And the giveaway winners are …

The winners (one each) of the preloaded $50 VISA gift cards offered in this giveaway are:

Joe (from Croydon Park, NSW)

and

Helen W (Helen, I’ve emailed you and waiting for you to reply with your postal address. Please email me at sheryl@overthepage.com.au asap )

I’ll arrange to have your prizes posted to you as soon as possible, hopefully in time for you to indulge a little before Christmas.

Thanks to everyone who entered and especially for sponsors Cash Rewards.

Even if you didn’t win, check out the website for some superb savings.

 

 

The good, the bad and the brilliant {the just after the Sydney siege edition}

A (roughly) weekly maybe monthly round-up of what’s got in my head, up my nose and in my heart.

THE GOOD

Like many fifty-something Australians, I grew up in a multicultural community, enriched by the diversity of beliefs, traditions and opinions it created.

The wave of European migrants from the 1950s transformed our “public housing” suburb into a great big melting pot.

Remember the Blue Mink song?

Our town, with its strong manufacturing base and demand for unskilled labour, was a magnet for newcomers.

Unlike our parents’ generation, we didn’t see the “foreigners” through the prism of Word War II. And while our grandparents were still reeling from the impact of World War I, we accepted our new friends with the innocence of childhood. And friends they became: classmates, neighbours, best buddies, life partners.

In primary school, I shared lunchtimes with my Hungarian friend, Rosa. I’d stare into her lunch bag brimming with big chunks of salami, stinky cheese and rough torn lumps of bread. It made my triangled, white-bread sandwiches look less than average. Rosa wore her blond hair pulled into a bun, high on her head, encircled with beads (like a ballerina, I thought). I had mousy brown pigtails. She had pierced ears, lacy-collared shirts and beautiful round eyes.

We’d scoff down our respective lunches then run-off to curl our little lithe bodies around and around the monkey bars. Like all the other kids. Because we were just like all the other kids.

In high school, I shared my first serious kiss with an Italian boy. We’d duck off to his home at lunchtime where his mum (who didn’t speak English but had a smile that beamed through the language barrier) served us up steaming bowls of home-made noodle soup – laced with freshly cracked eggs – and chunky slabs of crusty bread.

We had no idea about each other’s religions, about who went to church or the synagogue, or not at all. It simply wasn’t on our radar.

In the decades that followed came waves of Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees, Africans and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees. They added even more colour and life to the mix.

Eventually multiculturalism, shaped by changing government policy, became less about assimilation and more about celebrating our diversity.

We stopped stirring the pot.

I’m grateful that my own kids grew up in that social climate where, instead of fearing differences or asking others to change, we embraced and appreciated one another for our culture and backgrounds.

Most of us, most of the time.

Nothing is greater testament to that than our multifarious food scene. Within twenty minutes walk of home, we can delve into a cornucopia of authentic cuisines: French, Japanese, Balinese, Chinese, Thai, Spanish, Aussie, Mexican, American, Italian, Vietnamese, Polish and more.

We didn’t keep stirring, so we didn’t turn out coffee coloured.

 

THE BAD

Overnight, fear was visited upon Sydney by a whackjob hostage-taker, who appeared to be acting in the name of his religious beliefs … those fundamentalist, extreme beliefs that turn your heart cold, no matter what you put your own faith into.

Lives have been lost; innocent Aussies living in a peaceful multicultural community where such horror is unknown. My heart and thoughts go out to their families and loved ones. And to the people of Sydney.

I looked into the faces of some of those hostages and saw a reflection of our diversity. They weren’t only “Anglos” – they’d been scooped up out of the great big melting pot into the terror as they went about their normal day.

It’s fresh news and the media is dissecting it from all sorts of angles, peering through a range of prisms, some that seem borrowed from their parents’ or their grandparents’ generations.

Pockets of social media are lashing back with jerked knees that are almost as terrifying as the act that sparked it.

