Thursday, 31 March 2016

Breakfast Banana Bread

This nutty and delicious banana bread is a favourite alternative to cereal and toast in our home. We like it gently warmed, spread with real butter or topped with yoghurt and berries. It's a nourishing, gluten-free way to break a fast.

A healthy and delicious breakfast bread.

The original recipe comes from one of my favourite cookbooks, The Art of Nourishing, by Therese Steele, a local author who lives in a picturesque valley not far from me. My version is adapted from her original recipe. This is how I make it:

Breakfast Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas
1/3 cup macadamia nut oil
1/4 cup raw honey
1 egg, separated
1/4 cup milk
1 cup gluten free flour (I use Kialla's Non Gluten Grain Flour)
3/4 cup almond meal
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1.  Preheat oven to moderate (180C) and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
2.  Peel bananas and place in a food processor along with all the other ingredients except 
     the egg white. Blend these ingredients together thoroughly.
3.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg white until frothy, soft peaks form.
4.  Gently fold the frothy egg white through the blended mixture.
5.  Pour mixture into your loaf tin and bake until golden (about 40minutes). 
     Loaf should spring back when pressed gently in the centre. 
6.  Turn out of loaf tin and cool on a wire rack.
7.  Slice and serve warm. Spread with real butter  or top with yoghurt and berries. Yum!

A thick slice of early morning goodness.

This bread is quick and easy to prepare. After it has cooled, and everyone has enjoyed a piece, I cut the remainder of the loaf into slices and freeze them for another morning. Simple!


p.s. More about Therese Steele's cookbook can be found at this link for her cookbook. There are a couple of sample recipes at this website, including one for a gluten-free bread.

p.p.s. I have also made this loaf using spelt flour. If using spelt, the loaf is no longer gluten free but equally delicious:)

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Multiple Makings

The long weekend just past afforded me time, wonderful unhurried time, to work on some small craft projects that have been waiting...and waiting...for me to pick them up and finish them off! 

Topping my list of crafty goodness was a new top. As part of my plan to make any new clothes I want this year, I decided back in January to sew this top. Now, it is the end of March and it's finally finished. It's the first garment I've sewn for myself in a very long while and, although I experienced much frustration (especially with the sleeves) I am a very happy almost-beginner. I really love the lightweight cotton fabric and the little triangles of colour sprinkled across it like geometric gems. Given how warm it's been, I expect I'll be able to wear it well into Autumn before I need to throw a cardigan on over the top of it.

 My new top:  a Grainline Studio Scout Tee.

On my knitting needles, I cast off one washcloth and began another. I'm using the same cotton but different patterns with the second one being knitted on the diagonal. I love the flecks of blue, yellow and green in the otherwise crisp, white cotton. These are for replenishing my stash of little gifts that I like to have on hand throughout the year. Having such a stash saves money especially because it minimises last minute gift buying.

Two washcloths. One finished and another on the needles.

Another repurposed flour bag was a quick sew. I have never grown hollyhocks but from this embroidery I can see what a majestic flowering spike they have. The flowery backing fabric is from an old vintage top that I picked up at an op-shop for next to nothing. Too small for me to wear but I couldn't go past its sprays of cottagy flowers. This will go into my gift stash too and I can imagine putting a washcloth and some lovely scented soap inside for a birthday recipient. No wrapping paper required!

A sweet gift bag.

The ends of a simple seed stitch scarf were finally sewn in too so it is ready now for a friend's birthday when that rolls around. The beautiful and subtle blue, called Mercy, is from the now discontinued Ecoyarns organic cotton Virtues range. I think its light weight and colour are perfect for the mild Winters we experience here in my sub-tropical part of the world.

Simple seed stitch scarf and our last Summer sunflower bloom.

After so much making, one would think I would feel somewhat tired. But, I feel quite energised at having completed a few projects and grateful for the time and space I had to spend knitting and sewing. So much so that I've decided on my next project...a skirt!

Pattern and fabric for my next sewing project.

