pyrex bowl lightly with oil and place in the freezer. Melt chocolate on low heat on the stove in a double boiler or in the microwave if you prefer.
Remove the bowl from the freezer and pour in half of the melted chocolate. Rotate the bowl to cover as much of the inside surface as possible, using a pastry brush to push the chocolate out to the rim. Place back in the freezer for 15 minutes.
To finish the chocolate dome, use a pastry brush to brush remaining melted chocolate over existing layer, ensuring any thin areas are touched up. Place back in the freezer for 15 minutes or until set.
Remove the bowl from the freezer. Trim the chocolate on the lip of the bowl to create an even base line and then gently rotate and tap the sides of the bowl to release the dome with a rolling pin. Run a knife along the sides of the bowl to release the dome slightly. Once chocolate comes away from the edge on all sides of the bowl the dome is ready.
3. Meanwhile, top the pavlova with cream and decorate with mango slices, cherries and raspberries. Carefully cover finished pavlova with the chocolate dome. Serve immediately.
Tip: use a wooden rolling pin or similar utensil to “smash” the chocolate casing when serving and prior to slicing.
We spend a lot of time in our own headspace, either at work or at home relaxing. In lockdown, some of us might be alone with our emotional thoughts, much more than we have ever experienced before.
This level of introspection, or mulling over problems, can get to a person, especially if they are a deep thinker or highly sensitive.
Concentration, Energy and Motivation
The extent to which we are occupied by our emotional-driven thoughts is often the extent to which energy is diverted away from our working memory, our concentration and motivation. We find it hard to concentrate on our work when we have something on our mind. The monkey mind, it is often called.
Caught Up in Our Emotions
We talk about being caught up in our emotions and it can feel like being trapped inside your own head. At these times, it is hard to re-focus on matters at hand. Our worry or frustration centres switch on and at times, go into, ‘overdrive.’
But those thoughts in our worry centre, are not reality-based thoughts. They are magnified, exagerrated, skewed or biased. We are so much more than those thoughts. Thoughts are not who a person is. Yet we give them power over our moods.
Just like a loud noise that bothers us, trying hard to block it out, will inevitably make the noise appear louder. This is because our focus on the noise has increased. We might even become angry and frustrated.
If we can’t remove the offending noise, we must decrease our focus in order to tolerate the annoying noise, or the many frustrations of our lives. If our attention is diverted away from focusing on the noise or the frustrations, we tend not to notice it and its persistence wanes.
Practising Mindful Strategies to Prevent Worry
Similarly, we can re-focus our attention away from the abyss of introspection, by practising ‘Mindfulness‘ techniques, which are designed to assist us in staying within the present moment. The only time we can act and live is right now, in the present moment. Everything else, the past and the future is only a construct of our minds, so focus on the here-and-now.
The Glennon Doyle and Buddha quotes may have been at odds, but one might assume their objectives were the same.
Origins of the Traditional Christmas Colours of Red and Green
In many parts of Europe during the middle ages, Paradise plays were performed, often on Christmas Eve. They told Bible stories to people who couldn’t read. The ‘Paradise Tree’ in the garden of eden in the play was normally a pine tree with red apples tied to it.
These photos are taken in Japan in 2019, during the Crimson leaves season. The final two photographs are taken with #No filter.
The Friendly Friday Challenge team will be enjoying a well earned break, from weekly Friendly Friday posts, over the festive period. The challenge will resume in the New Year on Friday 29th January, 2021.
Friendly Friday Challenge in 2021
Your Friendly Friday Hosts Sandy and myself, (Amanda) will post a new format for Friendly Friday, going forward in 2021. One that we hope will encourage and support those wonderful bloggers who have been posting Friendly Friday posts throughout this, a most difficult year for the world. Of course, we also welcome new participants to the challenge.
In the almost forgotten days B.C. meaning, “Before Covid,” we might search for holiday accommodation, or sightseeing spots using Google. Sometimes Google suggests places we didn’t even know we wanted to go, based on our search history and we don’t have to ask.