It’s scary. But I’m holding to my own truth … it’s not the religion, it’s the whackjob.

 

THE BRILLIANT

Out of the horror of last night, even before the Sydney siege came to its devastating finale, a brilliant positive emerged and helped to drown out those pockets of negative social media. Aussies, and then the world, stepped up and took a stand with the hashtag #illridewithyou

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Ordinary (and extraordinary Australians) put up their hands to tell other Australians on the wrong end of the backlash that they didn’t need to be scared to own their religious attire or their culture-defining appearance as they go about their day to day world. Identified and united by #illridewithyou, thousands of people offered to walk or ride alongside others, to give them the confidence to ride public transport or walk the streets.

Strangers offered strangers a hand to take the journey (physical and metaphorical) together, not to assimilate or change, but rather to be accepted and valued.

That’s huge.

#illridewithyou has already grown into a global rallying point, trending worldwide on Twitter and becoming a mantra of unity and understanding.

That’s better than brilliant and it makes me proud to be Australian.

 

Cheeky and Chunky Roast Beetroot and Walnut Dip

Being fifty-something, I’ve got several decades worth of tinned/canned beetroot under my belt.

It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve learned to love fresh beetroot, gathered in glorious crimson-bottomed verdant-topped bouquets at the local farmers’ markets. I’ve even explored the beetroot’s lesser-known (but in some ways prettier) cousin, the choggia.

And … ta-dah … I’ve just had my first harvest of beetroot from my own backyard veggie garden. Check out these lovelies.

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To Aussies, fresh in-season beetroot means summer. Few downunder BBQ plates go unadorned by a slice or two of beetroot. Inevitably it ends up down the front of your favourite shirt. I think that’s partly why we love it … the challenge of its brightly hued stains. No tablecloth, t-shirt or post-meal grin goes untouched.

We love it so much, we’re serving up salad bowls brimming with baby beetroot, feta cheese, capers, toasted pine nuts and rocket.

I practically lived on beetroot sandwiches (and raspberry icy poles) through two pregnancies. Go figure.

And all Aussies know that a single slice of the scarlet-purple root veg can make all the difference between an average burger with the lot and a brilliant burger with the lot. Not sure if that has something to with beetroot’s reputation as both a hangover cure and a natural aphrodisiac.

Fun beetroot factoid: The Lupanare, the official brothel of Pompeii, which still stands despite the best efforts of Vesuvius in 79AD, has its walls adorned with pictures of beetroots.

Bonus factoid: If you boil beetroots in water and then massage the water into your scalp each night, it works as an effective cure for dandruff.

In my mind, beetroot is forever linked to the idiom of beetroot cheeks, the hue of blushing. Thus, I give you Cheeky and Chunky Roast Beetroot and Walnut Dip, a recipe I tweaked ever-so-slightly from a version found over on Rebecca Weller’s brilliant Vegan Sparkles blog. The cheeky colour is sure to brighten up your table, impress your family, influence your friends, win you hearts.

I’ve added the “chunky” as a reminder that I enjoy this best whizzed minimally, to retain the tongue-teasing texture of the walnuts and beetroot. It’s a veggie, folks; there’s no need to blitz it into an unrecognisable, sloppy state.

The flavour, thanks to the cumin, is earthy and raw, with a hint of “island” from the coconut oil. Beetroot has a relatively high sugar content (though it’s released slowly) so there’s a mellow, almost fruity, undertone.

This generous recipe made up a couple of decent sized bowls for me. I found it keeps well in the fridge for several days, though I recommend bringing it to room temperature before serving … the flavour is so much richer.

One last factoid and a warning about sharing your beetroot: In many cultures the belief persists that if a man and a woman eat from the same beetroot then they will fall in love. Share at your own risk. 

