Monday, February 27, 2012

This week...

This week I will go for a very fast walk/run for at least half an hour, at least five times. Preferably with Indi but otherwise alone.

This week I will post at least three photos a day, of my day, on instagram.

This week I will make a start on the knitting pattern I think I can design.

This week I will hunt down some soft, yellow wool.

This week we will eat for dinner;
Mon: Cheesy, passata-ey baked polenta and salad.
Tues: Vegie, beany flat bread tacos.
Wed: Mushroom risotto.
Thurs: Dahl and garlicy flat bread and rice and yogurt.
Fri: Homemade pizza and salad.

This week I will try and source bulk bio dynamic flour and oil.

This week I will try to remember to stretch.

This week I will do a big shop on Monday.

This week I will try to get the girls to bed earlier.

This week I will try to spend a chunk of time alone with Miss Jazzy.

This week I will try to sort out the little girls' room.

This week I will sew the blue embroidered table cloth into a dress.

This week I will preserve the pears, freeze the plums and make more blackberry ice cream.

This week I will try to read more of my book than I did last week.

This week I will try not to take things too personally.

This week I will take at least one bag of stuff to the oppy.

This week I will buy myself some flowers.

This week I will lice comb my hair in readiness for my haircut on Friday.

This week I will hunt for some big old industrial lights. Probably at least two.

This week I will think about curtains for our bedroom.

How about you?
What are you up to this week?
I hope whatever it is, it's awesome.

Bye. x

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Love where you live.

Love where you live. 

It's part of my happiness recipe and therefore my year of happy.

Our family lives on an organic farm on the edge of a forest. We are surrounded by sky scraping eucalypts, by wide open paddocks, by fruit tree orchards and dams. But sometimes I have to admit I am guilty of looking around and seeing our to-do list rather than the gorgeousness. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and I can't see the forest for the weeds. Sometimes I dream of a tiny, easy to manage block in town. I know I was particularly guilty of this before we went on our trip. I would never think to take my camera on the chores run. My secateurs maybe, but never my camera.

Love where you live. It should be so easy right? I live where I live. The people I love most in the world live where I live and therefore I live where I love. And all the stuff I have collected is here too where I live (possibly too much of it but anyway...). So it should be so simple, but sometimes I think I need reminding to appreciate it, to see it, to love it.

I used to love it when visitors came over and told me how much they loved our farm. When they oohed and ahhed over the house dam, when they marveled that we live in a forest. When they took photos of the farm junk, of the animals, of the crates of fruit, of the places and things we walk past without seeing and take for granted. It was like when other people came I could see things through their eyes. I could love it too.

But lately, in the months since we've been home, I've been seeing it all for myself. By myself. With fresh and appreciative eyes. Like when we first moved here and we couldn't believe our luck. The beauty of the forest, the orchards, the gardens, the dams, the flocks of chooks, the paddocks and the wildlife.

We've even been making an effort to love the inside of our house too. Decorating little spots around the place, starting the painting everything white project. We're not there yet but we are on our way.

I'm really glad I have that happiness recipe to check in with when I need it, and I'm super glad I included love where you live in my happiness recipe too. It does make me happy. Even a family walk down to turn the chook fences on makes me happy. Happy enough to photograph it.

And we have been loving our safe and boring weekend too. Thanks for all your wishes on my last post. We've been playing games, making pesto, watching a movie in the park last night with friends and another at home this afternoon, crocheting in bed, doing the farm chores, hanging out and enjoying the slow.

I hope you've been having a lovely weekend too.
Have you? Have you done anything special? Made anything great?
Do you remember to love where you live or do you need a little reminding sometimes too?
Is it one of your happiness ingredients?
Do you feel happy at the moment?

I really do hope you have a happy and creative week.

See ya later hot potato. xx

(Note to self, today Miss Pepper started saying sh instead of s. Shed. Sushi. Sharp. Shop. Sunshine.
My baby is growing up.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

This time.

Yesterday afternoon, just after I made this dress and took these photos, we got a call about a bushfire that was burning seven kilometers away and threatening to head in our direction.

All of a sudden the last three years and one day disappeared and I felt exactly like I did last time we had a bushfire here. And then I looked around and realised everything was the same. This time, like last time, I had a pot of jam on the stove and lots of fruit in crates all over the floor. This time, like last time, I knew I had to get the washing off the line immediately so Bren could start the fire sprinklers. This time, like last time, I looked around at our home completely surrounded by forest and wondered who in their right mind would live somewhere like this? This time, like last time, I grabbed long clothes, sensible shoes, computers, cameras, chargers and baskets of crochet and kissed Bren goodbye and drove off to get the girls from school. This time, like last time, there was the familiar look of panic in some people's faces, the oblivious couples sipping wine outside cafes, the sound of sirens from every direction and the looooooooong queues at the petrol station. This time like last time I bought strange and random things from the petrol station after filling up. And this time like last time I tried to stay calm while answering a bazillion little kid questions while keeping an ear on the fire wireless and an eye on the CFA website.

