Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A Murder Unmentioned by Sulari Gentill

A Murder Unmentioned by Sulari Gentill is the sixth book in the Rowland Sinclair series of crime mysteries set in Australia in the 1930’s.
One of the author’s trademarks throughout this series, and one of its most enjoyable aspects, is the cast of historical characters she skilfully weaves into the narrative.
Kingsford Smith, Nancy Bird, Robert Menzies, along with some notorious Sydney underworld figures, are some of these characters she includes in A Murder Unmentioned, bringing to life the atmosphere of Australian life in the post-Depression years.
Historical characters of the times have been a focal point in each of her books, however, in A Murder Unmentioned the plot takes centre stage, and it’s a good one. Suspense, mystery and plenty of twists kept me glued to its pages and made this my favourite book in the series so far.

Rowland’s father, Henry Sinclair, died when Rowland was 15 years of age and throughout the series references to his authoritarian and domineering personality are made, but he is mostly kept in the background. His portrait hangs on the wall of Woodlands, Rowland’s home that he shares with his three Bohemian friends, Clyde, Milton and Edna, an imposing and disapproving presence glowering over everyone that comes within view. Frequent mention is made of Rowland’s reactions to this painting over the course of the series, and here he remarks to Edna that the reason he hung the picture in his home was because,

“My father always liked to keep an eye on me.”

Edna wondered if she had misjudged Henry Sinclair. Rowland rarely spoke of his father but that need not, of itself, mean that their relationship had been strained. Perhaps it was a silence born of loss. Perhaps, beneath the outward severity, Henry Sinclair was an artistic soul. Rowland’s talent, Edna reasoned, must have come from somewhere. “It’s a shame he didn’t live to see your work, Rowley,” she said quietly.
Rowland frowned, his jaw tightened . “It’s not a shame at all, Ed.”

In previous books we had a hazy view of Henry Sinclair, but now we learn who Henry Sinclair really was and of his harshness and cruelty to his youngest son, Rowland.
When new evidence emerges about Henry Sinclair’s death and a former employee turns up to implicate family members, Rowland and his older brother, Wilbur, have to face the past, their individual fears and their secrets.
As always, Sulari Gentill doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects, but in her delightful way she infuses some well-timed Aussie humour that takes the edge off the heavy stuff without detracting from the seriousness of it. Quite a skill!
I’m looking forward to the next book so much but I’m getting impatient for Edna to get over herself and reciprocate Rowly’s feelings!

I’m linking up with Brona’s Books for the AusReading Challenge 2017 over the month of November. Come and have a look at some of the great Aussie titles on her blog!


Monday, 13 November 2017

Announcing the Winners of the Advent & Christmas Giveaway

The winners of  Look! A Child's Guide to Advent & Christmas  by Laura Alary; illustrated by Ann Boyajian are:

Catherine & Janet

Thanks to all who entered and to Paraclete Press for the giveaway!

'During Advent we look back.
We remember people who waited for God, 
especially in times of trouble.
Every day we put a new ornament on our Jesse Tree.'

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Advent & Christmas Giveaway: Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent & Christmas by Laura Alary; Illustrated by Ann Boyajian

We’ve used various books, devotionals and other resources over the Advent & Christmas season and have some family favourites we like to revisit, but I’m always on the lookout for new additions to our collection. Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent & Christmas is a book published recently (2017) by Paraclete Press and when I saw it was written and illustrated by the same folk who collaborated on Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter, I thought it would be a worthwhile book to add to our collection.

Alary uses a similar format to her Lent & Easter book to introduce children (and adults!) to the symbolism of Advent. She uses passages from the Old & New Testaments to help us to Look Back, Look Around, and Look Ahead.
As we look back, we see that these passages from Scripture remind us that God’s people have waited expectantly through the ages for a Redeemer - from the Hebrews in Egypt, to John the Baptist - and that God comes in ways we don’t expect.

‘Sometimes we see more clearly when we look back.’

