A peaceful day

Phillipians 4:4-8

For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we see light. Psalm 36:9

One minute's silence

Posted by Jeanne

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.


Did you remember our Diggers this morning? Did you recite the ode, listen to the Last Post and observe a minute's silence?

What did you think about as you stood in quiet contemplation?

You probably thought about the brave young Aussies risking their lives so that we could have peace in our land, but did you also think about the young Turks fighting to save their land from the invaders?

You may have remembered our fallen heroes, but did you remember the Turks who never went home again either? They're buried there together, side by side. Did you think of that when the second hand clicked slowly round?

Did you think about the tragedy and the futility of war, and honour the men in both sides of the conflict, who fought for the land and the people they loved?

One Minute's Silence written by David Metzenthen and illustrated superbly by Michael Camilleri tells the story of a class of young people observing a minute's silence, just like we did, and probably like you did, too. And as they wait, they imagine themselves as soldiers at Gallipoli, and they think about how it would have been.

In one minute’s silence……

you can imagine the grinding in your guts as the ironbark bows of the Australian boats bumped the stony shore of Gallipoli on the twenty-fifth of April, 1915… when twelve thousand wild colonial boys dashed across the shivering Turkish sand in the pale light of a dairy farmer’s dawn lashed with flying lead.

But can you imagine, in one minute’s silence, lines of young Turkish soldiers from distant villages, hearts hammering, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in trenches cut like wounds… firing on the strangers wading through the shallows, intent on streaming into the homeland of the Turkish people.

This is a wonderful book to share with your children as you commemorate Remembrance Day, and observe a minute's silence together.

Today when Jemimah and I stood together we remembered our loved ones who fought for us in the "war to end all wars", the men and women who have fought in other wars, our peacekeeping troops, and their loved ones left at home alone. But we also remembered the soldiers we fought against, and it was powerful.

I think when you read this book, you'll think so too.

Lest We Forget




Once a year foods

Posted by Jeanne

I almost committed the unthinkable yesterday. I went to the pantry to get out the ingredients to bake our annual Guy Fawkes Parkin, only to discover that I had no treacle. None. Worse, I figured that the chances of my local supermarket having a tin of Lyle's Black Treacle to be less than 0.

I think no parkin on Guy Fawkes Night might just constitute reasonable grounds for divorce around here, both from husband and daughter, not to mention the dog, because parkin is a once-a-year-food, and once-a-year-foods absolutely taste better than any other kind. Think Anzac biscuits and mince pies and plum pudding and Easter eggs and mooncakes and even radishes. The radishes we eat on Christmas morning are the sweetest, most delicious radishes evahhhhhhh. A year without these foods is absolutely unthinkable, as is the idea of eating them on any other day. Our family is built on traditions, and most of those traditions revolve around once-a-year-foods. Like parkin.

And I had no treacle.

But my supermarket did!!! (See all those exclamation marks? That's how excited I felt!) Sure, it wasn't Lyle's, and it wasn't quite as black as we're used to, but it was treacle, and it made pretty fine parkin. My marriage is safe for another day.

Please to rememberThe fifth of November,Gunpowder treason and plot;I see no reason Why gunpowder treasonShould ever be forgot...

Parkin is integral to our Guy Fawkes Night, but I don't rightly know why. Hailing originally from Yorkshire, its sticky, treacly gingery deliciousness is perfect for the invariably freezing cold of a Northern English bonfire night, but how it came to be traditional, they don't rightly know. Only it did, and it is.

Guy Fawkes Night, of course, refers to the November 5th commemoration of the 1605 Plot to blow up the House of Lords in London - the Gunpowder Plot. The annual bonfires celebrate the fact that the plot was foiled and King James survived. It used to be an anti-Catholic day, but nowadays it's enjoyed by everyone. The banning of fireworks in Victoria in 1985 sort of sounded the death knell of Guy Fawkes Night in our state, but our family is tough. We can overcome such obstacles. They can't stop us building a bonfire and eating parkin, no sire.

