Review: A Year in the Mud and the Tea and the Toast, My (Semi) Rural Kind of Life – Georgie Brooks

A Year in the Mud and the Toast and the Tears

Georgie Brooks

Bad Apple Press

ISBN: 9780648556916

RRP$27.99

Description:

After buying an old cottage in the Adelaide Hills, Georgie and her young family are transfixed with dreams of becoming hobby farmers, tending chooks, sitting by log fires, growing their own veggies and generally immersing themselves in the joys of nature. However, a stubborn cow named Ginger, acres of mud, a feral crop of artichokes, the coldest winter of the decade and a husband whose job means he is away from home most of the week but leaves him time to repeatedly bog the tractor on the weekends does not make their introduction to rural living ideal. Surely things can only get better from here …?

 

For anyone who has either made the escape from city living or dreams of doing so, A Year in the Mud and the Toast and the Tears is an entertaining and humorous story about a tree change with more than a rocky start.

 

My View:

This is the perfect tonic for these trying times. There are many genuine laugh out loud moments and situations that I could identify with. Let me share a few with you:

In this instance the water pump has stopped working ( the house relies on a rain water tank for its water supply) After unsuccessfully trying to solve the issue herself Georgie rings her husband who is at work (a doctor): pps82,83

Husband: “OK where are you?’

Georgie “Out by the water pump thing.”

Husband: “Have you turned it off and on again?”

“Yes,” through clenched teeth.

“Right, well, you’ll need to check the valves. Go and find the black most westerly valve on the eastern pipe.”

‘Trumping through the long grass looking desperately for pipes.’ “I can only find one pipe.”

“Is it far east?”

“I don’t know which way is east.” ( Yep that’s me 😊)

“Is it pointing to the big pin oak?”

“It sort of points between the two pin oaks?”

“Okayyy….” Muffled sigh. “Can you see a valve on it?”

“There are two black plastic turny things.”

“They control the valves. Can you turn the westerly valve off?”

Wait for it….I can just imagine having this sort of conversation with my husband…😊

“I don’t know which way is west.”

 

And so on…you can tell this is probably not going to end well. 😊

 

Then we get to the story of Portuguese Millipedes.  I thought this phenomenon was only local to the Perth hills and south west of Western Australia, I was wrong, South Australia suffers from them too.  “The millipede is small, black and shiny and looks a little like a centipede (except its named for its supposed thousand legs, rather than the centipede’s hundred legs). You have to peer very closely at it to work out the front form the back, but there’s a tiny pair of black antennae differentiating the front engine of the millipede/ Millipedes are about 2 centimetres long with a dense row of grey legs, and a little moustache like, underneath. They are attracted to light and to white things and when disturbed roll into a spiral. At first, we thought just see a few millipedes.  In fact, the baby is munching on the odd millipede and spitting it out in horror as she makes her way over the floor tasting everything in her path, is the first way I realise that the millipede is coming. Millipedes have a horrible smell and when you crush them this becomes even more potent. The baby soon stops putting millipedes in her mouth. Apparently, the millipede’s terrible taste and smell is part of its cunning plan for world domination, as nothing else on the planet wants to eat the millipede. They don’t seem to have a part in the food chain or any reason for their existence, except as a reminder of how minor irritations can overwhelm your life…It is as if some seasonal signal has awoken a zombie army of millipedes. They literally swarm into the house…”  (p92/93)

This problem is real. I feel Georgie’s pain as I sit here typing in the almost dark, too frightened to turn on the light in case I am assaulted by a million tiny wriggly legs… every morning walking around the house with a dust pan and brush (or vacuum cleaner) to sweep up a carpet of these pests. I hear you Georgie 😊

 

And then we have stories of uncooperative cows, gardening 101, the driveway (or rather ski slope to the road), renovations etc etc. But its not all hilarious gloom (if there is such a thing I think Georgie invented it) , Georgie peppers the tales with laughter, a good dose of Aussie self-depreciation, and with observations of the beauty of nature and her new life in the country.

 

This read is the perfect pick me up, the laugh you need right now. Thanks Georgie for sharing your warts and all tree change story.

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetable and Lentil Tabbouleh:CSIRO Low Carb Diet – Quick and Easy -Grant Brinkworth & Pennie Taylor 

CSIRO Low Carb Diet –  Quick and Easy 

Grant Brinkworth & Pennie Taylor 

Pan Macmillan Australia

RRP $34.99

Vegetable and Lentil Tabbouleh

400 g firm tofu, sliced

4 zucchini, thinly sliced diagonally

640 g fresh vegetable and lentil salad

250 g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems and leaves finely chopped

¼ cup (60 ml) fat-free Italian dressing

 

Preheat the chargrill plate on a barbecue to medium–high.

