Sunshine in my shadows

Welcome to sunshine in my shadows. This blog is my space to share all the stuff that makes up my every day life. Family, friends, crafts, recipes, books and all the little things that add 'sunshine to my shadows'. We all have a sprinkling of sunshine and an equal sprinkling of shadows in our lives. Hopefully you will find more sunshine than shadows to read about here and on the days when shadows fall, know that the sunshine is peeking just around the corner!


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday trinkets 5 ...

An odd assortment to show you all this week.
First up my very favourite diamante necklace, a gift to me from my beloved Mr. B. I'm guessing this lovely piece is from the 1940s.

This next necklace is hand faceted amethyst and I believe dates back to the early 1900s. It isn't very 'pretty' but up close the facets on the crystals are just amazing. It is very heavy.
Next up is one of my many glass bangles. These are wonderfully smooth to touch and my understanding is that this ruby colored one was from the early 1900s. My photo really does not do justice to this gorgeous vintage piece.It is not as orange looking as this photo shows it to be. It is a deep ruby red.
I am unsure of the age of the next bracelet. It shows some signs of wear as is often the case with vintage pieces but it was so delicate and pretty I had to add it to my collection. Note the safety chain which suggests a quality item. The roses are made of an early plastic.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at this weeks trinkets.

wishing you sunshine in your shadows

Birthday blues...pity party warning!

It was my birthday yesterday. My birthday usually passes quietly with little fuss. (much to my despair)
Don't get me wrong, I hate being the centre of attention but on my birthday I always wish I felt a bit more special. I suppose I haven't really asked my family to make it more special but for me it's one of those things that just aren't the same if you have to ask. (like valentines day)

I received one card for my birthday, just one. My children did remember to wish me a happy birthday. My beloved Mr. B gave me chocolates and a chiller/cooler bag that has been on my 'wish' list. To be fair Mr. B never forgets my birthday and usually gives me a lovely card but he hasn't had much time to himself starting his new job.

Maybe I just have the Winter blues but I still felt a bit disappointed with my 'special' day.
I spent yesterday at home doing housework and playing around on my computer. My online friends and family made my day special by inundating my facebook page with birthday wishes. My thanks to them all.

One other person that made my day special was my ex mother in law. We still get on well and my son stays with her during the school week. I never expected a gift from her (I don't think she gave me one last year) so it was a great surprise when she handed me a lovely gold gift bag with two boxes inside.
This is what she gave me....
Aren't they just divine? I love them to pieces. I know where she bought them so may just have to go in and see what other matching pieces are available! I love that the little spoon in the sugar bowl is made of china as well.

The one card I received was from ex mother in law.
We had cake and coffee in the afternoon and that passed as my birthday cake. Since I am trying to lose weight I suppose I shouldn't care that nobody organised a birthday cake for me at home but I did.
Oh well next year I'll organise my own I guess. End of pity party, it's still good to be alive.

wishing you sunshine in your shadows

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ugly ducklings and quince jelly...

We managed to beat the possums and cockatoos to the quinces this year and over the weekend I made quince jelly. Quinces must be one of the ugliest looking fruit around but once cooked or made into jam or jelly they are completely transformed. It's just like the ugly duckling changing into a beautiful swan!
They are bumpy and lumpy and covered in a soft, grey, downy fuzz. Somewhat like baby swans! (You rub the fuzz off before using them)
 Quinces start out green and yellow as they ripen . The variety we have doesn't seem to yellow up as much as some I have seen but when ripe the fruit will practically fall into your hand when touched.

Making quince jelly is a two day process. I followed a simple recipe I found on Best Recipes 
First of all you have to rub the fuzz off the quinces. You leave the skin on (it has good pectin levels and you need pectin to set your jam or jelly) and chop the fruit into pieces. I top and tailed the fruit but did not remove the cores and seeds for the same reason as leaving the skin on. I believe the skin is also what gives the jelly it's beautiful rose colour. You cook the fruit in water with some lemon peel. Then you have to strain the juice/liquid through a fine sieve overnight. (You need a really big pot for this)
It is important NOT to try to squish the fruit down to get more juice through the sieve as this will make your jelly go cloudy.

The next day you throw away the fruit (or add it to your compost) and cook the strained juice with the correct anount of sugar. Boil until setting point is reached and pour into sterilised jars. (There are important steps to note, follow your recipe)
The quinces look quite revolting at this stage - definately still ugly duckling stage!
If all goes well at the end you will be rewarded with a beautiful transformation. Jars of lovely rosy coloured quince jelly.