I hope you had time for projects of your own over the long weekend.


p.s. The pattern for the the completed washcloth is from here and the pattern for the washcloth knitted on the diagonal is here.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Easter at Home

We plan to close our blue wooden gate and nestle into the peace of our home over the coming Easter holiday. We will bake in the kitchen, read on our beds and on blankets spread out on the grass, play board games at the old wooden table and potter in the garden. 

On Sunday, as is our tradition, little chocolate eggs will be hidden in the garden under leaves and sandpit edges and probably in the mailbox! We will share a lunch with our family around the table on the deck where a hopefully cool breeze will suggest that Autumn has finally come. There will be time for each other and time for ourselves. 

 Sweet, dyed Easter egg made by a much younger boy of mine. 

Whatever else may be happening, or not happening, in the world, here in our own home there will be love and hope and peace this Easter. I hope that, wherever you are in the world and whether or not your beliefs encompass Easter, that you find contentment in your own home over this long weekend.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Under the Rotunda

Developing a garden, in the area under our rotunda, has proven to be very challenging! I have tried growing a range of plants in the drier soil, that receives no rainfall because it is sheltered by the decking above, with limited success (and outright failure).

I decided that I didn't want to "waste" any more money on plants for this area because whatever I tried inevitably ended up as compost bin clippings. So, instead of heading back to the nursery, I used what I already had to come up with a new plan.

Instead of a feature plant, I moved a beautiful cobalt-blue birdbath into the centre of the garden bed and set it atop an old paver. Two more creamy-white pavers were washed off and repositioned as a couple of stepping stones to use when I need to clean out the bird bath. In a circle, around the base of the birdbath, I planted some baby spider plants that I sourced for free from my potted spider plant that desperately needed dividing. I had enough of these baby spider plants to create a border along the edge of the hardwood timber boardwalk that passes by this garden too. The strappy, variegated leaves of these spider plants look great and they seem to be establishing themselves in the drier conditions of this particular garden.

 Strappy spider plants in a ring around the base of the birdbath.

 The variegated leaves of the spider plant.

 Spider plants bordering the boardwalk.

Another plant that I noticed popping up, just on the edges of this area, were white-flowering vincas. These pretty flowers have found their way to my garden from the garden next door as they can be prolific self-seeders. I have dug up some of these free vinca seedlings and transferred them to this garden to see if they will grow. I have read that vincas don't mind dry conditions so that is cause for much optimism.

Pretty white vinca flowers.

Vinca seedlings and spider plants.

Over time, I hope both the spider plants and vincas will thrive and fill in this tricky garden bed as I've read that both tolerate drier conditions well. The variegated leaves of the spider plants should complement the bright green leaves and glossy white flowers of the vincas too.

My rotunda garden.

As I watered in the vinca seedlings, I found myself hoping that this time I've matched suitable plants to the conditions they have to grow in. Fingers crossed!


Monday, 21 March 2016

Real Fast Food

On many a Friday afternoon, on our way home from school, I stop to buy fresh fish from a lovely, elderly man who parks his refrigerated van outside a popular local greengrocers. He's often sitting on a fold-out chair in the shade near his van, waiting to greet his customers with his happy smile, when I drive in. I join the queue, if there is one, and wait patiently for my turn to choose from his display of fresh, proudly not frozen, seafood.

While selecting some fresh fillets to bring home, from this former butcher who now sells seafood, we talk about the fish he has that week, about his grandchildren, about the weather. No matter how long the line behind me, he takes his time and lets me take mine as I choose the fish I'll bring home for my family's Friday night "fast food".

A tray of real fast food.
(Fresh fish dipped in egg-wash and rolled in bread crumbs.)