And thanks to our supermarket and the plastic jar of CSR treacle syrup, that is definitely not Lyles, but did the job, we did.

And just like every other once-a-year-food, it tasted divine.

In case you feel a need to hunt down your own tin of Lyle's Black Treacle, in time for next year's bonfire, here's the recipe:

Guy Fawkes Parkin


450g treacle (or a whole tin of Lyle's Black Treacle if you find some)
125g butter
150ml milk
125g soft brown sugar
170g plain flour
1/4 teas salt
1 teas bicarbonate of soda
2 teas ground ginger
1 teas mixed spice
350g quick oats


:: Preheat oven to 160°c
:: Grease two loaf tins 10x25cm and line with baking paper.
:: Sift flour, bicarb soda, salt, ginger, and mixed spice twice, then add oats.
:: Gently heat treacle and butter in saucepan until the butter is melted.

:: Add milk and sugar, and stir until sugar dissolves.

:: Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix until combined.

:: Pour into cake tins and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top of the parkin is set. It should still be a bit gooey in the centre.

:: Leave to cool, and then eat with custard and ice cream. They say parkin actually improves if stored for a few days before eating. I'm never that organised, ahem clearly, but you can try it if you like.

Here's something delicious to read while you eat:

“When I'm married, may I wear this dress?"
"Of course," said Loveday. "It will need no alteration. It's a perfect fit."
They went downstairs and found that Robin hd already changed into dry clothes and set the table for tea with bread and butter, honey and cream, and golden-brown parkin. The kettle was singing on the hob, the white kitten was purring loudly, and the strange cave-room was glowing and cosy, lit by the leaping flames of the log fire. When she had put the children's wet things to dry, Loveday made the tea in a big brown pot like a beehive, and they sat down and fell hungrily upon the lovely food. Robin, sitting opposite Maria at the oak table spread with its snowy cloth, gazed at her in astounded appreciation of her appearance, but was at first too occupied in eating to say anything about it. However, when he had devoured half a loaf and a lot of parkin he at last gave tongue.
"That's a pretty dress," he said with his mouth full. "It looks like a wedding dress."
"It is a wedding dress," said Maria thickly, for she too was ravenous and was devouring bread and honey at the rate of two bites a slice. "It's my wedding dress. I'm trying it on to see if it fits."
"Are you going to be married?” asked Robin sharply, his munching jaws suddenly still. “Of course,” said Maria, reaching for the cream. “You didn’t expect me to be an old maid, did you?”
“Are you getting married today?” demanded Robin.
But this time Maria’s mouth was so full that she couldn’t answer, and Loveday, who hadn’t had her hunger sharpened by fresh air, danger, and exercise, and was nibbling very daintily at a very thin slice of bread and butter, answered for her.
“Of course she isn’t being married today, Robin. She isn’t old enough to be married yet. But when she is married she will wear that dress.”
“When you do marry, who will you marry?” Robin asked Maria.
Maria swallowed the last of her bread and cream and honey, put her hand on one side and stirred her tea thoughtfully. “I have no quite decided yet,” She said demurely, “but I think I shall marry a boy I knew in London.”
“What?” yelled Robin. “Marry some mincing nincompoop of a Londoner with silk stockings and pomade in his hair and a face like a Cheshire cheese?”
The parkin stuck in his gullet and he choked so violently that Loveday had to pat him on the back and pour him out a fresh cup of tea. When he spoke again his face was absolutely scarlet, not only with the choke but with rage and jealousy and exasperation.
“You dare do such a thing!” he exploded. “You – Maria – you – if you marry a London man I’ll wring his neck!”
“Robin! Robin!” expostulated his mother in horror. “I’ve never seen you in such a temper like this before. I did not know you had got a temper.”
“Well, you know now,” said Robin furiously. “And if she marries that London fellow, I’ll not only wring his neck, I’ll wring everybody’s necks, and I’ll go right away out of the valley, over the hills to the town where my father came from, and I won’t ever come back here again. So there!”
Maria said nothing at all in response to this outburst. She just continued to drink her tea and look more demure than ever. And the more demure she looked the angrier Robin became. His eyes flashed fire, and his chestnut curls seemed standing straight up all over his head with fury. Maria as quite sure that if she had been standing behind him she would have seen the twist of hair in the nape of his neck twitching backwards and forwards like a cat’s tail. She drank her tea with maddening deliberation and spoke at last.
“Why don’t you want me to marry that London boy?” she asked.
Robin brought his fist down on the table with a crash that set all the china leaping. “Because you are going to marry me,” he shouted. “Do you hear, Maria? You are going to marry me.”
“Robin,” said his mother, “that’s not at all the way to propose. You should go down on one knee and do it in a very gentle voice.”
“How can I go down on one knee when I’m in the middle of my tea?” demanded Robin. “And how can I do it in a gentle voice when I feel as though I had a roaring lion inside me?If I didn’t roar, I should burst.”
“You can stop roaring, Robin.” said Maria. “You can stop, because for the sake of peace and quiet I have suddenly made up my mind to marry you.”
Robin’s curls flopped down on his head again and the crimson tide receded from his forehead. “That’s all right then,” he said with a great sigh of relief. “That’s settled. I’ll have some more parkin, please, Mother.”
Elizabeth Goudge, The Little White Horse