Whilst away on vacations, we might need to know a good place to eat nearby. No need to ask the concierge or at the Reception desk, as Google can tell you. Do you want to know what people thought of the atmosphere, the food, the service of that restaurant? Google knows better than any food critic. Directions to get there? Google will be delighted to share various routes and time frames. Not sure of the constituents of a fancy French dish on the menu: Google will be happy to elaborate.
You might have consulted the medical form – Dr Google – who compiles a list of potential medical conditions from your given symptoms.
Can’t find that recipe for Turmeric flavoured Brownies? Chef Google to the rescue.
So much of our news and information stems from social media pop-ups, short headlines or excerpts on Google. News services and some newspapers have been made redundant by Google. We are now so good at finding out information for ourselves, via Google, I wonder if journalism will become redundant too?
Syndicated news doesn’t seem to reflect differing viewpoints any longer. Instead, reporters grow more like the mouthpieces of social media behemoths, reporting on what they personally think of a topic, rather than any balanced, objective or original perspective.
There is little need for a media launch or PR campaign for a new product. With a small amount of money, social media marketing will use targeted advertising will reach your chosen audience and Google spiders automatically do the rest.
Google is omnipresent and listening. If you don’t believe me, try saying, “Hey Google” to your cell phone.
Google has made the world better by improving access to information, but it has also eliminated a multitude of jobs. How did we ever manage without it?
In referring to time, our future years may be B.G. and A.G. – Before Google and After Google.
1980’s was a year B.G. – being that time when we used Telephone books, Street Directories, read broadsheet Newspapers and Hard copy Dictionaries and more people had full time employment.
Traditional Tuesday – [A look at traditional Art Forms]
Poland is a country of deeply rooted culture and pursuits, not the least of which, is iconic Polish Folk Art forms, such as a specialist kind of stitching, called Kashuby embroidery. Initially used as a decoration for clothing, particularly folk costumes and women’s caps, these distinctive motifs have been transformed and used to decorate items as diverse as pottery, furniture, tableware and a range of merchandise from lanyards to mouse pads.
Kashubians are a proud people with a separate language, craft and folklore to other Polish areas. Their motto is “There is no Kashubia without Poles and Poland without Kaszubians.”
Previously considered an activity for Grandmothers, girls of all ages and even men, in Kashubia, enjoy decorating clothing with Kashuby Embroidery.
Kashubia, [a province in coastal Pomerania], is famous for its distinctive embroidery that consistently features seven main colours.
The palette used in Kashuby embroidery utilises seven main thread colours and believe or not, this tends to be strictly observed, i.e. 3 shades of blue, yellow, red, green and brown/black, for it to be called Kashuby Style.
Each of the colors used symbolized something from nature and the people.
Dark Blue – represents the profound depth of the Baltic Sea
Medium or Royal Blue – the colour of the Kashubian Lakes
Light Blue – for the sky of Kashubia
Light Yellow – representing the sand on the beaches and the sun.
Medium Yellow for the grains ripening in the fields
Dark Yellow symbolizing amber, commonly found washed up on the beaches, in these coastal areas.
Symbolizes the meadows and plant life
Indicates the forests teeming with animal life
The use of the colour red indicated the heart and love
also indicative of the blood of every Kashubian. They are a fiercely patriotic people, and would die to defend their homeland.
Red also represents poppies in girl’s hairs
BLACK or BROWN :-
representing sorrow and adversity
symbolizing the earth in the fields awaiting to be sown seeds.
Because of the poverty of the surrounding soil, the Kashubian landscape produces flowers that are stringy, but still colourful. Nature is an important inspiration for floral motifs, especially bell-flowers, lilies, daisies, roses, cornflowers, pomegranates and clovers. Tulips and Acanthus motifs, derived from Christian religious traditions were incorporated as oak or thistle leaves and restricted to embroidery executed by Nuns in the convents.
Adding Beetles and bee motifs to the embroidery stemmed from connections to the ancient pagan traditions of honouring nature.