Quite a long process and somewhat time consuming but oh so worth it!
Quinces are also delicious stewed by themselves or with apples or rhubarb. They go a delicious pink!

wishing you sunshine in your shadows

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Winter is on the way...

Some simple pictures of the latest offerings in our garden. I love seeing the changes as the seasons turn.
One of our roses produces the most enormous rosehips I have ever seen!
The lemon tree is still producing well.
The pomegranates are starting to swell - it's a shame none of us like them LOL!
We have lots of grapefruit with both newer green fruits and ripe large yellow fruits all on the one tree.
I am not sure what to do with all the grapefruit. None of us is terribly keen on them. I thought of making marmalade but we don't eat that much of that either. It is a terrible shame to see them go to waste. The orchard was planted by Mr. B's parents and contains many strange or unusual fruits. Perhaps they were popular fruits of the time.
Although my daughter loves them just as they are I am hoping to pick enough quinces to make some quince jelly.
We have lots of different trees in the garden, both natives and exotics but I love the deciduous trees. I enjoy seeing them shed their leaves at the end of autumn and love the structure of the bare branches through the winter. Of course spring brings buds and tiny green shoots followed by flowers and fruit.
We have half a dozen different apples in the garden, they all fruit at varying times. This one has finished fruiting and has changed it's colour, ready to shed it's leaves. I love the shape of this lovely old tree.
This is one of our two almond trees. It has already shed it's leaves ready for the dormancy of winter.
I took this photo of the hawthorn tree just two days ago. It has lost almost most of it's leaves now after the heavy winds we have had the last few days. It is such a pretty tree to watch change. In autumn the leaves turn yellow and fall. Winter sees it bare only to burst into life in the spring with green buds and new young leaves unfurling. The leaves remind me of oak leaves, they are a pretty shape. The blossoms remind me of apple and it is so beautiful when in full bloom. It also sports tiny red berries in early autumn. The tiny birds love it for protection. Although not a native I think it adds much to the garden and I am glad we have it.
Have you wandered around your garden or neighbourhood lately to see what delights nature has to offer the senses?

wishing you sunshine in your shadows

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blogging blues...a mixed bag

Ugh! I haven't been able to sign in to Blogger for the last two days. That means I missed my Tuesday trinkets post AGAIN this week. I have had a busy week with barely a minute to spare or so it feels.
This post is going to be a bit of mixed bag.

Monday I had a dentist visit to finish off my root canal. I am truly terrified of the dentist but Mr B took me to his own dentist and I have to say I am very impressed. He was very gentle. I have another appointment next week for a general check up. Apparently I have a couple of fillings that are needed as well *sigh. A lifetime of poor dental care and a phobia of dentist visits means I have only about a dozen top and a dozen bottom teeth left so I really am trying to keep the ones I have left for as long as I can.

Tuesday I was to do some finishing off at my old house. I still have a few cupboards with some clothes and odds and ends in that need packing up and moving over here. I am not good at finishing things up. My friend Susan was going to come and 'encourage' me but unfortunately she was unwell. I am pleased to say however I spent most of the day getting up and down off the floor and packed up another car load of things to bring back here. I also filled a bag to donate to the op shop and filled my rubbish bin. I have the aching leg muscles to prove I worked hard! I'm estimating another 2-3 days of work to finish sorting/packing what's left then it will be on with the cleaning and painting etc. Oh and I picked up a couple of treasures at the op shop but I'll share those another day!

Mr B got the job he was asked to interview for on Friday last week so that caused us quite a bit of rushing around. He was told he had the job late Monday, went in to the office on Tuesday and was sent home to pack his bags. He will be working about 3 hours away from home at this stage. I am glad it isn't any further.(There was talk of an overseas post) I miss him already! He only left this morning lol.
I've been learning new skills like setting the fire and keeping it lit, not such an easy task when running errands on and off all day.

Today I did chores, laundry even though there was no hope of getting it dry on the line. The kitchen currently looks like a chinese laundry. I changed the sheets on my bed and am looking forward to slipping between the covers tonight. I so love crisp clean sheets! I had to take my daughter to an appointment mid morning and we were gone until 1pm. The fire had almost gone out but I managed to bring it back to life. I took out the rubbish and recycling, emptied the compost bucket and fed the birds with our stale bread. I brought more wood into the house along with pine cones which make wonderful fire lighters. Add in the school run and some grocery shopping and my day was almost gone....and then there was the cat!