 

Cheeky and Chunky Roast Beetroot and Walnut Dip

2 large (or 3 medium) beetroot, peeled and chunked large

2 garlic cloves, ready to crush

2 tablespoons coconut oil

sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

1/2 large (or 1 small) brown onion, peeled and chunked

1 cup raw walnuts

1/2 teaspoon dried cumin

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fresh coriander or basil to garnish.

1. Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

2. Add beetroot chunks to lined roasting tray. Crush garlic over and drizzle with oil. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes.

3. Add onion to tray. Roast for 10 minutes more.

4. Take a couple of minutes and lose yourself in those delicious aromas filling your kitchen. Divine.

4. Add walnuts. Roast for 10 minutes more.

5. Remove from oven. Allow to cool.

6. Spoon the roasting tray contents into your food processor along with the other ingredients (except the garnish). Whizz it all to the desired consistency. I love it a little chunky.

7. Spoon into your loveliest serving bowl. Garnish and serve with pita chips, veggie crackers, crudités or  all three.

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roast beetroot and walnut dip recipe, fresh beetroot recipe, grow your own, home grown veggies, boomers, midlife, fifty-something

roast beetroot and walnut dip recipe, fresh beetroot recipe, grow your own, home grown veggies, boomers, midlife, fifty-something

roast beetroot and walnut dip recipe, fresh beetroot recipe, grow your own, home grown veggies, boomers, midlife, fifty-something

roast beetroot and walnut dip recipe, fresh beetroot recipe, grow your own, home grown veggies, boomers, midlife, fifty-something

roast beetroot and walnut dip recipe, fresh beetroot recipe, grow your own, home grown veggies, boomers, midlife, fifty-something

And … have you entered my giveaway yet? You have until 5pm Tuesday 16 December to comment on this post over here, to be in the running for one of two $50 VISA giftcards. The odds are excellent. ;)

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Cash before Christmas – a giveaway!

** G I V E A W A Y  N O W   C L O S E D **

The winners (one each) of the preloaded $50 VISA gift cards offered in this giveaway are:

Joe (from Croydon Park, NSW)

and

Helen W (Helen, I’ve emailed you and waiting for you to reply with your postal address. Please email me at sheryl@overthepage.com.au asap )

I’ll arrange to have your prizes posted to you as soon as possible, hopefully in time for you to indulge a little before Christmas.

Thanks to everyone who entered and especially for sponsors Cash Rewards.

Even if you didn’t win, check out the website for some superb savings.

 

 

 

 

 

Being fifty-something, I know it isn’t ALL about me. Not always.

Just because I’m sniffing the finish line on my year of buying nothing new, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some cashed-up shopping fun.

And to prove it, the lovely folk at Cash Rewards have swooped in with 2 x $50 preloaded Visa gift cards for me to give away to my readers.

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Read on and find out how you can be in the running for a $50 pre-Christmas bonus.

I’m not much of a shopper (as you know). When I do shop, I love to get a great deal. Paying full retail price for anything has me cringing in the corner. But the spectacle of the Black Friday sales in the US and UK made me cringe even more. I think a little part of me died. Maybe even a puppy or two.

So, this makes me happy: Here in Australia, our savvy shoppers are achieving huge savings this Christmas at their favourite retailers with a few clicks of a mouse. They’ve cottoned on to Cash Rewards.

What is Cash Rewards?

Cash Rewards partners with Australia’s leading and most popular retailers to offer shoppers discounts and exclusive cashback of up to 20% on their everyday purchases – ultimately giving shoppers better deals through the retailers they already know and love.

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In its first year, Cash Rewards is already Australia’s number one cashback and savings website in Australia, having attracted $12 million in purchases in 2014 alone. It is 100 per cent Australian owned and operated.

Andrew Clarke, founder of Cash Rewards, says, “Unlike points schemes, which require the shopper to spend huge sums of money over a long period of time to receive free goods of a decent value, we offer cash back for every purchase, and it can often be as much as 20% off the advertised price.”

