Using All The Best Things!

“Start living now. Stop saving the good china for that special occasion. Stop withholding your love until that special person materializes. Every day you are alive is a special occasion. Every minute, every breath, is a gift from God.”Mary Manin Morrissey

While I was at university I went to a babysitting job. The family owned and ran the canteen at my college, and worked long hours. They were incredibly proud of their new brick home, and invited me in as if I had arrived at Buckingham Palace.

Over the white shag-pile carpet lay thick plastic runners. Plastic slipcovers encased every piece of furniture in the lounge. It was the height of summer so I was offered a seat on a towel, placed on top of the plastic-covered and uncomfortable sofa. I drank my cold drink from a plastic cup and ate my cake off a chipped old plate, while admiring the china cabinet full of beautiful glassware and a pretty dinner service. It felt like a home no-one lived in. Or a home that they were care-taking for someone else.

All the ‘good’ things – the china, the furniture, the carpet – were being saved for a special occasion.

I wonder if they ever got used at all?

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One thing I learned a long time ago is that life is short, and often unpredictable. Beautiful things are meant to be used, rather than languishing at the back of a cupboard or covered over.

If you have an expensive bottle of perfume, give yourself the pleasure of using it while it is still fresh.

Drink your tea from that beautiful cup.

Wear that gorgeous necklace of your Nan’s.

Be careful with precious things, but use them anyway. It is a natural law that some things will break or be damaged over time. That’s okay too. Don’t let fear stop you enjoying these things.

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Serve dinner on the good plates, or create a reason to bring the special things out more often than just at Christmas or Thanksgiving. My grandmother used to bring out all the good china, silverware and glassware when we went there for dinner on a Saturday night. She’d decorate the dinner table with a lace tablecloth and blooms from the garden, light candles, and make the table look like the Queen herself was coming to dinner. Even though it was only us. And sometimes, because we were little, we were in our pyjamas…

Buy yourself flowers for no reason other than the glorious experience of being alive and able to appreciate beauty.

Let yourself live, surrounded by the things that give you pleasure and that make you happy.

Conversely, if it stresses you out to use the good china for fear you might break it – maybe sell it or give it away, and find yourself something you feel comfortable to use every day. Go find the perfect coffee mug, the pretty plates and bowls that can go straight in the dishwasher, the couch you can sink into at the end of the day.

Choose quality over quantity.

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One of my favourite forms of recycling is buying from second-hand and thrift shops, garage sales and antique centres. It’s amazing what kinds of treasures you might find and give a new lease of life. Clothes, books, furniture, homewares, trinkets and jewels…

This week, ask yourself if you are truly using and appreciating what you have. If not now, when?

You deserve to live in your life now. Don’t save things for that mystical unnamed time in the future. Memories are made in the moment, and that’s where life is lived too. That mystical future moment might never come.

Make life a beautiful journey. Don’t keep your dreams and cherished possessions locked away in the cupboard. Live, and surround yourself with what soothes and uplifts you. The everyday deserves beauty and magic as much as a special occasion.

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ANZAC Biscuits – Nana’s Traditional Recipe

Tomorrow is ANZAC DAY in Australia, so I’ve been baking up a storm.  Of course, I think we may be the only country in the world where one of our most important national holidays celebrates a great war time defeat. But that’s another story, best told tomorrow.

My Nana was given this recipe by her mother, who used it to bake Soldiers Biscuits for the First World War – biscuits (cookies for my non-Australian readers) full of nutritional value, and with good keeping qualities, that could be shipped abroad to the fighting men. These biscuits do not contain any egg, which makes them much less perishable, and during the wars when there was rationing, the basic ingredients could still be come by. After the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli, Turkey, in 1915, these biscuits became known as ANZAC biscuits.

Every time I make them, I think of my Great Grandmother and my Nana, and of our troops abroad, then and now.  For me these biscuits are an ANZAC Day tradition, but I bake them often because they are delicious with a cup of tea, they fill you up, and they are quick to make.  Store them in an airtight tin and they’ll keep fresh for months. (Sadly, mine never last that long.)

Ingredients:

I cup each of rolled oats, dessicated coconut, sugar and plain flour, 4 ounces (1 stick) or 115g of butter (if you’re vegan use a butter substitute), 2 tablespoons golden syrup, 2 tablespoons boiling water (and a little more if needed), 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.

Method:

Heat oven to 180C (moderate or 355F), and line two baking sheets with non-stick paper, or grease them.

Measure and mix dry ingredients into a large bowl.

Melt butter and syrup together in a saucepan. Add the bicarbonate of soda to a cup with the boiling water, dissolve soda and then tip into saucepan with the butter mixture.  The mixture will foam up – this is normal!

Tip wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well. If the mixture is a little dry add a touch more boiling water.

Form into teaspoon sized balls and place on tray, leaving room for spreading.Press down with a fork to flatten.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown. Watch carefully for the last few minutes so they don’t overcook.

Cool on tray until firmed and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight tin.

Serve with tea, coffee or a nice cold glass of milk.  For best results, share with someone you love. ♥