Poor old squeaky came in yesterday with a nasty wound under her chin. Mr B had a close look last night and decided she really needed to see the vet today. He dropped her off this morning and I collected her this afternoon. The poor darling actually had three puncture wounds under her chin and had to be anaesthesized so they could insert drain tubes. They cleaned her teeth whilst she was off in cat la la land as well. The poor baby was very miserable when I collected her and was trying determinedly to get the special plastic collar off. She has been sulking since we got home and continues to try to remove the offending collar. It is doubtless going to be a fun few days for all of us. She must be awfully confused too as Mr B is not here and she is his cat first and foremost and she will be missing him too. We are hoping he might be home by the weekend but not sure yet. Oh and whilst at the vets I saw the most adorable kitten they had for sale. I wish we could have another cat but two is all we are allowed. We don't need another cat but ohhhh that little ball of fur was just adorable and pretty too!

Tomorrow I'm off for my regular monthly check up with my doctor and I am hoping I have lost at least a little weight. I shall be horribly disappointed if I haven't. I have been watching what I eat very carefully and whilst not walking the last few days I have been much more active than normal. My pedometer is proving very useful in that regard as I can keep an eye on my number of steps for each day. I have almost doubled my amount of steps in just 3 weeks so I am pretty pleased about that. A way to go to get to the ideal but I am improving and that is a step in the right direction I think.

Hope everyone else has had a good week and lets hope Blogger behaves itself now and we can all get back to our regular blogging habits!

wishing you sunshine in your shadows

Friday, May 20, 2011

Who's a grumpy bum then?

Ever have a week where you feel grumpy for no particular reason? I'm feeling really grumpy today and it is most unlike me. I am usually a go with the flow kinda person, laid back and slow to anger. I have been sick for a few days so maybe that is what has me out of sorts or perhaps it's all premenstrual tension.
Or menopausal madness?
Or all of the above?

Being unwell did annoy me no end since apart from feeling miserable it ruined the lovely start I had made to walking every day. I know I will just start over and it's not the end of the world really but right now I am feeling really grumpy! :(

It hasn't been a bad week apart from the few days being sick. We did have another major drama with Miss 18 over the internet usage but we sorted that reasonably quickly and easily. (Not without much pain and anguish but it's sorted for now at least) Miss 18 is finding it hard to learn that we have to start being responsible and paying our way in the world.

Centrelink made a mistake (someone didn't fill something in they were supposed to earlier this year when I went in to let them know I was now partnered) and informed me I now owe them $500 due to an overpayment. Thought I had it all sorted (arranged to not get my family benefit until debt is paid) and on speaking to my accountant he says I should see them again as he can't see how I can have received an overpayment. *sigh I REALLY hate dealing with them, my experience has been that lots of mistakes get made and nobody there really cares about you or how it affects you.

Mr B has a job prospect which if it pans out would entail him travelling away for a time for work. *all crossed fingers welcome. If he gets the job I will miss him soooooo much but we could really do with the income right now.

On a more positive note I had coffee with my very good friend Susan yesterday. Ended up staying and having lovely home made vegetable soup for lunch. Susan has promised to help me finish packing the last few things that remain in my old house one day next week. Then I will finally be able to get on with cleaning and pre-painting preparation etc.
I came home inspired and made some lentil and vegetable soup for us all but mostly to try to feed up Miss 18 who is vegan and very underweight.

Hopefully you are all feeling less grumpy than I am! (and hopefully lil Miss Grumpy will go live with someone else very soon and leave me alone)

wishing you sunshine in your shadows

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More op shop goodies...

Apologies to anyone who stopped by yesterday for my 'Tuesday trinkets' post but I have been down with a bit of a tummy bug and was not up to posting yesterday. I'll have more trinkets to share next week.
Today I'm taking the easy path and going to post some pics of op shop goodies I picked up recently.
I can't remember if I've showed off this little coin purse before but I couldn't leave it in the shop for just 20 cents could I?
I have a bit of a thing for little jugs, although usually creamers. This little jug bedecked with olives called to me though. I assume it's for olive oil? It was another bargain, if I remember correctly it was something like $1.00. Almost unheard of prices for my regular op shops! (Rarely anything under $5)
More little depression glass jugs. I have a small collection of these which is fast becoming a large collection! These beauties were $3.99 each.
This odd little glass jar is a Pecks jar. I remember them making meat paste, I think they still do but it has not been in this type of jar for many years. For 50 cents I had to make it mine. I may use it as a bud vase. I really liked the shape of the jar!
Now this towel roll holder I almost left behind because I thought $5.99 was a bit much BUT it was in great condition and it is made from pine. I bought it to use for my craft ribbons. I may paint it white yet, I am undecided but I have plenty of time. The little drawer underneath will be great for those scrappy bits of ribbon that are too good to throw out but a pain to keep tidy. My beloved Mr B told me that there would be more than $5 worth of timber in it.
Hope everyone else is finding some op shop and market bargains. I love taking a peep at what other people have been finding. I've been a bit naughty on ebay this week so may not get to the oppie again for a bit.