Cash Rewards is free for shoppers to sign up to and offers Australia’s highest cashback rates. You simply click through cashrewards.com.au to the retailer website of your choice to make your purchases as you normally would. Cash Rewards credits the cash back directly into your nominated bank account. Special offers and discounts take effect at the time of purchase.

The variety of retailers available (Australia-wide and international) is guaranteed to please even you fussy shoppers. Retailers include eBay, Booking.comhotels.com, peteralexander, Saks Fifth Avenue, DKNY, StrawberryNET, Forever New, webjet.com.au, SONY and The Iconic plus many, many more.

Here are Andrew’s TOP FIVE picks for Aussies hunting for a bargain this side of Christmas: 

1)                 The Iconic. There’s no need to feel guilty about that $200 splurge on shoes for the Christmas party when you’re receiving $30 back into your account, with up to 16% cash back on all purchases in December.

2)                 Expedia. Enjoy up to 8% in cash back on bookings. A $200 saving on a New Year family getaway could cover a celebratory meal for four during your stay.

3)                 Dan Murphy’s. This one will be popular during the festive season. Order online, pick it up and pocket the savings for all your festive beer, wines and spirits. Australians can receive up to 7.5% cashback on all purchases.

4)                 Woolworths. Enjoy 5% off your Christmas grocery shop – likely our biggest expense after gifts during the festive season. All Woolworths gift cards come with a 5% discount.

5)                 Apple Store – Apple products are a mainstay on Christmas gifts list, and now you can earn up to 3.5% cash back on all purchases.

How, as a Being Fifty Something reader, you can be in the running for one of two $50 preloaded Visa gift cards.

You must be living in Australia.

I’m not going to make you jump through any hoops. Simply comment below and tell me at which Cash Rewards retailer you’d love to spend your $50. (Don’t worry, I won’t hold you to it.)

Simple as that.

I’ll close off the comp at 5pm (AEDT) Tuesday 16 December and, shortly after, use a highly technolomological method (involving a hat) of random selection to determine the winners.

I will advise the winners directly and then Cash Rewards will mail out your gift cards direct to you.

Good luck!

 

International Volunteer Day … what boomer volunteers want + a book launch

Being fifty-something, I’ve volunteered in various ways through board memberships, community groups, Guide Dog puppy raising and more. The experience that touched me most was volunteering for BlazeAid last year.

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It got me curious about how volunteering differs for fifty-somethings and whether there’s a shift in how volunteering models are being shaped to appeal more to the ready-and-willing, ultra-mobile critical mass of baby boomers and neo-retirees.

As happenstance would have it, I was presented with an opportunity to “pick the brain” of an expert in the field …

Today is International Volunteer Day (IVD), mandated by the United Nations as a day for volunteers and volunteer based organisations to celebrate their efforts, share their values and showcase the difference they make in their communities.

It’s also the launch day (in Adelaide, South Australia) for a new book Positive Ageing: Think Volunteering which brings together a breadth of research about the relationship between ageing successfully and volunteering.

Professor Jeni Warburton (John Richards Chair in Rural Aged Care Research at La Trobe University) is a contributing expert to Positive Ageing: Think Volunteering. Ahead of the book’s launch, Jeni agreed to answer my questions about what baby boomer volunteers want.

“Flexibility and respect are very important,” she said. “Much of my own research focuses on older people volunteering.”

“We conducted one large mixed methods study with National Seniors participants – baby boomers age group.”

“It is projected that this group will be more demanding in their volunteer roles in retirement – in this cohort, women have had paid work experience, some may still be working full or part time, and there are generally higher education levels etc, which will all impact on their choices and decisions in later life. This is consistent with a body of research from the USA on baby boomers.”

“Both concepts – flexibility and respect – highlight that older people, and baby boomers in particular, are looking for a positive volunteer experience that meets their needs, and not based on a stereotype of what others think older people might want.”