The author ties in ideas and traditions for the season of Advent such as decorating a Jesse Tree; asking ourselves ‘Where did I see God today?’ and writing our thoughts in a journal.
As we look around during Advent we try to see the things we often miss and for ways to reach out to others: food donation, Advent cards to cheer others; baking treats and taking them to neighbours.
We look ahead and think about our choices. We say yes to new things such as asking a new family to come for lunch.
We light Advent candles and wait...

Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent & Christmas is a thoughtful book that would be very helpful in both establishing some simple family traditions over Advent, and giving context and meaning to those traditions we may already have in place.
There are 32 pages in this book and the lovely pastel/coloured pencil/gouache illustrations by Ann Boyajian are soft and colourful.
This is a book to go through slowly and savour as a family and would be ideal to spread over the Advent season, especially if you follow a church liturgy.

Laura Alary has a background in the Classics, theology and biblical studies and she draws upon this rich foundation in her writing. She has three children of her own and works with children in her local congregation in Toronto, Canada.
Her blog is here:

Paraclete Press have two free copies of this book to give away to my readers. If you would like a chance to win a copy, leave a comment here or on my FB page.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

AusReading Month: Come Danger, Come Darkness by Ruth Park (1978)

Ruth Park (1917-2010) was a prolific, multiple award-winning, New Zealand born Australian author. The author’s background in rural New Zealand and her later experience of the Great Depression while living in Sydney, gave her much to draw upon in her writing.
Come Danger, Come Darkness is set on Norfolk Island, about 1,000 km off the east coast of Australia. The author lived on the island for a number of years and described its natural features vividly.

Norfolk Island was discovered by Captain Cook in 1774 on his second voyage around the world. In 1788 a settlement was established on the island. This was later abandoned, but a second settlement began in 1825 and continued until 1855, and Norfolk Island came to be described as the 'Hell of the Pacific.'  The story takes place at this time in the island's history.

Thirteen-year old Otter Cannon and his seven year old brother, Paddy Paul, were brought from Ireland to Sydney by their recently widowed mother. The plan had been to join Major Daniel Cannon, her husband’s brother, and his family, in order that her boys would grow up as gentlemen and follow the family tradition of serving as officers in the army.
However, by the time the bereaved family arrived in Sydney, Major Cannon had been appointed Commandant of the prison settlement at Norfolk Island, a nineteen-day sea voyage from New South Wales, and the plan had to change.
The boys’ mother made the agonising decision to send the boys to Norfolk Island to join their Uncle and his family while she remained in Sydney.
The younger boy was excited about going to the island. His ambition was to be an army officer just as his father had been, but Otter’s greatest desire was to become a surgeon. This was frowned upon and his mother hoped that his uncle’s influence would change the boy’s mind.

The steersman skilfully inched the vessel as far as he dared towards the land, and the anchors whomped into the placid sea. Now the sounds of the land, forgotten since Sydney, drifted towards them - human voices, the freak of a windlass, the sweet splash of the cascade. In spite of himself, Otter was captivated by the scene. In full sunrise, the island looked like an illustration from a romance of kings and goblins. The steep plushy hills to the west demanded castles on their heights, of watch towers, or hermits’ ruined cells. But there were no towers except the pines, no ruins but the blocks of black stone piled on the narrow beach like wrecked masonry.

This is an exciting, action-filled story that keeps your attention until the very end. Mystery, danger, a whale hunt, escaped convicts, shipwreck; themes of loyalty, courage and justice - a great choice for a family read aloud with much to discuss and explore.

Not far away he saw a whale’s head, an old bull’s, marbled with age, water gushing out of the    downcurved mouth in torrents. Food, mostly tiny shrimps, was retained behind the black baleen that fringed the animal’s jaw...
Like an island emerging from the sea, the whale surfaced, tearing up the water, cascades foaming down its wet-leather flanks. It was over twenty metres long and nearly three metres higher than the men’s heads. It’s one visible eye, blue with a brown ring, glared in astonishment from that wall of head. Whissssht! The harpooner sent the javelin-like weapon hissing into its flank.

