My Historic Cookie Cutter

My Cookie Cutter – SAWA 2000 Deluxe

My Cookie Cutter has been neglected. It is many years since I have used it, but I am going to create some great biscuits for Christmas this year.

I don’t have the instructions, but I am sure that will not be an issue for me – as I did use it frequently years ago.

When did I get it?  I really don’t know – but probably back in the 1970’s.  The boxes look old – and I vaguely remember using it often when the children were small.

My Cookie (Biscuit) Cutter



There are plenty of recipes online.  (Thank goodness for Dr Google!)  So, later this week I will endeavour to make some with my old biscuit cutter.

Maybe I will have to take a lot of photos too – so watch this space!

Cookie cutter with my favourite discs













Recipes and Instructions for the SAWA 2000.

I found a recipe at Spritz Cookies.

Spritz Cookies:

1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large egg yolks(32 grams)

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour, sifted

1/4 teaspoon salt


candied cherries, nuts, coloured sprinkles or colored sugars

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Christmas Gifts

One thought that is wandering around my brain is to make gifts from these biscuits.  Maybe a week before Christmas, I will cook some and pack them into food quality cellophane bags, add some decorations and ribbons and give them to a range of my friends.  They will have to be made close to the BIG day so that they don’t deteriorate before I give them away.

Of course I will use my SAWA!!!

I  wonder which of my grandchildren would like it?

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Old Books in my Collection

My Old Books

I have a smaller collection of books than I once did.  If one moves around frequently the transport of boxes of heavy books is a problem, so I gave many away.  I kept plenty and ofcourse have bought some since.  But I have some interesting ones.

Lu Xun Selected Poems

Now this book is not old, but its contents are.  Lu Xun was a famous writer and poet from Shaoxing in China.  He is certainly celebrated there with a large museum called Lu Xun’s Native Place, where his home and the family’s garden.  He was born in 1881 and died in 1936.

One of the poems is here – they were written in Chinese (and then translated into English).

A Riposte to a Friend

Does a true hero have to be heartless?

Surely a real man may love his young son.

Even the roaring, wind-raising tiger

Turns back to look at his own tiny cubs. 

Written in 1932

Sunny Cove Farm by Lucy Bean

Book Sunny Cove Farm

This was written in 1952, and copies are for sale on antique book sites.  It was presented to me in 1953, by the Warradale Methodist Sunday School, probably for good attendance.  It is a long time since I have read it.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Another ageing book I have is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was first published in 1836.  I have no memory of how I got my copy, and it looks as if it has been around for over 100 years.  There is just no detail about that.

I notice too what there is no date at all within its pages.  It was printed and bound in Great Britain by Jarrold and Sons Ltd, Norwich.









Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson

Again there is no date regarding the printing of it but it looks quite battered and ancient.  Apparently some of the stories were written around the 1830’s.  You can read all about him and his stories here.

In the front of the book is written

Joyce Ragless

from St Mary’s Sunday School Christmas 1923

Girls First Prize Class II


My mother was Joyce Ragless who passed away in 2014.


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Housing for Seniors

Housing Shortages and Affordability

For several years there’s been plenty of stories in the media about housing shortages and the affordability of the properties that are on the market.  Nothing seems to change – and statistics indicate that the fastest growing cohort in housing stress are senior solo women!!

I am one of these.  I left a toxic marriage when I was 65 years old.  With no money, though later I did get $8000, but with a suitcase and a computer.  I went house sitting for several years, and have done plenty in the last 9 years.  The reality is that in all that time, I have not been able to find an affordable unit/house/apartment that I can live”forever”.

Is it just the Ageing Population?

With the Royal Commission on Aged Care and the terrible stories about the cruelty and abuse that many older people have suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to be taking care of them.

I suspect that the difficult housing situation is similar for those elderly people wanting to find safe, suitable, affordable housing.  No one cares about older people – do they?

My Housing Story

There are many women with a similar story.  Mine is just one of many!  You’d think after 45 years of marriage, having our own home (which we were paying off), a husband who had good well-paying jobs, and plenty of superannuation, and a good income, there would be some assets left for our senior years.  I was to learn that he was a gambler, as well as an alcoholic.  Secretly, he had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In the end, the booze killed him.