Add the tofu and zucchini and cook, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until golden and just cooked. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Pumpkin and Tofu Tangine – CSIRO Low Carb Diet – Quick and Easy -Grant Brinkworth & Pennie Taylor 

CSIRO Low Carb Diet –  Quick and Easy 

Grant Brinkworth & Pennie Taylor 

Pan Macmillan Australia

RRP $34.99

Pumpkin and Tofu Tangine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon harissa seasoning

300 g peeled, seeded pumpkin, cut into thin wedges

600 g firm tofu, cut into 2 cm pieces

2 zucchini, cut lengthways into quarters

1 x 500 g packet frozen broccoli and cauliflower rice

 

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, deep non-stick frying pan over high heat.

Add the harissa, pumpkin, tofu and zucchini and cook, tossing, for 2 minutes.

Add ½ cup (125 ml) water. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large non-stick wok over high heat. Add the broccoli and cauliflower rice and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until heated through and starting to crisp up.

Divide the rice and tofu tagine evenly among shallow bowls and serve.

 

Review: Dugong Magic – Deborah Kelly, Illustrated by Lisa Stewart

Dugong Magic
Deborah Kelly
Illustrated by Lisa Stewart
Lothian Children’s Books
Hachette Children’s Books
ISBN: 9780734419965
Paperback $15.99

Description:
A beautifully illustrated, lyrical and informative story about dugongs, one of our most unique endangered animals. Ideal for anyone with an interest in marine life and the environment, and an excellent teaching resource.
There are not many dugongs left in the world now. But what if humans freed the sea from nets? What if we cleared it of rubbish so that seagrass could flourish again and dugongs could feed?
A beautiful and thought-provoking picture book about dugongs – the mysterious creatures who were once mistaken for mermaids. Deborah’s Kelly’s beautiful, lyrical writing brings these animals to life, and highlights the dangers they face, inspiring young readers to care for and protect our natural world. Lisa Stewart’s gorgeous illustrations capture the beauty of these gentle and endangered creatures.

My View:
This is a very sensitively written book that provides gorgeous images with a message about ecology, the environment and optimism.

Read and learn about the dugong’s calf’s family close relationship, its habitat, it quests for sweet waters, pollution free, and an ocean that all can utilise.

For adults, teachers and carer’s there is a handy page of “Dugong Facts” to assist you answering those never ending “why” questions 😊, eg where they live, what does the name mean, how do they communicate? etc

A great teaching resource and an environmental call for action.

Review: The Recovery of Rose Gold – Stephanie Wrobel

The Recovery of Rose Gold
Stephanie Wrobel
Penguin Random House Australia
Michael Joseph
ISBN: 9780241416082

Description:
Rose Gold Watts believed she was sick for eighteen years.

She thought she needed the feeding tube, the surgeries, the wheelchair . . .

Turns out her mother is a really good liar.

After five years in prison, Patty Watts is finally free. All she wants is to put old grievances behind her, reconcile with the daughter who testified against her – and care for her new infant grandson.

When Rose Gold agrees to have Patty move in, it seems their relationship is truly on the mend. And she has waited such a long time for her mother to come home.
But is she still the pliable young girl she once was? And is Patty still as keen on settling an old score?

Because if mothers never forget then daughters never forgive.

A chilling tale of obsession, reconciliation and revenge from an incredible new talent.

My View:
This one completely baffled me – right up to the last few pages and then it still had a few surprises – a great read!

This is a read that will keep you guessing, will have you shaking your head confoundedly, “how could this happen?”, will continually surprise you and you will gasp at the ending.

This is a great read.

Review: I’m Staying At Richard’s – Bernadette Agius

I’m Staying at Richard’s: Raising the Exceptional Son I Never Expected
Bernadette Agius
Atria Books
ISBN: 9781501174568

 

Description:
This inspiring, heartfelt, and powerful memoir by a mother of a child with Down syndrome explores the incredible blessings and challenges of raising a child with disabilities.

When Bernadette Agius—an ambitious career-focused woman—became pregnant, she imagined her unborn child attending the best schools and dazzling everyone with his impressive wit, charm, and intelligence. But when the doctors placed her baby boy in her arms and told Bernadette he had Down syndrome, those dreams instantly disappeared.

While her first impulse was to fight against this new reality, she soon found the strength to become the champion her son, Richard, would need and deserved. With the help of her husband and a newfound village of professionals, Bernadette forged a new life, discovering along the way that everyone has a different version of normal. Ultimately Richard, now thirty, was able to defy expectation and become an independent adult.

Grounded in love, offering a message of hope, and told with humor and honesty, I’m Staying at Richard’s shines a light on the fierce, unwavering love of a mother for her son.

 

My View:
This is a very powerful story of unconditional love. Reading this memoir felt a lot like stepping into somebody else’s shoes and for that insight I am grateful.

If you want a powerful, heartening, optimistic and joyful (mostly) story about finding your path and yourself when life throws the totally unexpected at you, read this poignant story.