The whale hunt might be a little intense for a sensitive soul; a couple of times the word ‘damned’ is used and once an Irish Catholic convict cried, ”Oh, Holy Mary, they’re on to us!” Otherwise I’d say about age 10 years and up for a child to read on their own.
The book brims with the understanding, empathy and insight that Ruth Park had for her young audience and her writing style is excellent.
163 pages; out of print but available for a reasonable price at AbeBooks. I noticed many of the book sellers were in Austalia or N.Z. so check postage as it may be cheaper if you're ordering from either of those places.

Norfolk Island was self-governed for 36 years but that changed in 2015 when the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 replaced the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly.

Some Norfolk Island information is here & here.

Author information: Ruth Park, A Celebration.

Linking up with Brona's Books for the AusReading Challenge 2017

Thursday, 2 November 2017

It's that time of the year! The AusReading Month

Every November for the past five years, Brona's Books has hosted an Australian reading challenge. This is my fourth year of joining in and it's something I really look forward to. Brona has oodles of Aussie book suggestions if you need some ideas. I also have a page with links to various Aussie books, especially classics, that we've used with our children over the years - see here.
Fiction, non-fiction, essays, children's picture books, Australian classics - take your pick, write your thoughts or a review and link it here.

This year I'm reading:

* My Love Must Wait: the Story of Matthew Flinders by Ernestine Hill. I actually read this a bit earlier but I'm posting it here as it is such a great read and a forgotten Aussie classic, originally published in 1941, that deserves to be read by a new generation of readers.

* A Murder Unmentioned by Sulari Gentill - this is the sixth book in the Rowland Sinclair crime series set in the 1930's.

* Come Danger, Come Darkness by Ruth Park

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Beauty, Wonder, Keeping, Remembering...

A new find on our nature walk:

Cassinia denticulata

Beauty & Wonder...first time Uncle & Aunty

Anatomy & Physiology



Old Man Banksia Tree

Nature Notebook

Outside work 

A Latin lesson 

First rose of the season

Physics experiments

The Wonder Book of Chemistry by Jean Henri Fabre - Experiments with the Breath

The Grammar of Poetry - we've been looking at metaphors. This page has fifteen Biblical metaphors.

A drawing narration from a chapter of The Once & Future King - Morgan le Fay's Castle Chariot which was made of food:

'It rose from its lake of milk in a mystic light of its own - in a greasy, buttery glow...'


Moozle continues with scrapbooking, stamping and cardmaking. She made a photo album for her older sister's baby but I forgot to get a photo - she gets ideas from Jennifer McGuire Ink & Sweet Bio Design. Today she made a whole stack of various cards - birthday, Christmas, Get Well etc and yesterday she made this desk calendar:

Picture Study

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) is the artist we're currently studying. I didn't know anything about him and would have overlooked his work completely but I saw he was on the Ambleside Online artist's rotation and so decided to have a look at his work. A German Romantic artist, his work is atmospheric and moody, and we're enjoying spending some time studying his lovely art. We're doing some of the pictures AO recommends and adding in others we like:

 Wanderer Above the Mist, 1817-1818

 Cross in the Mountains, (detail) 1808

The Monk by the Sea, 1808-1810

On Board a Sailing Ship, 1819

Woman at the Window, 1822

Chalk Cliffs on Rugen, 1818-19

Morning, 1820-21

Linking up at Keeping Company

Friday, 27 October 2017

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (1949)

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey was written a year after The Franchise Affair and is a mystery without a detective. I've mentioned before that Josephine Tey's books are very original, and Brat Farrar is no exception. Tey's detective, Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, doesn't even get a mention in this book, and in fact, it's the criminal who stumbles upon the mystery and is instrumental in solving it.

The five Ashby children are orphaned when their parents are killed in a plane crash eight years before the story commences. Twin boys, Patrick and Simon, their sister Eleanor, and the younger twins, Jane and Ruth, are placed under the guardianship of their Aunt Bee after the tragedy, but about a year later, thirteen year old Patrick disappears. All the evidence points to suicide by drowning.

The story begins as Simon, now twenty-one years of age, is preparing for his 'coming of age,' the time when he will inherit the family fortune. A stranger (introduced to the reader earlier as Brat Farrar) arrives claiming to be Patrick, the firstborn of the twins, and therefore the legal heir.