House Sitting

For many of the years since I left, I was house sitting. No rent, but the inconvenience of packing up and moving every few weeks or months and being isolated from friends and family.  Actually I enjoyed much of it, but it soon came to an end when my health was an issue.


I have rented on two occasions.  The “experts” say to pay just 30% of your income on rent/housing.  My experience has been that I had to spent almost 70% on rent.  It was not easy to live on the rest and I have had many difficult times and had to use my savings.

A solo woman renting is problematic too.  I’ve had no end of challenges getting maintenance done, and often had the feeling that I was being badly treated because I was a female.

House Hunting

I have learned that it is very difficult to find suitable housing for me.  There is no “one-stop-shop” for housing for seniors.  The majority of housing for seniors is high-end houses/apartments for sale.  I cannot afford it.  I have contacted many organisations that claim to help seniors in housing – but it is all about purchasing. I’m left out there.

It is so hard to deal with many real estate agents.  One place that looked good was a waste of time.  The agent didn’t show for the inspection.  Then I find out there wasn’t a place to rent, despite it still being advertised.

In the past few weeks, I have applied to Public Housing (but they are not accepting any requests for housing), and anyway, there’s a 10-year waiting list.  I’ve contacted many agents, and on the recommendation of politicians, contacted others, but the rent is 85%  of the pension.

Bleed them Dry until they Die?

I might be in my mid 70’s but I am very active.  Many of the seniors’ places provide all meals – and as I am often out and about at one of my groups, or meetings, and will seldom be there for any meals, I still have to pay!  Really?  OK, I know they have to make a profit, but….  I understand that if older people are happy and safe, there is less cost to the public health budget!!  Does anyone understand this?

four orange pillows

Photo by Liana Mikah from

My Wish List

I know that some of my wishes can be problematic.  Because I am still driving so need a safe space for my vehicle.   I am tall, so I am aware of some challenges in homes that affect tallies.  I can’t walk up or down stairs – I have leg issues.  This girl has her own furniture – many places are furnished.  I don’t do single beds – I’m often too tall for them.

My preference is to be fairly close to my daughter.  She is very supportive but I don’t want her to lose working hours to travel to help me, as she does now.

Oh, and wouldn’t it be nice to just pay around 30% of my pension.  Then I could afford to go to the movies occasionally (I haven’t been for nearly a year), I could go out to dinner (luckily I have been twice this year, but for years it has not been on my agenda!)

I wonder what the immediate future holds for me?


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Does the Landlord Care?

Who is a Landlord?

A landlord is a person (male or female) who rents out a property to someone who pays rent for the use of the facilities.  The property can be a house, unit, accommodation, commercial property (offices, shops, warehouse etc), or land.  The landlord has many obligations in the arrangement, as does the person pays to use the property. There is usually a written contract between the landlord and the renter.  This details the conditions that the renter must adhere to and how much, how and when the renter must pay.

Who Rents a House?

People who do not have the funds to buy a house, unit or similar accommodation do so.  Generally, they do not have the finances to pay for a house.  They may rent while saving to buy a house, they may choose to always rent, or it might be temporary accommodation.  I know our family rented not only because we had limited funds.  My husband ‘s work meant that we were transferring from state to state frequently.

I recall with all the rental properties we had in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland we never had a problem with our landlord.  We seldom had problems with the properties.  It was not necessary to get any

on any of the properties that I remember.


white concrete building with balconies during day

Photo by Douglass Bagg – from

Who is the problem now?  Builders or Landlords?

We eventually bought a house.  Sometime later after I left the marriage, I was house-sitting for several years before I rented an apartment on my own.  It was a brand new, never been lived it, building.  There were many problems which meant I had to contact the real estate agent to get repairs done. I found that often I was not believed that there was a problem.  they always took a long time to do anything.  Even when I had a serious electrical issue the agent said it was fixed when it wasn’t.  No one even visited to check!