A lovely element used in Kashuby embroidery is the ‘tree of life.’ Ideally, the branches mustn’t cross or intertwine because it symbolises that life ought to be simple and clear.
In the nineteenth century, fashions changed and traditional folk art patterned outfits began to slowly disappear but some crafts hung on and were printed on to modern merchandise to appeal to tourists.
Formerly, the different style of embroidered costume was related to the particular job the person was doing. Farmers had different motifs and outfits to that seen on fisherman.
In modern times, these outfits are rarely seen outside of special occasions, events or musical performances yet the popularity of the embroidery style, lives on.
The Guest post for this week’s Friendly Friday theme of Nostalgia, comes from Lorelle, an Australian Mum of two, passionate traveller and foodie enthusiast, who blogs at A Mindful Traveller.
I had the immense pleasure of meeting the lovely Lorelle a couple of years ago and she has been so kind to write a beautiful narrative about a very different kind of cake, one that is not only full of tradition but also has a special meaning for her and her family.
“Interestingly, there are two forms of nostalgia, restorative and reflective.
For me, Nostalgia is purely reflective. Stepping down memory lane with no need to recreate the past, is gratifying. The memories and more importantly, the feelings associated with those memories, are forever embedded with us.
Food is a remarkable trigger for Nostalgia, as it is a powerful sensory recollection. We all associate certain foods with memories and feelings.
Sri Lankan Connection
Coming from a Sri Lankan family, food is an important cultural way of life. And when I reflect on the vast variety of delicious and tasty Sri Lankan foods, there is one particular dish that is not only my favourite but one that holds special memories as it is only prepared and eaten at that all-important sacred feast of Christmas.
These customs and traditions allow us to preserve our important ancestral history. Unique, individual stories, wisdom and in this case recipes, passed from generation to generation. As Sri Lankan migrants, my parents continue to pass on their significant heritage to their children, and at important celebrations of the year where family gather, recipes like Sri Lankan Love Cake remind us of where it all began.
History of Sri Lankan Love Cake
This traditional Sri Lankan cake was inspired by the Portuguese from the 1500’s. As the name suggests, Love Cake was originally made to win the heart of an admirer. It is made from cashew nuts, semolina and candied winter melon/squash called puhul dosi (pumpkin preserve). Exotic spices and floral essences create a fragrant, sweet, spiced cake with a soft chewy inside and a crunchy crust.
There are many different variations to Love Cake, with each “Aunty” insisting her recipe is better than the other! Practice is also another requirement. Don’t be alarmed if you do not succeed the first time. Adjusting ingredients or oven temperatures may be necessary.
Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe
In the recipe below, I have used a bain-marie of water to create that soft chewy centre. By placing a tray of water at the bottom of the oven, the moisture stays within the cake and doesn’t dry it out.
So, it is here that Christmas and its celebratory traditional cakes, bring great Nostalgia of our original family home, my grandparents and the sense of togetherness and family love.
Sri Lankan Love Cake
Makes: 2 rectangular baking trays
Prep Time: 30 mins (Eggs need to be at room temperature)
Cooking Time: 2 hours 15 mins
450g butter, softened
650g cashew nuts (pulsed in a food processor until finely chopped, keeping some larger pieces. Do not blend to a powder consistency)
12 egg yolks (at room temperature)
7 egg whites (at room temperature)
700g caster sugar
500 g preserved pumpkin (puhul dosi), finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
2 tbsp almond essence
juice of 1 orange
rind of 1 lemon
2 tsp nutmeg, ground
2 tsp cardamon, ground
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp clove, ground
Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced)
Grease two rectangular cake tins and line with foil and then baking paper.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.
Combine the softened butter and semolina together in a separate bowl using your fingers. Add this to the egg and sugar mixture in thirds, beating to combine.
Transfer mixture into a very large mixing bowl and using a wooden spoon incorporate the nuts, pumpkin preserve. Then add rosewater, almond essence, honey, juice and rind, stirring well. Add remaining dry spices and mix.