Nobody puts baby boomers in the corner. And baby boomer volunteers are no different.

“A diversity of opportunities being available is critical,” Jeni explained. “In my research, we found examples whereby baby boomers said that there were expectations of what others thought they should do – often traditional roles and routine time frames – but the reality, from our research, is that instead older people are wanting to do a broad range of activities – some want to learn new skills, others want to build on existing interests.”

“I remember one woman expressing amazement that volunteering could include writing her local history, not just community services.”

“In particular, older people do not necessarily want to volunteer for other older people – they may – but many are seeking intergenerational opportunities. In this sense, motives and interests are critical if people are going to commit to volunteering.”

“The other aspect – flexibility – is also important and comes down to respect as well.”

“Many older people tell us that they don’t want to be locked into regular volunteer roles. This is particularly the case for baby boomers. They may have family interstate or want to travel overseas. They are looking for flexible time commitments, maybe a short term project.”

Indications are that baby boomers are more mobile, more cashed up, fitter and more available (given their longer retirement stage) than their predecessors. So why would we expect to be attracted to the same old models of volunteering?

“Our argument from this body of work is that agencies need to look at what people want and see if they can work with them to meet their needs. Horses for courses comes to mind,” Jeni said.

 

Keen to learn/read more?

Positive Ageing: Think Volunteering (launching today) is edited by Louise Rogers and Joy Noble, published by Volunteering SA&NT and “contains the personal stories of a range of volunteers, and provides a snapshot of major organisations and the opportunities they offer the discerning older Australian, keen to face ageing with a positive attitude”.

You can purchase a copy (AUD$24.99 + postage) by emailing sascha.loffler@volunteeringsa-nt.org.au

volunteering australia, positive ageing, midlife, boomers, fifty-something, boomer volunteers

 

 

 

 

Eco Tan Winter Skin – a product review

Being fifty-something, I’ve learnt (the hard way) what my skin is and isn’t capable of.

Natural tanning is not an option.

I’ve been blessed with fair skin. Not the creamy porcelain variety. More glow-in-the-dark, stark white with purple tinges (depending on the temperature).

I don’t tan naturally … I burn and then peel. Right back to stark white.

This time of year, when the warmer weather is nudging its way into the southern hemisphere, I start to think (a lot) about fake tans. I prefer to use a gradual build-up tanner to eliminate too many surprises. I’m not looking for a deep tan. Hell, I’m satisfied with an off-white, beige tinge. Often, I’m only concerned about my feet and lower legs (the bits I’m getting out on show as the weather warms up). Usually, I’m using whatever I’ve found on special in the supermarket. And not always successfully. Yes, there have been disasters. We shall not speak of them.

A few weeks ago, My Girl handed me a bottle of Eco Tan Winter Skin (Moisturiser – Fairest to Olive Skin) saying “I think this will tick all the boxes for you”.

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My Girl is living a mostly vegan lifestyle and loves Eco Tan products so much she is stocking them at her Geelong nail salon, where the first order of Winter Skin has already sold out (it’s on back order).

My Girl was right. I have so many good things to say about this product, I’m going to share them with you. I’m going to tell not show … there will be no photos of my body parts included here. You’re welcome.

Eco Tan is a socially-conscious Australian company (based in Brisbane QLD) and their products are created and made in Australia. I’m all for supporting small business (don’t get me started on the multinationals). Tick.

Eco Tan products use only certified organic and natural ingredients. There are no nasties. There are no synthetic ingredients or GMOs. This product is certified organic and cruelty-free. Tick. Tick.

But how does it perform?

Surprisingly well.

I say “surprisingly” because my expectations, based on past experience, weren’t high.

I was thrilled to find an absence of that “fake tan” smell … instead, this product has a faint, floral scent. Tick.

It goes on smooth and absorbs fast. I experienced no staining of clothes (or bed linen or hands). Tick.