I do get the feeling that the standard of building has diminished.  I’ve written about the property that I am now in.  The building does seem to have some problems.  Perhaps very low-cost items were used in the build.  There are several things that were in need of fixing as I arrived.  They were never fixed.  It is clear looking around the building that there are already signs of some things have deteriorated.   The manager has not done any of the 3 monthly inspections, and nothing has been fixed.  I am currently looking for other accommodation!

There have been “stories” about the poor standard of recent buildings.  Is there a trend to poor quality builds? I don’t know.


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China’s Deserted Cities

Empty Cities in China

I’ve written about it before, but only today found this video about the subject of empty cities in China.   When I was in China, we learned about the cities and areas where multistoried housing was built and all the support services from shopping centres, to government offices, schools and more.  There are lakes, schools, parks, and more. All ready waiting for the people.  Who never seemed to come.

It is eerie walking through an empty shopping mall or along the footpaths of an empty city.  We often saw workmen putting on the finishing touches.  Huge fully grown trees would be shipped in and planted around the parks or along the roadway and within weeks they look like they have been there for years.  It is a little spooky.  I’ve been in cars with locals as we drive to a certain destination and drive through one of these ghost cities.

The Chinese seem to not even blink.  But we (Aussies) look at it all in wonder.  How could this be?

It certainly has helped to keep the workers busy.  There are so many workers and they work hard and the buildings are finished in far quicker time that we’d see in Australia.

Buying and Not Renting.

One thing that I know the Chinese do, is buy apartments in these complexes, but in most cases they own them and no one will live in them.   They count on the increase in value of the property.  Maintenance is the minimum.  So they say!

It is what is happening in Australia as wealthy Chinese folk are buying units in Australia, but not renting them out – thus not helping the housing shortage in Australia.

low-angle photography of high-rise building

Photo by John Salvino from

My friends and I wonder what the future is for these ghost cities. So much money is spent on them.  At night there’s hardly a light on.  Dark, empty apartments.

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About China – Insight Program

It’s all about China

At the moment there is much media about China – it’s as if everything is all about China.As my readers would know, I spent some time in China.  It is such an amazing place, which has quite and interesting and complex history.   It is a history that many people in China do not know a lot about.  For example the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, is somewhat of a mystery to the Chinese.  Especially those who were born since that terrible episode in the history.

It is an amazing country – and they celebrate most of the positive events in their long history.  The history can be tracked back for some 4000 years.

I found this video which gives a lot of information about China.

China and Hong Kong

China recently celebrated it’s National Day on October 1st, 2019.  70 Years since the commencement of China as we know it now.  Its development is amazing.

In the nearly two years I spent there, I did visit Beijing and Xi’an but spent most of the time around Shanghai and the Zhejiang province, which includes Hangzhou and Shaoxing.   It is hard not to be overwhelmed on a daily basis.  So many people, so many cities, so many multi-storied buildings, so many factories, so many museums and places of historical value.


Visiting Beijing

Me in Tiananmen Square

Peak Hour Traffic

We Aussies complain about peak hour traffic in our cities, but it is very minor compared to the traffic in China.  Being in the crowds for major events in China is overwhelming too.  I went frequently in Shanghai along the Nanjing Walking Street (Mall) down to the Huangpu River, where the colours from all the lighting on buildings and boats on the river is astounding.  As are the crowds.  Hang on to the person/people you went with as it really is like being in a sardine tin.  Squashed crowds,  walking towards The Bund, is a hard slog.

Every day is an adventure when in China. There is so much to see, to do, to buy, to eat etc etc.  I do hope to get back one days.

We live in interesting times.  With current political activities, who knows what the future holds.

What do you think?


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Where is the Toilet Roll Holder?

Toilet Roll Holder Placement

The Toilet Roll Holder. OK, it’s probably not an issue that you devote much time to. But it has been something that has appeared high in my list of interesting things, recently. Where is the best toilet roll holder placement?  In a sense it happened because of the apartment I now live in.  The toilet roll holder is attached to the wall to the right of the toilet seat, but far enough back that I have to twist my body 90 degrees to reach it!

The standard position is shown below.  It should be in front of the toilet bowl, at the right height.

Research on Toilets and Toilet Paper Holders

Toilet Roll behind the toilet! How smart is that?