BUT last time I didn't write a blog, I wasn't on the twitter or instagram or ravelry.

This time my afternoon was filled with emails and texts and tweets and ravmails and instagram messages. It sounds mushy but this time I totally felt comfort in my part of the online community. People were watching and cared.

I often wonder about my need to write a blog. I wonder why I feel the need to write about what I make and think rather than just going about my business of doing it.

Yesterday reminded me of the social in social media. Of the community. Of the feeling that we are all in this together.

Thank you.

Luckily yesterday's fire was contained after a few hours. In the heat and gusty winds of the next few days we are crossing our fingers and wishing for a safe and boring weekend.

Who would have ever thought safe and boring sounded so good?

So have you had a moment when you felt the social in social media? The community in the online community?
Do you find it comforting?
Do you remember why you blog?

Do you like my new dress? I made it from a piece of fabric Michelle sent me and some vintage lace scraps I hoard. After I finished it and tried it on I discovered it is see-through but luckily it fits and looks good with a black slip underneath.

Have a safe and boring weekend out there.
Bye! xx

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The post I never thought I'd write.

I never thought I'd get into menu planning.

I used to read blog posts about menu planning and look at pretty pictures of meals written on chalk boards and think 'that's great but it is so not for me.' I used to think that I need to feel inspired in the moment to cook creatively. I used to think I was too disorganised for a list. That my kids would never go for it. That I didn't have a big enough recipe repertoire, or enough time.

BUT in the desperate need to make school weeks easier on everyone I gave it a go.

And I am here to tell you that menu planning is brilliant!!

Every Monday in the late morning me and the farmer boy sit down with a cuppa and lots of cook books and paper and pens and talk food. We talk about what's in season, what we have growing on the farm and in our kitchen garden, what is available locally or from the farmers' market and what we feel like eating.

Then we go through some books and choose recipes and match meals to days. On days when there are lots of after school activities, we choose easy meals and on days when we have more time, we try new to us or more adventurous dinners.

As we write the plan we also write a shopping list to make sure we have the ingredients we need, when we need them.

And you know what? It is making such a difference to our lives. We are more inspired than ever to be creative with our food. We are trying new recipes and experimenting with new flavours. We are preparing parts of meals ahead of time and we are not taking short cuts.

And the girls are getting into it too. Discussing the week's menu, writting it on the board, making suggestions, helping with the cooking and becoming adventurous.

Some of our favourites lately have been:
Spinach and ricotta ravioli.
Fetta and spinach pasties.
Fish and salad.
Felafel and salad and hummous and pita.
Dahl and garlicy flat bread and yoghurt and rice.
Tofu and salad wraps.

To be honest, I probably should have left it a bit longer than three weeks of menu planning to write this post. To make sure we stuck to it and continued with it. But three weeks in and I already cannot imagine not menu planning. I hate the thought of that 4pm 'what's for dinner?' question and that mad scramble and hope that I have the ingredients I need to make something at the last minute.

Somehow menu planning seems to have given us back the pleasure of food preparation and eating.

I love menu planning.
I totally, highly recommend it.
And I absolutely get that you might be reading this thinking 'Huh! That is so not for me!' And all I can say to that is, don't knock it until you try it.

So tell me lovely people, do you menu plan?
What are some of your favourites?
Do you think menu planning is great for others but not for you?
What are you having for dinner tonight?

Later. xx

Sunday, February 19, 2012

This is not a tutorial.

The first part of our weekend was all big city, bright lights, late night, family, friends, fun, fun, fun.

Today we've tried to take it easy. To spend time together at home. To ground ourselves. To have a slow day in preparation for the fast week to come.

We spent a bit of this afternoon making decorations for our kitchen garden. Prettying up the pea and bean stakes. Wrapping wool around sticks.

It was good simple fun.

A great way to use up all the colourful yarn scraps I've been amassing.
Fun time together as a family.
A crafty activity suitable for young and old.
A way to marry wool and nature (I love that combo).
A way to really be together, winding, talking, telling, singing.

We tied a knot with a strand of wool and wound around and around and around.
Some liked neat wraps and others prefered big gaps.

We could probably use beads and bells and sequins and other crafty bits too next time.

I'm totally in the mood to wrap now.
I've been walking around the farm looking at all the potential wrap situations: trees, the uprights in the garage, chairs, stools, bits of the chooken houses, mobiles...

And the newly colourful bean patch makes me so happy every time I walk past.

I have no idea how long my kids will be happy spending a few hours like this, but while they still are, I'll certainly be making the most of it.

I hope you've had a great weekend. Have you done anything special?
Have you been wrapping?
Do you think you might?
What do you think you might wrap?

I hope your week this week is surprising and fabulous.

Bye! x

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Breathing four in.

She is four and four months.