wishing you sunshine in your shadows

Monday, May 16, 2011

Under the weather...

I've been a little off colour since yesterday so may not post for another day or so until I am feeling better.
Hope everyone else is managing to miss the pre-Winter blues.

wishing you sunshine in your shadows

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Even on the gloomiest of days...

The birds still enjoy their bath! It's been so jolly cold here this week and damp as well but we still have our parade of little birds come for a bath and a drink each day. Often they visit 3-4 times a day. I only managed to catch a few in my photos but it is nothing for us to have up to 15 little birdies sitting around the edge of our birdbath. The photos were taken through our lounge room window (a tinted window at that) so aren't that fabulous but I wanted to share anyhow.
Have a wonderful weekend everybody and keep warm!

wishing you sunshine in your shadows

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Walking words....

                                                                                                                                **photo from here.

I can just see some people scratching their heads at the name of this post. Walking words? I have collected quotes and sayings since I was a teenager. I love finding quotes that are inspirational. I will explain 'walking words' in just a bit.

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 18 months ago and have been slowly coming to grips with what this actually means for me. I am fortunate enough at this stage to not be on any medication but my doctor made it clear to me that if I want to avoid medication and eventually insulin injections I need to make some pretty big changes to my diet, and exercise more. So I have begun making changes to my diet (never easy) and have begun taking a short walk every day.(I just started this week) Let me say right here and now I HATE exercise! Especially exercise that I 'have' to do. So this is a big thing for me to realise I MUST make these changes if I want to keep my diabetes under control and avoid the awful consequences of not doing so. I am terribly overweight and terribly unfit so it's going to be a long haul just to get me to a normal weight and relatively fit.
I think I should print copies of this photo and use it for motivation! Photo from here.

For anyone who may be interested in checking my progress, offering encouragement and support I have begun a blog to keep notes about how I am feeling, coping and managing along the way. (or not as the case may be). You can take a peep here.
Also if anyone can direct me to blogs of a similar nature (diabetes/diet/exercise) I would love to find some for extra motivation. (and maybe I can offer encouragement to someone else)

Now back to 'walking words'. I was browsing The Quote Garden this morning and found some wonderful quotes about walking. I am hoping they might inspire me!
"If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.
Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk."
Raymond Inman
I don't know who Raymond Inman was but what a lovely idea that angels might whisper in your ears as you walk!

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into 
you as sunshine flows into the trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into
you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
John Muir
What beautiful feelings this quote evokes. I know I do find being with nature peaceful. I really like this one.

"Make your feet your friend."
Hmmmm life would be more enjoyable perhaps?

"Walking gets the feet moving, the blood moving, the mind moving. 
And movement is life."
Carrie Latet
Now that one is a profound thought!
Hope you enjoyed these 'walking words' as much as I have.

wishing you sunshine in your shadows (even on cloudy wintery days)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday trinkets 4 ...