Crazy place for toilet roll holder!  (Designed by men??)

I’m working with a group designing unit homes for seniors.  Strangely, the toilet paper problem is often cited.  And it’s not just women who have challenges with it.  I had to laugh as a fellow living in the same block as me also finds it a problem.  And men usually only have to sit on the toilet once a day usually, while women have to do so every time they “go”.

Second photo from catalogue.

Maybe this is a bidet?

The two images above have come from a document in the weekend newspaper, promoting a range of products from a plumbing supply company and their bathroom masterclasses.  The first photo has the toilet roll on the back wall – almost impossible for women to access.  The second photo has no toilet roll/holder and no space for one on the right as there is no wall, and there isn’t one on the left wall.  While I recognise that this is only a publicity brochure, it does send a strange message.

What about a Bidet?

Australia has not warmed to the value of bidets.  Perhaps it is because they are more expensive and cost a little more to run.  But maybe that would be helpful in toilets.  I’ve not used one, so have no experience.

What do you think?






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Books – How do you like Reading Books?

How do like Reading Books?

The art of Reading Books has changed.Once upon a time, you could only “read” a book by holding the paper pages in your hands. Or when you were a child, can you remember that you could sit while a family member, friend or teacher would read the story.

Back in the 1970’s, a program called “Hear a Book” was created. My late father, Bob Watson, was one of the many folk that read and recorded a variety of books. They were recorded onto tapes, by volunteers. These “Hear a Book” folk distributed tapes around Australia for those people who had sight or other issues that prevented them from reading “real books.”

But modern technology has given us more options for reading books.

What Options are Available to Read Books Now?

Despite negative media over the years, real paper books tend to remain the most popular.  People talk about the feel of the real book!

I remember when Kindle books were introduced in 2007.  They are called e-books.  I was curious about using the technology, but it was a few years later that I bought one.  In fact, according to my Amazon Kindle history, it was 2011 and I bought Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice!  My Kindle often gets neglected, but I always get it out when I am travelling.  I remember when I was in China, I enjoyed travelling with it.  Much easier than carrying a paper book – lighter, easier, and it remembered where I finished reading!  An automatic book mark.

Kindle – and Similar

There are several e-book readers on the market.  The Kindle (various models) appears to be the most popular.  As it is an Amazon product it also has access to thousands of ebooks.  They tend to be light, easy to read, and it doesn’t take long to upload your purchases.  And you can listen as the book is read to you.  It is not a human reading!

Photo by Di Hill

My Kindle

Kindles are being updated regularly, but I still manage with the one I bought 8 years ago.  Check out the website to see what is on the market right now.

Ready to Read my Kindle

My Kindle Menu

C-Pen Reader

This is a fairly new product, especially helpful for anyone who has reading/comprehension problems or is learning English or Spanish.  Apparently they are the only two languages currently available with this small, easy to carry item.  As someone who has taught English in China and South Korea, I can see how useful this can be for many.  It helps you read a “real” book.

Books on CD

I confess that I have a negative option about books on CD, but I only have a limited experience.  The one and only book  on CD  I have bought, is a book by Australian Author Di Morrissey at the Barkly Homestead, on the Barkly Highway, Northern Territory.  The fact is I never finished the book, as I found it difficult to concentrate on my driving while trying to keep up with the story.  I still have it, so one day I will start to listen to it.  My feeling is that this style of book would be awesome for someone confined to bed!

Audio Books with Audible

Audible is another Amazon product.  I had the App on my phone for quite a while, as someone had recommended it.  However, I had not used it.  That is, until a couple of weeks ago, when I heard about a book.  I remember thinking about trying Audible, so within seconds I had Caroline Criado Perez’s book, The Invisible Women, on my phone.

As it turns out, I found it easy to listen to, even while driving and within a few days had completed the book.  A second book has been purchased now, so I will see how it goes.  I will go back to the CD Book at some stage, too.


There several are options for people. So many options too for those whose first language is not English, or who have challenges that make holding a reading a “paper” book difficult.

What is your choice way to read a book?



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Does Alcohol Make You More Creative?

Drinking for Inspiration/Creativity

I often wonder if alcohol makes one more creative.