She believes in fairies and wishes and magic and dragons.
Sometimes, in the morning, she likes to dictate to me a list of adventures and ways to fill our day.
She misses her big sisters so much when they go to school and feels a bit left behind.
She loves to cook and especially to make funny faces out of the bread dough.
She has never had a haircut and swears she never will.
Yesterday she wrote her own name, unassisted, for the very first time ever.
She is desperate to get a puppy.
She lets me dress her in whatever I like. She doesn't notice labels or lengths or trends.
She will play with anybody. She has no concept of coolness or not.
Her boyfriend is a thirty five year old woman.
She climbs, runs, dances, skips and swings along next to me all day long.
Sometimes I feel that she must have the most photographed and documented childhood in the world.
If I ever lose track of her, I only have to listen quietly for a second and I will hear her singing somewhere.
She wants to be a ballet dancer when she grows up.
She loves working on the farm.
She likes to draw a picture of a dog for everyone who walks in the house.
In the late afternoon she gets tired and likes to snuggle and read books and tell stories.
At night she sleeps with the same teddy I slept with as a child.

It's funny, when the other girls were her age we called this time the f$%&en fours.

This time around, compared to the pre-teen demands and eye rolling and hurrumphing, four seems delightful. Unselfconscious. Simple.

I am savouring each second. Breathing it in.


Are there any blogs out there about parenting pre-teens?
Any good books?
Any words of wisdom?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


While we were far away on our road trip last year, sometimes I'd try to visualise my life back home. I'd try to imagine what I would be doing and how I might be feeling. And for some reason I always had the same picture in my head. I always imagined myself right in the heart and heat of preserving time.

I imagined myself in my kitchen, wearing an apron, surrounded by buckets and baskets of produce, stirring pots and peeling and coring and deseeding fruit and vegetables and slowly filling jars and containers with summery goodness.

I'm here. That picture is now. Right now, my life is almost all about preserving. Preserving summer so we can feel it's warmth and abundance in winter.

Life right now is picking and gathering the fruit and berries from the orchard. It's about washing and weighing. It's about freezing and cooking and dehydrating and pureeing and straining. It's about jams and relishes and chutneys and syrups.

There are lots of preserving books on our kitchen table. Some recipes and techniques we know by heart from years gone by, and others we are learning as we go. We are not experts. Far from it. We've had a few mishaps already this year, but plenty of successes too. (Who knew you could only use those Fowlers preserving rings once?)

These are the books we've got on our kitchen table at the moment:

The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Secrets of Successful Preserving by Fowlers Vacola.
Fowler's Method of Bottling Fruits and Vegetables by J. Fowler.
Wonderful ways to prepare preserves by Ayers and James.
Preserves by Pam Corbin.
The cook's companion by Stephanie Alexander.
The Permaculture Book of Ferment & Human Nutrition by Bill Mollison.
Homemade Jams and Preserves by Family Circle.
The River Cottage Year by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Home Freezer Cook Book by Good Housekeeping

My life right now is sticky and pink.

And man, I do love preserving! I love how wholesome it feels. I love the connection I feel to history and to those who have been doing this in some way or another since we began. I love that the produce I am preserving is homegrown, certified organic, local, no food miles. I love the thought of opening these jars and bottles I am now sealing in the cooler months to come and enjoying their contents. I love that preserving food now for later is thrifty and frugal. I love company in the kitchen and I love doing it alone. And I really, really love the process too. It's such fun.

Are you right into preserving season at the moment?
Are you making jam or bottling tomatoes?
Are your fingers stained red?
Or are you on the other side of the world, dipping into your stores?
Do you have memories of preserving with your parents and grandparents? Pulling the elastic bands onto the Fowlers jars and clipping on the clips?
Do you love the look of jars filled with colourful jarred produce as much as I do?
Don't you agree that a gifted jar of homemade jam is the best present ever?

Or is preserving something you would like to try but haven't? If this is the case, then please do. It is such fun. Get some books, pick some produce or buy some from your local farmers' market, get your hands on some jars and get right into it. You'll love preserving, I'm certain. We sure do.

Happy, sweet days.

ps. funny how in my preserving fantasy my kitchen was sparkly clean, the dishes were always done and my apron was frilly and spotless...reality, not so much.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Crocheting up my scraps.

The problem.

The problem with my plan to crochet a queen sized granny blanket that uses up all my straggly half balls of yarn, is that I'm about a quarter of the way through and I've already finished the good colours.

My intention was to neaten up my stash. But in the process I've used up all the brights and all that's left is the greens, pinks and blues. Don't get me wrong, I do like those colours a lot, but the blanket is starting to look a bit flat, and that is not the random, stripey look I was going for.

The solution.

So I went out and bought some more wool.

And then I had to buy a new/old basket to put it all in.

Of course.

So now I am all sorted.

I wonder if I'll have to crochet a use up all my scraps blanket to use up all my scraps from this use up all my scraps blanket when I've finished it. Get it? Good.

So, I'm wondering, what do you do with all your woolly/fabric/paper/haberdashery scraps?
Do you have a special basket/bag/box/drawer?
Do you devise special plans/projects to use them all up?
Do you give them away? Hoard them? Check them out?
Do you love the look of a wool filled basket as much as I do?

See ya later hot potata! x

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