Tey uses an intriguing approach with this story and it was not at all what I was expecting. The reader knows from the start that Farrar is an impostor. We are privy to his chance meeting with Alec Loding, a young actor who knew the family intimately and who had been astounded by Farrar's uncanny resemblance to Simon; we learn about Farrar's life up until this point, the scheme Loding presents to him, the objections he raises and what causes him to finally acquiesce.

Well, there was no going back now, whether he wanted to or not. That insistent voice that had talked to him in the dark of his room had fought for its head and got it. All he could do was sit in the saddle and hope for the best. But at least it would be a breath-taking ride; a unique, heart-stopping ride. Danger to life and limb he was used to; but far more exciting was this new mental danger, this pitting of wits.
This danger to his immortal soul...But he had never believed in his immortal soul.

Tey reveals more of Farrar's personality as he moves into the Ashby family home, and before long the reader begins to feel an empathy with the young man. But how was this going to work out? Tey wouldn't let an impostor get away with his crime, would she?
Apparently Tey was an accomplished gymnast and I think her physical agility was mirrored in her mental ability (see this article for an example).

Tey's insight and shrewd understanding of the human personality oozes out of her writing and in this case she explores what it means to belong. I love how she handles this.

Bee drank the remains of her coffee. 'Come on, Brat!' she said, putting out her hand and pulling him to his feet...
She led Brat out of the room, laughing at him, and still hand in hand with him. The warm friendliness of her clasp sent a rush of emotion through him that he could not identify. It was nothing like he had so far experienced in life.

Another aspect of Tey's writing that I've enjoyed in all her books so far is her humour. I thought this a delightful little vignette - Brat comes upon a young woman who has been trying to get Simon's attention by feigning an interest in horse riding:

'I suppose you wouldn’t put in a good word for me with Simon? It would be such a pity to waste all the agony I’ve gone through trying to interest him.'
'You don’t suppose I endure hours on those horrible quadrupeds just for fun, do you?...I suppose you’ve ridden horses since you could crawl, so you have no idea what it is like to be bumped about on a great shapeless mountain of a thing that’s far too high from the ground and has nothing to hold on to. It looks so easy when Simon does it. The horse looks so nice and narrow when you’re standing on the ground. You think you could ride it the way you ride a bicycle. It’s only when you get up you find that its back is simply acres across and you can make no impression on it at all. You just sit there and are bumped about, and your legs slip backwards and forwards instead of staying still like Simon’s, and you get large blisters and can’t sit down in the bath for weeks.'

Need I say I highly recommend this book??

Brat Farrar was reprinted in the USA as Come and Kill Me.
Tey's books are free online: see https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/tey/josephine/or Gutenberg
An informative website about this very private author.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

'Baby' by George MacDonald - celebrating our first grandchild

This lovely little girl was added to our family five days ago - our eldest daughter & her husband's first child and our first grandchild. I waited four whole days before I could hold her due to my lingering flu. But it was worth the wait!


Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into the here.

Where did you get those eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.

What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.

Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand strok’d it as I went by.

What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than any one knows.

Whence that three-corner’d smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.

Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.

Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into bonds and bands.

Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherubs’ wings.

How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.

But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.

Moozle is enjoying being an aunty for the first time:

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (1948)

Josephine Tey has just shot to the top of the list of my favourite authors. Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard was already up there as the most humane and likeable literary detective of my reading to date, but although he does play a (very minor) role in this novel, it is an unqualified, unlikely, middle-aged conservative bachelor by the name of Robert Blair who does the detecting in this mystery.

Robert Blair, solicitor of the business Blair, Hayward, & Bennet, has his tea-tray brought to him at exactly 3:50pm every working day, with a continuity that has remained unchanged for as long as he can remember. This had never bothered him - until recently. On this particular afternoon, a totally foreign thought entered his head, unbidden, as he looked at the empty tea-tray on his desk:

'This is all you are ever going to have.'