Whip the egg whites into soft peaks and gently fold through the egg whites into the cake batter in two batches, do not over beat mixture. The egg whites will loosen up the mixture.
Pour batter into prepared cake tins.
Place a large tray of water on bottom oven shelf.
Bake the cakes at 160°C for 20 mins on middle oven shelf.
Reduce heat to 150°C and bake for a further 2 hours and 15 minutes.
If the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
Once cooked and brown on top, remove cakes and allow to cool in trays before transferring. Cut into rectangles or squares when cool.
If you are wondering about preserved pumpkin, Lorelle writes to tell me that:
Preserved pumpkin or Puhul dosi, can be purchased from the Indian/Sri Lankan grocers or you could try to make your own. You can alternatively use preserved or candied squash/winter melon or pineapple. A health food store might stock these items.
When Amanda asked me to write a post with the prompt, “Pink,” my mind went in many directions first.
Then I paused: what’s really my relationship with this girly colour?
Let’s be honest, no matter how modern you are on the gender stereotyping theme, it will still take yonks before pink is something else than a female shade!
I grew up in the 70s, though, which was supposed to be a decade of change and evolution in the matter. But my mother was rather traditional. My bedroom had a pink wall paper – until very very late.
I wore pink dresses.
But looking at this other photo from my dance class, (ironically, it’s black and white!!); it seems I was suddenly totally opposed to pink and decided to make it very clear!
Being a teenager is very tricky, isn’t it.
You want to fit in but also you want to show the world how different you are from the crowd!
That’s when I started wearing very different items of clothing.
I particularly loved a velvet jacket and suede tie which belonged to my grandfather – 4 sizes too big for me. The results of my combo choices were often extremely peculiar but I guess that’s how I decided to be creative at that time.
And took ballet classes wearing pale pink leotards and tights. In a way, pink was the colour of my childhood.Then the teenage years followed. And they were black. Didn’t we all wear black then? It was the way to merge.
Pink never really came back in my wardrobe in my adult years. Except for fuchsia. Vibrant colours are what define me now. In French, we have a way to qualify vivid shades: we call them “shouting” or “yelling tints.”
As if it was so bright, it could actually make an unpleasant sound.
In my never-ending craving for strong saturation, I even painted my house’s front wall, one Saturday afternoon, in bright pink. My courtyard had already been indoctrinated with a mixture of bleu majorelle (link to jardinmajorelle.com/ang/ ) and anis green !
Vero was born in a green and quiet Parisian suburb. She left this idyllic scenery in her early twenties to live in England, later settling in the South of France and started a family of three (+dogs!). Now in her forties, she lives in a rural coastal village in Brittany.
Thanks to Vero for this interesting glimpse into her relationship with the colour pink prepared for this week’s Friendly Friday theme.
If you would like to be featured as a guest blogger for a Friendly Friday Challenge post, please contact Amanda or Sandy – hosts of Friendly Friday, via our contact pages.
Margaret uses a Box iron – that is heated on the fire to iron her clothes. She cooks all her meals and bakes her own bread in a pot oven, over the open fire. She lives in a house without electricity and modern conveniences. This is not a reality show where we are taken back in time for a short period. This is the life of someone living in modern times, but just as people did 100 years ago in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
The fire, Margaret says, is essential not just for life, but for the house itself to survive, as the timbers, need the fire to preserve them. Without the fire, you could not live this way.
In addition, this county has interesting natural and social history features. As well as rare plants, there is the pagan stone – where the firstborn of stock and family were sacrificed in pagan times! A Holy Spring is located there – the waters of which are supposed to cure nervous and paralytic disorders.
It is thought some of my family may have come from this county, around 130 years ago, so this is a snapshot into the way of life they may have led. Margaret doesn’t see this house as a time capsule, the way we might.
She sees it as home just as her father and Grandfather did.
Could you live a life without modern conveniences. the way Margaret does?
If you had to give them up, which one would you miss the most?