As if we need an excuse to drink.
According to a new beer on the market called The Problem Solver, research shows that the average person is at their most creative when they have an alcohol level of exactly 0.075 per cent. The handcrafted ale comes with a handy indicator on the bottle so that drinkers can work out how much they need to drink to reach that level.”

Something to think about. It would work for wine too I am sure.  It is not something I would actually think about – and I tend to drink a glass of wine (or two) at the end of the day when my writing/creativity is done.  I have not tried to determine if alcohol does make me more creative.  The topic appeared in the media.

Still, I am sure many creative people do work with a bit of help from alcohol.  In fact, I have heard many stories of this – though can’t recall names, etc.  Though the following story is something I do know about.

The Orchid Pavilion

In 2008 I went to China for one term/semester of English teaching at Yuexiu University of Foreign Languages.  One day one of my students took me to place called Lanting, which is famous for the Orchid Pavilion story.
It was a park not far from the university – a short bus ride away in fact.  As one enters the first interesting spot is the Goose Pond, complete with white geese.  As you walk further into the property you find more information about the event, which was way back in the year 353 that it occurred.   It is still celebrated!!

Taken by me at Lanting - No alcohol there to help my creativity.

In Lanting – but not near the Orchid Pavilion exhibition

The little stream and the cane seats have been recreated, and you can easily understand how it all happened.

I think one day I will try and find some writers who like a drink to create something similar here in Queensland.  One day.



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Liveable Housing

Everyone is Different

I am interested in “liveable housing”.  Let me explain why.  My father was a builder and in his last years of employment as a “clerk of works” to check on the building of government housing.  He had to determine if the work was up to scratch and the sign off for the builder to be paid.  When he first started in the job, they considered him picky – but his predecessor was possibly on the take, and/or was not as strict as my father was.  I found a website recently which apparently addresses Liveable Housing funded by the government by the look of it, but I have issues with it.
In recent years, I have lived in a few homes.  I have done sitting and lived in recently built units. I am often surprised by what I see.  Sometimes it is the lack of quality of work, but other times things are just not workable!
  • As I am working with a group that is interested in providing housing for seniors, women in particular.  I have been looking at what is “liveable housing”.  Especially for seniors.

What Concerns Me

For a start, it is the way builders have used unsuitable materials.  One example in the place where I live has several concerns for me.

Inside the Unit

  • Floor tiles in the lift, walkway and our balconies are almost impossible to keep clean.  It has a rough surface to prevent slips.  On the balconies there is a “drain hole” that one can sluice water through when endeavouring to clean, but it just sends your water/cleaner onto the balcony below.  Not clever.
  • Toilet issues.  For a start, it appears none of the toilets have had their seats correctly installed.  Plus, the toilet roll holder is placed such that one needs to do a 90 degree turn to reach it.  All other tenants I have spoken to complain about this.
  • Microwave in low placement.  It does seem to be a trend, but it certainly has its problems.  One issue is having to bend low to get a hot meal out of the microwave.  Not very safe.
  • Washing Machine Space.  Our laundry is a cupboard, where there is a laundry tub, clothes dry and space for front-loading washing machine.  I hate the latter and use a top loader, but there is insufficient space for it.  I have difficulty opening the lid to put my washing in or take it out.  If I did have front-loader I would have to bend down to do the latter tasks, and with a sometimes painful back, it is an issue for me!


See the toilet seat, position of toilet roll holder under the bath towel rail,











  • Rubbish Bin – there are 12 industrial bins in the complex.  Half of them are for recyclable waste – but I doubt if most tenants understand this.  The big issue for me and other tenants is that the lid is too heavy to move to put one’s rubbish in!
  • Clothesline – what idiot thought it was ok to put 5 clotheslines under a tree where leaves, sap and bird poo regularly floats down.  And wouldn’t it be a good idea for the line to have some sun?

Now I accept that if you are building your own home, you can do whatever suits you.  But for public housing, units etc. there needs to be addition consideration about how successive owners/tenants will manage.

My laundry - need more space between washer and dryer

Limited space between the washing machine and dryer.


Do you have any ideas?

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