This thought was accompanied by a sudden constricting sensation in his chest. Both the thought and the feeling were extremely puzzling to him as he was quite happy with his life and had no wish to change anything.
He was getting ready to go home that evening when the phone rang and a woman by the name of Marion Sharpe asked if he would help her with some legal backing. When the woman told him her circumstances and that Scotland Yard was already involved, he tried to pass her on to someone else who dealt with criminal cases as he had no experience in this area at all.

'I don't want a criminal lawyer. I want a friend...you don't need a training in crime for that, do you?'

'No, but you would be much better served by a firm who were used to police cases. A firm that - 'What you are trying to tell me is that this is not 'your cup of tea?; that's it, isn't it?'
'No, if course not, Robert said hastily. 'I quite honestly feel that you would be wiser -'

'You know what I feel like?' she broke in. 'I feel like someone drowning in a river because she can't drag herself up the bank, and instead of giving me a hand you point out that the other bank is much better to crawl out on.'

Miss Marion Sharpe lived with her elderly, outspoken mother (imagine Maggie Smith of Downtown Abbey in reduced circumstances) in a house known as The Franchise that they inherited about three or four years previously. Blair made his way to the house after agreeing to 'watch out for Miss Sharpe's interests' while Scotland Yard was on the premises, with the understanding that he was not obliged to assist her any further if he decided he did not want to be involved.
The detectives from Scotland Yard had arrived that day with Betty Kane, a teenaged girl who said that she had been picked up in a car and detained by two women who wanted to make a servant of her; that they kept her locked up when she refused, and had beaten and starved her before she eventually escaped. The girl described The Franchise and the women in great detail and bore signs of having been beaten. The Sharpes denied the charges and insisted that they had never laid eyes on the girl before.

The Franchise Affair was a splendid mystery and an irresistible read. The characters were wonderfully drawn, the plot original, and the ending unguessable. Tey's psychological observations are first class, especially those concerning the criminal mind:

'Your true criminal...has two unvarying characteristics, and it is these two characteristics that make him a criminal. Monstrous vanity and colossal selfishness...
The criminal is a person who makes the satisfaction of his own immediate personal wants the mainspring of his actions. You can't cure him of his egotism, but you can  make the indulgence of it not worth his while.'

My two favourite characters were Robert Blair - self-deprecating and dependable:

'Your friend is a charmer, isn't he,? (Marion) said...

'It's the Irish,' Robert said, gloomily. 'It comes as natural to them as breathing. Us poor Saxons plod along our brutish ways and wonder how they do it.'

She had turned to give him the tray to carry, and so was facing him with their hands almost touching. 'The Saxons have the two qualities that I value most in this world. Two qualities that explain why they have inherited the earth. Kindness and dependability...Two qualities the Celt never had; which is why the Irish have inherited nothing but squabbles.'

And old Mrs Sharpe...

'This is Mr. Blair, of Blair, Hayward, and Bennet - the firm who have that lovely house at the top of the High Street.”
As Robert bowed the old woman fixed him with her seagull’s eye.

'Needs re-tiling,' she said.
It did, but it was not the greeting he had expected.
It comforted him a little that her greeting to Grant was even more unorthodox. Far from being impressed or agitated by the presence of Scotland Yard in her drawing-room of a spring afternoon, she merely said in her dry voice: 'You should not be sitting in that chair; you are much too heavy for it.'

For his money, old Mrs Sharpe was quite capable of beating seven different people between breakfast and lunch, any day of the week.

All in all, an original, stimulating and satisfying read. But set aside some time to lose yourself in Tey's masterful writing. It's just so hard to put this book down once you start.
278 pages.

Monday, 16 October 2017

A New Zealand Living Book for Children: The Hole in the Hill by Ruth Park (1917-2010)

Ruth Park was born and educated in New Zealand and moved to Australia in 1942 where she married D'Arcy Francis Niland, also an author, and best known for his novel, The Shiralee (1955).

The Hole in the Hill was Ruth Parks' first children's book and was published in 1961. It was published in the USA as Secret of the Maori Cave and is partly the story of the meeting of two cultures, and partly just a good old adventure.