 I stop on Fridays because fresh fish, crumbed and pan fried in a little butter and served with a squeeze of lemon juice and some salad, is the most nutritious and quick homemade "fast food" I know how to prepare for my family. It's for the Friday nights when I'm tired from a week of school-run driving. It's for the Friday nights when my boy plays cricket and we have to jumble into the ute, with the dog in tow, to get to the cricket ground before the sun has set. It's for the Friday nights when I want fast food without the trans fat, sugar, additives or preservatives that I could pick up from a drive-through establishment.'s for my Friday afternoon chat with this kindly, older gentleman. I could buy my fish elsewhere, as there are two major supermarkets close by, but it wouldn't be the same. 


p.s. I also made this fishy bath mat, from an old beach towel, on the weekend. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Thinking Ahead in the Garden

Avocado is one of my favourite foods. I love it mashed with a little sea salt or lemon. I love adding chunks of its creamy green goodness to salads. I have even whipped it up in a healthier version of chocolate mousse. It is such a healthy and versatile fruit. 

Delicious and nutritious avocado ripening on my bench.

Avocados can be expensive though. At one point this year, they were selling for as much as $6 each in the shops here. As a way to counter that kind of expense, for a food that we eat very often, we have planted our very own avocado tree. 

Our young avocado tree.

Our tree has been in the ground for little more than a year. It's grown a lot and is looking really healthy. Thinking ahead in the garden, to longer term harvests, is something I am learning more about as a gardener. I think it teaches forward planning, patience and delayed gratification. 

Our avocado tree didn't bear fruit this season but one day it will (ever the optimist) and, when it does, we will have our own avocados to feast on for free. What a glorious day that will be!

I hope you have a glorious weekend.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Baby Bluey

Look at this small, shy reptile we found peeking out from the gap between two hardwood sleepers. On closer inspection, after a check that he or she did indeed have legs, it was decided that this must be a young Blue-tongue Lizard. 

 A young Blue-tongue Lizard peeks out from his hiding spot.

A while ago, our young son discovered a scaly and very well-nourished adult Blue-tongue whom he promptly christened Bluey. Upon this latest discovery, it was very quickly decided that this must be one of Bluey's babies. 

Our boy took these photos of Baby Bluey watching us from his cosy hiding space. How lovely to have a family of these interesting reptiles in our garden for us to observe and learn about...and to photograph!


Monday, 14 March 2016

Granite Bay

There's a rocky beach that defines the curving shoreline of Granite Bay in the Noosa National Park. Smooth, rounded pebbles of granite, dark grey and black, cover the shore instead of the fine, white sand that is synonymous with Noosa's most popular beaches.

Granite Bay, Noosa National Park.

The waves of a lapping tide wash over these granite stones, rolling them about so they tumble into one another. The result is a soothing and rhythmic 'rock music' that reaches those who tread the path high above. 

Another view of Granite Bay.

The track to Granite Bay, and beyond, hugs a stunning section of coastline. We followed it all the way to the wide and beautiful beach of Alexandria Bay and back again. Upon our return to the place where we had begun, after hours of walking and swimming and walking again, our legs were most definitely weary and our hearts most definitely full.


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

A Mini Break

I will be away from this space for a few days as we are going to spend some time by the sea. I'm looking forward to leaving my footprints on white sand, floating on calm waves and walking a path through a National Park that traces a beautiful stretch of coastline. Nature will be all around and I intend to let it seep into my heart where I know it will settle and stay long after we return home.

I hope you have a lovely few days. See you back here on Monday.


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Mini Gingerbread Muffins

When I think of gingerbread, images of crisp and jolly gingerbread people in bakery displays come to mind. They look so tempting with their iced faces and sultana buttons. These little gingerbread muffins, with their combination of warming spices and sweet honey, are just as delicious. 

Sweet and gingery mini muffins.

The recipe I follow to make these gingery, sweet mini muffins belongs to Jo, of the blog, Quirky Cooking. I make the mixture up in my Thermomix but, as Jo says on her recipe page, you could easily make the batter up in a pan on the stove. 

Warm, thick and spicy muffin batter.

Waiting to be baked.

Golden and moist.

These little muffins are golden, moist and perfect for adding a little sweetness to a morning or afternoon tea or a child's lunchbox.