Chocolate buttercream frosting

Posted by Jeanne


Yesterday, I made cake. I used our tried and tested chocolate cake recipe, the one that I've used over and over, and that always turns out well. But this time we tried a new icing, and it was just so head-over-heels fantastic that I wanted to share it here with you, just in case you wanted to turn somersaults too. It really is that delicious. Honest.

This is what you'll need:

250 g butter at room temperature, but not melted

3 cups icing sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teas vanilla extract

4 tabs cream

This is what you do:

Cream butter in mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. While this is beating, sift icing sugar and cocoa together, and then add all at once to bowl, mixing on lowest speed (to avoid covering the room with sugary clouds) until combined. Add vanilla and cream, increase speed to medium and whip for three or four minutes until light and fluffy.

Be sure to make enough to taste-test a good dollop, because this icing is so good that you could just about forgo the cake and just eat it straight.

Why adulterated perfection with cake?






Take an afternoon off

Posted by Jeanne

Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.

Charlotte Mason, Home Education p42

We took the afternoon off today because...well, let me show you:







If you stay inside on a day like today just to get your reading done and work a maths sheet, then we reckon you have your priorities wrong. Work hard when you're working, but play hard when you're not.

Miss Mason tells us the never be inside when you can rightly be without. I don't know about you, but this seems easier when our kids are young, doesn't it? By the time they're in years 7 and 8, (that's High School in Australia), we've started to get all serious about the academic stuff - the maths and the science and the written narrations, and practicing our two modern and one ancient language every day.

Spending half a day or more outside every week? Ain't nobody got no time for that, right? Wrong. In the years when your child is independent, when she spends much of each day reading and writing alone in her room, time outside is more important than ever. Time to walk together, talk together, laugh together. Don't miss a single day. She will be grown and gone all too soon.

When the weather is like today's, and the gazanias look like this, you really have no choice, do you? Binary multiplication can wait until tomorrow, and everything will be alright. I promise.









Of studies

Posted by Jeanne

If been dying for Jemimah to get around to her paraphrase of Francis Bacon's essay, Of Studies, because it is all about the benefits of reading and learning, and I'm sorta kinda rather fond of both of those.

There are some great quotations in the passage, no more than one long paragraph, really. These are some gems:

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.

Finally there is this one. I think it is my favourite:

Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.

You can have a read of the whole essay by clicking the link above. Or, you can read Jemimah's very fine paraphrase below. Apparently, paraphrasing Bacon is her very favourite thing of AO8. Whodathunk?