Fourteen year old Brownie Mackenzie and her twelve year old brother, Dunk, travel with their father from New South Wales to New Zealand after their Great Uncle died. The eccentric old man left his run-down New Zealand farm, Three-Mile, to their father in his will with a letter stating that some day the place might be more valuable than gold.
Mr. Mackenzie had laughed at this as his uncle had a reputation of being quite strange but Dunk was excited at the prospect that they might come across some sort of treasure.

Arriving in Auckland, the two children quickly became bored and homesick as they waited while their father discussed the affair with a solicitor. Impatient with the two of them, Mr Mackenzie suggested they travel on ahead to the farm and do some exploring and camping for a couple of days and when he had finished his business he would join them.
So off they went the eighty miles on the train to Te Taniwha, the closest town to the farm where adventure, mystery and danger awaited them.

She looked disconsolately around the landscape. How different it was from New South Wales, where at this hour the galahs would be whirling down in clouds to drink at the lagoons, rose pink on one turn, Pearl grey on the next, making their funny squeaking noise like a cork rubbing on a bottle. The rally eucalypts would be standing frail and black against a ruby-bright Australian sunset, and the big bogong moths would be coming in to boom and bumble against the lamps.

Ruth Park has created a very real sense of time and place in this, her first book for children. The New Zealand setting with the description of caves is excellent:

They peered through stalactites at the cave beyond. The light of the torch was swallowed up by the enormous darkness, but it showed a chamber unimaginably huge sculptures from icy-white marble, with a roof scalloped and fringed and dew-dropped with glittering folds and loops and pinnacles. The floor was peaked and drawn up into mighty blunt pillars, here and there prickling and gleaming as though it were carpeted with polar-bear skin. Only the gentle, speaking roar of falling water filled the cave, steady and awesome. Brownie felt tears in her eyes at the strangeness of it, that this magical, other-world beauty should be hidden away like this, in a hole in the hill.

When we took some of our children through the glow-worm caves in New Zealand, we couldn't find anything at the time that explained these creatures in a non-technical, living way, so I was really pleased to find this little descriptive passage in The Hole in the Hill:

In spite of her natural-history lessons, Brownie did not know that the New Zealand glow-worm is creature unique in its class, a shabby little grub, the larva of a mosquito-like insect with a wing-span of less than an inch; she knew, however, that his primitive fairy speck if life, living its life darkness and silence, fished for food by means of a dangling necklace of minute diamonds, a sticky finger of cold fire which lured and trapped tiny flying midges.

Between frightening noises in the night, being chased by 'Captain Cookers' (feral pigs introduced when Captain Cook first visited New Zealand), dangerous underground caverns and a troubling mystery, the book moves along apace and keeps the reader interested.

I think the ideal age for children to read this book on their own is about 10 years of age but the interest level is fairly broad so it would make a good family read aloud for around ages 12 years and under. It is out of print but available secondhand, especially under its alternative USA title.
HB 144 pages.

Information on the author:

Ruth Park's Obituary

A letter the author wrote to children

Friday, 13 October 2017

Education and Life

Something I both love and am frustrated by at times is when 'Education' get sidelined by 'Life.' The past few weeks have been rather crazy and frustrating, because my well-laid plans didn't work out the way I wanted. 'Life' intervened. Enter Charlotte Mason's motto:

Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline and a Life

It started off with a few of us sick with a flu-type illness, and of course, when you have a houseful, everyone gets sick one after the other so you feel like you're running an infirmary. I hardly ever get sick but I did this time. I'd already arranged to look after my Mum for 10 days while my sister was interstate and she wasn't too well either when I picked her up. Between the two of us we were a bit miserable for a couple of days.
We didn't get any book work done in those ten days but my daughter spent time with her Nanna, who she doesn't get to see very often. She gave up her bed for those ten nights and slept on the lounge chair downstairs; she helped me get my Mum to take her medications, which was a herculean effort at times; she took her for a short stroll around the house most days and talked about the plants we have in the garden, made her cups of tea and sat and read House & Garden magazines with her.
I thought at the time that we were creating an atmosphere for Mum by encouraging her to get outside, which she never does any more, and to take an interest in the garden, which used to be so pleasurable for her. Getting her to read again was something I was really happy about as she used to be an avid reader but has neglected that in recent years.