A few hours after a single application, I developed a light, bronze colour. Not oompa loompa orange. And, more generous in depth than initial applications of other gradual tans I’ve used. Eco Tan derives its colour attributes from cacao (chocolate*) so there are no orange or green hues. Tick. Tick

(*side thought: I’ve read that if you eat excessive amounts of carrots, your skin will take on an orange hue. Do you think eating excessive amounts of chocolate could … oh, never mind, I’ll conduct a trial. )

I’ve not noticed any streaking or flaking. The product seems to go on smooth, just like a moisturiser, and stay on. It doesn’t “towel off” after a shower. Tick.

I’ve been using it only every third day. That’s all I’ve needed to maintain an off-white, slightly sun-kissed look. The other days, I’ve used a plain, unscented moisturiser. So the upkeep is minimal. Tick.

It’s hard to come up with a negative on this one. The packaging is a winner – a pump pack in a lovely dark amber apothecary style (though plastic) bottle that’s swanky enough to show off. Tick.

The label suggests an allergy patch test. I didn’t bother (who does?) and have had no problems, despite having fairly sensitive skin that reacts quickly to heavily perfumed or chemical-laden products (including some other gradual tans). Tick

Note that Eco Tan Winter Skin provides no sun protection … it has no SPF properties so you need to consider using another product or barrier (or both) for UV protection (especially important for us who live in the world skin cancer capital). Remember that a fake tan, no matter how realistic it looks, is not a shield from the sun. Slip. Slop. Slap!

At $30 for 300mls, Eco Tan is at the pricey end of the spectrum, two or three times what I I’ve paid for gradual tan products in the past.

For my money, it ticks enough boxes to make that good value, especially given I’m using it only every three days and it seems to be superior.

Thanks to the influence of My Girl, I’m transitioning my make-up and toiletries towards organic and animal cruelty-free versions. They are generally more expensive, so I’m making decisions carefully and mindfully.

The Eco Tan story is worth reading.

You can order this (and other Eco Tan products) online here.

If you happen to be in Geelong, you can save on postage and source Eco Tan Winter Skin (once re-stocked) at My Girl’s nail salon:

Polished Up, 5 James St (inside Rococo), Geelong Ph: 0497 347 947

Note: This is not a sponsored post. It does, however, contain an unashamed plug for My Girl’s nail salon. What mother wouldn’t do the same?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reminiscing Bali

This time last year Mr P and I were revelling in paradise.

Falling in love with Bali.

Flicking back through our holiday snaps this morning confirmed for me the value of buying experiences (over possessions). We have oodles of memories and special moments to relive. It doesn’t take much to transport me back to steamy jungle walks, lunch overlooking a distant volcano, colourful roadside fruit stands and the relentless wide, white Balinese smiles.

We stayed at Bali Blue Karma: a slice of Shangri-La dovetailed into the proximity of the beach, restaurant and retail zones of Seminyak.

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bali blue karma, bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

We fancied ourselves an adventure discovering the lesser-known, uncommercialised side of Bali. With Bali Blue Karma as our base, most days we hired a driver and guide to take us into some of the more remote and rural areas in the north, to recommend where we should eat and help us navigate through the considerable list of sightseeing options.

Bali relies heavily on tourism, so there were temples, turtle farms, toucans, elephants, volcanoes, sunrise dinners, monkey forests and local artists on the list. We loved seeing the local village ceremonies and letting the beautiful Balinese people show us their Bali.

We didn’t go completely off the grid. I suspect our experience was mid-way between the “commercial shop-and-drink-until-you-drop” holiday made famous by younger Aussies and the full “yoga-and-raw-food-cycling-through-the-rice-paddies” described by Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat. Pray. Love.

It was perfect for us. The cliches were balanced by the unexpected adventures and we always had our gorgeous villa to retreat to at the end of the day.

Sigh.

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bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

 

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel

bali holiday, paradise, fifty-something, midlife travel, boomer travel