Of StudiesStudies serve to delight, to enhance, and to be useful. They are most delightful when you are alone and at leisure. They enhance by allowing you to display your knowledge in conversation. They are useful because they improve your ability to make good decisions and to run your business more effectively. Clever men can do things and do them well, but learned men can perform daily activities better in general. Spending too much time studying is lazy, using study to show-off is vain, and to decide things just on learning is unwise. Studies perfect man but man’s wisdom affects that knowledge, because natural abilities are like plants that need training by study, and studies can go too far unless they are given limits by experience. Sly men loath study; simple men are impressed by it, and wise men benefit from it. Studies do not teach how to use themselves, but that knowledge comes from outside and is only learned by observation. Don’t read to make arguments, or to believe blindly, or just for something to say, but rather to ponder and provide judgment. Some books are to be tasted, some to be swallowed, and a few are to be chewed and digested; that is, dip into some books, read some for enjoyment, and a few are to be read with concentration. You can read summaries of some books, but only less important books, or books that are not so good, because most summaries don’t do the original book justice, and are just for show. Reading makes you better, discussion prepares you, and writing makes you more precise. If you don’t write things down, you’d better have a great memory. If you don’t ask much, you need to be careful. If you don’t read, you have to be cunning to pretend to know that which you do not know. History makes man wise; poetry makes him witty, mathematics subtle, natural philosophy deep, moral stories make him grave, logic and rhetoric arm him for what will come. Abeunt studia in mores – what you study becomes a habit. Studies improve any intellectual deficit, just like injuries have appropriate rehabilitation exercises. Bowling is good for bladder and kidney, shooting for lungs and chest, gentle walking for the stomach, riding for the brain, and so on. So if a man is getting slow, study maths, because in doing maths, if you are distracted, you must start again. If he is not discerning, let him study the professional scholars, for they are cymene sectores, splitters of hairs and pedantic and the man will become more so. If he doesn’t think about things enough, let him study law. Every defect of the mind has a recipe for cure.



Wildflowers in the bush

Posted by Jeanne

How could you not be happy, wandering aimlessly in the bush when the wildflowers begin to bloom? Well, I can't, anyway. These photos were all taken today. I'm sorry the little purple orchid is a bit blurry. It was quite windy, and consequently, a bit difficult to get a good shot, but it was such a sweet little bloom, I wanted to show you anyway.







The most exciting thing is that this is just the start of the season. I can't wait to see what is flowering next week. Spending a whole afternoon in the bush each week is not really a hardship at all at this time of year. I love it.

What's flowering in your neck of the woods? Have you looked lately?






Latin grace

Posted by Jeanne

My university days seem like a dream, sometimes. Sure, it was almost 35 years ago, but it's more than that.

Both my school and University followed the 'Oxbridge' tradition. (That's a portmanteau of Oxford and Cambridge). Both institutions were grand and tradition-bound and old and elegant and beautiful and classy.

At university, I attended a residential college, St Hilda's. The colleges, too, were modelled on Oxbridge tradition with rowing and cricket clubs, choirs, debating teams, live-in tutors, and well stocked libraries. We dressed in academic gowns for dinner, had Junior and Senior Common Rooms, were invited to 'High Table', (literally a high table, raised at the front of the room and reserved for the academic fellows, the Headmaster and their guests) and even said grace before meals in Latin.

I had an exceptional education, and very good fun, but like I say, nowadays it all seems like a dream. A very Hogwarts-like dream.

The other day I realised that over the course of the decades I'd forgotten the grace. Just when Jemimah's Latin was good enough for her to enjoy knowing it, too. So I hopped onto Facebook, found an alumni page and asked. And here it is, in case I ever forget it again. Or in case you, too, would like to say grace in Latin.

Academic gowns and a raised high table optional.


Benedic, domine, hoc frumentum, et nostram communitatem per Christum Dominum nostrum.


Translation: Bless O Lord, this food and our community, through Christ our Lord.


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