The worst part of not being well was that I had to keep away from my eldest daughter who is expecting her first baby in about four weeks. I was also trying to plan a baby shower at the same time and ended up having to do most of the preparation at the last minute.

We had the baby shower last weekend and the night before we had been to see a performance of Giselle. I wrote about some books we've used that are great to read before you head off to a live performance, here. Despite the last minute rush, everything turned out well, including having perfect, slightly overcast weather for the afternoon on our upstairs balcony.

A recipe for the Carob Balls pictured above:

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sultanas/raisins
1/4 cup carob powder (cocoa or cacao may be used instead)
1'2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup skim milk powder

Put peanut butter, honey, water and sultanas into a saucepan & bring to the boil for about 3 or 4 minutes, stirring all the time.
Remove from stove, add carob and coconut and when cooled, skim milk powder.
At this stage I usually put the mixture in the freezer for about 1/2 an hour and then take it out; roll into balls of desired size & roll in coconut.
Store in fridge or freeze ahead of time.

Moozle made her specialty lemonade scones - only three ingredients!

Below is an old recipe a friend gave me when I was first married - it is always a hit so maybe you may like to try it out (let me know if you do!). I've often omitted the chopped almonds and this time I used some almond meal instead. A great recipe to freeze ahead of time:

Some of my helpers setting things up...

Other happenings in the past two weeks included a visit from our niece who lives in Northern NSW. She was chosen as a student representative to travel to the battlefields in Belgium and we caught up with her for breakfast on her return trip as she came through Sydney.

Our eldest son and his wife returned to Australia after six weeks in Finland, the Scottish Highlands, Croatia, Spain and Portugal. The highlights for them were the Highlands & Spain, especially Barcelona.


My mother-in-law came down from Queensland for the weekend of the baby shower and spent some time doing Origami with Moozle and listening to her practicing the cello.

I watched this film again with my Mum. I didn't enjoy the book as much as I did the movie, but I have to admit, I did rush through reading it while I was visiting family interstate one year. I haven't got around to re-reading it yet but I just love the scenery in this film and the sparse narrative:


Me - I just finished 'My Love Must Wait' by Ernestine Hill. An excellent Aussie classic on the life of Matthew Flinders.
I recently started Life Under Compulsion by Anthony Esolen. I've read his previous book, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child and thought it was very good:

My Husband - he's been reading David Baldacci's Camel Club series. You can read about them here.
He likes Vince Flynn's books but has read them all and Baldacci's books are a similar type. I haven't read any of them but they are all spy/espionage/thriller books.

My Mum used to read a lot but has got out of the habit in recent years so I gave her an Agatha Christie book to read while she was staying with us. She'd read it years ago and enjoyed re-reading it.

Moozle is on another Biggles splurge.

Benj is reading and enjoying 'Worship' by Graham Kendrick, which was written in 1984 and that we bought around the time it came out. Out of print.

Education is a Discipline

I started Latin Alive 1, published by Classical Academic Press with Moozle this week. I'll be posting a review about it in early to mid November and will be hosting a couple of giveaways here and on some other blogs.

Moozle is now swimming six hours a week - squad/competition training. The lessons are either early morning (very early) or late afternoon. She was swimming one afternoon per week during this past year and wanted to do more, but I was reluctant to add any more afternoon lessons as it is right on dinnertime & I have three hungry young lads and their Dad arriving home. So I reluctantly added two early mornings. I thought I'd die and I didn't think my young lady would be wakeable at that early hour but we've surprised ourselves. We'll see how long we last...

Getting back to well-laid plans getting saboutaged - I think when you decide to educate your own children you do need to count the cost, which my husband and I did nearly 25 years ago. There will be seasons that will be difficult because of sickness, pregnancy, and unexpected interruptions & there is also the aspect of constant change as your children grow, but in spite of these things, it's important to have a peaceful heart and to trust God that what we sow will bear fruit in time to come.

To the faithful He shows Himself faithful. Psalm 18:25

Linking up with Finishing Strong and Weekly Wrap-up