Monday, 7 March 2016

A Very Short Nature Walk

Yesterday, we took a little path that leads down to a wide river. It's less than a two minute walk along that path, if one strides determinedly, to reach the water from where the car is parked. But, if you let your eyes wander to either side of that path, purposeful strides can turn into a slow meander.

 A small nest.

 A tiny, delicate flower.

 Scattered seed pods.

Raindrops on a leaf.

I hope you too had a chance to wander, slow and unhurried, sometime over your weekend. Whatever path you took, I hope there was nature either side of it.


Friday, 4 March 2016

Beautiful Bird Puppets

Our garden is visited by a variety of birds each day. They catch insects, pull up juicy worms, drink and splash in our bird bath and watch the world go by from the handrails of our verandah. We eagerly watch them, listen to their songs and marvel at the freedom they have to fly! 

My young boy once made a simple and fun bird puppet. It was so easy to make and he had a lot of fun with it. With his hand inside the bag, my young puppeteer made his bird fly all over the house. (I recall some attempted bird calls and screeching too!)

Here is how to make one too if you have young children or grandchildren:

 Gather brown paper bags and crayons.
Colour in the paper bag with the crayons any way you like!

Collect and/or cut out pieces to glue onto the paper bag. 

We had round brown circles for the face, patty pan papers for eyes, cardboard triangles for beaks, little brown cardboard feet, torn brown paper for wings and some craft feathers for...feathers! You need some white craft glue too!

Glue collage materials on to your brown paper bag to make a bird. 
(See the photos above and below.)

Make your bird puppet fly.
 Slip one hand inside the paper bag and move it all around.

Have fun swooping, diving and perching on the backs of chairs or on family members' heads! Don't forget to practise your bird calls. 

Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Peppermint Foot Scrub

I spend a lot of time outside. Usually, and preferably, without shoes on! Unfortunately, that means that the skin on my heels can become very dry. So, rather than buying expensive exfoliating scrubs, in little plastic containers, I decided to make my own nourishing and moisturising foot scrub.

I researched some recipes online that use salt or sugar as the exfoliating ingredient but settled on one which uses epsom salts which are rich in magnesium. Magnesium is a health-promoting mineral which many people can be deficient in but which is readily absorbed through the skin.  So, not only should my feet become smoother and softer with regular use but my body will get a magnesium boost too!

I followed this recipe from Wellness Mama. I sourced my ingredients from what I already had here at home and from my local health food shop. 

 Four simple ingredients.

 Measure out and mix all the ingredients together.

Pack into an airtight container.

It was quick, simple and inexpensive to make and smells deliciously minty. As I'm exfoliating, I breathe in deeply that fresh, invigorating scent. Of course, you're not limited to peppermint. You could mix in your own favourite essential oil or blend instead.


p.s. Once you've made it up, soak your feet in some warm water, use a teaspoonful of scrub to exfoliate each foot, wash off and pat dry. Very indulgent!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Pondering Pelicans

On a recent walk along an island foreshore, I happened across three gregarious pelicans wading into the shallows of the sea. They ventured forth into the wind-whipped waves, bobbing about like little black and white boats, their long and distinctive bills scooping and filtering the briny water in search of a snack of silvery fish. 

Three portly pelicans looking out to sea.

Upon sighting them, I was instantly reminded of Colin Thiele's, Storm Boy, a novel set in an isolated coastal landscape and centred around the close relationship between a gentle young boy and a pelican he has rescued and reared. Destruction, loss and change reach this wild place and the young boy who lives upon its dunes. Thiele's carefully-crafted, descriptive words make one's heart ache at the carelessness of those removed so far from nature that they wontonly destroy it. I haven't shared it with my young boy as yet but one day, not too far away, I will.

The pelicans, who prompted my thoughts of Thiele's book, eventually spread their majestic wings and flew, their heavy bodies skimming the water before they reached greater heights.

I hope I encounter them again.