This week I thought I would share some of my early 1900s pieces with you. I am not 100% sure of the age of some of these but based on the little knowledge I have most would be from around 1900-1930s.
This lovely old bar brooch may even be older. Note the simple glass stone in the centre. Many earlier brooches were quite small and this can sometimes be used in estimating their age. Another feature to many earlier brooches was a simple C clasp. The pin simply pushed up under a curved piece of metal.
This example I found on google images and the image came from here. I hope Aunt Judy will forgive me for borrowing it. I did try to take photos of my own brooch backs but was unable to get a clear picture.
Most of the brooches I am sharing today have this older style clasp.
This beautiful leafy brooch is quite large measuring approx 31/2 inches across. Simply designed but beautifully made it looks like it is made from brass.
I think this brooch is from the 1920s or 1930s but it also could well be earlier. Note the use of various coloured glass. Generally speaking pieces with multi coloured diamantes were better quality and more expensive than those with just one colour.
These four bar brooches are early 1900s, the red stoned one possibly earlier. They are small, the brooch at the top with the tiny clear diamantes barely measures an inch wide. The blue glass bow brooch not much bigger. If you look closely at the red stoned brooch you can see the C clasp on the back and how simple it is compared to modern jewellery clasps. The bar brooch at the bottom is a bit of a mystery to me. The size and clasp suggests it is a similar age to the other brooches and yet it looks almost like new. A reproduction perhaps or simply a brooch not worn much? The colours in the stones are reflections from the flash, the stones are just white and not coated with aurora borealis. (they look a little like they are in the photo but are not)
These two lovelies look well made and measure approx 2 inches wide. (The red glass diamante one is just a touch larger) They have beautiful detail pressed into the metal and have been well cared for. If you look closely you may see a little wear on the pin of the second brooch. I think these two have a touch of the art deco period about them.
1920s -1930s? A similar pressed metal design that I think is just lovely.
Something a little different. I think this little circle/wreath brooch may possibly be of the same era. It is tiny, barely an inch across. It has been well made and the safety chain suggests a better quality piece of jewellery.
I'm undecided if this little bar brooch is genuinely vintage or a reproduction. I purchased it as a vintage piece and it has an older style C clasp. The back of better quality vintage pieces were often as beautifully presented as the fronts. This little brooch (about and inch and half across) has a beautiful filigree back which I attempted to photograph but my little camera isn't the best for fine shots.

I hope this gives you a little idea of how pretty some pieces are on their backs.
I LOVE this bar brooch. It is beautifully made and features multi coloured glass stones and seed pearls. (I have no idea if these are really tiny pearls or just beads) Definately one of my better pieces.
Finally an old Bakelite brooch of an amish pony and carriage.
Hope you enjoyed a peek back into time this week. It amazes me that they were able to make such exquisitely beautiful items that have lasted for so long. Remember this is all costume jewellery, not fine jewellery. It is a surprise that so much of it has survived intact. A measure of how well things were made back then?
wishing you sunshine in your shadows

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tis the season...

OOps no not THAT season but it's never too early to sneak a little Christmas cheer in hehehe!  It seems to be the season for cooking up seasonal produce around here this week. I decided to make soup again to use up some of the carrots and potatos I had here. When I make vegetable soup I often don't use a recipe. I just use whatever is on hand. This week I cheated a little and had Mr B buy some celery to add to the flavour.
This pot consisted of 2 large potatos, 2 large carrots, 2 medium onions, 1/3 of a sweet potato and half a bunch of celery all finely chopped. I also added a small spanish (red) onion chopped and as you may be able to see I chopped the celery leaves and added those too! All good fibre and vitamins for you.
I was actually concerned that I had overdone the celery a bit but in the end the soup was delicious. I simply covered the vegetables with vegetable stock (we have a vegetarian in the house but you can use whatever stock you like) and simmered on the stove for a good hour or more. Add salt and pepper to taste and there you have it, good old fashioned vegetable soup. If you are feeding meat eaters you can add some chicken to the pot as well. It tastes better the next day after the flavours have melded but you can eat straight away if you want.

Now for JAM I DO use a recipe! I am only new to this jam making caper so can't be guessing when things are just right. We have two feijoa trees in the garden which are producing fruit madly right now and whilst my daughter loves eating them there are way too many for her to eat them all on her own. The rest of us whilst enjoying the odd feijoa are not as fond of the fruit. Feijoas are sometimes called Pineapple guavas even though they are not a guava at all. They are a member of the myrtle family and are native to South America. The fruit are small and green skinned with creamy coloured flesh and small seeds. The flesh can be scooped out with a small spoon, the skin is not eaten.
Scooping this lot for the jam was very fiddly!
Here are the skins after the flesh has been scooped out. I think they look all the world like tiny baby avocados! The jam recipe I used came from here. It uses the skins in the recipe but they are discarded later.
Here is the flesh waiting to have other ingredients added before making into jam. The fruit discolours slightly on standing.
TADA! Four lovely pots of Feijoa jam. We managed to boil over the pot during cooking but fortunately only burnt what went on the stove, not what was in the pot! Mr B did get a burn on his hand but he assures me it is ok. We made pancakes yesterday and I am pleased to say the jam was totally delicious. It was a bit fiddly for just 4 pots but I think wothwhile. I should add that we tripled the recipe from the link above.
All this homegrown goodness brings sunshine to my days.
wishing you sunshine in your shadows